Tuesday, December 31, 2019

CATS

Oh, god, what a huge piece of garbage.

Terrifying and hilarious. Would not intentionally watch again.

Might casually catch it on cable and be transfixed, though.

The ears were *awful* and the use of dance poses and mimed cat body language was uncomfortable throughout.

Wretched. Can't believe how hard I laughed.

This was my final movie of the decade!
Happy New Year!

The Last Star Wars

I saw Rise of the Skywalker on whatever day it came out.

That movie was a mess, dudes. Pacing was fucked, new major characters were introduced way too late in the series. The "Rey is a Palpatine" plot point was INCREDIBLY stupid.

Major end-beats for Poe and Finn and Rey were okay. The resolution of the Kylo Ren character was alright.

They should have just had Leia die early instead of trying to cobble a character together out of old footage.

It was clumsy, and I expect more out of movies that cost that much and have so many pros at the helm.

As much of a bummer as it is to say I think this is the last Star Wars movie I'm going to end up seeing because of how powerfully I haven't cared about the new trilogy.

Friday, December 13, 2019

You're Worth More than your Productivity AKA everything I saw and read in 2019

I haven't made an entry on this blog for a long time because I got very depressed and did a lot of thinking about this blog.

I started this as an excuse to myself.

"It's okay, I'm not just wasting time, I'm reading and writing about what I read - if I make a blog entry about the books that I read then I'm still being productive!"

I haven't made an entry because I stopped reading when I started getting worried about how many entries I needed to catch up on.

HOO BOY.

Anyway, this is going back to what it should have been in the first place - a reading/viewing journal - instead of what it actually was: a permission slip I signed to myself begging to be allowed to enjoy things.

SO, without further ado:

Venom (2018) - November 2018 - I really fucking liked it
Venom (2018) - November 2018 - I REALLY fucking liked it
Venom (2018) - December 2018 - STILL REALLY LIKED IT

Venom: Lethal Protector - January 2019 - Extremely silly, I enjoyed it

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse - February 2019 - Hey this movie was fucking perfect, thanks.

Knives Out - November 2019 - I'm really shocked by how much I loved this movie. It was funny as hell and I want to go see it three more times.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Inverted Lear

Okay, right off the bat let's get this out of the way: Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres is King Lear told from the perspective of Regan and Goneril (Rose and Ginny). That's fine, but I actually want to approach the book independent of the Lear connection.

The writing is pretty dang great, honestly. I was expecting the book to be dull and slow but I read the whole thing in a single sitting - it was really engaging and brilliantly paced; it also has this stellar midwestern gothic thing going, you know, swaying corn and abandoned charity shops and churches no one really wants to go to. The grimness and drudgery of farm work and the incomprehensible multi-generational dedication to it.

I kept feeling like the book was familiar and it wasn't the Lear thing, it was Stephen King's 1922 and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. It turns out that "something evil is lurking in she barn" or "these fields have many secrets" is an aesthetic that I'm super into. Smiley does that aesthetic really well and the faded mysteries of the junk pile and shimmering heat of the fields are tangible and harsh, as is the driving wall of water from the unexpected storm and the cool earthen rot of a cellar unknowingly housing a poisoned pill.

 Nice.

There's an unsatisfying tension at the end of the novel and I think it's actually pretty brilliant. Things aren't neatly resolved, people aren't happy ever after. That kind of makes it stick. I finished this book about three weeks ago but it's been in my head enough that I've been considering rereading it ever since.

Anyway, strong recommend.

Cheers,
Alli

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The stance of this blog is "fuck genocide"

Sarah Winnemucca's Life Among the Paiutes, their Wrongs and Claims is a somewhat controversial book and that's understandable. When it was published it was controversial because it was advocating for Native American rights; now it's controversial because of its advocacy for assimilationist rhetoric.

In spite of its flaws in that regard, the book is still a wonderful thing to hold up when racists claim that manifest destiny wasn't that bad or wasn't a genocide or that white people treated people better than other people did.

