Friday, May 23, 2014

Bad Haiku about: Superhero Movies (VII)

I watched Iron Man 3 the other day and liked it pretty well - would probably have really liked it if I had been able to focus on it and not be distracted by other, non-movie stuff.  I liked how it felt smaller in scale than the others (if "smaller in scale" can at all apply to a movie that cost $200 million to make).  I thought the chemistry between Tony Stark and the kid was fantastic - and kudos to that child actor for keeping up with Robert Downey Jr.  I liked seeing Pepper Potts and Colonel Rhodes get to kick some ass for a change.  I liked the VAGUE SPOILER reveal with the Mandarin: I didn't see it coming and Ben Kingsley looked like he was having a blast with it.

rampant explosions
still sad seeing iron marks
explode for clean slate

Good grief.  That has to be the absolute worst of the bad haikus yet.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mini book review: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (and also my 1000th post)

Before we get down to the scintillating mini review of Dead Witch Walking (it's the review I'm being sarcastic about, not the book - the book is perfectly fine if not above average for urban fantasy), let's just revel in the fact that THIS IS THE 1000TH POST FOR THIS BLOG.  That's crazy.  I know I don't post all that regularly, and when I do it's either about fantasy novels or recap blogging for The Walking Dead or sometimes True Blood anymore.  But still, if you told me way back in 2007 that I would still be writing this in 2014, I don't think I would have believed you.  Some days, when I haven't read or watched anything worthwhile and am wracking my brains trying to come up with a post since I haven't posted in ten days, some days I think about giving up and shutting down.  I don't, though, because even if no one reads this, I can still throw it out there to the universe, thinking that some day, maybe someone will stumble across my Italian beef recipe or list of literary mice and enjoy it.  Happy 1000th Post Day to you all.

I learned about Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison through a "My Guilty Pleasure" piece on  I have been burned before with urban fantasy, for the same reasons Amal El-Mohtar expresses: "fluffy" (or sparkly) vampires and the "skeeze factor" (Laurell K. Hamilton, I'm looking at you).  The first book in Harrison's The Hollows series, Dead Witch Walking, avoids all that.  Yes, there is the generic urban fantasy book cover, with a back view of a sexy woman wearing leather pants with handcuffs at her belt.  Yes, it is told from a first-person point of view.  Yes, there are witches and vampires and fairies and pixies and what-all.  But there isn't any overt sex (yet), there's an unlikely trio banding together to make a living and fight supernatural crime, there's fighting and danger and mistrust and misunderstandings and mistakes.

Rachel Morgan is the titular witch.  She quits her job as a sanctioned paranormal bounty hunter and while her bosses let her go, she still has to pay off her contract plus there's a price on her head.  The agency's top bounty hunter, living vampire Ivy (you'll just have to read the book to learn the difference between living and dead vampires - dead ones are way worse), goes with her and, along with Rachel's pixy back-up Jenks, the three of them set up shop in an old church and hang out their shingle.  Rachel is a bit of a mess, an adrenaline junkie who doesn't think things through; Ivy is a cool, conflicted character who is bisexual and mixed race; Jenks, the least developed in this first book, is brave and funny and loyal ... and knows that his tiny pixy wife wears the pants in their family.  I thought the plot was a little muzzy at times - they don't catch the Big Bad so it all seems like a set up for subsequent books - but the characters and their relationships were unusual enough that I want to go back to the Hollows and see what comes next.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

In which I totally geek out over family-friendly outdoors summer movies

We live not too far from Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, which means great skiing in the winter (and out here, lift-served skiable winter runs from November through the end of May) and great things to do in the mountains out of the summer's heat.  Snowbird has a brewfest, hosts a stage of the Tour of Utah, has outdoors activities all summer (like hiking, tram/chairlift rides, ropes course, alpine slide, etc.), free live music on the deck on Saturdays and family-friendly movies Friday nights outside under the night skies.

They just announced this summer's movie schedule and they have a mostly great line-up coming:

  • The Incredibles - the best superhero movie
  • The Princess Bride - beloved classic
  • The Sandlot - filmed right here in SLC
  • The Truman Show - meh
  • Frozen - where the audience is sure to be packed with tiny girls
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark - again, classic
  • Rocky IV - WTF? how did that get in there? It's the one in Russia, apparently
  • Willow - hooray for 1980s fantasy
  • Jurassic Park - those dinosaurs totally hold up
  • Hook - aw, Bob Hoskins
  • The Dark Crystal - OMG OMG OMG ilovethedarkcrystal sooooo much
I am SO psyched for The Dark Crystal - I can't believe they're showing it.  I'm not sure Mr. Mouse will be all that interested in seeing it - he's not much for fantasy and that definitely applies to puppet-based fantasy too - but I'll go alone if necessary.  Gelfings! Podlings! Mystics! Garthrim! Skeksis!  Fizzgig!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Mini book review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up is a YA novel by Daniel Handler (a/k/a Lemony Snicket), with artworks by Maira Kalman.  Narrated by Min, it is the story of her romance and break-up with Ed.  Min is a smart original-thinker, Jewish, an old film buff, a pretty girl who doesn't know she's pretty and who has loyal friends.  When she meets Ed at her BFF Al's "Bittersweet 16" party, she is taken aback and intrigued when he asks if he can call her.  Ed is not her type; Min is not his type.  He's a basketball jock, tall, cute and popular, good at math and serial dater with a sick mom.  But he asks if he can call her and then does, and they go out on unusual (for Ed) dates to old movies and to early-morning thrift shops, and against all odds they date.  For a couple of months which, if I can remember high school at all, is practically forever.  Min changes for Ed and Ed changes for her and both sets of their friends are uncomfortable with it ... until they break up, and Min collects everything she saved from her time with Ed and returns it to him, and explains why they broke up.

I really liked this book, despite it bringing back some long-repressed feelings of high school era angst.  It is entertaining and funny and heart-breaking and Handler does a stellar job of tapping into the thoughts of a teenage girl in love: the obsessing about everything the boy says, the obsessive collecting of trash and tidbits and imbuing them with Meaning because surely it meant something that he gave her a matchbook.  Speaking as a former teenaged girl, I think Handler nailed it and it is excruciating and wonderful all at the same time.

P.S.  SPOILER Ed's a jerk.