Episode Seven: The Broken Man

t13

Bad writing.

sansaspoilers

Continue reading “Episode Seven: The Broken Man”

Advertisements

Queen of the Tearling, and the Problem with Fantasy

Review copy

I (three) don’t say this lightly, but today I’m saying it: Queen of the Tearling is a near-perfect book. In order for me to explain why, I have to start at the beginning – and by that I mean my early childhood.

We were bookworms growing up. Our parents read – our dad read fantasy and thriller, and our mom read romance and contemporary. In our house, you had a book on the go, at all times. Our parents didn’t often judge what we were reading, aside from whether it was below our level or whether we should maybe read a new book instead of picking up the same one for the seventeenth time in a row.

I remember coming home with a Scholastic order form one particular year. Our mom took erm’s and ordered a few things that were out of our ordinary (we were really into Unicorns of Balinor), one of which was Redwall. erm wasn’t thrilled about it. It was a boy book. You could just tell by looking at it. The colour scheme, the concept, the writing style – this was for boys. Continue reading “Queen of the Tearling, and the Problem with Fantasy”

Animated Moments that Broke My Cold Dead Heart

three copyI, three, am what Myers-Briggs define as an INTJ – if you aren’t obsessed with personality quizzes, that means I’m utterly out of touch with my emotions. Things that aren’t logical make me uncomfortable. And in my life I’ve only cried over one book – Anne of Green Gables, upon reread.

But we all know that animated TV and movies have a special way of invading your heart and breaking it from the inside out because animators are evil. So here are some of the moments that never fail to completely obliterate me.

Continue reading “Animated Moments that Broke My Cold Dead Heart”

Books With Dresses on the Front: an Overview

Okay, I don’t really have the right to that title since I read exactly 2 of these books this week (and several previously, all from the Luxe and Bright Young Things series). But I find them hard to resist at the bookstore. That is some damn good marketing.

As I review books you’ll find a few of things about me:
1. I’m a sucker for tough female characters
2. I have a low tolerance for self-indulgent literature (although I don’t knock it, it’s just not my thing)
3. I love it when a book challenges me
4. I get really moody when books ask questions and don’t answer them

Before I get to reviewing, I’ll say one more thing: I loved every Luxe book. They were indulgent enough to be fun but not so much that it felt like fanfiction. The girls had agency. The covers were pretty. And the writing was passable. That’s what I was looking for when I picked up Selection and Starcrossed. Continue reading “Books With Dresses on the Front: an Overview”

Princess and the Frog References

For  Disney copy this week we looked at Princess and the Frog’s apparent love for other Disney animated films. We’re sure others have meticulously gone through the movie to find all of the Disney Easter eggs but we decided to challenge ourselves and see how many we could come up with without doing research. You know, for fun!

pf15

Let’s start with the obvious: the evening star that Tiana wishes on as a little girl and later, in cynical desperation at the La Bouff masquerade ball. We know When You Wish Upon a Star from Pinnocchio, and The Second Star to the Right from Peter Pan.

pp1

Well now we know the star is actually Evangeline. And the whole “second star to the right” thing gets a new meaning after the funeral at the end.

pf20

pf16

Probably everyone saw this one. Looks like the magic carpet from Aladdin, or more likely, a replica, ended up in New Orleans.

pf17

Maybe this is a stretch but they do look like a weird version of Jasmine and Aladdin. “Jasmine” here even had those huge gold earrings.

al8

This one was probably not intentional:

pf22

But it made us think of Dumbo. Damn it Disney don’t make us think about Dumbo.

*cries forever*

pf21

But oh look, King Triton must be in a friendly-type mood.

pf14

And Mama Odie reminds us of the Evil Queen here, with her “Gumbo, gumbo, in the pot, we need a Princess. Whatcha got?” rhyme. But she’s more like Ursula, if Ursula had been a good squid person and had used her magic to counsel people rather than manipulate them.

Here we have two upbeat songs that’re mostly our characters getting way ahead of themselves and not really thinking things through. The animation and colour scheme change too to compliment the upbeatness.

