Friday, April 29, 2005

All Good Things...

Yes, I'm a geek, reread my profile :P

And no, this isn't about TNG. It's about good old dark, angsty and beautiful, aka Angel The Breeding Mar^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hooding Hero.

All in all, it was a very nice and enjoyable series--except for season 4, which doesn't exist except as one of those nightmares that fades from your mind even as you get up from your bed in the morning. I expected feeling intense frustration upon reaching the end of the last episode, but I didn't experience that. The ending is, amazingly enough, coherent with the pronouncements made all along the series: the fight never ends. You cannot win, but you keep fighting, again and again, and nevermind the impossible odds. It couldn't end. There could be no victory and living happily everafter. So, the ending as it was suits me fine. As for the few peeves I might entertain toward the series, let me see...

(note for anyone who isn't done watching Angel season 5: you might want to skip the rest, unless you don't mind spoilers...)

Plot holes. Hello, plot holes! The whole series is strewn with them. An example? Oh, gladly! Meet Illyria, Season 5 archdemon, Old One, older than the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart ("they were small"), absolute power, overgod, and so on. Incarnates in a human shell too fragile for it, and lo, all it takes to contain it is some plastic pseudo sci-fi weapon developped in less than an episode by Wesley (not that we get to see him actually _working_ on the thing), who's not exactly an expert in the manufacturing of advanced weaponry... Urgh.

Connor. Ah, no, no Connor, doesn't exist. Impossible, remember. Why did they write Connor? Insufferable character, except for the few scenes he has in season 5, when he's finally gotten a life (litterally).

Season 4--wait, what season? Ah, the thing that could have been written and directed by a 5 year-old kid? The thing during which all the actors suddenly regressed to be really, _really_ bad? Three things save season 4 from the abyss and allow it to hang by a tiny corner of paper on the edge of that veeeeery high cliff: Wesley, Lilah, and the last episode.

Lindsey. Come on, Lindsey is such a fantastic character, why, oh why, did the writers have to bring him back for another round in season 5? Why was it necessary to change that nuanced, grey character into your average middle-level Bad Guy (tm)? How could they throw to the wolves such a superb character? Anyone but Lindsey! Leave Lindsey alone! (perhaps I should create a society for the preservation of Lindseys...)

The fabulous depth and sincerity shining (yep, shine. Shine, shine!) in the so-called romances of our resident dark-and-beautiful-and-tormented Angel such as they're masterfully blundered during season 5--on the other hand, no. Let's not go there, or I will start saying really unflattering things for whoever was in charge of managing that. One word: ludicrous.

Angel killing off Drogyn and feeding from him...okay, I can work with that, but dagnabit, CHARACTER COHERENCE, people! It takes roughly 10 seconds of footing to justify it, a word whispered in an ear. But, nothing. And as a result we get Angel being as un-Angel as you can get. Really, was it too much to ask to get Drogyn to know and accept the reason why he was about to die? With such a scene, all is well. Without it, Angel just goes over to the dark side--not to fool his enemies as is stated in the season, for real. It doesn't fit with the character, it's just plain stupid.

Other than that, as stated before, Angel is a really fine entertainment series. If you don't get sick when you spot plot holes (no matter how huge they can be), if you don't mind the occasional deus ex machina, then you get truly nicely done and developped characters.

And you get Spike. Yes! Spike! More Spike is always good! But then, Spike, simply by being Spike, would turn any series into a worldwide success (and I won't even try claiming a semblance of objectivity here :P)

Wesley is definitely one of the best characters I've ever seen in a TV series, along with Lorne and Lilah. Gunn and Fred come next. Angel is Angel, too much of a cliche and a walking stereotype to be really good, in spite of valiant attempt of gifting (or cursing) the character with a sense of humor. I would mention Andrew, but then he gets so few scenes and is such a Buffy character that I can't decently list him here--wait, isn't that what I just did?

And kudos to Joss Whedon for coming up with the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart. Must be one of the very best depictions of evil I've ever seen or read about.

Before I finish this mind dump on Angel, one last note regarding coincidences: discounting season 5 (which can't compete since it has Spike throughout, and that would be unfair when comparing with seasons which have much less--and sometimes none--of him), my favorite season in Angel is season 2, which matches Buffy season 5, my favorite Buffy season. Chances, chances.

Now, Mr. Whedon, why don't you start working on something that doesn't involve catering to the nostalgics of the American Founding Fathers and the Wild West Pioneers, and get back to something that's also palatable for the rest of the world? I happen to believe you're a man of true talent, and I'd really love to get more of what your mind can create :P

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Of Albatroses and Threads

It flies.

