A blog about a book . . about a blog.

What with starting my own blog, and being a big fan of pretty much everything Star Trek, I have recently been checking out Wil Wheaton dot net. Best known in most circles as starring in Stand By Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation , Wil Wheaton is now best known in geeky circles as a blogger and published writer, and also as being a fairly big geek himself. Hence the title of his book ‘Just A Geek‘.

A book which I decided to buy and am really glad I did, as it is one the few books that I have read in one day, and possibly the only one I have read in one go. Based on posts from his blog, the book goes into often very personal detail about many things, most notably his personal battle with what he calls ‘Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake’, his need for acceptance and recognition for his own merits, which he often amusingly talks about in the second person.

Chronicling certain events, Wil shares all aspects of his life including his struggles as an actor, the joys of living with his wife and step children, and his mixed reactions to the large impact of Star Trek and its fans. All of which makes for funny, honest and very compelling reading. Certainly the best book I have read recently, and almost possibly the best book I have read in a very long time.

Harry Potter and the Ranting Blog

Having just come back from the cinema, I am writing this post sandwiched between two things of which I still can’t understand the amount of significance placed upon them.

The film I have just seen is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and tomorrow night, I shall be working at midnight for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release. For some reason, people seem to go mad over Harry Potter, but still haven’t worked out why.

I’ve got nothing against Harry Potter, I’ve enjoyed the films and the one book I have read, but don’t see anything special in them. It’s not as if JK Rowling is the only fantasy author out there, indeed one of my main reasons for liking the films is the recognition of recurring ideas seen through various fantasy literature, but I’d still much rather watch and/or read something by Stephen King or Clive Barker.

So with the imminent approach of the seventh and final book there are a few things that I would like to see happen. Mainly, Harry should die. This is nothing personal, I just think that the whole franchise would be better off were this to happen.

Firstly, it dramatically reduces the likelihood of someone else drawing upon and adding to Rowling’s stories. And by ‘someone else’ read ‘Warner Brother exuctives’, likewise ‘adding to’ with ‘completely ruining’. By killing off Harry, Rowling can hopefully avoid her work being spoilt for herself and her fans everywhere. If you think more Harry Potter adventures can only be a good thing, then you need to read my previous rantings about disasterous sequels.

Secondly, Harry should die because the other stories are just too soppy. Anyone who knows me will most likely know that I’m not exactly the biggest fan of anything that can be considered ‘cute’, and this includes cliched happy endings, especially those that only happen for the simple reason of just because. It’s not that I have the emotional range of a teaspoon, it’s just that there are so many stories that have happy endings just for the sake of it, and often ruin an up til then fairly decent film.

Without giving too much away, a good example of this is The Butterfly Effect. When I first saw the theatrical version, I thought it had a good ending that fit in with the rest of the story, but still seemed a little lacking. And what it was lacking, was for the studio executives to let the directors do what they do best, and not force a happy ending on the film in order to play it safe. Having seen the directors cut, I now consider The Butterfly Effect to be one of my favourite films, simply because the filmmakers made the right choice about how the film should end, unlike the studio executives who only care about getting bums on seats, and for some reason seem to think that people should be smiling when the credits roll.

Order of the Phoenix had a great climax at the end of the film, but the whole lovey dovey resolution just spoilt it for me. And yes I know it’s a childrens story, but that’s not an exuse. In fact that’s even more reason why Harry Potter should die.

Teenagers dont get upset and moody because of hormones, they get upset and moody because they’ve grown up with all these promises of fairy tale happy endings, and then real life taps them on the shoulder and says ‘you know how the hero always triumphs over evil, saves the day and gets the girl? Well actually . . . ‘

I’m not saying life is all doom and gloom, it’s just not all happy endings either. If it was, studio executives wouldn’t shove their ‘creative’ sides where they don’t belong. Like The Butterfly Effect 2.

Blood and Popcorn

WARNING, MAY CONTAIN UNPOPULAR OPINIONS. . .

As a big fan of horror movies, I am regularly aware of those people who worry about us, thinking that we must be sick in the head in some fashion. I am particularly aware of this, as I still live with one of them. Whilst there are those far worse than my mum, when watching Saw II, she still had to ask if I actually found it entertaining. Although to be fair to her, she did wait until at least five minutes into the film before asking.
The scene in question was of a man who, having been kidnapped and sedated, now found himself in a situation in which he must cut out his own eye in order to survive. Anyone who has seen the entirety of the film will be able to confirm that, despite large amounts of on screen blood, it is not merely mindless violence, but can in fact be seen as mindful violence. ‘Jigsaw’, the ‘killer’ of the film places his victims in a situation from which they have every means of escape. Rather than simply killing them, he does what he does as he believes that knowledge of death will help them appreciate the lives they could lead, in a sort of ‘life is wasted on the living’ kind of way.
In a similar way to Se7en, it is not the violence, but the villains rationalisation for their actions that is the scariest part, particularly when they begin to sway you to understanding their point of view. Anyone who walked out half way through and missed the ending however, wouldn’t fully have seen this. (I’m not mentioning names . . . )
Yes, people die in horrible ways, and I have to admit that yes, I found it entertaining, but when criticizing films like these, many people forget two things. Firstly, despite various technological advances the human race has made, we still have a long way to go before becoming advanced ourselves. Evolutionarily speaking, we are still just apes for whom violence and the seven deadly sins make up a large part of who we are. Secondly, there are far worse things than special effects that people consider to be ‘entertaining’.
Working in my local WH Smiths, I have come to notice that the best selling magazines are most probably the ‘Granny Mags’. The cheap weekly magazines in which members of the public have sold their stories and pictures of events that have happened in their own lives. Events like rape, violence, and murder. Basically anything less than a stabbing would just be a footnote in the corner. As one magazine proudly boasts, “Life! Death! Prizes!” The only reason I can assume people buy these are because life, death and prizes are entertaining.
Likewise with books. Our biography section has now been split into two equal halves, the traditional biographies of the rich and famous (the majority of whom should be neither), now have to be crammed into exactly the same shelving space as the ‘tragic life stories’. Put simply, we now sell more books about people who had abused childhoods, than those who have actually done something positive worth reading about.

If that sounds offensive to abused children, its not meant to be and I apologise. I’m merely trying to point out that many of the people who will happily blame fictional movies for so many bad things in the world, are the same ones who are equally as happy to spend money reading about those things they are blaming the movies for.

If you think that watching movies in which people die in horrible circumstances make people like me sick in the head, then that’s your opinion and you are of course entitled to it. It is absolutely wrong, but you are still entitled to it.
Given the choice of fictional pretend violence, or real life parents abusing their own children, I know which one I’d rather spend my money on.