Fargo Season 2 was terrible

I was looking forward to this, since the end of season 1. Though it wasn’t as good as the movie, it was still quite entertaining, despite the gore. Boy was I wrong. Season 2 opens with some ditzy bimbo who runs over a mob member who is distracted by Aliens in a flying saucer. I kid you not. Aliens. That’s the best distraction piece they could come up with. Some strange lights, I could live with but a flying saucer is so incredibly unlikely it suspends your disbelief. I don’t doubt that Aliens do exist somewhere in the universe, probably as single celled organisms or something similar, but the authors are suggesting intelligent extraterrestrial life that has visited earth. They make a reappearance at the season finale, how convenient.

Back to the bimbo, rather than call the police or shove the man off the bonnet she drives home with him still on there. Who on earth would do that? I know she panics but that’s just ridiculous. She then has the resolve to stuff him into her home freezer and act like nothings happened. Anyway they end up killing Rye. Arguably at this stage, if they call the police they could claim self defense though that is quite tenuous, whether a jury would believe them.

On balance, I did like the cooky accents and often imitate them in my leisure time.

On Fargo in general, they like to use a plot device in which they claim that the show/movie is based on real events but the names have changed to protect the survivors and respect the dead. Too bad anyone with half a brain cell can search the internet and debunk this bollocks in an instant. Do the authors hold the audiences intelligence in such contempt? I mean season 1 and the movie they could get away with but Aliens? Pull the other one.

Duolingo is mostly useless

I thought I’d tone down the hyperbole and not say “totally useless” but that’s not far off. I have numerous gripes with this site. But before we go down that rabbit hole, let me regale you with a story. So I was briefly part of this German speaking club, my friend always dreaded taking part in it which I found strange, considering he was fluent. Anyway, one day many moons later I decided to join in, I did have an ulterior motive, mind. This cute southern bell was there.

I did feel quite out of my depth here. I used to speak pretty good German 10 years ago – not quite fluent, but getting there. I was top of the class and the teachers were really disappointed I didn’t study German at University. I was really rusty but I could still keep a conversation going. A girl was sat next to me who was very quiet. I tried to make conversation with her but she told me she couldn’t speak and was only here to listen. Delving deeper, she explained that she had got 100% on Duolingo! She had excellent vocabulary but couldn’t construct sentences on her own. How tragic, to complete that turd to fruition only to find out how emasculated she was.

To summarize, these are the problems with Duolingo:

  • From the above, it is not a substitute for traditional classroom learning. Not surprising given how robotic the exercises are. I’d compare it to learn python the hard way. Zed Shaw’s masochistic way to not learn programming.
  • If you make a minor mistake (I’m not talking typos), you lose progress during an exercise. You have to do the same question again. I’m talking exactly the same one. It gets so tedious.
  • It’s so boring, honestly reading a book is more entertaining.
  • There’s lots of mistakes in the answers, marking you down even when you’re right. It’s a free service, so I guess you get what you pay for.
  • They spam the fuck out of your email address, using a cartoon owl to coax you back to the eternal cesspit of boredom. Even if you opt out of one specific type of ham, they’ll spam you with other categories. E.g. Daily progress update vs. Weekly &c.

I tried Duolingo for Romanian and not much of it sank in. Then I just looked at a phrase book and learnt a lot more. Duolingo is poor for retaining information. If you’re serious about language learning, try a language exchnage, rosetta stone, pimsleur or a language class. Avoid relying solely on Duolingo if at all.

Officials expect Trump to resign

Thomas Toch, director of independent education think tank FutureEd, told Politico that Trump was ignorant of the job’s constraints when he accepted it and insiders are already preparing for him to vacate the position.

“He can’t fill his senior staff slots,” he said. “Morale is terrible at the Whitehouse.”

Trump was roundly criticized for his lack of basic knowledge about foreign policy, after another late night tirade against Kim Jong-Un, this time labelling him as fatso McPeePants. The irony of the president’s own carriage was lost on him. He blames Hillary Clinton for this indescretion, claiming “she had a private email server or something.”

One doubts most presidents need to be coached not to insult war widows as a way to show empathy.

“I’ll tell you, in Washington, the conversation is already about the post-Trump landscape, because the assumption is he won’t stay long,” Toch told Politico. “I think he’s been probably one of the most ineffective people to ever hold the job.”

