Poor Start

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Status: overslept this morning. this after a poor day yesterday which saw me do sweet-fuck-all. Actually, not completely, but I didn’t prioritise the things I wanted to work on and just focused on the admin stuff because it’s easy to the tick the boxes and feel like I’m accomplishing something. I didn’t really feel all that bad yesterday; a bit groggy, but lethargic, which seems to be par for the course.

And here’s the real crux of the issue. I keep on doing the same thing over and over again, and then when I fail to meet expectations I beat myself up over it. I don’t think this is really productive behaviour, so going forward I’m going to shift expectations for Monday during the few weeks I have left as a free man and shift some of the creative work to Saturday, which I’m doing anyway. Let’s see if that works.

Writing.

A quick proofread of the Aquaman review this morning and minor tweaking and off it goes into the world. I haven’t decided if I’ll post it to other review sites.

After that, not much writing happening. I didn’t even create a blog post yesterday. See above. I’ll remedy that starting today and the rest of the week. I have a limited training schedule this week, so ostensibly have a little extra time to devote to this.

Photography.

Had a good weekend for photography. Tried something new on Saturday night; run-and-gun. I just cleared my mind and had fun with shooting anything that looked interesting while letting go of expectations. I also found that using the LCD on the back of the camera made it easier for me to frame and compose my shots; I could actually see what they’d look like before (or while) shooting. Briefly reviewed the shots yesterday and I think I have a few good ones. Will do some more of that.

Dates.

Had two coffee dates this weekend; and with that I’m going to take a break from the dating app for awhile. First date on Saturday was 26 minutes late. How do I know that? She told me. I actually waited for 15mins and then left thinking that I’d been stood up (again). She contacted me 3 hours later (I mean, seriously, three hours? I gave you my cell number, so you could have contacted me sooner, but whatever.) and apologised. I let it sit, not really wanting to hear it, but responded kindly and then the conversation picked up from there. Full marks to her for the way she approached the apology. It’s pretty difficult for someone to change my mind and I rarely give second chances, especially after they’ve been cavalier with my time (which I take as a lack of respect for me), but she did it. Good job to you, young lady, we’ll try again this afternoon. At 6pm, to be exact.

The second date on Sunday was in stark contrast to that one, arriving 30 minutes early! Good for her. Really attractive with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Not really my type as I prefer the darker features, but the conversation was easy and we got along well together. The parental issues are apparent; she spent quite a bit of time complaining about her emotionally unavailable mother with no mention of her father. She’s quick to apologise for things which don’t warrant one and I can feel her pressing for acceptance from me. Given her background that’s not surprising. She’s also a very smart high agency individual who doesn’t seem to take ‘No’ for an answer. Bit of a mystery to me why she would want to work for one of these McFinance houses when she clearly has what it takes to be an entrepreneur and work for herself, but I’m sure she has her reason. We’ll definitely get together again.

 

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Aquaman (2018) – Movie Review

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I’ve been big fan of Aquaman ever since I started reading about his adventures in DC Comics (hah, Adventure Comics) when I was a very young kid. I grew up on an island where the ocean was the centre of my universe, its all I knew, so reading stories about heroes fighting crime in these large concrete jungles in parts of the world I’d never visited was completely alien to me. You’re basically telling me tales of people living on the moon, and I couldn’t relate to that. But, heroes that fought crime in the ocean? That was literally my backyard and something that my young mind could wrap its head around.

The other part of the story that resonated with me was Arthur’s bi-racial and bi-cultural background. He had a foot in both worlds, but was treated like an outsider by each one. That was also a feature of my childhood, growing up as a minority on an island without much of a tie to the culture of the majority.

So, Aquaman was my guy.

The thing that impressed me the most about the film was the ambitiousness of the filmmakers. They didn’t hold back at all when making this movie. Given the underperformance and tepid reception of the DCU films to date (with the exception of Wonder Woman), it’s reasonable to expect that the studio would have scaled back the production budget and made a smaller film to reduce their risk and ensure that it turned a profit. But, they didn’t. They fully committed to the project and it shows; this is a very expensive looking movie.

The other thing that impressed me was how closely the film sticks to the source material. Based upon the rebooted DC Comics New 52 series from the creative team of Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Paul Pelletier, they changed very little from the book. Inculcating Jason’s Hawaiian heritage into the role of Arthur Curry and changing the sequence of events around Atlanna’s time spent on the surface world with Tom Curry (which is cleaner and works better than the comic book) are the only deviations, the rest is exactly like the source material.

