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Jan. 6th, 2013

one hundred tragic heroes

More Credible than Usual New Year Resolutions

Those actually sound somehow realistic!


In 2013, earrch resolves to...
Ask my boss for an angel.
Take evening classes in slash.
Spend more time with my tragic heroes.
Drink four glasses of yaoi every day.
Put fifty sherlock holmes a month into my savings account.
Lose ten heroes by March.
Get your own New Year's Resolutions:

Dec. 17th, 2012

one hundred tragic heroes

As long as there are not Elvish midi-chlorians, what’s your bl**dy problem?

Full disclosure: I am a long time LOTR fan. I had a great time at the movie theater. You may read anything else as a justification of something I liked. Feel free! But the thing is, I have spent all day today on justifying mode when I was expecting more of a sharing-the-pleasure feature. So… what’s the problem, guys?


hobbit_toomuch

• “It was no faithful to the source material.” “They should have changed the title.” “This did not happen like that.”

Easiest first: I agree, it was not a particularly literal adaptation. So what? Did you really want a line-by-line rendering, book to movie? The moment the film creators decide on a three course serving, that was an impossibility. So let’s all agree it’s more like a movie “based on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle” and enjoy it (or not), grounding the effort on its own merits: just like watching Sherlock, or Elementary, or the Guy Ritchie movies with Robert Downey Jr. Of course if you like the original sherlockian canon and only that, you will declare that anything but the lovely Granada Jeremy Brett series is but poor fare to your tastes. That’s the problem with narrow tastes: I am more of a mixed cuisine girl, I like to mix and max and I have no problem with pastiches, as long as some effort is put into presenting something worth watching/reading. I, personally, dislike the remake of The Hound of the Baskervilles (with Christopher Lee!). That’s my problem with that particular movie, and I can go on and on about it. But it has little to do with “faithfulness” or “not like that”. The Hobbit team choose to open the field and even take new skein and spin new plots and characters, like any good rhapsode would do with The Illiad. I like the idea of 9 hours of Tolkien-like more than 3 hours of Tolkien-literal, so please, let’s try to decide why did you not like the movie, nor why it shouldn’t have been made that way. Did anyone notice how in the TV version of Game of Thrones Arya Stark and Tywin Lannister meet and have those great conversations. I don’t remember them in the book; to be fair, I have friends also angry about that. 

• “The dwarves do not look like dwarves” “The special effects are slapdash/not good enough” “Places look fake” “48 fps blah blah, 3D blah blah.

Huff… Second easiest. Perhaps it is so. And again, unless it’s so tremendously bad that “throws you out” of your happy Middle Earth place, what’s the problem? Dwarves do not exist for you to cast them. Middle Earth neither, to do those perfect shots you want. And I am very, very, very sure that tons and tons of money have been spent in making things realistic. So I propose a different spin on this particular problem. One, acknowledge that we are visually very spoilt lately. We have seen unimaginable wonders on screen, and moments of perfection on doing the impossible look real. Two, not everyone is James Cameron. Acknowledge it. Really. Three, Middle Earth and its many sized denizens and locations are a very, very thorny problem to solve. Four the movie is very ambitious at times. Ready for the conclusion? Is this: we have probably reached the limit, again, on what’s technically feasible on a movie screen. Do you remember when no superhero movies could be made because there was no way to represent their powers realistically? Do you remember when “fire scene” meant you had to actually build the thing and burn it? Do you remember how in original Star Wars lasers did not always aim true? There’s always something! LOTR original, Legolas jumping the Oliphant? Troll battling in Moria? There’s no easy solution: the producers, I guess humbler ambitions. And for the audience, please work a little more on your suspension of disbelief. If you are a veteran of classic Doctor Who or, hell, of classic Star Trek, you know what I am talking about. As for the technical debate, I just don’t know enough to gauge if it was a good idea or not.

