This is definitely a different post from what I usually do, but I had a lot of fun with this little project, and I thought I’d share it over here. 🙂
Some of my relatives came over to visit recently, and they gave me this amazing 3D-printed model of Nightcrawler from X-Men! (Thank you so much! And here’s the original model, if you want to check it out) So as a short project, I decided to paint him. This was my first time painting any kind of 3D-printed model, so this was a lot of fun!
Here he is before I started painting him.
First, I had to spray him down with some primer so that the paint would look a little better on him. It took a few coats because I missed some spots (read: a lot of spots), so it took about three or four spray-downs to get him mostly covered.
These were a few of the acrylic paints that I used for him, and here he is next to the general set up. (Big thank you to my mom for letting me borrow her paints hehe)
This is the general costume color scheme that I tried to go for. I didn’t need a whole lot of colors for it – red, black, and white for the costume, yellow for the X badge and his eyes, and blue for his skin. I found this great iridescent blue for his skin – it was definitely a little finicky on the first coat, but once I got a few coats on, it looked really cool!
Day 1 of painting! I got all of the colors on except for the black on that day, and I listened to a whole bunch of Car Seat Headrest the whole time.
Day 2! I got all of the colors laid down, and I added more coats to the colors I had already added. It still looked a little messy, but it was on its way! (And it’s a bit hard to tell, but the gloves and boots are painted too – they were just iridescent white.)
And here’s the final product! The last day of painting was just cleaning everything up (and painting the X on the badge). I was super happy with how it turned out – the paint on his skin and the black part of his costume looks so nice and shiny! He now sits on my bookshelf…right above my Nightcrawler funko pop. (Comfort characters, anyone?)
So there you have it! For my first time painting a 3D-printed model, I’m pretty proud of myself.
That’s it for this little painting post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, take care of yourselves, and remember: mutant and proud!
Happy Friday, bibliophiles! I suppose that the bibliophile greeting doesn’t *quite* fit for this post, but hey, you probably followed this blog for books, right? Today, we’ve got something a little bit different–but at least I kept my promise, didn’t I? I hinted at doing a review for at least a week prior to today…
At the beginning of quarantine, my brother and my parents had just started binging Fargo. So like so many of us have done with different shows in the last 6 months, I starting doing some serious binge-watching. I’d already been exposed to Noah Hawley’s masterful storytelling through Legion, but Fargo never ceased to wow me. I forgot about it for a few months after finishing up season 3, and then the trailer for season 4 came out in September. I didn’t see it coming, but little did I know that this newest season would be my favorite yet!
Here’s the special thing about Fargo: each season follows a plot that, chances are, you’ve seen before: murder mysteries in small towns, sibling rivalries escalated to astronomical proportions, dysfunctional crime families; this season, in particular, centers around the politics of rivaling Italian and African-American gangs in 1950s Kansas City, and a mortician’s family who unwillingly gets caught up in the action. But every season, without fail, Noah Hawley spins it into something that you’ve never seen before, be it with the characters, the cinematography, and the plot twists (and there’s a LOT of plot twists). Fargo is all about the unexpected, and season 4 brings the factor of the unknown and unseen up to levels that I haven’t seen since…well, I guess that season 3 ending…(no spoilers.)
And maybe I’m biased for this one. October was one of the hardest months I’ve had in quite a while, and Fargo was, without a doubt, one of the things that kept me going through it. As the season came out, my days started to revolve around the Monday nights that would inevitably bring another episode to fuel me with enough dopamine to keep me going through the rest of the week. But I genuinely believe that this show embodies what storytelling should be–what good TV should be, really. And this season has truly cemented Fargo as my favorite show. (And considering that I don’t readily jump for murder mysteries/historical fiction, that’s definitely saying something. That’s just the power of Noah Hawley, folks…)
Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! This review may contain some minor spoilers, but for your benefit, I’ll try to keep it light on them. But even so, be warned…
I…can’t really find anything major that I didn’t like about this season, so consider this review a breakdown of most everything that I loved.
Characters/casting/acting: With every Fargo season, there’s no shortage of complex characters and masterful actors (for previous seasons, see: Martin Freeman, Bokeem Woodbine, Jean Smart, Ewan McGregor, David Thewlis, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, etc.), but season 4 in particular had them in no short supply. I loved all of the (HUGE) main cast and many of the supporting characters, but for one reason or another, this is the first season where I’ve gotten really attached to more than one character. And considering that Fargo is one of those shows that 75%-80% of the main cast is killed off by the time the finale rolls around, it…didn’t go over well with my emotions. But in all seriousness, THESE CHARACTERS!
Let me just digress to talk about my three favorites in this season:
Doctor Senator (Glynn Turman): let’s be honest, what’s not to like? He consistently has some of the best lines/general dialogue in this season, he’s strategic, he’s clever, and he’s instantly likable. I’ll get more in depth on the morally gray theme of the whole season later on in the review, but leave it to Fargo to make us AGGRESSIVELY sympathize with all manner of mobsters and criminals…anyways, this guy’s the best.
Ethelrida Smutny (E’myri Crutchfield): LOVE HER! She’s one of the few characters in this season who’s morally right and seeks to do the right thing, and she is such a lovable character in every way. She’s frequently underestimated by most of the adults in this season, but she shows herself to not only be smart–smarter than them, in some cases–, but compassionate and determined to do the right thing. The world needs more people like Ethelrida.
