Runs In The Family

A few years ago I went to the show “An Evening with Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer” at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver (November 2011, apparently). I’d been a fan of Gaiman’s since reading “Good Omens” at an impressionable age. I’d read “American Gods” and “Neverwhere” back in college or high school; when he was touring to support “Anansi Boys”, I bought a copy to give to my brother, and bought a second one for myself because I loved that book. So needless to say, I was going to this show, despite not really knowing anything about the co-headliner other than that they were married and she was a musician of sorts.

The show was a mixture of Q&A, readings, and songs. At one point Neil finished whatever it was he was reading, and the lights dimmed, and on the other side of the stage (and completely unnoticed by me ’til that point) Amanda launched into this song, which was the most hardcore piano-driven song I’d ever heard. (This version has strings and drums, but imagine it’s just vocals and banging piano.)

(WordPress is being weird about showing the embedded iframe. If the player doesn’t show up, try bandcamp.)

Yea. I think she kinda won me over, right there.

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I recently saw another play at the Gaiety Theatre. At some point they’ll have a special seat reserved for me, no doubt. This time it was “Moll”, a play (by John B. Keane) about the titular housekeeper who, by playing the canon against two curates, slowly takes over a presbytery in rural Co. Kerry. I enjoyed it quite a bit: I found the first half a little off-putting as I adjusted to the low stakes of the plot, but the second half was deadly hilarious.

Also, it is the most Irish thing I’ve seen so far, moreso than even “Stones in His Pockets last year. Well, arguably: it doesn’t have the underlying despair of the other play, but I can’t imagine any other country in the world producing a comedy about local parish Catholic hierarchy.

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Jupiter Ascending

Right! I just watched this film tonight. It wasn’t good, but I enjoyed it.


  • CG action sequences are incredibly boring. As cool as tiny spacecraft dogfighting over Chicago is (and it is pretty cool), it gets old. It’s a space opera, not an action movie; nevertheless, I wish there was less action.
  • I loved the side details, like the random alien races that pop up, or the planet of bureaucracy. Or the strange system of protocol that everyone, no matter how nefarious, seems to follow.
  • I liked Jupiter. Even though almost every time she showed a bit of agency it was to make a bad decision. Even though everyone has to rescue her over and over again.
  • I loved the dragon aliens. So much CG, yes, but they were great.
  • The economics of the galactic civilization make less and less sense the more I think about it.
  • Lastly, the movie doesn’t go into it nearly enough, but I was intrigued by how the three Abraxas siblings interacted with Jupiter. She’s ostensibly the reincarnation of their mother, and should be their equal. I wish the movie had gotten deeper their relationships.

That pretty much sums it up. There were some interesting ideas in the movie, but it’s all lost to spectacle.

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Ex Machina

I went to see Ex Machina a few weeks ago with the meetup group. It’s about a dev for some Facebook/Google amalgamation called “Bluebook” who wins a trip to spend a week at the Alaskan hideaway of the corporation’s reclusive owner, only to discover he’s there to perform some sort of Turing test on an artificial intelligence.

I can’t say I enjoyed the movie, precisely. I admire its construction and the psychological underpinnings, but on a plot level I found it slow and overly claustrophobic. The plot twists, when they came, were generally pretty good. The ending was the best part, ambiguous in a way that serves the rest of the film, yet moving. In the weeks since I’ve thought of it repeatedly.

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