Monday, April 25, 2011

Count down

Low and behold. George R. R. Martin has completed his next book to the epic series Song of Ice and Fire. A Dance with Dragons, and the published date is REAL. July 12, 2011.
Who will be in it? To be honest I've forgotten a great deal of the subplots, and have given my copies away to the Library... (not an insult.. I always give away all popular books to the library as a donation.. Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman... ) Share and share alike.

If I recall rightly, Arya, Jaime, Cersei, and Samwell were the main POVs in A Feast for Crows... we have yet to hear from Tyrion and Daenerys. I'm not certain if the author really did slice this segment of the story in half, one hopes not. It would be painful to wait another few years to hear from Arya's world again.

Fortunately the HBO series seems to be getting better, but as always, film can rarely match the written word.

Déjà vu

According to Deadline Hollywood Jeremy Renner will take the reigns of the Bourne Saga for Universal (he's also rumoured to be the next MI:4 agent) ... as well as a main role for the upcoming Avengers. A great pity. Overexposure is poison for any actor, and frankly it looks as though Mr. Renner will be the next Natalie Portman if these films are released far too close to one another.

For the next few years we have Green Lantern, Avengers, Thor, Captain America, Spiderman whatever number it is, Superman, and ... Batman ... THREE. Not to mention Cars 2, Transformers 3, Fast Five, Die Hard 5, Mission Impossible 4, Fantastic 4 Reborn, X-men: First Class, Wolverine 2, and Avatar 2 & 3.

If it isn't a superhero, there's the remake group. Total Recall, Godzilla, Cleopatra, My Fair Lady, Great Gatsby, and the Three Musketeers. Not to mention the Americanization (or bastardization) of three Japanese classics, Akira, Death Note, and Ghost in the Shell.

It's all business, it's simple math, it's a sure thing... or is it?

For now.. I'm boycotting most of these factory spun films with little thought, and even less artistic merit. Fortunately there are still a few pictures to look forward to: War Horse, Life of Pi, World War Z, Forever War, Monopoly, A Brave New World, Legend of Cain, Cowboys and Aliens, heck even Hunger Games offers something original.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Winter is coming...

After seeing the much hyped HBO debut of Game of Thrones, I must say it was .. okay. The sets, costumes, and superb cast saved what could have been a very disappointing opening.

Am I asking for too much? A great deal of the episode was shot high and static, with little camera experimentation and rather over-lit lighting. I expected slicker editing, pushed saturation on the final render, and especially... especially more humour entwined into the writing. If I were a newbie, I would have been lost in the first five minutes. Most fantasy sagas always begin with a voice over to explain the world that you are about to enter. With Lord of the Rings it was Galadriel's monologue, with Star Wars it was the written words disappearing into space, and even with Harry Potter, Hagrid's choppy explanation of the magical world hidden from everyday "muggles".

Perhaps a drunken minstrel singing a short history of their world? Or Eddard Stark telling Arya or Bran a story of his days when he helped Robert Baratheon capture the throne from the dragon loving Targaryens? All of this would have helped, a short, sweet, yet vital explanation of who is who and what is what.

For television, I was most surprised with the lack of occasional tight framing and the omission of low angles. I expected a POV from Bran, Jon, or Arya's perspective when the King's guard first entered Winterfell, adding a much needed feeling of unease. A few scenes of Arya's close relationship with Jon, a meaningful glance between Eddard's bastard son Jon and himself when they found the direwolves pups. All the loyalty, pain, and ties that are essential to establish for future episodes.

There was none of it.

It's probably too early to judge, most shows take a while to warm up, here's hoping...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lazy days

As HBO's Game of Thrones cuts through the competition tomorrow, I've turned back to young adult literature for the time being. After Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Ian McEwan's Atonement, sometimes I need a light escape.

Newest find? Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Ten pages in, the promising start gives me hope that it won't repeat my disappointment after reading The Discovery of Witches. A rather nauseating tale of a beautiful (oblivious to her allure... of course), intelligent, talented, heroine and her vampire lover. I have officially OD'd on vampires. The only thing I've "discovered" is that a perfect protagonist produces little empathy and even less charm. Another reason for George R.R. Martin's appeal to the masses, imperfection is human nature.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Last Call

Great news! The final season (13) of Poirot has been ordered for 2011! According to UK Express, the resurgence of interest in period fare has ignited after the huge success of ITV 1's Downton Abbey.

The final six stories? Off the top of my head: Elephants Can Remember, Dead Man's Folly, The Big Four (a very early story), Black Coffee, Curtain... and ??? Hopefully we will see the old gang back, his ever faithful Captain Arthur Hastings (Hugh Frasier), Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran), Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson), George (David Yelland), and Ariadne Oliver (Zoe Wanamaker) in Dead Man's Folly.

Look for the air dates later this fall.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bloody Sunday

I first stumbled on this notorious family when I was reading up on the Devil in the White City's infamous serial killer Dr. H.H. Holmes. Similar to the powerful Medici family of the Renaissance, The Borgias (also known as the Borjas or Bourghesse), mirror our modern day dramas, with their rumoured tales of intrigue and corruption as they rose to power.

Showtimes The Borgias is fortunately available online.. here (for now.. it's still up and running...)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring cleaning

According to collector friends, Church sales are the ultimate goldmine for finding valuable wonders. If you have the patience, and moreover the knowledge, the possibilities are endless. With the elderly individuals downsizing to condos, estate sales, or just plain carelessness; collectors have managed to get their hands on items for fraction of the value.

Every spring I try to donate anything that I haven't used for a few years. From electronics to clothing, it's always amazing to discover how easily things pile up. I've joined the ranks of the online shopper. Checking at the store, noting sizes, and then going home to see if there are cheaper options for my purchase. It's all about mulling things over... do you REALLY need it? Penny pinching goes a long way.

For Canucks, even though our loonie is above par to the buck, we're still paying an extra 20% markup from the days that our dollar was at 66 cents to the US dollar. On books, clothing, computers, software... the list goes on and on. If you buy from the US, I always check WHO is shipping. Fedex is great, but UPS will slap all Canucks with the biggest awful bill at the end, keeping your package in limbo until you pay the extra duty. Thinking green requires holding off on buying a new cellphone, ipad, laptop and generally reducing any compulsion to keep up with the neighbour. Reduce, reuse and mostly.. rethink.

I guess the Antique Roadshow will be next on my to do list.