Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
Looking for Alaska by John Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I, unlike the vast majority of people, am not bothered by spoilers. Oftentimes I'll spoil myself about a book series. For example, I knew the ultimate, final ending of the Mistborn trilogy before I read the first book. Maybe it comes from my ability to reread books, after the first time I'm spoiled for the ending. It's the journey that counts I guess, not the destination.

So it is kind of unusual that I didn't already know what was going to happen going into the book and I'm glad I didn't. It was kind of fun thinking about the event that splits the book into Before and After, which is a really cool way of structuring the story. I was kept guessing until she told the guys to distract the Eagle for her, once that happened I knew she was dead.

I identified heavily with the main character because, besides his ineptitude at pre-calc and the alcohol/smoking, we are very similar. Alaska was an intriguing character to say the least, and it could be argued it was just as much her story as it is Pudge's.

I just have to say I wish I had a class with Dr. Hyde.

In regards to the Author: I watch John's videos on youtube and I really like the whole culture that has sprung up about John and his brother Hank. It is strange though, reading his books after watching him. He is a goofy, nerdy guy, which is a good thing,but he writes such deep, thought-provoking books.

View all my reviews

Friday, March 23, 2012

Once Upon a Time - Red Handed

So I have to say, I've been waiting for this episode for quite some time.  Red and Granny are among the last of the major characters introduced in the pilot's War Council scene, and they've been present in almost every episode since then.  It's almost unfair that they've been held back until now.  I've recently spent some time researching the Little Red Riding Hood story for a project in my Theater class, and of all the different versions I read/saw this episode has to be one of the most interesting.  Now I'm one who prefers the original, darker versions to the present day "Disney'd" ones and I feel that this episode does quite well in honoring the original while keeping true to the overall feel of the show.

Why is it that Grannies are almost always either frail and weak or fierce, independent types?  Red's Granny firmly rests in the later category (much like my own).  The scene where Snow "introduces" herself to Red is by far the funniest part of the episode.  It also establishes that Snow isn't as comfortable roughing-it as she is later on in earlier episodes...  That seems almost oxymoronic,  I did call the whole werewolf aspect early in the episode though I, like Snow and Red, thought the boyfriend was the wolf.  I did begin to harbor doubts about it when Red approached him about it, something just felt off about it.  A major OMG moment for me was when Granny told Snow she was tracking Red by scent.  My expression was the same as Snow's.  This story isn't over, they still have to "save" Granny so she can be at the War Council.

In Storybrooke, the investigation into Kathryn's disappearance continues while the tension between Ruby and Granny comes to a head.  I don't really have much to say about Ruby in this other than her short time with Emma helped her to be more mature and secure in her self.  The actress who plays Ruby is very beautiful, which in a cast with several incredibly beautiful women can be forgotton.  but the scene where Ruby and Granny come to terms is when she looks her best.

I wonder why David is having those episodes when he hasn't since he first woke up, unless of course he's been having them just not on camera.  When he, Emma, and Dr. Whale were talking and Regina interrupted I was really confused.  I didn't get why Regina was "protecting" David when the phone records she supplied helped to incriminate him.  The end of the episode cleared that up though, it's not David she wants to frame.  It's Snow White Mary Margaret...

First Picture -

Second Picture -

Monday, March 19, 2012

Once Upon a Time - Dreamy

I really hadn't expected an episode like this.  I don't know why not, one of the examples the show creators always gave for possible stories was "the story of how Grumpy became grumpy."
I was happy to see Amy Acker as the fairy Nova/Sister Astrid, I've liked her work since I saw her as the quirky Winifred "Fred" Burkle on Angel and wish she did more, but alas...  I do find it strange that the dwarves hatch from eggs.  I wouldn't say it was a bad Idea but it is certainly... different.  I liked that the dwarves received their names from magic pick-axes, it just makes sense.  I also liked that the diamonds the dwarves mine are ground into the magic dust the fairies use; it explains two mysteries in one fell swoop.

Overall I was kinda "eh" about the episode, it had parts I liked but it didn't quite hook me like other episodes have.  The relationship between Dreamy and Nova felt a bit rushed, both in starting and ending.  Why did Dreamy give up without more of a fight?  He was different from other dwarves, maybe he could love.  I did love how Dreamy's pick-ax broke, as that shows that "Dreamy" is dead, since the pick-axes are bound to their respective dwarf.  "Grumpy" couldn't use "Dreamy's" pick-ax.  This story isn't over though, Grumpy still needs to get to the jail cell where he meets Snow, but that will probably be a future season.
In Storybrooke the same sort of thing happens between Leroy and Astrid.  She spills some glittery stuff on him and he falls in "love," with a nun...  Mr. Gold's refusal to help the nuns is explained a bit by the fact that most, if not all, of the nuns are/were fairies, but that begs the question why doesn't Rumple like fairies?  We have already seen him kill one in the Cinderella episode.

