Sunday is Coming…

This Sunday! Season 2 premieres! I’m very excited, even though I probably won’t be able to watch any of it until mid-May at the earliest. This was a pretty funny video that I found: Sunday Is Coming.

As a last minute teaser, here are some of the brand new characters from the show in costume.

Brienne

Balon Greyjoy

Davos

Gendry

Jaqen H’Gar

Margaery Tyrell

Stannis and Melisandre

So just a handful of pics to whet your appetite, but clearly it’s going to be amazing!

Paul

I am very picky about my comedy. I like witty and clever, not crass and crude. The Marx Brothers are always funny. So is most everything from Monty Python. Most modern American style humor I do not find funny at all because most of it tends to be in the vein of “how many fart/sex jokes can we fit into this 5 minute segment?”

One comedy duo that I have grown to love is Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. They, along with writer/director Edgar Wright, managed to make a cop procedural and a zombie movie (2007’s Hot Fuzz and 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, respectively) that I thought were enjoyable and extremely funny. So I was pretty excited when I heard about Paul coming out. True, it didn’t have Edgar Wright directing, but it still had Pegg and Frost. I had high hopes.

For the most part, Paul did not disappoint. Clive (Nick Frost) and Graeme (Simon Pegg) are two longtime nerds and best friends (from England). They are finally living a dream when they get to attend Comic-Con and then take a road trip in a rented RV to various alien sighting locations in the Southwest. Things take an unexpected turn when they run into Paul, a little green man desperate to get home. The movie is filled with all kinds of jokes that will please even the most casual of pop culture/sci-fi nerds. But there were two things that bothered me about the movie.

First, Paul the alien is played by Seth Rogen. Disclaimer: I have only seen two of his films- Paul and Knocked Up. In both movies Seth Rogen played the same character. From movie trailers I have seen, Seth Rogen played the same characters in those movies as well (except perhaps for 50/50): a pothead slacker. While it is mildly funny that the first alien contact we have turns out to be with an alien as laid back and party-loving as Paul, the character tends to get tiring. Especially considering how distinctive Seth Rogen’s voice is. There is no forgetting exactly who Paul is.

The other thing that really bothered me was the character of Ruth. Ruth, played by Kristen Wiig, is the love interest in the movie that the boys end up kidnapping after she discovers Paul. Ruth also happens to be a Christian! Except not really. Like all Christians in any Hollywood movie, Ruth is ignorant, sheltered, and gives up a life long faith because that means she can now swear and “fornicate”. And then spends the rest of the movie uaing as many swear words as possible, whether needed or not. Comedy gold, let me tell you. As a Christian, I understand that Hollywood has no interest in portraying real people, especially not religious people. I also can tell you that there is much in the Christian culture that should be laughed at. However, using the same tired stereotype of the fundamentalist Christian overwhelmed by the rightness of Darwinism and evolution and whose faith crumbles at the first push against it is ridiculous. And insulting. And, frankly, lazy. When was this stereotype ever funny? So, anyways. It really bothered me. It felt out of place and made the scenes with Ruth mean-spirited rather than clever. The movie definitely went downhill from there.

But despite those flaws, I did enjoy the movie overall. Not as much as the previous Frost-Pegg movies, but hopefully Paul will be an aberration not the beginning of a trend and maybe the next movie will have Edgar Wright back at the helm where he belongs.

TRON: A fairytale for the Digital Age

I recently watched Tron for the first time a few days ago. I was just going to watch Tron: Legacy (and that only for the Daft Punk soundtrack) but figured I might as well go ahead and watch the original one as well.

I thought both movies were pretty silly. The first one especially. Yes, it was an interesting idea and Jeff Bridges was a really good looking guy (still is, for that matter) but it’s hard to look at the art design (done by Moebius!) and graphics in that movie and still think “man, this is so high tech!”

Tron: Legacy I liked better mainly because of the soundtrack, but it also had some really cool fight scenes, it was mildly funny (thanks to the heroine! how often do you see that in action movies?!?), and, well, it had Garrett Hedlund and Jeff Bridges in it. I’m not complaining.

