Autumn/Flash Gordon approaching

And then, somehow, it was September, and Autumn was in the air.

I’ve been making an effort recently to slow my life down a bit, to make sure I take some time to stop and smell the roses—to be more thoughtful about what I’m doing each day and not just bulldoze my way through work and come home too tired to do anything other than watch MST3K and fall into bed. I’ve started doing yoga every day that I run, and some days that I don’t, and I’m trying to read more and watch less TV and cook more and just generally slow down and improve my life. We’ll see how long this lasts.

One of the things I’m reading right now is this:

photo 1
Flash Gordon: Spaceman with a Sword.

I found this at Boston Comic Con last month, buried in a 50% off box behind a bunch of $1 comics. I’d seen the Flash Gordon movie and some of the old serials, but never read any of the comics. I have to say, I’m sold. This book is amazing. Flash Gordon is going on a mission to find a missing spacecraft, and along the way there’s a jailbreak at a space prison, a sexy ice queen and crazy ice monster on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, and then they get transported to a far-off planet and it gets even MORE crazy. The stories are completely ridiculous and kitschy and oh-so-earnest and fabulous.

One of the things I love most, I think, is the juxtaposition of the serious, masculine, realistic art with the complete goofiness of the story elements. Before you ask, no, I’m not really sure what I mean by “masculine,” either—the art just seems rugged and manly, somehow, in a way that isn’t inherent to some more modern art. There’s something funny and intriguing to me about this serious masculine style being used to represent pretty butterfly men and Flash Gordon fighting an ice monster/space triceratops.

photo 2
Butterfly men and Flash Gordon’s chin.

The back of the book has an essay by Dave Schreiner and some old pencils and layouts by Frank Frazetta and Harvey Kurtzman, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

I also have a collection of the Flash (DC’s Flash) that I’m working on right now, and then I guess I should find a book without pictures to follow up with. Maybe it’s time for some Dickens.

I hope everyone out there in the internet-land is doing well! Anyone in the middle of any good Autumn reads right now?

today in Gracetopia

Currently playing the Star Wars drinking game. :) This is the game where I watch all three movies back-to-back-to-back and drink. I don’t drink to specific rules (“Drink whenever C-3PO gives a statistic” or “Drink whenever anyone says ‘May the Force be with you'” etc.), I just drink whenever the situation seems to require it. Whenever a major character is introduced, whenever one of the famous lines happens, whenever a line I recognize happens (and since I’ve seen the trilogy like 500 times, this is frequent), whenever the droids make me laugh, whenever Han is a charming cocky asshole… so basically non-stop, I guess.

The great thing about this game is that by the time you get to Return of the Jedi you’re so drunk you barely notice that the Ewoks are there.

who’s surprised, really?

Hahahahahahaha

If I only had a dollar for every time I said I was going to do something and then failed miserably at following through. If only.

Remember SF/F Writers Day? And how I was going to do something? You may have noticed that I didn’t. I’m only a day late, I could pull something together, but… I really don’t see that happening. So, uh. Here’s what the originator of the Day posted on her blog. Have at. Opportunity to win a book!

Announcing: SF/F Writers Day!

Sci-fi author Sharon Lee has declared next Tuesday, June 23, the First Annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day.

I am extremely into this idea, so here I go spreading the word. I mean, why not? Administrative Assistants get a day. Why not SF/F writers? (def stole that comparison from S. Lee.) And we can always use another excuse to throw a party.

So. Celebrate! Do it however you like, this is the First Annual so there aren’t really any rules yet. (Buying sci-fi or fantasy books is highly encouraged, at least by me.) Celebrate the SF/F writers who have made an impact on you.

We’ll be doing something fun here at Gracetopia. Or at least something. So stay tuned.

movie review: Star Trek

trekUsually I can review something without spoilering it to death, but I really don’t think that’s going to work here. So if you want to go into Star Trek unscathed, you should stop reading. You have been warned.

So if you sit back and actually think about the new Star Trek movie, it’s really ridiculously flawed. I mean, there is a lot wrong with it, from small aesthetic decisions, to large plot holes, to pure and simple what-the-fuckery.

Fortunately, JJ Abrams doesn’t let you catch your breath long enough to notice.