And last but most definitely not least…
Patrick “Rabbi” Milligan (Ben Whishaw): [SCREAMS AND CRIES INTO THE VOID]
Out of the three I just mentioned, he’s absolutely my favorite. He’s endured so much tragedy and trauma over the course of his life, but all he wants is for Satchel to have a better life. Again, no shortage of clever and insightful lines, and objectively one of those characters that just needs a big hug and a mug of hot chocolate. Just…just trust me on that one. You’ll see.
But as far as characters, it doesn’t stop there. Everybody, from Chris Rock (Loy Cannon) to Jason Schwartzman (Josto Fadda) to Jessie Buckley (Oraetta Mayflower) truly shines in season 4. Each character is distinct, complex, and it was an absolute joy to see all of their stories unfold. (Also, it’s worth it just to see Jason Schwartzman just SNAP…that scene of him just pretending to hold a gun and just go “HAGAGAGAGAGHGHAGSDHAGHGHGH” just lives rent-free in my mind now…)
(Plus…THE GAYS WON 2020, EVERYBODY! Can we just talk about how Zelmare and Swanee INVENTED “be gay, do crime?”)
Whew, that went on for a while. BUT WAIT–THERE’S MORE, BECAUSE THIS SHOW IS VERY NEARLY FLAWLESS:
Score and soundtrack: At this point, I think it’s just impossible for Jeff Russo to ever make a bad score for a movie or a TV show. Besides all of the remixes of the music from previous seasons, I loved all of the new songs. I particularly liked Odis (Jack Huston)’s theme (somehow it almost sounds like a car alarm? But in a good way) and the Legion-y song with the shootout with Zelmare and Swanee at the train station. And I loved all of the other songs that were slipped in. No spoilers for the context of the Johnny Cash song in the finale, but when I tell you that I SOBBED…
Timely themes: One of the main complaints I’ve seen about this season is that it’s “too woke,” (🙄) which I think is utterly idiotic. This season’s set in 1950, but it’s more timely than ever–there’s discussions of race, police brutality, immigration, and what it means to be an American. And it’s all handled quite well, I think. One thing I’ve always appreciated about the show as a whole is how it depicts the American police system–for the first three seasons, there’s usually 1-2 cops that actually know what they’re doing, but they’re frequently dismissed by a largely unbelieving and sexist police force. This season is the first where we have both of our main cops as largely corrupt, but we still sympathize with one of them (PTSD relating to WWII). Most of the characters are morally gray as well (I mean, most of the main cast are members of separate gangs), and that contrast was also well-done.
That classic, Noah Hawley weirdness: in every season, there’s at least one episode or plot point that’s highly out of the ordinary, and lucky for us, we got that in the form of episode 9. Besides having a whole episode of Rabbi and Satchel after not seeing them for two episodes, there’s an amazing Wizard of Oz theme with the whole episode. I’ll shamelessly admit to thinking about it for a solid WEEK.
All the Coen Brothers references, of course: Treehorn? The Raising Arizona screaming? Everything that I missed? LOADS OF FUN.
All in all, this was a masterful show from start to finish. My favorite season out of the four, by far, although I love them all. I’m already rewatching the whole season over again…
MY RATING: ★★★★★
TW/CW: Graphic violence (mostly gunshot wounds, but there’s some parts that definitely made me queasy), racism, xenophobia, police brutality, some brief racist/homophobic/ablelist slurs, poisoning, loss of loved ones, alcoholism/substance abuse
EDIT: Whoooooooa, apparently this is my 500th post! Dang…😳
That’s it for this TV review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I’ve been wanting to do this post ever since I finished Aurora Burning, because ever since May, there have been OH SO MANY THOUGHTS RUNNING AROUND MY BRAIN. As a reader, I’m not really the best at predicting plot twists and theorizing about the actual content of books (and judging from That Ending, I’m even more clueless than usual), but I’ve had a lot of fun thinking of who the cover might feature.
So, prepare for a lot of incoherent thoughts here, folks…
Let’s begin, shall we?
Now, FAIR WARNING: This post is guaranteed to be CRAWLING with spoilers for both Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning, so please be careful if you intend to read them and haven’t yet!
THE COVER, AND WHO MIGHT BE ON IT
First, there’s a few characters we can probably eliminate from the pool for the star of the cover:
Auri: Our favorite Space Rogue had the gorgeous cover of book 1 all to herself.
Kal: Same deal–his lovely face was on the cover of book 2.
Cat: [ahem] apologies for putting salt on the wound here, but…unless Kaufman and Kristoff decide to tear our hearts in two again and just put Ra’Haam Cat on the cover (which I highly doubt), Zero’s out of the running.
Gone, but not forgotten…[sad harmonica]
So now that we have those three characters out of the running, let’s see who else might make an appearance:
Tyler: Personally, my last choice for the cover, but hey, a lot of people like him. (For the same reason people adore Captain America, I guess.) By the end of book 2, he’s separated from the rest of the Squad, so if he’s on the cover, that might allude to one last, grand finale hero act for him, proving his eternal loyalty to Squad 312 above all else.
I also had a dream where Tyler was on the cover of book 3, and no offense to all his fans out here, but that’s a dream that I’d prefer not to come true. I don’t hate him, or anything, he’s grown on me a lot, but he’s my least favorite of the Squad.
Scarlett: I would LOVE to see her on the cover, but I’m not sure what the authors have planned for her. There was that reveal in the last few pages of book 2 that her *diamond* necklace might have far more importance than the others once thought, so that could give her an interesting role in trying to save the universe. Scarlett’s played an essential part in each novel, but she’s never fully had the spotlight, so maybe book 3 could be her time to shine?
