Justice delayed is still justice. Or something.

It’s official. It took the third movie for me to finally admit it, but Wonder Woman is single-handedly saving the DCU from its moody, emo self.

She’d already made the last third of BvS watchable, even if the rest of the movie was complete shit, similar Martha’s and all. The standalone Wonder Woman movie shone, if only because next to all those duds it was nice to see a DCU movie done right for once… done right, except for the fight scenes, which I wasn’t quite satisfied by, but it’s a minor complaint in a movie that was okay.

Full disclosure: I was fully prepared to dislike Justice League. I had seen Suicide Squad, and that ensemble movie was a complete dumpster fire. The aesthetic of the DCU has never charmed me, and I don’t think it’s meant to be charming at all. Not that every superhero world has to be charming, but if you’ve sat through Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, you’re going to come out of the theatre wondering if they hate their viewers. The world is too grim, its colour palette too dark, its heroes too tortured and there seems to be absolutely no hope of redemption from the cartoon characters who play their villains.

It doesn’t help that DC’s villains have been played in various reiterations by actors capable of truly mining the depths of their character – Heath Ledger’s Joker and Kevin Spacey’s Luthor come to mind. (I realize this is a bad time to celebrate Kevin Spacey, but the man can act. Let’s give him that.) After bravura performances like that, what are their successors supposed to do to avoid being carbon copies? We get Jared Leto as the Joker by way of Hot Topic. We get a motor-mouthed Jesse Eisenberg as a wholly irritating Lex Luthor. They even gave up on having an actual actor and handed us Steppenwolf (still can’t get over that name, my mind goes to Scandinavian metal bands whenever it’s mentioned.) Steppenwolf, for all the vocal stylings of Ciaran Hinds, is the crappiest CGI rendered character sinceRead More »

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Brexit Through the Gift Shop

I kind of expected to come back home swathed in the Union Jack from head to toe,  but the only things that really caught my fancy were Harry Potter themed. Which is weird, because I’m not that big a Potterhead. Still, I’m pleased.

Platform 9 3/4 is the place to go for anything Potter-themed. There are wands to be had, stuffed owls, sweaters, shirts, scarves, toques, satchels, keyrings, socks and sweets, including Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. It’d be an absolute delight if it wasn’t swarming with people. Because it really is in King’s Cross Station, it’s a mecca for the fandom, and who hasn’t heard of Platform 9 3/4? There’s even a trolley that’s half disappeared into the wall where excited youngsters can have a photo snapped for a price. The queue is crazy. I don’t know if there are off peak hours, but we were there in the morning and it was already packed. (No, I didn’t pay for a photo, much to your relief.)

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I got this one for free. Wait, wrong platform…
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Here you go. Sorry, random Indian couple. The crazy queue I was talking about is to the right.

The House of MinaLima on 26 Greek Street in Soho is the place to go if you don’t want to be caught in a swarm of excited youngsters or do the (pricey) WB Studio Tour. It’s a shop run by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, the graphic artists behind all eight HP movies along with the newest one, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The windows are currently styled to look like Honeydukes Sweet Shop and there are Hogwarts acceptance letters all over the steps and floor. With four floors in total, the ground floor is the main shop where you can buy the actual goods. The other floors are purely for spectacle and Instagram. The second floor has copies of The Daily Prophet and The Quibbler (complete with giveaway spectrespecs) strewn about willy nilly, while the third floor boasts a huge Marauder’s Map underneath your feet and proclamations from Umbridge are on all the walls. The fourth is inspired by the Fantastic Beasts movie. It’s kitschy and bright and fun. Best of all,Read More »

Reykjavik

Dear Elly G,

It’s the ascent that gets me. Every time. That feeling when the giant metal tube you’re in careens down the runway and takes off, leaving your stomach somewhere between the earth and the sky and it feels like a lifetime of being at a 45-degree angle, just climbing. It’s always a while before I can breathe easy again.

Sometimes it’s easy. It’s smooth and uneventful, the plane cutting through clouds without resistance. Sometimes it’s hard. The ascent is choppy, like riding a skiff over rough waves, and I find myself wondering if that view of the city will be my last, wondering if maaaayyyybe I should’ve kept my shoes on in case the plane loses its battle with gravity and we plunge into the sea and I need to frog swim in the Arctic Ocean to save my life or at least prolong it, if only by a few minutes by finding a floating piece of wreckage and I won’t be able to do that if my feet are the first to go.

But I like ascents. I like the thrill. Humans weren’t meant to fly, and each time we take off, it almost feels like having a middle finger extended at the great wide cosmos: look at me now, Dad! I really should knock on wood thrice, because it feels like I’m mocking the fates. Unfortunately, there is nothing wooden to be found on the Airbus. I might try and find a catalogue to knock on, I suppose that will work. Paper coming from wood and all that.