I’ve seen the movie twice now, and I left the second time going, “wow that was even better than the first time!” But with the space of a few days, and time to think, all the things that are wrong with it are becoming clearer—all the things that should make this movie horrible and unwatchable. And yet, I still love it. I still want to see it again.

So here are some of the many reasons we should dislike this movie:

  • Time travel wtf. The movie begins with a time travel/alternate reality trigger so that JJ Abrams could ignore canon and basically do whatever the heck he wanted. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but what’s the point in having canon if you’re just going to throw it so far to the winds? It doesn’t really seem like a real Trek movie. JJ basically just ran rampant through Trek lore.
  • One of the most blatant examples of this was the Spock/Uhura romance. Granted, I generally tend to be against romantic entanglements in my action movies. (“hey! something could be exploding right now! stop it!”) But alternate reality or not, I really don’t think Spock would have turned out that differently…
  • Some of the comedy was atrociously out of place. The swollen-hand-and-tongue gag was interminable and seemed to have stumbled in from a different movie. The Scotty-in-the-tubes gag was funny for approximately 2 seconds—actually more like negative 2 seconds, when Scotty was still just in the big canister. But yeah that got old quickly. (even though I would pay good money to watch Simon Pegg do, well, anything. paint fences. drool. sneeze.)
  • There were some ridiculous Star Wars moments. Let us take, for instance, the Hoth scene. (Delta Vega in Trek) Our Fearless Hero is marooned on a snowy, icy planet, and then OH NO there’s a big toothy furry creature coming after him! We then switch monsters, as one eats the other, and then our Fearless Hero is saved by an Old Guy waving shit and making lots of noise to startle off the creature. (*cough* Obi-Wan and the Sand People *cough*) So basically… yeah. That’s the only time I was really jolted out of the movie, when I was like, “uhhhh is JJ confused about which saga he’s working on?”
  • Also, of all the gin joints in all the world… Young Kirk and Old Spock just happen to end up in the same random icy cave together?
  • The Ewok. Excuse me. The weird alien thing that’s hanging out with Simon Pegg on Delta Vega. Apparently it’s played by Deep Roy (the guy who played ALL the Oompa-Loompas in Tim Burton’s Charlie in the Chocolate Factory). Which is really all you need to know. Seriously? Didn’t people learn anything about annoying alien sidekicks from Jar Jar Binks?
  • So at the end of the movie (in case you ignored my previous spoiler warning, I repeat it now) when Old Spock is talking to Young Spock, he says something along the lines of “You ask why I did not just come aboard the Enterprise and explain everything? I could not do that! You and Kirk had to find each other and realize you are meant to be lifelong friends.” Ummmm sorry? Total bullshit. Yeah it’d be nice if Kirk and Spock stop hating each other but there’s a universe to save damn it. If I’m Spock, having mini-me be friends with Kirk is not worth an entire universe.
  • “Red Matter?” Really?

I could go on. The fact that the movie has all this^ but still makes me want to see it surely is a credit to JJ Abrams’s filmmaking abilities. Right? Or maybe I’m just a sucker for shiny exploding things and men in Starfleet uniforms. I don’t know. Anyway. Here’s some of what makes it good:

  • The acting. I’m going to go ahead and place Simon Pegg at the top of the list, because he is so absolutely, absurdly amazing that I pretty much died of joy every moment he was on the screen (too rarely), but really everyone was fabulous. Zachary Quinto played young Spock to perfection. His voice was perfect, his eyebrows were perfect, even his shoulders were positioned right. Chris Pine (cue swoon) played young Kirk to cocky asshole perfection, a reluctant young hero who grows up to be a kick-ass hero. And Karl Urban, bless him, made Bones a character I was actually interested in. Eric Bana as the bad guy did not have as much to work with, but still managed to growl his way into a memorable performance. And did I mention Simon Pegg as Scotty?
  • Rip-roaring action. Even though there’s a totally superfluous car chase scene, it’s crazy fun. The whole movie is crazy fun. It just goes by in a flash, so quickly you don’t even notice the plot holes.
  • It makes enough sense. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it makes enough.

Really what it all comes down to is that the movie’s a great ride. One that I want to go on again and again and again. You shouldn’t think about it too much (she says to Star Trek fans… yeah right) and just go with it. You won’t be sorry.

N.B. This may actually be the worst movie review ever written. I do apologize. List format? What Grace?