rose_griffes: Peter and Walter Bishop (fringe3)
Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 09:18 pm
It's important while living and breathing in an echo chamber (in a fannish sense) to take time to step out of it.

Rian Johnson made a Star Wars movie that I didn't enjoy. I can point to ways that I think it was a disservice to various characters, and how it performs an illusion of subversiveness while ending up in the same place as before; but ultimately Johnson's film delivered for Disney. They hired him; they knew his record of focusing on white male villains. He gave them a critically praised movie that earned a decent profit.

Do I think it deserved that critical praise? Hell, no. But so what? So if Disney goes through with its plan to have Johnson write a trilogy of Star Wars films (this remains to be seen), I don't know if I'll watch them. I don't like his writing for women (who all got stuck "teaching important lessons" to the men in TLJ, and who basically don't exist in his previous works), for characters of color (ditto what I said about women in his writing), or even for those white male villains he likes so much, for the most part. Kylo's narrative didn't interest me, but it also didn't leave me feeling enraged. But again: so what? Disney ain't gonna go broke if I stop watching their Star Wars movies.

As for The Rise of Skywalker, nothing in the brief teaser trailer or the promotional material makes me believe that JJ Abrams is somehow going to retcon all of The Last Jedi. We already know that he's using footage of Carrie Fisher as Leia from Episode VII, so Rey's costume--similar to what she wore in that film--is probably meant to match, and not some refutation of everything Johnson wrote. Abrams is a crowd-pleasing filmmaker; crowds were, for the most part, okay with The Last Jedi. Why would Abrams go to the trouble of making something that explicitly contradicts Johnson's vision of Star Wars, especially when it would be easier to just move forward? He can always ignore the bits from Johnson that he doesn't want to use, in much the same way Johnson did with episode VII.

Anyway. Back to the echo chamber: just because I find fandom enclave trends interesting )

As for the ongoing talk of how Johnson's film "broke" Star Wars: I think that fits in the category of "we'll know someday... but not yet". Solo's spectacular underperformance was in large part due to its own failings: a bad reputation due to directorial misdirections and changes; a decision to keep the original release date, which led to a lack of promotional material in the months leading up to that release date. The number of people who stay away from the ninth film in the trilogy will probably be smaller than the vitriolic fans want to believe, and Disney does not care if some people are hate-watching; the money spends just the same.

The real test will be Johnson's own trilogy, in my opinion. The television shows coming out will probably stand on their own merits since they're not closely tied into the Skywalker heritage, and Rian Johnson isn't attached to those works. Plus, it appears there's going to be a break of unknown length before we get any new Star Wars films. Fans who were enraged by TLJ may feel more forgiving if Abrams wraps up the trilogy on a decently positive note; also, the hiatus effect will kick in, and desperation for new content may lead to provisional 'forgiveness' of LucasFilm.

Edited to add: disappointed reylo fans* after episode IX will probably not impact LucasFilm's profit margins either.

*Anyone who wants Rey and Kylo to interact in IX will probably be happy! Anyone who wants them to live happily ever after and make more Skywalker babies will probably not be happy. And if that does actually happen, I'll kondo-ize that story right out of my life, so it won't matter to me, either! (After I complain about it, of course. THAT'S WHAT I HAVE AN ONLINE BLOG FOR, OKAY?)
rose_griffes: Olivia Dunham from Fringe: in the tank (fringe2)
Tuesday, April 16th, 2019 09:09 pm
Things are growing in the garden! The raspberry bush that I thought was dead has made some tiny baby raspberry plants! The three big branches from last year really are dead, but the baby plants may do okay in that spot. Or maybe I'll need to move them elsewhere, but at least there's something to move, y'know?

(The leaves on the raspberry plant just... went away last fall. I don't know if they were eaten by something, or there was some kind of fungus or parasite, or what. But baby plants! I don't think I'll get many actual berries this year, but baby plants! Alive!)

Last year was my first significant attempt at doing much gardening where I live. So this is all still pretty exciting. Someday I may be bored of raspberries, or overrun in raspberries, but for now it's cool.

