Tease: A novel by Amanda Maciel

December 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hello World.

It’s been a while. I’m still here. Still alive. Still kicking. But I haven’t felt like writing here in a while.

downloadThis novel made me want to write something. Not exactly a review, but something short and that spoke about how it felt to read something like this. To give a short summary of what I read and how I came to read it, well it all started with me deciding that I needed to study up on the bitchy It-Girl stereotype that we see so often in fiction. We see those characters so often, but we rarely get to root for them and I wanted to read something where the female lead was that type.

So like all people with a question I asked Google and and in a lot of the results Tease came up as a huge book this year. The message that the book was trying to get across seemed like a no-brainer. Don’t be a bully. Bullying is bad. We’ve heard it all before.

Then I read the preview pages and I liked the writing so I picked it up. The book is the story of the side-kick of the Junior class’s queen bee. She’s sucked into a whirlwind cult of personality that is Brielle and that drives and influences her life in high school. And the story follows them through two related time periods. The events leading up to the suicide of a classmate that they bullied and the events following it and how it effects their lives from then on out.

It’s not really a soft, cuddly book and there’s nothing pretty about most of the characters. That’s what kind of makes it feel so genuine. Most of us who’ve attended the average American high school have known girls like Brielle and we’ve known the people who get wrapped up in their world. And we’ve known or been the victims. Hell, some of us have been the Brielles. That’s what makes it all kind of powerful. When you’re in high school and everything is new, but at the same time you’re expected to handle it in a more adult way everything feels more serious. There’s seemingly everything on stake and everything matters so much. The world is always falling apart, or so it seems. It’s easy as an adult to look at the problems kids face and shrug them off, because you know how hard it is being an adult.

But that’s kind of the problem. In all that growing up and changing we forget how hard it was being a kid. We forget the sting of first loves and of friendships gone sour and of betrayal and we forget how much all of it mattered. And how it still has an effect on who we are.

This book does an excellent job reminding you.

It’s not always and easy read, but the characters are identifiable. The situationss are familiar but painted in an interest light and the topic is vey relevant to the current times. I read this book to learn more about writing my own characters and trying to find a way to identify with those high school girls that we hated or love to hate. But I think this book so be in classrooms and schools if it’s not already.

It might save lives.

SJW

November 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

The first time that I heard the phrase was about seven or eight months ago. I can’t remember if it was on Reddit or some other forum site, but since then I’ve heard it thrown around by people all over the internet as if there’s some sort of Illuminati like council of women, minorities cuckolded white men who oversee which evil social cause they want to take up next.

And all that I can think is this is all very troubling. I’m not old enough to remember the big rights movements of the past, but it seems like there’s a disdain for the idea that maybe we shouldn’t treat one group of people like the default and the others like side characters.

I’ve lost some internet friends to this whole mess too. Not that officially had some moment where we just had a large falling out, but I’ve seen them now so filled with hatred and bitter over something—I don’t exactly get what—and they don’t have a way to discuss things on a normal level anymore. An old friend of mine writes me a private message on a forum complaining about the behavior of “these stuck up white cunts” right before he tells me a story of how it’s alright because the mod is “one of us”. Just who the fuck does he think “we” are? Is there a mouse in his pocket?

And I don’t know if it’s right to say there’s one source that’s to blame for the massive swell of this stuff popping up. What about this time and these people caused us to reach this point. The one thing that I will say is that if you’re seeing this kind of behavior from people around you, especially if you’re a minority or a woman how long is it going to be before you’re not “one of the good ones” and you’re on the receiving end of the hatred? You’re going to have to decide for yourself if you want to stick around to find out.

I used to think of the people I knew as mostly okay and the kind that mostly believed the same thing. Never really imagined I would read something from them where they try to say all blacks are the racist ones with their crying out that things are racist or that I would have to explain to them it’s not okay that women get paid less to do the same work (what kind of Neanderthal believes that).

What’s worse is it doesn’t seem to have a single country that it’s happening in. Online people from all over the world meet up and mix opinions with one another. These people share these thoughts and they’re coming from all corners of the globe.

I hope something gives soon. I hope there’s something to kind of turn the tide. It seems like I keep seeing something and thinking this will be the thing, but the even passes and the masses don’t bat an eye. I hope the pattern breaks.