Zila: I’m thinking that this one has SO much potential for book 3. Other than the fact that we haven’t seen how her gifted hawk earrings factor into it (most of the Squad’s gifts from Admiral Adams have had a crucial role to play, like Kal’s cigarillo box and Scar’s necklace), it’s not unlikely that she could have an answer to all this intergalactic chaos. Her quick wit has gotten the Squad out of many a bad situation, and since we’ve started to see her character arc develop in book 2, I think she could finally come into herself in the final installment in the trilogy.
And honestly? I would be 100% here for it. I adore Zila. Short girls UNITE! Plus, a sapphic, Black girl on the cover? SIGN ME UP!
Last but not least…
Finian: At this point, a good 80% of the fandom is willing to hand over their entire life’s savings to Kaufman and Kristoff for the chance to have him on the cover, so the chances here are…interesting.
And to be honest? I ABSOLUTELY understand the sentiment. Aside from Auri and Kal, he’s my favorite of the Squad, and such a wonderful balance between comic relief and a genuinely complex character. Beyond that, I think he might have an important role to play–after all, we haven’t seen how he uses the ballpoint pen, and how the “tell her the truth” note plays into that.
Also, as with Zila, wouldn’t it be great to have his representation on the cover? He’s bisexual and has impaired mobility, so that would be amazing to have him front and center.
PERSONALLY? I’d like to have either Scar, Finian, or Zila, but more so the latter two.
SEMI-LOGICALLY? I think that Zila or Tyler have the best chance of being on the cover, judging from their previous roles. Of course, they’d face the wrath of the Finian side of the fandom, but will that stop them? I doubt it…
In conclusion, I really haven’t been able to get this series off my mind. At all. May 2021 can’t come soon enough, but it’ll certainly be bittersweet, knowing that this will be the final book in the trilogy. Judging from what happened last year, we’ll likely get the title by October and the cover reveal by November, so I’ll check back then to see how my scatterbrained ramblings match up.
So stay tuned, folks…
That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I don’t do many reviews of movies and TV shows here, but I figured that I would pour out some thoughts for this one. After reading Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller’s Cursed back in April (and loving it), I figured that I would give the Netflix adaptation a try, since I didn’t have much else to watch save for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which I’m steadily binging at the moment). I finished the show in about a week, and overall, I liked it–for the most part, a faithful adaptation, but at times, a forgettable one. I don’t regret watching it, but it’s nowhere near my favorite show.
In summary: Cursed is a 10-episode adaptation of Wheeler and Miller’s 2019 novel, a retelling of Arthurian legend before King Arthur pulled the sword from the stone. It follows Nimue (Katherine Langford), a Fey girl whose home has just been burned down by the Red Paladins, an army of monks bent on purging the Fey from Europe. Her mother’s dying wish was for her to deliver the Sword of Power to Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård), and Nimue, fueled by anger at the slaughter of her family and people, sets off to find the famed wizard. Joining forces with Arthur (Devon Terrell), she goes in search of Merlin, only to discover that the sword that she wields may have a darker power than she could have ever imagined.
Alright, folks…below, I’ll break down what I liked and didn’t like, so be prepared for quite a bit of rambling! This review/breakdown may contain some spoilers, so be warned.
The opening title sequence and transitions: Absolutely GORGEOUS. The watercolor style was so detailed and beautiful, and it meshed so well with the general mood of the show.
The instrumental score: I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again: Jeff Russo can do no wrong. Though this score isn’t as notable as the ones he did for TV shows like FX’s Legion or Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, it was certainly a masterfully composed score, especially in the opening theme and some of the songs from the final two episodes.
The sets/filming locations: Every single location that Cursed was filmed in was such a joy to take in. The forest setting made for countless beautiful shots, and even the more fabricated ones, especially in the Fey refugee camp of Nemos, did volumes in immersing the viewer into the story.
Cast diversity: Kudos to Netflix for casting a variety of actors from all different backgrounds, from the protagonists to the side characters, for the show! There’s quite a few POC characters both at the forefront (ex. Arthur and Morgana) and in the background, so that was always good to see. There was some LGBTQ+ representation as well, which I’ve been going back and forth about. Morgana, one of the protagonists, is in a sapphic relationship with Celia, but in the first few episodes, Celia is killed when their nunnery burns down. She appears in later episodes, but as an…undead puppet of a spider demon. It’s dangerously close to the horrific “bury your gays” trope, but…yeah, I don’t know. On one hand, it’s set in Medieval Europe, and in a nunnery, no less, so the relationship likely wouldn’t have ended well even if it hadn’t burned down. On the other, Celia didn’t have to be killed off/resurrected for Morgana to have character development–Celia could have run off with her, and there still could have been tension there if she had joined her, Nimue, Arthur, and the rest. I’m still unsure about it, but at least they…tried. And I think there were a few LGBTQ+ couples present in the Fey camp in the background.
Faithfulness to the source material: For the most part, the Netflix adaptation followed the book closely, which was great to see! There’s a few tweaked details, but they didn’t bother me much at all.
Now, some of the characters/performances that I liked:
Arthur and Morgana: As brother and sister, they didn’t have the best chemistry, but individually, both their performances were good! Arthur was simultaneously bumbling and steadfast, just like I imagined him in the book. Morgana was similarly endearing, and they way that the show ended, I’m interested in seeing how they *might* continue her arc.
