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Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1)Hyperion by Dan Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a little hard to get into, as I had no frame of reference for this universe. But once I got through a few stories, things started to make a little more sense, although I’m still not sure I understand all the factions. Each of the six stories tackles different aspects of interstellar life in some 700-800 years from now. Simmons tackles topics like religion in that time, artificial intelligence, time travel, poetry, and small town life versus globalization (galactification?). For the most part, especially once I figured some things out, I liked it, but some things still took me out of suspended belief. Apparently, everyone in the future is obsessed with John Keats, and almost all the quotes are from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, of which there are many. And then, of course, there’s the cliffhanger, complete with the Wizard of Oz reference. I’m still deciding whether to let myself get sucked into the sequel. But it was a good book.

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So, as you’ve probably heard, Disney has been announcing a slew of live action remakes to their animated features of yesteryear. Along with their fairly recent purchases of Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm, Disney seems to be betting on name recognition instead of faring into the new territory of originality. Even their new animation, like Frozen and Wreck it Ralph, are awaiting sequels. And it used to be just the sequels, but now they’ve gone full speed ahead into the realm of remakes. Which saddens me. The live action remakes, especially from Disney, tend to earn plenty of money, but don’t seem to compare to the quality of the original, which is why I balk at these announcements. Pixar seems to be the most original part of Disney, to no one’s surprise. But even they are doing several sequels.

If you take an honest look at Disney animation, most of the films before the 90s barely had enough content to fill a feature length film, usually made with plenty of filler material like singing and dancing. Later, the animators went into more depth and got us good films like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and more. But I don’t have much faith in the live action remakes of any of these.
Before going through those announced, let’s recap the films that have already gotten the live treatment, to see where they came from and the direction they might be taking.

101 Dalmatians

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As far as I know, the first live action remake of a classic Disney film came in the form of 101 Dalmatians. Don’t remember it? Good. It’s been a while and didn’t really add anything, even if they created a sequel to that.

Alice in Wonderland

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Then we had Alice in Wonderland (which semi-quasi counts as a remake, even if it’s really an adaption of Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking Glass and serves more as a sequel to Alice in Wonderland). Truth be told, Alice in Wonderland fascinated Walt Disney, and he experimented with combining cartoons with a live action girl before creating the animated movie. But the Tim Burton live action film didn’t really have the magic, just the creepiness (especially the Queen of Heart’s head). And it looks like it will get a sequel.

Snow White

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Mirror Mirror came out in 2012, although it’s not actually by Disney (despite what I thought). In the same year came Snow White and the Huntsman. So don’t expect to see another Snow White film come out for a while. By the way, I didn’t think either movie was very good. Why, even the original Snow White, dare I say it, wasn’t that great (blasphemy!), spending most of its time in dance and song.

Sleeping Beauty

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Then came Maleficent, which actually put a twist on the Sleeping Beauty story (except that twist had already been done in Frozen, so it didn’t come as such a big surprise). A bit more well regarded and less campy than other remakes that have come through, many people still didn’t like it that much. But it made money.

Cinderella

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Cinderella came out this year. I didn’t see it, because it looked to be the same thing as the original (sans mice). And that’s what I fear will be the fate of many of these upcoming films. Why see it in live action when you’ve seen the cartoon, which is often cleverer (hence the mice)? Yes, a lot of these movies were made to make up for the lack of special effects possible for the time, but just because we can through in some magic effects doesn’t mean we should. Anyway, this film, from what I read, was harmless and charming enough, but didn’t give a compelling reason to see it.

Enchanted

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Enchanted isn’t based on any particular film. Instead, it’s a live action remake parody of every classic Disney film, complete with all the camp you would expect from live action Disney. Fun enough, but not a good sign for what may come with some of the more serious titles.

