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Subject:Changing places
Time:10:09 pm
This is something I have been meaning to do for a while, but have only just got round to doing the import. That is, I will now be blogging at my domain, bewareofmagpies.net. Finally I am able to make things pretty!

I will still be reading from this account, but will be updating there from now on. I hope you will come have a look :)
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Subject:Season over achievement!
Time:10:51 pm
We finished the first season of Being Human tonight. God bless the UK and their short seasons. I've really enjoyed it – it sounds like a sitcom premise, but it's actually quite intense, not comedic at all.

Annie is my favourite, and the most adorable thing ever. Spoiler for episode three: (skip) And her fiancé about the scariest. Even more than the evil vampires *nods*. It's not as if it was a surprising reveal, but I'm very impressed by just how Owen was played. I will be really interested to see where they take Annie next. Mitchell and George have more obvious potential than she does, but they've done pretty well so far.

Lucky we have season 2 in the same box, so I will not even have to wait long to find out.
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Subject:Not stalagmite, stalactite.
Time:04:14 pm
Belated write-up of our last movie night. I don't know why I am more inclined to write up movies than books – maybe because with movies I've had more of a chance to discuss them and formulate an opinion in the first place?

Starcrash is an Italian film that apparently is meant to be a Star Wars rip-off, only no-one involved has seen Star Wars. And they didn't have the budget. It's awful. H really enjoyed it, but I sometimes fear he is turning into a parody of himself.

Acting-wise, there was the outrageously OTT villainy; there was the guy with fewer expressions than Castiel and no excuse; there was Christopher Plummer and his quiet dignity who was completely out of place, poor man. Also David Hasselhoff, who was the love interest, but the woman honestly had more chemistry with the robot.

'The' woman because there is only one. Also the line, "it's time for some robot chauvinism".

I felt like crying after that. They had threatened me with more Roger Corman films, see. To explain why that is so terrible, it includes films like Humanoids from the Deep, which has the tagline: "They're not human. But they hunt human women. Not for killing. For mating."

But thankfully H took pity on me and we watched Cliffhanger instead. He might have awful taste himself, but he is actually pretty good at picking what I will like. Cliffhanger is a Sylvester Stallone movie set in the mountains! So it is an action movie with lots of nice rocks to look out. I may have done some geeking. (And I'm pleased to see I was correct in picking there were actually two different mountain ranges involved.)

Go go spoilersCollapse )

After that I quickly suggested we watch Gremlins, least they get any more unsavoury ideas. And fell asleep during all the gremlin-y hijinks (we had a late start, on account of spending like an hour looking through all H's DVDs ... that's a lot of DVDs). It was duller than I expected, or possibly there was just too much set-up for two in the morning.

One terrible movie out of three is ... not that bad, really.
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Subject:The Losers
Time:01:11 pm
I finally saw The Losers, I am so behind. It was a lot of fun; I wasn't expecting to laugh as much as I did. Spoilers ...Collapse )
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Subject:Some observations on the war between the secret police and the revolutionaries
Time:03:18 pm
If I were leading a guerrilla force, and we had to take out the soldiers staying at a motel, I would probably not get someone to set off the alarm so they could all come outside with their guns.

Not that it seemed to make much difference.

Also, if I wanted to take someone alive, and they've just thrown away their gun and started walking away, I wouldn't shoot them. It's not like there weren't plenty of young soldiers who hadn't just dragged their mate over the Coromandel hills there to catch him. Really.