The main thing I pulled away from the Tron movies though is how backwards they are. I’m not sure that’s the appropriate way to describe what I mean so let me explain. And if I get this wrong let me know. But according to the movies, there is another world inside our technology known as the “Grid”. The inhabitants of the Grid are known as “programs”. Tron is himself a program. He works for the user, us. So basically, our technology is not a complicated series of wires and circuits running on electricity but rather humanoid programs who run everything and then are forced to compete in games when they need to be removed. Is anyone else thinking of the old cry of witchcraft at unexplained machinery? I feel almost like I should start leaving bowls of milk or other offerings next to my tech devices at night. The fact that I haven’t could be the explanation behind all the computer problems I’ve been having recently at home…

To take it further, in Tron Keven Flynn first goes into the Grid, helps the “programs” out and then is released back into our world. He begins to make frequent visits back and forth between the two worlds until one day he is kidnapped, I mean, trapped into Faerie. Er, the Grid. Twenty years later, Flynn’s son, Sam, enters Faerie/the Grid where he has to try and rescue his father and receives assistance from the amoral Castor and Gem. Although since neither programs or faeries have souls, I suppose morals should not be an issue. However, one faerie/program has been adopted in a way by Flynn Sr. who has taught her a bit of humanity. Therefore, she can understand sacrifice and the greater good. When Sam finally returns home (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER without his father of course, who has spent too much time in the other world to ever live comfortably in ours again and so ends up sacrificing himself for his son’s escape SPOILER DONE SPOILER DONE), he ends up bringing his own faerie lass um, program with him to help him change the world for the better.

So the next time you get frustrated with your computer, phone, tablet or other piece of technology and feel like throwing it into the nearest wall STOP! DO NOT! Calm yourself and think of the programs’ lives you could end by such reckless behavior.

Delivering your email.

If anything will make me pick up learning German again…

…it will be this:

About a year ago, Erika Eichenseer, a curator at an archive in Regensburg, Germany was looking through the papers of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, a local historian who was a contemporary of the Grimm Brothers. Eichenseer found 500 new (well, new to us) fairy tales in his papers and has already published a small collection of them called Prinz Roßzwifl (means Prince Scarab Beetle). An English translation is in the works, but no word on when it will be available. Seeing as how Von Schönwerth was described by Jacob Grimm as the only person in Germany that could replace him in his and his brother’s collection work, this is really something to be excited about. One tale, called The Turnip Princess, has already been translated. You can read the original article at The Guardian website here.

And here is The Turnip Princess:

A young prince lost his way in the forest and came to a cave. He passed the night there, and when he awoke there stood next to him an old woman with a bear and a dog. The old witch seemed very beautiful and wished that the prince would stay with her and marry her. He could not endure her, yet could not leave that place.

One day, the bear was alone with him and spoke to the prince: “Pull the rusty nail from the wall, so that I shall be delivered, and place it beneath a turnip in the field, and in this way you shall have a beautiful wife.” The prince seized the nail so strongly that the cave shook and the nail cracked loudly like a clap of thunder. Behind him a bear stood up from the ground like a man, bearded and with a crown on his head.

“Now I shall find a beautiful maiden,” cried the prince and went forth nimbly. He came to a field of turnips and was about to place the nail beneath one of them when there appeared above him a monster, so that he dropped the nail, pricked his finger on a hedge and bled until he fell down senseless. When he awoke he saw that he was elsewhere and that he had long slumbered, for his smooth chin was now frizzy with a blond beard.

He arose and set off across field and forest and searched through every turnip field but nowhere found what he was looking for. Day passed and night, too, and one evening, he sat down on a ridge beneath a bush, a flowering blackthorn with red blossoms on one branch. He broke off the branch, and because there was before him, amongst the other things on the ground, a large, white turnip, he stuck the blackthorn branch into the turnip and fell asleep.

When he awoke on the morrow, the turnip beside him looked like a large, open shell in which lay the nail, and the wall of the turnip resembled a nut-shell, whose kernel seemed to shape his picture. He saw there the little foot, the thin hand, the whole body, even the fine hair so delicately imprinted, just as the most beautiful girl would have.

The prince stood up and began his search, and came at last to the old cave in the forest, but no one was there. He took out the nail and struck it into the wall of the cave, and at once the old woman and the bear were also there. “Tell me, for you know for certain,” snarled the prince fiercely at the old woman, “where have you put the beautiful girl from the parlour?” The old woman giggled to hear this: “You have me, so why do you scorn me?”

The bear nodded, too, and looked for the nail in the wall. “You are honest, to be sure,” said the prince, “but I shall not be the old woman’s fool again.” “Just pull out the nail,” growled the bear. The prince reached for it and pulled it half out, looked about him and saw the bear as already half man, and the odious old woman almost as a beautiful and kind girl. Thereupon he drew out the nail entirely and flew into her arms for she had been delivered from the spell laid upon her and the nail burnt up like fire, and the young bridal pair traveled with his father, the king, to his kingdom.