TV Shows

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Then there’s the show Once Upon a Time, which has done most Disney movies, including Frozen and, in a way, Maleficent, and looks like it will tackle Pixar’s Brave. It hit a low point for me when it used Cruella De Vil as a super villain. But all of the upcoming films pretty much have been done in this show, making them a bit redundant, more so than they were. And then Disney’s decided to make a show called Descendents, which stars the offspring of Disney villains. It’s all a bit much.
So let’s go ahead and look at the announced and rumored movies.
The Jungle Book (2016)

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My question on this one is how they’re going to do the animals? Actual animals with creepy moving mouths, or making them a little more animated? Either way, I can’t imagine this coming out pretty. Maybe I’ve seen too many Disney B-movies about talking animals, but I don’t hold out much hope for this.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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Emma Watson as Belle. I can see her as bookish (thanks to Hermione) but can’t really see her as beauty (thanks to Hermione). To me, she’s still a little girl. So not very excited about this (pessimistic, no?)
Tink

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A remake of Peter Pan, focusing on the fairy (who has her own series of CG animated direct to video movies). I feel there’s been too many Peter Pan remakes (including the upcoming one with Wolverine…I mean Hugh Jackman), and the original movie wasn’t that great to begin with. At least when I saw it again as an adult. Maybe kids would like it, but I feel these live action remakes are directed more toward adults as a form of nostalgia.

The Little Mermaid

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One with some potential, there has also been reports of issues with this movie, including a director leaving. So we’ll see if it even gets made.

Dumbo

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Really? Dumbo? Tim Burton is supposed to direct this. How real would they make the elephants? Will it be a movie we can never forget, for all the wrong reasons?

Mulan

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Hopefully they don’t take cues from Once Upon a Time, which implied she was a lesbian. Other than that, I think this could work, although I also consider it in the category of Cinderella: unnecessary.

Winnie-the-Pooh

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The premise of this movie would to focus on Christopher Robin as an adult. It sounds like they ripped this off from Ted. Which is scary enough. And how would they portray the animals? As real animals? As stuffed animals? Or just computed generated, like the Yogi Bear movie? This one makes me cringe.

Prince Charming

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Which one? Are they all the same guy? If so, is he a polygamous man, or does he just marry and divorce, marry and divorce? For someone name Charming, he never seemed to have much personality, in any of the movies.

Rescue Rangers

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This wasn’t even a movie, it was a TV show meant to give Chip and Dale something to do. And I fear it will resemble Alvin and this Chipmunks, but without the music.

Pinocchio

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Pinocchio wants to be a real boy so bad he’s going live action. Is that a good thing? Probably not, especially if he turns into a donkey. I saw a dumb tv movie of him years ago and don’t want to repeat the experience.

Night on Bald Mountain

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From Fantasia, I have no idea how it will play out. No one talks in the movie. Will it be a long musical?

Pete’s Dragon

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It wasn’t animated before (except the dragon), so I don’t know if counts. This one will also feature an animated dragon (because real dragons don’t make movies).

The Sword in the Stone

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This wasn’t really a great movie. There wasn’t much plot. It just had Arthur trying to keep up with Merlin’s antics before pulling out his sword at the very end. The real problem came from the fact that Disney originally only got the rights to the first section of The Once and Future King book, of Arthur’s youth. But even in the book, Merlin had more method to his madness, as an education to Arthur.

Genies

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This would be a prequel to Aladdin, which would eventually lead to a live remake of Aladdin (and maybe The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves). It seems like this would be an animated movie, though, since the genie will have to be animated, and I imagine the genie world would be pretty crazy as well. Plus, we won’t get a Robbin Williams voice :(
I know I’ve been pretty harsh, but do any of you see a movie on this list that you’re excited for? Are there any movies that haven’t been announced that you would like to see?