There is a guy on this plane who seems to love that there is absolutely no wood to be found. A thinks he’s on something, very likely little purple party pills, because he keeps going up and down the aisles, just running his hands over everything. Everything. It’s weird. And gross – does he even realize how germy the interior of an airplane can be? He’s not running his hands over the passengers, at least. He’s doing it on all the surfaces of the plane he can touch, including the covers of the overhead luggage compartments. I’ve decided he’s some sort of shaman, blessing the plane’s interior with good juju. Between you and me, A is more likely to be right than I am, though.

Speaking of wood, we touched down in Reykjavik and the terminal is almost all wood. It’s warm, and cozy in that minimalist sort of Scandinavian way, all interesting angles and curves and mood lighting. I wasted no time heading for the mini grocery they had going on, to score some skyr. Passed a few displays of interesting salt. “Lava salt,” and all that, but I tasted it and it doesn’t taste like anything other than salt. Lies! I do have my eye on the cutest little figurine. It’s of a fat Viking, and it makes me happy to see it. We’re stopping over in Iceland again on the way back from England, so I’m sleeping on it for now. I didn’t get to buy the skyr, there were problems with my card or something. I’m hoping this is not a theme for when we get to England, because it is going to be annoying going around with le cash in le pockets. I have nightmares of a Dickensian London, with the Artful Dodger going around picking pockets willy nilly. Listen to me, sounding all first world Visa paywave and shit.

I could be a morning person in Iceland. It’s about 6:45 AM in Reyjkjavik, and it’s still black as night. We left at eight in the morning with no sunrise to be seen. I didn’t do a lot of reading up on Iceland, because it’s just a transit stop on the way to jolly old London, so that is going to have to be remedied.

In which I realize I may be more of a millennial than I previously thought I was

I’d been coming down from the high that was Stranger Things 2, a gentle re-exploration of 80’s nostalgia and wanted to keep the buzz going. The movie in my head was Pretty in Pink, but I’d momentarily blanked and picked Sixteen Candles instead. It didn’t really matter; it unwittingly tied into my recent tiny spate of self-exploration vis-a-vis my upcoming birthday.

Of course I knew of Sixteen Candles. Who could miss that delightful visual of an awkward young girl in a dress as pink and fluffy as a cloud of cotton candy sitting across a handsome young man, their faces lit by the candles on a birthday cake? I knew it was a coming of age story, an honest exploration of what it means to grow up, a seminal movie that changed the face of American cinema.

It’s an awful movie. It’s racist, it’s demeaning, and, considering the climate of today’s sexual sensitivity, downright predatory.

“There’s your Chinaman.”

“I could violate her ten different ways if I wanted to.”

Everything the lone Asian guy in the movie says is punctuated by a gong. The family calls their eldest daughter’s fiancee an epithet for an Eastern European immigrant. The Jock practically gives away his drunken girlfriend.

The Geek is the worst. I’m not quite sure if he’s intended to be the endearing breakout star in this film, but all I feel when I see him is disgust. He comes on to our heroine on the bus, all bluster and fake swagger, sidling next to her on the seat, trapping her next to the window, obviously trying to smell her like some dog in heat. He follows her around incessantly, accosting her at the dance, getting close to her again when she clearly wants to be alone, attempts to kiss her not once, but twice, the second attempt right on the heels of her telling him to stop. It ends with him asking her for her panties so he doesn’t look like a loser to his friends. I was three when Sixteen Candles came out. Apparently it wasn’t just the hairstyles and the fashion that were heinous, social mores were, too. If this was acceptable behaviour in the 80’s, then I’m glad most of that decade was a blur to me.

I grew up with teen movies. The nineties were positively lousy with them. Clueless. The American Pie Trilogy. Cruel Intentions. She’s All That. Bring it On. Ten Things I Hate About You (still my personal favourite after all these years). There was such a glut, they made the criminally underrated Not Another Teen Movie. Female leads were just as spunky as redheaded Samantha Baker, but none of them were willing to take as much shit as she did. Male leads were just as handsome as Jake Ryan, but at least knew enough not to be Bill Cosby. They were by no means perfect, still a smidge creepy and maybe not as inclusive, but certainly a hop, skip and a leap ahead of Sixteen Candles.

It could be the current barrage of rapists and sexists being outed these days and the heated back-and-forth about racism and cultural sensitivity which I often think borders on the edge of hysteria, but who uses “Chinaman” anymore? Sweet Jesus. Even with the understanding that things were really quite different back in the day, it was still an exercise in clutching my non-existent pearls, and I don’t clutch my non-existent pearls very often. So thanks, Sixteen Candles. I’ve always felt more of a kinship with Gen X than I have the millennial generation, but I’ve never felt a closer link with millennials than I did while watching you.

