No Wonder

When one door slams shut in your face, another opens just a crack. Gotta love air pressure! What I mean by that rather weird sentence is that a couple of days after posting about how Hootsuite had given their free users a punch to the gut, I got an email from Buffer inviting me to try out their business plan for free for a fortnight. S-weet! Unlimited posting here I come! Of course, there’s no way that I’ll be signing up proper to a Business account as 1) I’m not a business, and 2) I’m unemployed, so I’ll have to enjoy it while I can. It’s just nice not having to juggle 4 different scheduling platforms for a couple of weeks.

With my rantings over Hootsuite, I forgot to mention that I went and saw Guardian’s of the Galaxy the other week. Great film! I’m not sure about the inclusion of PacMan in the final boss battle, but other than that, it gets good marks all round. The dialogue was quick and funny, there was plenty of action…and oh, Yondu!

The next movie-going debate in my household revolves around Wonder Woman. To be honest, I just can’t find the motivation to go see this. The DC Cinematic Universe, for me, has been one loooong and daaaaaaaark disappointment. I didn’t even bother going and seeing Batman vs Superman. And from what I hear, I think I dodged a bullet. The whole franchise seems turgid at best. Actually, I’ve not seen a Batman on the big screen since Batman Begins. I caught The Dark Night on TV…and pretty much prayed for my own death because it was so long and dull. The Dark Night Rises wasn’t that much better, and in all honesty, the only good thing about it was the Robin that never got to be: Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

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Typical maximum lighting level in a DC film

From the trailers I’ve seen, Wonder Woman’s lighting isn’t much better. Again, it’s the good ol’ dark, bleak lighting that plagues the other DC films. Something that’s in serious need of a vaccine. Then there’s Gal Gadot’s accent. I’ve mentioned before that I’m more than happy to hear accents on a film, but not at the expensive of not being able to understand what’s being said, such was the case of Marion Cotillard’s last line in Assasin’s Creed that no one seems to have caught. And quite frankly, she could have done with subtitles for the majority of the movie, despite speaking English. Unsurprisingly, I worry that Gal Gadot’s accent may also cause problems. And to be honest, from what I’ve seen of the trailers, her delivery seems stilted at best, which doesn’t bode well if I have to sit through near two hours of her performance.

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With all this, I have to say, my drive to see Wonder Woman is negligible. There’s an undercurrent of, “you should go see this movie, because woman power!”, and that I’m somehow failing the sisterhood if I don’t go see it, but I don’t want to have to sit through two hours of ‘meh’ just to prove I support female leads. Yes, some people have been raving the film, but then, people raved about Heath Ledger’s performance in Batman, and I found it forgettable (no disrespect to someone gone too young too soon). I guess I’m just not a DC fan, or rather, a DC Cinematic Universe fan. Will I be going to the cinema to see it? No. Will I watch it on TV in a couple of year’s time? Probably.

Well, I’m sure my thoughts have just p-o’d a lot of people, so I’m off to go vote for a better country. Ciao!

Once Bitten

I missed a weeks blog entry, mainly because I didn’t have much to say, but also because I got pissed off with the mark of my latest uni assessment, which put me in a bad frame of mind.

My previous Open University assessment came back at 100%. The last one was 82%. Now I will put my hand up, and admit I goofed up slightly when it came to laying out calculations (though taking marks off me because I wrote ‘seconds’ instead of just ‘s’ is a bit much). But a couple of other parts had been marked down for reasons that made me fume. Now, if you’ve ever done (or are doing) a course with the OU, you’ll no how much they beat it into you NOT TO PLAGIARISE! Mention your sources!  Acknowledge your sources! etc etc. So, when I was faced with summarising an article written by someone else, I took those warning sirens to heart, and made sure I acknowledged the author of the article whenever I mentioned his thoughts on something. Unfortunately, apparently, this is considered “reviewing” and article as opposed to “summarising” it, which lost me marks, gained me an admonishment for “not reading the question properly” and promptly made me annoyed. The second kick in the proverbial nuts, was another “you didn’t read the question properly!” Arguably, I had. The trouble was, I had translated the question’s meaning differently to what was apparently being asked, so again, lost marks. Ugh! Anyway, my next assignment comes with another ‘summarise the article’ type question, so I’ll be sure not to mention the author at all (except in the reference) and see what happens. I need to keep my overall percentage grade up as the OU is quite stingy when it comes to their 1st and 2:1 pass rate.

