Sunday, 30 October 2016

What an Attractive (Rhetorical) Figure: A Recommendation of Farnsworth's Book of Classical English Rhetoric, by Ward Farnsworth (2011)

As I've been busy this week, I'll post a quick recommendation.

'A book on rhetoric' sounds like a tome you'd find at the back of a library, a foot thick, and in five-point font. Farnsworth to the rescue. He provides a concise guide to rhetorical techniques (or 'figures'). He illustrates each type and sub-type with multiple quotations, from Shakespeare to G. K. Chesterton to 18th-century politicians.

Half of this book's pleasure is recognition. Every other day we'll use a few of these figures, most of the time without thinking about it. That shows good rhetoric is not a fusty contortion of language better left in 19th-century classrooms. Good rhetoric is what we naturally recognise as good communication. But while we all can unwittingly dash out an epistrophe, it helps to know what an epistrophe is. Know rhetorical figures so you can strategically deploy them, rather than instinctually drop them. Know what they do, and where best to use them.

To anyone with an interest in expressing themselves well, or recognising good expression in others, I recommend this book.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Welcome to Our Drug-Tripped Wonderland: A Review of Flip Flappers Ep. 1 (2016 anime)

Flip Flappers resembles Utena with a sugar rush. I don’t mean this in terms of plot or aesthetic, but how Flip Flappers heightens reality. Like Utena, it has a post-modern umph, which, nevertheless, does not eradicate sincerity. Even putting aside its thematic dimensions, Flips Flappers is giddy fun.

Cocona cannot decide which mock exams to take. Papika is a manic pixie secret agent. Papika meteors into Cocona’s her school life, and hurls into the world of Pure Illusion. Who is Papika? Why is she here? How are these girls connected? Whether or not the show will answer these questions, this first episode sprints forward.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Who's that Girl, Up in the Sky, with Diamonds?: Review of Shade the Changing Girl #1 by Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone (2016 comic)

[Spoilers for this issue]

In every rendition, Shade’s a weird series; Shade the Changing Girl carries that torch. And like its predecessors, weird is not merely weird; Shade views the world askance. Where Peter Milligan woke us to the American Scream, Castellucci opens our eyes to back-stabbing teen girls.

Avian-alien Loma idolizes Rac Shade – the Rac Shade, poet, shade agent, wearer of the madness vest. She also loves earth from afar, though earth culture was a passing fad on her planet. Stewing in adolescent aimlessness, she follows her idol’s example; she steals the madness vest, and goes walkabout on earth. She hitches a ride in the body of braindead schoolgirl, whose friends and family would prefer she remain braindead. Loma only intends to live the earthling schoolgirl life for a bit, but can she control the madness that long. 

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Weird is the New Punk: A Review of Doom Patrol #1 by Gerard Way and Nick Derington (2016 comic)

[Spoilers for this issue.]

The Anxiety of Influence is strong in this one. Here we have Gerard Way, an enthusiast and descendent of Grant Morrison’s oeuvre, writing a series Morrison defined. Leaving your mentor’s shadow is difficult enough, even when you don’t cover their songs. But have no fear, Doom Patrol #1 promises hipness and weirdness enough to rival Morrison, without aping Morrison.

No overall plot presents itself, yet. The vines have sprouted separately, but will, likely, intertwine as they grow. Our focal character, Casey Brink, bursts onto the page, swerving an ambulance. Her partner contemplates universes living in his gyro. A cyborg trudges across an alien desert. Extra-terrestrials run fast food. And what’s going on with Niles Caulder?

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Yona of the Yawn: Review of Yona of the Dawn Ep. 13-24 (2014-5 anime)

[Spoilers for the whole of Yona of the Dawn.]

I overestimated Yona of the Dawn. Watching the first half, I saw potential. Yes, the plot plodded, the character dynamics had yet to bloom, and the show lacked conflict, but the pieces were there. Alas, the writers never assembled the pieces. All they’ve given us are flat characters in emotionally leaden scenes.

As Yona has found two of the four Dragons, she is halfway to martialling a force against Soo-Won, her former-friend/betrayer. While searching for the remaining Dragons, Yona uncovers a human trafficking operation. With the help of some pirates, and a new friend, she must defeat the slavers. Meanwhile, Soo-Won visits the down-on-it’s-luck Earth Clan.