Monday, February 20, 2012

I hate the word 'lithe'

Originally written Jan. 6, 2012

I started writing this sometime back in October or November, when I hit a patch of books that all started to bleed together. Despite the fact that they were those books that were high on entertainment and not much else, it exhausted me, just like this list eventually did and I didn't really get back to it until now. Hence why, unlike my usual angry tirades I go through when I write reviews, I obviously don't really care anymore at the closing paragraph.

REVIEW: Random Urban Fantasy Books I've Read

I believe I've approached this before in a loose sense, when I bitched about that book with dragons, tattoos and gods or something, and what bothered me a lot (aside from... well, most of it), was the fact that if you had magic powers, they will be godlike, and you will be awesome. This seems to be a common theme in these stories, and often times, if it doesn't start out like that, it will eventually. I mean, this is why they're the main characters right? Because interesting things happen to them, they keep not dying in fights and we want to read it. It's like an RPG in book form without that annoying grinding and getting lost in dungeons.

But anyway, I don't want to make over arching generalizations about the whole genre since I haven't read all that many, but I can pretty much say that these are the things I picked up on as general themes:
- Ass kicking. There will be a lot of ass kicking. All supernatural creatures and magic users will have some ability to heal fast, or get hurt just enough for them to continue functioning so in the next book, they'll still have all their limbs and a perfectly fine back.
- Snarking. As a show to prove how 'urban' and modern the world is in juxtaposition to the 'old world' magics hidden from the public, how else to prove this by making the main character savvy with their present day vernacular and their teenage boy ability to make witty quips? (Okay, I may have gotten specific with that one.)
- Mutt sidekicks. Or some sort of posse made up of an eclectic group of characters, like a werewolf/vampire/succubus/god/wizard (they will either be young teenagers and also full of wit and sassy attitude or super old, but look not a day older than 50 and they will have the manners of a respectful elder). Also, the animal mascot will be more than your standard pup- it will be special and it will have its own powers of sorts.
- If there are women, they will all be unbelievably hot and sexy. And lithe. God I fucking hate that word, but male supernatural authors seem to love it. Oh, and if your main character is male, she will want to fuck him at one point. And if the females are supernatural creatures themselves, they will mock the present day 'prudeness' of people today and possibly be naked for fun (or just not be aware that people wear clothes), or wearing something that accents their lithe body and the author goes in great detail about their dress. Or, if the woman's evil, she will be supremely evil and manipulative- you know, standard super dominatrix bitch.
- Speaking of if your main character is male, they'll be described in that fake modesty that YA authors sometimes do- except of talking of their oh-so-plain hair, it'll be about downplaying their abilities.
- Everyone's a bit of an anti-hero but not really, and it's mostly because of their unwillingness to do shit for free or something. You know, reasons that are actually quite logical to the non magical world for not wanting to get involved in a potentially dangerous job.
- Main character will be broke. All the time. Shitty car, shitty apartment, shitty little office. Or if they're not broke, they're super, extremely modest and have like, old furniture or a bunch of antiques- things that will ground them into having a softer side to their personality or some quirky Dude-like attachment to the rug or something.
- Woman main characters in urban fantasy = woman main characters in supernatural romance, except with more sarcasm, less money and a gun. Or they're the same, whatever.

Now there's nothing wrong with any of this, I admit. It's its own genre, much like how romance novels will always have some hilarious purple-y prose sex scene, metaphors and all. It's just a bit of a shame that with all the potential in mixing fantasy with modern day elements you get the same stuff, over and over again. Kinda like how fantasy itself is just a rehash of Tolkien and the middle ages. You just have to be in the mood for it, which, after two books I was not.

Friday, March 25, 2011

No. Just no.

I'm slowly starting to admit to people that I read an embarrassing amount of YA books, but in my defense, most of them are labeled YA in the US whereas in the UK, they're just regular books. So I tell myself. But anyway.

REVIEW: The Painted Boy

I've read Charles de Lint before, and honestly, I didn't enjoy The Blue Girl very much. I dunno, I just didn't gel with the characters, and more time was spent talking about how kickass/meek the characters were without really showing it. Maybe I just picked up on the fact that the auther was some old dude trying to write as a teenage girl. But whatever.