The small blackberry bush is doing far better: lush green leaves all over the place. Last year it was just big enough to produce a single berry; hopefully, I'll get a small crop instead of only one. I will need to put up some netting at some point. The birds really loved dive-bombing for raspberries last year; I doubt they'll discriminate against blackberries.

I recently planted a fruit tree in the side yard. More details and pics maybe this weekend, since Friday is a holiday. It will probably be a friends-locked post, btw.

I still need to figure out where to plant cucumbers this year. That task is way overdue, so I may end up buying plants instead of growing from seed. Unfortunately, it gets too hot for cucumbers fairly quickly here, so I might be better off trying for fall cucumbers. But the lettuce has gotten a good start; we should be eating garden salads soon.
rose_griffes: Crying: acceptable under two circumstances (Ron Swanson's pyramid of awesome) (Ron Swanson has a plan)
Sunday, April 14th, 2019 05:52 pm
It's been a hectic week. Mid-week I drove to the nearest big city to see a touring musical. My mom came to visit for the second half of the week. (She just left a few hours ago.) And in a little bit another friend visiting from out of state is coming by for dinner.

I did watch the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Thoughts: I'll put 'em back here in case someone is going in completely spoiler-free. )
rose_griffes: Crying: acceptable under two circumstances (Ron Swanson's pyramid of awesome) (crying)
Saturday, April 6th, 2019 08:36 pm
I might be in a bit of a binge cycle, and The Magicians does include at least two talking animals. They're not very communicative, though; one seems limited to a single word, and the other is incomprehensible as it mutters about torturous death.

SyFy channel likes its feel-bad TV. That's what Battlestar Galactica was, and now this show fills that niche. I wanted Julia and Kady to be friends; they are! But things are terrible and likely to get worse. Quentin is finding more about who he is, but it has required massive suffering and character deaths and so forth.

Anyway! Super-weird! Really dark! Strangely compelling! Excessive use of cuss words! Lots of dead magicians strewn about every so often, usually dying in gruesome ways!
rose_griffes: John Reese from Person of Interest on CBS (reese (the *other* messed-up Reese))
Friday, April 5th, 2019 06:04 pm
Philip Pullman wrote the His Dark Materials series at least partly in response to The Chronicles of Narnia, with their Christian symbolism. Pullman is an atheist, and his series has a strong anti-religion undertone. Or overtone, really.

Now that I've started watching the SyFy series The Magicians, based on the book series of the same name, I'm very curious if Lev Grossman's books might be viewed as one person's Jewish response to the Narnia books? Given that I'm multiple steps away from the books themselves by watching a television adaptation, I really couldn't say. But it's certainly a thought-provoking question. Whether religious in nature or not, the show version of the story does reflect how Narnian tales have become part of Western culture... a dark, sinister reflection.

By the way, I've gotten through ten of the thirteen episodes of season one, and my enjoyment of the show continues to increase. It's definitely an adult show, which surprised me; I haven't had cable or satellite in years, so SyFy channel's evolution to a darker, more adult audience happened without me paying attention. (Does The Expanse air on SyFy as well?)

Favorite character in The Magicians so far: Julia Wicker, with her tragic tenacity. I want good things for her! Which is probably not going to go well for me, given that this is a somewhat grim take on the world(s) of magic.
rose_griffes: Leslie Knope loves her pancakes (pancakes)
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 06:16 pm
I watched Captain Marvel for a second time last weekend because it was fun the first time. Still fun the second time, especially since I was able to see my friend Em react to the surprising stuff. (Goose!)

At some point in the last three weeks I finally watched Ant-Man and the Wasp, which was better than the first Ant-Man movie. That's an incredibly low bar, though. The first one: entertained me in spite of my below ground-level expectations, fell apart as soon as I thought about anything for more than thirty seconds. The second one: more women got to do stuff, so it was better. Although I would have liked at least one more sequence narrated by Luis because those are awesome.

Books: Seanan McGuire continues to be a) prolific, and b) consistent with her eighth InCryptid novel, That Ain't Witchcraft. I highly recommend basically anything by her, and anything written under the name Mira Grant. (She separates her work under those two names because of the different genres. And possibly because she is so prolific? Not sure.)