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my first time reading a Stephen King book. I’m not a big fan of horror, so I chose one that wasn’t horrific. At least, I didn’t think it would be. And for the most part, it isn’t. For the most part, it was a nice read, and had me wanting to get to the end. But there are some problems. The narrator seems to have little trouble slipping back fifty years and fitting in. A lot of the racism and issues back then are kept to a minimum and more told than showed. But the biggest offense is that you go into the book thinking that you’ll eventually get to see Stephen King’s vision of what the world would be like today if Kennedy hadn’t died. Well, you don’t, not really. You get a brief overview of some events, some presidents are different (Hilary instead of Obama), but the most different is something supernatural, the fabric of reality tearing itself apart. Good enough book, up til the end, when it got lame.

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superman meme

This is why Clark Kent should not have a Facebook account.

reallink

This is what Link would probably look like in the Legend of Zelda. Unless every Link is gifted with the most powerful item of all: The Invisible Bag of Shrinking Items!!! But then why does he need to get larger quivers, wallets, and bomb bags? This is a mystery we may never solve.

Why I don’t watch Game of Thrones

I’m a big fan of fantasy. I’ve read the books. So why don’t I watch HBO’s series Game of Thrones? You’d think I’d be all over it. And while I admit there’s the temptation, there are also several reasons why I don’t.

First of all, there’s the practical reason. I don’t have HBO. I don’t even have cable (unless you count Netflix). There’s just not enough of a compelling reason for me to get cable, let alone HBO. Now, I know, I could buy the seasons after they come out on DVD, but I don’t really want to spend my money on that, either. And while I’ve read that it is only of the most illegally downloaded shows out there, well, getting an illegal copy is just that, illegal.

Now, that’s a pretty weak excuse, if I really wanted to watch it. But there are other more important reasons why I don’t want to. The content is one of those reasons. While I’ve been desensitized to on screen violence, from what I’ve heard, this show takes it to a whole ‘nother level. And in a way, it’s hard to relate. Unless you’re two years old, you probably don’t use violence to get your way (and if you do, you should be behind bars). Even our wars don’t rely much on outright violence. Instead, many targets are killed by use of drones, snipers, or bombs. Still real, but not up close and personal like a good ol’ sword fight. So the violence on the show isn’t as relatable as it could be if they just toned it down a bit.

More importantly, in regards to content, though, is the sex. Take a look at the parent advisory section on IMDb.com and you’ll see a list in the sex section that makes you think this is a porno, not a drama. And while the violence might not affect people that much (just like in video games, where 99.9% of people that play violent video games don’t go out and shoot anyone), the sex portrayed actually can affect you, in subtle ways. Based on the books, the sex in the show doesn’t seem to involve loving intimacy between husband and wife, but it’s more along the lines of men hiring a prostitute, incest, or violent sexual assault against women. When the best you can hope for is consensual sex between two unmarried people, you know you’ve got a warped sense of values. There’s enough media trying to warp our perceptions on sex. I don’t need to add porn disguised as a story to that. At least in the books, it didn’t go over all the dirty details, usually, but there’s a difference between written word and seeing it on video. And even reading it got too much at times.

Which brings me to the next point, possibly the most important. Like I said, I’ve read the books. I thought the first book was great, and Ned’s death shocked me. I kept expecting him to come out and say it had all been a trick, that someone else died in his place. But no such luck. As memorable as that was, though, when I read the second book, I didn’t know who to root for. Ned had seemed like the only really good person. I went to Dany and Jon Snow. Tyrion had his funny moments, but was a bit too cynical for me. But with most of them gone in the fourth book, and without much to do in the fifth book, I stopped cheering for them. And that is one of the weaknesses of George R. R. Martin’s story: if anyone can die unexpectedly, then sooner or later, I’m going to protect myself by severing my attachment to the characters. If anyone can die unexpectedly, then it begs to wonder, why are we even reading their story, aside from the shock value? Sure, some people can die, like in the real world, but if I’m expecting the entire cast to die sooner or later, then what’s the point?

So while all the political maneuvering interests me, I think I’ll stick to more family friendly media, especially since I’m now a father. Or better yet, write my own books, dealing with similar themes, but only hinting at the terrible details, instead of showing them in full splendor.