• “It’s over long” “I was bored”. “Too much happens” “To little happens”

Aha! Let’s delve into subjective perception of time. First, what’s the good length for a movie? That’s very debatable, isn’t it? Of course narrative rhythm and emotional involvement affect the perception of the audience … I did not find it overlong, but I acknowledge perhaps you did because you where out of it due to not perfect effects, dwarf songs or authenticity rants. It could certainly have been shorter. “Too much happens” is what I hear mostly from those that dislike the, eh, “add ons”; “to little happens” I hear from those that want that, if a dragon should be shown at the beginning of things, a dragon should be fired before the end. Sorry! I really had fun most of the way through.

• “It was not The Lord of the Rings”

And finally, finally, truth comes out, although this argument was not very well expressed in many conversations I had today. No, it is not LOTR. There’s no “other” LOTR. This is The Hobbit: the story is different, the tone is different, and although a very deliberate effort was made to associate one thing with the other (visually, plot wise, hell, even in music!), it’s not the same story, and it shows. I disliked of the Hobbit the exact same things I don’t specially like in The Holy Book in question: Excess of Dwarves, Plates Flying, Troll Feasting and Silly Goblin King come to mind. Sigh! I would really have loved to see LOTR II. But I went to see the Hobbit, riddles and all. I would have liked to see other things, just like most of everybody. Specially, not surprisingly, those *not* familiar with The Hobbit.

• “Aaaanywayyy”

Did you not find Martin Freeman made for a very nice Bilbo? Was not Gandalf, eh, gandalfy enough? Wasn’t Gollum his usual selves? Was not Thorin as noble and undiplomatic as it could be desired (and rather hot)? Was not the bloody thing a labor of love, and did it now show through?

I think the movie was as rambling as it could be expected, not so “rounded” as TFotR. I don’t know if going for "the Trilogy" was the best idea. I understand the nitpicking: we have been a decade without being able to nitpick anything Tolkien-wise. Or do you not remember the “Arwen versus Glorfindel” debate? The “what’s Haldir doing there” controversy? The “how the hell did Elrond go there” one? Let’s nitpick, and let’s go for it, let’s do a Internet crowd funding for special effects on The Desolation of Smaug if it’s what it takes!! 


But let’s not lose the forest for the trees: Don’t tell me it’s a bad movie, please, because it just does not seem very fair. I was glad to return to Middle Earth. I had lots of fun. People clapped at the end. I *want* to see what more wonderful inventions will Part II bring. Please, try not to ruin my fun because, really, really, really, there were *not* midi-chlorians in this one!

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Dec. 14th, 2012

one hundred tragic heroes

End of Year TV meme

... last seen at selenak



Which TV shows did you start watching in 2012?
Not very many, though I tried several for size: Elementary (I can live with more SH), The Newsroom (people *insisted*), Arrow (not my cup of superhero). I watched many, many pilots that went nowhere with me.

Which TV shows did you let go of in 2012?
Merlin, I don’t know why, and perhaps yet will; Being Human, as I finally realized only liked the first season; Once Upon a Time, not in the mood for magic; Warehouse 13, that never clicked to me; and Suits, were I’ve found I like the guys, but lawyers bore me, to the point that if read on this fandom, it’s always AUs. Supernatural, although I keep checking back.

Which TV shows did you mean to get into but didn't in 2012? Why?
Beauty and the Beast (ufff, that was just not very good); Walking Dead (there are zombies in it! Z-o-m-b-i-e-s!!!); Grimm (just dislike the main guy, what can I say); Last Resort (this one is wrong as a TV series and would make a wonderful movie, about the exact opposite as current Star Trek); Revolution (bad press, just bad press, I listen to you people).

Which TV shows do you intend on checking out in 2013?
Always in the list is The Wire (people *keep insisting* so people should *damn well lend me the bloody pack*), Continuum and Defiance (gosh, sci-fi is back at SyFy), Zero Hour (you know, alien conspiracies, I don’t really expect anything, I’ll just check it out).

Which TV show impressed you least in 2012?
NCIS. After happily gorging on previous seasons, I am more and more disliking where it is right now, which seems to be emotion and story wise *nowhere at all*. 