Politico notes that Toch’s assessment was “somewhat harsher” than comments from the west wing, since they perceive Trump as ineffective and deterred from seeking major changes after discovering the limits of his power.

“If there’s one thing Trump has learned so far, it’s that getting your way in Washington requires time, patience and government savvy — three things he does not have,” the profile bluntly states.

After The Salon.

Vurt – reviewed

Vurt (Vurt #1)Vurt by Jeff Noon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A modern classic. I’m surprised Hollywood hasn’t bastardised this work by adapting it for the silver screen. Probably the rampant debauchery, drug taking and sex is holding them back. It is highly thrilling and tantalising. Revealing the minimum amount of information page by page to keep you reading on, to find out what’s going on. I’m tempted to read Pollen but a friend told me it’s no way near as good. I really liked imagining this universe, Noon has an incredible imagination. I was going to mark this down to 4 out of 5 due to the incest but I’m reliably informed that it’s an ode to Greek mythology, so it gets 5.

Are you robo, shadow, dog or vurt?

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UK Snap election June 2017

Well, well, well. Who saw that result coming? YouGov did apparently. It’ll be remembered as the election which few people wanted, fewer people liked the result and cost ~£130m. Don’t hold your breath, because there might be another one soon, when the walking corpse Theresa May is finally ousted as leader past her sell by date. The Tories felt like they lost and Corbyn felt like he won, even though the opposite was true.

It’s quite funny to see May fail so spectacularly. The right wing Tory propaganda machine, that is the newspapers, foreseeing a 100+ majority only for it to be reduced was ironic, take that Alanis Morissette. May said she called election to give her a mandate and a stronger position for Brexit negotiations. The EU didn’t give a shit about the election and in fact the result showed just how weak she was. The real reason she called the election was because the papers were telling her she had a 15 point lead and she thought she could crush the opposition, paving way for her vision of a hard Brexit. Also to use arcane, out-dated laws like the royal assent to repeal rights without oversight.

I just wanted to remind everyone of the three Tory soundbites, that were reiterated during this election, that turned out to be false (lest ye forget):

Strong and Stable – May thought that if she said this enough times, that it’d come true. Like an exercise from a self help book for weak, duplicitous, leathery-faced gargoyles. Strong and Stable? More like Weak and Wobbly. Especially as you send Amber Rudd to fill in for you on a debate. I saw a statistic that said for each key marginal May visited, the Tories lost. And she cited visiting constituents as the reason to not attend debates. The more the population saw of May the less they wanted her.

There’s no magic money tree – There clearly is and it’s called borrowing. The government used the tree to buy 10 DUP MPs at £100m a pop to form a coalition. Since then they have borrowed more for other projects as well. If they disagree with something they’ll just come out with this shitty line. If they do agree with it, they’ll borrow – or use the tree, in their words.

Coalition of Chaos – No, this is not your cousin’s shitty metal band that he wants you to be in. This is the threat of a Labour/SNP coalition (or the so-called rainbow alliance – with other parties &c). Which party made the coalition post election again? Oh that’s right, the Conservatives. Coalition government isn’t necessarily a bad thing – take the best ideas from multiple parties. Do you want a government with a whopping great majority to pass through laws without them being adequately challenged? Legislation might take a little longer to pass but overall I think it’s a good thing. Funnily enough, the DUP has blocked some Tory legislation over the NHS. How’d you like those sky potatoes?

So what have we learned through this treatise? That the Tories are lying bastards and can’t be trusted.