It's big, it's white and blue, it has lots and lots of wheels. It has impossibly long wings. It's so huge and heavy it shouldn't be able to lift from the ground, and yet there's a strange feeling of grace to it. A feeling of reverence as you watch it win free from the runway's asphalt. I watch the pictures and, taking the measure of the quiet awe rising inside me, I find I'm happy there's still so much left of the child within.

The Airbus A380 is a wonderful success, and never mind analysts--astonishingly enough all of them from the US, and all of them speaking only now, when the maiden flight is taking place (no, Boeing doesn't look like the grumpy stepmother frustrated at how well her daughter in law is doing in the world)--claiming the very existence of the A380 is all a strategy mistake on Airbus' part.

What's even better, is that Airbus is European. It's a union of the knowledge, investment, faith and expertise of several countries which made it possible. I find comfort in that fact. Yes, Europe can build things. Beautiful things. I can only hope the range of what Europe can build will expand with time (this is a subtle hint that I'm in favor of the project for a European Constitution, by the way :P)

Threads are another matter, and much less satisfying. China is now free to export fabrics into Europe without any limitation. The consequences of that change have been quick, and deadly: companies are closing everywhere. Fabrics are being imported into Europe at a price impossible to beat--oh, right, let me be fair in this matter: those prices would be beatable, if only European employees accepted to work for wages that wouldn't allow them to even _EAT_ during the month.

Ever heard of social dumping?

I hate the globalization of economy. It serves a single purpose: make the very rich even richer, and never mind the less pleasant consequences of making the poor poorer and the destruction of the middle class. Economy and its "laws" should _SERVE_ humanity, not the other way around. We are no ants. We are people, and we have the most absolute right to decent work conditions, wages and decent lives. This is the first principle those fucking laws of economy should bow to--not the ever increasing short term profit margin of stock holders. Ever noticed how communism and neo-liberalism have so much in common? How both work on the hypothesis that the people who work are just there to serve the system, just tools, just ants?

We're going nowhere with the current model, and we're going there fast. I think about how my grandparents and great-grandparents fought for their social rights, and I feel like vomiting when I listen to people telling us on TV or everywhere that there's only one way: globalization of economy, rule of economy. In a single generation, we're going to destroy what it took centuries to gain. Because we're too selfish, too blind, too bored, too stupid or a bit of all the above to care, to move and to stand up for what was achieved before us. We don't care about politics. We despise politicians. We refuse to move our sorry asses to vote at elections. We bow to the will of lying bastards. We listen to their honeyed words. We give up. We refuse to burden ourselves with taking our fates into our own hands. We can't be bothered, you know. After all, there's something on TV right now, that's way more important--not to mention agonizing over the latest fashion trend.

Yay for us.

But then, who knows? Maybe we'll sink down the abyss of poverty and misery so fast that we'll find ourselves forced to move, to rise and to fight for our rights. Maybe there's hope. Maybe we can one day convince those who win millions of Euros a month to give up a ten of a thousandth of what they win by just exchanging virtual hords of money. Maybe we can convince them to do this greatest of sacrifices for the stability of our world, so that we can remain good consumers who'll still have the means to buy the products they sell, and so allow them to remain the grotesquely rich people they are...

Maybe one day we can denounce the dictates of the allmighty god of Economy.

Maybe someday we can even stop bowing to economical dogma.

Mr. Tobin, where are you?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

But… Billions of Lives are at Stake !

Everyone, please remain calm. The situation is under control, we just need to sacrifice someone in order to save the world--or maybe even the universe if we're working with an ambitious scenario writer.

Just stop and think for a moment. How many times have you had to bear with that particular plot twist? Okay, stop counting. Too many.

It's not that I don't enjoy good character torturing, I do. I love nothing better than a genuine Cornelian dilemma which sends the characters agonizing over impossible choices--but.

Frankly, I've had enough of having to watch Winston Churchill's decision being revisited in every universe available (but with much sexier characters, true; so there might be some merit in that after all, hmmm...).

There's no choice, no question--not in my book anyway.

To sacrifice a life, no matter how many you save in return, simply invalidates the choice. Comparing the worth of lives versus life is absurd. Every life is unique, and precious beyond what words can describe. There's no calculating the worth of one and weighing it against the worth of the other, for a very simple reason : who are you (who is the hero) to decide such a thing? What places you above the others? Excuse me, are you some kind of god or goddess of old? Unless you just sprung out of a book, a game, a TV series, a movie or the imagination of someone else, that's not bloody likely. There's just one exception I can see, when the life you're willing to sacrifice is YOURS.