Beyond the aggravation of my assessment, I managed to catch a couple of films at the cinema, namely Kong: Skull Island, and Ghost in the Shell.

Kong: Skull Island

First up was Kong: Skull Island. It was a fairly entertaining film. Samuel L. Jackson’s character was a bit of a cliche in a ‘man’s better than animals’ kind of way, Tom Hiddleston’s was as easy on the eye as always, and it was [spoiler alert] nice that Kong actually survived the end of the film, unlike in King Kong, which had me bawling my eyes out.

The only real problem I had with the film was the ‘bad-guy’ monsters. Now I could suspend belief and believe that the creatures on the island had gone through some collective evolutionary gigantism, giving way to giant oxen, spiders, (unseen) ants, stick-bugs, and of course, apes. However, the monsters seemed completely out of place with everything else. The didn’t conform to a scaled-up creature, or even a prehistoric creature, so they ended up jarring against the backdrop of animal life. The were these two-legged, weird-skulled, things that would have been better-suited to a sci-fi film set on another planet.

Still, overall, it was an entertaining movie, and I’m glad I got to drool over Tom…I mean got to see it 😉

Ghost in the Shell

Prepare to be disappointed. Why? because I really enjoyed this film! I’m going to pass over the whole white-washing thing, as that’s an argument for another day, and (IMHO) not as clear cut when dealing with anime and manga, and just review the film based on the film itself.

Now, many years ago, I watched the original anime. It was cool, but it was also so long ago that I’ve forgotten most of it. I remembered the iconic jump scene, and Batou on his boat, but the story line itself has been lost from memory. So, overall, I went into the film fairly fresh. And you know what, it was a pretty darn good movie. My mate sulked at the end, but I think he’d been caught up in all the negative reviews, and had basically prepped himself to not like the film, and did just that. But I went in with hope, and wasn’t disappointed. The visuals were great, especially the imagining of the futuristic city. The plot was followable, which is something that can be an issue with anime films, whose writers interweave spirituality, visuals, and crazy ideas, to a point where they can overwhelm you. And I remembered I once had a crush on Batou…and now I do again.

The only thing that irked me was that Scarlett Johansson seemed to stomp around in a rather (for want of a better word) butch manner. I don’t recall her being that way as the Black Widow in Marvel, and I don’t recall the Major being all stooped and stompy in the original anime (but like I said, it’s been a while since I saw it), so I’m not sure what was going on there, but it was very distracting

To be honest, I think the white-washing argument pushed critics to instantly write-off this film, and hence turned the viewers against it before they’d even seen it, leading to it bombing in the cinema. This is a shame, as the film itself doesn’t deserve the full force of negativity it received. Very few films are perfect, but this isn’t as crap as the nay-sayers make it out to be, so go see it while you can.

Disappointment City

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Welp, I wasn’t wrong, I didn’t get the job. Some guff about different visions. Though, to be honest, their vision could quite easily become mine, so I’m hitting the Bullshit Button on that. The final kick in the teeth is that I won’t get any reimbursement of my travel expenses. That means I’m near £260 out of pocket, with absolutely nothing to show for it. If I was reliant on Jobseekers allowance, I wouldn’t be able to pay any bills, or buy food, for around a month. Utterly ridiculous!

It really is hard to stay motivated when at every turn the universe knocks the wind out of my sails. All I want is a career to make me happy, and put money in my pocket. But the universe deems me useless and I that I should embrace unemployment. I’ve failed as a marine biologist, I’ve failed as a novelist, and now I’m failing as a social media editor. A few years down the line I’m just going to end up having to become an over-experienced toilet cleaner or shelf-stacker. It’s a very depressing state of affairs, and one I don’t see overcoming any time soon.

Anyway, to cheer myself up, went to see Logan in the cinema. Though, to be honest, it’s not the most cheery of films. It was dark, it was depressing, and it was brutal. Without a doubt, it was the swansong Logan deserved. It broke my heart, but it did the character, and Hugh Jackman’s time as the character, justice. I’m gonna miss ol’ Adamantium Claws.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I’d feel if Hugh Jackman gets replaced in future X-men films. The part was his, just like RDJ is Iron Man (or more accurately, Stark ;)), and Chris Evans is Captain America. Better to have a completely new character filling the slot. Like the Falcon becoming the new Capt., if such a need arises, or X23 becoming the new ‘Wolverine’. That way, the character can continue, but not by re-booting their previous incarnation. But I guess that’s something that’ll happen a ways down the line.