2017 in films part 2

  • Creed – Nice to see a different take on the Rocky Series. Rocky reluctantly coaches Apollo’s bastard son. Finally, a film in which Rocky doesn’t box himself (don’t give him half a chance, even at this age he’s up for it. See Grudge Match) and finishes the franchise off nicely, leaving a legacy. 8/10
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes – The franchise was recommended by James Rolfe. I was not particularly impressed by the opening act, found it quite boring during the middle though. Felt a lot like Project X but not as good. I have high hopes for the sequels. Also I’ll probably end up watching the originals. 6.5/10
  • Prometheus – When this came out several years ago I heard it was shit, so I didn’t bother watching it. But as an Alien series fan, I felt like I had to. It was indeed shit. I jest, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I tried to look past the blatant scientific inaccuracies but ultimately, you’re watching a film about extra terrestrials so you can’t complain too much. However, there are degrees of plausibility, and this film effectively debunks evolution. Notwithstanding this BS, it didn’t really feel like an Alien film. At times it was quite captivating but overall left more to be desired. There was lack of motivation from the antagonist and a poor script. Visually it looked great. What really pissed me off is, this is NOT supposed to be a prequel, it’s just meant to be another film set in the Alien universe. Then why is it set in the past and has a ship crashes in a very similar way to the one from Alien? This all gets very confusing. And for this it loses appoint. The title is quite clever too. 5/10
  • Ted – I don’t know why I even bothered watching this turd, I don’t know what I was expecting. It’s essentially Peter Griffin the Movie. Basic, predictable Hollywood hogwash, the kind of thing they churn out routinely from the sausage factory. The film’s worst crime of all is, that it’s not that funny for a comedy film. I didn’t care for any of the characters. Why on earth was there a sequel? 4.5/10
  • Conan the Barbarian – I was aware of this for a long time but never watched it. Finding out it is an Schwarzenegger classic, I felt compelled to view it. At times disgusting, fantastical, overtly raunchy (surprisingly) but great action scenes and a thrilling plot. It’s got Darth Vader and Arnie. What more do you want? It’s a shame the sequels were shit. Loses a point for losing suspension of disbelief when he fucks cat woman. 8/10
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Disgusting.  Nice to see where all the vampire clichés come from. I particularly liked the opening half an hour, where the legend is set up and Keanu has to escape the castle. Reeves was an unexpected bonus, reprising his role as wooden actor, in this playing an Englishman – the boot fit.  Again unexpectedly raunchy. After the initial castle scene I did get bored and lost the plotline a little. Though it finished strongly. 7/10
  • Eddie the Eagle – Who doesn’t like an underdog. The man is a legend and I didn’t know the full story. I was entertained start to finish. Loses a point for historical inaccuracies, seriously why would you lie about the distance jumped? 9/10
  • I Am Legend – I’m not sure how they did it, but they managed to butcher a really good book.  Will Smith was not the best actor to choose as lead for this film.  The ending and the introduction of other characters was what really ruined it. He’s supposed to be the last man on earth. 5.5/10
  • My Scientology Movie – Much anticipated and lauded only to be disappointed. This doesn’t feel like a typical Louis Theroux documentary and I was wondering why. Then it struck me, he wasn’t interviewing active Scientologists (not including fleeting aggressiveness in the street). At first I thought auditioning for actors to play the head of Scientology was filler. Why not just play the tape of his original interview, instead of getting an actor to dress up like him and read the words? It transpires later,that we sat through this charade because he wanted them to act out a piece of violence that there’s no footage of, which is fair enough. It still strikes as a little superfluous. I imagined this film to be groundbreaking but Theroux failed to give some basic facts about the origins of Scientology. Like how they believe Xenu saved some idiots from a volcano. I felt more informed from a South Park episode from a decade ago. In the end, Scientology’s aggressiveness has been covered before by Panorama, albeit in less detail. So this film felt like we’ve seen it all before. 6.5/10
  • Dredd – Reboot of the franchise, a cross between the raid redemption and a dystopian future. Suspenseful entertainment but I honestly preferred the original with Sylvester Stallone even though it appears to have been rubbished by critics. Probably due to nostalgia alone and being able to quote lines from it. Last saw it over a decade ago. The reboot loses a point for excessive gore. 7/10
  • Fahrenheit 9/11- Bush stole the 2001 election and a critique of the Iraq War. It shows what it takes for the supporters of the war to go against it, probably influenced a lot of people at the time. The US has behaved despicably. 9/10
  • Mr Plinkett’s Ghostbusters 2016 review – Not a film in of itself but thought I’d include this anyway. I’m reviewing his review… INCEPTION! I was never going to watch the film, luckily with this review I don’t have to. Much of the blame of the failure of this film is leveled at the actresses through wanton mysoginy, which is wrong. The full blame should be put on the script writer/director Paul Feig. I mean this idiot can’t even say his own surname correctly, according to pronunciation norms, so what were we expecting? The script was terrible and the director made them ad lib most of it. Think of the film as 90 minutes of improv. Unfortunately the film was a commercial success, so we can look forward to seeing more of these turds in the future. Hollywood has very few original ideas left. I’m particularly annoyed at Bill Murray’s cameo in this film. He supposedly held out on doing Ghostbusters 3, for reasons unknown, script issues maybe? But when he saw this shit sandwich on his plate he greedily gobbled it down and asked for more. Mr Plinkett’s Ghostbusters 2016 review gets 9.5/10
  • Revenge of the Nerds – Pure 80s. Goofy humor throughout. 7/10
  • Death Note (2017) – Hatchet job, in the same way that Big Bang Theory is blackface for nerds, this is blackface for manga readers. Though an improvement on previous live action films, setting it in America was a mistake. This adaptation deviates from the original manga too much. The ending was especially poor and I didn’t like the ‘L’ character either.  6/10

