Friday, 30 December 2016

Fuck you 2016

2016 has been a year of death, misery and unexpected turns of events.

   Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Prince, Anton Yelchin, Ron Glass, Carrie Fisher... the list of excellent people leaving this life seems to go on forever.
   Homophobia and racism won further ground internationally; the Brussels bombings, the Lahore suicide bombing, Brexit, the Pulse shooting, Donald Trump being elected president, the Aleppo massacre, the Berlin attacks just to mention a few out of too many.

   My struggles with anxiety reached a new high with panic attacks and many a sleepless, heavy and tear-filled night. I haven't been able to focus on much for more than a few minutes at a time. The only things I've just about managed is work (in fact, I received a well-earned salary increase thanks to that), binge-watch just about every single tv show on Netflix and a few hundred hours of Clicker Heroes divided into a maximum of five minutes at a time. Like Bilbo, I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread. No matter how much I do in a day, it's never enough and my insides hurt.

One of the good things coming out of this year is my boyfriend.
And some of the books I've read.
That I quit nicotine at long last.
The Stitch onesie I bought.
My few but very good friends for sure.
The blog passing 60 000 pageviews.
That I bought some delicious teas (from Tefrossa).
I got to travel to Warsaw with two of my great friends.
The tattoo I got.
The autographs I collected.
And that Leonardo DiCaprio finally got his Oscar. But then on the other hand, that might have been the final seal to bring on the Apocalypse. To bring us to our final ends... good times!

Favourite pick of 2016
Movies: Deadpool, Zootopia, Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Deadpool. Did I mention Deadpool?
Books: The Martian by Andy Weir was an unexpected happy surprise and a thoroughly good read, Tough Shit by Kevin Smith cracked me up and made me want to listen to Kevin's SModcast (also highly recommended btw), Contact by Carl Sagan was truly marvellous and The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard was fantastic.
Events: (Because yes, we need this too.) The Manatee, the Giant Panda and the Humpback Whale are no longer critically endangered. There is now an Ebola vaccine. Suicide rates are going down world wide. Child mortality rates are going down world wide. The ozone layer is healing itself. The money gathered from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge led to the discovery of a gene that could be the key to beating the decease. See! We actually managed a few good things.

But in conclusion:
2016, kindly fuck the fuck off.
I swear, the bar for 2017 is set so low...
...and I say this knowing full well that Trump's presidency hasn't even started yet and the plan is for Brexit to step into effect this spring. We have a lot of shit to fight and rectify.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

A very Merry X-Mas indeed

Every year I give myself a few X-Mas gifts as to make sure that I receive something I very much would like to receive. Call me ungrateful but that's how my mum prefers it (she hands me some money followed by "buy something you want, wrap it and say it's from me"). It lacks a certain element of surprise but has an abundance of convenience for the both of us.

   So this year I went with socks with pictures of silly dogs on them. A copy of Fight Club 2 I had to gift-wrap the moment I got it in the mail as to  not read it immediately. A couple of games I found on sale on Steam (I couldn't gift-wrap them but there wasn't any real need to). A wall calendar by Maul Cosplay (entirely for research purposes I assure you, upper left corner warning label reads "High Nipple Rate!" so it really stays true to the game series).

   I needn't have worried about an absence of nerdy gifts though. My sister gave me a TARDIS tea mug and a Doctor Who shower curtain.
   Last but not least I got food.
   Food never fails to make me merry.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Beer with me

Early X-Mas gift from the boyfriend: beer.
The fancy kind I can't waste money on right now.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Hutt Recommends: Dandy in the Underworld

