Yeah, so the site is busted! Not for long, I hope.

Elysium

    4 February 2016, terribly early in the morning

Elysium was a bit too on the nose. South African director Neill Blomkamp presents another dystopian science fiction future, where the rich live in a giant space station orbiting crap-sack Earth. Earthlings try and sneak onto the space station Elysium so they can use their fancy hospital pods and basically live less crap lives. Matt Damon plays one such person. He ends up in robotic exo-skeleton, and has to fight crazy jacked-up South African mercenaries. That stuff is all pretty cool. Jodie Foster plays a jerk politician with a bizarre vaguely colonial accent. That was also fun. On the whole though, the film seems a bit weak.

Reviews of Elysium on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Kick-Ass 2

   26 January 2016, late afternoon

I watched the sequel to Kick-Ass over the weekend. (I started watching it at 1:00 AM, while eating some toast and nutella, and just never stopped.) The film carries on where the first one left off, but loses a lot of what made the first one amazing. There are only a handful of action sequences, and none of them really live up to the action sequences in the first film. (As such, there is far less excessive violence.) Each of the stories that ran through the movie felt weak. Matthew Vaughn, the director of the first film was simply the producer of this second one, which might explain why the sequel felt like it missed the mark. I’d skip this movie.

Kick-ass 2 on Netflix.

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Books in 2015

   19 January 2016, late afternoon

I stopped listening to podcasts during my commute and started reading again. I used to read far more often, and had wanted to get back into the habit. My goal was to read 24 books before the year was done, which I almost managed to do. If you count graphic novels—and why shouldn’t you?—I did manage to cross 24, having read the trade paperbacks for: The Manhattan Projects volume 5, Prophet volume 4, Saga volumes 4 & 5, and Hawkeye volume 4. (All of these series are amazing, by the way. Hawkeye just finished it’s run and is the best super hero comic i’ve read in ages.)

  1. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  2. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
  3. The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss
  4. Dune – Frank Herbert
  5. The Stealer of Souls – Michael Moorcock
  6. Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer
  7. Authority – Jeff VanderMeer
  8. Acceptance – Jeff VanderMeer
  9. The Dying Earth – Jack Vance
  10. The Eyes of the Overworld – Jack Vance
  11. Cugel’s Saga – Jack Vance
  12. Rhialto the Marvellous – Jack Vance
  13. The Martian – Andy Weir
  14. Flood of Fire – Amitav Ghosh
  15. The Burried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro
  16. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  17. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  18. The Crystal Shard – R.A. Salvatore
  19. A Maze of Death – Philip K. Dick
  20. Valis – Philip K. Dick
  21. The Divine Invasion – Philip K. Dick
  22. False Readings – Patrick Stuart

The Little Prince was incredible. I have no idea why I waited 35 years to read it. Truly a superlative book. The writing is so great. The story is so lovely. If you also have managed to live your life without reading it you really should.

Both Cormac McCarthy books were hard reads, and felt like mirrors of each other. The Road is about a father and son travelling through a post-apocalyptic world. Blood Meridian takes place in the wild west, and seems to be a story about the sorts of people the protagonists in The Road are constantly fleeing from. They are dark books. The Road in particular is so bleak—especially if you have children.

I made an effort to read more fantasy this year. Jack Vance is really worth reading if you aren’t that big a fan of your typical fantasy novel. The world his Dying Earth novels take place is in bizarre and fantastic in a way that isn’t elves and dwarves and other trappings of Tolkien. The Eyes of the Overworld and Cugel’s Saga are also really funny. His command of the English language is also amazing. The books are so well written.

I enjoyed most everything I read. From the list above the only book I really regret reading was The Crystal Shard, which I clearly should have read when I was 12 years old. It’s cheesy D&D fantasy.

I just finished reading The Grace of Kings. So 2016 is off to a good start.

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Tig

    3 January 2016, late afternoon

Shima and I watched Tig late one night over the break. It’s a documentary about Tig Notaro produced by Netflix. Notaro had some amount of fame and success before being catapulted into some new stratosphere of fame and success after she performed a stand up set about her very recent diagnosis with cancer: which came after she broke up with her girlfriend, her mom dying, and her surviving the abdominal disease c-diff. The film looks at that time in her life, and then how she tries to follow up on such a bizarre way to end up famous. It’s a well done documentary if you want to learn about her and her story. I didn’t think there was a larger or more interesting message to it, though.

Watch Tig on Netflix.

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Mad Men

   31 December 2015, late evening

Shima and I finally finished watching Mad Men tonight. It feels like a good show to end a year with. We watched the last seven episodes over the last couple days. A strange ending, but I didn’t expect a normal one, I suppose. The show ends strong. These last few episodes are filled with so much emotion. My favourite scene in the show is probably still from an early season: Don visiting Peggy in the hospital. If you’ve seen the show, you know what i’m talking about. But Mad Men is a show filled with so many moments like that. If you haven’t watched Mad Men you should. The writing is solid. The acting is solid. Every shot looks like a photograph. Mad Men is certainly one of the best televisions shows made.

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Dredd

   28 December 2015, late evening

Dredd suffers from not being The Raid, but is a fantastic film in its own right. Both films take place in high rises, with a couple cops versus super corrupt gangsters. Both films are very violent. I had thought Dredd was a Hollywood copy of The Raid, but apparently that’s not the case. Dredd was in production before The Raid started filming. Dredd has a solid cast, and Karl Urban is excellent in the title role. I really enjoyed the film.

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