In this day and age where they’re trying to generate broad appeal amongst an audience that has a casual relationship with the character and his world, that’s no small feat.

The filmmakers also give us the viewing audience an extensive look at Aquaman’s universe, taking us from his birthplace in Amnesty Bay to Atlantis and then on to all (or most) of the remaining undersea kingdoms all while introducing us to the main characters from those places. This could have easily caused the film to feel overstuffed, but it doesn’t. It really felt like world building, which is something that Marvel has done very well with the MCU, and that allows them to tell stories beyond the typical origin stories going forward. I think this is really important for the ongoing viability of the character because not a lot of people are familiar with him and his universe.

All that said, it is a bit of a silly movie, but in a good way. At no point during the film did I find it hard to suspend my disbelief. It wasn’t trying to be anything other than what it is; a big, bombastic summer blockbuster tentpole movie. You’re not going to find Shakespeare here, but you will find a superhero fantasy film with a little Greek mythology, Lord of The Rings, Indiana Jones, Star Wars and a smattering of horror elements. It blends together seamlessly and creates something unique amongst the superhero genre, not to mention unique amongst the typical origin story we’ve seen many times.

The bottom line is that this movie is fun and engaging, visually stunning with great action sequences supported by a compelling enough story without leaning too heavily on comic book tropes, all while staying very faithful to the source material.

This is for me the best DCU movie to date and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next installment with James Wan at the helm.

 

5 out of 5 stars

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Trusting Old Friends

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Status: very good. at that part of the week where I’ve been getting enough sleep, sticking closely to my normal (eat/sleep/train) schedule and laying off the alcohol. This seems optimal for me. I’m generally in a good mood heading into the weekend. The days are getting longer and the temperature is getting better, which I’m sure is contributing to my overall positive wellbeing.

Aquaman and Writing.

Forced myself to finish the first draft yesterday. I have to admit that the second half of writing the review was like pulling teeth (almost like those dreams where you are trying to walk somewhere, but no matter how hard you try you don’t make any progress). I realise that this is all in my head and I’m the one standing in my own way, so I deferred to Fonda Lee’s advice and lowered my expectations which enabled me to finish the first draft (I was actually going for a zero draft, but ended up exceeding expectations). I’ll circle back to it later today and give it a polish which will hopefully look presentable for posting.

Career.

An old neighbour/friend reached out to me last night to ask if the rumours were true; was I returning to the island. I answered in the affirmative. She then asked me if I was going to work for (unnamed financial services company). I again answered in the affirmative, and then curiosity got the better of me: how did she know this? The island grapevine is legendary for it’s effectiveness in spreading information, and equally legendary in its ability to embellish stories into an almost unrecognisable caricature of itself. Besides, I’d only told a handful of people, mostly family, so wasn’t expecting it to spread far and wide. Turns out that she works for the same company, in the same department and it looks like she’ll be reporting to me.

This is very awkward. Or it will be awkward, I think. I’m not overly concerned that she reached out to me, we know each other well enough for her to do that, but it’s the way she did it. Basically, she buried the lead and then asked questions when she already knew the answers. People typically do that when you’re trying to bait someone. In any case, I’m going to let it go and not dwell on it too much. They’re is nothing I can do about it right now anyway; I’ll just cross that bridge when I get to it.

Date.

I ostensibly have a coffee date tomorrow. I think. She seems nice enough, but comes across as a bit conservative and a little shy. She also has a bit of a long lead time in the it looks like she is taking her time to explore the dating app. Hard to tell at this stage what I’m getting myself into, but I’ll know soon enough.

 

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Aquaman and Zero Draft

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Status: good. wide awake at 3am, but forced myself back to “sleep”. Catnapping is a better descriptor. Dragged myself out of bed when the alarm went off at 5am. Sitting here procrastinating; full of energy and unable to settle down. I should fall back on the meditation skills I’ve been developing in order to help me focus. Which in this instance means writing a journal entry for the blog as a way to organise my thoughts and prioritise my tasks for the day.

Aquaman.