Which TV show did you enjoy the most in 2012?
As good entertainment no doubt Person of Interest and White Collar; I would file Sherlock and Game of Thrones in season two wonders; as *thinking* shows I liked The Newsroom: I just don’t care how many times it falls short of the mark: when it hits is devastating, and finally got to watch Luther and I am just about finally reconciled to the idea that short seasons is the way to go for interesting stories.
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Sep. 10th, 2012

one hundred tragic heroes

Three Songs from a Favourite Guy (and a Fanvid)

So I very rarely tend to look behind the character to the actor, and even more rarely am I pleased when a do it… So it's with a certain irony that I am finding out that I eagerly await the premiere of Magic Mike, you know, the male stripper movie, just because Matt Boomer is on it. Go see the trailer, just go. No, no Mr Boomer on the trailer, but he is in it, oh yes.



It so happens that Mr. Boomer is quite the family man (look him up) and talented, and he has a nice singing voice.

Singing Somebody That I Used To Know, on Glee.

Singing Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, I don't think unintentionally on camera, but aaaanywayyy.

Singing It Only Takes a Moment because, you, know, it only takes one.

If those *very frustrating* people at the UK had not delayed *yet again* the DVD launch of the second season, I would be having an immediate re-watch. Until then, I'll have to tide myself over with this very, very nice fanvid by lolilie, that suddenly worked for me. Yeah, yeah, brilliant song, but a nice vid came out of it.

Matt Boomer. Distractingly handsome and with a nice voice. The series gives us fan service enough to enjoy; the web gives us nice music to go with it.Enjoy!
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May. 25th, 2012

thinking...

American Politics, always soo fun to read about...

Quiz: What Kind of Liberal Are You?

My Liberal Identity

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

Take the quiz at
About.com Political Humor

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Apr. 20th, 2012

danger! fandom

Why not see what moves around?

A grey circle with black border that contains three ticky boxes, each with a word next to it: OTW, survey, taker
I took the OTW Community Survey!

Apr. 17th, 2012

jipu surprised

NCIS ate my brain

This ate my brain. This, the procedural of procedurals. Nine seasons on (and let me tell you, 9th is not the best), come on, see the pretty pic, don't you want to know what all the fuss is about...? OK, it was not this particular pic, but... last series I saw because-of-a-pic was Lost. This is much less fantastic. Well, the pic is fantastic!























One hundred and fifty three hours after, devoured in ... well, they devoured my life, ask *them*, I am left with a sense of... irony, I guess.. *Sigh* If anyone has read good meta on "why NCIS works", I would thank them; I have gorged, and now I must somehow digest this into something coherent.

Sue me. I love it. I have been converted, let's go, resistance is futile!
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Mar. 10th, 2012

tragic hero entry

A case for John McClane (TH#65)

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"Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker." Glorious, if not specially articulated, trademark phrase of one John McClane, a police officer with talent for barely surviving over a pile of other people. Bad people, of course! He is, of course, the main character in the Die Hard saga.

I’m sure the image above is self-explanatory, but anyway, meet the middle age image of John McClane. He 1.82, dirty-green eyes, smiles like a cat –mischievously– but does it sparingly, as he is mostly pissed off at the world because, hey, the world hit first and where’s *that* fair? Probably because of his fuming temper, his hair finally migrated away, and he also has a tendency to lose clothing, so a formerly white tank top, now dirty with sweat, grime and blood, is his charming default canon look.

John McClane is not an action hero per se, but probably what happens when a hardboiled detective turns action hero. Perhaps a pulp action hero is as likely as him to kick ass and take names, but nobody *hit* Doc Savage; John McClane is hit, and hit, and hit again, and yet manages to survive absurd levels of punishment. They call him badass, but when they did the all-badass movie, they almost left him out. He also is a wise cracking, astute bastard,which again sets him apart from the action hero, always a little short on humor because he has more important and dramatic things to do. McClane has a very present inner monologue, that puts you directly on his mind, like in: “I promise I will never even think about going up in a tall building again. Oh, god. Please don't let me die.” And he’s just the same with others: “Cobb: Have you been drinking, McClane?/McClane: No, not since this morning.” Or this one: “Matt: You just killed a helicopter with a car!/McClane: I was out of bullets”. Unsurprisingly, people get very pissed at him.

