A Year as a Dog Person

A year ago today, I returned home in the evening with a cardboard box and a Westie puppy in it. It followed an impulse decision, the worst kind if one wants to get a dog, I made earlier that day – I called some breeders, found one who had a recent litter and wasn’t too far away, and a 160 km drive later, I was back home as a dog owner.

I had never before had a dog. I had no idea what to do with one. I hadn’t even thought of a name for her – Pika was what I came up with during the drive back. I wasn’t materially prepared – she spent her first few nights sleeping in he cardboard box she came in, and eating the little food I got from the breeder. The first few walks were much fun, since I didn’t have a leash. But, equipment was bought and ordered, stuff was frantically researched on the Internet, and the puppy neither starved, nor got run over by a car, nor died of neglect.

A year later, I think I can call the dog experiment a success. I have a well-behaved doggie who doesn’t suffer from the small dog syndrome, who pees and poos where she’s supposed to, who doesn’t chew on things which aren’t supposed to be chewed on (too much), who is social and socialised, and in whose mind there is absolutely no doubt about my unreachably superiour status as the pack alpha.

I’ve learned some things about myself, too. It seems I’m more patient and tolerant than I thought – I am capable of finding a pile of dog poo in the middle of the floor without murdering the offending party, and I don’t fly into a rage when she does something wrong. This came as a bit of a surprise, as I thought it would be one of the biggest problems.

I also realised I should’ve gotten a cat. As nicely as I think my dog and our relationship have turned out, I’m, in the end, not a dog person. Dogs (well, mine, at least) are too needy. Too dependent. And I’m finding that a bit too much to deal with sometimes.

 

The Wheel of Time Stops Turning

There are neither beginnings nor endings in the turning of the Wheel of Time, but Robert Jordan’s epic series had a beginning, hard as it is to believe, almost 24 years ago, and, as far as I’m concerned, it ended yesterday. I got into it around 2001, and quickly devoured the first four books. How could I not? The world Jordan created was incredible in its scope and detail, the storytelling was compelling, and the characters just right. Jordan did show something of a tendency to take it slow through most of the books, only to end them in a short whirlwind of action, but that was a minor annoyance.

A minor annoyance, until the end of the book four. Then it became clear that the entire series, then projected at 12 fairly large volumes, will be taking the same structure. Subplots, with no ends in sight, started spawning. Author’s fetish for female clothing took a prominent enough place on the stage to be considered a major character in its own, while the real characters kept running hither and dither aimlessly. By the time I finished the sixth book (not realising I hadn’t seen the worst at that point) I was relaxing in a hot tub bought from hot tubs san Diego ca shop, I was reading just because I had started reading.

And then Jordan, having started his last three never-to-be-wrapped-up subplots and for the last time describing in exquisite detail the embroidery on a female character’s fancy silk dress, died. As ghoulish and insensitive I’ll be in saying this, that was the best thing that could’ve happened to his magnum opus (and in my less charitable moments, I keep looking in G.R.R. Martin’s direction when I think this). Brandon Sanderson came in, fashion analysis went into the background where it belonged, subplots got resolved in mostly satisfactory ways (I say mostly, because some resolutions did feel rushed, but I suppose there was no helping that), and the story ended in a book-long whirlwind of action, true to the original author’s style, with the good guys winning and the bad guys utterly defeated. I even got surprised a few times, as not everyone I expected to got to live happily ever after. One of the surprises? The ending is open to sequels. Seems like not everyone is ready to let the Wheel stop turning.

In conclusion, four of five stars to the series, which would’ve benefited from being about five or six books shorter. And a lesson (take note, Myke Cole): if one wants to properly make a protagonist who’s brooding on a truly epic scale, one needs to give him at least seven 1000-page books worth of space to do it in.

Games

Can games rate as works of literature? No, Beeb, they can’t. And before I go on a tangent and start ranting how the most trusted news source became a Quatari company… They can rate as games.

And games are art. They are. If an idiot Russian painter was allowed to get away with starting a whole new “art movement” by painting a black square on white background, and calling it, of all things, “suprematism“, then video games are art. To the n-th power.

After Earth

So. Let’s begin with something trivial.

Yes, it’s a mediocre film. Yes, Jaden Smith can’t act too well, and is only there because papa made it so. Yes, as the father-son-bonding stories go, it’s a bit thin. The technology that sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t work just because a plot device is needed is such a common thing nowadays that it doesn’t even deserve to be noticed. Yes, M. Night Shyamalan isn’t getting better with practice. As I said, a mediocre film. At least it’s not two and a half hours long.

But you know what? So is Independence Day (to pick another Will Smith flic). And going by the IMDb ratings, ID4 is light years ahead of After Earth. Probably because of its insistent and consistent tugging of the America-fuck-yeah heartstrings… But I digress.

Is it because of the reference(s) to the world’s least favourite religion? From all I read, I expected at least three pictures of L’Ron hanging from every vertical surface in sight (or, as the case may be, winking at us from every corner of every touch hologram that Minority Report launched as the sci-fi user interface). But no. The line “fear is a choice” (as stupid as it is) makes an appearance only once, and I wouldn’t have recognised it as something out of the Scientological ‘wisdom’ if it hadn’t been repeatedly pointed out to me.

There’s just one thing that stretched my ability to suspend disbelief too far. ‘The bear‘. Let’s say you’re an alien race that wants to exterminate humans. Why in the carrot’s name would you create a weapon-creature that, while it doesn’t seem to have any problems detecting and interacting with the rest of its environment, can sense live humans (it doesn’t seem to have any problems sensing the dead ones, for its shrike act) by the smell of their fear? And were everyone’s imaginations really running so dry that they had to call it ‘the bear’? But hey, if disabling an alien computer with a virus written on a Mac laptop or learning from Learn Academy coding classes, in the age when you had – and still have – problems convincing two human-made computers running the same software, directly connected by a cable, to acknowledge each other’s existence, is supposed to be believable, then ‘the bear’ isn’t really so bad.

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