I don't have it in me to get super critical here, or to go into detail with this incredibly depressing subject. The settlement of the American West was a bad thing built on imperialism and genocide. There are clear victims of this settlement process and their people are still dealing with the repercussions of the genocide.

I happened to spend some time in Nevada and Oregon last year, when I had just started reading this book. One of the things I was curious about was the tremendous number of places I saw labelled as Paiute reservation land - where I'm from it seems like most tribal lands are fairly consolidated. You'll have a radius of maybe fifty miles, max, before you're out of that group's reservation areas.

The Paiute land stretched across hundreds of miles in a way that was strange to me.

Turns out that's because of forcible moves and multiple separations of the tribe and a whole bunch of other fucked-up shit.

Anyway, I can't recommend the book enough for people who are under the impression that white people settling the continent was somehow right or good.

Cheers,
     Alli

Something moving in the trees

Okay look, Twin Peaks is great and I love it but it's a messy series that has huge continuity issues and that I'm not sure its creators really understand.

And for sure, a hell of a lot of the fans don't understand it and I don't fault them at all for not wanting to delve into twelve supplemental novels.

If you want the bare minimum Twin Peaks experience just watch the original two seasons. That'll do it, that's a totally valid way of consuming the series and it's a warm nostalgia bath of sweetness and horror.

Or you can get fucked up and actually read the books.

The Secret History of Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier go a long way toward making the most recent season of the show comprehensible, but they're also fucking bugshit crazy and have no problem with warping and twisting Original Series canon. (Best example of fucking with canon: the divergence between the book version and the show version of Ed and Nadine's marriage - and Norma's homelife and family get a hasty band-aid that tries really hard to make sense but just kind of doesn't).

Also Secret History is basically all about aliens, which is my least favorite part of the TP lore. It gets better toward the end, but it's a big heavy book full of disparate sources and difficult-to-read pages that's mostly about the alien-filled escapades of a character who gets like five lines in the original series.

The Final Dossier sheds a lot of light on what exactly the fuck was going on in The Return, which I liked and appreciated a lot - though this one got worse toward the end.

Some questions are answered but David Lynch seems to like leaving a lot open-ended. There are still gaps to fill in, there are still mysteries left behind in the wake of reading these novels.

I enjoyed both books to an extent but was also frustrated by both. Only read if you're super obsessively, unhealthily, into Twin Peaks.

Like me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Introductory Argumentation

Okay, so my parents met at a debate tournament and my dad is a debate and interpersonal communication professor who has taught at CalTech and USC as well as four other lesser known SoCal colleges.

I've also spent the last six years arguing with people on the internet about LessWrong, medical pseudoscience, and how to do basic research (hey, go get a lit degree if you want to learn how to do research go get a humanities degree).

All of that is to tell you that I'm probably not the audience for Dave Levitan's Not A Scientist. It's a really decent introductory book for folks who are getting sucked into family arguments about science on their FaceBook feed. It's just a baby little stepping stone for horrid gremlins who are online ten hours a day (like me).

That said, it's fine. It has some useful and very specific examples that you can draw from if you want to point out how someone's argument is disingenuous or misleading. There are lots of damn decent studies cited and the attribution is off-the-wall awesome, which I really appreciate.

It's a perfectly acceptable book for someone who is starting to get frustrated by arguing the validity of science with assholes online who does not yet have a list of reliable studies to link and refer to in those sorts of arguments. It's also very simply written and it's an easy read that illustrates the value of understanding and trusting science without getting too deep in the weeds of graphs, charts, and theories that do legitimately confuse a lot of people.

Actually I'll say the "blame the blogger" section of the book is probably its best asset because of that. Sometimes it's better to say "that statement you're making is based on a blog written by someone who has no expertise in the field and who frequently publishes crank statements on a bunch of topics" than it is to provide a meticulously researched refutation. (Also it's not an ad hominem attack if you're questioning the veracity of a source - saying "you can't trust Alice because she's a jerk" is not the same thing as saying "you can't trust Bob's knowledge about teapot theory because he hasn't researched teapots and doesn't believe the moon exists.") So that chapter is a useful reminder for everyone.

It's fine. It's just not really for me.

Cheers,
     - Alli