Monday, September 18, 2017

I've Finally Seen: WONDER WOMAN (2017)

© by Gerald So | 11:30 P.M.

The one bright spot in an otherwise dreary Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice was the appearance of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Her solo movie, out on DVD tomorrow, tells an origin story I already knew, but particularly after Man of Steel's dubious attempt to darken Superman, Wonder Woman is to be praised for letting Diana's light shine through unfiltered.

After American spy Steve Trevor's plane crash-lands on the Amazons' island home, Diana decides to go back with him into the thick of World War I. She believes if she can find and kill the war god Ares, she will not only end the war but also settle a score on behalf of her people.

Chris Pine's roguish Trevor makes a fine sparring partner for earnest Diana. I believed their impact on each other, Steve quickly recognizing and respecting Diana's innocence and physical superiority, Diana gradually recognizing Steve's love for her, and hers for him, which helps her save the day.

Though its opening and closing scenes tie into Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman is a clear improvement on Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice, standing tall on its own.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Let's go to Bouchercon 2017

© by Gerald So | 5:00 a.m.

The schedule for Bouchercon 2017, October 12–15 at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto, has been posted. Driving up from Long Island, I plan to arrive October 10 to spend some time with Canadian cousins, but I also wouldn't mind catching an October 11, 9:00 p.m.–late Noir at the Bar at Rivoli (334 Queen St. West) featuring my friends Zoë Sharp and Thomas Pluck in the lineup.

This being my fourth con, I'm more interested in meeting new and old friends than filling every day with panels. Also my plan reflects my affinity for short stories. That said, on we go:

Thursday, October 12
  • 10:00–11:00 a.m., Sheraton E, "Readers Recommend"
  • 11:30–12:30 p.m., Sheraton C, "Tech-Savvy Tales"
  • 1:30—2:30 p.m., Sheraton C, "Changing Times"
  • 2:30–3:30 p.m., Sheraton B, "So Many Books, So Little Time"
  • 4:00–5:00 p.m., Grand Centre, "The Best Medicine"
  • 5:30–6:30 p.m., Grand Centre, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Honored
  • 7:30–9:30 p.m., Grand East/Centre, Opening Reception

Friday, October 13
  • 8:30–9:30 a.m., Sheraton C, "Beatiful Brutality"
  • 10:00–11:00 a.m., Grand West, Best Anthology Anthony Nominee panel
  • 12:00 noon, Shopsy's Deli, Short Mystery Fiction Society meetup lunch
  • 2:00–3:00 p.m., Grand Centre, Best Short Story Anthony Nominee panel
  • 3:30–4:30 p.m., Grand West, "The Canadians"
  • 5:00–6:00 p.m., Sheraton C, "5-Minute Misdemeanors"

Saturday, October 14
  • 10:00–11:00 a.m., Grand West, "The Twisted Panel"
  • 11:30–12:30 p.m., Sheraton B, "Standalones"
  • 2:30–3:30 p.m., Grand Centre, "Hidden Past"

Sunday, October 15
  • 8:30–9:30 a.m., Sheraton A, "The Bodies Politic"
  • 9:30–10:30 a.m., Sheraton A, "The Bookseller Did It"

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Escaping Irma

© by Gerald So | 5:30 a.m.

Last year, Hurricane Matthew changed my vacation including Bouchercon 2016 to a New York staycation. This year, extended family and I were able to spend a week at a timeshare in Orlando. Then my mother, brother, and I caught our scheduled Amtrak Auto Train Friday. A day later, our train would have been canceled, and we would have been stuck riding out Hurricane Irma.

A smattering of my relatives has moved to Florida in recent years, some in the Tampa-Sarasota area now expected to be hit. One from New Jersey who planned to stay a week longer for job interviews is hunkering down in Orlando. Good luck, everyone.

As promised, departing at 4:00 p.m. and arriving by 9:00 the next morning, the Auto Train carries passengers and their vehicles between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida, saving smart drivers an almost 900-mile stretch. You pack your car as you wish, as you would a favorite suitcase, and relax in a roomier-than-plane reclining seat. Coach was comfortable enough for me to sleep in my light jacket and jeans, though you can carry on a blanket and pillow, too, or pay more for business class or sleeper car accommodations.

Hot dinner and cold breakfast in the dining car are included along with free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate in the lounge, and other food and drink available for purchase. For $50 more, your vehicle can be one of the first thirty off-loaded, which I recommend as well.