Sunday, 2 September 2018

SUPERNAURAL with my mom: pros and cons (Season 2)

Despite my rather pessimistic views, we have already finished watching the second season and have even embarked upon the third one, which, as far as I’m concerned, is something of a disappointment, very weak, apart from a few episodes that I really like. Good thing it’s so short! However, speaking about the second season with my mom…

John’s death came as a big shock for her. I didn’t think that she would be so much affected by it. I mean, all through the first episode she kept telling me just how much she disliked him and yet as soon as he was dead and I assured her that he wasn’t coming back (after she appealed to me in utter shock at such a turn), she instantly regretted not liking him. It was pretty funny, actually. She said that if she had known that he would be dead within the first episode, she would have made an effort to like him better. She also wondered who she was going to dislike now.

Her favourite episode – the one that she actually acknowledged by verbally letting me know that she liked it – was “The Usual Suspects”. However, that was the one and only time when she told me that she liked anything about “Supernatural” at all. The episode that she disliked so much that I was actually afraid she would refuse to watch any more of the show turned out to be general favourite “Tall Tales”. Apparently, my mom doesn’t like funny episodes, doesn’t appreciate the show’s humour and finds them simply stupid.

I can’t help blaming the dubbing too: it’s just not the same when dubbed. In fact, it is completely inadequate. It makes everything sound stupid, cringe-worthy, over-the-top and unnatural – the actors’ raw emotions are completely obliterated by an indifferent and inexpert interpreter.

She also doesn’t like it when the writers purposefully dumb down Dean, making him act like a clown, and she is not a fan of the boys’ hookups. So… still not a convert. However, she did fall under Dean/Jensen spell almost at once, saying that “just looking at his face is enough” and “If I didn’t know Dean, I would be scared too”.

Friday, 10 August 2018

SUPERNATURAL with my mom: pros and cons (Season 1)

I have finally managed to convince my mom to watch SUPERNATURAL with me. I desperately needed an excuse for another re-watch and I felt that showing it to someone else would make my obsession with it look less alarming. But it wasn’t easy as she was very resistant for a long time and I’m afraid that at the conclusion of the first season, which we finished watching yesterday, she confirmed to herself that she was right to be so.
I hoped against hope that she would love it and get invested into the characters by the end of the first season, but she had grown bored with the whole thing instead. However, I have to admit that it is refreshing to watch this particular show with someone who doesn’t have an agenda, a favourite or a ship-any-two-people-who-breathe-the-same-air-for-five-seconds disease.
Unfortunately, I have to say that watching it dubbed (my mom doesn’t know English) takes away a great deal of authenticity and what sounds extremely tragic in the original, sounds downright comical when dubbed. Of course, my mom’s lack of sentimentality also plays a part. Any hint of romantic element annoys her, because it doesn’t lead anywhere and she finds it unnecessary and irksome. She prefers Dean to Sam (as I knew she would for he is much more her type) and finds John tiresome and untidy, saying that he looks like a petty, provincial criminal.
All in all, her attitude is very disheartening for she obviously gets no pleasure from watching it and it doesn’t excite her in any way. I’m afraid that we won’t be watching it together much longer, because she is fed up with Sam and Dean’s constant saving each other/dying for each other thing and seeing as how this is pretty much the core of the show, there is very little hope that she will want to continue watching it for another 13 seasons.
But the thing that gets me down the most is that both my mom and aunt think that watching something like SUPERNATURAL is somehow below me. They find it extremely surprising that I love it so much. A fan of Jane Austen, an intellectual, refined and exalted, what do I have in common with supernatural monsters and gore? So far I haven’t managed to convince either that this is not what SUPERNATURAL is truly about.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Одесса. "Зеленая Волна" - 2018.

Для меня «Зеленая Волна» - это, прежде всего, возможность купить книги тех издателей, продукцию которых нельзя найти в наших местных книжных магазинах, а также посетить различные мероприятия, связанные с книгами, писателями, издателями и издательским делом, количество и разнообразие которых растет с каждым годом – в отличие от стендов с книгами. В этом году я была неприятно поражена тем, насколько уменьшилось количество присутствовавших издательств (как больших, так и малых) по сравнению с позапрошлым годом, да и местоположение совсем не порадовало. Возможно, из за расстановки стендов, которая, на мой взгляд, была очень сумбурной и неудачной; возможно, из за песка и мелкой гальки под ногами, которая то и дело забивалась в обувь; возможно, из за палящего солнца и ужасной жары, которая заставляла плавать и плавиться в собственном поту, но посещение «Зеленой Волны» в этом году мне, к сожалению, не доставило никакого удовольствия. В результате, я купила всего две книги – хуже некуда! Повезло, что мое любимое украинское издательство («Фонтан Казок») расположилось в самом начале этого странного круга, который неизбежно приводил к стендам с едой и напитками, среди которых иногда можно было натолкнуться и на книжные. Принимая во внимание, что «Зеленая Волна» проходит в разгар лета, возможно, организаторам пора рассмотреть вариант проведения этого немаловажного события в жизни нашего города в кондиционированном пространстве.

