the oscar-winning suicide squad

Hee hee. I just like saying that. 🙂

With all the other problems last night*, I half expected someone to come out on stage right at the end and say, “Hey, that Suicide Squad thing? That was a joke! A joke!”

* In addition to the Best Picture screw up, which you’ve probably already heard about, at least one of the people listed in the In Memoriam section of the show is actually still alive.

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adventures without alexa

In an earlier post, I talked about Alexa, Amazon’s “intelligent personal assistant.”

Alexa was not an ideal fit for me as an “intelligent personal assistant,” but I figured I had limited options. If you’re not on an Apple product, you don’t get Siri, and if you’re not on Windows you don’t get Cortana (well, you can get Cortana for Android, but I gather it’s not really the same). And for some reason saying, “OK, Google,” to get things done just makes me feel silly.

But it turns out there are other options. Indigo is an “intelligent personal assistant” that runs on various platforms, and so far it seems much more satisfactory, at least for me.

1. It can do the thing that Alexa can’t, which is set a reminder for a task — as opposed to alarms and “to do” lists being completely separate. I can be walking down the street and say, “Remind me at 5pm to pick up my laundry,” and a reminder will pop up at the appropriate time. I like that.

2. Indigo will play the music that’s on my phone. Alexa is all about the streaming music, so if I tell Alexa to play a song by Taylor Swift, I’m likely to end listening to a Taylor Swift song that I don’t actually like. Indigo will play a Taylor Swift song that I have on my phone, which is, by definition, a song that I like (or why would I have it on my phone?).

3. Indigo is willing to address me in a British accent. That’s a feature I didn’t even know I wanted until I found it in a menu.

Plus Indigo does the other stuff — waking me up in the morning, telling me the weather, giving me the news, putting things in my calendar.

So, so far so good.

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research i have done

I was inspired by Brian Buckley’s post about the research he’s done for his work-in-progress Crane Girl, so I decided to post about all the research I’ve done over the years:

1) I picked two last names out of the phone book (Stiglianese and DiGregirio).

2) I looked up something about poisons on Wikipedia.

3) I read two articles about gender dysphoria.

4) I looked at some floor plans of Episcopal churches.

5) I watched two people on a Tori Amos email list argue about multiple personalities (disorder? not a disorder?). Well, okay, that wasn’t really research — that was more something I was seeing that gave me an idea. Similar to my “research” on royal rules of succession.

Okay. Real research….

I refer to the Chicago Manual of Style a lot — does that count? I did a lot of research on the question of “different from” vs. “different than” vs. “different to.” And there was the research on gerunds, and proper adjectives…

(When I was in college, I managed to go through my first three years without ever setting foot in the library. They got me in my final year, though. I don’t remember what I had to research, but I think it was something to do with psychology.

Of course, I very much like the idea of libraries, and I think it’s very important that there be libraries, it’s just that, apparently, I don’t enjoy actually being in libraries.)

Anyway, that last part was just vamping while I was trying to think of other (not grammar related) research that I have done for my writing. I’m not remembering any. If I think of anything, I will add it here:

(Good thing I remembered that part about the churches at the last minute.)

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final chapters can be okay

I like quite a few movie franchises. Some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are good. Some of the X-Men movies, too, (although the last couple not so much). I’ve enjoyed some of the Fast & Furious movies, as I’ve talked about before.

But when a new Resident Evil movie comes out, I really feel, “Okay, this is my franchise.”

The current one, which probably is “The Final Chapter,” as the title claims, has many aspects — some good and some bad.

1) It’s a very satisfying ending (with the door slightly open for more). This never happens in the superhero franchises, where the urge to keep the franchise generating cash outweighs any other considerations, you know, like telling a good story.

2) It includes two big revelations, one about the protagonist (Alice) and one about the antagonist (the Umbrella Corporation). They are satisfying, and I would imagine that Paul W. S. Anderson (writer, director, co-producer) has had them both in mind since at least the third movie (this is number six).

In fact, I was expecting one of those revelations to show up in the last movie, but obviously Anderson thought it was better to delay it until this one. I think that was a good decision.

I didn’t feel at all let down when it came, by the way. Sometimes when there’s a Big Reveal which you’ve been expecting for a while, it can be a disappointment when it finally arrives, but sometimes it can come as a welcome affirmation that you’re in tune with the story.