Death In Heaven: Doctor Who Season Eight Finale

November 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Spoilers ahoy!

Here we are at the raggedy end and I have to say that this was the most tense, seat gripping hour of Doctor Who I’ve seen in years. It might even surpass the fiftieth as one of my favorite episodes. It also solidifies season eight as my second favorite season of the show (I don’t really talk about old Doctor Who as I never watched it).

I’m still floored and I think this episode will need more examining in the days to come, I might have to rewatch it even, which will be a first for this season, but I can say with a certainty that this is one of the best finales the show has had since the reboot. Only outdone by series five’s.

Clara did some amazing acting and I think it’s been impressive the kind of range we’re getting out her this season. There’s more for her to work with and there’s been more ups and downs for her character and the relationship with the Doctor. I know she wasn’t planned to be with this Doctor originally, but I think that forcing them together has kind of pulled something out of her that she didn’t really get the draw on with Matt Smith (and I loved her with Smith, so that says something).

It seems that a lot of people hate her, but really a lot of people hated Amy and Donna and I think they’re probably two of the best written companions. I don’t think people actually know what they want and a lot of fan base is mad that Tennant’s not there.

An Aside: people still gracing message boards and comment sections of articles with comments about bring back Tennant and the like. Get over yourself. He’s gone, he’s not coming back and the show has always been about change. If you’re eager to revisit him there are books and fan fiction. Leave the rest of the fans alone.

Capaldi has been incredible this season and he’s finally starting to really solidify his place as an amazing Doctor. His acting opposite the Mistress has been very refreshing. When they were choosing the new Doctor I can’t say he’s the direction I wanted or expected, but he’s what we needed.

For the episode itself I think there’s something to be said about the tone and the overall darkness of what we saw taking place here. The Mistress really poured it on and she planned and plotted very well. Her plot kind of hit back on the things Danny said earlier this season and the things we learned about the Doctor over the course of the show. His past as a soldier and his past with Unit and all of that really come into play and it just made for a good thematic end.

The themes of love and of what the Cybermen are kind of remind me of Asylum of the Dalek and the Cybermen two parter for season two—the only difference is that this seemed more native and grounded in the show because we’ve built up to it well. Framing this episode in Clara telling Danny she loved him and ending with the reveal that despite emotions being gone love wasn’t felt more realistic than cybermen exploding when they get emotions or even exploding because a dad loves his son.

It’s funny, but in some way every Cyberman episode except Nightmare in Silver took a hit when this completed.

Though this episode wasn’t about the Cybermen or the Master—it was another episode about the Doctor, who he is and what he is and this season was framed with the question “Am I a good man?”.

I would say this is the thesis statement of the series itself, the Doctor has struggled over the years to be good and to do the right thing and we’ve seen pieces of his defeated self after the Time War and him recovering as Ten and then him going on to become the inflated ego that was the idea of the Time Lord Victorious as Eleven.

Now we’ve come to this. The Doctor is neither good nor bad. He’s ultimately a little more like the average person. He just is. The Mistress revealed himself to himself and gave him what she thought he wanted and he knew well enough to resist the power. He’s grown over the years, the hundreds of years the series takes place over and I think it’s safe to say it’s for the better.

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There is one thing I would like to say. The preview-review done on this episode spoke of something the Master does that will shake the fan base to the core. I’m guessing it was the killing of Osgood. I really, really liked Osgood and I kind of suspected that she might be our next Companion, so it was sad to see her die so early in.

But I feel like death needs to be a part of Doctor Who and it needs to hit us harder than it typically does. Moffat used to be mister “Everybody Lives” and I think it’s nice to see him stepping back from that and trying something a little less popular, but necessary.

I have to say that when I promised to write these reviews this whole season I didn’t think I would make it. But I’m glad I did. Until Christmas!

Doctor Who Dark Water

November 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

drywn

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I went into this previous week’s episode of Doctor Who with some apprehension. It’s been a pretty amazing season with little to no hiccups, it would be a shame to have a bad finale. Actually it would be worse than a shame, because a bad finale seems to taint everything that came before it.

My worry and apprehension abated the moment that we discovered Danny Pink had been run over while crossing the street (oddly, I thought of the season opener to the League and how the exact same thing happened to a character over there). We whipped away by Clara on this mission to manipulate the Doctor to make him help her that ends in probably one of the best exchanges of all of New Doctor Who.

