Thursday, October 21, 2004

Underworld [film]

First, I went into this film with a LOT of apprehension.
1) Sony got their asses sued by White Wolf who created the "Werewolf: the Apocalypse" and "Vampire: the Masquerade" World of Darkness, a world that was HEAVILY stolen from in the making of this film. I'm not sure what the outcome of the lawsuit was, but there were 40 some instances of legal infringement on the films part. I, being a fan of the "Werewolf..." collectable card game (CCG) "Rage", was thus wary of the film and its treatment of the subject of the vampires and werewolves.

2) I have always been a werewolf fan and have always really disliked vampires. Don't know why, it's been like that since I was a kid. It didnt' help that when I became a fan of the Werewolves from White Wolf's World of Darkness that it turns out the werewolves and vampires hate eachother. I don't know the vampire's reasons for hating werewolves, but I know the werewolves' reasons and totally agree. ;P

There ARE differences, however. In the film...
...The reason the werewolves and vampires don't get along is different.
...The historical relationship between the two is different.
...Werewolves are called "lichens" instead of "garou".
...There appear to be no active female werewolves can become a werewolf simply by being bitten by one (don't know about the vampires)
...werewolves are compelled to change during a full moon
...both werewolves and vampires are such due to complex viruses.

In the World of Darkness...
...there are TONS of active female werewolves are born a werewolf and cannot make a human into one
...werewolves can easily change forms at will
... memories are not transferred in a bite

Things that are the same:
• werewolves are allergic to silver
• both species regenerate
• vampires don't deal well with light
• the two species hate eachother and often war
• a werewolf doesn't know she's a werewolf until her first change, which is often painful and uncontrolled
• werewolves often won't use as much technology but do, and often are seen as brutal and primitive, something some strive to change and some revel in.

As this relates to the film
There were enough differences to delinneate the two worlds in my mind, though I cringed at a few things. These things didnt' affect the overal strength or weakness of the film, though.

I liked the world of the film. The mood was perfect - the decadence of the vampires and the slums of the werewolves. The night time of it all. The mood was consistant and believeable -- the way that the gothic punk world of "the Matrix" worked and the way the gothic world of "Van Helsing" didn't work. ;) And it wasn't a rehash of this world, either. The shots were creative and composed well. Visually, it was a treat to look at and very real.

Effects wize, the werewolves could of been better. They weren't very graceful and moved in a hulky way. There's no way they ever could of been the equals to vampires or survived this long with this many all out confrontations if they were seriously that physically impaired. Of course, I may be drawing too much from the World of Darkness on this one, where many werewolves ARE these berzerkers, but many more are graceful hunters and martial artists. *shrugs* They weren't THAT bad - the part that bothered me most about them was when they were running on the walls. If you really concentrated on them, it looked really WRONG. Even if you'd used the same animation for them on the floor it would of looked WRONG.

Characters and plot. Compared to Van Helsing, I actually CARED about the characters. I cared what happened with Michael and Selene [sp?]. I even cared about what went on with Viktor, between he and Selene. The plot was a bit TOO confusing in the beginning. Personally, I'm pretty tenacious when it comes to sticking it out to see what happens, even if I'm not sure it's going to come together well in the end in a coherent plot. So on one hand, it made a mess of the beginning and I had no clue what they were talking about, but on the other, it made it a bit more realistic in that the viewers are just thrown into the middle of this thing that's been going on forever.

Compare that to some of the other films that have been out lately - like Van Helsing or DareDevil - where there is a history to the characters. In Van Helsing makes it out to be mysterious but that we'll find out more. And we never do, and by the time we find out that we will never know, we really don't care. With DareDevil, we care, and it's very humanistic, but it's packaged *so* nicely and neatly, almost like they're brainwashing us to like this character, in a way. ;) Though, in DareDevil it works because it's a movie of a comic book and is supposed to FEEL like a comic book and suceedes well at this.

So I liked that this is a slice of a much larger story and I like that we may be in for a sequel. Or not. It would work fine the way it is, leaving us to imagine what happens, since the beginning was so open, the ending can be that way, too. We just happened to observe that two hours of their lives or whatever.

