Review: Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End

aftermath-empires-end-header-1024x576Judging from io9’s review of the book, I would say most fans would get into Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath: Empire’s End because they’re looking for nerdy tidbits, are confused about the new triology’s canon, or want to immerse themselves in the Star Wars universe just for a little while. As advertised by the magnificent Random Penguin jacket, readers can finally know why there was an Imperial Star Destroyer getting eaten by the sands of Jakku in TFA.

I did not do this. I did not seek out the book for righteously geeky reasons. Yes, I am a casual fan. I do own a Boba Fett action figure. I have a Lego Millennium Falcon. I’m a Jedi in the streets and a Sith in the sheets. But no, I’m not that much of a fan that I have to pore through the literature and know about all the background characters’ histories. That’s what Rogue One was for. But, I still feel strongly enough about this to review EE, so really, I’m going with the Force on this one.  Continue reading “Review: Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End”

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I Went to See Valerian and Nearly Wept in the First Minutes

409022-_sx312_ql80_ttd_The silver screen goes dark, digital Earthlight fills the theatre, and the first notes of something familiar pierce the brilliant night. What song is that? I wonder, as spacecraft intrude upon the peaceful scene and offer scale to the awesome planetary drama. The song teases at my memory. It’s something I should know, something I used to listen to religiously. An old friend who invites a feeling of hope and wistfulness. Now we see the inside of the craft, the airlocks connecting, hands reaching across a gulf bigger than the emptiness of space. Human beings clasping each other proudly despite decades of geographic and political history, and suddenly I know what the song is, and I nearly slap myself for forgetting Valerian is a Luc Besson film. The song! It’s David Bowie’s Space Oddity, and with that knowledge comes a sudden wave of catharsis as more and more humans join the scene, building up the space station that will become the seed of the city of a thousand planets.

“Are you crying?” my wife asks. I snort back some errant moisture.

“No!” I squeak, but my voice breaks.

Yes, I’m dramatizing what actually happened. One does not weep in the first few minutes of a breakfast matinee. One does not go into a science fiction film expecting to be moved by something minutes into the movie. Even Leon the Professional had to set up that New York family and the pitiful waif to make that insane Gary Oldman massacre work. I suppose my excuse is that I just had a surprisingly lovely chicken waffle sandwich before the scene opened, and the curly fries were also delicious. But I assure you, there is a reason for my silliness. Please, do read on.

Continue reading “I Went to See Valerian and Nearly Wept in the First Minutes”

After My Heart Got Stolen: A Post-Persona Ennui

Pictured: The Motley Crew

My birthday was last month, and barring that one week when I needed to finish a couple of short story submissions, I have basically been playing Persona 5 non-stop for a good 30 days. It’s been a wonderful journey, but now the aftermath of every Persona game has set in. Why did I not remember this before? This longing, this pain like I’ve had a dear friend ripped from me. Atlus fans will know what I mean. For every Persona game, there’s that one or two characters you can never let go of. For me in P3, it was Aegis, Akihiko, and Mitsuru. In P4, it was Chie and Naoto. But this one, Persona 5, hurts the most in part it is the last one from the Persona team, and the one where every character has left a gouge in my heart. Or rather, they stole it away.

Read more about my encounter with the Phantom Thieves here:

Continue reading “After My Heart Got Stolen: A Post-Persona Ennui”

Life of Pi: Not So Much a Review

I’ve been spending the last few weeks playing Persona 5 and sorting out some things, but in a leisurely moment one of those things has been catching Life of Pi with my library’s movie service. I have history with this book, as I first encountered it in my heartily rebellious atheist phase and fought valiantly against reading it. One of the best things about movies is the helplessness by which our eyeballs are glued to the screen. Unless the movie is absolute garbage (Ahem, Twilight) the silver screen has a hypnotizing effect, and as we authors hope for, a gateway effect to literature.