К сожалению, посещение мероприятий, несмотря на изначальные грандиозные планы, сводится к минимуму, опять-таки из за той безумной жары, которая всегда сопровождает это событие, и которая с каждым годом становится все хуже и хуже. Тем не менее, несмотря на все преграды, например, связанные с ужасными поездками в одесских маршрутках, мне все-таки удалось посетить два интересных мероприятия: Беседа-диалог «С нами народ: место фольклора в современных текстах» и Small talk «Малые издательства: создание и выживание».

Главным гостем первого мероприятия был Барри Каннингем – человек, благодаря которому Гарри Поттер выбрался из чулана и стал известен всему миру. Оказывается, он также работал с самим Роалдом Далем! Так что не просто человек – а легенда.

Тема фольклора в современном тексте мне интересна и как читателю, и как автору, поэтому, на мой взгляд, формат проведения был выбран не совсем удачно. Все же, принимая во внимание тему, это нужно была сделать в формате дискуссии, в которой бы принимали участие присутствующие, среди которых, я уверена, были авторы, которые используют тему фольклора в своих произведениях и которым, наверняка, было что сказать по этому поводу. К тому же, немного обсудив заявленную тему, беседа-диалог между гостями и модератором постепенно перешла в какое-то совсем другое русло, которое имело мало общего с фольклором, к которому мы после уже не вернулись. Все-таки на такую встречу надо было пригласить больше авторов и дать им возможность учавствовать непосредственно в процессе общения.

Второе мероприятие, связанное с маленькими издательствами и тем как они выживают в нашей стране, мне очень понравилось. Дискуссия между представителями таких издательств была душевной, интересной и оживленной. Было приятно смотреть и слушать с каким энтузиазмом, любовью, самоиронией и надеждой они говорили о своем любимом деле, несмотря на сплошную неопределенность и остальные трудности связанные с изданием книг в нашей стране. Я опять-таки убедилась в том, что, издательства, которые открываются в нашей стране, не ставят своей целью издавать авторов в принципе, а ориентируются исключительно на конкретного автора, книгу, идею или проект. Так что, если хочешь, чтобы тебя издавали в Украине – создай свое собственное издательство. Вот так.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

