Thursday, 19 January 2017

Video: Logan Trailer #2

Ok, this new Logan movie looks pretty awesome. Out March 3rd.

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hideout on the Mexican border. But Logan's attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Video: Eye Art by Tal Peleg

My husband showed me an article a few days ago with the most incredible eye art. The artist is Tal Peleg (facebook page). Here's an interview with her, which explains - among other things - that her works take between 1.5 and 4.5 hours (averaging at 2.5)!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Book Review: Lock In by John Scalzi

Pros: great premise, diverse cast, complex plot

Cons: Chris’s connections start to feel contrived, Chris’s wealth 

Chris Shane contracted Haden’s syndrome at the age of 2 and has been ‘locked in’ ever since, aware of his/her surroundings, but unable to move. There have been numerous technological advances in the years since the disease first hit, including the creation of threeps, robot bodies that lock ins can use to live normal lives. The day other Haden sufferers go on strike to oppose a new legislative bill that strips them of a lot of their protections, Chris starts his/her job at the FBI. When an integrator, a person who can carry around a Haden sufferer’s consciousness, is found standing over the dead body of a man, Chris starts his/her first case.

First off, had I not read when the audio book came out that there were two versions, one with a female narrator and one with a male, I might not have noticed that Chris’s gender is never specified. Hence my use of his/her.

The book deals heavily with disabilities - the language used to talk about it, how people with disabilities are perceived by those without disabilities, there’s a very brief conversation about whether cures are the best course of action, etc. It’s great to see a book deal with these issues in a frank way. It also goes into discrimination in some ways, for example, while Haden’s sufferers are able to use threeps, no one else can, including people with other debilitating physical conditions - like quadriplegics. 

I loved some of the technology used in the book, particularly the 3D crime scene maps and the agora.

The plot was pretty complicated and had a lot of great twists. I did start to feel that a few of the connections Chris made were contrived - Tony being the exact person they need to help with their case, meeting with the heads of the pertinent Haden corporations the week everything’s happening. They’re realistic given the context, their location, and the number of Haden’s concentrated in DC, but they still felt a bit too lucky.

It started to annoy me how quickly Chris was to throw money at his/her problems. Yes he/she is rich, but he/she can’t afford to do this kind of thing on every job - replacing threeps, paying for services people he/she meets on cases can’t afford, agreeing to pay Tony whatever he wants, regardless of the budgetary concerns of restrictions of the FBI (they don’t even see if the FBI has their own contracted programmers who could do the work for them before hiring him).

I thought it was a great mystery with some thought provoking ideas.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Shout-Out: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Couthurst

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.
Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Movie Review: Seventh Seal

Directed by: Ingmar Bergman,1957

Pros: effective use of lighting, realistic medieval depictions

Cons: boring at times, the squire threatens a woman into joining him

A knight, returned home from the crusades, plays chess with the personification of Death to give himself time to find out if God is real. On his way home he passes through villages terrified of the plague.

This is a black and white film that looks absolutely stunning. Bergman made great use of light and darkness to create different atmospheres during the film. The scene with the flagellants is disturbing, while scenes with the actors Jof and Mia are full of hope and love. I loved Death’s design, the white face with a black cape and gloves. It evokes a skull without the gothic overtones and thus avoids feeling overdramatic. Instead, the human face seems terrifying, as we see throughout the film how humans treat each other in the face of death.

The acting was quite good, and the costumes looked amazing. I’d argue the historical accuracy of this film is better than most of what’s made nowadays, despite our better understanding of the medieval period. 

For the most part I liked the squire, but there’s one scene where he helps a woman and then basically forces her to come with him because he ‘saved her life’. That’s not to say it isn’t a realistic scene, it just made me like the squire a whole lot less.

The opening is a bit slow and a few parts seemed to meander, but on the whole it was a good movie.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Shout-Out: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire

When her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.
But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Video: So You Want To Be Batman

This looks like a new series by Cracked. I thought this was pretty good and am curious to see who else they do.