Martin’s books might possibly have left more of an impression that way.

via Sage Eyes: Why I don’t watch Game of Thrones.

via Sage Eyes: Why I don’t watch Game of Thrones.

Why do Republicans deny climate change?

It seems strange that presidential candidates, many of whom have created and run successful businesses and maneuvered through politics, would claim that climate change doesn’t exist, or deny the degree that scientists say it is happening. These aren’t idiots, even if the media might try to portray them that way. So what’s behind this, where conservatives go against the majority of scientists and their evidence?

Well, it’s complicated. But it mostly has to do with the politicization of the issue.

This blog mostly deals with fantasy. So why bring this up? I know it’s a stretch, but it has to do with the fantasies we create to fool ourselves. And no, liberals are not immune to this. They just do it on different issues, and in a different way on this issue.

The first reason that many conservatives reject the data is because it doesn’t fit in their worldview. They fear what would happen if they admitted climate change was real. Not so much for the doomsday predictions that many scientists declare, saying the poles will melt, the oceans will rise, and the earth will slowly transform into a place nearly unlivable for humans. No, they fear that if they admit that climate change is real, then the responsibility to fix it will fall to the government. And conservatives distrust government involvement, not wholly without reason. Government programs are generally less efficient and effective than that of private organizations like businesses or churches. And if government does happen to save the day, unlikely when it is so polarized on nearly every issue, then people will feel a debt and vote for the party that brought about the change, which would probably be the Democratic party, just because they’re the ones advocating for change.

The only way the government could do anything would be to pass stricter regulations on emissions, waste, etc. Government by itself won’t innovate a new technology to save us, because it is run by politicians, not scientists. With harsher regulations, many businesses would feel stress to comply, and some will go under. Conservatives who believe in climate change generally believe that a free market solution will go further and be less disruptive than government intervention. But liberals, despite pressuring businesses to ‘Go Green,’ want more done.

Many conservatives are also religious, which affects their worldview as well. Some interpret their scriptures as saying that God has all power, and us humans can’t destroy his creation. But, then again, Christian scripture, specifically Revelation, talks about the last days, how plagues will fill the earth, the moon will turn to blood, the sun will withdraw its light, and other things that could correlate with climate change.

Looking at the issue objectively, it might seem hopeless to find a solution. Have we gone past the point of no return? Will we cause an apocalypse, where many die and mankind has to go back into survival mode? The many movies and shows that deal with post apocalyptic futures, from Mad Max to The Walking Dead, reflects this unconscious belief, or fear if you will, that everything’s going to collapse on itself. And many people, especially the problem solvers like business owners, don’t want to contemplate the idea that nothing can be done. It’s not an immediate problem, so it can be pushed down the line. It’s the same with bloated, unsustainable entitlement programs: keep them up so people won’t get angry, but in the end they will implode.

Personally, I’m pessimistic about this. Everything the government and ‘green’ companies are doing might slow down the acceleration, but it’s like putting a bandaid on a broken bone. We are consuming more and more electronics, with no stopping in sight, even though they rely on rare earth minerals, which, by their very definition, are rare. The climate has changed because of human intervention, if not as a whole, then in pockets (if you’ve been to Mexico City, it would be obvious). We can hope for a technological development, like useful electric cars, with greatly reduce emissions, but there are two problems with that example: the cost of electric cars is prohibitive to most right now, and the fact that many forms of generating electricity still pollute the air.

Hopefully, some new innovation or combination of many will fix the dying earth. But if the solution doesn’t come? If we’re forced to choose between a healthy earth or our iPhones, what will we choose? What are we willing to sacrifice? Or do you cling to the fantasy that we won’t pay sacrifices? That climate change isn’t real? That the government will step in and save us all?

What people call ideology in this case happens to be a fantasy. So which is yours? And can you blame the other side for clinging hopefully to theirs?

via Sage Eyes: Why do Republicans deny climate change?.

via Sage Eyes: Why do Republicans deny climate change?.

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