three-and-a-half-stars

All right, so that concludes this season’s magazines for me.

Honestly, I shouldn’t have been so hasty and ordered the anan special mag just because I saw one or two positive reviews. 

I mean the pics of Yuzu in the anan special are great, but I wished they split up things more neatly, so that I don’t have wild Shoma and Tanaka pages pop up while I’m looking at Yuzu. I like the cover, but that’s half the perk. Oh btw, I just realized there old quotes from Yuzu on some of his pics. A nice touch, if I could read japanese more fluently….

Meanwhile, the 20th issue from figure skating fan express is just SUPERB! It’s the issue on WTT 2017 and omg, A+ selections, plus a little bonus from World Team announcement and the Sendai monument celebration and some banquet photos from World 2017 (SUIT YUZU GALORE, at least the suit suits him in the photos.) 

So, three and a half stars on anan and 5 stars for the other mag.

The Little Mermaid: The Movies

Since I am a huge fan of the tale and have seen so many versions of it shown theatrically, I thought I might share some thoughts on these select movie versions of Hans Christian Andersen’s masterful tale of The Little Mermaid. Keep in mind, these are just personal opinions of a crazy fan of the original tale. *List goes from left to right beginning at the top right corner of the pictures. Click on the title to see the film/see the film’s trailer. 

1. Malá Morská Víla (1976) ★★★★★
Probably my most favorite of the film adaptions, this Czech release closely follows Andersen’s tale while also adding a few very enjoyable twists. With beautiful music, lovely scenery, and a good dosage of humor, this movie is incredible and always brings me to tears in the end. My only complaint is the lack of fins on the mer-characters.

2. The Little Mermaid (1975) ★★★★★
This is one of the best cartoon adaption of the story there is! This sweet 1.5 hour anime cartoon is both well done and charming, with lovely music, fun animation, and a great following of the original tale. I give this film five stars not only because it brings tears at the end, but because it does so well with character development and has great additions to an already great story.

3.  Saban’s Adventures of The Little Mermaid (1991) ★★★  
The first episode of this TV series is based on Anderson’s original tale, but if that was the only episode there was, this cartoon would get much less in the stars department. The original tale is done tastefully and with great adventure, but the series itself is where the magic continues. I love the mermaid, Marina, and though her prince Justin is a bit of a fail sometimes, this really is a great series. I’d recommend it to anyone.

4.  Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989) ★★★½
People are probably going to hate me for only giving this flick three and a half stars, but hear me out! I fell in love with this movie’s soundtrack before the movie itself and once seeing the movie, I held onto $20 for two years before it was rereleased and I could buy it. Why only three and a half stars then, you ask? Probably because the magic wore off. I still love this movie and enjoy watching it (oh the music!!!), but I think what bothers me most is how far it is removed from the original tale. Also, some of the characters get a bit annoying after a while (I can hardly stand to watch the Les Poissons portion anymore).  All-in-all though, this is a great movie, I just have found other film adaptions that are better.

5.  Shelly Duvall’s Faiere Tale Theatre: The Little Mermaid (1987) ★★★
Oh where to start? As lighthearted as the rest of her Fairie Tale theater stories, Shelly Duvall’s Little Mermaid is no different. Lighthearted with a few jokes only parents would understand, this is an enjoyable retelling with some very memorable parts (oh, the piano room scene!), but overall, it draws a little too far from the original tale for it to reach too far in the star category.

6.  Shirley Temple’s Storybook: The Little Mermaid (1961) ★★★
What can I say? This film version is adorable! Well done for 1961, this film takes almost a theatrical play sort of format as is the case in all of Shirley Temple’s Storybook movies. Though I am not a fan of her look in this film, I can’t help but adore the adorable mermaid Shirley portrays. Not all of the acting in this film is great, but I do enjoy a good mermaid film and this is one. Definitely worth a see!

