Monthly Archives: February 2013

New Spring

I remember, when the announcement was made that Robert Jordan would be expanding his Legends short story into a novella or so, how irritated The People were by this distraction from an already quite expansive and never-ending main story. And it certainly seemed like a fair cop. I remember that I liked it the first time I read it, if nothing much else beyond that, but I have definitely learned something useful about New Spring on this, my second time reading the book. (Which, not to beat a dead horse, would have probably been harder to spot if this were not a consecutive read-through of the entire series.)

First, though, I’ll point out what I remember from the subsequent book, Knife of Dreams. It is that I liked it a surprising amount the first time through, far more than I’d liked any of them the first time in years (excepting only the climax of Winter’s Heart.) Given that factor[1], I can now praise NS highly indeed, because this is the book where Jordan remembered that his series can be focused on exciting events and spread itself out over significant spans of time at the same time as worrying about politics and natural consequences of previous events. And the payoff since has been nothing short of spectacular. ….except for the part with the amyloidosis. That part sucked.

But yeah, every part is good. Tower life, Black Ajah, a desperate quest, the Aes Sedai testing ceremony, Elaida’s tragic fall from humanity into caricature, swordplay… it was the first wholly exciting book in such a long time, and even better, it wasn’t the last. I guess this is evidence not to complain about a writer’s process when you are waiting for a book to come out and the author isn’t writing it?

[1] Which, lucky you, you didn’t have to wait until my ongoing reread of KoD is completed for me to know about it even though I know almost nothing about what will happen in the book, thanks to this website right here.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

A very long time ago, I played a game and thought it was basically fine, compelling even, but not particularly worth following up on the sequels. I cannot tell you a good reason why I would have thought that, beyond the part where I don’t really play all that many games. But considering this was a game I was highly impressed by and able to play through in just a handful of days, you’d think the next one would have gone on the short list. My best guess is I’m used to the rest of the series’ WWII roots meaning I’d be playing the same game over and over with slight variations. Certainly, the thought of a true sequel never crossed my mind.

But then I got the third entry for Christmas in 2011, and when I popped it in to take a look, I quickly realized that, nope, this has some of the same characters and really is a sequel. Which meant I had to get the second entry and for that matter relay the first one and remind myself what was going on even before that. And then, as it does, time slipped away. Which explains why fully a year later, I have only just now played Modern Warfare 2.

On the bright side, it has every last one of the same benefits of its predecessor. Intricate and exciting storytelling, rapid yet challenging gameplay[1], characters to care about who face ethical dilemmas and real consequences, plus the added benefit of characters you have already previously cared about. My only complaint, minor though it be, is that a couple of the scenes really felt like replays of the previous game; and this is easily balanced by the plot following directly from the plot of the previous game, with amplified stakes and a dark ending that leaves me entirely excited for Modern Warfare 3, whenever I get around to playing it.

[1] I finished over the course of a single weekend!

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

It is nice to have an occasional horror film that doesn’t try to pretend to be anything other than what it is. No high-minded art, no unforeseeable twists, no goddamn filming a Texan[1] story in Louisiana. In short, a movie that tells you everything you need to know right in the title and doesn’t skimp on a single drop and/or chunk of the gore.

For example, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. I mean, you know the fairy tale, right? And you know the genre of the movie? (Well, you maybe did not, but I have told you it, so now you do.) So, you now know everything about this movie. Let me prove it, by putting questions in your mouth.

1) “Are Hansel and Gretel a pair of siblings who make their living hunting and killing witches to save the people of medieval Europe from…. witches?” Wow, that kind of got away from you. Try being a little more planned and less off-the-cuff next time. However, to answer your question: yes! Yes they are and yes they do.

2) “Do they kill these witches in disgusting and effective ways that make you think they could never have been able to come up with such tools in real-life witch-infested medieval Europe, and do they crack wise with modern sensibilities in every line of dialogue along the way?” …I appreciate your taking my advice to heart, and also I’m growing impressed by your ability to glean fine points of detail from a movie title. Which is to say, again, yep, they sure do!

3) “No thanks, I’m good, that pretty well answers all of my questions.” I expected as much. So, um… huh. Didn’t really think about how awkwardly this would end the review. Maybe you could come up with more questions even so? Help a brother out here?

4) “Nope.” Well. Damn. This is because of that ‘kind of got away from you’ thing earlier, isn’t it?

5) “Yep.” …yeah. Fair enough.

[1] First person to mention Ed Gein gets chainsawed in the face.