I've lost my train of thought. Anyhow. I was pleasantly suprised by this film. I went into it thinking I'd get angry at a negative portrayal of werewolves. I went in expecting to have no compassion for any of the vampire characters. But it was a good story with interesting characters and I actually want to know what happens with them in their lives.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Van Helsing

Van Helsing could of been a really great story but the plot was kind of loose. There was nothing really driving us to care about the characters, especially the main character. I almost didn't care that they had to kill Dracula, either. Some things were too obvious, and other things were too obscure and it didn't really lead you along very well, so I felt like I was just drifting through the film in a very unattatched way. The effects were very cool for the most part - I especially enjoyed the werewolves (I'm a werewolf fan and picky and thought they did a neat job). The acting was okay - some people needed to choose an accent and KEEP it. And those female vampire sidekicks were just weird. They reminded me of the Furies from Xena or something - their clawed hands and movements were the same for every emotion.

All in all I totally didn't care about the film and having watched it, leaves me with nothing. *shrugs* I've definetly seen more entertaining films.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Let us keep in mind that this is a movie based on a video game and that thus far I can't think of a game-based movie that has been absolutely fantastic -- these movies are meant to appeal to folks who have played the games and, like games, just be something entertaining to watch with belief suspended. Movies like these aren't here to make us cry or think or inspire us, really. That said...

It was an entertaining film and I found it far more enjoyable than the second "Matrix" film, actually. "Apocalypse" feels much more like the games than its predecessor. The city, the piles of cars, the trolleys, the old church, the crawley mutant zombies... they all felt like they did in the games, as did the characters and their action-figure cool 2-dimensional personalities. So, while none of that is even thinkable as Oscar material, it's dead-on for a video game-to-screen flick.

The original film had a better air to it - more mystery, though they really could of done better by really playing up the Alice in Wonderland thing they kinda half-heartedly had going. Sorta. There was no mystery with "Apocalypse" - especially with Nemesis. First of all, Nemesis wasn't scary at all - he's heart-pounding, piss-your-pants FREAKY in the games. You DREAD meeting him in the games. Here? He's just some monster we KNOW Alice is going to whup. :\ Also, I had totally forgotten that Matt had been captured along with Alice in the end of the first movie. So they totally could of tried to fake us out and played out the true origin of Nemesis like a mystery. If it didn't fool the folks who watched the first film it at least would of fooled people who HADN'T seen the first film. Because we knew from the start, all the flashbacks became tedious and pedantic. They really could of done better.

The ending was a bit drawn out. 2 hours later, 2 days later, 3 weeks later... geez! It looks like there are plans for a third movie, so why not just have shown them crashing, shown the Umbrella soldiers hauling off with Alice's body and be done with it... leave it on an uncomfortable, unfinished note. Instead, it was like they tried cramming the first half of the third film into the last 10 minutes and I just feel like they told us too much. I can guess what the third film would be about easily.

now for the good stuff.

Alice had a much better outfit - rather, a bit more practical if still a bit stylish than practicality would have demanded in realistic circumstances. But this isn't a realistic film, so -- she did look hot in the first film but I liked the netting shirt and all the buckles and the semi-dreded hair. Jill looked like she did in the game so I guess that's her excuse for a skimpy outfit but her attitude really went with it - I hope they have more of Jill in the third film (assuming there is a third). Kinda missed that there were NO "knowing glances" and heart rending moments between Alice and anyone like there was between Alice and the mercenary woman in the first film, which really caught me off guard when I first saw it. It's not just me and wishful thinking, these woman felt something there...

I liked how Alice and the girl both had the T-virus and how that seems to of started a bond of some sort between them, the fact that they both have it and aren't zombies. Maybe they'll use that in the third film the way they used Matt (Nemesis) and Alice's mutations to pull them into an alliance at the end of this film. I like the injustice and I really hope that's the point of the third film - revenge for the injustice done to so many.

And of course, Milla is a joy to watch. Not her best performance, though. :\ I don't think she had much to work with. Alice in the first film at least had amnesia and was slowly coming out of her foggy fake 'i'm just a wife' haze and having her head of security mode kicking back in... she got to work with more emotion (as much emotion as one can have in a game film). This time, though, her character has been there, done that and is pissed off in a single minded way. Like I said, not much to work with. Ah, well.

