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My SF Book Club recently read Updraft, a first novel by local author Fran Wilde. It's a dystopian novel where people live in towers in the clouds and use constructed wings to fly between them. The main character is a teenage girl with a special power over the hideous flying invisible monsters that attack the people in the towers. She ends up discovering all kinds of secrets held by the mysterious Seekers who control the towers and engage in ritual human sacrifice and frequent duels to the death. I found the premise to be quite interesting, but the execution left a lot to be desired. First off, I did not like any of the characters. By the end of the novel, I could not have cared less as to who lived and who died. This was in part due to the structure of their society where no one could attach or bond well since one could die at a moment's notice. Second, while the world was presented as internally consistent, it made no sense in terms of actual physics. Had they attributed everything to magic, it would have been easier to accept, but since they did not, I kept thinking about how the flying could work, etc. Third, the economy of the world made little sense. Traders were described as flying amongst towers to exchange rare goods. But since no one ever went below the clouds, it was not clear where goods came from or how they were grown. In balance, I found the writing to be compelling and I wanted to know what would happen next. Overall, the group thought that this had some interesting ideas, but was plagued with first novel type problems. I'm curious to read the sequel, but I am not rushing out to buy it.
logisticslad: (me)
Saw Man of Steel tonight and truly disliked it. In an effort to update the story for today's audience, they glorified many of the things that I find unpalatable in comics today (e.g., excessive violence, questionable morality, ridiculous plotting) and effectively gutted the heart of what makes Superman a hero. Yes, Henry Cavill looked great in the suit and there was a strong cast, but I felt that the dialogue was clunky and the script was inconsistent and caused the characters to do things that they simply would not do. I did not feel that there was an inspirational moment in the entire movie, and so for me, this was not Superman.
logisticslad: (Default)
Saw Scott Pilgrim vs the World tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it! An hilarious mix of romantic comedy, comic books, and video games, it had me laughing throughout. They played it so over the top and yet it had a sweet center to it. Two thumbs up from me!!
logisticslad: (Default)
Finally saw the remake of Fame this weekend. The original remains one of my favorite movies. It told the story of artistically talented kids attending the High School of Performing Arts and grappling with all sorts of coming of age issues. It dealt honestly with teenage sexuality (and I saw it at the time I was exploring similar issues) and had wonderful performances and memorable music. The remake told a similar story, but by virtue of not spending enough time with each character, lacked the emotional depth of the original. The performances were entertaining, but I didn't find the music particularly memorable (except for the new version of Out Here on My Own). The teachers were wonderfully portrayed (thank you Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth, Megan Mullaly, Charles S Dutton, and Debbie Allen as the Principal). The students each had promise, but their various storylines were handled so superficially that it just didn't resonate for me. I believe that the male ballet dancer was supposed to have the gay storyline, but that was never developed. Most of the student storylines were not satisfactorily resolved - are we supposed to believe that the angry black kid is now well adjusted because he could express himself in his music? or that the talented singer with the need to express herself despite her father's controlling expectations is now fully self actualized? Various scenes from the original were redone in this movie (for example, the hot lunch jam, the Rocky Horror-esque dressing room, the stepping in front of the subway scene), but none of them really added anything new to it. It was fun to see the So You Think You Can Dance alumna perform, but her storyline was even more painful to watch than some of the others. All in all, it was entertaining for the performances, bit not a must see.
logisticslad: (Default)
On Saturday, [personal profile] defenestrator and I saw a matinee of the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still at the IMAX theater. I thought that it certainly wasn't as good as the original, but it had some good parts on its own.

Read more... )
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The new season of Heroes premiered tonight...

Beware: Spoilers Within )


Aug. 27th, 2008 10:45 am
logisticslad: (Default)
While trying to survive my sinus woes, I watched two movies on DVD: The Spiderwick Chronicles and Once.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is about a family that moves into a house that is protecting a book filled with the secrets of the fairy world. The kids find the book and have to keep it out of the hands of the darker fey creatures led by the Ogre, played Nick Nolte. The kids made a number of obvious mistakes in their battle with the Ogre, but I suppose those were plot devices designed to heighten the tension. The movie concentrated on the cool fairy effects and gave short shrift to the characters, and overall was enjoyable, but nothing special.