WAYWARD SISTERS: or what went wrong with a Supernatural spin-off - in my opinion

I don’t know why I feel so compelled to write about WAYWARD SISTERS after all this time. I guess because even now it’s still bugging the hell out of me for a number of reasons. So here are my thoughts on why I think it went wrong and missed its chance to become an excellent show I personally would have loved to watch. I remember getting quite excited when I heard about the plans for a female-headlined SUPERNATURAL spin-off. I thought it was a really good idea – if done right. I also thought, back then, that it would center around Jody and Donna – two very different but enjoyable characters, who have some hunting experience, and who, I believed, would make a very good team, hunting monsters and saving people – like Sam and Dean or Bobby and Rufus – while bringing their own unique ways in the process. I was definitely looking forward to that.
However, what it turned out to be was 95% of unnecessary family drama (I’m sorry but haven’t we seen it all before?) and only 5% of fighting actual supernatural monsters – and even that part was so insipid that I’m not at all surprised that the show wasn’t picked in the end. The fact of the matter is that it simply failed to deliver what it was supposed to deliver as a SUPERNATURAL spin-off. If you have to ask – no, it was not supposed to deliver an episode heavily based on maudlin family drama, revolving around same old issues that in one form or another have been plaguing the original show since the very beginning, and that have been resolved to a certain extent and with varying degrees of success in the course of its long run. So that was the first big problem that I had with WAYWARD SISTERS: too much drama and very little actual plot.
The second problem for me was that the writers chose one of the most controversial, problematic, and not always sympathetic recurring characters to make their lead and pin their meager I-have-to-save-Sam-and-Dean plot on. Personally, I can’t help feeling that the writers painted themselves into a corner with Claire’s character, because every time there appears to be a slim chance of her further development and improvement, they snatch it away and push her back into a troubled-teenager-with-messed-up-past box – bizarrely, they also chose to make that tangled web of parental issues, frustration, insecurity, arrogance and devil-may-care attitude the central plotline of the pilot, which took a lot of screen time and utterly failed to bring anything remotely new or original to the show.
The third problem for me was the unnecessary overpopulation of old and new characters who had virtually nothing to do other than watch Claire and Jody butt heads, and, from time to time, when the occasion required, run around, pointing guns and shooting when in sight of otherworldly creatures. Unfortunately, such characters as Donna and Alex became little more than a background noise, supporting characters at best, pushed aside for the sake of the newcomers. But did we really need another psychic or a dream-walker-slash-messed-up-kid thrown into the mix? I believe it would have made for a much more solid story if the writers concentrated their efforts on the smaller number of characters, that we have already come to know and love and invest in, and provided them with meaning and substance through a well-devised plot rather than extreme cardio workout. After all, the quantity of the characters doesn’t make for the quality of the story.
I also find it ironic that on SUPERNATURAL it has been stressed again and again and again and again that hunting life is not the kind of life that you choose or encourage anyone to take up. I mean, there has always been so much talk about Sam’s chance at going to college and having a normal life or Mary’s ardent wish for a normal life with her husband and kids. Apparently, that’s no longer the case in WAYWARD SISTERS. Here we have a bright young girl (Patience) with a bright future ahead of her and instead of leaving her be to have that future she is pushed into hunting life because of her abilities – that, when you think about it, could be just as easily used for good in some other way. How come she doesn’t deserve a chance at normal? How did hunting suddenly become a job that you actually encourage young girls to take up rather than an obscure and dangerous lifestyle that people are forced into because of loss, revenge and other supernaturally-effected circumstances and that, in fact, should be avoided at all costs?
Finally, another big problem of mine with the pilot was that ridiculous “rescue mission” that constituted the rest of the plot. I don’t think that the notion of Sam and Dean being rescued by women (or teenage girls, in this case) is unbelievable or ridiculous. It was the writing that made it so. By choosing to provide comic effect for entertainment’s sake when first introducing the boys – I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought that Sam and Dean couldn’t look less like two people in need of saving – the writers failed to represent their situation as truly dangerous and convince the audience that they were in horrible predicament to justify that contrived plot of theirs. Moreover, by choosing to disregard their extensive experience, skills and abilities, including excellent intuition and sense of direction, they did their characters a great disservice by suggesting that they wouldn’t be able to find a way out on their own.
If you need to manipulate characters and their capabilities by degrading them in order to fit your plot and to make someone else look better by comparison, then maybe you’re just not good at your job. Incidentally, it reflected poorly on the rescue party, completely subverting their efforts, at least in my eyes, because you can’t make someone look truly strong by deliberately weakening someone else and then, adding insult to injury, condescendingly make it miraculously easy for the girls to find and rescue the boys – before the inevitable tragedy struck. I’m sorry but that was an example of lazy, sloppy and self-complacent writing of someone totally lacking in any new ideas or imagination and going about it with all the finesse of a hatchet. I guess if your purpose is to push through the show that you seem to be more interested in than the current one you’re working on, then that’s how you would go about it… unfortunately, that’s the impression that I got.
But what made the whole thing even more unconvincing was the fact that Sam and Dean had spent over a day in that place without either finding their way back or being attacked by anyone or anything, making it look to all intents and purposes as though it was just a picnic gone slightly wrong – and it wasn’t until Claire and Kaia were finally on their way to save them that Sam and Dean ended up in any danger at all. It doesn’t look like a very well thought out plot to me; more like a water balloon – prick it with a pin and there will be nothing left but a lot of water to mop up. I’m not even going to mention that instant bond and blind devotion between Claire and Kaia – forced, far-fetched and overused as pretty much everything else within this episode.
Yet that wasn’t even the most ridiculous part. I guess the prize goes to that one-person ambush that had both Sam and Dean down in less than a minute, bound and ready to be served for dinner. I’m sorry but I really have to ask: is this some kind of game that these writers play, where they decide whether to increase or decrease the capabilities of the characters, depending on the circumstances that they put them in?
In the end, I would have preferred to watch the pilot without the boys in it at all rather than have them shamelessly used as a hook for those who would have certain reservations about watching a proposed spin-off pilot without them in it. Let’s face it: their characters were used solely for comic relief and treated as nothing more than a feeble plot device to showcase that girls can be heroes too. I know that they can – but that was an unmitigated disappointment.
I wanted to see a well-written story that would not employ tricks and gimmicks to achieve its end. I wanted to see a story that would not use overblown and overused drama. I wanted to see a story that would give each character a fair chance to show themselves. I wanted to see a challenging, engaging, scary and compelling story about kick-ass women who use their wits, skills, expertise, resources, and humour against the supernatural, and who save someone actually in need of saving.
To conclude, the problem with WAYWARD SISTERS for me was that I didn’t see a SUPERNATURAL spin-off in all of that. I blame the writing and the chosen subject matter. I mostly saw a whole load of trite teenage drama complete with tantrums, constant bids for freedom and even diary-writing. Surely there is enough of that on TV these days. So who really needs another such show and quite unoriginal at that?

