Lstrblg

Grg Lstr's linkdump and thoughts on science, family and things in the ocean that would kill you if given the opportunity.

Category: Grg’s Reference (page 1 of 30)

Quick Reviews: The Crimes of the Crimes of Grindelwald (spoilers)

I think I want to get in the habit of cataloguing my media consumption here. I generally get just a few opportunities to view a pictures on a screen (I was going to say watch television, but that isn’t strictly true any longer)–while working out on my elliptical machine in the basement, on the weekends if I catch a movie with the kids, and falling asleep while my wife watches a show next to me.

It turns out I can fall asleep while holding up a phone or tablet so she can see it.

So, let’s kick this off with something I watched with the kids this weekend: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.  I’ve read all the Harry Potter books to the kids, with the exception of the last one. For some reason, they just didn’t want me to read The Deathly Hallows to them, and I know they’ve read every other Potter book on their own. I haven’t gotten a good reason why, but I suspect the death of Dumbledore hit them pretty hard and that they have heard noises about more death in the last book.

Collectively, the Lstr household thought the first movie was uneven but fun. Bottom line: This movie was uneven and somewhat joyless. That’s despite the fact that I enjoyed each and every actor on the screen, particularly Jude Law.

Notes

  • My daughter uttered the phrase “They are not going to kill that baby, are they?” twice during this film. And the phrase “This movie murders babies” at least once.
  • Pretty much the entire ending of the first movie was undone through unconvincing exposition. Jacob’s memory? Wasn’t wiped. The death of creepy kid? Didn’t happen. Newt’s love interest? Estranged via awkward lack of communication. I wonder if the thunderbird is back in Newt’s box somewhere.
  • Both the Ministry of Magic and Dumbledore want Newt as a their secret agent against Grindelwald because, essentially, he’s so weird and awkward that nobody would suspect he’s anything but the Magical Steve Irwin/Doctor Who mashup that he is. Did nobody else see the first movie where he exposed Grindelwald? No, I guess the first movie didn’t happen and we’re doing this who retcon thing now.
  • Speaking of the big G. How did Grindelwald become a husky-eyed fauxbino? Maybe too much polyjuice. In the Harry Potter movies he was your standard British character actor. Couldn’t JK kept with the No Americans rule?
  • Did this movie somehow take the position that Magic Nazis wanted to prevent WWII?
  • How poorly contrived and overly complicated was the switched/drowned baby story? I love Rowling’s storytelling, but she’s gotten too big for an editor. She’s crossed the Lucas horizon.
  • So, is Dumbledore’s long lost, previously-never mentioned brother now the anti-Potter?

New to Me in 2018: Camera Thief

So, I get to cheat a little with this one. Joe Duffey and his brother Brendan aren’t new to me. I see them all the time all over town. Joe saved my [soccer] life this year as we started up a new U11 travel team. Joe’s music isn’t all that new to me either, as his previous band, Underwater Window Garden, released a fantastic album a few years back entitled The Greatly Divided, which you should buy.

Joe is a great guy, and I’d be a fan of him whether or not he played in band. As it is, his new band Camera Thief crushed it at the local arts fest this year. They’re working on a new album, but its increasingly looking like it won’t happen in 2018. Fortunately, they’re on SoundCloud with a handful of songs now.

This one, Starting Fires, legitimately gives me chills:

I love this video because a) public domain Superman from Fleischer studios,  b) it is a good tune and, c) Joe did the editing himself. See for yourself:

New to Me in 2018: The Beetle

Hey kids, what was the top-selling horror novel of 1897?

No, not that one…the other one: Richard Marsh’s masterpiece, The Beetle

Like this but bigger, is occasionally trying to kill you and is often a person

What? Never heard of it? Don’t worry, outside the UK, which occasionally reinterprets it as a radio play, it really hasn’t lingered in the popular culture.

The Beetle is a complex telling of a simple revenge tale with a whole lot of themes of sex and gender identity running throughout. It will remind you of Dracula, but I think it is a tad easier for modern readers to grasp. Instead of ancient vampires you get an ancient Egyptian pagan cult prone to orgies, human sacrifices, and werebeetlery.  It begins with mind control, nerve gas and a comedy of errors, and ends with a chase that must have made British trainspotters squeal with glee. I enjoyed it, and I suspect you might as well, if you are into this sort of thing.

Structurally, it is told as four entangled tales told in the first person. Marsh does a good job of developing unique voices for each of the characters, although the story threads are interwoven functionally but not necessarily smoothly.  In fact, each narrator is a fun little archetype: the doomed, noble bum; the mad inventor; the rebellious young woman trying to find love, identity and purpose in an honor-driven patriarchy; and a hard-boiled detective. Good stuff, generally well told.

You can find it in a variety of formats on   Project Gutenberg and listen to it on LibriVox. I have a fondness for public domain fiction, particularly that of the horror, scifi and weird variety, so this ranks right up there. One of my goals of 2019 is to start up a podcast on the topic. Of course, that was also a goal of 2018.

 

New to Me in 2018: I Think Like Midnight

I figured I’d post some things that I have enjoyed in 2018. Not all of it is new, but this was new to me.

I Think Like Midnight makes rock instrumental music, and if I had a theme song it would be Miner Pocket Draft Gear.

The band is my kind of supergroup, featuring Andrew Chalfen from The Wishniaks along with the Dead Milkmen’s Joe Genaro and Dean Sabatino. Buy all their stuff and listen to it.

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark

I think part of the reason I still have a blog is for me to put things where I might find them again.

Here’s a poem by Lovecraft, which I’ve swiped from HPLovecraft.com. It is from 1926, I’m assuming it was published in Weird Tales either then or posthumously, which are the choices when it comes to HP, and a reminder that I need to pick up a copy of his collected poetry. I quite like the construction and the rhythm.

Hallowe’en in a Suburb

By H. P. Lovecraft

The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,

 And the trees have a silver glare;

Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,

 And the harpies of upper air,

 That flutter and laugh and stare.

 

For the village dead to the moon outspread

 Never shone in the sunset’s gleam,

But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep

 Where the rivers of madness stream

 Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.

 

A chill wind weaves thro’ the rows of sheaves

 In the meadows that shimmer pale,

And comes to twine where the headstones shine

 And the ghouls of the churchyard wail

 For harvests that fly and fail.

 

Not a breath of the strange grey gods of change

 That tore from the past its own

Can quicken this hour, when a spectral pow’r

 Spreads sleep o’er the cosmic throne

 And looses the vast unknown.

 

So here again stretch the vale and plain

 That moons long-forgotten saw,

And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,

 Sprung out of the tomb’s black maw

 To shake all the world with awe.

 

And all that the morn shall greet forlorn,

 The ugliness and the pest

Of rows where thick rise the stones and brick,

 Shall some day be with the rest,

 And brood with the shades unblest.

 

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark,

 And the leprous spires ascend;

For new and old alike in the fold

 Of horror and death are penn’d,

 For the hounds of Time to rend.

 

Like the best poetry, it needs to be read aloud. Like the best Lovecraft, it needs to be read by Andrew Leman. Fortunately, he did so a few years back.

 

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