Merlin: A lot of the criticism that the book got was about Merlin, specifically about how they had massacred his character, making him a more arrogant man, and more than a bit of a drunkard. But even though I love Arthurian legend as much as the next person, I understood the change–Cursed is supposed to be a prequel to the events of these legends, and it would make sense for Merlin to be a younger, more disillusioned character, before he became the wise mentor figure that we know and love. Skarsgård’s performance was well-translated from the book, and I liked following his character.
Uther Pendragon: He’s exactly the kind of character that you love to hate. Pendragon was the perfect, whiny and overtly arrogant and hotheaded king to contrast with the other characters.
The Red Paladins: Though Sister Iris was a bit underused, the Red Paladins are just as chilling as they appear in the novel.
…Nimue: I liked her character in the book, but Langford’s acting just felt…so flat, so lacking in emotion. I wanted to root for her, but there was such a lack of heart in the character that I could barely muster up any emotion.
The romance: They had this in the book as well, but I wasn’t as much of a fan of it there, either. It felt like it was needlessly shoehorned in to appease the Teen™️ audience.
The gratuitous violence: Again, I suppose this means that it was faithful to the books, because the book was very violent, but it was definitely a bit much. Some of it felt like it was only added in for the shock value, and could have been cut out in the long run. Also, the effect of the blood splattering onto the camera lens works well in present day/more futuristic media, but it took away from the Medieval European setting.
The subplots: At least they got tied up at the end (somewhat), but they didn’t contribute to the story. Pym’s whole arc with the Red Spear felt wholly unnecessary, and just fan service that assumed that everyone would appreciate that they kept their comic relief character alive and giving her a romantic arc. Most of the Red Spear characters bugged me as well (especially the captain). The subplot with Morgana, Celia, and the spider demon was a little bit better, but it didn’t do much to the story, other than giving the allusion that Morgana might become more powerful than Nimue herself.
That awful song at the end of episode 9: OH GOD. OHHHH GOD. NOPE. Aside from being blatantly manufactured to be put in the show, it again took me out of the setting. I mean, it’s not like a medieval sea shanty would have worked any better for the scene, but I found myself rolling my eyes sky-high.
The acting: Even though I listed some of the good performances above, most of them were…good, but forgettable. Other than the characters listed, nobody quite stood out for me (save for Sister Iris). Decent, but nothing that blew me away.
Overall, Cursed wasn’t spectacular, but I don’t regret watching it. The filming locations, score, and transitions were gorgeous, and it mostly stayed true to the source material, but it was dragged down by a few unnecessary subplots and forgettable acting. I’d give it a solid 3/5.
Would I recommend it? I suppose I would. For all you fantasy lovers and fans of the original novel who don’t have much else to watch, I’d encourage you to give it a watch. As long as you have the stomach for quite a lot of violence, though.
I’ve been wanting to do a post for a bit that melds my love for the bookish and my love of music, so this is my first take on that. Aurora Rising, as many of you have figured out, is one of my favorite (if not my favorite) series, and I decided that it would be fun to match the lovable members of Squad 312 to some songs that I like, based on their personalities, relationships, and the events of Aurora Risingand Aurora Burning. I picked two songs per character, and I loved compiling them all. I hope you all enjoy!
(Along with the image at the top, all of the character images in this post are from @kiranight_art.)
🎧 PAIRING SQUAD 312 WITH SONGS 🎧
“Proud”–(Sandy) Alex G: “I’m so proud of you/And everything that you do/Doesn’t matter what they say/They ain’t worth a dollar in change…“
Scarlett mentions in book 2 that one of Ty’s most infuriating traits is that he accepts people’s flaws, no matter what, and isn’t there to reprimand anyone if any member of the squad messes up. No matter what, he has always been there for his squad, and sees past everyone’s previous mishaps and accepts them as who they are.
Tyler’s fame in the Academy, as well as the legacy of his late father, has caused a lot of internal conflict within him, and I thought the chorus of this song paired perfectly with this inner struggle–how he perceives himself versus how others perceive him and how others expect him to be.
“Pristine”–Snail Mail: “Don’t you like me for me?/ Is there any better feeling than coming clean?/And I know myself and I’ll never love anyone else…”
Scarlett’s a character who has tried to find herself through various relationships, almost none of them lasting, and I felt that this song captured the nature of some of the hidden doubts that she begins to have.
A trait of Scarlett’s that comes into light in contrast with her twin, Tyler, is the way they care for others–for most of book 1, Tyler does it more out of duty, while Scarlett truly seeks to protect and care for her fellow squadmates. The nature of this song almost perfectly captures her mentality.
I can totally picture this playing in the scene when she ditches the rest of the squad to go to the bar…
But either way, this song kind of expresses her shifting opinions and suspicions about the rest of the squad, especially the likes of Aurora. Unlike most of the squad, she isn’t completely ready to accept her as part of the squad, and suspects an ulterior motive.
Throughout book 1, Cat still has lingering feelings for Tyler, even though their relationship has come to a standstill; this song seems to capture her desire to fall back in love.
“Change”–Oingo Boingo: “Don’t you ever wonder why/Nothing ever seems to change?/If it does, it’s for the worse/Guess it’s just a modern curse…”
Simultaneously sarcastic and deeply introspective, this song feels like what Finian seems to have experienced throughout his life, both in grappling with his impaired mobility and his relationships with others.
“Crown”–Jay Som: “Arranging your best words/Tying the knot/A brighter tomorrow/Could you take a shot?”