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Just checking in... in case anyone cares...

I feel really sorry for my poor blog for neglecting it but as I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who ever comes here I don’t think it matters one way or another. The good thing is that unlike last time when I went radio silent I have actually been writing quite a lot. However, I’ve been concentrating on my Ukrainian projects for the most part and on my other blog that I co-pilot with a fellow writer, where I’ve been posting my on-going Ukrainian fantasy project for the last three months. I’m still hoping to find that hole in the Ukrainian book market’s impenetrable wall to slither through somehow. I haven’t had any luck so far. I even submitted my fairy-tale to a contest back in March… and nothing – another big fat failure. I also submitted it to another contest just yesterday. I’m hopeful. I have to be. I just need a win, you know? I mean, just one freaking win after all these years of constant writing and no results. Anyway, I’m writing. I have lots of ideas and that’s what’s important. Unfortunately, utter lack of feedback or publication is a huge downer and sometimes it’s just too much. I have no luck at getting readers or finding an agent, or getting published, or winning a contest or even doing publicity on different social networking sites and I have no writing friends or contacts who would help me with the promotion stuff and all that just stinks of complete and utter failure. On the plus side, I found an illustrator who has already created these two charming portraits. So feast your eyes upon lovely Ethelinda of Grimwood and her temperamental daughter Nermina the Woman-Snake!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Book Review: THROUGH THE LAST DOOR by J.A. Jaken

It's been a while since I wrote one of these but I honestly don’t remember the last time I read a book that not only hooked my interest but kept me interested till the very end; that brought me so many varied emotions and so much sincere pleasure. From the moment I started reading THROUGH THE LAST DOOR I had an impression of a masterfully crafted book, steeped in history, tradition, myth and lore of that incredible fantasy world the author has created. I felt like every word and every sentence was cherished and honed to perfection, creating a deliciously rich narrative, full of vivid descriptions, endearing characters, intriguing relationships and steadfast friendships. I liked the fact that the author didn’t throw us right into action but gave us time to acquaint ourselves with the world and the characters around us – gave us an opportunity to invest in their goals and well-being before jumping into the fray – so that when one of them perished half-way through the book the shock and the blow were severe and real indeed. I actually cried. I could not believe that such an amazing character was gone for good and so soon too! I really want to thank the author for gradually easing us into the story and for creating such an amazing set of characters: Kaori, Hunter, Yura, Ben, Haku, Ishaya, Malo, others… brave and strong, honest and loyal, intelligent and wise, fierce and gentle, funny and grave, insecure and full of doubts... I thought that the book took a somewhat different route as compared to other fantasy stories so that the events unfolding on its pages took me completely by surprise. I also enjoyed the romance, which, just like the rest of the story, wasn’t rushed. It was sweet and tender and precious and heartwarming. I knew before long that this was the book that I would come back to again and again. I like books that make me feel like coming back home to family and friends and I think that THROUGH THE LAST DOOR is one such book. I have downloaded it for free but I have already bought the second book in the series and I can’t wait to return to Kazure. However, I am strongly tempted to reread the first book again :) I am that much in love with it!

Monday, 30 April 2018

Новый блог и новый проект - фэнтези сага на украинском языке

В начале этого года у меня возник вопрос: писать или не писать? А с ним и другой вопрос: вести или не вести литературный блог? Эти вопросы породили целый пост, в результате которого ответ, несмотря ни на что, был однозначным. Писать! И блогу тоже быть! Ну что ж, как говорится, сказано - сделано. Мой новый блог называется "Под сенью волшебного леса" или "Під дахом чарівного лісу", так как блог будет на русском и украинском языках. Вести я его буду совместно с Анной Шевченко. На этом блоге я буду публиковать свой новый проект Хроніки Високогірного Королівства. Некогда этот проект был англоязычным и назывался "Альмендра". Однако в "Хроніках" описываются события, которые произошли задолго до рождения Альмендры. Надеюсь кого-то эта новость заинтересует.