by Alice Morgan

Cornelius is here to warn you that this article contains some spoilers.

Walking the Bones

Every now and then I like to pick up a random book. A choice that is not based on recommendations or reviews, but on a whim. I check who wrote it, of course, but I will probably not recognize the writer. I note the title, the genre and the cover, because yes, I absolutely judge a book by its cover. Wanting to read a detective mystery, a thriller, or something along those lines, I browsed through my Hoopla selection and borrowed Walking the Bones by Randall Silvis.

Oops

What I neglected to notice at the beginning was that I picked up the second book of a series. This eventually dawned on me as I kept reading, but I didn’t care enough to stop. Starting with the second book didn’t take anything away from the experience because the story mentions events that happened in the first book, and reading further filled in the blanks. But damn, this was a difficult book to get through.

From a large pool of water, a hand is desperately reaching for the shore.

Ian Espinosa

Here is a riddle

Can you call a story a thriller/detective mystery, if 70% of the book is none of those things? There are detectives in it, but I don’t think that alone is a qualifying factor, which leads me to my biggest complaint about this book: It is in the wrong genre. I can’t describe how angry I was when I discovered that I was mislead. (Actually, I’m still pretty angry.) Because here is the thing. If the book was listed as a character study—which is what it is—I would not have touched it, because that’s not what I wanted to read. 

The story begins with an action scene from the future and when the scene ends, the story loops back to the present. I really dislike this plot device for a number of reasons, so let’s examine that for a bit.
The first chapter is the most difficult to write in any book. You, as the writer need to introduce characters, create a setting, set up the atmosphere and do all this without overwhelming the reader, because you want them to keep reading. Long, drawn out descriptions are a huge turn off for a lot of people, so how can you accomplish all that and make the story interesting at the same time?  Of course! Throw in an action scene from towards the end of the book! The readers get a glimpse of what is to come and they will want to know the resolution. How did our protagonist got himself into this situation? Is he going to escape/survive? Who is the antagonist?

This might keep the readers going for a while, but it also creates pacing issues right from the beginning. If you put your character in life threatening danger on page 1 everything between that and page 450 is going to feel like they are filling out their tax return. What’s worse, when the readers finally catch up with the action, it is going to feel like a huge let down, because you can’t possibly make up for all that anticipation. The writer is, A: hopes that you are invested enough in the story to push through the second half of the book or, B: the book is 80% done and you are not going to stop reading by that point.

I’m sure there are books out there that manage to pull this off, in which case I would love to read them and feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email about your suggestions. It’s just that I haven’t read any, so it’s usually a major red flag for me.

Fluffy dandellion seeds burning.

Henry Be

Anyway, the story is about the personal struggle of the main character who is grieving for a number of reasons, suffers from some level of depression and can’t seem to figure out how to move forward with his life. The focus of the story is basically this, and his relationship with his lover. The crime/detective factor is only secondary. It would probably make no difference if the main characters were dentists or librarians. If you are still reading I applaud you. This is already way longer than I intended it to be.

Where things turn 18+

What else? Oh yeah, sex and masturbation. Two things I didn’t think I would be reading about in a book tagged as Crime, Detective & Mystery, Police Procedural. Don’t get me wrong, both of those things are fine in their respective genre, but I think when people decide to read detective stories they are there for the investigation and not for soft porn. There is a scene where the female lead—who is in high-school at the time—has sex with her dead friend’s father. Did we really need that in this story? I’m not even going to comment on the implied or not so implied incest.

Walking the Bones consists of 464 pages and 152 chapters. To put that in perspective: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is the longest, most difficult book I have read. It is a 1049 pages with 30 chapters. That should give you an idea about how broken the structure of the book is. Often, when a scene ends, the author decided to start a new chapter. It usually makes no sense, because based on the content, there is no reason for the chapter to end. This stylized spacing is completely arbitrary and it takes away from the reading experience. I think it’s one of the reasons why some people can’t read past chapter 14. Instead of being immersed in the story, the book constantly reminds you that you are reading a book, and how much you still have left to read.

too many things…

Other things that I’m just going to list quickly: Both leads are unlikable and they don’t work as a couple. Their attempted humor doesn’t work most of the time and it falls flat. There is not a single likable character in the book. The group of characters called the “Irregulars” have no reason to exist. (Three amateur investigators that accomplish nothing.) One of them would have been enough to give the lead a phone call and it would have saved everybody a 100 pages. The book  asks you to take leaps of logic that are longer than the trippiest fantasy novel you have ever read. There is a lot of backstory in the book and all of it relates to nothing. It has no baring on the present. For example, we learn that the protagonist’s mother committed suicide. So you would think that he would be more shaken, or be able to empathize more with people who went through a similar tragedy. At the end of the book, he gets a phone call that his wife is in the hospital because she tried to kill  herself. He says to his lover: “I’m the only person who understands what she’s going through. I need to go there. [..]”

A paragraph later, I’m talking about 6 sentences here with 2 dialogue points included.