Once is a story of a Guy and a Girl in Ireland with musical talents and rocky other relationships. They meet, make music, and inspire each other to address their other relationship issues. It is presented very intimately, almost like a documentary, and neatly captures the feeling of what it is like to work together creatively on something that one feels passionate about. I found it to be moving as it felt like it was describing something real. Plus the music was pretty good, too!
logisticslad: (Default)
I finally finished reading Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier and I highly recommend it! It's a retelling of the fairy tale of The Six Swans, where six brothers are turned into swans by their wicked stepmother, and their sister must break the curse by sewing them each a shirt out of nettles and remaining silent the entire time. In this version, it is set in Celtic Ireland and the sister, Sorcha, is a wonderful character who passes many tests of endurance to achieve her goal. The writing is equisite and lyrical. The novel feels very feminist and feminine at the same time, as Sorcha's life as a young woman is revealed. Complications ensue as she falls in love with a Briton, but her encounters with the Fey Folk help set everything on course for a reasonably happy ending. It turns out that this is the first of a trilogy, but it is a complete story in and of itself. We had just done this book in my SF Book Club and it was very well received, even by the folks who don't particularly enjoy fantasy. This was because of the quality of the writing and the strength of the characters. I'm delighted to have discovered this author and look forward to reading more by her!
logisticslad: (yao)
My TV viewing this season seems to split between Reality Shows and Sci-Fi. Here's what's on my DVR:

Reality Shows:
1. Survivor: Micronesia - I still really enjoy this show. The man vs nature and tribal interpersonal dynamics continue to appeal to me. This season, they are doing fans vs favorites. It's been an interesting twist, although I confess that none of the fans hold much appeal for me, whereas I like all the favorites. I'm rooting for Cirie for the win (even though she masterminded the ousting of my beloved Yao-Man (he's on my Icon)).

2. Top Chef: Chicago - This show has really hit its stride with interesting challenges and highly talented cheftestants. The creativity and time management are being well highlighted on this season. My final three are Stephanie, Lisa, and Richard (although Lisa might not make it if Dale or Jen can be more consistent).

3. Step It Up and Dance - This is a new Bravo show that features professional dancers doing group challenges. Interesting, although none of the dancers shine with their personalities, yet.

4. Dancing With the Stars - Love Love Love this over the top show! Kristi Yamaguchi for the win!!! Kudos to Marlee Matlin who has also been doing a phenomenal job.

5. America's Next Top Model - I enjoy seeing the hard work that goes on behind the scenes with modeling. The photo shoots remain very creative and the models are always interesting characters. Whitney is my favorite.

1. Torchwood - I'm still a huge fan of Captain Jack. I like the emotionally wounded characters. The plots often have holes, but work out in satisfying ways. I was very saddened by the season finale and look forward to what they can do for season three.

2. Doctor Who - David Tennant has finally convinced me that he is The Doctor (I though Chris Eccelston was fantastic). I still miss Rose and am looking forward to the new season.

3. Smallville - I started watching it again this season because of all the superhero guest stars. It's still Kal El's Creek, but it's become more interesting than the first few seasons.

4. Moonlight - It's a pale imitation of Forever Night, but still fun to watch.

5. Lost - I keep taping it, but not watching it. I think this means that I am just not that interested in watching the show, although I am curious as to what will happen.

Looking forward to the return of Heroes!
logisticslad: (Default)
This morning, M. went for a run with his Frontrunners group and I joined him for coffee afterwards. I've been being good to my ankle and it has been feeling better, but I think it was wise that I declined the invitation for a morning run or stroll. Some more of his friends came for coffee and then he went off to the gym with one of them and I went wandering.

I went to the Renwick Gallery of American Crafts and saw a fascinating exhibit on quilting during the pioneer era. The detail, innovative fabric choices (one quilt was made out of neckties!), colors, themes, and craftsmanship were quite amazing. The blurbs talked about how quilting was one of the few means of artistic expression available to frontier women and how they formed community around the activity.

I met up with M. in Dupont Circle after pokng through Kramer Books, the CD/DVD store, and Lambda Rising. We had a late lunch of Mexican food and then M. and I went to the National Gallery to see the Edward Hopper special exhibit. It was incredible. Hopper is the American artist who among other things did Nighthawks (that's the one where several people are sitting at Phillies Diner late at night), Automat, and Chop Suey. He specialized in painting unusual views of cities and towns inhabited by individuals depicted as tense or lonely or engaged in their own thoughts. He masterfully rendered sunlight and shadow to create dramatic tension in depictions of lighthouses, rooftops, and windows. It was a full retrospective of many of his major works and very crowded. I was very glad to have seen it.

Next we went to the E Street cinema to see The Darjeeling Limited. We both really enjoyed it and spent most of our time talking about it over a yummy Ethiopian food dinner at Zeds. It is about a group of broken people's search for family. It's the sort of film that one should see twice to be sure to catch everything. Well acted and well directed, it also featured one of my favorite foreign songs Les Champs Elysee at the end. It's a cerebral comedy and I'd recommend it to those who like that sort of thing (If you liked I "Heart" Huckabees or The Royal Tannenbaums then you'd probably like this movie).