Oh, gaping plot hole -- the zombies that come out of the graves. I think they do that in the games, but there's no logic to how that would work. This whole thing started with the shattering of the container that held the virus, which spread through the air and contaminated all the lab workers and people inside the Hive. They all turned into Zombies who can pass on the virus by biting their victims. When the first team went into the Hive to shut it down, there was no more T-virus in the air, just in the zombies. Our heroes sort of escape and the Hive is locked up. Then in "Apocalypse", scientists open the hive back up and zombies get out. If there was no more virus in the air in the FIRST film, then the T-virus could only have been spread by zombie-bite to the citizens of Raccoon City. So how did the corpses end up reanimating? And all at the same TIME, too. :P

The only other major thing that bothered me was the weird cinematography of the fight scenes. Up-close and really blurry to save bucks on actually training the actors and showing really cool REALISTIC fight moves. Even MOREso than Xena (and I love Xena...). Other than the fight scenes, most of the framing was actually not bad and they used interesting lighting (for an all-night movie) and the angles weren't static.

Ohh! I TOTALLY didn't see the reporter dying when she did - it caught me off guard the way she went in such an easy way. I thought she'd be grossed out by the kid and run, but nope, that was her demise.

That lunch lady was perfect.

[Edit:] hallalundi mentioned that there are interesting paralells between Resident Evil and Alien - between what happens to Alice and what happens to Ripley, the way they both start out just doing their jobs, are thrust into fighting terrible creatures and then BECOME the monsters themselves. Heck, there's even the two outsiders bonding - Ripley/Call and Alice/the girl.

I'm glad I went to see it in the theatre anyway, because it was fun and there's lots of things you'd only know if you played the games - and I used to watch Eric play the games and I'd play RE: Survivor, and Trey, Eric and I watched the first film on the computer together, and Eric and I have been anticipating the sequel since January... :P AND we knew what to expect ahead of time. If I'd had high expectations, I would have been disappointed, but I didn't so all was well. I just watch these films seeing all the POTENTIAL and I think that makes me kinda forgiving.

Saturday, August 7, 2004


I remember when I hadn't ever heard of "Farscape" and Trey was trying to describe it to me. Everything I pictured was SO off. And when I finally watched an episode, it was somewhere in the middle of the series, when Criton was being his snarky self - I thought he was a jerk.

But when I finally watched Season 1 in order from the beginning, I was suprised by the quality effects, the quality acting, the imaginative and explanitory plotlines, and the intriguing characters. It's such an enormous show! Even the PLOTS are enormous - the entire show is nothing but gigantic story arcs! Well, that's exaggerating a bit, but it does make it hard to just jump in and know what's going on. (Thank goodness the library has all the season on DVD).

I also love how they have one of the better answers to the alien translation problem.
And Criton's character in first Season is so clueless - this is someone from our time on earth in an alien galaxy who has no idea how things work. So he asks the questions we're dying to know. We relate to him - that could be us and through him the other alien characters become more acessable where I think they otherwise would not have been so easy to get to know, had Criton been FROM their world.

Highly creative show: creative visuals, creative characters, creative plots. Interesting and entertaining, it never gets old and it's one of the more original television series I have ever seen.

Sunday, August 1, 2004

Neko Case

Neko Case... it's funny that I'm such a big fan of her music. I love her voice and her attitude. I say it's funny because I generally don't care for country music. People call Neko Case "alt-country" but really all she's doing is writing her music in the fashion of old-style country. Alongside her own original songs, she covers old classic country songs and they all go together well. So I guess maybe I might like old fashioned country. *shrugs*.

Her music has this haunting, murder-mystery twang to it. It has definite atmosphere. And her voice has POWER, even in gentle songs, this woman can belt it out. Her older albums are more honky-tonk flavored and the newer the album the less country twang, like you're peeling down to the heart of her personal style as time rolls on. If you like country, then "Furnace Room Lullabies" is a good album to start with (it's the one I started with, though I am no country fan - the album artwork is what grabbed me, heh). If you aren't so much into country, then try "Blacklisted".