Lover: “You better come back.”

Lead: “I promise. With a divorce agreement in hand.”

Are we not supposed to like these characters? What is wrong with these people? I would expect more empathy from a rock. I guess the two leads deserve each other after all; they are both horrible people.

So, we learned all that backstory for nothing. At the end it didn’t make a difference that his mother killed herself. It was all just a sob story; content to add to his tragic past.

Do judge a book by its cover

When the first ever book was printed graphic design didn’t exist yet. Back then it made sense to not judge a book by its cover, because they slapped a title on it and called it a day. Today, however, it’s someone’s job to make book covers. There are designers who specialize in that branch of design. It is their job to make the book marketable, to make it stand out. When you look at a cover you are supposed to be able to tell what it is about, or get a feeling of its contents without reading the title.

Book Cover: Stephen King, IT Book Cover: Sara Crowe, Bone Jack Book Cover: J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

With that in mind, here is the cover of Walking the Bones:

Book Cover: Randall Silvis, Walking the Bones

The small part of the book that does focus on the crime has very little to do with buried bodies. It’s relevant maybe for the total length of 3 sentences. The shovel is a generic device to imply corpses and murder, but it doesn’t fit the story. So even the cover is misleading.

“…deeply satisfying….this solid procedural offers heart-pounding moments of suspense. Silvis smoothly blends moments of exquisite beauty into a sea of darker emotion to create a moving story…”—Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review

Yeah. Clearly, they have read it.
Even the description is a lie.
“Walking the Bones is a story about things buried—memories, regrets, secrets, and bodies.”

Am I the only one who actually read this book? The biggest mystery here is that why the letter “B” on the cover is highlighted with orange for no apparent reason.

In conclusion, you should question anybody who rated the book more than 2 stars. I could go into more detail about all the things that are wrong with it, but what’s the point? I think you get the idea. If what I listed above is not a turn off for you, then you might actually enjoy this one.

best, Alice
alice@cozyloft.us

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Other featured   The True Meaning of “Gloomy Sunday”

 

Nécropole Nationale de Sigolsheim, Kaysersberg, France

Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE

Ask a Mortician – not your typical YouTube channel

the second diamond

Ask a Mortician is not your typical YouTube channel. I’m not actually sure what a typical YouTube channel is, but I know that this channel is the opposite of that. The host is Caitlin Doughty, mortician/funeral director and best selling author. As such, you would think her channel would be more widely known, but you would be wrong. This made me sad, so I decided to write about it.

The philosophy of Ask a Mortician could be summarized with this one sentence:

“I believe that the culture of silence around death should be broken through discussion, gatherings, art, innovation,
and scholarship.”

The Order of the Good Death

In a classic Ask a Mortician episode Caitlin takes questions from the comment section and—using her expertise as a funeral director—answers them. “What does it take to become a mortician? How do you dress a corpse? Do I really get my mother’s ashes in the urn, or is it just cement dust?” Do you have questions about cryogenics, mummies, or anything death related? You have come to the right place! This small corner of the internet is dedicated to discussion about death. 
A large number of Caitlin’s videos comment on the current state of the western funeral industry, our burial traditions and why innovation is necessary to combat our unsustainable practices. How long can we continue to waste resources trying to stop the inevitable decay of our dead bodies? What other alternatives are there?

Death and taxes

Most people are not ready to face death. Most people don’t even want to talk about it. It is a horrible thing to lose someone, and being unprepared for it makes it so much worse. If you had to call a funeral home right now, what would say? Do you know the right questions to ask? Are there any red flags you should pay attention to? Remember, you would be at the most vulnerable time of your life, relying on the help of a complete stranger, who could be the sweetest most honest person you have ever met, or he could be someone who would try to take advantage of your grief. If the questions above made you feel unprepared, consider watching this video, it will make you feel better. 

The second-half of Caitlin’s videos focus on culture and history. There are segments such as “Iconic Corpse”, which takes a look at dead bodies that became famous due to their extraordinarily well preserved state, or some sort of horrible mismanagement. “Morbid Minute” is… well… morbid. but these episodes are usually around 3 minutes long and focus on a single, strange tidbit in history, such as the consumption of lovely, green, arsenic candy, or the act of chilling inside a decomposing whale. You know, normal things. On that note, I would argue that all of her videos are morbid minutes, with such classic titles as:

Skulls, Willows, Cherubs & Other Gravestone Emojis!
The Trial of the Corpse Pope!
A Short History of Human Skulls and Drinking Cups!

You know. Normal things :’D <3

How did all this information change me?