Dandy in the Underworld by Sebastian Horsley.
(TW: substance abuse, suicide mention)
"When Mother found out she was pregnant with me she took an overdose. Father gave her the pills. She needed a drama from time to time to remind her that she was still alive. The overdose didn't work. Had she known I would turn out like this she would have taken cyanide." p.1
This is how the autobiography of Sebastian Horsley takes its flying start, and it continues in the same self-deprecating spirit. With every page Sebastian takes us through a life of escapades littered with absurdity and vulgarity.
   After growing up one of three children born of negligent addicts in what I can only describe as an abusive setting ("Indeed, everyone in my life who should have been vertical was horizontal."p.38) Sebastian sued his father for a large sum of money, consorted with convicted murderers, went to art school and fell in love all before seeing his twentieth birthday. He'd move on to get married, commit adultery, get divorced, continue to make art, do heavy drugs and sleep with prostitutes in between making massive amounts of money on the stock market. Even Sebastian could see his addiction to crack getting overboard so he got himself into a clinic. Stayed clean for a while. Started doing crack again. Got off of crack. Got into heroin. Got off heroin. Constructed a few art shows that didn't do too well. It wasn't until he went to the Philippines to have himself crucified in front of a camera team that he found himself in the spotlight not only in the UK but internationally.
   The main theme is dandyism in all its eccentricity; it is always the subject to which Sebastian unrelentingly returns to.
 "I was a disciple of satin and Satan." p.263
The book is revolting at times, shocking... most of the time.
   This also happens to be one of my favourite books. Sebastian Horsley was an artist of words, a wordsmith in truth, and Dandy in the Underworld is proof of that. Yes, some of these recollections are at the height of absurdity but always described in such an elegant, witty and brilliant way that you can't help but keep reading and taking it in. Here is the man who started doing heavy drugs, make 'art' with his own excrement and have frequent meetings with prostitutes before the age of twenty. He would later also get crucified, get banned from entering the US for 'moral turpitude' and make a YouTube Guide to Whoring.
   I have great trouble remembering that this was in fact a real person who died of an overdose in 2010, only three years after the publishing of this autobiography  and only two days after the premiere of the one-man show based on the book. His friend Toby Young, a journalist you might also know as the writer of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, commented that "if it had been suicide Sebastian would not have passed up on the opportunity to write a note" and considering what a slave to drama dear old Mr Horsley was, that sounds pretty much on the nose. So he made a book out of it. Dandy in the Underworld ends with what I can only interpret as the finale and finishing touches to a suicide note of epic proportions.

 "I came into this world a king, I leave it a wild card. I believe in being nothing - but with as much style as I can." p.322
This book is not for everyone. I love it.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Third down

   Sean Astin is an amazing human being.
   Lucky he turned out to be the amazing human being he is, because he was the only reason I decided to hop on a train (train commuting in this country is tragic, always count on being at least 20 minutes late to your destination) and go to Stockholm (a city I dislike terribly and try to avoid unless I'm paid) and their take on the Scandinavian Sci-Fi, Game and Film Convention (arranged several times a year in different cities).
   This was my third Con this year (Gothenburg, Helsingborg, and now Stockholm) because... LotR actors. David Wenham, Billy Boyd and now Sean Astin. I've started hunting them down to make them sign my LotR trilogy illustrated by Alan Lee.
   Astin ended the signing (after having had a geek-out over the illustrations) with slamming the book shut and pinning me with a stare.
Him: "You know what I hate about you?"
Me, squinting suspiciously: "What?"
Him: "Nothing!"
   After which he laughed, grabbed my hand, shook it and told me he loved my hair. And that's that.
   Three down.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Fantastic rubbish and why I disliked it


If you had it in your mind to think that this was the movie about the author of the much talked about textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the widely appreciated magizoologist Newt Scamander, you can just do yourself a favour and toss that thought out the window.
   Let me tell you a thing:
   In the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them we travel to the USA in the 1920's to sneak a peek at how the magical society's arranged outside of Europe. Here we get to follow the No-Maj (see also: 'muggle') Jacob Kowalski; a man stuck in a dead end job at a can factory but with grand dreams of eventually opening a bakery. Life is strange and the ginger man with the suitcase that Jacob runs into at the bank even more so, and suddenly he crashes head first into the magical world.