Clara: So what now? What do we do now. You and me, what happens now? (long pause while the Doctor messes with the TARDIS) Doctor?
The Doctor: Go to Hell.
Clara: Fair enough. Absolutely fair enough. (goes to leave)
The Doctor: (looking at her puzzelingly) Clara? You asked me what we’re going to do. I told you. We’re going to Hell…or wherever it is people go when they die if there is anywhere. Whatever it is we’re going to go there and we’re going to find Danny. And if it is in anyway possible we’re going to bring him home. Almost every culture in the universe has some concept of an afterlife. I always meant to have a look around see if I could find one.
Clara: You’re going to help me?
The Doctor: Why wouldn’t I help you?
Clara: Because of what I just did, I just…
The Doctor: You betrayed me. You betrayed our trust, you betrayed our friendship, you betrayed everything that I’ve ever stood for. You let me down!
Clara: Then why are you helping me?
The Doctor: Why? Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?

This is the moment that I think I’ve been waiting for. There’s that defining moment of a Doctor’s tenure. With Ten and Eleven it came so early on and I think that’s what endeared people to them. We got the sword fight above London in Ten’s first episode and we got the speech in the Eleventh Hour by Eleven. Those things got us pumped for the new Doctor and let us know what kind of person we were dealing with. It let us know that underneath it all he’s the same and somehow different.

But Capaldi has been much more subtle in his characterization and I think this moment is the thing a lot of us were looking to see. I loved him before, but this solidifies him. I think that this and the very end are perhaps the most important parts of the episode. Clara throwing the keys into the lava seemed really damning and like it was something that would certainly end the Doctor’s ability to easily use his TARDIS, but the reveal of what he was really doing was far more interesting than being locked out of his ship again.

And on to the other important thing. I won’t even mention the plot until we know how that’s resolved and the Cybermen we knew were going to be around. The reveal of the Master being a female called the Mistress was something of a shock. When she said she was a Time Lady I suspected Romana or Susan for a split second. Both of which the Doctor left behind. But I would have hated to see evil Susan or evil Romana and the latter would have ruined continuity with the expanded universe. I’m glad it was the Master and I am glad Moffat is slapping people in the face with this idea that women and men can shift sex as Time Lords. It’s not something that will happen all of the time, but it’s something that we’ve been seeing get more mention and it reinforces the idea that we could get a female Doctor someday.

Michelle Gomez has been a fantastic actress and I believed her bit about being a droid earlier in the episode even though it didn’t fit with the stuff stated before this. I kind of thought it was a big fuck you to the people who let their whole existence hinge on these reveals and forget that some of these stories are more fun in the building.

What Clara has done could be grounds for her getting thrown out and what she’s going through could be grounds for her to leave. I think this is the end of her, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s all up in the air and she might even be the first new Doctor Who companion to die for good. I know she gets a lot of shit and just let me say, even if I might be the only one saying it, I’ve loved Jenna’s time on the TARDIS and I’ve loved the way her character’s developed. When I first saw her in Asylum of the Dalek it was comforting to know she was taking the place of my favorite companion and I don’t feel like there’s been any real issues with her yet.

All that being said she might not even be going anywhere. I can’t wait till next Saturday now.

Dual Who Review: Flatline and Forest

October 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Finally.

Flatline

This season has been all about regime change. Direction change. A change in Doctors and the attitude that was permeating the show in the previous three seasons. I think Flatline is kind of what this season is all about. It was dark and creepy and somewhat different in a way where I couldn’t have pictured it taking place with any other Doctor or in any other season.

It takes something we know well (the TARDIS) and know the limitations to and puts it in an unexpected kind of peril. It also used some real science there for a minute. It’s entirely possible that there’s things in the second dimension that can’t interact with us properly and that when you touch their dimensional plane all they see is the flat part of your molecules interacting with their world. To them everything is two-dee and they can only view the world in two-dee. So what happens when they start to try and learn about our universe?

The episode never really seemed to answer that. Kind of like the episode “Listen” we never really get the concrete reason behind what the things are doing and we don’t need to. It’s not important to the episode. In the case of Listen it didn’t matter because the episode didn’t need it. In this case it was just scary to not know and have the assumption be made that since they were hurting people they must be meaning to do it.