Anyway: McGuire has the magic elements, Grant has the horror. I tend to think of her writing as fitting into what Stephen King did: write a lot, write well, and entertain the masses. (Minus the repetitive Maine setting and the cocaine-fueled '80s.)

Kiera Cass wrote a YA series that starts with The Selection, and it was Not For Me. I had to skim skim skim my way to the end; boring love triangle in a dystopian setting worked better written by Suzanne Collins, and Collins had more interesting world-building as well.

I finally finished C.J. Archer's Freak House trilogy. It was not entirely boring? I didn't have to skim? Competent prose, a reasonably well-plotted storyline, but... eh. Not that interesting. I may try another book by Archer at some point, but I'm not in a rush.

I re-read The Opposite of Everyone, by Joshilyn Jackson, because I love it so. Modern-day southern drama, but with a character of color in a leading role rather than secondary. Prickly, "unlikeable" female protagonist who finds family in unexpected ways. A romance that doesn't take over the storyline but is still important and written well. You should check it out.

I have a pile of other books to read on my phone. One of them is E.K. Johnston's Ahsoka. I know I said I wasn't going to buy more Star Wars tie-in novels, but there was a sale! And this one isn't tied to the current films, so I should feel less disappointment when it inevitably has no reflection in episode IX. Also, I enjoyed a previous book by Johnston, so... we'll see.

(Yes, I am STILL ANGRY about how Before the Awakening established Finn's pre-film character, and how that was not just ignored, but directly contracted, by episodes VII and VIII. Why are you bothering to create this extended universe if you can't even keep track of your own canon, LucasFilm? It's been six and a half years since Disney bought LF and started the new extended universe; it shouldn't be that difficult to track its own characters.)
rose_griffes: Leslie Knope loves her pancakes (pancakes)
Saturday, March 23rd, 2019 03:39 pm
I watched the pilot episode of Whiskey Cavalier, a new American network spy comedy. (It's available on hulu.) It was... Not Good. I thought maybe it was just a very bad case of pilot-itis, but a friend of mine who did like the pilot said that episode three (I think?) was so weak that she may be giving up on the show herself.

At any rate, I have enough to watch without giving episode two a try. They can fix the writing, get another season going, and then maybe I'll try again.

The Magicians (on Netflix) fared better with me; I've watched episodes one and two so far, and intend to continue. It's definitely not perfect; if anyone out there watches it and has a season one guide on what to skip, I'd listen. But I enjoyed it enough to keep going for now.

The movie Captain Marvel lived up to the hype. I enjoyed it a lot; currently wondering if it would be worth a re-watch soon, given how certain revelations were meant to change our perceptions of the story.

Not spoilery unless you've never seen an ad for the movie: I do wonder why the alien race called the Kree had both blue-skinned aliens and aliens with human skin tones. Saving on makeup time and costs, perhaps? At least they avoided doing what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did, which was to cast nearly all of the Kree roles with people of color (except for the most powerful Kree, who was played by a white man), and then paint them all blue. It's one of those things Hollywood does far too often: use actors of color in 'alien' roles and cover them with makeup or prosthetics.

Oooh, hang on, I just found a link explaining why the Kree can be blue or 'human' toned... and um. Well. Comics sure are interesting.
rose_griffes: hand-written text: "Once upon a time" (once upon a time)
Thursday, March 21st, 2019 07:57 pm
At some point in the last fifteen months, I asked the question (on tumblr) about what media has had a young-ish, attractive-ish white male villain that was left unredeemed by canon. Someone mentioned Julian Sark on Alias. (Not a show that I've watched.) My own example is Grant Ward, from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Of course, redeemed is a subjective result anyway, for a lot of the audience. Was Darth Vader redeemed? It's funny; you can find quotes from George Lucas talking about how one theme of Star Wars is redemption, but also find quotes where he says that Anakin can't be redeemed for the pain and suffering he's caused; that Anakin doesn't right any wrongs, but only "stops the horror". So even in the eyes of his own creator, Vader's redemption appears subjective.