The last two are rewatches. Both are a lot more disturbing than I remember but you know they’re excellent, when they spawn numerous clichés. The following prove you don’t need a complicated plot to make a great film.

  • Taxi Driver – You get the feeling that Bickle could have been a productive member of society if circumstances were different. Or maybe he’s just an absolute nutcase. 9.5/10
  • The Warriors – Just some guys trying to get home after a crazy night out. What could possibly go wrong?  Manlets are the worst. 10/10

Frankenstein – Reviewed

FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A true classic. I picked this up on a whim from the library, as they didn’t have the book I actually wanted. I had seen the film about a decade ago and I was a little weary, whether they’d be similar. It was nothing like the films. Now I finally know the origins of “Bride of Frankenstein”.

It opens with a brilliant hook but then starts off a little slowly. However by the middle of the first volume, once all the background is out of the way, it becomes a real page turner. Curiously much of the tropes of the monster’s animation are notably absent from the text e.g. lightning. Though it may be argued that they are mentioned in earlier editions. If you really read between the lines you may find justification for them.

Victor somewhat sidesteps the issue about the secret of life creation, which feels like a bit of a cop out. But it’s probably a wise move as it leaves an air of mystery but also is justified later on. The classical Halloween monster look of the fiend is an awful caricature. Extensive description of the beast is notably absent, the reader only has a gigantic deformed mummy to play with. So I’m not sure where this stereotype came from. Probably one of the early movies exercising poetic license.

I liked how there were stories within stories. The book was easy enough to read. I did feel a lot of empathy for the beast and drew parallels with radicalised islamists. The beast is a lot more eloquent than the movies lead you to believe. I do feel Victor could have made a few different choices and am tempted to write some fanfiction about it. The rough notes of which are outlined below, best not to read on if you haven’t read the book.

So I’m assuming Victor has blinded by rage and couldn’t think correctly. Otherwise he could have set various traps to kill him. It’d be a lot more effective than simply pursuing him.

Make a fake bride for the monster. Set up a camouflaged pit filled with a flammable liquid. Lure him to the pit to claim his mate. Once he falls in, ignite the liquid, using his weakness of heat to defeat him.

If Victor wanted to carry on pursuing him, try flaming arrows to reach him. Though not really possible with respect to the range.

Victor should have faked his own death. At least then the beast would be within striking distance.

The fiend threatened to be with Victor on his wedding night. He should have never let Elizabeth out of his sight. He should have made a fake Elizabeth and stood her up in the bedroom. With the real one taking shelter. As he waited for the monster to appear, hiding in a cupboard, he would jump out dual wielding pistols and making the monster into Swiss-cheese by sheer volume of bullets. Then whip out the shotgun to defenestrate him. At ground level, shoot it in the brain for good measure.

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Impractical Jokers used to be better

Like any hit show, there’ll be the inevitable decline. Jumped the shark, nuked the fridge, call it what you will. But I think season 6 of Jokers is the turning point. This is probably one of my favourite all time comedy shows. However, when you devote 40% (10 minutes) of the programme to ritual humiliation you’re running out of ideas.

Why’d they do this? I have a few theories. They’re a victim of their own success and get recognised more often. This leads to many pranks to be foiled and it’s harder to get usable footage. Previously they have resorted to using stooges, such as this incredibly hot “baddest girl“, who was later revealed to be a model. Youtube super sleuths at work here.