One of the gems in the episode is the scene were Leroy goes up to a roof and Mary Margaret follows him thinking he is going to jump.  When she says so he replies with something to the effect of, "What? I'm not going to jump.  That's crazy!"  He then cuts off the electricity so the people have to buy candles.  The Miner's Day Celebration also echoes the symbiotic relationship between the Dwarves (miners) who mine the diamonds and then grind them into dust for the Fairies (nuns).

It pains me that Emma is beginning to doubt her super power, because Sydney got those records from Regina so they could be faked.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On Fairy Tales

Hmm... Typing that reminds me of a particularly good essay by The Professor (an honorific for J.R.R. Tolkien used on the LOTRO Forums) called "On Fairy-Stories."  If you get a chance to read it do so.  It is worth it.

As one can probably tell from my posts on Once Upon a Time, I am a fan of fairy tales.  Make that a fairy-tale-oholic.  I don't know how many books/movies/etc. of fairy tales (or adaptations/recreations thereof) I have.  Now I am not the only fan of fairy tales, one only has to look at the entertainment industry to see that fairy tales are the new "it" theme.  Not only do NBC and ABC have shows based of fairy tales (Grimm, which I lost interest in months ago and the vastly superior Once) but there are not one but two Snow White movies coming out in the near(-ish) future (Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman).
"Wait," you might be asking, "wouldn't that get repetitive?  They are all based on the same thing!"  Well...  No.  Saying that is like saying Twilight and Dracula are the same because they are both about vampires.  They aren't one is one of the great Horrors and the other is a kind-of trashy romance.  (I feel I am justified in saying that because I have read the entire "Saga."  I wish I hadn't, but I have.)  Likewise Once is Lost-esque, Grimm is a crime drama, Mirror, Mirror is a comedy and Snow White and the Huntsman is an action/drama (I think).  All are very different genres.

So there is a question begging to be asked, why are fairy tales so popular?  If you look at the world's state of affairs it is kind of obvious.  Economies aren't doing so well, heck even entire countries have gone bankrupt, the world vacuums  at the moment.  Is it any wonder people are liking something that reminds them of the point in their childhoods when they hadn't a care in the world?

Of course it is wise to remember the modern way of telling the tales is not he original way of doing so;  the tales have been "Disney'd."  That is made them all happy and cheerful while the originals were actually quite dark.  And rightly so!  Their purpose wasn't to entertain, they were cautionary tales.

Take Little Red Riding Hood, most people think it goes something like this, "Girl meets wolf in forest on way to Grandma's house.  Wolf runs ahead and eats/pretends to be Grandma.  Red shows up and talks about Grandma's features are so big.  Wolf is somehow defeated and Red and Grandma both survive."  Right?  Wrong.  Most of it is right but the ending this, "Wolf eats Red.  Then Woodsman comes along, kills the wolf and cuts Red out of its stomach."  Gruesome, right?  The point of the story is thus,

Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say "wolf," but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all.
                                                                               Little Red Riding Hood

Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: A Feast for Crows

A Feast for Crows
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I did like this book better than the last one, I still don't really like it since a good number of my favorite characters (well Jon and Dany) are missing. I understand why Martin did what he did (splitting this book and the next not by time but viewpoint) which is not how I would have done it; I'm not the author though, Martin is, and I respect his decision. The Jaime in this book is not the same man he was in the first book, he has shown considerable growth and while originally I kind of wanted him to die, I want him to survive now... Which cannot be said for his dear twin. Like Jaime, I did not like Cersei. With the addition of her viewpoint I dislike her so much that my dislike has "lapped" my dislike for all the other characters. Its not that she is "evil" for their can be a sort of honor in that, Tywin had it. Cersei however is just mad with power - and not in a good way. I hope she gets everything she deserves...

As always Arya does not disappoint, she and Sansa are the only Originals that have viewpoints in this book, which, though short, were enjoyable. The only disjointing thing about it was when the commit to being "another person" the title of their chapter changes to. Thinking about it though it is fitting.

Their were also a lot of new viewpoints. Their viewpoints are titled not their name (even when a character's viewpoint is used more than once - but again its Martin's book) but an actual title such as "The Prophet" or "The Kraken's Daughter" which can be poetic.

Brienne's viewpoint was also a welcome addition. Even though she and Jaime don't interact at all their relationship continues to develop. It seems to be building a romantic angle, while I think a more platonic relationship based on a shared sense of honor would be more appropriate. (Do I even have to say it?)

One thing that I really did enjoy was an offhand remark by somebody that said that there was a Maester Rigney that believed that time was a wheel. Well a certain James Oliver Rigney, Jr. who, under the pseudonym Robert Jordan, wrote another of fantasy's great epics The Wheel of Time...

View all my reviews