The other thing I love about Neko is, like I said, her attitude. The often conservative air of a lot of country music really scares me and puts me off. So to have this gal who outrightly will tell you she loves porn, who doesn't care if she sings songs about loving women (and she's not lesbian), plays her guitar with it slung low about her waist like a rock-star, and talks about feeding extra children to the tigers to help save them (the tigers - it was a JOKE - on her latest album, "The Tigers Have Spoken")... well, somehow, folks like that seem a bit friendlier to me than flag-waving, bible-praising, Bush-loving country stars. <:) (Do NOT take offense! I mean it in a snarky, "I'm too headstrong for my own good" way <:) GO NEKO!

Saturday, July 24, 2004

JBL Creature II speakers

I finally got some speakers for my computer! I'd been shopping around online, reading up on what's good out there. I had limited myself to $100 but there's a lot of crappy speakers out there for under $100 and I wanted something good.

I'd read about the Creature II speakers and they sounded like a good deal but with speakers you have to hear them before buying. Then one day I happened into an Apple Store where they had a Mac set up with Creatures. The guy in the shop played some music on the computer and this wonderful, clear, deep sound was heard. I was amazed. I pointed at the little sattellite speakers and I said, "That's coming out of THOSE?", unsure because there was another set of speakers set up next to the creatures, obviously for comparison.

I bought the Creatures right then and there. White, for $90. In hindsight, you can get the same speakers for $70 on and they now come in a variety of colors. But white matches my Apple keyboard and mouse so I am fine with it.

So the sound quality is great with a knob for each the bass and for the treble. Quality music (songs not ripped at a low level) doesn't buzz. Music is pretty rich and clear. The sound input is the same sort of connection you'd plug into a headphone jack on a discman - so you can plug these speakers directly into your computer, discman, walkman, mp3 player, etc, which makes them kind of handy.

The apperance turns some people off. "Jellyfish" and "Storm Trooper Helmet" are two descriptors. I think they're kind of cute. The competing speaker set are the Harman-Kardon Sound Sticks, which to me look like phallic sex toys - and while they apparently have better sound quality, the Creatures are good enough for me. I'd rather have interestingly shaped speakers than ugly generic box speakers.

Also nice is the footprint of the satellite tweeters - they're small, about the size of my fist.

All in all I absolutely love these speakers and so far everyone I've showed them to has been suprised at the quality of sound that comes out of them. Easy to use, easy to set up, and nice to look at and listen to. 5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, July 9, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 [film]

So today we went and saw Fahrenheit 9/11. Had me patriotic with tears, sad with tears, and angry with tears. A much rougher film than Bowling for Columbine - probably due to the seriousness of the subject - not that the subjects covered by Moore's previous films are not devastatingly serious in their own rights; just that I think more peoples lives are being threatened by what was covered in Fahrenheit.

I agree with Trey that I think it would have been more powerful had I not already known the message and the proof against Bush from reading books about it; I felt that the movie, as long as it was, was still too short. Something this huge cannot be explained so quickly -- but then, Americans aren't all book readers and movies are much more accessible in many ways. :\

In the very least, I wish people would quit bashing a movie they've never seen. It is by far one of the MOST patriotic films I've ever seen. It says more about our humanity than most other films do and says more to gain support for what our soldiers are going through, what our public is going through, and what the people of Iraq are going through and never in a demeaning way. The film also importantly shows us images of the war that the media have somehow neglected to show. What our soldiers really see, how the fight really looks, and how people over there on either side really feel.

This film does a lot to break down the facade our "president" has erected, true, but it does a lot more, I think, to show how most of the American public really feels and to unveil the truth that's going on around us that our media and government has elected to sweep under the rug.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Harry Potter & the Prizoner of Azkaban [film]

To keep it shorter than long:
I liked this third installment in the HP series. I think it captured the energy of the third book and tried hard to keep the essence of the plot. The third book is so damn huge there's no way to put it into one entire movie, so cutting out elements and rearranging others was neccessary to keep the momentum going.

Hogwarts grounds weren't how I imagined them to be, but I did enjoy the look of it nonetheless. I was kind of annoyed that the entrance to Gryffindor commons was right where anyone could see it rather than being secret like it is in the books. Some people had commented on the Whomping Willow being too small or something - I thought it was perfect and looked better than the one in the second film. Lessee... I liked how the arguments between Hermione and Ron over Scabbers and Crookshanks was more incidental - that way, Scabbers' true identity would be more of a suprise to non-book-readers. That and the fact that arguments like that between friends ARE often background things as compared to overall HUGE things in life.