(Oops…both of these songs start with a C for no apparent reason…)
But either way, this seems like a good song to match his views on being with the Aurora Legion–everything about it, from being in open spaces to *gasp* having to collaborate with others seems like everything he wouldn’t want to do, but he takes the shot anyway, and in the end, it may be for the better.
Like the previous song, this seems to embody Zila’s distancing from herself, becoming almost a shell of who she might have been as a child.
“Killer”–Phoebe Bridgers:“Can the killer in me tame the fire in you?/I know there’s something waiting for us/I am sick of the chase/But I’m stupid in love/And there’s nothing I can do…”
Was…was the chorus made for this guy?
When I first heard this song, I thought it was a beautiful embodiment of both Kal’s conflicting feelings about his nature and heritage and his relationship with Auri, especially given some of the fire-related imagery surrounding their relationship in book 2.
Look, I don’t ask for much in life, but…if/when the TV show goes through, can we PLEASE put this in the scene where Kal and Auri are in the pollen fields on Octavia III? PLEASE?
I’ve started to associate this song with the whole series, but Kal seems to embody it the most out of all the characters, in his helpless feelings towards Aurora and his personal struggles to better himself, and become more than his past. Plus, the choir singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love…” [cries]
I found this tag over at G-Swizzel Books, who was also the creator of this tag. As I am a MASSIVE X-Men fan, I knew I had to take part in this tag at some point. X-Men: Apocalypse, although it isn’t the best of the X-Men movies, will always have a special place in my heart, as it was the first one that I got to see in theaters, and my first introduction to my favorite character, Nightcrawler.
Let’s begin, shall we?
MYSTIQUE: Name a female lead who is a strong and flawed character
Elloren from The Black Witchcertainly has her fair share of flaws, but one of the most beautiful parts of the novel was watching her character development, and her growth into a formidable woman.
CHARLES XAVIER: Name a character who is a good mentor/instructor
I immediately thought of Captain Siege from the Heart of Ironduology–intimidating, but still fair with all of her crew, and a mother figure of sorts for Ana and the rest.
QUICKSILVER: Name a fast-paced book that you read in one sitting
As was…expected, I tore through Aurora Burningin one sitting. I was just as enraptured as as I was with book 1, and then the ending had to destroy my feelings like that…
BEAST: Name a book you were intimidated by before you read it
Going into All Out of Prettywas fairly daunting, judging from the subject matter, but although it was an incredibly rough novel, it was still one that was completely worthwhile to read.
NIGHTCRAWLER: Name your favorite character that is a creature of the night (Werewolf, warlock, vampire, faerie, etc.)
Sidenote…MY BOY! MY FAVORITE MEMBER OF THE X-MEN!
When this part of the tag mentioned werewolves, I immediately thought of Remus Lupin from the Harry Potterseries. All I’ll say is that he deserved so much better.
HAVOK: Name an underrated character that deserves more attention
After reading Aurora Burning, I’d have to say Zila Madran. I already liked her character, but now that we’ve gotten so much necessary backstory on her, I hope she’ll take a more central role in book three.
CYCLOPS: Name a character who struggles to control their power (could either be a superpower or a position of authority)
Zoey fromSawkill Girlsis certainly a prime example, what with her powers showing up COMPLETELY without warning, poor thing. Plus, I had to sneak this in here because THEY MAKE AN X-MEN REFERENCE WHEN THEY TALK ABOUT TRIGGERING HER POWERS…which is the perfect segway into the next part of the tag…
JEAN GREY: Name a character who had a traumatic incident happen in their past
March from The Smoke Thievescertainly fits the bill, poor thing…I mean, to have his entire family slaughtered as a child most definitely had a major, negative impact on the rest of his life.
THE FOUR HORSEMEN: Name four villains to create your ultimate villain squad that could potentially take this world apart
If there’s one thing I love as much as books and reading, it’s probably music. I was raised in a family of wonderful music nerds, and as a result, music has grown to be an integral aspect of my life.
And so, it always brings me a rush of joy whenever I find music references hidden inside books I love, and by proxy, authors with similar musical taste. I thought I might compile a few of my favorite books with music references in them, just for fun.
Artists referenced: David Bowie, brief joke about Wilco/Jeff Tweedy
I mean, one can sort of tell from the get-go that this book is very Bowie-centric; The title itself (a reference to a lyric from “Changes”), and the Aladdin Sane lightning bolt in the ‘I’ in “Fascinations”. (On another edition, it shows Noah with the bolt across his face, just like the Aladdin Sane album cover!) Other than that, there’s a continual respect for Bowie throughout the novel. Other than the general wondrousness of the novel, I’m just glad to see that someone else holds Hunky Dory as highly as I do.
Also, the mention of Wilco is very brief, but it was still pretty funny to see. Even if it was poking fun at them.
Artists referenced: The Beatles, Nirvana, T.Rex, (!!!), David Bowie
Though music doesn’t play (no pun intended) as big a role in The Hazel Wood as it does in some of the others in this post, there’s wonderful references aplenty in this one, from a minor character being described as reminiscent of David Bowie to a discordant, chaotic scene in which the main villain sings an off-key rendition of “Yellow Submarine”. Also, I’m frankly so impressed that Albert slipped in a T.Rex reference in there. COME. ON. That’s the deep cut to end all deep cuts!