I was more interested in the this one, concept wise: Chinese kid, spirit animals, family clans- actually, the part that was most curious to me was the fact that the main character's Chinese. I was intensely interested on how that was gonna be handled, since it's not often I personally come across a story which explicitly stars some Asian character who's not being exploited for being Asian, if that makes sense (last time I read Amy Tan was in high school and I don't remember a damn thing about any of her books but I remember hating them all). There's been a good run of stories that have Asian characters as people on the side in which their Asian-ness is never called out (Looking for Alaska, shit, even Harry Potter). I like those; those are great. That being said, I think The Painted Boy does an okay job in not dropping some OOOOh ching chong ling long ting tong! Chinese mysticism stereotype thing to the point where I just wanna slap a bitch. Of course, there's the grandmother thing, and the glossed over training/rearing of the titular 'Painted Boy,' but since most of the book takes place in a different kind of decidedly non-Asian mystical setting of the South West, it's definitely a strange mash up. I guess +1 on the fact that not one character is white, so that's interesting.

Okay, straight up thought, I didn't finish the book. I couldn't- I just.. couldn't get through it. I rarely leave books, especially when I'm 3/4 of the way through, but I just had to put this one down. So a lot of my questions may have been answered at the end and and perhaps have made sense by then, but I doubt it.

First off, the characters: Just as flat and uninteresting as the previous de Lint book I've read. I was going crazy over the fact that I hated every single one of these characters within the first five pages. I swear. They are all so righteous, so goody-fucking-two shoes I almost stopped right there. And then when the bad guys showed up, they were so typically Latino gangster bad it was a stereotype in itself. And there was just to much telling- oh god, the telling! Every conversation came off like a tour guide of what life was like in that small town."The gangsters stopped there because that's where their turf ends. The other gangsters probably started chasing you because this is where their turf begins. You should get in a car and ride with us because these streets are unsafe with all the gangsters even though you could walk to our house." I swear to god, that's how the dialogue went. "Rosalie's nice. She's nice to everybody, picked up strays and would feed people off the street if she came across you. She's really loyal to her friends and even to the people who aren't. Her uncle will probably let you stay- he used to be a gangster too, but got out of it and runs this restaurant." Seriously. There was really no 'discovering' these characters/vessels to carry the plot at all.

The main character was some shell of a boy who, oh no, was ostracized throughout his life because of the giant tattoo on his back and his training that kept him from making friends in school- who somehow is perfectly socialized and makes friends and scores a place to live and a job in the first five minutes of arriving in a new town after getting chased across it because he was wearing a hoodie. He somehow makes a positive mark on everyone, despite his lack of personality and the fact that he doesn't do a damn thing. Just magically picks up languages (for no real reason) with his dragon powers. His first friend is a girl who's the nicest person ever and feeds him for free and takes in strays (like, literally has a pack of dogs that are former strays! How's that for showing?? HA HA) but has an intense hatred of gangsters. She's just SO NICE and so confident in herself. And so is her boyfriend- her boyfriend is so nice also! He's the perfect boyfriend for her and ends up being main character's guide/dude friend. Her best friend is the 'sassy' hot chick who the main character falls in love with in three sentences explaining how and why. 'Sassy' is in quotes because she's not actually sassy. She's just angry and goes on these five paragraph spoken essays about why she hates gangsters and is actually just a huge bitch. But it's okay, because she's hot. And they're in a band! They're all such self assured teenagers and they just know what's going on with everything- even adults can't scare them. Confidence? They got it. They got the same amount all around, it's like they're the same girl with slightly different levels of anger and niceness. There's more characters, but they're all about the same.

Maybe I'm just inherently bothered by books that italicize every non English word. Except 'loco.' Apparently that one is common enough for non Spanish people to understand. Maybe because when I read it, the italicized Spanish words automatically pronounce itself in my head in the voice of my former coworker/fake boss, who had this horrendous stereotypical, cringe worthy accent she slathered on to every non-English word. Whenever she said Latina, she even added a shoulder to shoulder boob shake. But I digress.

The story ends up taking on some strange mix of Native American mysticism along with Asian style dragons and kinda shoves them together to form some semblance of an idea. Basically, the back story of the dragons is that there are five spirit dragons that exist in one person each, that are supposed to be protectors of China I think. Maybe the world. And one of them is supposed to be for protecting the Emperor way back when (the most powerful one of course. Naturally, that's the one that lives in our robot of a main character). And then there's the general spirit animals that just exist, seemingly all in this one south west town (or maybe everywhere?) I dunno, but basically, at one point, all the dragons converge, and that's when you learn that they all live in the US. WHY? If they were just protecting the world, don't you think they'd be everywhere? And if they the dragons were from China, why don't they stay in fucking China? And with all of this spirit business going on and how the US apparently has their own spirit protectors, why do these non Native dragons got anything to do with this? The fuck kind of mash up is this? THIS DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. Is this supposed to be some tale about how we import everything from China? How the US has the monopoly on every 'powerful' thing that exists? I DON'T KNOW AND DON'T CARE ENOUGH TO FINISH THE BOOK.