The other reason is, they’ve ran out of ideas. It’s harder and harder to get original footage. Maybe they’re fed up with doing the same old pranks. Of course they still need to pad it out to 25 minutes, so they elongate the punishment with “impractical insider”. Where some ardent douchebag with goofy hair noses around the set. The punishment shouldn’t be such a large component of the show. The pranks are funnier. Do . More. Of. Those. In the initial seasons, the punishment was something trivial and lasted two minutes. Now it has its own segment in of itself.

The other problem is, the quality of the pranks isn’t as good. Usually there’s only 2 different pranks on one show in season 6 (sometimes there is an additional joker vs joker). So they’re extended a prank for more footage. Back in the earlier seasons there were many more per episode.

Don’t get me started on the abomination that is the UK version either.

Regardless, I will continue watching because there’s nothing else to watch…

Doctor Zhivago – Reviewed

Doctor ZhivagoDoctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let me start by saying this book was hard to read. The font was smaller than average, it was incredibly dense (not necessarily a bad thing) and a myriad of characters. The latter point has its own added complexities, given that it’s set in Russia. So for starters, you have this enormous number of people with unpronounceable Russian names. Then you can multiply that by two as each one has a male patronymic and diminutive. This is acknowledged by the translators who have a section at the start tilted “Principle characters in this novel”. Sometimes it can be easy to forget who said/did what. Is this relevant to the narrative, or a fleeting occurrence? Being an old library book it was also quite smelly.

Having said all that, the book gets quite good in the final third. Up until then I did consider shelving it for a while, but in the spirit of Mastermind, I started so I’ll finish…

It’s the greatest story of “Will they, won’t they?” ever told. With quite an obvious hint as to the outcome. Reductively, you could compare it to a man chasing a woman through some trees in a Bollywood film. The trees being a metaphor for the Russian revolution. The book was educational in respect of Russian history and it did give me some inspiration for some modern satire. Probably worth reading for that reason alone. Personally, I don’t feel satisfied by Pasternak’s reasons for Yury’s love of Lara. This is a medical doctor, who is prepared to give up his wife and kids, falls head over heels and the explanation is little more than love at first sight or innate beauty. Pasternak probably did explain it a bit more than that, but I must confess I wasn’t paying that much attention.

His writing was beautiful provoking interesting visuals but at times a little too verbose. Bizarrely, the translation hyphenated words like “to-day” and “to-morrow”. I’ve read some old literature and never come across anything like this. Besides, being set, written and translated in the 20th century, this shouldn’t be a reason for this spelling. I am unsatisfied by Yury’s brother being a mysterious deus ex machina, whose powers are never fully explained. I was somewhat underwhelmed by the ending but it did leave a nice legacy, tying up loose ends.

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The Firefox Phone is dead

In 2014, my Nokia smartphone was on its last legs and it was time to upgrade. As alluded to previosuly, I didn’t want an iPhone because they are locked down and expensive as fuck. I didn’t want an android phone because of the so called Google “botnet”. I was left with little option than to consider soldiering on with the Nokia. Until of course I found out about the Firefox phone. I bought a ZTE open because I believed in principles of openess and right to privacy.  Little did I know, that I’d wasted my money on this piece of crap.

There was a a myriad of things wrong with this phone. If they had try before you buy I would have never have bought it. The keyboard was very hard to type on. You had to be very precise with your fingers to select the right key. Although updates did improve things slightly, it was still shit.

There was a lack of apps and developmental enthusiasm. Fundamental software like a terminal emulator was lacking.

There were no updates. Mozilla got into bed with some dodgy chinese wankers like ZTE. They promised the phone would be updated but of course it wasn’t. They released 2 updates, one official the other one not. After that nothing. There were developmental builds but hard to install and often had their own associated problems.

I made the mistake of buying this thinking it was for consumers. It was a devlopers phone for people wanting to make their own builds and apps. The only good thing about this phone was that it was virtually unbrickable. There were many times it wouldn’t work but you could always reset it somehow.

In the end, I took advice off of XDA who said cut your losses by selling it and moving on. Some poor sod bought my phone and I got most of my money back. What on earth he bought it for, is anyone’s guess.

Last year I heard from a Mozilla employee that the project has been closed down. Why couldn’t Mozilla developers make the OS better? At least then, the phone might stand half a chance.