I haven’t realized there were so many things about this subject I never knew before. I never wanted to be embalmed, even before I saw an actual embalmed body I thought it was strange. Now, I’m 100% sure that I don’t want to be embalmed, and I feel like most people wouldn’t if they would know what does it actually entail. The world “embalm”, is a nice word. It implies something nice and desirable, like putting lotion on your skin. It doesn’t invoke the image of a big ass needle stabbing you in the abdomen.
For the longest time I wanted to be cremated. It seemed cheaper, but most importantly it skipped the “maggots feasting on my eyes” phase of decomposition, which made me uneasy. I’ve never considered how much energy is wasted by cremating a single person, nor did I know that the end result is infertile dust that can’t nourish anything; a blow to everybody who thought they would become part of a tree after their ashes are scattered. Listening to Caitlin describe her own death plan with confidence made made me more comfortable with my own mortality.

“Looking mortality straight in the eye is no easy feat. To avoid the exercise, we choose to stay blindfolded, in the dark as to the realities of death and dying. But ignorance is not bliss, only a deeper kind of terror.” 

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, by Caitlin Doughty

Books? Books!

Caitlin Doughty has written two books so far.  Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory  is a memoir that describes her first job as a crematory operator with the help of gallows humor and corpses.  From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death  explores death rituals around the world, comparing our lack of interaction with the dead against the rich traditions of other cultures. The book introduces the reader to alternative forms of burial, some of which are not currently legal in the US, but one day could become the norm.
When I recommend people to see a movie or read a book, I’m usually specific. I never say “Yes, I recommend this to everybody.” There are not many things you could recommend to everybody, since people have a wide range of tastes and interests, however this is one of the rare cases when I can honestly say, I do recommend these books to everybody, because no matter how different we are, we will all experience death at some point in our lives. I will die. You will die. Everybody will die at some point. 

Greatest book trailer ever?

          

Death positive?

Death positive is a movement and a way of thinking. It promotes the ideas you have been reading about so far. If you would like to know more here is a better description of what it really means, 

…and because this is equally important, here is a description of what it is NOT.

If you decide that you want to do more, you can find a list of resources here.

If you are like “meh, I’m not really into all that reading”, there is this 30 minute documentary for you to enjoy.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, but more than that, I hope you learned something new. 

Seriously though, check out her videos, that channel needs more love.

 

best, Alice
alice@cozyloft.us

Previous  Rare Earth – A Follow up to the YouTube Nightmare

Other featured   The True Meaning of “Gloomy Sunday”

 

 

 

Caitlin Doughty

Mortician, Author

 

 

 

 

prologue

YouTube had it rough in the past couple of months. There was the now somewhat forgotten revelation from Emma Blackery who spoke out against the unfair treatment of featured creators during the filming of 2017 and previous YouTube Rewinds.

“The shoots made me unimportant and the treatment afterwards made me feel even worse.”

Logan Paul didn’t make things any better with his recent trip to Japan and came across widespread scrutiny. His actions and the fallout afterward proved once again that there can be a thousand people who make content that makes a difference in this world, but it takes only one person to cast a shadow on all of them. Feeding the flames of hatred, spite and contempt directed towards young people, feeding into these stereotypes is the true damage of Logan Paul’s action’s.

The Value of Content

As a result of all this, I started thinking about content and what I’m really looking for when watching a video. What is good content? Of course, this is relative, but to me it’s usually something thought provoking, or an idea expressed in a way that requires time and effort. I’m not fond of daily vlogs, or the non-stop grind to push out a video every single day. The physical and mental cost of this is well documented, unfortunately the YouTube algorithm champions this behavior and channels that follow this impossible schedule get the most promotion. Hard work should be cherished but so is ones well-being.

I found it difficult to accept that good content seems to have little to no value. There are creators out there who deserve more attention, who make memorable content but they don’t get the recognition they deserve. I decided to look for under appreciated channels. This is the first entry of Diamonds in the Rough.

Annie Spratt

The first diamond

Rare Earth is a documentary series executive produced by Col. Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut, bestselling author and proud owner of a glorious mustache. He flew over 70 experimental aircraft, installed Canadarm2 — a robotic system tasked with the assembly and maintenance of the International Space Station (ISS)— and became the first Canadian commander of the ISS. The Rare Earth channel has a number of videos showcasing his personality and proud Canadian spirit, however the Rare Earth video series does not feature him as a host. That honor goes to his son Evan Hadfield.

“Everywhere on Earth is unique and interesting, if you look at it through a perspective that shows what that place offers […]”

Rare Earth looks to find the stories that aren’t being told, but deserve to be seen.

Where They Buried the Soul of Japan is the first episode in a series of videos that explore the Japanese culture. The video begins with the story of the 47 Ronin, a group of outcast samurai who wanted to honor their lord even after he died. Through  their actions and self-sacrifice we get a deeper understanding of the underlying principles of Japanese identity. This video lays the foundation for our journey that will consist of a good mix of distant and recent history, featuring some strange locations. Strange to me anyway; the town of Cambodian edible spiders, the shrine of self-mummified monks and that Laotian meat market are definitely out of my comfort zone. They are either places I would never think about visiting  (spiders) or they are so far away that I will probably never have the chance to see them in person.

“Hey, look at that! That’s amazing! Everybody should see that, start thinking about it, try and notice the world around us.”