I enjoyed the effects in the film - the Mauraders Map was well done (I watched all of the end credits to watch all the little feet, though it got a tad monotonous after awhile). The Patronus spell was FANTASTIC and actually gave me the chills when I saw it the first time by the pond/lake. I liked Buckbeak and thought that Lupin's werewolf form was well done, though a bit more emaciated than I'd imagined.

The acting was also superb - especially the three kids, they've really grown up. Lupin was great, too - that actor hardly ever gets to play good guys. I know that the new Dumbledore was supposed to play Dumbledore HIS way and not try to be Richard Harris, because you can't replace a person. But I still just like Richard Harris' Dumbledore better. *shrugs*

Sunday, April 4, 2004

Dude, Where's My Country?

I'm glad I went to the library yesterday. I had Michael Moore's "Dude, Where's My Country" in at the library and I was fresh out of new reading material. I started reading it today and I'm halfway through already and feel furious and helpless about my country and the way it's being run. How can we possibly avoid having ultra-rich morons who have their fingers in corporations around the world as our leaders when they're the only ones RICH enough to run for president? There's NEED for a law to make it so you can't use over a certain amount to campaign... It's a monopoly on who's running - if you're poor and local, no one will ever hear about you. It's sad.

All I can say about this book is that if you are unsatisfied with the obvious lies George W. has been feeding our country, just pick up this book somewhere and READ it. Easy read, funny read, educated read with lots of articles backing it up that you can apparently find on his site: -- actually, if you can't afford the book or can't find it at your local library, just go to his site and read some of the things there.

He's a compelling guy. It frustrates me that he's one of the few out and loud sources of the other side of the Bush/invasion(war if you wanna call it that) stories that the media feeds us. And didn't I just post a HUGE two-parter post about how much I hate lying and liars? I'm beginning to think I can't even watch TV without being pumped full of lies by the networks. ~*sigh*~ From now on, I'm sitting on the couch with a big bag of large-grained salt.

Monday, March 8, 2004

Graphic Novels

"Elfquest" by Wendy and Richard Pini was one of the first graphic novels I ever read. I was already reading X-Men and Wolverine at the time my sister got me to read these. When I started "ElfQuest", there were only 1 through 8 volumes. It may seem foofy on the outside, but ElfQuest has a solid heart... Elves against humans, pure-blood elves against those of "tainted" blood, magic against steel, troll versus elf.... the art is great and the story lives on beyond the original four-then-eight novels. At least read the first two and you'll see what I mean.

"Strangers in Paradise" by Terry Moore. My absolute favourite comic/trade paperback of all time and possibly my most treasured codex of any kind. It's the real-world kicked up a notch. It's about friendship, love, violence, dark pasts, conservative familes and expectations, and anything that's not considered the 'norm' but is really just another part of life. This series has it ALL. If you read any kind of illustrated story, I highly reccomend you at least read the first two volumes of this series and I guarantee you'll love it. It's that good.

"Preacher" by Garth Ennis. This is one twisted set of graphic novels. If it were a movie, I don't know I'd watch it but I checked out (on accident) the second or third volume and just had to read the rest to see what was going on. Doubt I'd ever buy it but it was definetly entertaining. Not for the easily-offended.

"The Books of Magic" by Neil Gaiman & others. Now, I'd read the Sandman series, but I have to say I like the Books of Magic better. Gaiman didn't write all of this series, but was the inspiration for it. It's kind of like Harry Potter on crack - it's eerie how some of the elements are similar; jaded young darkhaired w. glasses boy with shitty family life discovers that he's got ties to the magical world he never knew existed. Similarities end there, for the most part. Since it's magic, anything can happen with characters you'd only see in your dreams or nightmares. Oh, and Death makes quite a few apperances, which doesn't hurt. :D

"Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" by Hayao Miazaki. Yeah, it's Manga and I haven't read a ton of it that I really really liked. A lot of the exciting stuff is action crammed into huge panels that you can finish in 15 minutes. Not this. This is epic. It's kind of post-apocalyptic but in a world so far removed from our own, it seems. There is an anime version of this that is just terrible in comparison. Read the books! There are only 4 and if I had the money, I'd own them in a heartbeat. The kind of thing that makes you look at the world and where we're going.