Also, this reminds us of something.

pf7

Louis is apparently a Madame Mim fan, and we can’t blame him.

ss2

ss1

And then there’s this:

pf18cin1pf19cin2

And just as a sidenote – ALL of Lotte’s toys are royalty? She needs to get a different hobby. And that’s coming from us, who never shut up about Disney movies.

pf5

Adventures in The Sims 2

I (erm) once made a family of nuns. I think the reason I did this was because I was planning to orphan some Sim children and I wanted them to go and live in a nice little convent, so I needed the nuns. But before the orphaning could begin, first they had to get down to the real business.

snapshot_def6b9d8_fef6b9da

The take home message is that I was a horrible interior decorator in this game.

Let’s move on to this guy. I did not make this guy. But I did make him a playable character.

snapshot_3dca3925_1d9a10ac

He made some very expressive facial expressions.

Also this is exhibit B in my terrible interior decorating skills. Where’s all the art?

snapshot_3dca3925_bd99c93a

Those two (pictured above) bred, and one of their daughters started making stupid faces so I guess what I learned was that the tendency to make stupid facial expressions is an inheritable trait in the Sims 2.

snapshot_3dca3925_9e490f06snapshot_3dca3925_9e490f0e

I honestly have no idea what she could possibly have been so mad about.

snapshot_7d99c91b_7d9a1091

Bathtubs and barbeques, huh?

I took the picture because I thought their cloud-watching skills were funny, but I actually remember what I was doing with these young women which might in fact be funnier. I had these two Sims that both had the “romance” orientation, so having 10 lovers at once scored a lot of points. But I wanted them to end up together, and breaking up with 20 different people seemed like too much work. So I scheduled two events: first, have all the girlfriends of that guy show up and cloud-watch until he came home and flirted, in front of them, with a random townie.

snapshot_7d99c91b_3d9a056a

Then I did it again with the guys.

It was really funny watching 10 jaded lovers slap my Sims one by one.

But seriously why do all the clouds at Sim State look like bathtubs.

snapshot_1dc7d525_5d9f3064

These ladies preferred to sleep in their underwear, so when people died before they got changed in the morning the visuals got a little weird.

snapshot_7d99c91b_9d9f305c

Oh and I’m almost positive that this one didn’t die in her underwear, but she was resurrected in her underwear, so. OK.

snapshot_9e5b8d7d_3e5ba3b8

Maybe I shouldn’t judge but I don’t think that’s the most appropriate face to make when surviving death.

(what is that wallpaper though)

My 9-year-old Self Defends the Hobbit Movies

The Hobbit was supposed to be my (erm’s) introduction to high fantasy, which is my father’s realm. My mother isn’t a big fan, or even a fan of high fantasy at all, but even she insisted that I read The Hobbit, as she too had read it as a kid and had liked it.

I was reluctant because my favourite books were The Unicorns of Balinor series, which I had read over and over, and some of the Bailey School Kids books as well. My teachers insisted that I could read levels above that stuff, so I should get cracking or my reading comprehension skills wouldn’t be further developed. My parents took this to heart and thrust The Hobbit at me.

I started out annoyed. I wanted to read about supernatural creatures staffing the entirety of Bailey School or unicorns ruling Balinor over again, because I liked them and they were familiar. But I was compelled to read The Hobbit, and this I did.

I hated it. I think I went in planning to hate it, but JRR didn’t help himself any. His narrator in this book is patronizing as hell, sort of like what you’d find in a Jane Yolen book. Occasionally he (and it has to be a he, there are no women in this book) interjects to scold the reader for doubting Bilbo. When I was in university and had to reread it for a class, I found the narrator charming and whimsical, but I was told by my prof that Tolkien later regretted the tone and intrusiveness of the narrator. I think for me at age nine, forced to read a book I didn’t want to read by every adult authority figure in my life, having another narrative authority tell me what to think about the story I was reading was the death knell in my ability to enjoy any of it.

So the movies: there are three of them, and we all know that this is excessive. After all, each book from The Lord of the Rings trilogy only got one movie, and they are all longer than little old The Hobbit. But stretching the book into three movies means that the filmmakers could add some things, and some of these additions and other changes, when taken together, actually fix every criticism of The Hobbit my nine-year-old self had made.

