Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings — mini-review, no spoilers



I enjoyed this but didn't love it as much as some people have, for a number of small reasons that aren't worth going into. So much depends on endings, and this one has a smart ending, but I felt like they didn't quite nail it. So I recommend it to fans of animated movies and give it a B+. Stick around for the credits to see a little of the making-of.

While I quibble, I understand why the people who rave about it raved about it. It's an impressive accomplishment. If I hadn't seen the rave reviews, I might be writing one now—it's possible I was hoping for a little too much. There must be a term for being a bit disappointed by something you would've enjoyed more if your hopes hadn't been raised too high. If my quibbles make you go and think it's better than I've suggested, I'll both understand and be a little pleased.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How I would rewrite The Legend of Tarzan

As a number of people have said, The Legend of Tarzan is an enjoyable movie that doesn't succeed in overcoming its white savior proposition, and perhaps because that's so noticeable, no one I've noticed has said that it also doesn't succeed in overcoming its sexist girl-as-hostage plot. I was inclined to skip the movie until I read The Legend of Tarzan (2016) | Steven Barnes, and after seeing it, I generally agree with his take.

So what would I do differently?

One minor spoiler follows.

But first, three problems that go into my revision:

Jane is generally stuck in the hostage role when she should've been consistently awesome. She's someone who grew up in Africa, and she's lived with Tarzan for some time. While she should not be his equal in the jungle, she should be his superior in some ways—like being a crack shot and a cooler head when making plans.

Making George Washington Williams able to keep up with Tarzan is wrong—Tarzan should not wait for anyone, and no one should be able to keep up with him in the jungle.

None of the African characters have enough time onscreen to become more than supporting cast.

So my first change is one I never expected to propose regarding an adventure film: Jane and Tarzan need a child who can take over the hostage role.

Which means:

Initially, Tarzan charges off alone to make the rescue. Jane, Williams, and the chief's son or daughter (who refuses to stay behind because of a need for revenge) set off in pursuit, perhaps with a few supporting characters.

Tarzan is slowed down when he fights Akut, his ape brother. Jane, Williams, and the Chief's Kid catch up. In classic film fashion, this becomes the Assemble the Squad moment: two white characters, two black characters, and an ape unite to defeat Rom.

The tactical leader is Williams; he's both the oldest and the one with military experience. The final assault is co-ordinated by him, and all five get to do Cool Stuff. The Chief's Kid kills whoever killed the chief, Jane and Williams free the hostage, and Tarzan defeats Rom.

Ah, well. I enjoyed the movie, and Emma may've enjoyed it even more than I did. The scenery's gorgeous. I would've liked less CG action, but I'm not complaining about that. Will-Bob gives it a solid B, and maybe a B+.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Liavek 5 is now available! Four stories and four songs for only $2.99!


"An Act of Mercy" by Megan Lindholm (Robin Hobb) and Steven Brust
''The World in the Rock" by Kara Dalkey
"Baker's Dozen" by Bradley Denton
"Green Is the Color" by John M. Ford

Bonus! Four songs:

"City of Luck" by Jane Yolen
"The Ballad of the Quick Levars" by Jane Yolen
"Eel Island Shoals" by John M. Ford
"Pot-boil Blues" by John M. Ford

"Liavek is a place worth visiting. Get there before another volume comes out." —VOYA

Currently available at:

Amazon.com - Liavek 5: Wizard's Row

Barnes & Noble - Liavek 5: Wizard's Row

Smashwords - Liavek 5: Wizard's Row

Pet peeve: Being "nice" has nothing to do with being good—as Hitler proved

Many people offer niceness as a reason to support someone as though niceness is what matters. I could respond by pointing to all the killers whose friends and neighbors said, when they were exposed, that they seemed so nice, but I'll hammer the point with the 20th century's best example of evil, Adolph Hitler.

His bodyguard, Rochus Misch, said Hitler was "friendly" and "nice" and a "wonderful boss" who liked to tell jokes.

The nurse in the bunker where he died, Erna Flegel, said, "He was always polite and charming. There was really nothing to object to." She noted, "Hitler was fond of (Goebbels) children, and drank hot chocolate with them and allowed them to use his bathtub."

Reinhard Spitzy, who become a member of the German resistance, said Hitler was a "perfectly nice person" and described him as "charming, humoristic, and a very good mimic. He used to do imitations of actresses and King Victor Emmanuel by moving his upper lip like a rabbit's."

Hitler was mostly vegetarian and extremely concerned with animal welfare.

If you think Christianity is part of niceness, note this quote:
"We are a people of different religions, but we are one. Which faith conquers the other is not the question; rather, the question is whether Christianity stands or falls... We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity … in fact our movement is Christian. We are filled with a desire for Catholics and Protestants to discover one another in the deep distress of our own people." —Adolph Hitler, 1928
Hitler was nice and he was still one of the worst human beings humanity has produced. If you think that's contradictory, remember that humans are contradictory too.

Relevant: Adolf Hitler, man or monster? - Telegraph