thedeadparrot: (Default)
(posted by on Oct. 8th, 2015 06:30 pm)
Amazing how much media you can consume when you're stuck on planes for 20-some-odd hours. Mostly off the cuff because I should be sleeping right now.


Ancillary Justice

I started this last year during Christmas break but couldn't quite get into it. When I first read it, I was only good at following one storyline at the time, and the present-day stuff was easier to follow, even if it was slower and less interesting. This time around, I was more able to track what was happening in the flashbacks, and the story started pulling together. I enjoyed it quite thoroughly, though I think I'm less enraptured with it than some of the other people I know. Definitely willing to continue reading the series. Not sure when I'll have a chance.

I think my favorite bit of this story was trying to intuit the way the other characters relate to and feel about Breq through Breq's POV.

The gender stuff didn't quite work for me the way it did for a lot of other people. I didn't care about gendering characters because the POV character didn't.


Spy

As advertised, a fun, feminist tweaking of James Bond films. I just wish it was smarter. Jason Statham's casting was inspired, and he got the biggest laughs out of me.


Pitch Perfect 2

Pleasant enough and hits the usual story beats for a sequel to an underdog sports movie. Still feels like it's trying to be Glee, over-the-top offensive humor and all.


Mr. Robot

Only saw the first 4 eps, because those were the only ones available.

This show is interesting to me because I am still trying to figure out if I want to watch the rest of it. It's definitely one of the most accurate shows about computers/technology/hacking that I've seen. It's also definitely a kind of wish fulfilment show for socially awkward nerd-dude hackers.

But it's a lot more nuanced and sharp than it needs to be. It's a show that is incredibly deliberate about the compositions of its shots and calls attention to it. Rami Malek is riveting to watch in his stillnesses, which is always impressive. The Robin Hood story at the center is a lot more complex than it first appears.

The treatment of the women bothers me a lot. With a few exceptions, they're forced to the outside, where things are done to them and they aren't allowed to do anything besides be emotional support for Elliot.

Masters of Sex

Only watched one episode of this (episode 3), and I enjoyed it? There's a lot of stuff tossed into the mix here, and it's serialized enough that I feel like I barely got a taste of it. Even with how up-front it is about its subject matter, it feels more prurient and voyueristic than, say, Sense 8. I think I'll have to give it a few more episodes before I can draw a real conclusion about that.
thedeadparrot: (death and dream)
(posted by on Sep. 26th, 2015 05:09 pm)
The Dispossessed

It was good, really good. But that's LeGuin for you. So very deliberate and measured and controlled.


Ms. Marvel Vol. 1

I know I'm so late to this party, but I love it so much? It's so good? It follows some very well-worn paths in terms of discovering powers and the tensions of secret identities, but it does it with such specificity and verve and style that I can't help but love it. It also tackles the immigrant experience in a way that felt very true and honest to me, and I love Kamala so much! She's navigating so many different things, and I love her for that.

I need Volume 2 posthaste.


Uprooted

I know I'm not the only person to notice this, but the Dragon is totally 80% Rodney McKay. Fanon Rodney McKay, naturally, and I definitely felt a whiff of Fanon John Sheppard in Agnieszka's relationship with him, where magic = ATA gene. There's definitely that similar sort of brusque dismissiveness masking jealousy and grudging respect and also, instinct vs. scientific reasoning, etc.

Overall, I enjoyed it immensely in the same way you enjoy a well-constructed fanfic, entertaining and satisfying, and it goes down so very easy.
thedeadparrot: (obvious place)
(posted by on Sep. 20th, 2014 06:43 am)
This is a fly-in, fly-out review of The Magician's Land, because I have some thoughts and some feelings about it, but I really should be packing. Right Now.

Anyway, so I've read all three books now, and I actually forgot what happened in 90% of the first two when I started reading this one, so whatever.

I think Grossman does a lot of things well, which is why I keep reading these books. He's got really lovely imagery and the ability to construct really cool narrative hooks. And I always love a good blend of the "genre" and the literary, so it's always interesting to see where the two intersect throughout the narrative.

At the heart of the book, it feels like a giant exorcism of someone's Narnia feelings, and that overshadows everything else. Those parts are reasonably well-constructed, but they feel like they undermine something in the book. The mundanity, maybe. That's always what I like about these sort-of crossovers, because the literary does the mundane so well, and this series, when it does mundane, it does them spectacularly. But at the end of it, the book can't keep that up.

There's a message in here, about growing up, about giving up childish things, but it's too big, too grandiose. The metaphor swallows up the message and leaves it hollow, IMO. The ending has power, but I don't like it.