I've been watching Sleeping Dogs, which is a 1977 film, the first New Zealand movie my mother ever saw in the theatre. They had it on Māori TV this week, and Mum thought I should watch it, on account of it being dystopian and all. Basically, after prolonged industrial action, New Zealand becomes a police state! Sam Neill is the good New Zealand bloke who's left his wife after she's had an affair; he runs off to live on an island and 'feel sorry for himself'. There is an old man who stares ominously out at the water, as old men are wont to do. Sam Neill is set up as a revolutionary! The resistance wants to use him, but he just wants to be left alone, dammit. And in the end it all comes down to mateship. Just in case you weren't absolutely sure this was made in NZ :p

It was pretty interesting, anyway, though the ending could have been stronger. And turns out Sam Neill was kind of a babe when he was younger, so side benefits?
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Subject:Cards of Grief - Jane Yolen
Time:06:00 pm
I just finished Jane Yolen's Cards of Grief. I find it interesting that the genre given on the back is fantasy, the quote from Marion Zimmer Bradley says "a lovely compelling fantasy", the cover very much reads as 'folkloric fantasy', if you don't pay attention to notice the space helmet the woman is holding ... and yet the book is an anthropological first contact novel. There's no way it's not science fiction, however 'soft'. The monoculturalism is given a scientific basis, and the very frame of the story is one of science. The act of observation changes.

The story is told in a similar fashion to her Sister Light, Sister Dark: we are seeing the same events from different perspective, we are switching back and forward, and it does deal very much with the difference between the objective and the subjective. I don't like to say stories, because here they seem untanglable from the whole, but two of the stories were published elsewhere in an earlier form, one a sequel to the other. So the book itself is an act of going back, seeing another story.

It's an approach I very much like, and don't see much in published fiction. Because it is about the act of storytelling, as well as the tale itself. It's particularly relevant to this tale, one which is about perspectives that only seem alien. Even the things that are left out have meaning, the things a person might not have words for.

And form aside, I like these people. Even the characters who do awful things, even them "I would have liked", through shear force of personality. It's a love story, but it is also the fact these people have no word for love that keeps it from being a tragedy.

I'm sorry to see this is out of print, because it's a very interesting book. It's a damn good story, but it's also one that rewards thinking.
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Subject:My best books in 2010
Time:04:27 pm
It's that time again! These are my favourite 2010 prose releases, in varying detail; I'll hopefully come back to the comics later.

Young adult fiction

Life Swap (Abby McDonald) was a book I was not expecting to enjoy as much as I did. Details!Collapse )I was expecting this to be a light read, and it is, but it's also a fine character study, smarter and more satisfying than the cover would lead you to believe. It's sold as YA, but it's set at university/college, and it was nice to read about people closer to my own age and stage in life.

A book I did have expectations for, on the other hand, was the sequel to Anna MacKenzie's Sea-Wreck Stranger, a gorgeous, low-key post-apocalyptic novel. Ebony Hill did not disappoint.

This spoils the ending of Sea-Wreck Stranger, but I don"t know that"s a big deal – that book ends in a pretty inevitable way.Collapse )

Honourable mention: Sarwat Chadda's Dark Goddess, the sequel to The Devil's Kiss. Even more of an adventure story, and with a less Abrahamic focus. More female characters too. Billi is a marvellous heroine, struggling to deal with conflicting loyalties, determined to do her best and do her job and save the world while she's at it. I enjoyed this a lot.

Adult fiction

Mira Grant's Feed I have already written about a bit. Zombies as science fiction rather than horror. I feel like I need a second copy of this so I can give it to more people. I got a text from my mother while she was away saying, "I never thought a book about zombies would make me cry." Me neither.

Tansy Rayner Robert's Power and Majesty was fabulous secondary-world fantasy, in a classical rather than medieval setting, with fantasy elements that felt fresh, a focus on female friendship, the kind of fucked-up secondary characters you hate to like, and a heroine who is able to save the day because of her feminine qualities, and be a better leader because of them.

NK Jemison's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms managed to hit a lot of my story kinks beautifully, in a way that reminded me of my favourite Tanith Lee stories. I love love love stories that are really mythic, so I raced through this. The sequel is also very good, though less id-y and maybe not as well structured. On the other hand, Oree was more memorable to me than Yeine, even if Yeine's story-arc hit me more, and I enjoyed the different perspective it gave to the world.