I’m four hundred words into the review and apparently I have a lot to say about this movie. It’s coming together much more quickly than the Captain Marvel review, which is probably par for the course. The Captain Marvel film had a few agendas surrounding it which I didn’t want to have taint my opinion of the film, so tried to be as diplomatic as I could in my critique of it. I think it would have been a little easier if I actually liked the film, which I didn’t. Aquaman is a different animal in that it doesn’t have this baggage, was well received by audiences and I genuinely enjoyed the movie. Maybe that’s the key. In any case, I still don’t enjoy the process of writing these movie reviews, but I’d like to have a complete set of posts on the superhero genre (for what reason, I don’t know) and given I’ve completed 59 of them another 4 won’t kill me.

Writing.

Came across a post on Twitter from a writer named Fonda Lee yesterday where she described her approach to overcoming “writer’s block”. The quotations belong to her. I’m also impressed that Twitter provided something useful as I don’t have a high opinion of the platform. In any case, the thrust of the series of posts was to convey her approach to overcoming “writer’s block”, or better yet, how to overcome the fear of failing and becoming stuck in the process.

This plagues me. I’ve been stuck for about three weeks now and haven’t made any meaningful progress on the stories I’ve been writing (and ultimately want to complete).

Fonda’s approach is to lower her standards, treat whatever she’s working on as a Zero or Negative draft (which is less than a First draft), being okay with writing crap and having faith in the process. This makes sense to me and I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders just reading/knowing how a professional writer overcomes this obstacle. I’ll need to reach out to Fonda at some point and thank her for this timely piece of advice.

Career.

I need to pull the trigger on living accommodations for my first two months back on the island. My tenant’s lease doesn’t expire until the end of June, so I’ll need something to cover me between when I arrive and when they vacate the unit. until then. I’m a bit gobsmacked by the short term rental costs and unwilling to experience the pain of spending that much money on two months rent. It’s the equivalent of almost four months here, which is fkn nuts. But, this par for the course. Everything is like that down there and I’ll just have to get used to it. In any case, I need to get this sorted sooner rather than later or risk losing out on the place that I want.

Photography.

Haven’t posted anything to IG this week as I’ve been working through the photos I took last weekend. I think I’m about one third of the way through the total, and I’m okay with not posting anything (on IG or this blog) until I’m completed. I would like to experiment with increasing my follower count by indiscriminately following other accounts just to see how its affected. I don’t want to overwhelm my feed too much with BS, but I can always undo it if it doesn’t have the desired effect. This is a low priority task, so I’ll leave it for the end of the day.

 

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Justice League (2017) – Movie Review

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I went into Justice League, DC’S most recent grab at Marvel’s success, with trepidation. Other than Wonder Woman, each DCEU film has left me somewhere between “meh” and “ugh”. Even when Joss Whedon (Avengers) came in to help a grieving Snyder finish the movie, their exponentially different styles worried me, and that worry was mostly justified. Yes, Whedon’s wit does bring a welcome shine to the gloomy proceedings and, unlike Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad, keeps this movie from being an all-out slog. Still, it’s an awkward epic that can’t overcome the franchise’s dark doldrums. Just like every other superhero movie ever made, a charisma-less and bland villain with limitless power appears, bent on destroying Earth because of “reasons”. Superman still dead, the world must depend on lesser heroes to save them. Affleck is still a pretty good Batman, Flash is light-hearted fun, Aquaman is kinda cool, Cyborg is dull and dour, and Wonder Woman is still the standout. There are still certainly some interesting moments between the characters, but they’re mostly overshadowed by superhero-ethic clichés, stupid drama, bad CGI, and nonsensical logic (why are these guys such quick allies?) There really is just so much that doesn’t work: specific jokes, bad visuals, interpersonal relationships, muddy action, plot predictability. The main problem, though, is that DC and Warner Bros. think, through their previous films, they’ve given us enough reasons to care about this universe, and they haven’t. The positives here, mainly just seeing these heroes together on-screen, have left me mildly curious about the future of the franchise, but only barely. Otherwise, Justice League is easily the worst superhero movie of the year.

 

2 out of 5 stars

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FanExpo Toronto 2018 – Cosplayers – Part 1

FAN EXPO Canada is the largest Comics, Sci-Fi, Horror, Anime, and Gaming event in Canada and the 3rd largest Pop Culture event in North America.

Celebrating its 24th year, FAN EXPO Canada has grown from a small comic book convention attracting 1,500 fans into a multi-faceted, 4-day citywide event that attracts over 129,000 people from around the world.