Weirdly enough, though I’d heard Radiohead here and there before reading The Final Six, but seeing the reference was ultimately what convinced me to listen to Radiohead! This is easily some of the best utilization of references I’ve seen in a novel, period. First off, in The Final Six, there’s a particularly chilling scene in which Beckett, the main antagonist, glimpses Naomi sneaking around, and after a tense conversation, he sings part of “Paranoid Android.” (“When I am king, you will be first against the wall/With your opinion, which is of no consequence at all…”) Already veeeery spooky, but the song’s title hints that Beckett knows more than what he let on. (No spoilers)
In The Life Below, Monir also uses “Sail To The Moon”–in particular, its musical structure–as the center point of one of the main subplots in the novel. And boy, it’s FASCINATING.
Artists referenced: St. Vincent, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac (I don’t really care about the latter at all, but hey)
Another dip into the realm of magical realism!
Music plays a semi-important role in this one, as part of the novel is set on a road trip; there’s a running joke where Sylvie’s friend’s brother (I can’t remember his name for the life of me) listens to one specific artist in the car for the month. His pick of the month is Fleetwood Mac; there’s a line (which I can’t find) where Sylvie makes a remark something along the lines of “why can’t we listen to something good, like David Bowie?” to which the other character responds that he’d already listened to him for all of April. And though the St. Vincent reference was brief, McNally perfectly captures the nature of her music.
Again, another Bowie-centric book. I related to this one in particular because Bowie is Jonathan (the main character)’s hero; the book is set in 1973, so it’s at the heyday of his Ziggy Stardust era. As someone who similarly worships him, this novel hit the sweet spot for me. There’s also a wonderful scene where Jonathan and Web soundtrack a school presentation with Pink Floyd’s “Time”, easily my personal favorite of their songs.
I don’t know why, but writing this feels so surreal…I’ve had the idea to write this one since last year, but I’ve all but put it off until now. So here you go, fellow bibliophiles…
No movie adaptation can capture the true essence of a character, not really in full. Sometimes, they’re so wildly different–whether it be in looks or personality–that your perception of them is all but tainted when you re-read the source material. But sometimes, these differences make for an interesting examination of the character themself–and they might even work better for the plot set in the film adaptation.
I know I’ve mentioned Johann here a fair amount of times on this blog, but for those of you who aren’t super familiar, here’s the rundown of his character:
Johann’s from the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. universe. After a supernatural accident rendered his physical body all but dead, his incorporeal body was kept in a containment suit to that he may live and move about again. A longtime member of the B.P.R.D. (after Hellboy quits), he specializes in communicating with those who have passed.
He’s been in the B.P.R.D. comics for quite a while (since about 2001), and he appeared on screen for the first (and so far the only) time in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, voiced by Seth MacFarlane. I saw HBII before I started reading the comics, but once I started reading them, I realized that there is a major discrepancy in terms of Johann’s personality between the comics and the film. But this is one of the rare instances where it isn’t all that bad.
Nothing quite exemplifies the purest form of these differences than their separate entrances in the comics and the film.
In the comics, Johann first appears alongside the rest of the team in the first volume ofthe B.P.R.D. comics, Hollow Earth and Other Stories.For most of the first scene where we see him, we only see him from the back as Kate shows him around the B.P.R.D. headquarters. He’s clothed in a heavy trenchcoat and a large hat, and it isn’t until she leaves him to the tutelage of Dr. Manning that we see him take the hat and trenchcoat off, revealing his containment suit–and the fact that he’d taped sunglasses to his helmet to further disguise himself. (sneak 100)
In the film, there’s a lot of hubbub that surrounds Johann’s arrival. He’s been assigned to this division of the B.P.R.D. to keep Hellboy in check. All of the main cast is gathered out in the lobby as Dr. Manning reads off his file. Johann eventually arrives in the elevator, flanked by a bevy of B.P.R.D staff. Once he steps out of the elevator, in all his steampunk-suited glory, he proceeds to CLICK HIS HEELS, TAKE A BOW, and THEN introduce himself. He’s even got his own little Danny Elfman theme in the background as this all goes down. What a guy.
So, you can probably already see the major differences.
In the comics, Johann is a far more subdued character. For most of the earlier B.P.R.D. run, he most often defers to the wisdom of the other agents. He’s still confident in his skills, but he knows that he’s the new guy, and that he’d best leave the work to more experienced agents like Abe, Liz, and Kate. He asks a bit too many personal questions, he stumbles quite a bit, but there’s no question that when Johann gets on the job, he will get it done with a unique, psychic prowess.
In Hellboy II, however, we see a version of Johann who has already built up a sort of reputation. After being enlisted to Hellboy and his team, he immediately assumes command of them, inserting himself as their unofficial leader in all their further missions. He’s a bit of a martinet, in a way, but mostly when it comes to Hellboy, still resentful towards Manning for assigning Johann to watch over him. They’re the antitheses of each other, really; Hellboy prefers to play by his own rules, while Johann is, as Hellboy says, “Mr. ‘By-The-Book’.”
But for once, I don’t really mind the change. Not only are Johann’s interactions with the other characters (Hellboy especially) sometimes hysterical, it works seamlessly with the plot. Johann is almost a vehicle for Hellboy’s character development, someone to challenge him like Dr. Manning never could. His influence makes Hellboy begin to realize that his actions have consequences (wHEn wIlL you lEARN). Liz also begins to question Johann’s actions, but comes to realize that he’s had his fair share of hardships in the past as well. (In the case of the movie, Johann lost his wife in the supernatural accident that caused his predicament with the containment suit.) It’s a different interpretation of the character, to be sure, but leave it to Guillermo del Toro to pull it off flawlessly. Can I get a WHOOP WHOOP?