Jean Giraud/Moebius

You might not have heard of Jean Giraud, aka Moebius, by name. But if you’ve looked at comics, you’ve seen his influence. He died just this morning at 73.

I discovered who he was a few days ago (through the amazing web comic Sailor Twain– scroll down a bit to the blog underneath), but now that I’ve seen his work I’m fairly certain I’ve seen it before. Unfortunately, he’s not that well known here in the States but his influence is widespread. Besides his artwork, he has also worked on the art design for several movies, including The Fifth Element, Tron, and Alien. His work ranges from surreal to erotic, from children’s stories to perfume ads. Since he’s an artist I’ll just post some of my favorites here. They are all from a series of perfume ads for the Voyage of Hermes.

(UPDATE 1/13: Unfortunately, that Sailor Twain link is no longer working. With the publication of the physical book, it seems most of the comic and the adjoining blog posts have been removed. Still going to leave the link there, though, even the little that’s left on the website is worth looking at, even if it’s not really related to Moebius anymore.)

More information on Jean Giraud/ Moebius can be found at his official website (in French, sorry!), on imdb.com, or on this amazing blog that has set about to post everything it can of Giraud’s work online.

Enjoy!

The Rook

I read a lot. And I read a lot of different things. Because I read so much over such a wide range of topics I feel that I have disciplined myself very well to put down a book at any point in the story, whether it is because I want to or need to. So it has been a while since I have felt the whole “I couldn’t put it down!” feeling. The Rook turned out to be the first book in a long time where I really did not want to put it down.

The Rook started out as my night book. I like to read or listen to music at nights until I get tired, but if I read I hate having to bring whatever book I’m reading upstairs for the night and then having to remember to bring it back downstairs the next morning to take to work. Since I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like this book, but knew I needed to get it read, I made it my night book. That lasted about 2 days until it became my anytime book and I was taking it with me wherever I went.

I first discovered this book when it came into the library as a new book. It’s my job to process the new books at our branch so I cracked this one open to read the inside cover. It sounded…interesting, but nothing I thought I really wanted to read (thrillers have always been a big turnoff for me, I’m not sure why). I flipped it over to read the comments on the back and was also a bit turned off by the claim that it was “Harry Potter meets Ghostbusters meets War of the Worlds“. After reading the book myself I’m fairly certain this reviewer didn’t actually read the book at all, as there is really no similarity to those books/movies in the slightest. However, the very last review claimed it was “part Bourne Identity, part X-Men, and with a hefty dose of Monty Python”. Whoa, did somebody say Monty Python? Because I’ve been madly in love with those boys since my dad introduced me and my sister to The Holy Grail when I was still in the single digits. So I checked it out.

“Dear You” the book begins, “the body you are wearing used to be mine.” See Myfanwy Thomas has lost her memory. All she knows is that when she gained consciousness she was standing in the rain surrounded by unconscious men wearing latex gloves. There was a letter directed simply “To You” in her coat pocket with instructions on what she needed to do. The previous Myfanwy Thomas had planned two paths for her successor: to run away and hide or pretend to be Myfanwy Thomas and find out what has happened to her. It’s not a spoiler to say that Myfanwy decides on the latter choice and then has to deal with the consequences.

And there are consequences. Myfanwy Thomas is actually Rook Thomas of the Checquy, the British organization charged with protecting British citizens of all the supernatural threats to the realm. Many of the members of the Checquy have supernatural powers themselves and the organization has also dedicated itself to finding others with powers and raising them to be valuable members of the Checquy. Myfanwy Thomas now has to figure out how she lost her memory and why, while simultaneously trying to save the country from an old enemy and protect the Checquy from an interior threat.

It could easily become a confusing story. But O’Malley follows the present stream of events with Myfanwy, and then provides background information on her previous life through letters Thomas wrote before losing her memory. Hmm. I might be making this fairly confusing myself. But it is a detective novel of sorts and a thriller with plenty of silly and absurd humor thrown in when least expected. It’s a great read and one I found myself unwilling to put down.

And if this sort of thing is important to you, it is definitely a mix of MI-5 and X-Men with just the right amount of Monty Python and Douglas Adams.

Find out more on the official website for the book here!