I haven’t seen all the episodes yet, but my favorite right now is The People Who Hate Us.  In this video, Evan talks about the relationship between the viewer, the content creator and the middle man, who is often left out. I appreciate the perspective and how self-aware it is. It asks the question “What is Rare Earth?”. If you haven’t started the series yet, I would recommend you to watch this episode first, and then going back to the original first episode, because the insight provided will be useful later on.

I’m looking forward to finishing this series and eagerly waiting the new episodes. Do you like what these guys are doing? Head over to Rare Earth and show them your support!
Which episode resonated with you the most? Do you know any other series/channels that more people need to see? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email!

love,
Alice
alice@cozyloft.us

Evan Hadfield

host

Francesco

Photo & video

Chris Hadfield

Executive producer

 

Screencap from Myths & Monsters, Netflix

“The tales have been told since man first gathered around the fires of prehistory.”

It was cold as shit outside as the US was going through a second ice-age. I shook my boots, brushed my coat and hair in a futile attempt to rid it from all the ice crystals, before they turned me into a cold, damp mess. As I put my gloves, hat, scarf and everything else on the radiator, I decided it was the perfect day to watch Netflix.
Myths & Monsters was the first item on my list of recommendations. Having to battle the elements outside made me adventurous and I decided to give it a try. After watching the first five seconds I already knew I was going to love this show. That is extremely rare, but what can I say? It really hit home.

The show

Myths & Monsters is a documentary series that explores the history of legends, what they were influenced by and how they turned out the way we know them today. The main subject is European mythology with a focus on Greek and Roman cultures. Each episode starts with a story, presented by the narrator and brought to life by talented artists who made wonderful paintings and animations for it. The music elevates the fantasy to a whole new dimension, wrapping it together with a nice little bow. Each story is unique in its purpose; not all of them are cautionary tales. They teach us about certain ideas, values, the structures of society and the restoration of social order. They challenge the listener with very serious social and ethical problems that allow us to peer into the minds of people that lived thousands of years ago.

What else?

In my humble opinion, it’s worth watching even if all you do is listen to the music and look at the artwork. The entire series is like a Pandora Journey video, but with an actual story being told.

The Power of Epic Music – Full Mix Vol. 3, Pandora Journey

It’s worth a watch even if all you do is look at the artwork and listen to the music. It’s informative and you can definitely learn something from it, although your experience may vary based on where you grew up. If you are from Europe or you are more versed in European mythology, you might find it frustrating that after a while they focus too much on Greek and Roman mythology. Having learned about some of these myths when I was younger, I found that they weren’t that interesting to me, because I already knew what was going to happen in them. For me, this marked the weakest point in the series. I would have loved to see a wider selection of cultures. On the other hand, I understand that most of the legends were necessary examples because of their importance regarding the history of story telling, especially if shown to people who might have zero exposure to any of these cultures.

Personal favorites?

I really liked the first two episodes, especially the second one, The Wild Unknown. It focused on the conflict between nature and men and it really gave me a sense of understanding about how terrifying, raw, untamed nature appeared to our ancestors. My least favorite episode is the last one, because I felt that it was lacking in some way. It wasn’t bad by any means but it was a bit anticlimactic. The main story that was read by the narrator wasn’t strong enough to carry the entire episode. It was kind of boring, even though there was plenty of action in there. I think there was just so much material regarding the subject that they couldn’t focus on it properly. Either that, or I was just really tired.

[…] every corner of the Earth has its legends to tell.

I hope you give it a watch and let me know what you think! I really hope there will be a second season; I can’t wait to watch it!

love, Alice

Special thanks for Miandelam for her continued support and sense of humor.

 

 

 

It’s finally over

The best thing about 2017 is probably the fact that it’s finally over. What a horrifying fucking nightmare it has been 😀 We truly had something to celebrate this New Year’s Eve. If you ever needed a reason to get wasted…
I move forward to 2018 hoping that things will change for the better. I try to focus on things that I look forward to, such as:

Westworld will return to HBO with a second season. I’m also excited for the Black Panther movie, another addition to the marvel universe, and most shocking of all —drum roll please— … Stargate Origins.  I used to be a Stargate fan. I loved the movie and enjoyed the series a lot; I stuck with it until the very end. I must have seen every episode 2x at least. I was sad when it was canceled and I was hoping someone would pick it up and continue to work on it, even in the form of a reboot. There were whispers, but they resulted in nothing but disappointment, so when I found a random article about a prequel I was surprised. Here, take a look:

I couldn’t believe there was a teaser for it already. It is said to be released on February 15th, and I’m excited to see it. This series will probably determine if there is any hope for this show to live on in the future. Traveling to other planets through gates was always such a cool concept to me; I would be really sad to see it swallowed by the pits of mediocrity. Oh, and the second installment of Fantastic Beasts is coming out at the end of the year too. Yay!

