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

 Previous   Blue and Peach #7 – It’s All Relative

Other featured   The True Meaning of “Gloomy Sunday”

 

 

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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