Category Archives: Diatribes
Weather To See Blade Runner 2049 (Pun Intended)
I saw Blade Runner 2049 last weekend and the first thing I want to address is the weather of the world in 2049 (mostly because that’s probably the only thing I can talk about without spoilers).
2049 is only 32 years from now. I hope/imagine that I’ll be around to see it, but I just can’t comprehend — even with climate change — how there can be drenching rain constantly soaking a city while elsewhere in the city (at least I think it was the same place) it’s gently snowing. I mean, obviously, the director wanted certain visual-emotional backdrops for the scenes that took place in each of these disparate ecosystems (driving rain is dark and dismal while soft snow is light and peaceful). But then 100 miles away, you’ve got San Diego where it’s just a gloomy haze, and a little further in the other direction, you’ve got a desolate Las Vegas which apparently hasn’t seen a drop of rain in the thirty years since the events of the first movie took place.
Again, I realize this was done for visual effect, and when you look at the colors, it kind of makes sense in the transition from blue and gray LA to gray and orange SD to pure orange LV. My creative mind is more than willing to ignore climate continuity issues in deference to making a movie that looks as cool as BR2049, but my logical mind kept popping in every time K went to a new location to say ‘How is that possible?’ At the end, I was like ‘Are they actually on Kamino? Is this Obi Wan and Jango Fett fighting right now? Surely Denis Villeneuve is old enough to remember Attack of the Clones?’ (He is) And if the Pacific has risen to the point where it laps at the edge of a wall around LA, then wouldn’t the same thing be happening in the scrap heaps of San Diego?
Okay… enough of that…
In lieu of expounding on what anyone who’s seen the movie knows is the best part (and thereby spoiling it), I’ll point you to this fairly succinct article: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/10/9/16433088/blade-runner-2049-spoilers-review which is basically what I would have written but probably less coherently and in twice as many words.
Now, I liked Blade Runner 2049, mostly for the reason explained in the article above, but also for the visual direction and the slower, more introspective storytelling. However, I can see why it hasn’t done as well as expected at the box office because audiences these days are conditioned for action followed by action followed by more action. Which brings me to the second thing (and I think the only thing besides the weather) that bothered me about the movie: Joi.
Blade Runner 2049 is 2 hours and 43 minutes (not counting the twenty minutes of previews at the beginning). A lot of that time (it seemed to me, at least) was spent building up the relationship between K and Joi. I thought this was kind of interesting and I didn’t really mind seeing more of Ana de Armas on screen, but when I think back, I can’t recall a single plot point in the movie impacted by Joi’s existence. This subplot took up a lot of room in a long movie yet seems like it could have been completely eliminated, or at least replaced with a much shorter exposition of K’s character, without affecting the rest of the movie at all. It almost makes me wonder if there was a version of the script that didn’t have this and Hollywood said, ‘No, if you’re going to make this, you need to have some sort of sexy love interest that we can promote in the trailers.’ Or maybe there’s a version where Joi does something with more of a direct impact but it got cut because the movie was already too long and no one realized taking that part out made her completely irrelevant?
I tried to mentally review the movie and see if she was somehow responsible for K’s motivation, or helped him grow as part of his character arc, and I can kind of see how you could be fooled into thinking so if you were making this movie, or maybe if you were just really attached to the idea of Joi and wanted her in the movie. (Like any good scifi geek probably would be) But really, K is motivated by the fact that he’s a replicant police officer in the beginning and then his motivation shifts to something else external (avoiding spoilers) which isn’t related to Joi. She’s just kind of there as arm candy and as a marginal effort at humanizing K (which, again, I think could have been done in less time just as effectively).
Sorry – I don’t want anyone to think I’m not recommending the movie, because I do think it was good. I mean, if you like scifi, it’s a must see just because. But if you don’t, it can still appeal to people who like their movies a bit more literary than the usual summer blockbusters (while still on a blockbuster budget).
Was it better than Denis Villeneuve’s other recent hit Arrival? No way. That movie was great. Blade Runner was just good. And again, it sounds like tepid praise. And sure, if you search for ‘thought-provoking science fiction movies’ on your favorite search engine, all of those will probably be better than BR2049… but the list of movies that are worse is a lot longer than the list of those that are better.
Stop Using Your Authors As Leverage
In which Amazon asks its KDP authors to use themselves as leverage to tell Hachette to stop using its authors as leverage. (The content of that page was also emailed to all of Amazon’s self-published authors this morning)
I mean, I know there’s a lot of confusion and argument over how to use the word “irony” properly (I’m pretty sure I don’t know), but if literally can mean figuratively, then I’m pretty sure this is the precisest example of irony that I’ve ever seen.
Chuck Wendig theorizes that maybe one of the microservices over at Amazon has gained sentience and posted this of its own volition (among other things – his post is well worth reading, though NSFW). I think it’s also just as likely that this was an April Fool’s prank posted on the wrong date (and emailed to all KDP authors just to really get the LOLZ).