So is this how it is? Boys like him because he kicks ass, and girls like him because he is vulnerable? Nope. Everyone likes him… because he feels real. He convinces us he is mostly an average guy trapped into an impossible situation. He is one of us, at our best and worst, and what would we do in his place, mhh?

We usually admire in a Tough Guy hero his larger than life qualities, his dedication, his purpose that will not consider the possibility of losing. But… we also like the hero that will defend beyond reason, endure beyond hope, and perhaps one day walk away from his defense over the remains of all his attackers. So what recognize and admire in McClane is that he endures. Enduring is a necessary virtue of life, one we can understand, because his starting position is not a noble purpose, is defeat: when life deals you a bad hand, you must somehow *deal*.

Just to be clear, McClane did not went out looking for trouble! But our dear John has that innate talent to be caught in the worst possible situation: his rivals have all the purpose, the means, the minions, the dastardly plan. He has just enough will and rage and humor to endure one minute more before folding. He would rather fold, actually, it’s just that there’s no option: the situation has gone FUBAR and he has been left holding the bag. He must do something, key word *must*, key concept there’s no one else to do it.

In his own words: “Do you know what you get for being a hero? Nothing! You get shot at. Pat on the back, blah blah blah. That a boy! You get divorced... Your wife can't remember your last name, kids don't want to talk to you... You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me kid, nobody wants to be that guy. [I do this] because there is nobody else to do it right now. Believe me if there was somebody else to do it, I would let them do it. There's not, so [I'm] doing it. That's what makes you that guy."

The dialogue is from DH4, when the series got to meta itself, and brilliantly show the other side of the coin: saving the day was *not* good for McClane’s life plans. He wanted the average, the family, and if he was a cop –a notorious one–, that was all he wanted to be. He did not want to be *there*. He really, really, did not want to be there. We are convinced of it. But he is that guy, and that guy always meddles, and so McClane had to be a cop, has a problem with authority, a tendency to vigilantism –also known as taking justice in his own hands– problems with alcohol, problems with his family and problems with the world, which brings us back to the beginning; the world hit first and where’s *that* fair? By the time DH3 came around, he was suspended, by the time of DH4, he was an unusual senior cop, and a survivor.

John McClane has the weirdest of luck and well, he survives where he should not, time an again. I am glad he has that, and I am glad he survives, because someone should. Someone should have the last minute lucky score that allows the good ones to win. I like him in DH4, because the flash is gone and only the rock remains, for the irresistible forte to punch against. “Just another day in paradise.”, he says. Anything but, McClane, anything but.


Where to find him? Guess. Die Hard (1988), as I just read in a review “one of the best Christmas movies of all time”; Die Hard 2 (1990); Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) and Live Free or Die Hard (2007). The second one is supposed to be the weakest; I looked at the Box Office Mojo, and it was interesting: by lifetime grosses you have DH1=83m, DH2=240m, DH3=383, DH4=366, but DH1 is the only one were domestic is bigger than foreign. Word spread, foreign TVs showed the movie and soon all the world was asking for more McClane; it has never stopped, and there are pleasant rumors of a fifth installment, to be probably called called A Good Day to Die Hard; we’ll see.
Where to find another side of him? There are several videogames (shot’em up, of course), and a prequel comic book, Die Hard Year One, featuring… hair. Didn't specially like it...
If you insist… Hehehe. No one had *imagined* this, I think, until Mac appeared. Sorry, until Matt Farrell appeared and our hero acquired a sidekick; a dynamic much like Batman and Robin was seized upon and you can find plenty of it here and here.
The guy who looks like him... Is Bruce Willis. ‘Nuff said.
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Mar. 4th, 2012

one hundred tragic heroes

I believe in Sherlock Holmes

I've had so much fun following this meme that I absolutely need to contribute to it. Because, you know, Moriarty was real :)

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Now if only this actually *works*...
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Mar. 3rd, 2012

tragic hero entry

A case for Kōji Nanjo (TH#64)

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“Once you moved free in the world, but now your body is pliant, like wax in my hands. But I will never praise you because, as a predator, I am too proud of my possession…” That’s Kōji Nanjo on a *regular* day, playing with his beloved and with chains in the dōjinshi Zodiac. On a *bad day* he is more over the top. As the author of Bronze, Minami Ozaki, rarely draws him full and complete unless he’s wearing a Nazi uniform (!), it is difficult to see him in all his glory, but well, you get the idea.