Thor:Ragnarok is totally, madly, wonderfully skux

There are directors with a signature so unique, there is no mistaking their work for anyone else’s. Martin Scorsese and gravitas. Steven Spielberg and childlike wonder. Christopher Nolan and mindtrips, Wes Anderson and whimsy. Quentin Tarantino and dialogue, Tim Burton and oddities, Joss Whedon and wit… Taika Waititi and sheer unbridled irreverence?

It’s official. Taika Waititi takes nothing seriously, not even Asgard. And it works.

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NaNoWriNo, or a litany of excuses on why I’m chickening out this early in the game

November is it, I told myself. National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo.

I would sit down and pound out 50K words in thirty days. I would be in a lovely online community of writers all working toward the same goal, I would finally finish something I’ve been working on for what feels like ages. So why am I wasting my time decidedly not doing what I told myself I should be doing?

I’m a pantser.

In industry parlance, a pantser is someone who writes by the seat of their pants, writes when it becomes impossible not to, when the scenarios and the words come out of nowhere and need to break free. That’s when pantsers sit at the keyboard, make that  cursor move and the blank page fill. It’s akin to running to the bathroom and unloading whatever is in my gut. When I feel that familiar twist in my brain, when that bolt of lightning hits, everything seems as clear as day. The words knit themselves together  and it’s all I can do to capture them and write them down before they’re gone. Because that’s the underside to being a pantser. That wonderful fugue doesn’t last. It eventually dissipates, like mist clearing on a sunny day. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. There’s no specific trigger, which is why my stuff is sporadic and very often makes no sense.

Forcing the fugue is difficult, and again akin to sitting on the pot and waiting for things to come out. I’ve done it a few times. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t. It’s painful and frustrating, and what comes out is almost always unsatisfying.

It isn’t that I don’t know where I’m going when it comes to telling a story,  but plotters do much better when it comes to finishing a work. They have an outline, they come in prepared, they follow their own structure and ultimately come out with a finished work. I’ve tried to make myself one, but I just can’t seem to do it. The rigidity of it gets too tedious for me, although I really should find a balance between enjoying the journey and reaching the destination.

I’m a compulsive self-editor.

This is not a good thing, as many writers will tell you. The best way to write is to ignore the impulse to edit as you go, to  keep going until you run out of breath, to shoot now and ask questions later. Editing is a thing that should be done when everything is over, and I am aware of this as I write, but the urge to tweak the phrasing here and a comma there is almost impossible to ignore. So I get caught in an infinity loop of going over and over paragraphs, sweeping for issues until I lose my original train of thought. (I’m doing it right now!)

I’m superstitious.

I have a thing about pre-empting things. It may not make sense to most, but I believe if I’m working towards something, have a goal that I intend to reach or a project I want to come out with, talking about it will jinx it. It sounds ridiculous as I write it, but I just can’t seem to shake that feeling. It’s the way I work, which is why I tend to announce things once they’re nearing completion or are already achieved.

One of the first requirements of NaNoWrimo is announcing your novel, giving it a working title and a brief synopsis. Sure, no one is going to read it, and no one gives a shit, but I do. I broke the no jinx rule with one project I’m working on – talked about it, shared it, and it’s stagnated. I feel I talked about it too much and blame myself for oversharing. Officially announcing on NaNoWriMo not only breaks my no-jinx rule, it ups the pressure of actually finishing something I’m not sure I can even finish.

Not even started, and I’m already stumped.

I work better alone.

I chase Le Hubs out of my work space (which happens to be the bedroom) because I can’t write if he’s around. Remember Invisible Boy, the kid who becomes invisible as long as no one is watching? That’s me. I can’t write if someone I know is in the same room.

I’ve written in the library and this particularly lovely coffee shop along Broadview which sort of worked, because I was surrounded by strangers doing their own thing, but I find the best places to write are the ones where I am surrounded by absolutely no one. Writing is like tennis – a solitary experience. It’s just you and your keyboard and the untapped reserves of your own imagination, your opponent a blank page that needs to be filled.

NaNoWriMo is filled with a community of passionate writers who want to fulfill the same goal. It’s nice to be with people of the same bent, but sometimes knowing about the progress they make frustrates me. It makes me ask myself why I’m not making the same progress, why my own word count isn’t as high, why I’m not closer to the end of my work.

It makes me feel petty and small (not something I enjoy being) and it’s the opposite of what the community is intended to be, which is uplifting and encouraging. I know. I make myself sound sad, anti-social and maybe even borderline mad. Yes, sometimes I am all of those. Still, I have no problems sharing once it’s done, but until then I think it’s best I keep to myself.

Look at that, a thousand words and none of them on a NaNoWriMo project. I still really want to do it. A part of me wants to use this month to just flush out everything inside, like a mental colon cleanse. I’d  come out on the other side refreshed and ready to edit. Or I won’t, and I’ll spend the next few months beating my head on the wall out of frustration. I guess time will tell.

 

Featured Image from Bat Fan Diaries