Some random books

"A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson. I love his books - his humor going from cynical to happy-go-lucky in the same paragraph. He's just great. This book covers his ill-fated attempt to hike the entire Appalacian Trail. Both humerous and inspiring, it makes you want to either set out to hike the AT yourself or run screaming in the opposite direction. The book is also full of little facts and wonderful descriptions of the trail and its history along the way.

"The Mother Tongue" and "Made in America" by Bill Bryson. Both of these books have been used as textbooks in English classes all over. The first chronicles the history of English overall, its pitfalls and brilliance, comparing it to other languages as well as to its own forms across the world (i.e. British, American, Australian...) It gets down into the nitty gritty technical parts but is never boring and even though they're both extremely informative works of non-fiction, there is that signature Bryson humour threaded throughout. "Made In America" is about English in America alone, covering place names to dialects and how American English developed as a seperate entity from British English. If you love language, these are brilliant books you'll love.

"Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser. Non-fiction. A look at how the fast food industry has changed the way we eat and the way food is produced and handled, not only in America but abroad as well. Kinda makes you think twice before buying burger at Safeway. Contrary to what the title suggests, this book is NOT anti-fast food, either. The author just SHOWS us how our world has changed since the advent of fast food, for better and for worse.

"A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn. Non-fiction. This was the text for my American History class in college. It's a heavy read, but it's the true history of the U.S. with all the dark parts added BACK in. And it doesn't forget to add any group, either - from natives and blacks to women and children. It's all here.

Scifi/Fantasty novels

A random list of scifi/fantasty books I've enjoyed in the past.

"Kushiel's Dart" by Jaqueline Carey - The best written book I've ever read. It pseudo-paralells Europe's cultures and religions in its setting, told in first person perspective wonderfully, and has more plot-on-plot than I've ever seen in my life without being confusing or dragging. It has climax upon climax, each one better than before - and you keep thinking, "geez, they've come this far and I'm only halfway through the book -what the hell could happen next?" and sure enough, it gets better. The first two chapters are a bitch to get through, but there are 98-odd chapters total, so it's really a fraction of the book and SO worth the effort. ;) First book in a trilogy, stands well on its own.

"Through Wolf's Eyes" by Jane M. Lindskold - A fun fantasy book. The main character, Firekeeper, was raised by intelligent wolves and is brought back to 'civilization'. She's a kick-ass character; no romance to muddle up the plot, and a lot of wry humour and plenty of adventure. First of three books, awesome on it's own.

"Rhapsody" by Elizabeth Haydon - Fantasy. There are four books and I've only read the first two because I started to lose interest. There is a lot of long build-up in this book, but the concepts of the world are fabulous and I find myself thinking about them years after I read it the first time.

"Wolfwalker", "Shadow Leader", and "Storm Runner" by Tara K. Harper. These were originally a trilogy and since then, the author has added to them, but I think these are by far the best. I've never read a more rip-snorting, edge-of-your-seat set of books. The very first chapter of the first book makes you squirm in agony for the character.. Dion is a strong female character, but not in a loud way. She's not invincible and she's got a lot of depth. She's not girly at ALL, either, and after 8 years she remains one of my top favourite characters. She's got a telepathic link to wolves, so if you like the lupin kind, you'll especially like these books.

"Cat Scratch Fever" by Tara K. Harper - this is sci-fi; The main character is kidnapped and taken AWAY from technology and tortured. There's a lot more to it than that, but the detail and description in this book are .. wow. It's about PAIN.

"Z for Zachariah" by Robert C. O'Brien - sci-fi kind of. Post-apocalyptic, but in a more realistic fashion. A very short book, kind of first-person as the character writes in her journal about her life alone in her valley which seems to be the only place left untouched after a nuclear strike. It's full of common-sense survival as she has to conserve resources and plan for the future by raising chickens and taking care of the few animals available to her, planting, and raiding the local store and neighbor's house for goods.

The Renshai books - two trilogies worth, one starting with "The Last of the Renshai" and the second starting with "Beyond Ragnarok" by Mickey Zucker Reichert. Fantasy. It's as if the author continues the Norse myths beginning with the Ragnarok. The first trilogy happens right before, and the second happens 400 years after. I read the second trilogy first, so when I read the first, it was like I was reading a history. The Renshai are some of the best fighters you'll ever come across... It's a solid set of books with a nice selection of characters.