The other reveal, about the Umbrella Corporation, was a surprise, but it explains a lot that didn’t completely make sense before. (And it reveals — no spoilers — that there’s something in the world today which alarms Anderson almost as much as huge, multinational corporations.)

4) The Red Queen, the homicidal supercomputer that runs the huge underground complex called the Hive (where the whole story began, so it’s come full circle), has a major role in the plot. This may be related to the fact that she’s performed, as a hologram avatar, by Ever Gabo Anderson, who happens to be the daughter of Paul Anderson and series star Milla Jovovich.

And, yes, at a key moment she utters the Red Queen’s signature line, “You’re all going to die down here.” As I remember it, she almost throws it away, finishing a statement, turning away, then turning back to add, “Oh, and by the way…”

5) Iain Glenn, the best villain in the franchise, is back. Ali Larter, as Claire Redfield, the best of Alice’s partners, is back. Yay.

(By “partner,” I mean that, within the range of interesting women these movies always have, there is always another tough, competent woman for Alice to work with. In addition to how good both actresses are, Claire has always been a particularly good complement to Alice since she’s very much a leader, and Alice is much more a lone wolf.)

6) The fight scenes are definitely a step back from the best, though. Fast edits, shaky-cam, no idea what’s going on. Anderson has always favored fast cuts, but this is way beyond the earlier movies. This may be the first episode in the franchise where the dialogue scenes are way better than the fight scenes.

7) Some of the non-fight visuals are striking, though. Anderson is a master of the use of 3D to put the audience right inside claustrophobic interiors with the characters. Confined spaces, preferably underground, are his favorite settings. There is also a wonderful, almost medieval, sequence with gasoline and fire deployed as a weapon.

Here are some links:

1) This is a sentence I never thought I’d read in the New York Times:

Because their director, Paul W. S. Anderson, is an exceptional talent in action cinema, and because their star, Milla Jovovich, is a charismatic, exceptional and very credibly kinetic action performer, the movies in the “Resident Evil” franchise, of which this is the sixth, have always been a terrific time.

Wow. I guess it’s true, to paraphrase the movie Chinatown, that politicians, video game movies, and ugly buildings all become respectable if they last long enough.

2) From Slate, about video game franchises:

Where did Resident Evil go right where… so many others went wrong? The answer is Alice, whose rage and passion drives Resident Evil further than any female-led survival horror or science fiction action series before it. She’s a compassionate, wily heroine whose fury, once kindled, never lets up.

3) And here’s Ms. Jovovich, reminiscing about all six movies, including that the moment her husband fell in love with her might well have been when she sat him down and demanded that he give her back all the action scenes and stunts that had been hers when she’d signed on with the movie, but which had later been mysteriously given to Michelle Rodriguez instead.

One of the pleasures of the series is that Milla does virtually all of her own stunts, and she’s not giving up even one of them without a fight. 🙂

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there’s more than one “hallelujah”?

I’ve mentioned before how I’m sick of the Leonard Cohen song “Halellujah.”

I’ve always had a fondness for John Cale’s version, though, but I never realized until now that he’s actually singing different lyrics in places. I learned that from this article.

They’re still Leonard Cohen’s lyrics, but John Cale drew from fifteen pages of discarded lyrics that Leonard Cohen (a songwriter noted for editing and editing and editing his work) gave him in order to put together his own version of the song.

Cale’s version is, as the New Yorker puts it, “bloodier, less celestial.” I guess you can draw your own conclusions from the fact that this is my preferred version of the song.

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the word is “paltering” (apparently)

This article caught my eye: “When telling the truth is actually dishonest.”

The distinction between deliberately lying and deliberately making a true statement in order to deceive is — it seems to me — pretty arbitrary. Certainly if I was the person being deceived, I’d be pissed off either way.

But it does matter to some people. I remember that some of the Quaker jokes I heard growing up (Quaker jokes are only told by Quakers — who else would bother?) involved Quakers, usually businessmen, getting the better of someone in a business deal by paltering.

Maybe this is why I’ve used this with The Golden, who, as far as anybody can tell, always tell the truth, because in the story where they’re introduced they to this exact thing.

And it turns out there’s a word for it, which is cool.

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