Despite these differences, though, Hellboy II managed to stay true to the character in most other respects–he’s incredibly intelligent, unafraid to speak his mind, and can even be quite philosophical at times. Plus, there’s all the possible shenanigans that can go down when Johann’s ghostly form can slip out of the containment suit…
Strangely enough, though, Johann’s Hellboy II personality does begin to show up in the Hell on Earth run of B.P.R.D., once he’s gained more experience; the Johann that isn’t always understanding towards his teammates, and the Johann who becomes something of a disciplinarian, at his worst, mostly with the likes of Fenix. He’s still reserved at heart, but often hides in the face of the other agents.
But the only other key difference I see between the comics and Hellboy II is simple: Johann and Hellboy never even meet each other in the comics. By the time he comes to the B.P.R.D., Hellboy’s packed his bags. Which begs the question, really: how would they get along in the comics in some alternate timeline? I wonder about it quite a lot, but I still don’t have an answer.
Johann’s always been one of my favorite characters in the Mignolaverse, up there with Abe Sapien and Liz, for me. There’s so many possibilities with him, and he’s a continually complex character, not to mention the design of his containment suits. Whatever your takeaway from the comics and the film may be, there’s no doubt that he’s an absolutely fascinating character.
Hope you enjoyed this post, everyone! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Comfort food. We all have it. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and no matter how deep into the dark places we may become entrenched, it will always bring immeasurable joy to us. So this is sort of an appreciation post, but more just musings on a few books and movies that not only help me get through it, but are just fun to read/watch over and over, and they never get old.
BOOKS AND COMICS
Heart of Iron–Ashley Poston
Ever since I read Heart of Ironfor the first time on a magical trip to Chicago, it’s been my go-to whenever I reach a reading slump, or just need a little bit more sci-fi fun in my life. Also, Jax. ‘Nuff said.
Pumpkinheads–Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
This one’s a more recent addition to my list, but no matter the time of year, Pumpkinheadsis especially good for curing all that ails you. I mean, it helped me recover from the initial speechless shock after seeing Joker in theaters, if that’s any proof. (And that was a seriously rough movie…so well-done, though)
B.P.R.D. vol. 2: The Soul of Venice and Other Stories–Mike Mignola
Let me make myself clear: in the grand scheme of all things B.P.R.D., The Soul of Veniceis nowhere near the peak of mastery that this comic series has achieved. But that’s not at all to say that it isn’t a ball of spooky, paranormal fun from cover to cover. Part of why this is one of my most frequently re-read trades is for a few reasons, but the most important one is that, like Heart of Iron, is that it brings back some of my fondest memories, those from when I went to Sequoia National Park one spring break. We stopped in LA before the drive there, where I got this at a comic shop just about a month before it closed. I spent almost the entire trip reading and re-reading that trade, even though I had…oh, three or four books loaded up on my Kindle?
One of the first major comic series that I came to love (and collect in its entirety), Courtney always manages to dredge up so many happy memories for me when I go back and re-read any of the separate volumes. Of course, I end up crying (*coughcough THE COVEN OF MYSTICS coughcough THE FINAL SPELL coughcough*) every time, but it’s worth it. [sniffles] I swear…
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW FANTASTIC THIS MOVIE IS. Aside from being one of the rare sequels that surpasses its predecessor, it speaks to me as a person. I mean…a bunch of misfits and weirdos just trying to get through life. (And trying to take down an invincible, supernatural army, but, y’know, that’s just part of the job.) Over the past three or four years, it’s played such a big role in my life, and I know for a fact that I will never grow tired of it.
X2: X-Men United
Again. Misfits just trying to get through life, with some world-saving on the side. After all the criticism these films have gotten over the years (mostly for The Last Stand, that first Wolverine solo, Apocalypse, and Dark Phoenix), it’s so sad that they’ve been pushed aside in the grand scheme of superhero films. For if you think about it, these three two original X-Men movies (we don’t talk about The Last Stand) set the standard for the modern superhero movie. For lack of better words, the X-Men movies walked SO THE ENTIRE MCU COULD RUN. There. I said it.
Anyway, X2 was what rekindled my love of X-Men a few years ago, and in the span of about a year and a half, I’ve been able to watch it a good 5 times, and it will never. Get. Old.
All of the Star Wars movies (minus The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, you know what you’ve done…)
Star Wars. Need I really say any more?
I’d already heard a few songs off of Strange Mercy before, but I downloaded the rest of the album a few days ago, and I am STUNNED by how phenomenal it is.
So what’s your comfort food? What books, comics, films, and more will you never be able to stop re-reading/watching? Let me know down in the comments!
That just about wraps up this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Not sure if I should start out this post with my usual bibliophile greeting, since this isn’t the most bookish of posts, but hey, we’re all bibliophiles here, aren’t we?
Last night, I finally got around to watching I Am Mother, a movie that caught my attention when it came out last summer. I won’t detail the main reason why until around the end of the post, but needless to say, I put off watching it for a while. I’m not sure where my expectations were, but I was pleasantly surprised (and a bit freaked out, not gonna lie) from the results. An incredibly tense and well-done film that’s lingered in my thoughts since the moment I switched the TV off.
BE WARNED: I’m not sure if or how I’ll go about reviewing this without substantially spoiling the film, so for those who haven’t seen I Am Mother and intend to, you may not want to read this.