Seriously. Come on, Amazon. You are literally asking people to email the CEO of a huge multi-national corporation and then copy you on it so you can then report on the number of people who decide to support you. I haven’t seen that kind of strategy since middle school (though I think it happens in high school and even higher education, but I made a point to purposely distance myself from people who pulled that kind of BS). I guess with adults it’s a little bit more like…
and some of this…
Don’t get me wrong. I love Amazon. I buy books there because the Kindle Paperwhite is really nice and it also syncs with my iPad and iPhone (better than any other booksellers apps). I buy all kinds of other things there too, because SHIPPING. I’ve ordered something on a Saturday night and had it delivered on Sunday. Delivered on SUNDAY.
But Amazon has already won the eBook pricing collusion case. What they’re talking about now is straight up legitimate capitalism. If Hachette wants to charge a certain price for their eBooks, then you either charge that price or you don’t sell that product. And if their eBooks are so over-priced, then aren’t they just going to go out of business because of that unsustainable practice? And once Hachette publishing has been swallowed up by the black hole of its own hubris, won’t the authors who provide the content of their books simply take their new content to a different publisher? Maybe even to Amazon? So… it just doesn’t make sense to me when I look at it from Amazon’s Economic Powerhouse perspective.
(And don’t try to tell me it’s because Amazon cares about authors making more money – that’s the most transparent attempt at favor currying that I’ve ever seen. If there are authors out there who buy in to that, I’ve got this awesome book-based start-up that I’m taking investments in. It’s gonna be HUGE!)
It also doesn’t make sense if I look at it from the perspective of a self-published author. If I have decided not to publish with Hachette or any of the other Big Guys (almost said Big Five Guys, but that would be a tremendous insult to Five Guys… so good…), then why would I want Hachette to be more competitive? Why would I say “Hey Hachette, because of your decision to sell eBooks for $14.99, you’ve opened up an entire market for self-published authors to sell their books at, well, anything less than that. Can you stop selling your books so expensive now so that people will want to buy more of your stuff and less of my stuff? Thanks.” Why? Why would I do that?
I had an analogy in here, but it was kind of weak, so let’s just leave it at that. I have a competitive advantage. Why do I want someone who keeps shooting their self in the foot to stop and instead aim their gun at my head?
I’m seriously tempted to write to Hachette and ask them to please continue selling their eBooks at high prices so that I will continue to have the opportunity to self-publish and sell my books to people who are looking for something that doesn’t seem so outrageously priced. I wonder what firstname.lastname@example.org would think of that…
Meanwhile, now all I can think of is Five Guys and curry. Wouldn’t that be delicious?
In Which The Physical World Manifests Itself As Annoyance
or: Where I Come Up With A Really Pretentious Sounding Title That Actually Somewhat Contradicts The Content Of The Post
So there’s a book I wanted to read. I’m not sure why, because it’s not that great a book. I think I wanted to study the magic system a bit, but now that I’m reading it, the whole magic system is just kind of… magic… The rest of the book contains many things I feel like I can learn from though, so probably still worth it… except that…
I am a cheap ass bastard and didn’t want to shell out $5.99 for (the Kindle version of) a book that I wasn’t really sure I was going to like in the first place (turns out to be a great decision in this case). But the problem with being a cheap ass bastard is that I get books from the library. Now, the library, for it’s part, has done a wonderful, remarkable job of making books available in electronic forms (both eBooks and audio downloads). This particular book, however, was not available in any electronic forms. Just paper.
In order to read this book while waiting for something or someone, I have to carry it around with me. I can’t just take out my phone and load up my Kindle (or other eReading) app and have it sync my location with my iPad and my actual Kindle (soon to be a Kindle Paperwhite). I can’t read it in bed at night (or in the morning since it’s still dark when I wake up in the winter). Soon I’ll have three different ways to read eBooks without any lights.
Plus, it’s just one book. The whole “read anywhere” thing is probably the most common reason that people say they love eBooks. But when you’re like me and pretty much constantly reading: 1) fiction book, 2) tech/programming book, and 3) non-fiction book, only having a single book in a form that takes up as much (or more) space and weight than a reading device that has all three options (and more) feels very encumbered.
It’s only 274 pages, so that’s a relief… But I’m not gonna lie, after this, I’m tempted to download the eBook version of any paperback books I own just to be able to read them more quickly and easily and pleasurably*. I know that’s technically illegal and I haven’t actually done it yet, so don’t come after me right now… but in those cases, I have already bought (or was given) a hard copy, so the author (and publisher) is getting their money. I’m sure if you asked the authors, they’d be happy to let me read whichever version was best for me (in fact, I’ve seen and heard a couple others say basically that when asked what the best way to buy their book is. “Buy whatever version is best for you. Then buy whatever version is best for your friends. *wink*wink* *laugh*”)
Finally, the promised contradictory message contained in the title of the post: Obviously, since I’m still using a device that exists in the physical world, then there isn’t really a way to get away from reading books in the physical world, even if the content is contained on sheets of transistors instead of sheets of paper. So really, the physical world is manifesting itself no matter how I choose to read. It’s just the paper part that’s the annoyance.
* Did anyone else immediately think of a 50 Shades joke there?
Apple Revamping Notifications: Best News I’ve Heard All Day
Knock knock. Who’s there? An interrupting notification. An interrupting notif… TWEET!
Apparently Apple is going to buy a company to redo their notifications for them. I’m not sure why they don’t just have the devs who did the original system fix it, but then again, I don’t really care. As long as they care of the ugly interrupting boxes it’s all good.
Give me the drawer!