New Year’s Resolution

I made a solemn oath that I will post more frequently. HAHA, nope. I did start a challenge with my boyfriend to finish reading at least 12 books this year. Yeah, it’s pitiful but you have to start somewhere. Mind you, I used to read 3 to 5 books a week. Then I made the horrible mistake of enrolling in college. I don’t think I really enjoyed reading since then. The challenge is really a quest to turn the smoldering flames of passion into lasting candle light. I haven’t picked my first book yet, but I will keep you updated.

Anyway, I wish you the best and a year filled with less bullshit.

love, Alice

 

 

 

 by: Alice morgan

 

My super power

I see things other people don’t…
and sometimes,
I capture the moment.

Enjoy!

 

The Unicorn Trophy

Are you looking for new ways to brighten up your child’s bedroom? Flowers, pictures and balloons just won’t do it anymore? Well, how about adding the severed head of a unicorn? It’s a guaranteed child pleaser!
Comes especially handy when you can’t afford a pony.

 

I have been pumping that weight since before you were born

Does this qualify as fake advertisement? 😀
There is not much else I can add here. I wonder how long  it would take to get that ripped with a weight like that.
(find product here)

 

The Double Sinner

The first sin is more conceptual. There is nothing wrong with the doll itself, my issue is with how little thought was put into it. According to packaging, the doll’s name is Apple White and she is Snow White’s daughter.
Riddle me this: How likely it is that Snow White would name her daughter after the very thing that almost killed her? That’s the equivalent of naming your daughter Cyanide. Also, what kind of moron would name their child “Apple”?

from nameberry

Oh. Well, anyway…

Snow White was named SNOW WHITE because her skin was white as snow. APPLES ARE RED.
Well, the one that almost killed her was red. They are certainly not white.

There is also a typo on the back of the package, making “Apple White” into “Apple Whited”. It’s not an improvement.

This could happen

While most marketing materials regarding fire safety are satisfied with urging you to be cautious about throwing away burning cigarettes, this calendar goes the extra mile. Hell, maybe this happened after someone threw away a burning cigarette. Or perhaps the picture depicts a new super hero who just discovered his power. He is swatting at the camera to keep the eyewitness from filming. He has to safeguard his secret identity after all.

Conclusion: please be careful, never, ever to get incinerated, wherever you go.

 

What kind of bread is it?

If you are looking at this and have no idea what is wrong with it, don’t worry! Think about the fact that major brands with a group of designers didn’t get it right either. I’m saying “brands” because this is a common mistake. It’s true! Keep an eye on it in the future, it will be worth it. Let me give you a hint!

Get it now? No? It’s actually part of a game that I call “What does the Italian flag look like?”

Now, to their credit, they got the colors right. So there is that. Unfortunately, when it comes to flags, you can’t just flip them around in whatever direction you want, in this case, upside-down. The first color should be green. If the first color is red, well, that’s actually the Hungarian flag. Now, the bread on the second picture has the green on the left side. That’s ok, because traditionally, the flag is a vertical tricolor. That’s how it should look. Problem arises when it’s depicted in a horizontal position, often mixing the red and green. I wrote a short poem in order to help people remember.

The Italian flag:
If the first color is red,
You fucked up.

Solution:
I propose that they change “Italian” to “Hungarian”, for the sole purpose of it being hilarious. Thank you!

My personal favorite

Ah, the legendary twenty-cent quarter. I wonder how many of these were printed before someone realized it was wrong. I thought that maybe it wasn’t meant to represent actual currency, making it a more symbolic representation of money… except that they got the scale right. The dime is smaller than the nickle, just like logic dictates.

 

This concludes my short list of errors in the fabric of the Matrix. If I find new ones, you will be the first to know!

May your bacons remain crispy!
Alice

alice@cozyloft.us

 

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by: Alice Morgan

Trigger warning

This is Cornelius (Corny), the Little Yellow Ninja. He is here to warn you about mature content. You have been warned.

The plot

The movie begins with a sickly-sweet, cutesy presentation about how this mega meat corporation (Mirando) found a special pig in a middle of nowhere ranch. They managed to reproduce 26 of these pigs by “non forced, natural mating.” (Haha) They expect these super pigs to revolutionize meat production, because they consume less food, produce less waste and expect to taste better than the average beef or pork. Now, that’s already a mountain of stupid right there, but don’t worry, it gets worse.

The company decides to hold a contest. They send 26 piglets to 26 countries and give them to farmers who will raise them with traditional farming techniques unique to their region. The best and most beautiful pig will win… in 10 years. 

Now, that marks the first five minutes of the movie. I would expect the viewer to have many questions by this point — I certainly did. One important thing we learn is that everybody inhabiting this universe is a moron, because people actually believed this blatant lie.