Also, there are tons of long-winded side-stories -- mostly told by one character to another -- that are in the book, sometimes to convey character information, sometimes to convey plot information. This is nitpick, because generally the long-winded side-stories are interesting or imaginative in and of themselves, but sometimes they seem like they're slammed into the book because Grossman had a lot more worldbuilding he wanted to get onto the page.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Off to do more packing.

ETA: Found my thoughts on the Magician King (tons of spoilers for that book). It's nice to see that my opinions remain mostly consistent.
thedeadparrot: (saving the world)
(posted by on Jan. 24th, 2012 10:17 pm)
Warning: not entirely coherent rant directed at other internet forums ahead.

I stumbled across a recent discussion on /r/books about hating on Twilight on reddit (which is a shitty place in general. don’t go there if you don’t enjoy watching white guys circlejerk each other about how awesome they are).

This conversations is mostly tossing out old arguments about how the writing is terrible and how the fanbase is terrible, blah blah blah, and I’ve been thinking about that lately, about how many people trot out the "but think of the children and the TwiMoms!" argument.

Personally, I feel like Twilight is objectively bad in terms of quality(though I've only seen the movies and have not read any of the books) and that it does sort of try to frame Edward’s seriously creepy as shit behavior as being rilly, rilly in luv u gaiz! Seriously, that shit is creepy and not okay.

However, I think that the fact that it is so creepy and not okay is a crowbar that Twilight haters (many of them male) can use to bludgeon people who don’t care about or even defend Twilight. This also ties into the whole line of thinking about ‘I hate it because it’s popular with teenage girls! Teenage girls are stupid!’ (Like how people whine about Dan Brown, but with extra misogyny!)

Apparently, teenage girls are too stupid to realize that Edward doesn’t exist and that guys who, I dunno, take the engine out of your vehicle because they don’t approve of your friends, are kinda abusive. And of course, teenage boys don’t get any harmful messages about sex or girls from popular culture from their movies, music, or television shows. Not from anything like Superbad, 300, the ever so popular Manic Pixie Dream Girl (warning: tvtropes). It would be so difficult to rail against those things (along with other harmful messages to teenage girls) and the culture that perpetuates them! And besides, isn’t that moment where the white guys kill the evil, sort of flaming, brown guys in 300 really awesome? C’mon, you have to admit that the cinematography is great!

I am really sick of this double standard where things that are popular amongst girls (in ways that dudes don’t expect or aren’t used to) are held up to a higher standard than things that are popular amongst boys (because boys will be boys, amirite?). I don’t see long ass lectures about why it’s creepy to try to center a plot around getting girls drunk in order to have sex with them outside feminist/progressive spaces, and yet everyone wants to call Twilight out on its shit everywhere?

I don’t know if it’s concern trolling or something else, but these days, I generally roll my eyes when people start trotting out the ‘but it’s BAD FOR YOU’ line of reasoning for having such a hateboner Twilight. Mostly, I hear, ‘but I FIND TEENAGE GIRLS LIKING THINGS UPSETTING’ instead.

Seriously, dudes, just let it go. We know it’s shitty and sexist and fucked up. If your internet feminist activism begins and ends with Twilight, I am seriously going to question your motives for hating on it.
thedeadparrot: (oh the angst)
(posted by on Dec. 5th, 2011 06:46 pm)
I just finished The Magician King, and now I am sort of annoyed and also Have Thoughts.

Spoilers )
thedeadparrot: (flying)
(posted by on Dec. 5th, 2010 06:58 pm)
1. So! Oryx and Crake is a book about the apocalypse. Kind of.

Spoilery ramblings )

I'm still in the process of processing the book, which I guess makes it deep or important or whatever. Atwood's a good writer, no doubt about that, but I'm still kind of ambivalent about a lot of this.


2. In other news, I'm digging Rebecca Traister's Big Girls Don't Cry, which is a great look at the narratives around gender during the 2008 US presidential elections. It's unashamedly biased and coming from a particular (white, middle class, female) POV, but she handles issues of intersectionality with a delicate hand and acknowledges a lot of similar and competing narratives of race. I recognized a lot of what was said in it, in my own reactions during the elections and what I saw in a lot of the other reactions around me. It's worth a look if you're interested in the topic, at least.


3. I also got a new car battery. Hopefully this means that it will love me more and not die on me at inconvenient times! Maybe my car just needs more hugs.


4. Ahahahaha. Oh god, I should start working on Yuletide.


5. I decided to watch an episode of Supernatural, just because I could, last Friday. On one hand, it was good, because we got some Mark Sheppard and Mitch Pileggi guest star action going on, but um, is it usually that rapey? And obsessed with masculinity? Because that was pretty creepy and fucked up. I also fail to find either Dean or Sam all that attractive, but maybe that's because of the above issues. I was amused by Castiel watching porn, though.
thedeadparrot: (blind)
(posted by on May. 4th, 2010 10:13 am)
I'm KIND OF SORRY I'M GOING TO DO THIS, but I'm about to rec an awesome book that is currently out of print (in the US, at least). But not for long! Amazon tells me there will be a reprint coming out in October, and, um, I'm tempted to buy copies for anyone who wants one, because it is THAT AWESOME.

