Sunday, July 26, 2015

Across the Storm Divide

Defiance may be my favorite scifi show ever. When I started following Julie Benz on instagram last summer, a couple days before the season 2 finale aired, I was reminded of the show a fellow ST: Enterprise shipper* heartily suggested to me. (The lesbian relationship between a white alien and a petite brothel owner was slightly intriguing at the time and was what I was looking forward to in the show. Ultimately I didn’t like Kenya anymore than I liked Jenny, but to be fair I didn’t like much of The L Word.) Luckily it wasn’t the anticipation of girl-on-girl that hooked me on the show. It was Nolan and Irisa’s relationship. I recall that this friend did mention something about that, but it seemed insignificant at the time.

I don’t think you should ever understate the chemistry between Grant Bowler and Stephanie Leonidas when recommending this show to your friends. Their bond, fraught with complications, differences, and arguments is the highlight of the show, because the love between them feels real. “The Devil in the Dark” was an early emotional high-point. I just finished the second season, dear god, and after all that they’ve been through, you can still feel the affection Nolan has for Irisa even after all she’s done and she lies weeping, nearly broken, in his arms. His promise to her is something that only someone could give if they’ve been near where she’s gone and love her as much as he does.

When reading reviews of the show I hear mentions of the words ‘cheesy’ a lot and have trouble connecting them to anything on the show. Are some of Meh Yewll’s lines a little too acerbic, and are some of the criminal subplots a little too silly? Yes to both. But maybe Tony Curran and Jamie Murray and, frankly, everyone else, are so well-cast, the direction is so good that they get us through any rough patches.

Finally, the music. Bear McCreary has written a blog post on it, so anything I say will be dim in comparison. But the main theme makes my heart soar when I hear it, and the selected covers at the end of each episode were spot on and interesting every single time. Particularly noteworthy are Raya Yarborough's Time After Time and Ooh Child.  When season two opened with the futuristic-country number Across the Storm Divide I was blown away.

I’d like to say I savoured every single episode, and I did, until we just got too close to the end for me to stand it and I consumed them all, like the devouring mother.

I plan on playing the game someday and am watching the third season (yay!), so I may review and talk about Defiance in detail again soon. In the meantime I’d love to hear from you if you’ve stumbled across this post.

*Trip/Reed if you must know.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Farscape eps 1-5

I don’t really know why I didn't check out Farscape sooner. It doesn't come with many reviews these days. But when I caught up with Defiance, I needed something else to tide me over. I’ve only watched the first couple, but so far my opinion is favorable. I don’t think there’s a lot of deep plot in the first episodes of any show. The first episode introduced us to the concept that a Human astronaut has been thrown across the universe and falls in with a bunch of escaped prisoners, and an accident introduces our plucky Human to his arch-enemy. The next are comparatively lighter, seeking to show us the characters breadth and how they interact with one another, peeling back only a few layers of history and motivation.

Premiere was pretty good, which any pilot should be. I mean, John is clearly brilliant, piloting a craft of his own design, the best friend and dad both work at NASA, too. But then a freak solar wind (?) makes everything go wrong. The characters are introduced well enough, and the tie-in of their final escape and John’s experiment was very neat. What got me was the extended, awkward conversation between Zhaan and D’argo. Clearly the Fourth Sensation is something sexy and makes D’argo’s mouth go dry. Why they are talking about it now instead of in the food hall or even over a later getting-to-know-you sesh is unclear. Rygel’s promise to help now if John helps later is a puzzle because, yanno, does Rygel actually do anything? He does fart noble gas, though, which aside from being impossible, is funny.

Exodus from Genesis is a typical ‘light’ episode though. We learn a clear difference between Humans and Sebaceans (does anyone think of ‘Sebaceous’?) and John makes another mistake that causes another powerful person to hate him. Dude, seriously? Here are the first glimmerings of attachment between John and Aeryn though. Nice bonding while she’s, ahem, sick. Zhaan is a font of wisdom.

Back and Back and Back to the Future is suitably confusing, and good in that we get a first glimpse at D’argo’s history. His similarities to Worf increase, though. I hope there will be more distinctions as the series progresses. Rygel was the highlight of this episode though. Clearly.