If Mirando wants to stick to their story about naturally breeding pigs, how do they expect to feed billions of people? Remember, at this point there are only 26 pigs, and they will be raised separately in different countries… for a decade… You would think that when they eventually turn up with 26 million pigs, someone would be like, “So, how did this happen?”
Anyway, we fast forward 10 years and we meet Okja who is a super pig entrusted to a Korean farmer. The farmer’s granddaughter — Mija — forms a bond with Okja and… sigh, you know where this is going. This movie does not contain epic plot twists. We spend an agonizing ten minutes of Mija playing with the pig, just so the movie can establish that they have a special bond. This ten minute includes a scene where Mija tries to pull the 10 ton pig across a narrow mountain path. Unfortunately, neither of them die and the movie continues.

The supporting cast

The day finally comes; Okja is taken away and we meet some of the most irritating characters in the story.

Mundo Park. Must be a common Korean name… He fills the role of businessman and comic relief.

Jennifer. She is really annoying. That pretty much sums up her entire character. Also comic relief.

Grandfather. Not a comic relief, just sad. There is a painful scene where he gets into an argument with Mija. It’s by far the worst scene in the entire movie. I’m not sure what direction the actor got, but he is so over the top and awkward that it was hard to take him seriously.

Jay. ALF leader, animal lover. He was supposed to be the rational, calm and intelligent character in the story. Head of the operation: the one who got the smarts. Unfortunately, he delivers dialog like a psychopathic mass-murderer, so he doesn’t come through as a very likeable character either.

However, neither of these people can live up to the legend of cringe: Dr. Johnny Wilcox, face of Mirando corporation and full-time cartoon mascot.

Mija is determined to rescue Okja. She does. They meet some friendly terrorists who abduct them. The group’s name is A.L.F. as in Autistic Lying Fu… I mean the Animal Liberation Front. They free animals from abuse. Naturally, they set out to help Okja in order to bring awareness to the masses.

The Animal Liberation Front

ALF is probably the worst thing in this movie. which is pretty bad considering that they are supposed to be the heroes we look up to. They dress like terrorists, behave like terrorists and they have this funny quirk where they threaten to kill someone by shoving a gun into their face and tell them not to worry. “Haha, I’m totally chocking you into unconsciousness but don’t worry, I won’t kill you. It’s a non-lethal choke hold after all! Nothing to worry about! We are so harmless, lolz.”
Just because you don’t kill someone doesn’t mean it’s OK to hurt them. I would suggest —if you can help it — to avoid causing people lifelong psychological damage. ALF claims to stand against animal abuse but they gladly use violence against others. Having no regard for human life shouldn’t be celebrated. Violence shouldn’t be celebrated. There is nothing heroic about their actions, and endorsing this type of behavior is wrong. The movie tries so hard to make ALF appear honorable, by having their own code of honor and asking for consent; too bad it’s only a charade and ironically, they are not any better than the “evil” corporation they fight against.

The names

Jay, K, Blond, Red, Silver. These are the names of the ALF’s members. Was “Steve” not rad enough for you? You could have called at least one of them “Mike”. That’s a freebee; being American, it is statistically improbable that at least one of them is not called “Mike”. I’m aware that these names are probably not displayed on their birth certificates, however, this unusual naming convention clashes with the movies intended tone.

The tone

When you decide to make a movie, it is helpful to sit down and think about what type of movie are you making. Is it going to be a social commentary that was intended for serious discussion, or is it going to be a fun, animal adventure with poop jokes? Who is the intended audience? I think it is safe to say that they set out to make a more mature film. Of course, that doesn’t mean it can’t include humor, but it needs to be moderate enough to preserve the perspective. Focus is important. Even the poor actors can’t tell what type of movie they are in. Some of the characters give a more serious performance, like Glenn (Steven Yeun), Mija and the terrorist gay couple, while the rest of the cast think they are Disney villains and get their inspiration from Cruella de Vil and Maleficent. In conclusion, the slap stick doesn’t fit the narrative, and the result is a disturbing mess.

The CGI hippo

 There is no reason for the CGI “pig”, other than to add a magical element to the story and to push it towards a more kid friendly, ET like adventure. Using an actual pig or a cow would have given it more heart, making it more relatable. Again, we are talking about other major topics such as animal experiments, GMO and gene editing. Was it necessary to touch on these topics besides the ones that are already in the movie? Even if the answer is “yes”, there is still no need for a fake CGI nightmare, since these dangers could have easily been demonstrated on any other type of animal.

Also, Okja is not a pig. The closest pig I could find that looks somewhat similar to Okja is called the babirusa, but even that is a stretch.

the music

I haven’t heard such a mismatched soundtrack since they played Californication at the end of Death Note. Music generally improves movies, it brings the picture to life, filling the viewer with a deep sense of awe, heart-wrenching sorrow, or the thrill of being alive. This movie however managed to do the exact opposite and made me question if the production crew was indeed high when they made this.

Let’s start at 44:00. Chase scene in the mall. Que Easter European party music. Based on later efforts I wager they were looking for something that matches the slap stick — because this scene should be funny — but they were also going for something to do with the circus. Around 46:40 we transition to “Annie’s Song” by John Denver. Again, this is supposed to be funny.

