Saturday, October 7, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

See this movie, which I saw today. (At noon, cuz I'm cheap. I mean, frugal.) It's a visually stunning, tense, exciting, thought-provoking masterpiece. It's long, almost 3 hours, but it's worth every second. Seeing the original couldn't hurt, but probably isn't essential. Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford are excellent, but maybe the best performances are by the love-longing ladies, especially Ana de Armas, D's lady hologram friend. A must-see if you like movies, especially ones visually mesmerizing. Despite the almost 3-hour length, I'll see this one again.

Monday, October 2, 2017


Prayers?!? God wants you to enact gun control laws. You want signs? How about Sandy Hook and Vegas?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Girl Who Takes An Eye for an Eye -- Lisbeth Salander and Book Review

Photo: from the book's pic on my Goodreads review page

A bit of a letdown after Lagercrantz's excellent previous The Girl in the Spider's Web, his continuation of Stieg Larsson's Millenium series. This one takes a loooooooooong time to get going--more than half the book, I'd say. It's a little dull and plodding; only the faith that it would all mesh explosively at the end kept me going. And that mostly didn't happen, either.

It's extremely dry writing, more so than the already dry Nordic Noir usually is. I don't know if it's the original writing, or the translation, but I think it's the first, because there's only so much spicing up you can do with original material. It's very straightforward, lots of simple sentences, with no feel for its own drama. It's like a book-length newspaper article. It's interesting, but the reader should figure out the twin twist long before the author finally gets there. And because it's so drawn out, the reader should get the minor twin twist long before the author also gets there. There are no surprises here.

It's also very bloodless, though the three women of the story--Salander, a psychopathic baddie she meets in prison (and what the hell was Lisabeth doing there?) and a victim also in that prison--do come away extremely black and blue. Salander actually should've gotten a ton of broken bones, but somehow doesn't. And two characters survive a major stabbing, and they both crawl into the forest and survive. While Salander suffers quite a bit here, Blomkvist sleeps around with almost everyone.

In fact, I would've given this one two stars but for the truly great epilogue--three freakin' pages that save the book and show Salander at her most true form, really being her. By far it's her most honest scene, the Salander we've grown to appreciate and respect. Too bad she's not allowed to be like this at all throughout the book until this point. If you feel like stopping short on this one (and I almost wouldn't blame you), do me and yourself a favor and read the epilogue before you put it down for good. You don't have to read the whole book to fully appreciate it, either.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Accidental Tourist

Photo: from the book's Goodreads page

Smooth as silk novel with such believable characters and life-lessons that it seems like a life parable, which I guess it is. Spot-on writing has no genre to fall back on, so no tropes, no easy scenes or action to pass the pages. Just life, and daily living, making the mundane magical and the ordinary extraordinary. This has always been one of my favorite books, though I haven't read it in over 20 years, and it's only gotten better with age. One of the unique things about it is that there is no villian, exactly, except maybe fate and life itself. A writing teacher will tell you that Sarah is the antagonist, and I suppose on paper she is, but really the biggest obstacle for Macon Leary is Macon himself, which is the whole breathy idea of the book: We are our own worst enemies, as is our inability to adapt and move on. Simultaneously impossible and necessary, moving on is the only way to live, even if it makes living more difficult. Would Macon have done so if Sarah hadn't left him to begin with? No. Would it even be necessary but for what happened to their son? Of course not. But you have to ride the wave, or (as the extended metaphor shows near the end) you have to just ride the plane's turbulence and strap yourself in, because what else can you do? You can't prepare to much or worry to much, or live your life not living your life. If you do, you may turn into a man so afraid of the world that he writes travel books about not experiencing anything, about not leaving your hotel room, or trying new restaurants, or doing anything but what you've got to do for business in that city and then going back home. But life isn't like that, and your idea of what home is may change as well. The entire conceit of The Accidental Tourist is one of the best extended metaphors in all of fiction, and all the novel and writing have to do is just follow the wave it makes.

Anyway, you owe it to yourself to read this one. The movie is good, too, but don't let it stop you from reading this. This is a rare book that you can read 20 years apart and still get as much, if not more, out of it now than you did then. Like a classic movie, this book can be experienced over and over again, and savored like a favorite line or a classic meal. I couldn't effusively praise it enough.

Monday, September 18, 2017