Anyway. What kind of redemption arcs do you like? Are there any that you dislike in media? Have you seen any good redemption arcs for a character that was NOT a white man, and how did the audience perceive that arc?

Any other examples of NOT-redemption arcs for white male characters that you can think of, other than Sark and Ward?

Unrelated: I need to a) find a good mood theme for dreamwidth, and b) figure out how to upload it. I want my cute tiny pics!
rose_griffes: Crying: acceptable under two circumstances (Ron Swanson's pyramid of awesome) (Ron Swanson has a plan)
Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 07:14 pm
I waited until its second weekend to try watching Captain Marvel, but the Saturday morning showings were almost sold out. Next weekend, I guess. I've already learned one spoiler by accident; fingers crossed that I can avoid more spoilers for another week.

I've been thinking about engagement with media and how fandom specifically has made me a) more thoughtful about some of my choices and b) more aware of my own biases. I have an anecdote about point B. Back when Person of Interest was in its first season, an episode aired with a cute and charming guest star of the week, April L. Hernandez. She played the role of Andrea Gutierrez, a scrappy young lawyer, and for a noticeable chunk of the episode, I didn't enjoy her character at all. I couldn't pinpoint why that was, at least not at first.

It was weird. The "title" I was given once on LiveJournal was "Patron saint of neglected female characters". I'm not used to just disliking female characters for no reason. So after I got a copy of the episode, I watched again and tried to figure out what was going on, given that the actress was capable and the writing competent, and my irrational dislike was definitely something, well, irrational.

Here's what I posted about the episode way back when:
[...] Andrea Gutierrez. Local girl, had some trouble as a teen, now a lawyer, in debt for her schooling, cute as a button... and doing that thing that irritates me without fail. What thing? That combo of teetering in too-high heels, carrying too many bags, and then she buys a cup of coffee to carry on top of all that. Meh. It happens way too much on TV and in the movies.

The thing is, I didn't realize that this was something that irritated me until I made myself investigate the WHY behind my dislike. I was fortunate enough to know my own thinking and preferences well enough to figure out that there was something else to my lack of enjoyment--something to explain that moment of "I just don't like her."

As soon as I figured it out, I got over my dislike of Andrea Gutierrez. Why would I hold it against the character when the writers made that choice for her? And while I still don't like that specific writing shortcut (I've seen this in multiple shows and films), I can recognize that it's a me thing. The writers aren't trying to make me dislike the character; they're using a worn-out trope that I apparently hate. And now I can look past that.

This is the cool thing about engaging in media and fandom. You can poke at your own biases and preferences and decide things like a) I'm not going to let this specific weird bias become a reason to hate on character X, and b) that's a writing trope that I'm never gonna use because I dislike it so much.
rose_griffes: (Default)
Tuesday, March 12th, 2019 09:25 pm
Having read the books - The Passage, The Twelve, and City of Mirrors - I had a solid guess where season one was going. Even so... spoilers )
rose_griffes: (Default)
Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 06:20 pm
I haven't had a paid dreamwidth account in a very long time. But apparently at some point I did, given the inactive icons I have uploaded. And now I'm tempted to do that again, because OBVIOUSLY I need some userpics for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. And other, more current fannish loves. (Finn from Star Wars! Baby vampire Amy from The Passage! And so many more!)

In the meantime, here's the fic I've written since The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fic exchange in December.

Yellow, Red (1417 words) by rose_griffes
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Illya Kuryakin/Gaby Teller
Characters: Gaby Teller, Illya Kuryakin
Additional Tags: Cunnilingus, hiding from your own feeling, Established Relationship
Summary: A sort of New Year's celebration...

FUNdamentals (1119 words) by rose_griffes
Chapters: 1/2
Fandom: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Illya Kuryakin/Gaby Teller, Illya Kuryakin & Napoleon Solo & Gaby Teller
Characters: Gaby Teller, Illya Kuryakin, Napoleon Solo
Additional Tags: Unrequited Crush, Mutual Pining, Cooking
Series: Part 2 of 5 times Gaby and Illya surprised each other - and one time Solo surprised them both
Summary: A continuation from a prompt: Gaby or Illya surprising each other.