So, the book is Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang, and it's a sci-fi anthology of short stories. I basically scoured everywhere for a decently priced copy, and I ended up getting it shipped from England. Yeah, you heard me.

Anyway, Chiang writes science fiction about Science and Math, capital letters included, but he never loses sight of the human beings at the center of it all, and even when he's rambling about mathematical proofs, he still makes you care about people first and foremost. They're not the most distinct characters ever, but they still live and breathe and ache, and they still feel like people you'd know, people you'd meet. He even writes smart female scientists without a trace of smugness or condescension, which is what frequently aggravates me when cis male writers try to write competent female characters.

I'm a little disappointed in the ways he doesn't really touch on identity issues, especially racial identity issues. Nearly all his characters read as white with the exception of those that take place in a particular non-white historical context.

But on the other hand, I dig the way he investigates religion and philosophical systems and his worldbuilding is epically awesome. Some of my favorites out of this collection are "Seventy-two Letters," "Tower of Babylon," and "Story of Your Life."

Seriously, go find a copy somewhere and read it.

---

I should start busting my ass off on remix. I have a story and an idea, now I just need to sit down and write it. Unfortunately, final projects and such are kicking my ass. Alas.

---

Speaking of remixing things, there's yet another pro-author telling us we're disgusting thieves. It's all boring and routine and blah, blah, blah. I don't really feel the need to refute her points, because plenty of people have done that before and better. No need to ride that train again.

However, I would like to humbly request that people stop defending fanfic by saying that it's a good training ground for becoming an original writer. This argument just reinforces that really annoying hierarchy, where fanfic isn't writing. Only original fic is, and the only reason to write fanfic is a pitstop on your way to doing things that are actually legitimate. Or whatever. This argument basically makes their argument so much easier, because this argument allows them to make the basic assumption that fanfic is inherently inferior to original fic. Yeah, I'm not okay with that. On any level, really.

Look, I love writing fanfic because it's fanfic, not in spite of it. I love fanfic because it's a way for me to talk back to, to explore, to argue against the media I love and maybe sometimes hate and occasionally have "It's complicated" relationships with. I love fanfic because it's always in conversation with other fanfic, because it's a reclamation of stories that are written for other people, other audiences other than us. I have no desire to channel whatever writing skills fanfic has given me into a pro career, and if you do, that's great! Good for you!

But please don't shit all over what we do in your attempts to defend it.

We should be arguing that fanfic is worthwhile in and of itself, not just what it enables us to do later. We should be arguing that fanfic is creative work, maybe not creative work defined by what is commercially important and commercially viable, but creative all the same. We should be arguing that fanfic is legally transformative, that fanfic is parody is criticism is reader response, and it is important. Because it is.

And not just because it sometimes gets us somewhere that's considered more respectable.


P.S. I would like to propose the following (somewhat flawed) analogy for future fanfic debates: Publishing your stories anywhere public ever is sort of like owning a farm and selling someone a cucumber. Yeah, you can hand it over to them with the intention that they eat it with some delicious salad, but it's kind of stupid for you to tell them after the fact that they can't place said cucumber in whatever bodily orifices they damn well please.
thedeadparrot: (self-portrait me)
(posted by on Jun. 9th, 2007 03:19 pm)
So, today is, "get shit done" day, and I have (a) gone shopping for food, (b) got soaking wet, (c) needed to get money orders from my bank so that I could pay my TV and internets bill, (d) paid my TV and internets bill, (e) visited the local library and borrowed Michael Chabon's Summerland*, (f) bought stamps, (g) did my laundry, (h) decided that I found The Painted Veil lame, despite the hotness of Edward Norton**, (i) played DDR, Katamari, and Kingdom Hearts.

Also, because I agree with this statement:

If there are one or more people on your friends list who make your world a better place just because they exist, and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the Internet, then post this sentence in your journal.

HI, FANDOM! HOW YOU DOIN'?


* I am totally enamored with this book already, and all I've read is the blurb. I think it's because I'm incredibly fascinated with sort of the idea of the ideal America, and I actually kind of buy into the idea, more than I probably should, so yeah, and creating a comic-book mythology type thing out of it? AWESOME.

** I like slow love stories, where people sort of come to understand each other in tough situations, and I wanted to see the gorgeous scenery, but this had too many weird undercurrents of Orientalism and misogyny for my taste.
.

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