"The Dark Elf Trilogy" by R.A. Salvatore. Fantasy, from the Forgotten Realms. There are what, 16 or so Drizzt Do'Urden books, but don't let that scare you. The Dark Elf Trilogy was written second but happens first - which is good. The trilogy that was written first pales in comparison and is darn right a pain in the ass to get through, but integral to the characters overall. But this trilogy stands as just... they're phenominal. Over the entire set of books all of the characters just become deeper and deeper - especially the ones that start out rather shallow. Salvatore never disappoints. His fight scenes are some of the most fluid I have ever read; he keeps it simple and is able to describe with one sentence what too many authors take paragraphs to do.

"The Deed of Paksenarrion" by Elizabeth Moon. Fantasy. Here is a tale of triumph, trial, pain, and sacrifice. The conditions of a medieval military are depicted VERY realistically except for the fact that women are about as equal as men here. Again, no romance to muddle up this character's journey - and it's one of the most epic stories I've read. Just read the damn thing. You'll see.

"The Slave and the Free" by Suzy McKee Charnas. Post-apocalyptic, kind of. It's hard to describe this book, which is actually the first two books of her "Holdfast Chronicles" in one. I reccomend reading this as opposed to just the first book for a good reason. In this version of future history, stuff got so screwed up (and it is explained how) that women and men are like two species in the way they see eachother. Men rule and women are slaves. Christianity has twisted to become a seperation of the father from the son to a religion that kills. Women have been slaves so long they cant even comprehend thinking for themselves. The first book is mostly from the perspective of two male characters - the second book takes off from the female perspective. The books aren't the best written I've ever read, but the concept is mindblowing. There are 4 books total; the first shows you things from the male perspective and you begin to loathe them. The second takes you outside their world and you see how the women think. The third you think of as a triumph for women over the men but before you even get to the fourth you realize that both sides are MORONS and that this whole series is really about how humanity can fall so far and so hard.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Eric showed me this site - it's a whole bunch of remixes of video game music done by all kinds of people. My music tastes are broad, and I usually don't listen to dance/techno/electronica kinds of things, but some of the more unique and atmospheric stuff I like. :)

Particularly nice is the song for Black & White, one for Ecco the Dolphin called "Broken Machine", "Force of Light" for Shining Force III, and three different versions of "Terra" from the Final Fantasy series: "Death on the Snowfield", "Terral in Black", and "Terra Black Crystal". FF7 "String Machine" is nice, too... ohhh, as is FF6 "Mystic Forest"....

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Flying in a Small Plane

My dad had his drivers liscence only one month longer than he had his pilot's liscence, to start. He went to college in Florida to get his commercial pilot's liscence but never finished. Sometime before I was born, he bought a Cessna 180. Ours was white with brown and orange in a more creative pattern. It seats 4 people total.

So, I have been flying since I was in my mom's womb. Pop used the plane to go moose hunting and salmon fishing, and just to go places. Growing up, we went out flying nearly every weekend -- we'd always get excited when Pop was going to take the garbage out to the Dump because the truck we had had a big ole gas tank with pump in the back that we used to fuel the plane with. If we went out to the Dump, there was always a good chance that afterward, we'd go out to where the plane was and go flying.

What its' like to fly in a small plane
First off, it's not like in TV or the movies. Planes are LOUD and you have to yell at the top of your lungs to be heard if you're not using a headset. The engine is so loud because minimum speed in a Cessna 180 to keep in the air is somewhere around 80 MPH. And you're usually cruising around at 180 MPH. Another thing is the seatbelts. The two seats in the back of my dad's plane had the belts like you'd find on an airliner. The two front seats have over the shoulder harnesses that latch into the part that goes across your lap. If something were to happen and you were flung forward and you didnt' have the harness, your weight would push the yoke (steering wheel) forward and you'd be putting the plane's nose down. Especially not good if you're being flipped over (a friend of my dad's flipped his plane and it WOULDN'T of happened had he had the harness setup).

Taking off is the BEST part - there isn't as much G-force as on an airliner, but since you're smaller and closer to the ground, you feel like you're going faster, and the climb seems sharper... It's the difference between running as fast as you can, and then dreaming you're running faster than humanly possible and feeling fantastic about it. Nothing beats the rush you feel when taking off. :D I physically am unable to keep from smiling when I take off in a small plane.