The film follows Mother, a caretaker droid with one task: to nurture the next generation of humanity after an extinction-level event wiped out much of the human race. In her lair, she raises her female child, referred to only as “Daughter,” teaching her about her species as she grows. But when she enters her teenage years, Daughter begins to grow suspicious that Mother may be hiding something from her. Her suspicions are confirmed when a woman shows up outside of her dwelling. She and Mother take the injured woman in; while Daughter is eager to care for her, Mother is more hesitant, almost reluctant to help her in any way. The woman (who also goes unnamed…nice…) is also reluctant of the droid’s help, claiming that it was a droid just like Mother who caused her injury.
Conflicted by the opposing truths of Mother and the woman, Daughter begins to delve deeper into her situation, spurred on by the woman, who claims that it was droids, not the contagion that Mother claimed, that wiped out the human race. A delve into the laboratory where the other embryos are kept leads Daughter to the discovery that Mother’s intentions are far more sinister; the droids intend to make a new human race, one less fallible than the humans of old, and the children who do not live up to the droid’s standards are terminated.
After the disturbing revelation, the woman convinces Daughter to go back outside with her, where they discover that the droids have already begun to lay the groundwork of their plan, making the air and ground fertile. But the woman has been withholding secrets as well–though she spoke of more humans, she appears to be the only one left in the vicinity. Betrayed by both sides, Daughter returns home with the intention of rescuing her newly born brother, who is currently under Mother’s care. Reluctantly, she shoots the droid who raised her from birth, saving her baby brother as she breaks down into tears. The film ends with her beginning to raise her brother, and staring hopefully into rows of unborn embryos in Mother’s laboratory.
Nearly every scene in I Am Mother is beautifully shot; the director clearly has a penchant for symmetry, which shone through in every camera angle, from simple landscape shots of Mother’s dwelling, to a particular shot of Daughter staring at the woman through the infirmary window, the glass pane separating them an on-the-nose portrayal of their moral divisions. For the most part, the FX were well done, though Mother herself, though smooth in design and execution, didn’t seem quite as computerized as she was intended to be, mostly in the way she ran, however tense some of those scenes were.
As a whole, I enjoyed the acting a fair amount. The best of the cast, in my opinion, was Clara Rugaard (Daughter); she stunningly portrayed Daughter’s naïvete and eventual growth into an independent young adult. I didn’t particularly care for Hillary Swank (the woman from outside) as much, but she did an excellent job of making her pain seem all too real.
Now, for the most part, I feel that Rose Byrne was a good fit for the voice of Mother, though she did add to the feel of her not being mechanized quite enough. Though the writing shone through, her voice didn’t feel as though it belonged to a robot, though it was on its way to being there. I haven’t seen her in much other than her role as Moira McTaggert in the newer X-Men films, but I’d say she did a good job with Mother other than that.
Other than some political undertones (possible anti-abortion weirdness; I’m personally more pro-choice myself, but the undertones weren’t blatant, and I may have misinterpreted them. They don’t align with my personal beliefs, but hey, think and believe whatever you want, as long as you’re not hurting anybody) and a few more nitpicky aspects, my only problem with this film was the second-to-last scene. In it, we see the woman in her dwelling on the outside. It is revealed earlier that Mother is part of a hive-mind who is working to “repair” the human race, and her consciousness exists in all of the droids that we see throughout the film. One of these droids, not so unlike Mother herself, approaches the woman, makes a remark about how she’s surprised that she’s survived this long, and hints that it’s “almost as though she has a purpose.”
The scene is the last that we see of the woman and this droid, and goes unresolved for the rest of the film.
What? WHAT? What exactly are they hinting at? If they have the audacity to leave such a cliffhanger unresolved, is there going to be a sequel???
I dunno. Anyway.
Before I end this review, I’d like to address one more question I’ve had about I Am Mother since the trailer was released. The plot, or at least the first third of it, almost resembled a favorite series of mine, almost to a T.
Yep. That’s right. GUESS WHO’S BACK…
Regardless, the first novel follows a strikingly similar plot–that of an adolescent girl, raised by a robot called M.U.T.H.R. in an underground facility. As she grows, M.U.T.H.R. continually tells her that she is not ready to go to the surface world, and that her being human is “special”.
Though I Am Mother takes a far more sinister turn, it shares some major similarities to the series, what with WondLa ending up as a journey on an unfamiliar Earth, now colonized by alien life forms while humans dwell in the shadows. The later books do take several dark turns, but not quite in the way that I Am Mother did. So why all these similarities? I’ve done a bit of digging on the internet, but all I’ve found is that either the (tiny but mighty) WondLa fandom just came out of its hole and said “Hey waaaaaaait a minute, that’s kinda funny…”, or that the film is “loosely based” on the novel. And if the latter is true, it’s very loosely based. Very. It went from “Sheesh, did they just paraphrase the dialogue from the first few chapters?” to “[glances at book] THIS is what it’s based off of?” in a split second. Even the outside view of Mother’s dwelling likened to the illustrations of the abandoned Sanctuaries in WondLa. I’m still scratching my head on this one, but either way, a very different interpretation, if that’s what it was.
Though it wasn’t without its flaws, I Am Mother was certainly a well-done and thought-provoking movie that continually kept me on the edge of my seat. I’d give it a solid 8/10.
(This one’s been lodged in my head since this morning…)
That just about wraps up this review! I hope you enjoyed this deviation from my normally bookish content…
Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!