(I actually just noticed this, but at 48:20 one of ALFs grabs the crutches of a stranger and blocks a door with them. What a hero. This is followed by an other ALF pouring marbles(?) on the ground to stop the police from chasing them. Marbles… I rest my case.)

At 58:30 there is another strangely optimistic instrumental with chimes. The next time we hear music again is at 01:07 and… it’s bouncy? Where the hell did they get these from, shittysoundtracks.com? If it would be traditional Korean music I would understand. It wouldn’t fit either, but I could make some connections at least.

other sins

These pictures.

There is this scene where Mundo is running after the ALF truck. Okja poops. Mundo is covered in poop. I know ha-ha, hilarious. BUT WAIT! He calls his wife TO ASK what kind of soap do they have at home. I think, unless they have soap that smells like shit he should be covered.

One of the benefits of super pigs is that they produce less waste, and yet, they managed to sneak not one, but two poop jokes in the movie.

 

 

If you are going to comment on police brutality and corruption, at least take the effort to research what a police officer looks like. It’s insulting.

 

ruined swearing for me

I’m a fond of swearing. It is a form of self-expression and often helps to relieve stress. Swearing is against censorship and authority; it stands for the freedom of speech and progress and — besides everything I just listed — it is fun! Most of my favorite comedians swear extensively, and it’s glorious! However, one must be careful. You can’t swear all the time, otherwise you come across as an uneducated fuck. There needs to be a balance, and a sense of comedic timing is also helpful. This movie has none of these things and yet they insist on swearing all the time. It’s a cringe overload.

How could it be improved?

If you want a social commentary on how corporations are evil don’t pick a meat company as the antagonist. It will distract from the message and people will argue about how eating meat is evil. Actually, you can tell how the movie fails terribly in this regard when you read the comments and reviews. People can’t decide what the movie is about. That’s because it’s about everything and nothing at the same time. It tries to say so much, but in the end it says nothing.

Anything positive?

By far, the best thing that came out of this movie was actress Seo-Hyun Ahn, who played Mija. Her performance was the most convincing, which is even more incredible considering that most of the time she was playing with a CGI hippo. 

But… I saw positive reviews for this movie…

Yeah me too. It made me question the reality I live in. That’s why this review ended up being a 2000 word essay.

A lot of people felt a connection with this movie because they thought it represented some sort of truth, or the essence of something to be considered true; something so universal that everybody can stand behind it. It was certainly vague enough to feel that way. Okja tried to tackle topics that could be separate movies on their own, and the experience is overwhelming. There are people calling out others, saying how stupid they are for not understanding that the movie is about evil corporations and consumerism. Well, so Is the Lorax. Or Baby Geniuses. It doesn’t mean they are good movies, nor that they do a good job at arguing their point… and if the movie is about lazy consumerism, with lazy writing, acting, and terrible characters, then maybe the joke is on them?

your review is causing me grief and sadness…

I did start with a trigger warning. On that note, It wasn’t my intention to piss anyone off. I simply had to get this out of my system as a form of therapy. I can’t afford a therapist, you see. College and all…
This could be a fun movie to watch with a small group of friends… and a drink or two… if you really, really want to watch it. I saw it with my brother and we were laughing the whole time. Except when they were breaking the pigs’ neck. That was fucked up.
If you suffered through this movie by yourself, I can only hope that — in a small way —I helped you on your journey to recovery.   

I wish your dreams to be free of miracle hippos.

and full of bacon.

Alice

 

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the new golden age of comics

Marvel has enjoyed an obscene amount of success since the release of Iron Man (2008). They found themselves a genre and ran with it. They noted what people liked and disliked and using that information crafted a formula that — with some ups and downs — worked for them for almost a decade, making not one or two successful movies, but trilogies upon trilogies; an all encompassing universe. I don’t blindly consume everything Marvel, nor can I subscribe to everything they do, but what they achieved is kind of incredible.

Unfortunately, their success came with the side effect of everybody wanting to copy them, ushering in the era
of cinematic universe building.

 

The Rivalry (DCEU vs MCU)

DC always leaned towards the more realistic, dark and gritty interpretation of its heroes, while Marvel embraced comedy adventures with a dash of color. There is no right or wrong with either of these approaches. Both can be done right with the only difference being the viewer’s preference, and yet more often than not DC seems to fall short. But why?

DC failed at making their most iconic characters likeable. Superman is suffering from a severe existential crisis and chronic depression, Batman can use guns and murder with no regard to human life and Lex Luthor has hair. It’s madness.

When you are throwing millions — if not billions — of dollars around, mediocrity is not going to cut it. After making four feature length films that didn’t perform that well I can only imagine the pressure. This desperation became apparent in Suicide Squad. DC was trying so hard to be Marvel. A complete visual overhaul with 100% neon lights and one Harley Quinn added into the mix. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the problem and the movie flopped, proving yet again that you can’t fix a shallow, boring and confusing story with eye candy. Well, the real lesson here is that you should respect your viewers more, but I digress.