7.  Rusalochka (1976) ★★★★★
I love this film! Though it is very removed from the original tale, it is so different to the point of a masterpiece!  The film twists are fantastic, the music is fun, the fashion is breathtaking, and goodness! Got to love all of the plot twists. A warning for young audiences, however, as there is very brief nudity during the mermaid transformation scene.

8.  Reader’s Digest’s The Little Mermaid (1975) ★★★★★
The mermaid is cute, the music is fun, and this follows the original story almost flawlessly. If you’re looking for a narrated film version with very few flaws, check this version out!

9.  Rusalochka (1968) ★★★★
This film was very well done and quite haunting. I think part of it has to do with the dark colors and fluid character design. Though not easily found in English, I give this film four stars for its closeness to the original tale and its haunting qualities.

10. HBO Family: The Little Mermaid (1997)
I was not a huge fan of this re-telling of the tale. I think part of it had to do with their twists to the original tale, but I think most of all, I just did not like the mermaid’s tail design. It was a creative twist, but it was distracting.

11. Magical Memories: The Little Mermaid (2011) ★★
This movie was well done with some cute humor, but it just wasn’t one of my most favorite, or one of the most memorable film retellings of this amazing original story.

12. The Little Mermaid (2007)
Heavily anchored with a non-discreet “don’t pollute” under message and an irritating song, I’ll have to say this version is only good if you want some quick entertainment for a few laughs.  

13. Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale (2001) ★★★★
Though this movie isn’t entirely the Little Mermaid (thus the 4 stars), it is amazing!! Though not all of the acting is great, the story, and the mermaid portion itself is so well done and so masterfully woven into the overall plot. I would definitely recommend this movie.

14. Golden Films: The Little Mermaid (2002) ★★
This version is hilarious. Though it’s not my most favorite version, it is one of the best low-budget options and totally worth a view… or more!  

15. Starlight Video: The Little Mermaid (2005) ★½
I’ve only watched this version once, and it was not one of my most favorites. Definitely not as bad as the 2007 cartoon release, but just not that memorable. 

Submission - Historical Map: Chicago CTA Rapid Transit Map, 1983

Submitted by our resident repository of Chicago transit map knowledge, Dennis McClendon, who says:

This map of Chicago’s rapid transit network originated in the 1970s (this one is from June 1983), and this style was used until routes received color names in 1993. Happily, by that time digital printing in fiberglass-embedded signs made full-color maps easier to place in graffiti-prone environments.

These maps were silk-screened onto [blue] color blanks, and every color of ink added cost. So the CTA’s six lines are represented by using only two colors. Simple black is used for three “extension” lines that never overlap. A simple white line is used for the north-south line those connect with. For the two other through routes: black with white casing and white with black casing.

The side ticks for stations work fine, but a box for the places where transfers are possible is not altogether intuitive.  The CTA of that era employed skip-stop spacing, so alternate trains stopped at A or B stations only. Another graphic decision that might have deserved more thought:  the names of various suburbs—only a few of which can be reached by rapid transit—floating in their vague geographic positions, but no indication of Chicago city limits or Lake Michigan.

—-

Transit Maps says:

I have to say that I actually really like the forced graphic simplicity of this map. There’s only two colours to work with, so every element has to be very carefully considered and balanced against others for the map to work at all. That it manages to keep the route lines recognisable and separated in the downtown Loop area without the use of an inset map is quite an achievement.

The famous “A-B” stopping patterns are shown pretty deftly as well, being mostly placed on the opposite side of the route line from the station name. The few stations where this doesn’t happen (due to crowding or space limitations) stand out like a sore thumb – Jarvis on the North-South line, and many of the stations on the Ravenswood line. There are also two stations with their labels set at an angle: Merchandise Mart is almost completely unavoidable, but Harvard on the Englewood Line could easily have been fitted in horizontally.

I think the “boxed” interchanges work well enough, having seen similar devices on quite a few maps (the Paris Metro included) now. I also like the extra detail included on the map: station closures on weekends and nights, direction of travel around the Loop, inbound boarding only on the last three stations on the Jackson Park North-South Line, and more.