Yep, still doing the hyper-focus on that one film.

But other things are good as well. The Passage may or may not be one of those things, but it's super enjoyable, and the momentum has really built in the last few episodes. Next week is a two-hour season finale, so this would be a good time to start watching: in time to see the finale with the live audience. (Or the next day. Which is what I do, on hulu.)
rose_griffes: (Default)
Sunday, March 3rd, 2019 07:09 pm
One thing I should have mentioned about The Umbrella Academy in my previous post: it is jarringly violent at times. IMDB says it's 'TV-14', for whatever that's worth.

Luther, Allison, and... spoilers! And oh gosh, this got rambly. )
rose_griffes: Wonder-Woman carries Batman (wonderwoman-batman)
Sunday, February 24th, 2019 09:05 pm
Yesterday I attempted to read a romance novel that I downloaded at some point--not sure exactly when, but I'm almost certain it was free. It was not nearly good enough to actually read; I ended up skimming through almost the entire book.

Two, no three things that struck me as particularly strange while I was reading: and here they are )

Anyway. I read the post-novel author's notes and went, "Ooooooh, I get it now," when I realized that the book was written by a man.
rose_griffes: batman: "Despite all my rage, I'm still just a bat in a cave" (bat in a cave)
Saturday, February 23rd, 2019 07:57 pm
[community profile] questionoftheday asks: Have you ever broken the law before? Was is a major or minor infraction? Did you get away with it?

My answer: I mean... there's the constant driving over the speed limit. I honestly can't think of anything other than similar 'small' things, like sometimes procrastinating getting my car inspection tag updated. (Not a good life choice, but not exactly arrest warrant material. As a white woman in the US, my chances of suffering any major consequence during that month or two when I've neglected to get the tag updated are small.)

I accidentally started a new show, even though I have plenty of other things I'm planning to start / continue watching. The Umbrella Academy is one of Netflix's newest offerings. The cast is pretty stellar. Ellen Page is onscreen a lot! Mary J. Blige has a minor role!

There are two things that detract a bit from the fun: not really spoilery, but if you're a purist of some kind and don't want to know anything else, don't click here )
rose_griffes: Mickey Smith holding a bat (hey Mickey!)
Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 06:59 pm
[community profile] questionoftheday asks: What is the most ridiculous thing you have ever cried over?

My answer: I'm sure I cried over some very ridiculous things as a child. And teenager. But as an adult--french fries. One time I was sick and asked a friend to stop by a fast food place and bring me a sandwich and drink. She came to my home, handed me the bag, left; I opened it and saw that she had bought fries as well and started crying, saying, "She brought me french fries!"

And that was when I knew I was definitely more sick than I had previously assessed. Crying over french fries was a clear sign.
rose_griffes: hand-written text: "Once upon a time" (once upon a time)
Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 07:10 pm
I'm still chugging through Call My Agent! in spite of disappointment over one specific storyline. Accompanying that, disappointment over how they write a character introduced in season two. Overall it's still enjoyable enough to continue. Also, only six episodes per season, so it's not exactly taxing to watch. I just finished season two, so I've caught up to the most recent season.

The Passage is keeping me interested so far. It's progressed enough to feel like its own story, rather than "show based on a book". The actors are compelling, and the changes made in this adaptation have made for a stronger show than I might have expected from such a hodge-podge book. (Every trope imaginable, stuffed into one heavy book! Well, actually three heavy books, but still.)

And speaking of books! I made a friend online when Person of Interest was on air, and she just published her third original novella in a series, Black and Blue in Harlem. If you like mysteries with a noir sensibility but a bit less tragedy for the protagonist, they're a wonderful read. Book one is Lost and Found in Harlem.

Wanna know a bit more? Our narrator is Shelba Rook, a survivor of hard times who's trying to get by in New York. He finds a job in a detective agency (natch), and slowly builds a life for himself in the city. The books are bursting with colorful characters--in multiple senses. This isn't a whitewashed version of big city life.

