Sunshine Blogger Award

Thanks to Ellie at Blogging for Dopamine for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award!  Ellie is another nerdy girl who blogs about books, gaming, and science.

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For this award, the rules are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions set by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and then write 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger award logo in a post/on your site

My award images are kind of taking over the whole side of my blog now, so I’m thinking of moving them to my About page.

Aaaand the questions from Ellie:

  1. Are you hooked on any particular TV show at the moment? What is it?

The only two current shows I’m really watching right now are The Expanse (great space sci-fi) on SyFy and Into the Badlands (martial arts epic) on AMC.  I’d definitely recommend both.

I’m also always watching Asian dramas on Netflix; my recent favorites are Hello, My Twenties and Descendants of the Sun, the latter of which I would recommend to anyone.  It’s probably the best Kdrama I’ve ever seen.

2. What was the last book you read? How did you find it?

The last complete book I read was Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Curtis Sittenfeld.  I read it all in one day, and it was an entertaining read; I liked the characters and some concepts, but it lacks the wit and depth of the original.

I am currently in the middle of The Princess Bride by William Goldman, which is wonderful, just like the movie.

3. Battle of the entertainment mediums! Which is your favourite – books, TV, films, comic books, video games, tabletop games etc.?

Books!  I could not live without books.  (And 99% of the time, the book is better than the movie anyways.)  But I also greatly enjoy all those other media, especially comics/manga and games.

4. Is there any fictional character you have always wanted to be? Who?

Hmmm, I’m not really sure. I guess my fake namesake, Meiling Li from Cardcaptor Sakura.  Also, I would love to be Belle from Masqueone of my favorite Beauty and the Beast retellings.  She just seems to be so full of life and on top of things.

5. Science or technology?

Well, I am “science” and my husband is “technology,” so I get plenty of both in my daily life. 🙂

6. Have you ever read a book that you felt was written just for you? What was it?

I have read many books where I felt it was just the right time for me to be reading it.  But I’m not sure I’ve ever felt a book was written just for me.

7. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Pasta!  I love to eat plain noodles with a little butter and parmesan cheese.  It would take me a really, really long time to get sick of it.

8. Can an adaptation ever be better than the original?

Sure!  Some stories and some visions are just well-suited for a certain medium.  Even movie adaptations of books can improve on them, giving needed editing and streamlining while adding visual interest.  Some movies I think were better than the book: The Jane Austen Book Club and The Help.  I could make an argument for Catching Fire and The Princess Bride, too.

9. Who is the most famous person you’ve met?

Probably Marissa Meyer, whom I met on a tour for her book Heartless.

10. What’s your favourite season?

Probably summer, because I love warm weather best.  But I will say that Ohio’s best season is unquestionably fall.

11. Share one of your favourite quotes!

“Fear cuts deeper than swords.”

This is a line from A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin.  I’m going to embroider it on a pillow or something someday.  Like Arya, I repeat it like a mantra for strength.

No nominations from me this time because I’m just too busy, but feel free to consider yourself tagged if you’d like to answer these questions, too!

 

Movie Review: Your Name (Kimi no Na wa)

Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) was the biggest movie in Japan last year—it is now the fourth-highest grossing film of all time in that country.  It was technically released for one week in LA last year, in order qualify for Oscar consideration…an then it wasn’t even nominated.  Luckily, it was brought back to US theaters this weekend, where I was able to see it.

A synopsis of the story from Google:

The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint. When a dazzling comet lights up the night’s sky, something shifts, and they seek each other out wanting something more – a chance to finally meet.

And here’s the English trailer (you can find the Japanese one here):

It’s easy to see why this movie was so popular last year.  The animation is gorgeous, and the story is a great mix of genres, with a feeling I would call bittersweet, tinged with hope.  I think even people that don’t normally like “anime” would like this movie.

I’m not sure how long Your Name will be in theaters, but I’d definitely recommend seeing it while you can.  I was able to find a theater only 30 minutes away from me showing it in both dubbed English and Japanese with subtitles.  (I’m sure it will be out on DVD soon, too.)

I saw it with subtitles and loved it. As always, there are some things that just won’t translate well. There’s actually a really funny scene where Mitsuha has switched into Taki’s body and speaks to his friends using “watashi,” and when they give her a weird look for using such a feminine form, she starts cycling through pronouns until she arrives at “ore,” which they finally accept as normal.

There’s plenty of other humor, too, which is a nice balance for the pathos of the story. No spoilers, but it ends up being way more complex than a simple teenage body-switching story.

The last thing I want to mention is the music!  As you can hear from the trailer, the music is done by a J-rock group named RADWIMPS, and it is amazing.  You can stream the soundtrack several places, including Spotify.  There are even English versions of the songs from the movie.  Definitely check out the opening song “Yumetourou,” the ending song “Nandemonaiya,” and the theme heard in the trailer “Zenzenzense.”

You can also check out the MV for “Sparkle” here with clips from the movie.

Hope you all enjoy this one as much as I did!

Fan Art Friday: Judge me by my size, do you?

Welcome back to our Star Wars coloring book club, where Kiri at Star Wars Anonymous and I color the same image every month to compare and contrast.  This month we are featuring Yoda, looking young and spry.