I would agree with Dennis on the locality names, that just seem to float in space. The biggest offender is “Evergreen Park”, right at the very bottom of the map, below the legend!

As for depicting Lake Michigan, that seems like a good idea, but I struggle to think of a way of doing it without upsetting the delicate balance of the map. You can’t really use a white line, as that could be confused with all the white route lines, and you can’t have a large white area as that would be visually way too heavy. In the end, the lake isn’t that important for such a graphically stylised map (it really just delineates the eastern side of the map), so I’m not too upset by its absence.

Our rating: A fine historical example of how to use a limited colour palette effectively. Minimalist but still effective. Three-and-a-half stars.

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Unofficial Future Map: Melbourne Metro Train Network by Bernie Ng

Submitted by Bernie, whose excellent map of Singapore (Nov. 2013, 3.5 stars) has already been featured on this site. Bernie says:

Hi Cameron,

I saw your post about the new Victorian Rail Network concept map (April 2014, 3.5 stars) by PTV and was very impressed - it’s quite a quantum leap forward from the existing map.  I thought I’d have a go at further redefining the map, but for the Melbourne Metro network only. (I personally don’t see the value in putting the regional/metro network in one map – an average user won’t really need both networks together, and as you say, scale is an issue.)

Quite naturally, the City Loop is used as the visual focal point.  I was hoping it could be placed in the centre of the map, but given the lopsided nature of Melbourne, it was not quite possible.  I have added some of the proposed extensions for the network, including the metro tunnel running through the city, creating a bypass from the congested loop. (This tunnel is currently attracting lots of debate - the latest government proposal is to run it south of the loop via Montague - although I prefer the original proposed route and have shown that on the map.)

Stopping patterns are shown as they are relatively simple compared to Sydney’s. Most routes operate all stops, or with one all stops and one limited stops service. With recent interest on “clockface” or “turn-up-and-go” services, the map indicates which stations have services at least every 15 minutes or better during the daytime.

Each line is assigned a letter code for easier identification, especially for tourists.  The letters are assigned in a counterclockwise order, starting with A-Line for Airport (Tullamarine) services.  

Melbourne public transport uses a fare zone system, but the number of zones have been reduced over the years. I would actually prefer to have more zones, which result in the ability to charge fares more commensurate with the distance travelled. This map shows fare zones in 10km increments from Southern Cross station. (I also have a cleaner version of the map omitting the zones.)

The font used is Source Sans Pro – thanks so much for the tip!  It is indeed a really great font. Very visually pleasing with high legibility. Perfect for maps.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the map.

—-

Transit Maps says:

This is great work once again from Bernie: a very attractive map that features some distinctive and lovely flowing route lines. The representation of the City Loop as a perfect circle is deftly handled and a perfect focal point for the map (the ever-important visual “hook” that helps a map stand out from the crowd). However, I’m not so keen on the way that the labels for the stations on the loop are angled as if they were spokes on a wheel – Bernie’s done an otherwise excellent job of constraining labels to just two angles (horizontal and reading up from bottom left to top right), and this just seems a little gimmicky and fussy to me.

Bernie’s frequency icons are a nice usability touch (it’s always nice to know that you’re never more than 15 minutes away from the next train!), but I’m less convinced by his attempts to show service patterns. Looking at the legend, he’s using eight different station icons to convey this information, which is a lot to ask users of the map to remember. And – at least in the smaller image size that Tumblr allows – it’s pretty tricky to tell some of those icons apart visually. I’m generally in favour of letting timetables deal with the nitty-gritty of showing local/express route combinations, and this treatment doesn’t really convince me otherwise, although I certainly appreciate the effort Bernie has put into it.

Speaking of the legend, it really is beautifully put together and very comprehensive. Placing it neatly into Port Phillip Bay really works pretty much perfectly.