  1. The narrator: as I mentioned, I wanted to punch the narrator for telling me what to think. Happily the movies have no narrator, and problem solved.
  2. Gandalf: buddy was pretty useless in the book. He kept leaving at convenient moments so that Bilbo and the dwarves would have to face serious danger without the easy solution of having a wizard in their company. The movies give Gandalf a subplot, so that in each example of this (apart from when they meet the trolls) we know why Gandalf isn’t with them.
  3. The Dwarves: this was a treasure hunt, and I hate treasure hunts. The dwarves wanted to march off to the dragon Smaug’s keep to take all of his gold and they needed a burglar. I wasn’t invested at all in their quest. I thought they ought to leave the dragon alone with his fortune.
  4. Bilbo: as a direct consequence of his being the burglar on this quest, I wasn’t happy about Bilbo being a thief. The worst part was Gollum – I was already rooting for Bilbo to get eaten, but instead Bilbo bested Gollum rather unfairly and took his one possession in the world, leaving him despairing. I continued to hate Bilbo until the movie version, mostly out of spite, but the movies changed all of that because Martin Freeman.
  5. The ponies: the fact that the ponies all got eaten by the goblins but the greedy dwarves and Bilbo got to escape with their lives made me VERY mad. There’s a reason animal sidekicks (usually) never die in Disney movies, Tolkien. I am being serious, though, it upset me. All it did was emphasize that their quest was dangerous and unimportant, and the only victims of it at this point were the innocent ponies. The moment the smarmy narrator informed me they were to be eaten, I began hoping the dragon would kill them all, knowing that he wouldn’t, suspecting that instead the group, or maybe Gandalf, would kill the dragon instead and it would be incorrectly labelled a victory by that same insufferable narrator.
  6. So the dragon: I loved the part where Smaug makes fun of Bilbo. I didn’t expect him to talk and was happily surprised by that. I awaited, resigned, that moment where Gandalf (it would probably be Gandalf, right?) would slay Smaug and the dwarves could swim around in gold and jewels. And then what happened? Well, Random, son of Random, from Random’s Ville who graced like three pages of this book grabbed some random arrow and shot it so that it pierced Smaug in some random weak spot in his jewelry armor. I can’t even describe how cheated I felt about that.
  7. Um how about that there are no women in this mess.

The movies changed all of this. Bilbo I admit was mostly just me getting over myself, but giving Gandalf somewhere to be, giving the dwarves a good reason to want to get rid of Smaug and get the treasure, making the ponies run away instead of getting eaten, giving Bard a family and a backstory and lots of screentime, and the addition of several women, but Tauriel especially, fixed all of my problems.

I know people have complained about Tauriel being a Mary Sue and look, I could have done without the romance plot too. But if this character, love triangle or no love triangle, had been in the book, I may have been able to look past all of my other problems, because she would have been a lovely self-image fantasy for all of us girl types. Bilbo doesn’t cut it, though he was either supposed to cut it or Tolkien and his publishers weren’t interested in girls reading it. When I began reading about how people of colour and LGBT people were asking for more representation the biggest reason I empathized immediately was my memories of how tiresome it was reading this particular book. Even though I had my Disney movies and my Balinor books, being told I had to move on, and that this was the sort of stuff I would be expected to read from now on was maddening.

My parents asked me how I liked it once I reported to them that I was done, even though every time they checked in with me previously I had said, “It’s boring. I don’t like it.” They just replied with, “You just have to keep reading and wait for the good parts.”

I said, “I read and read and read, and I was waiting for the good parts, and then it ended.”

They didn’t force other books on me again, but I’m sure they would have eventually.

If it hadn’t been for Harry Potter.

The Never-Ending Saga of Canada’s Terrible Animal Rights Lesgislation

This article sums up this mess going on in parliament currently.

Just to add my (erm’s) two five cents: these arguments against passing a bill, which is a bill that would only criminalize the worst animal abuse, and only when committed against pets, are kind of like that refrain we hear time and time again whenever someone’s complaining about some awful animal cruelty: “Are any of you who are complaining about this vegan? Because if not you should shut up.”

As a vegan, can I just say that anyone is allowed to be outraged by animal cruelty. Anyone. Yes, it would be lovely if that outrage were followed by even small attempts to limit meat/dairy/egg consumption, but if it isn’t, I’ll still take your outrage. We don’t live in a perfect world, everyone isn’t going vegan tomorrow. I don’t think we need to wait until we’re all eating tofu kebabs to start to chip away at the kinds of animal abuse that EVERYONE agrees are heinous. EVERYONE thinks we need harsher laws when we’re talking about abusing cats and dogs. Everyone, of course, except people listening to the animal exploitation brigade’s lobbyists.