And the ride is SO much bumpier. Airlines make me feel weird because they generally don't bounce around ENOUGH. Taking off and landing is, too -- I've only landed on pavement in a small plane once in my life. Everything else has been rocks, gravel, sand, silt, and dirt. Anyway, but your stomach does the drop thingey a LOT. You get used to it, but I'm not immune to it like my dad is. I don't get motion sickness, though, probably because I grew up with the plane.

I miss it a lot. It's just so different from anything else, but even growing up with it, you knew it was special. Everything about flying is so different from anything else... After we'd land, if Pop didn't get the plane in the right place we'd get out and you push on the wing struts to get it back into place over the tie-downs. And you tie down each wing and the tail, and there's a way to do it, too. Now, we've got the boat. You get close to the dock, and whoever isn't piloting is hanging on the rail so when you get close, you grab a line and jump off the boat and onto the dock, and use your line (not a ROPE, a LINE) to hold the boat in place -- one person on the front end, another on the back end. And you tie it down in a certain way.

Doing things with the boat, I feel like we're faking it. We're trying to be something we're not. It's just not the same.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Red Sonja

YAY! It's finally here!
I've looked everywhere for this movie on VHS or DVD for over 10 years. I knew I could find it online, but with shipping and handling... well, I didn't bother to look. 'Til last week. Got it on for a whopping $8 something total. :P It's on VHS; the movie only exists on DVD in Germany, region two, at the moment so I'll suffer for now. Up UNTIL now I'd only seen Red Sonja edited on television (which we had a recording of until my stepdad taped over it. *glowers*). NBC used to show a movie on Saturdays after cartoons were over. They played the same films a lot, and they used to show Red Sonja often. And when you're a kid, if you liked any kind of semi-realistic action with swords and horses, well then! This was the movie for you! Our couch had really tall arms on it which we would saddle up like horses, and on commercial breaks we would run around with plastic swords and look for the Talisman, like in the film. lol.

But if you DIDN'T grow up with the movie Red Sonja, and you have high standards for film, then to you it would be one of those films that has a bit too much class for "Mystery Science Theatre". But not much. ;) The film is a kind of Conan spinoff - Arnold is in it as a warrior named Kalidor. He's not the main-main character, though. Brigitte Nielsen plays the title role, a woman scorned who learns to fight better than anyone in the land so she can get revenge on the people who destroyed her village and raped her when she was a young woman. A 12 year old Ernie Reyes Jr. (who played Keno the pizza boy in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2) is in it as well.

The best part is Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman), Red Sonja's arch enemy. As a kid you just don't pick up on any of the queerness of this woman's obsession with Sonja. Which makes it so much more fun to watch now I'm older. :D ~*sigh*~

Red Sonja is interesting in that it was originally going to be a much higher quality film than the end result. They had top of the line costuming and film score. The costumes really are top-notch and extremely varied. One website I read pointed out that this film has the greatest variety in headwear of any film they've seen. The music was done by Ennio Morricone, the guy who did the stuff for "Fistful of Dollars" and "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly". It's quality stuff - and though there seem to be only two main themes (the travelling, main theme and the panicked fight theme) that repeat a lot, at least the catchy travelling theme is... well, catchy. It definetly conjurs up images of warriors galloping across mountains and hills on horseback.

And then there's the bad... the acting is horrendous. What is interesting is that nearly everyone delivers their lines in the same, stilted, unsure manner. It's SO across the board that you almost forgive it as just the way people seem to speak in that universe. Or you just laugh at it - the dialague makes this film highly quoteable. Nearly any sentence spoken aloud on its own is good enough to cause laughter in those who hear it. ;)

And of course, it has the 'gay is evil' theme - but Queen Gedren is so lovably shallow and evil I just want to pat her on the head. I mean, other than 5 year olds, no one is taking this film seriously, so have fun with it. The fight scenes aren't half bad and the sets are interesting, too. Just try saying the characters lines out loud and there is laughter to be had. :D

One of my favorite movies of all time - but it's a special case. ;)

Edit to add: since the original posting of this I have obtained the film on DVD - readily available at supermarket chain stores across the U.S. for about $8.