About the only other comment I have is regarding Bernie’s proposed route naming conventions. If I was giving route designations based simply on the alphabet as Bernie has done here, I would start at the one nearest the 12 o'clock position (probably Bernie’s “T” South Morang route) and continue in a clockwise direction, rather than anti-clockwise. It’s simply far more intuitive to use a universally understood convention like this to make finding route lines easier. Yes, “A” for “Airport” is hard to resist, but none of the other routes have any correlation between their destination stations and the letter designation, so the “A” should be as easy to find as possible.

Our rating: Looks fabulous, but perhaps tries a little too hard to convey a lot of information. Still, I have to applaud Bernie for pushing the envelope and attempting something a little out of the box (and mainly succeeding). Three-and-a-half stars.

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BOOK THREE: Destined, Jessie Harrell (three and a half stars)

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Eros and Psyche since sixth grade, when our English and social studies classes did units on ancient Greece (which culminated with Greek Night, when we all had to do some presentation involving an aspect of ancient Greek culture; my group did a skit called Medusa’s Hair Salon). I’ve read a few books/short stories with this myth as a basis, and even attempted to write my own during NaNoWriMo a few years back.

Destined was not one of the best of the adaptations.

Oh, it was an easy read, and cute. I liked Psyche’s personality. She had enough moxie that it wasn’t grating and didn’t read like faux girl power. However, I didn’t like the POV change–Psyche’s chapters are in first person; Eros’s in third. It disrupted the flow for me.

If you’re looking for a light, fluffy reading of the story, by all means go with this one. But if you’re left dissatisfied by Destined, I’ll suggest one of my favorite retellings: Cupid by Julius Lester. I read it at the start of last year, and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Review: Across the Universe

Author: Beth Revis

Genre(s): Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance

Format: Paperback

My Rating: ★★★½

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. - via Goodreads

My Thoughts: I think this book is more of a 3.5 for me. My rating on Goodreads is a 4 because I round up.

THAT SAID…

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I’m not much of a sci-fi reader - other than dystopian novels, I’m 99% sure this is my first sci-fi novel - but it wasn’t too bad! What I enjoyed the most was how dark the story got. Originally, I didn’t think it was that creepy but the further into the story I got, the more I realized just how dark what was taking place in the novel was and that, along with the satisfaction of knowing without a doubt who the “bad guy” was, was what drove me to keep reading.

So it probably goes without saying that when I first grabbed the book I thought it was going to be heavy on the romance. But that wasn’t the case at all. I’ve heard about a lot of books that are “sci-fi” that are really just romance in a sci-fi setting and Across the Universe wasn’t one of them. I don’t know how the second and third books will pan out but I think the problems presented in AtU definitely lend themselves to being explored and dealt with in the next books.

One of the main problems I had with this book was the murderer. The moment that character was introduced, I had already pinned them as the culprit. It wasn’t hard to figure out so I grew annoyed that Amy and Elder overlooked it for so long. However, given everything going on within the novel, I’m willing to cut them some slack. 

My other issue is the lack of ladies. In total, we have five we know by name, one of whom we never see, and other than Amy, we never actually get to know the other women. Of course, there is a “mean girl” we see occasionally - sigh. It would’ve been nice to see Amy develop some kind of real relationship with another girl aboard the ship since there are eight guys we know by name, five of whom she interacts with on an almost daily basis. I’m not going to hold out too much hope for female companionship in the next two novels, though.

Would I recommend this book?: Yes.

anonymous asked:

Okay so I understand you get many many prompts and stuff but can you write more of that one where Chloe has a girlfriend and doesn't tell Beca and then Beca meets her on Christmas break? I need it like I need air. I need to know what happens next. And you should know in my head I cast Dianna Agron as Chloe's girlfriend for some reason.

Now the girlfriend’s name is Quinn. For…reasons. Part One here 

“Shit,” Chloe whispered, throwing a quick glance behind her to see her girlfriend watching the interaction with a jaw set and arms crossed. She quickly reached up, wiping the tears that were threatening to fall before looking at her phone to check her appearance. “Hey,” she shot out, hoping that it held a semblance of organic cheeriness. Her girlfriend, Quinn (…or Queen…or Quincy…?…Who the hell has a name that starts with Q anyway), scooted into the space next to Chloe, taking a deep breath before looking at Beca. 