Bronze is one of the most famous yaoi mangas, although it’s neither the earlier, nor the better and definitely not the most , eh, artistically successful. On reading yaoi you often get both the story and the meta: transference, gender divide, roles, sublimation, emancipation, porn, history, creation,l evolution, classification, shonen ai… *yawn* Ahem. It *is* a fascinating subtext, but when I first read Bronze, I had not yet started to wonder what were girls doing creating boy’s love adventures: it was just a “boy meets boy” story, and what followed was an impossible romance.

Anyway, meet Kōji Nanjo, rising rock singer, idolized by the masses, so brilliant a star that when he gets on stage and starts to jam, catharsis is the very middle form of what happens to his devoted audience. He is so famous he can have anything, and he avails himself of all of it, without shame and without restrain, his excesses shaming his dysfunctional traditional family much to his delight. He is a large man with large hands –stereotype for masculinity– pale as a vampire, with and a riot of whitish blond hair, imperious, capricious, usually elegant, happy with extreme choices in his wardrobe… and well, he looks great in uniform. Minami Ozaki’s art is often more impressionist than descriptive, so it’s a wonder how well she communicates what Kōji looks like, but in a word, if he enters a room, everyone notices.

Like any good and tragic rock artist, Kōji does not expect to live forever: “give me everything, give me nothing, kill me”, he sings, and he would burn himself up in a spiral of self destruction, if only he wasn’t in love. His object of desire is a little remote: someone he saw for an instant years ago, a long haired and bronzed lithe form running under the sun after a soccer ball. Kōji was at the time shocked into love and, and often wondered about this inexplicable crush that had reached him, man of many women as he is. Except it was not a girl: enter Takuto Izumi, bronzed, dark haired, brown eyed, handsome, a great soccer player. And enter the romance, as Takuto opportunely faints and Kōji brings him home; in case someone did not get the reference, he brings a puppy, too (forget the dog; he will not survive the storyline). And suddenly, Kōji does not care if Takuto is a boy, a girl or a statue: he is, from that moment on, everything to him. He wants to have that person that means everything to him, and he needs to be just that to such a person.

So Kōji starts following Takuto around and getting involved in his life, and Takuto acquires a supporter, a classmate, a roommate and in fact a tall, blond stalker, and his life soon gets out of hand. Kōji has his career, which he tries to quit, the paparazzi that follow him around, a formal girlfriend, a disastrous family –in the words of the author, Kōji’s family is “without any doubt cursed… the metempsychosis* of curse”– and, of course, an non reciprocated love interest. Takuto has absent parents, dependent brothers, a tragedy in his past, a sports goal and a propensity for falling ill, and mostly does not know what to do with Kōji’s affections. Everything else is over the top: Kōji attacks Takuto’s girlfriend in mad jealously, Takuto’s mother kills herself, Koji’s family live up to their destructive description; at some points, both declare their relationship impossible, idiotic and mad. It is! But Kōji wants to surround himself in Takuto, wants to possess him –nothing platonic in that–, and Takuto… mostly, Takuto surrenders to the hurricane, but he does it with fury, with violence and without actually declaring that he is surrendering. Quoting the author again, for Takuto: “the worst misfortunes occurred to him, even though he was not involved, just because he took in someone he should not have... In fact, Kōji is the source of all his troubles. Come on, do something, Kōji!” The only difference between them… well Kōji is the forceful one, no doubts on roles in this pairing. But he surrendered first to absolute love, with all his endless passion, and never asked for terms.