There’s a part near the middle of the episode where the humans are speculating about what the aliens are doing by calling out the numbers of people they’ve taken and it has that sort of “Midnight” fear mentality to it. The Doctor is on the phone trying to calm them down, telling them not to make assumptions, but they’re gripped by fear and rightfully so.

The two dimensional beings are sucking people into their dimension and killing them in the process and the Doctor is trapped within his TARDIS leaving Clara to run things. It seems that one of the staples of this season is Clara being left to her own devices or to follow the Doctor’s orders and handle a problem in his absence. We’ve seen a lot of the two of them separated and her with other humans and just interacting. She’s placed in danger often and it seems to be different for her than other companions because she’s not got the safety net. I get the feeling the Doctor is trying to distance himself more and more from her.

A bit of the drama that started in Kill the Moon seems to be going strong and I’m glad they didn’t just abandon the plot thread and act like it never happened.

And I just have to comment on the effects for the creatures in this episode. If there’s one thing that keeps getting better on the show it’s the look of the aliens and monsters. Where as in season five we had moments of horrible CGI with Prisoner Zero, we’ve got really solid effects here with these strange looking shifter creatures. I’ve heard some people claim that rubber suits add charm to the show and the bad effects were a staple. That’s bullshit and you’re simply wrong. Realistic just looks better, sorry we don’t grade things by hipster standards.

In the Forest of the Night

Another big part of this season seems to be the Doctor having to do “nothing” to fix the issue of the episode. It seems like there is a lot more moments of helplessness and a lot less ass pulling. I kind of saw the twist ending coming, but I enjoyed this for the children and their sparse use of the different kids for little beats.

I really enjoyed the Doctor interacting with the kids.

Probably my biggest issue with this season has been that we’re getting much more of the Earth episodes than in the past three seasons. I think that one of the strengths of the show is the ability to go anywhere and do anything and I think we’re better off avoiding Earth as often as possible.

That having been said this was a pretty interesting episode and it didn’t just end up being another romp of “let’s watch Cardiff pretend to be London”. The forest was generally scary, the fairytales thing was well placed with the references to Little Red Ridding Hood and Hansel and Gretel and I think that we’re seeing a good kind of deconstruction of myths associated with things or at least a special way Doctor Who has of dealing with the things that we accept as truth or that we have ingrained in our culture. We saw that earlier this season with the nightmares about someone grabbing our foot and the myth of Robin Hood. We have seen these themes a lot in Moffat episodes with enemies like the Silence, the Vashta Nerada, the Angels and moving statues and other things like that.

I really don’t mind these cultural parallels. It allows the show to use the familiar to be scary without there needing to be blood and gore. 

Sorry about the long wait, I will be back sooner with a review of the next episode.

Gamer Culture

October 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

They were discussing how many trophies they had earned in the new Super Smash Bros. game for the 3DS. Four hundred and eight, one said. Another chimed in with the rather robust number of six hundred and nineteen. Not sure how many I have over here…I don’t really remember where to go to find out, but I know it’s probably in the double digits. It’s not like these people have had it longer than me, I got it the first day it came out.

I really haven’t looked at my trophy count in the game and it seems like I go days at a time without playing. Don’t get me wrong, the game is perfect other than being on a very hard to hold and control system. I love it, really.

But I just don’t play games like I used to. I don’t feel like sitting down with the game for hours on end and even when I do it’s because there’s a story there and I have gotten really invested in it. My play through of Bioshock: Infinite kind of brought that out in me as did Last of Us. But these games are different than the kind of thing where you’re just in direct competition or you’re just running around on senseless missions.

I don’t think I’ve self identified as a gamer in years. I play games, sure. But I don’t really hang onto the whole medium the way others that I know do. When we started to see what is largely seen as gamer subculture arise with it’s own clothing, music and food I stayed away from that stuff. I’ve never been that enamored with Mountain Dew and besides mc chris nerdcore kind of wore on me. I just…never wanted to be seen as that person because I didn’t really identify with the other people that I saw in that group. Hell, I’ve never been one to identify with most groups.

And if you’re in the group that’s okay. I feel like at one point I was in there too…it’s just that I don’t fit anymore and what all of this means has changed.

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