“Everything alright here, Babe?” she said, smiling sweetly. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Chloe said quickly, picking up her menu, but Beca shifted at the other side of the table. 

“Chl–” she started, but the other girl held up a hand. 

“Um, Becs,” she said, her voice impossibly small. Quiet. Almost, guilty. “Can we talk about it after dinner, maybe? Or…something…” 

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I was trying to figure out what to watch while I was back at my hotel in Italy, and I figured that Netflix would be a pretty good thing to put on. My laptop was on the side of me, so the opportunity was wide open. And of course I take it, and I start looking through the different categories of what to watch. My friends come in, and they’re looking for us to do something and I just tell ‘em to lay down on either side of me, and we continue together, looking through all the different movies. Now everyone that knows me, knows that I’m a horror-movie type of girl, so obviously I look through the horror section. I skim through a few movies and I come across one that has about three or three and a half stars; figured that it wasn’t that scary, but the summary of the plot looked pretty good to me. So I turned it on – 'The Fourth Kind’ – that’s what it was called,and I have to tell you that I’ve never been so scared of a movie before, in my entire life. It was based off a true story, and I know sometimes when it says 'based off a true story, it’s just bullshit, but no – this had actual footage, and it was just bizarre and so freakin’ creepy. It’s been about two days, and I still can’t help but cringe and try not to cry when I think about it. It’s about alien abductions and whatnot, and it’s kinda’ hard to explain, so I won’t go into too much detail. But it creeped me out, and I had to sleep with the lights on. I’m a little ashamed of that, but hey; anything to make me sleep, y'know? I will never watch that movie again, and never think that just because a movie has less stars in the horror or thriller section of Netflix, that that automatically means that it’s no good. I don’t suggest people at the age of three to twenty-one to watch that, or you will want your mom beside you wherever you go for nearly four days. I’m ashamed to admit this to everyone, but just thought it’d be best if I warned everyone beforehand, so they don’t end up watching that movie.

Twilight of the After Party Disciples

Ramin Setoodeh is not happy.

His Variety review of Veronica Mars was laced so much acid you could dump baking soda on it and call it a science project.  It’s a nasty, mean girl screed about the Kickstarter-funded revival of the cult TV series that made it to the big screen … and yet, it’s not.  It’s insults and nitpicking (and I know nitpicking), but not very much criticism.  Mostly, he seems unhappy not only that the film exists, but how it came to exist.

Yet he’s in the minority on this one; Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a very respectable 72% as I write this.  That’s from a $6 Million dollar budget. Think of how many $100-million-plus movies have resulted in steaming turds in the last few years, and you can see from where this stems.  Going through the “rotten” reviews yields similar complaints, not commenting much on quality or storytelling so much as the audacity of crowdsourcing seeming to result in a success.

The critics have a sad, and it’s not hard to see why.

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Fifth Harmony: Artist(s) of the Week

After a stunning performance of Worth It at the DWTS finale, Fifth Harmony prove they are ready to entertain and please any kind of crowd. With four consecutive gold records under their belt (sales of 500,000+ copies in the U.S.) they have officially sold over two million singles! This comes as no surprise especially when you point out that critics have given their album
outstanding positive reviews, including a three and half star rating from Rolling Stone!

In addition, Worth It, their latest released single off their debut album Reflection, has already charted worldwide making a slight splash on the ARIA charts, as well other worldwide charts in Canada, Germany and New Zealand!