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I like this one much better than last month’s!  I started with a color scheme of yellow (for the flowers), green (for Yoda), and brown (for his robes), and then added some blue to the background for interest.

Above Yoda’s head is the symbol of the Jedi Order.  That, plus the lightsaber in hand, makes me think this is Prequel Yoda (as I said, he also looks pretty spry).  I remember being really awed in the theater when Yoda busted out his lightsaber and started jumping around.  As a shorter-than-average person, Yoda is such an inspiration!

I didn’t quite get the “glowing” effect I wanted on the lightsaber, so I tried to make the Jedi Order symbol glow, and I really like the way it turned out.

Here’s a step-by-step of my progress:

 

Parental Trolling, lvl 50

This is a story of how my parents trolled me…on my birthday, no less!

You may remember that one of my pet peeves is cute holiday imagery of penguins and polar bears living together in harmony, because as a biologist I know that penguins and polar bears do not overlap in the wild.  Penguins live in the south pole (only Galápagos penguins live near the equator), and polar bears live in the Arctic.  Never the twain shall meet.

My mom also makes me a creative birthday cake every year.  She’s done Jane Austen books, a Skellig Michael landscape, and even jungle animals. After I analyzed the species of the jungle animals, I think she assumed I’ll always be blogging about her cakes.

So here’s what I got this year:

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Yes, she spent hours making these intricate cupcakes, just for the sake of irritating me by putting polar bears and penguins together.  She has whole books full of cupcake designs, so I imagine that once she saw these two animals she couldn’t resist.

To be fair, they were really cute, and also tasty.

Iron Fist: Yup, it’s just kinda there.

The latest Marvel Netflix outing, Iron Fist, came out last Friday with some pre-emptive strikes from critics.  But keep in mind, critics only saw the first six episodes; I (and many other fans) have now binged the whole thing in less than a week (less than a weekend for some), so I’m here to give my spoiler-free thoughts.

Marvel's Iron Fist

In short, I enjoyed it, and if you were already planning to watch it, or have seen the other shows and are interested in The Defenders, I think you will too.  Just keep your expectations on the low side going in, because it is not nearly as good as the three previous series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage), and if you have no interest in superheroes/the MCU/etc. don’t even bother.

I went into Iron Fist hoping for a kung fu show, but what I got was a corporate drama with some occasional ninjas…sorry, not even ninjas, mostly just random thugs.  Unlike the three previous shows, this show didn’t really have much to say.  Danny Rand’s origin story appears as a watered-down version of Batman or Oliver Queen.  His parents are killed in a plane crash in the Himalayas; he’s rescued to the hidden mystical city of K’un Lun where he trains and earns the title of Iron Fist; he returns to reclaim his parents’ company.

It gets off to a very slow start.  The first episodes that the critics saw could easily have been condensed into two or three with better pacing.  (It even manages to make sex scenes boring.  How does that happen?!) But it does pick up quite a bit in the second half as new characters are introduced and twists revealed, and I really enjoyed the ride.

Unfortunately, we hardly get to see anything of K’un Lun or Danny’s time there.  There are a few flashbacks, but mostly just the same one of his parents dying over and over.  There’s a reason the first season of Arrow worked so well, and I think this show should have taken some notes.  We don’t get any sense of where Danny is coming from until really late in the season, which I think hampers our ability to relate to him and understand his mood swings.

The show also suffers from lack of focus on a villain.  DD season 1, JJ, and the first half of LC all have one thing in common: a strong, compelling, central villain.  There are several antagonists throughout this series, and while some are great (particularly Madame Gao and Harold Meachum), it sometimes felt more like a set-up for the Defenders series than a story for Iron Fist in his own right.

The side characters are the real shining light in the show.  Colleen Wing is great overall and has a great character arc.  The clip of her cage fight in her classic white tracksuit had already convinced me I would like her.  Ward Meachum consistently improves as the series progresses, also getting his own character arc.  Danny’s friend Davos is a wonderful foil for Danny, and I hope we will see more of him in the future.  And Claire Temple immediately breathes life into the show when she appears in episode five.

My biggest disappointment with the show was probably the martial arts action.  Again, it wasn’t bad…it was just kinda there.  I was hoping for a real martial arts show, but the choreography was no more impressive than Daredevil, and I really disliked the use of lots of quick cuts during the fights.  There is a bit of discussion of different styles of martial arts, but I wish they had shown the differences even more, especially when Colleen with her katana faces off against a Chinese wuxia-style fighter.

The best fight comes in episode eight where Danny faces a Hand guardian who’s using the “drunken master” style.  (During that fight, I said to my husband, “Can we keep this guy instead of Danny?”  Because he has about 10x the charisma.)  But if you really want to see a martial arts show, go check out Into the Badlands instead—the first season is now on Netflix and the second season is currently airing on AMC.

I would put this show at least on par with the DC shows currently airing on the CW (Arrow, Flash, etc.)–least anyone think that is an insult, I’ll reiterate that I enjoyed all of them.

Anyone else have opinions?  We can get spoilery down in the comments if you want.