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Movies: an accurate depiction

After watching Life of Pi, I decided to read the book, which had been languishing around our house as not one but two copies. One is a cherished, dog-eared volume with many pencil marks lightly sketched in it, bearing my wife’s name in the corner of one page. The other is a slick, almost brand-new paperback that shows no signs of my abandoned attempts to open it, nor the derision I lavished on its message. These two books have sat side on our shelves ever since my wife and I combined our prodigious book collections. I daresay they are symbolic of the exciting relationship my marriage has been the last few years.

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My copy was divorced from its mate in the Great Move of 2015

Older and theoretically wiser, I finally managed to finish Life of Pi (my wife’s volume, naturally)  and instead of reviewing what is now a cultural icon, this is more of a philosophical reflection on its message. The movie is beautiful, incidentally, faithfully recreated and nipped in just the right places to make it accessible as a visual medium. I must note that the colors and cinematography do the job of inspiring a numinous feeling. I am an atheist, but I have experienced the “idea of the holy” before. Coined by Rudolf Otto in 1917, the word “numinous” is a nice, rational, neutered way of describing the experience of faith. Spoilers etc follow:

Continue reading “Life of Pi: Not So Much a Review”

June 27th Update

Let me just apologize by saying that yes, I’m working on new posts. I have no excuse. Well, I have several, and they’re actually very interesting, so…

First off, it was my birthday earlier this month, which is relevant because I got Persona 5 for myself and have spent most of my time being a stylish Phantom Thief. I’ll put up my thoughts on it later, which is not going to be a proper review, seeing as we already know it’s one of the best games to come out this year.

I’ve been trying to finish up some short stories for submission despite some odd time constraints. Just a lot of things to do that gets in the way of writing and in the way of inspiration. When I reach for some concrete reason why I didn’t spend time I had a lot of I get a handful of guilt that feels a lot like the hangover from procrastination. Except I distinctly remember being exhausted at the time, or walking around with a mind full of other things to do, or just really needing to unwind. I mentioned having to do a lot to care for my chronically ill wife, but she is slowly recovering, and the work is more about mental caregiving than anything. My days feel a little like Persona, when the social links and the stat bonus days don’t ever come at the right time, and there’s always the pressing need to accomplish something by a certain date. Except in real life, things tend to be a lot more stressful.

My friend dropped off a kitten for us to catsit earlier this week and Skittles has introduced some challenges all on his own. I keep wondering if Zoe will eat him, but she is a big softy or a coward, I haven’t decided yet. Skittles keeps following her around, like he misses his mom. Also, small animals like to sleep on my tummy. This is a fact I sometimes forget, on account of lack of opportunity.

More later. Stay tuned!

The Peculiar Children of Ransom Riggs: A Cross-Medium Review

I can never get over Eva Green’s perfect bone structure, despite some truly horrible films she’s been in. The good ones are quite good though. Check out the one she did with Matt Smith.

I actually caught Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children a little while ago when Clau and I got the library movie dongle a few weeks back, but seeing as how the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was sitting in my TBR pile just waiting to be read, I thought I would save it for when I finished the book. It’s almost as if my past self and my now self were collaborating to truly mindfucl my was-then-but-not-quite now self who was reading the damn thing. Wait, what?

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A Cure For Wellness or a Gothic Wonderland? A Review

If you could bottle innocence…

There’s a benefit of watching a movie months after it comes out. You get to sit back and judge everybody who lunged to bin the film or to set it on a pedestal. It happened with all the great cult films, Psycho, Fight Club, The Shining, Alien, ridiculously often with films that dealt with dark themes and things that made people feel uncomfortable.

But watching a film on Netflix or with a stream is the equivalent of looking out through the lace curtains instead of staring inside trying to see the ghosts. If you know the ghosts are there, it’s a little easier to see how beautifully the wallpaper shows through their gloaming, and the way they warp reality, like looking up from deep water. And that’s what happened with A Cure For Wellness, which I caught in the deep of night and don’t regret a jot. That’s right. I drank deep of the poisoned aquifer and I freaking loved it.  Continue reading “A Cure For Wellness or a Gothic Wonderland? A Review”