 

Where is the wonder?

So, here we are again with Wonder Woman. Most people seem to love it and there are positive reviews all around. I will give it about one and a half months before all the negative reviews start to come in. First it will be something about the movie being feminist propaganda. Then you will see YouTube videos such as “Is it really as good as we first thought?” implying that somehow we were tricked into liking it and similar kind of nonsense. Regardless, the biggest driving factor behind these comments will be the comparison between Wonder Woman and Captain America. How different are they? I haven’t seen it yet, so all I can comment on is what I have seen from the trailers and it looks like DC finally learned how to make a good Marvel movie. Yay? Was that the goal all along? Is this the endgame everybody was waiting for? I wouldn’t say it’s wrong, but rather ironic, don’t you think?

Besides Wonder Woman we have another movie franchise competing for the spotlight.

 

The Mummy (2017)

So, a quick recap. On May 22, 2017 Universal Pictures announced that they will be bringing beloved classic monster characters to the big screen. They also revealed that this extended universe is going to be called the “Dark Universe”. The first movie in the Dark Universe series is The Mummy, which is now released and ready to be seen in theaters near you. Below you can watch the Dark Universe announcement trailer and the trailer for The Mummy.

Now, even by just watching the trailers above you can tell that something is not right here. It doesn’t really feel like this new incarnation of The Mummy has anything to do with the classic monster movie at all. Where is the suspense? Where is the horror? Where is the connection? I was actually so confused at first, I thought they are remaking the 1999 action-adventure
starring Brendan Fraser.

So, I went ahead and checked the official announcement on the official Dark Universe website, where I made an interesting discovery. I want you to read it carefully with special care regarding the highlights.

 

 

Now, what did we learn from this? We learned more from what is not in the announcement than from what’s in it. For example, it doesn’t state anywhere that:

a. it is going to be a horror movie (or has anything to do with horror in general)

b. it is going to be a reboot

That’s right. Even though Universal heavily relied on footage from the original movies in their reveal trailer, making us believe that the focus of the new movie is going to be similar, it’s never actually stated anywhere what type of movie it is going to be. When they say “reviving the studio’s classic monster characters”, that’s all they mean. They focus on the characters. They are talking about “relaunching Universal’s iconic characters into modern cinema.” They had no intention of making a horror movie. Ever. It’s not profitable. It’s not safe. Assuming that you, my dear reader, enjoy horrors and thrillers, when was the last time you actually saw a good horror movie? Maybe The Babadook? Split? Get Out? Let’s face it, horror movies — with a few respectable exceptions — are a joke. The most enjoyment you get out of them is when your favorite YouTubers review them on their channel. Definitely not blockbuster material.

All Universal wanted from the beginning is the characters. They wanted the name recognition because making a movie is a gamble and having characters that the audience already know and love reduces the amount of that gamble. But, man, what a shame it is.

 

A lost opportunity

I was really excited for this project and it was partially because of the abundance of super hero movies we have the pleasure to enjoy these days, and I do enjoy them! On the other hand, it’s getting a bit too much. I was ready for a new experience, I would have welcomed the darkness, the chills, and the shivers down my spine and I think a lot of people feel the same way. Maybe Dark Universe wouldn’t have been as much of a gamble as they thought it is. People are ready for something new, if only they had committed. Instead, we got another Marvel-wannabe, action-adventure-fantasy-comedy thing.

 

Expectations

The biggest issue with all of this is when you focus your entire marketing campaign on the fact that you are bringing classic horror monsters to life, that’s what people are going to expect. When people want to see the Bride of Frankenstein, they don’t expect a romantic comedy. This is part of the reason why the movie is doing so poorly. Oh, if you are wondering, Bride of Frankenstein will be the next in the Dark Universe series so…

Prepare for Bride of Frankenstein, 2019 the romantic-comedy-fantasy-adventure!

 

Footnotes and PS

Now one of the coolest thing about this project is how they are planning to connect all the movies. Now, of course I only know about this because I have read the announcement. It was really thoughtful to put it in the last paragraph where no one would read it 😀 I mean it’s not like this is an integral part of the cinematic universe you are trying to build.
I’m of course conscious of the fact that I’m doing the same thing and if you have read this far, consider this your reward.

Warning!

So, if you click that link below you can check out what Prodigium is up to these days.
As all great websites, it will automatically start playing a video, so mind your headphones. After the video is done playing you can click on the tiny camera in the bottom right corner to look around, etc. It’s pretty neat, except mind your headphones again.
(No, I don’t know either why they decided to make it look like gameplay footage from 10 years ago.) 

Prodigium Website

PS: “Why is the Bride of Frankenstein being released before Frankenstein?” asked the voice of reason skeptically.

PSS: some pins

PSSS: Honestly, if you read this far you are golden. Go on now, I don’t want to hold you back anymore. The cure for cancer ain’t gonna find itself. Also, don’t forget to call your mom.

Sincerely,

Alice

 

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