I'd have to agree with one of the reviewers from Amazon: "The plot of this book sounds like it comes from some high channel Nickelodeon cartoon." I would say less on the cartoon, more on those tween live action shows they've been doing. Shudders all around.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What other ridiculous things can I complain about?

Originally posted March 17, 2010. Important to note is that I used to be employed at LM at that time... Oh, how things have changed.


day of the week

Tuesdays are often in the neutral zone; the hatred is typically reserved for Mondays. The rest of the week after Tuesday usually consists of 'hanging in there,' 'almost there,' 'finally, it's the weekend!' to 'wow that was a fast week.' Rinse, repeat. However, under further analysis, it has been discovered that Tuesdays fucking suck.

As previously mentioned, Mondays usually takes the brunt of the anger, though it typically begins Sunday night as one must segue from an open day full of possibility to a weekday night schedule (i.e. going to sleep at a decent time). However, I do have something to look forward to: for the price of a half hour to forty five minute useless meeting, we get a free breakfast, consisting of bagels, muffins, croissants and fruit. And since it's a Monday, I typically zone out for about an hour or two and then surf the internet, citing 'a bad case of the Mondays,' for my inability to focus. And then I actually get down to doing work but leftover fatigue from the weekend (either from sleeping too much or sleeping too little) catches up with me and I cower behind my double monitors (which I adjust accordingly) with my giant headphones while holding my tablet pen just right for a deceptive power nap, which, I actually do get a good five minutes in a fifteen minute session since my paranoia of getting caught keeps me from fully making efficient use of my time. After my coworker, who has been watching me and mocks me with a tiny smirk, starts to chat with me on the computer with the pings, courtesy of gchat, jarring me awake, my nap time is over. To make it official, despite the fact that I may be merely peckish and not actually that hungry, I go and grab another bagel (often just a quarter, though I still slather it liberally with scallion or vegetable cream cheese), and loiter in the kitchen as other people come and go by the water cooler. Conversation is had, dumb jokes are made, and conspiratorial whispers are passed around as everybody I end up talking to hate the same three people. I go back to my desk and go back to work. It is now 1:30, so I have lunch, usually at my desk if it's still cold outside, while watching slow buffering shows while surfing the internet; efficiency is now at 98%. From 2-4 I usually resume work while also checking the internet, or I take an hour long break, in which I take a walk. And then I get back and the last two hours of work I get more done than I have the entire day and then I look at the clock and it's time to go home and I interrupt myself and do just that even though I've finally gotten into the swing of things because bitches don't pay me enough. Mondays actually pass by really fast.

Mondays have an excuse in a way- it's Monday and I am miserable, therefore I am sluggish and unable to work. Tuesdays, however, have no excuse. It's the day before Wednesday, which is nicer because a lot of the blogs I check during my rounds include pictures of adorable animals and a 'Happy Hump Day!' slogan (when I first saw that phrase, I was confused and thought of the wrong things). Without free breakfast and without the excuse that it's a Monday, I very quickly fall into a slump. I don't think I actually begin to do work (aside from pretending that I am) until after 11:30. It's too far to start fawning for the weekend, and a little too far fetched to blame tiredness on the weekend before, though I for one, usually need up until Tuesday at the very least to recharge my social batteries (for an introvert, weekends of hanging out end up being exhausting sometimes). Tuesdays are spent wishing that it was a different day, yet at the same time not really, since time is moving fast enough as it is- on the rest of the days at least.

All in all, I could do without Tuesdays, and I can't think of anything good on TV then either.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Original post date was February 10, 2010. I was pretty pissed.

The Last Airbender Trailer

movie trailer

Um, it was a standard movie trailer. Dramatic introduction here, some standard CG there, quick visual introduction to the characters and a little bit of kung fu with some more CG. I'm gonna be honest- it is NOT hard at all to make a kick ass trailer. In fact, trailers tend to be more awesome than the actual movies since they contain the parts which catch the attentions of the viewer, essentially showing off the best of the best and running the chance of giving away the whole movie.

Honestly I never really watched the original cartoon- I've seen a few episodes here and there and ended up watching the movie finale. I do applaud it for being an extremely successful American cartoon while essentially using a entirely different format from most cartoons that come out from around here (non-episodic, continuing story arches, character building, etc.). Basically it just kinda yanked the anime format, which was smart since that's been rising in popularity for a while.

ANYWAY. This article pretty much sums up my thoughts. I really hope this movie fails for this reason alone because I'm shallow like that. Kinda like how Golden Compass was supposed to be this trilogy but died. I want this to happen to this movie as well- WHAT A TWIST! I can only hope this director will fuck up as badly as he did for The Happening. And any other movie after Sixth Sense.