Tomorrow, I get up early in order to take the Metro to my friend's place, where I will ride up to Philly with them to play D&D and have wine and cheese all day. It's been being a very satisfying vacation!
logisticslad: (bella)
Top 11 Lesbian/Bi moments in F&SF - How cool is that?

logisticslad: (Default)
Part documentary, part nature show, part reality show, and part soap opera, Meerkat Manor, narrated by Sean Astin, has been running on Animal Planet for three seasons. During this time, viewers have gotten to know the plucky Whiskers clan, so it hit me pretty hard when... Spoiler alert )
logisticslad: (super)
Spoiler alert:

Nooooo... not Read more... )

Who knew?

Aug. 27th, 2007 11:53 pm
logisticslad: (super)
Just rewatched an episode of Firefly called "Safe" and who did I see playing young Simon Tam but Zac Efron, star of High School Musical and Hairspray!!!
logisticslad: (Default)
Saw Stardust today and thoroughly enjoyed it. Well adapted, well acted, well visualized. It rocked!

ETA: I looked it up in IMDB and discovered that Sarah Alexander, who was wonderful in Coupling, played Empusa, one of the witches!!!
logisticslad: (super)
Season Two of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? premiered tonight on the Sci-Fi Channel and it was hilarious!


Read more... )
logisticslad: (nermal)
I was wiped out today from the changes in the weather affecting my sinuses. I couldn't concentrate on much at work and so spent most of my day meeting with my staff and students about their work. Then I came home and crashed in front of the TV. I vegged with the latest episodes of SYTYCD and Top Chef and I finished rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (I had wanted to see how things had been changed to make the movie, and I must say, I agree with every single departure from the book). My cats have been very snuggly with me tonight (I think that they found an old catnip toy that still had some oomph left in it).

In their honor, I found a new icon. I've named it "Nermal" :-)
logisticslad: (me)
Yau-Man is my total favorite on the current season of Survivor. He is the oldest guy and he is by far the smartest. He found the hidden immunity idol and almost singlehandely won last week's immunity challenge by blowing darts, tossing spears, and shooting arrows. He looks like an adorable little goblin, and I hope he wins!

From ex-castaway Bruce's blog on the official Survivor website:


"This is the YAU-MAN, ONE-MAN, IT’S IN THE CAN show. He is not afraid of Kryptonite, he can out-rap the BobDawgster, he can throw a spear better than Alexander the Great, he can get more women than Hugh Hefner, he is the Asian Robin Hood, he is the Yau-Man. Marvel comics is producing the new Yau-Man super-hero comic next month. (I heard it from the crew.)
Next week, Yau-Man will do the Fijian warrior’s Dance of Death and hunt a great white shark in the lagoon with a plastic knife from McDonalds. (I heard it from the crew.) You can get the Yau-Man action figure with a happy meal this summer."

This season is finally looking up!
logisticslad: (Default)
I watch Reality TV. Some would say that I watch too much Reality TV, but I find it entertaining in a way that does not expend much mental energy and that totally works for me after a hard day of work. I realized that I am currently watching 4 of them each week. Since I usually record the show and watch it later, I don't actually vote for any of the contestants, so there may be hope for me yet...

1) Grease, You're the One that I Want This one has turned out to be more fun than I thought. Theater hopefuls attempt to fill the roles of Danny and Sandy from Grease, set to open on Broadway in the summer. The show has the contestants sing and dance to music of the Grease period to compete as well as throwing in some Grease production numbers. Having been in a production of the show myself, I find it endlessly enjoyable. My favorites are the Max and Laura, the Danny and Sandy with the most unconventional looks, but the most talent.

2) Top Design I'm not really loving this show because I think that they should not put the contestants in teams nor give them such short times to produce their designs. I realize that this format has worked for both Project Runway and Top Chef on Bravo, but I think that it falls flat here. My favorites are sophisticated style Matt (who seriously pings my Bi-dar, not just because I think he's cute), construction creative Goil, and down to earth Andrea.

3) American Idol I couldn't agree more with the judges this season - the boys as a group are not nearly as good as the girls. Of the boys, only Beat Box Blake and Chris Sligh stand out for me, whereas all the remaining girls (except Haley) have been terrific. Melinda clearly has an advantage given all her experience as a background singer, but it really is different singing lead and I am definitely rooting for her.

4) Survivor Still my favorite concept for a reality show, but I don't like the way they are executing it this season. They divided the tribes into the Haves and the Have Nots, and to no one's surprise the Haves are kicking the Have Nots' collective asses. Plus, many of the contestants are pretty annoying. I like the two smart people on the Have Nots' tribe, Yao Man, who thinks his way through every problem, and Michelle, who started a fire with her reading glasses. I cannot even remember half the people on the other tribe. Hopefully, they will switch up the tribes soon and make things more interesting.

Need I say that I'm looking forward to the new seasons of Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway, and So You Think You Can Dance?


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