In stories of extreme love the tragic flaw must be a sort of selective blindness to all but love (Romeo and Juliet must both be blind to their surroundings and to consequences, or there’s no play). So Kōji, who is a barely functioning man with an impossible background, is blind to anything but Izumi, and Takuto, who is a traumatized survivor of his own life and trusts no one, finds out that he can actually depend on that incredible attachment. The y both suffer terribly for their blindness: the story offers tremendous up and downs, an obsession with injury and illness, forays into extreme play. It truly lives up to the "no climax, no point, no meaning" part of y-a-o-i. Love surrounds all, but no one actually says “I love you”: it’s more a question of need, desire, lust, jealousy, sacrifice, raw emotion, over the top declarations, destruction, rising from the ashes and, it seems, an attempt to determine if two people can really… fuse into one.

Kōji never expected to live forever, but after much drama, loss o health, dreams and body parts (not *that*), both manage some closure – appropriately called “Drown from love”. Let us by all means write yet another meta feast on the peculiar Japanese idea of what constitutes an ending, because in this case, if you want to hear “I love you”, it happens in a dōjinshi, post-series! The most incredible ending à la japonaise for me would be Ai no Kusabi [**spoiler], but in Zetsuai… this love is so destructive it requires their bodies, careers, sanity, everything. Such intensity of feeling is hard to sustain, but I think a part of the success of this story is precisely his no-excuses extreme relationship. “Zetsuai” means, after all, “absolute love” (or “desperate love”, or “everlasting love”), and in this story is what Kōji feels, but is much less love, and much more like a terrible, tragic destiny. Love, curse, love.

* Metempsychosis means transmigration of the soul, but in this case, the author implies is the “embodiment” of cursed.
[*spoiler Both characters die in love and with some peace in the middle of a rain of destruction that destroys their world; that’s about the first time those two emotions are felt by both at the same time.]

Where to find him? On Minami Ozaki’s Zetsuai 1989 (5 volumes published between 1990 and 1991), and on its sequel Bronze-Zetsuai since 1989 (14 volumes published between 1992 and 2006). There are a series of ‚”official dōjinshi” by the author, who started as a dōjinka and never quit, because her extreme love play was not suitable for mainstream magazines. Those dōjinshi are a long and complex story (see here Sadomina’s comprehensive list –at the merchandising tab–, and here the Bronze ones). If you are like me and prefer to understand the dialog even in the very explicit ones, the scanslated ones are Teikoku Juurin (1996), which gives you an incredibly detailed, eh, blow by blow, eh, adult interaction; Kreuz ID 373 (1999); Zodiac and Ai ni Obore, Ai ni Shisu ("Drown from love, Die from love", 2006) that will give you much needed closure. Birth is supposedly around somewhere, but I have not found it. Follow the links at Baka Upates to find the goodies. Also, this year, Bronze: Zetsuai Gaidan Kaendan-Shō - Tenshi Kōtan, a short story, appeared on Chorus magazine; for what I’ve seen scanned, it could be either a prequel or a posquel… confuse much? As the name indicates, it's an AU/paralel/extra story. Artbooks and merchandising can still be found around.
Where to find another side of him? On the anime, of course: you’ve got Zetsuai, a 45 minutes OVA (1992); you’ve got Bronze-Zetsuai Since 1989, another 45 minutes OVA (1996), and if you fall in love with Kōji, you have Cathexis, 30 minutes of music videos released in 1994. Just in case you are wondering‚ yes, Kōji Nanjo has an extensive discography available (look here). Find the raw data about Minami Ozaki at AnimeNewsNetwork. And there's some fandom around, even if this series is a little old.
If you insist... I’m drawing a blank. I’ve never looked beyond the 3.000+ pages of canon, except to explore more yaoi with the virtuous, scholarly purpose to find if insane love was catching.
The guy who looks like him... Would have a body proportion of 10 heads, a too small head, hair enough for three people, charisma enough for ten and an endless wardrobe. The mind boggles; much better to stay with the graphic representation. A kinder image of Kōji is below, a pencil from volume 10: the text that went with the image was something like “What is cruelty? What is irreplaceable? And what is love?”
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