Other recent books: The Madness Underneath is Maureen Johnson's second outing in her series of London-based ghost hunter books. It suffers a lot from middle story syndrome, unfortunately. Also, I don't really care much about our POV protagonist, which makes for a less enjoyable read. I'll give book three a try at some point, but it's in my "I'll stop reading if I just don't care enough" pile.

Elizabeth Wein wrote a prequel to her amazing Code Name: Verity story--The Pearl Thief. It was a worthwhile and enjoyable read, even if not quite as gripping and heart-wrenching as its predecessor.
rose_griffes: batman: "Despite all my rage, I'm still just a bat in a cave" (bat in a cave)
Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 08:40 pm
[community profile] questionoftheday asks: What is something everyone is "supposed" to love or enjoy, but you just don't? (question submitted by [personal profile] author_by_night)

My answer: There are some TV shows that were fairly universally loved by the fandom circles I knew best on livejournal and even tumblr that just never clicked for me. Farscape and Leverage are two of them. Oh, and the novels of Neil Gaiman--just... eh. Neverwhere was okay, and I liked his collaboration with Terry Pratchett, but that's about it.

Related to that, Pratchett's novels that focused on the wizards are boring. The others are enjoyable, mostly in a "Yes, this is okay" sort of way, rather than a passionate love for his books.

(Most recent example of this whole phenomenon: Russian Doll is loved by several people with similar tastes to mine, and yet...)
rose_griffes: (Default)
Sunday, February 10th, 2019 08:18 pm

While I am definitely in favor of Finn having a romantic ending in Episode IX, it's not without some pitfalls. I've said before that I think there are two likely romances in store for him, so here's a quick rundown on the problems they pose.

Finn x Rey endgame:

  • Rose ends up as the temporary love interest, an obstacle: a role that gets assigned to women of color far too often, only to have the 'right' women be white.
  • Bigger possibility of Rose getting sidelined within IX.

Finn x Rose endgame:

  • The buildup for romantic finnrey in VII turns into another example of Finn's story as bait-and-switch. (Before people try to argue that there was no romantic buildup: 1, 2, 3 - read those first.)
  • Increased chance of Finn getting sidelined (again) in IX.

Endgame Finn x Rose also makes it more likely that the Force storyline remains completely unconnected to any of the characters of color (still, again)... barring something else, like force-sensitive Finn, or using Naomi Ackie’s character in the Force storyline, etc.

Even with the pitfalls (and there are more, I just went with the most obvious ones for each pairing), I think it would be worse to have no romantic conclusion for Finn. We've had two movies now where his onscreen interactions hinted at romance; to ignore that would be a disservice. Especially since dark-skinned black men in big budget and franchise films don't often get to have an important romance written as part of their story arc. They’re either alone, or they have an established relationship going into the story.

What about you? Any thoughts about how romance might happen in episode IX?
rose_griffes: (Default)
Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 06:13 pm
First, Finn as a cult survivor. I've seen this complaint too: the idea that the Star Wars movies don't show Finn in recovery from his time as a child soldier. This post points out that there IS material there.

Kind of related, Jedi cult?, which delves into how the Jedi have similarities to cult-like groups. Very interesting.

I watched The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix. World War II and post-war romantic drama - the romance is post-war, the drama is the war part. Main takeaway: I want Juliet Ashton's gorgeous late 40s wardrobe. It's breathtaking. Also, I saw a post referring to the male romantic lead as "female gaze-y" and I can't really argue with that. I'll refrain from giving specific reasons why, as they're spoilery, but yeah. Is it a worthwhile watch? Eh, if you want something pretty and not entirely fluffy, it's good enough.

Russian Doll is Netflix's newest original show, and I made it through about ten minutes of episode one. The material is crude enough that I decided I'd stick to other shows. (I'm guessing that the crudeness is at least in part to establish the baseline of the lead character, to show how she's going to change, but I have plenty of other shows to watch. Unless there's some reason that I must ABSOLUTELY watch that specific show, I'm not gonna.)