Throne for a Loss was the best so far. It was funny, we learn some quirky stuff about D’argo’s species, everyone got a chance to shine. There was also great bonding between D’argo and Aeryn, I think they would make a fierce team, once they get over their differences. We also got a real look at Zhaan as more than just fast-hands, wise-words. Just a great episode.

PK Tech Girl was one I don’t have much to say about, however. Eh, Aeryn is a boss, Rygel is spitting on everyone, John is macking out with someone and I can’t help but think, he’s pretty and buff. Does he really not have a girlfriend, fiancé or wife at home waiting for him? Thankfully, thank you so much, we finally address John being so far and with improbability of ever returning home. There was a glimmer of response from Aeryn when she realizes that god, he’s lost as much as I have, but I wanted MORE. I also think that I would be so much more freaked out about being gone and never returning than John is, but maybe he cries a lot off camera. Or maybe he’s still pretty detached from it? Like, it hasn’t sunk in yet?

So far this show is pretty good. It’s not Defiance, but it isn’t as clean as Star Trek and is very clearly Sci-Fi which is really all I wanted.

If you're browsing for more positive opinions, read this: You Fart Helium?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Learn Korean Apps - Part 1

I don't know how many parts there will be...
This one focuses on learning Hanguel.

Korean Handwriting Lite

Really intended for children learning Korean writing, it's unintended but perfect for anyone learning Korean writing! The first level, seed, teaches you the name of the letters, and how to draw them stroke for stroke. Associating sounds with the Korean alphabet is difficult for me, but on level two, bud, of this lite game, they do just that, in addition to hand-writing. For the 3rd level, stem, they build words for the family, school and animals. There is the promise of more levels in the plus version. (The third level needs to be downloaded additionally the first time you play, but at no extra cost.)

There's an additional 'memory game' available under each level, but offers not much more than a vocabulary lesson when you match two cards. Also adorable is that the app says 안녕! when the screen sleeps or you exit the app.

Playing the lite version has convinced me to get the Plus version. It costs $2.99.

HyongA also offers other learning games, for ABCs and Hanja, as well as some mysterious stop-watch apps whose names are in Korean, and a doodle game to teach shapes.

Korean Letter Writing Hearing Practice HD Lite
Korean Letter Writing Hearing Practice Lite

These two apps are the same on the iTouch, but I think they make a difference when you're playing on the iPad.

It places the same emphasis on writing the letters and hearing their sounds, although this one has a more confusing menu to click around on. If you don't have 'ask for my password before purchases are made' set in your iTunes account, you might download the add-on accidentally.

I'm not sure when the main menu song is saying, but an quickly irritating instrumental comes on when you enter the practice modes (letters, numbers or syllables) but clicking the volume icon on the menu page will shut off all music, but not the handy speaker.

The ad-free add-on costs 99¢ but I'm not sure I'm going to purchase it, the other app has much more promise as a learning method. Beneficial to this one, is the fact that you have to swipe slowly to draw the letters and syllables, if you don't the chalk won't register and you have to go over it. Really forces you to be thorough.

I think the main song is the Korean Alphabet song--that might be handy to know. As you learn the letters, this will become easier for you when you hear it every time you open the app. Not bad.

This app also has a sister for learning the Roman Alphabet.

Train Hangul

A very boring alternative for learning to read Korean letters. You enter the game trying to remember what each letter is called and sounds like, if you turn your iTouch upside down, it will force you to recall what they look like based on sound. However, several users, myself included, are unable to hear the sounds.

There is no plus version, I'm deleting this app from my iPod for the intense boredom it causes.

Any great apps I missed? Please let me know!
(More than anything, this review has made me realize that I really should get a Stylus for my iTouch. )

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I don't know much about MOT, aside from the fact that they are considered both Rock and K-Indie. I like them because they have a similar feel to Vienna Teng, my favorite singer-songwriter.
A detailed description of the CDs and a link to the group is below the cut.

They've released 2 studio albums as of this date, and I first bought Vol. 2, which is subtitled as 이상한 계절(Strange Season). I went for the second first, because I was introduced to the song 'Electric' by a K-drama blog titled 'Electric Ground'. The following video was uploaded by the aforementioned website.