It was a pretty WTF moment when every single protagonist turned up white for a movie which is supposed to be steeped in Asian culture. Not quite surprising though, to be honest. I've had a lot of conversations about why Asian Americans are so under represented- for girls, they're stuck as some secondary character- not the actual best friend of the main character, but as the best friend of the main character's opponent. Or something. Maybe just as a hot chick with a few lines. (one of the cheerleaders from Bring it on, that other movie about cars.. what was it... The Fast and the Furious; I could be wrong, but I had always thought import cars were inherently a more aZn thing to begin with). And the Asian guys- unless you're lucky like the guy who played Rufio and still managed to play a teenager years later (he's totally 30 something) in that Antonio Banderas dancing movie- you're shit out of luck. Maybe you get to be the nerdy guy with glasses walking by or the home ec partner like in Superbad for about 2 min. (OH MAN- Just found out, the Rufio guy actually did the voice of Zuko in the cartoon of this very movie trailer. Possibly one of the more well known Asian American actors and I still don't know his name haha). Kinda sad in a way, because even when they are getting asian people, they'd look overseas first (For Speedracer they got Rain (huge Korean pop star) What, they couldn't find a guy who was Asian and could speak English? Exception goes for that guy from Lost).

I came to the conclusion about why there would never be an exclusively Asian show, much like the black shows like Tyler Perry's stuff or Fresh Prince or whatever: Asian people have their own media. Granted, it's actually from Asia, but I know so many Asian Americans who just watch Asian dramas. I mean, that's alright, but it sorta bothers me in the fact that I'm too American to truly appreciate those shows (not that I don't watch any...) and not Asian enough to really 'get it.' Is it sad that the movie closest to my reality is Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle? No, I'm serious- I totally spent half an hour looking for a White Caslte the other day... while riding a cheetah.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Some mtv show about some girl.

Original post written January 23rd, 2010. I think I was drunk.

My Life as Liz

TV show

So my friend worked on that mtv show 'My Life as Liz,' and she bitched about it a lot because- and this doesn't surprise me- they manipulate the people in it to the point where it's almost scripted. I'm not a fan of reality shows (okay, I have to admit I've watched some Jersey Shore but, that's like... this beautiful, hypnotic disaster of a car wreck that you can't look away from even though you know it's poison and your soul just dies a little) but this show is about some high school girl who's supposed to be the antithesis of the shallow high school girl.

Like Daria. Except in a way, this show was made as if Daria never existed, and that wouldn't surprise me since the people who are teenagers now have never known mtv to actually play music videos, and Beavis and Butthead are partially known relics of the past. This is the generation whose entire knowledge of classic rock and other old songs comes from Guitar Hero and Glee. Anyway.

I don't wanna say that this is the dumbest show I've ever seen, but it is the most gross attempt of 'I am the most unique girl in the world and fuck them all because they don't understand me and I'm just so much better than everybody and I'm so witty and sarcastic.' It's almost as if some mtv producer discovered the internet, and saw this recurring theme of kids being isolated because of their uniqueness and sporks and llamas and so on and so forth and was like- OMG THIS IS IT.

My friend was so disgusted by the amount of manipulating they put these kids through (though willingly due to the potential fame?) that she never wants to work for mtv again. I'm actually intrigued by how they're made to say certain things and just how much of it is just comments they make that are just taken out of context; it's definitely semi-planned/scripted.

I don't actually know why this bothers me so much, haha. I think it's because I care nothing for the title character at all. Actually, I don't like her at all. Funny part is that I'm almost positive it's the only thing 'real' about this show. She is so fucking pretentious, so unapologetic about painting herself as a 'victim' and so self centered- she believes so much that she's the most unique person in her high school that I'm not even sure that years from now when she looks back she'll ever achieve the self awareness that will enable her to get over herself. 'Oh no, I drive an SUV to school, live in a huge house and am so out of place in my highschool in the sea of blond cheerleaders with my plaid shirt, red lipstick and- oh wait, you mean I'm a hipster and I'm not the only one in the world? Whatever, I'm such a dork with my cool thrift store clothes and nobody understands me and I'm gonna hate on people before they can hate on me because I'm so much cooler than everybody else.' Seriously, high school sucks for everybody, what makes you think it sucks more for you?

It's kinda like that episode of 30 Rock where Liz thinks she was the loser who got picked on all the time but she was actually the bully- hilarious.

This show: not so much.

More importantly: why the hell was I watching mtv? Oh right, I'm drunk and trying to drink water now so I won't wake up with a hangover and it's only 1 am.