There’s a good chance we might see the girls nab their first top 10 hit in the
U.S. You go ladies! x

So, it’s winding down on the first evening after I’ve gotten home from con and I’ve finally just managed to fully relax… So here we go about my weekend:

So yeah, New Orleans Comic-Con. I went this year (was Riza Hawkeye on Saturday) and had a pretty awesome time. It’s a different feel from MechaCon, and I think I sorta liked the small setting of MechaCon more… but it was really awesome to actually run into people I had met at MechaCon and talked to a few times… and this time I actually got some of their names, including the guy who was a really awesome Maes Hughes. >> The one downside to it (other than the lots of walking that sorta wore my poor mom out >>; ) was the Cosplay Competition. Why, you ask? Three words: Heroes. Of. Cosplay. They were filming the season finale of the second season there at NOCC… and they wanted to film two episodes, so the singles and group competitions were divided up. So, not only did the singles competition start late because the camera crew needed to record the stars’ drama backstage, but judging took forever because they needed to film back there, then film the judges “deliberating” (which was basically paper shuffling and looking at each other and murmuring, much to all our annoyance). So, they announce the singles winners… then announce a break before the group competition because YaYa Han and the judges needed to change outfits. Which was weird… and then it stretched into thirty minutes with a Wizard World employee resorting to asking the vastly dwindled crowd for jokes. After several bad blonde jokes and half an hour, they finally all came out again in their different costumes for the groups. Groups went by super fast, except for the “stars” of the show, which were a Soul Calibur team who claimed their armor and stuff was made within a week, and a “Peter Pan’s Labyrinth” team who had large elaborate props and stuff for it. It was kinda clear who were the professionals and who were the locals in the whole competition, which made things VERY one-sided. When the group events had mostly finished off, some of the other local cosplayers came to sit in the row behind my Mom and I. A Silent Hill trio, Thor and Loki as Bunnies, and a four-man squad of Halo Marines (two males and two females). All of them looked exhausted, worn out… and beyond frustrated and annoyed. As they talked to us, we came to find out just how one-sided and rigged the whole entire competition was. For four hours, the group cosplayers were told to stand in line, not even backstage, and were told nothing else. They were given one beignet to eat each, and apparently at about three and a half hours, the HoC “stars” showed up all freshly costumed up and clearly not having just stood in line like all of them did. The groups finally went backstage, only to be told they had to wait for half an hour for the costume change for the judges. Not only that, but the crew working the con helped carry in these massive props (a bed and tombstone-headboard sorta thing). At this point the groups realized how rigged it was, and a lot of their skits couldn’t be done because of how loud the music was. So, a bunch decided to purposefully bomb their own skits and do some terribad dancing instead (which was sorta hilarious when you realized they had coordinated it, much to the judges’ ire). The Loki Bunny was nearly in tears as she told me that, in her four years of going to this con since it was started, she had never been treated with such disrespect as she was now. Her ride was supposed to pick her up at 9:15, but it was past 11:30 by the time the contest finished and the two had to find their way home. The Halo group all lived not too far from me and had to take a street car late at night to get to their vehicle. SO MANY people had cleared out of the theatre after the singles that the Wizard World people made us try to fill in the middle rows to make the illusion of a massive audience still watching. It was an all around mess, and a good cosplay competition was ruined by those vultures with Heroes of Cosplay. As you can imagine, the HoC stars were the ones to win awards (including an “honorable mention” category being made just for the Soul Calibur group), and if I’m not mistaken, ALL HoC stars got something there. There was a clear, massive chasm between the local cosplayers and the professional ones from out of town with HoC. I know I dedicated most of this journal to ranting about HoC, but their terrible practices simply NEED to be made known to everybody. Make your voices heard to SyFy that the portrayal of the cosplay community they do is completely wrong, and they ruin costume contests for everyone else when they show up. I plan on going to MechaCon again this year, and I’m proud of the owners of that con who outright told SyFy no when it came to filming HoC there. At least that competition is still untarnished by this blasted reality show. For a blog post of one of the groups cosplaying there who can tell you about what happened in line, go read chevpala’s post. Also, a group who were dressed as the Peg Dolls from Doctor Who (and were sufficiently creepy) were apparently told they couldn’t use their own music or do a skit whenever they were up for the group competition. That means the only ones allowed to have their own music were BOTH Heroes of Cosplay star groups. ><