Of course, I'm as human as the next girl, I kind of enjoy watching your dark and gorgeous character angsting over the fate of the world, and then whipping himself with guilt. Cross my heart. Still, I don't think I care for writers to overuse the theme, and reach the conclusion that, well, yes, it's painful, but if it's to save the [insert "world", "solar system", "galaxy", "universe", "dimension", "multiverse", etc.] then we'll be brave and do it and agonize lots thereafter. It's not an acceptable choice. You can have characters make it, but then there must be consequences--hell to pay sounds rather nice. A hero who can live with him/herself and live happily everafter once he's made such a choice isn't a hero. Sorry.

Why am I whining about such philosophical questions on a Tuesday afternoon? Boredom or lack of motivation at work might explain a part of it. Watching Angel season 5 might explain another part of it, if only in an indirect fashion. And, at least, you've learnt something about me that's not mentioned in my profile:

You know how I feel about Coventry.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Red Lights Flashing Everywhere @_@

Rain rhymes with pain.

Don't mistake me, I kind of like the rain. I like its song, I like the feeling of the raindrops splashing over me in summer when it's been too hot and stuffy for my taste, but rain makes driving hell incarnate. Oh yes, it does, if you're a decent driver, and you know how to behave in the rain (or when it snows for that matter). Rain means a myriad red dots flashing before you, when the freeway abruptly becomes clogged by an accumulation of poor, frightened drivers who'd be far better off if they didn't have a driving license (most of whom shouldn't have one in the first place--but then what would happen to the car industry, huh?). Of course, there wouldn't be many people allowed to drive, and that would force the state to develop other means of transportation like the train or the bus, but that is another subject for another day.

As it is, I'll just keep watching the rain fall, and valiantly endeavour to be patient when the car before me brakes violently just upon reaching a truck's level. I will try, but, as with everything, no promises.

Oh, and, advice of the day: never, EVER buy plane tickets online. Why, you ask?
Because if you do, when the airline you chose goes bankrupt, then you're done for. No refund for your tickets, and well, good luck trying to book another ticket at an affordable price. Whereas, when you go through a travel agency, the nice, kind people of the agency will take care of everything. They will book you another flight, they will simply ask the price difference, if any, and they will shoulder all the annoyances tied to getting a refund for the now worthless tickets.

No, this doesn't happen only to fictional characters. It just happened to me today, when I got home from a long, hard day at work and a drive back cursed with hords of drivers terrified by the rain pouring down from the sky.

I swear.

And now, for a good, long soak with a manga to read.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

All Hail the Panzer Cardinal--err...sorry, the new Pope...

Yay! Pray and worship, ye faithful,and go rot in hell, all ye infidels, pagans, atheists, agnosticists--moderate, modern Catholics might earn a spot in purgatory, but only if they make amends and recognize the error of their ways like, NOW.

Nah, really, after the media going hysterical about every last second of the previous Pope's agony, every heartbeat of the funerals, now we get the inauguration of the new one. Mass, live from Rome, on every TV channel, public, national channels included. Hello? Anybody at the head of this particular ship? Are we sinking down the abyss? Has Belgium turned into a religious country without warning? Has Catholicism become the state's official religion? Aren't we living in a secular society?

Oh, right. I'm overdoing it. I know, I tend to do that--all right, I rather enjoy doing that. But still, drop me a line on the day the media lavish such rapt attention over, say, the death of the Dalai-lama, or the great Rabbi in Brussels, or a leading figure of the Atheists' crowd, and I promise to bake you one of my famous chocolate cakes--not likely to happen.

And, don't forget! Be nice and repent, people, judgement day is coming for sure! (that stupid comet had better wait until I've had time to enjoy being retired, and end of world prophecies had better comply with my plans as well, or I'll have to have a little chat with whoever is steering the wheel of destiny).

... Though, come to think of it, maybe my frustrating attempts at changing this blog's design are a sign of heaven's anger at disrespectful people like me... Hmmm... Maybe I should come up with a sacrifice or two to placate Raph and Gabe who're scowling at me from all the way up there above the clouds... :P

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Entropy Rising

Fondness for the second law of thermodynamics will be the end of me--but then it does govern the existence of everything and everyone, so why worry? The very fact that this blog exists is proof that chaos remains the winning horse for all bets, and that selfishness is an essential trait of all human beings, myself included--duh!

... And now, for a bit of Saturday shopping.