I’m almost positive this bill, which isn’t good enough but it’s something and therefore I support it, is not going to pass. Bills like it won’t be passing anytime soon. Not in Canada, at least. But even with my defeatist attitude, I know that the lobbyists are right to be scared. The day that all animal exploitation is criminalized is coming, though it may be far away. They can fight it all they want, but they simply don’t have it in them to fight as long or as hard as we do, because it’s a 9-5 job for them. It’s our hearts and souls. And that means, we’ll win. It’ll take forever, of course, but there’s no stopping us.

3 Days, 3 Quotes: Day 2

So that amazing artwork that you see there is the Golden Trio reimagined, by peaceofseoul who is incredible.

Setting aside incredible artwork, we’re on day 2 of 3 Days, 3 Quotes, as we were nominated by Jordan Bates (here’s her awesome Day 2 post). And for today, it’s a Ron quote:

“‘I’m not going to take any rubbish from Malfoy this year,’ he said angrily. ‘I mean it. If he makes one more crack about my family, I’m going to get hold of his head and —’ Ron made a violent gesture in midair.”

We chose this quote not because we endorse violence, even in the fictional realm (unless you’re using it against Ramsay Bolton, then it’s all fair game), but because Ron is one of those characters that puts up with a lot more than he should have to. Poor Ron, he has it rough in his own universe and even rougher in ours. In HP he’s the sixth son of a poor family who’s best friends with the most famous baby survivor in the world and who eventually marries the top witch of every age. In our world he’s inexplicably hated by fans and the screenwriters/directors of the movie adaptations. We love him for exactly the reasons that (we think) people hate him: he’s vulnerable, emotional, self-conscious, and he lashes out sometimes at the wrong people and in the wrong ways. He’s relatable, in other words. His flaws are so easily recognizable because we all have those ones. We think some people see him and are repulsed by the uncanny mirror image JK Rowling wrote into this character, and others, like us, just kind of ache for him. But it’s all good because he survives and makes the most out of his life, and we’re pretty sure if he were real he’d just laugh at the haters because he faced his insecurities while they were magically welded to a piece of Voldie’s soul and he won, and exactly how many of us would have been able to do that?

We’ve all been where Ron is in this quote – we’ve all dealt with some bully or another who built themselves up by trying to tear us down. We’ve all felt that frustration. And while we shouldn’t Oberyn Martell those people, it’s OK for us to take a stand in culturally-acceptable ways.

Today we nominate some awesome chums:

All The Space Between

Words and Whatnots

SyedaFR

THE RETURN OF SHANNARA

Three doesn’t watch this show or read the books so it is I, erm, the humble thief. Proceed.

The Shannara Chronicles has been renewed for a second season which, I suppose, is a good thing. The evolution of Bandon (a decidedly show-only character) was actually interesting and unsettling to watch, at the very end. It also mirrors Brooks’ tendency to explore the battle between good and evil in any particular character, which is always more interesting than just accepting that demons are demons and their only goal is to ruin everyone else’s day. My favourite take on this from Brooks is the Knight of the Word series, and Nest Freemark in particular. I would LOVE to see that one adapted live action, and I do kind of think an MTV series would be a decent medium to get the job done.

But there are no plans for that so more Shannara is going to have to suffice.

Another thing I enjoyed about the season finale was the show admirably not balking at turning Amberle into the Ellcrys, so I got to see the hero-moment I’d been waiting for since reading the book at age 13 or so. Eretria got to be a hero too which I was very happy about, because she was pretty useless in the book.

But now Eretria is with the trolls, and has seen something shocking which we will have to wait until next year to discover. I’m not interested. I don’t remember the trolls from the book, apart from the time they showed up to help my queen Wren fight the Federation in The Talismans of Shannara which would also make a good live-action show/movie. But not on MTV. Sorry.

I know what happens in the future concerning Will and Eretria and I’m almost positive that we’re nowhere near that yet, so season 2 won’t be Wishsong. But maybe season 3?

If season 2 isn’t beholden to book plot at all, I have no idea what to expect. Still, I am mostly convinced that it will actually turn out better than season 1 since there won’t be the book conveniently sitting on my bookshelf, ready to help me make all of those comparisons which turn out unfavourably for the show because high fantasy, it is not.

Which is, again, why Knight of the Word would have been the better choice for a Brooks adaptation. I’m sure MTV is listening.