Follow Me:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/A_G_Ferguson
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andrew_g_fe…

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/franklag19101967

 

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Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015) – Movie Review

Continuing the DC New 52 shared universe initiated by JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR, we have the long awaited Aquaman origin story in JUSTICE LEAGUE: THRONE OF ATLANTIS. This movie, loosely adapts the second major arc of Geoff John’s critically acclaimed “Justice League” comic run. Like its predecessor, THRONE OF ATLANTIS does some major changes to the story to fit the animation medium. The most drastic change would be Aquaman’s hero’s journey from a lost wanderer finding his true calling in the world.

As the newly christened “Justice League” investigate a mysterious attack against a nuclear submarine, we get glimpse into the life of one Arthur Curry. Grieving the loss of his father, the directionless Arthur has turned to drowning his sorrows and talking to lobsters. Just another drunken bum wandering the harbour. Or is he? As a fight with some thugs show, Arthur is more than human, boasting incredible strength, invulnerability, and able to mentally communicate with ocean life. Destiny, it seems, is not without a sense of convenience.

It seems that Arthur is the heir to the throne of Atlantis, the legendary underwater city, and the death of Atlantis’ king (as shown in Justice League: War) forces Arthur to realise his birthright. While some see him as the solution to peace between two worlds, his half brother Orm desires only vengeance against the surface world. As tensions mount, a coup from within sparks all out war; a war that only the Justice League can stop.

I’ve said it before that DC and WB Animation’s latest line of movies feel like Justice League in the tone of Marvel’s Avengers. THRONE OF ATLANTIS continues that but starts to carve out its own identity. The forced humour is toned down a lot but the show still keeps its upbeat sense of superhero fun. The chemistry among the cast is impeccable thanks to the voice direction of veteran Andrea Romero.

Some of the more questionable voices from the previous movie (Alan Tudyk as Superman, Justin Kirk as Green Lantern) are replaced with better sounding actors. Nathan Fillon is definitely a welcome choice to reprise his Green Lantern role and Jerry “Sliders” O’Connell takes over as Superman. On the antagonist side is Prince Orm, voiced by Sam “Starkiller” Witwer, who may be the most deliciously over-the-top villain in animation since the 90s Street Fighter cartoon’s M Bison played by Richard Newman.

For all the natural sounding dialogue and spot on acting, THRONE OF ATLANTIS feels a bit too bloated with too much plot in too little time. As a result, the central character of Arthur Curry is criminally underdeveloped. His story takes some cues from the live action MAN OF STEEL movie but due to a lack of focus, you never really get into his head or his personality. He goes from a man whose life is in a mess, without direction or resolve, to a natural born leader with strength of character and charisma. Also within a single day.

Take away the opening and closing credits and this movie has just over an hour worth of content; Underdeveloped content, but beautifully drawn and animated content. Both artwork and animation takes a step up from the last instalment. The art is decently detailed even in the tightest action scenes.

Director Ethan Spaulding add some nice stylistic touches to the footage giving underwater scenes a slightly off-focused blurred looked and doing some marvellous work on lighting and shadows. Character designs are less exaggerated than before (Superman shaved off a few pounds) and hew quite closely to Jim Lee’s New 52 look.

THRONE OF ATLANTIS earns its right to be called a movie thanks to the exceedingly smooth animation of Moi Studios in Korea. Every fight is fully choreographed and animated without short cuts. The part with Aquaman and Mera facing off against the savage “Trenchers” before the Justice League arrive is just spectacular to behold.

It isn’t perfect though and some animation errors do creep in. There is a scene in a bar where Arthur orders another drink. He raises his hand and freezes there with his mouth wide open but the dialogue carries on. Then there is the attack on the lighthouse where the Atlantean lasers are clearly not hitting where they are aiming at. And I just have to mention the aftermath of the torpedo attack against Atlantis where the smoke and debris are so badly composited on the background that they look like long floating turds.

But hey, I am nitpicking here. And it would not be fair to penalise the whole show for a few visual oversights. That being said, JUSTICE LEAGUE THRONE OF ATLANTIS may have been a more enjoyable experience had it been more focused on Aquaman and his origin story. His is an intriguing tale to tell but it ends up being rushed through.

At least DC has succeeded in bringing the Aquaman character out of the public opinion rut he has experienced since his days in Superfriends. I want to see more of Arthur Curry, and not relegated to a supporting role in the Justice League. Here’s hoping that the character gets the solo animated movie that fans like me are dying to see.

 

7 out of 10 stars

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