Honourable mentions for new books in continuing series: Tanya Huff's The Truth of Valor kept it fresh, and Michelle Sagara's Cast in Chaos went even more epic than before. Seanan McGuire's An Artifical Night was probably my favourite new urban fantasy book for the year, in a year which really solidified my love of the genre.

Short story collection

I picked up Angela Slatter's The Girl With No Hands at Worldcon, after I heard her putting a copy of The Secret Feminist Cabal aside and deciding that meant her stories were probably ones I'd be interested in. My favourite is 'The Living Book', which despite beginning in a fairy tale setting, perfectly fulfills my robot kink. Many of these stories are drawn from fairy tales, finding other ways to look at them. It's other ways to look at things in general, including a disturbing antidote to all these zombie love stories I cannot believe exist. There's a lot that verges on horror here, all beautifully told.
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Subject:2011 reading and watching
Time:09:36 am
The 2011 roundup post can be found at Beware of Magpies.
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Subject:Movie night write-up
Time:09:26 pm
We started off with Serenity, because L's family have bought a new tv and he wants to show off his blu-rays. It was a positive start to the evening. My favourite moment is still Mal railing against the idea that you can "make people better". Probably because that was such a theme in the sci-fi I read as a kid: that your society would constrict you and guide you to be how it wanted, and to prevent that is something worth dying for.

Okay, so the results of the Miranda experiment are a little more fatal than those in the books I'm thinking of, but they stem from the same desire.

While I am speaking of abominations, we followed up Serenity with Transformers People who watched this as a child think of it with a fondness I cannot understand. They also rave about the soundtrack. Which I suppose was okay, but really, as far as I can tell the movie was simply an excuse to kill all the old Transformers and replace them with new ones. It is action scene after action scene, and it is utterly boring.

It is no wonder L has no respect for the personhood of robots, having grown up on this. He did comment that you would never see this kind of violence in a kids' movie about people.

The Descent, on the other hand, I liked a lot. Horror movies often don't do much to freak me out: it turns out what you do is stick in some spelunking and scenes that hit my fear of heights and I'm ready to jump. This wasn't true for everyone.

It was kind of sad that this was a horror movie, because (though the horror is signposted) the first half is very much an adventure, focusing on the six women, their physical strength, competence and determination. The women think they're exploring one cave system, but the leader, Juno, has taken them to another, unmapped and unnamed. So when a tunnel caves in behind them, they don't know if there's any way out. I would have been quite happy if it had stayed an adventure story; I enjoyed it as a horror, but it didn't feel as fresh.

Juno, the one who got them into trouble, is my favourite character, because she's so recklessly ambitious.* She hasn't told them where they're going, and their rescue plan has been filed for the wrong location, but they are experienced and prepared. Even with the cave in, the accidents, there's no reason to believe they wouldn't have got out alive except for spoilers!Collapse )

Our final, mind-numbing movie was Red Sonja. It is not good even for the lols. Yes, the sets are impressive, and some of the costumes are pretty neat, as the boys insisted on pointing out, but everything else is dire. The script, the fight scenes (way too much energetic sword singing). Also, evil lesbians. I am aware of it as a trope, but I have never seen it so blatantly. Spoilers explain.Collapse )

Considering Sonja's oath only to love a man who can defeat her in combat, the movie doesn't do as badly on the 'woman needs a man' front as I expected though.

Even at three in the morning, this movie is a bad idea. It feels way longer than its one and a half hours.
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Subject:no job for me
Time:08:44 pm
So, I didn't get the full-time job at the place I was contracting at earlier in the year. Which, okay, was not that exciting but it's not as if there are heaps of opportunities at the moment, and I would really like to be able to move out of home at some point in the not-to-distant future.

And okay, they did mess me around for three months on the application, but: not drowning in job opportunities here!

On the other hand, if I am mostly-unemployed in January, I will have the time to go to the beach on holiday. Which does sound rather nice, if I'm able to co-ordinate it. I'll just think about that.
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[icon] Geomythologist
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