Novel Update:

I’ve broken out the red pen. Now it’s time to try and slot in 5 pages a day, whereby I doodle over them with corrections. I estimate it’ll take me about a month and a half to get through the first review. So may the slog continue.

…and a Questionable New Year

Ah 2017, a new year filled with promise. Or rather, thanks to 2016, a year filled with foreboding, gloom, and all-encompassing dread. So yay! Happy New Year to you all! 😒

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I had my one glass of alcohol for the year. Totally went to my head. #lightweight

Not really made any resolutions, more a list of things to do to make me better. 2017 will be the Year of Me, and I will do things to improve me as a person.

First, my body. This won’t be a start-exercising-in-the-new-year deal. I already do fitness training on a regular basis, rather, it’ll be a step up in my programme. New Year, New Reps! After Xmas, I was dreading stepping on the scales, but playing it relatively safe paid off, and I actually lost nearly a kilo over the festive period. Woop! My goal for 2017 will be to try and get my body fat % down to 18% (already at 22.9%), and increase my muscle % (already at 37.1% which is way above average).

Second, my mind. After a lot of umming an ahhing, I’ve signed up to do an Open University degree. It’ll be my 3rd (I already have a BSc and an MSc). I’ve decided to do their open degree, and combine computing and writing modules. Still unsure about my decision, nervous as all hell, and not entirely convinced my brain is as it was, but hey, we’ll find out in six years time. Hopefully this’ll improve my employability in the long term. Or, probably more likely, it’ll turn out to be as much a waste of money as my original degrees are.

Which leads me onto the third, my career. I’m still unemployed; still looking to restart my career. Of course, this one’s reliant on a) jobs in my chosen sector, and b) people actually giving me a chance and offering me an interview. Had little joy in 2016. Two interviews out of who knows how many applications. My nerves completely bombed the first. The second was a job I knew I was more than qualified for, and could do well, but didn’t get it. As a further kick in the teeth, the job was re-advertised after three months, and I didn’t even get an interview second time around. That was a shitty feeling. Every rejection is a further setback to my life, and it’s hard to stay positive. May end up having to face facts that all I’m cut out to be is a middle-aged shelf stacker in Morrisons. I’m not yet, but the writing’s on the wall. If you want to help me out, buy my novels!

On the marginally brighter side, I caught a couple more films at the cinema, which I shall now review for your reading pleasure.

Passengers

Ignore the critics (as one should always do). I actually enjoyed this a lot, and personally I thought this could have been part of a summer line up of big-budget sci-fi films. However, I do have two main gripes with the film (one spoiler alert, one less so).

The lesser spoiler alert is this. Why, in a ship that contains approximately 5,248 passengers, is there only one Autodoc station? For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the Autodoc is a medical piece of equipment that can scan, diagnose, and heal you. That seems like incredibly poor planning. Ok, so they’re only suppose to be awake for 4 months before landing, but you’re telling me, in all that time, only one person out of 5,248 is expected to be sick/injured at any one time? Alright, it’s the future, and humans MAY be less stupid and self destructive, but considering there’s a bar on board, that’s just asking for trouble.

My second gripe, and more a personal opinion than anything, is with the ending. Big spoiler alert!!!! My thought at the end: What? No kids? Maybe they didn’t want their children to suffer through what they were living through, which is a fair enough summation, but I kinda figured at the end there’d be a couple of (extremely) adult child welcoming the crew awake. I felt they’d missed a trick there, or maybe they saw that as being predictable and trite, which again, is fair enough. To those who’ve seen the film, what do you think; did you feel the end was missing something?

Rogue One

First off, RIP Carried Fisher. Of all the 2016 celeb deaths, that one hit me hard. Harder than I expected actually. Not sure if it was down to me being hormonal, or if it was all the hoping that she’d get better ending up horribly kiboshed, but I’ll admit it, I shed a tear or two.

Anyway, to the film in question.

How
Awesome

Was

Rogue

One???

Like seriously. I went in expecting a, yeah it was ok, kinda movie, and came out with mind buzzing. That was how The Force Awakens should have been. Instead, that film was basically a rehash of A New Hope. It was a total cop out. But Rogue One! I laughed, I cried, I raised an eyebrow over the fact that CGI can’t properly render a human being yet. It was epic, and I rarely use that term for a movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, do so. You won’t be disappointed.

So that’s the holidays covered. Time to go put New Year New Me into action. But as a final thought, who’s cheering at the return of Sherlock to the BBC?! Me, naturally.