   This movie had no hook.
   In classic movie making you spend the first 20-30 minutes of a movie introducing characters and presenting the problem that will have to be solved or the mission that needs to be completed through the course of the movie. Example: Zootopia - meet Judy Hopps, the bunny who wants to be a cop. Within 10 minutes we know who Judy is and what her goals are. Within the next 10 minutes we know the problems she'll have to face and get past. Within a total of 30 minutes I know exactly who Judy is, what her motivations are and her mission for the remaining 60 minutes. There are of course exceptions (mostly sequels) and even though we're supposed to already know the world in which Fantastic Beasts is set, we really don't (because this is more of a bad reboot) and the characters are all new to us.
   What I'm referring to is called 'the hook' - it is what will draw us in to the story and make us interested in sticking with the characters for the duration of the movie. The hook should make us root for the main character.
   I had no fucking clue what the movie was about until well over an hour into the movie and even then it was mostly guesswork. I realised just how empty it was. It was a movie about nothing, with plenty of surface and nostalgic hints at something that used to be popular.

   This movie gave the main character no character.
   Newt Scamander was an empty shell of a man. We received no info about Newt's personality, his motivations nor his goals. It took us over 40 minutes to find out that Newt had a passion for magical creatures, something I would think should be vital for the story to move on. But no. When we had landed that lil' tidbit of info I was already way over this movie. The same void of info applies to his pal Tina Goldstein by the way. By the end of the movie I was struck by the fact that I had probably seen more of Eddie Redmayne's hair than his face. Interesting choice but hardly a good one.
   There was no character building going on, but then on the other hand there was absolutely no character traits to build FROM. What makes it really ironic is that the side character Kowalski was rather well-formed by the end of the movie; we knew his personality (sweet, kind and curious), his goals (open bakery) and the problems he has to face before that (no money, dead end job, ginger wizard with a suitcase full of strange creatures). We even knew more about Kowalski's background halfway through the movie than we knew about Newt's.

   I never rooted for Newt. I rooted for Kowalski.

   No chemistry between spouses.
   For some of us the Harry Potter books was an excellent chance to accumulate some History of Magic by heart. Newt Scamander and Porpentina 'Tina' Goldstein supposedly get married, procreate and eventually bless us with the presence of Loony Lovegood. Whatever love these two develop for each other, they do not develop it during the duration of this movie. There is no budding love between these two. There is nothing but a blank disinterest visible to the viewer.
   Is there a beautiful something going on between Kowalski and Queenie? Yes. Again, interesting choice but hardly a good one.

   There is a magic fix for everything.
   This movie would have us think that there are no limits; magic fixes anything, you can do anything and there is no cost of magic ...really? If there are no limits and no costs anyone could do anything and things get dull very quickly from there. I was appalled to find myself losing interest in a world than meant everything to me for so many years.
   J.K. Rowling, sweetheart, you need to have a talk with Brandon Sanderson about the construction of a believable system of magic. There used to be one. But you obviously lost it. Deal with that, please.

   Casual fatphobia.
   OK, so Newt can fit a fucking rhinoceros into his suitcase with ease but a chubby guy is too much of a fucking challenge? COME THE FUCK ON!! Lazy jokes does not a good movie make.

   And then there's Johnny fucking Depp.
   I'm not even going to start on how over-appreciated I think Depp has been for the last fifteen years. Ever since Pirates of the Caribbean Depp has played nothing but Jack Sparrow. All other characters have been Jack Sparrow pretending to be someone else. Add to that Depp's latest departure down Wife Beater Lane and I can't see how ANYONE felt it was a good idea to cast him in a Young Adult movie. The moment he entered the screen I laughed out loud in disbelief. I couldn't believe it even though I knew he'd be involved somehow and hadn't yet seen him on screen. It was absurd. I can't.

TL;DR: I'm not upset because I expected miracles from Fantastic Beasts. On the contrary, I expected disaster.
And I was still disappointed by the end credits.