Sunday, January 29, 2017

Homework: An Interdisciplinary Approach to American English

This semester I started my masters in American studies, which is the reason why I had so little time to write for the blog. Now I had one class in particular that was very entertaining (fine, they all were!!) as we discussed as a group 'language' as a live entity, someone who could be sitting there with us. This approach helped us understand the changes from a historical point of view as well as see the that a language can have and has a character. I always enjoyed seminars much more at the university, and I was never very smart or interested when it came to linguistics. This class, however, got me involved in ways that were unprecedented. I was lucky, because the teacher was very open minded and I could write my essay on something that is very close to my heart: Hawaiian Creole English. Hawaiian culture has been slowly embedding itself in my heart and I try to learn Hawaiian on my own for no other reason then my amusement of the structure of the language. So when it came to my original topic, regional dialects, I couldn't help but notice that maps and research barely covered the 50th state and so I decided to finally gather all that knowledge I had accumulated over the years into one big paper. My teacher pointed out two main elements that were missing, a few examples when I discussed the grammatical structure of the creole (for which I suggest looking up the sources you'll find at the end of the essay if you are interested!!); and a view of the people of the island of their own language. To be honest, I hope I can research this on the spot one day, and then I'll be able to include it :) Until then, enjoy this first version of my paper!
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Examining Hawaiian Creole as a Regional Dialect

The official language of the United States on a national level is English; however, this English varies greatly in pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, around the country mostly due to geography. Because of its the immense territory it has become harder and harder to delineate the regional dialects spoken in the country, but it is easier to observe the English spoken in Alaska and Hawaii as they rejoice in a physical distance from continental USA. This distance is also negative since as a result they are not included among maps that showcase the differences in vocabulary use in different regions of the country. Linguist Hans Kurath tried to classify regional dialects into Northern, Midland, and the Southern area (Kövecses 63). But this classification has been tested and proven to be only superficial over the years. In a recent study conducted by Ph.D student Joshua Katz from North Carolina State University, words with the same meaning were listed and people could vote on the variant that they used to showcase dialectal differences in the various states (Hickey). This experiment had already been conducted several years ago by asking people to say which expression they used for “carbonated soft drinks”, and the results showed many variants (Kövecses 72). Katz’s research had the intention of drawing up maps in order to help see the different dialects and how hard it is to point out where one begins and the other one finishes as they are not based on state lines. But Alaska and Hawaii were left out, although when it comes to the composition of the English spoken on the territory, they are regions themselves that had natives living on the lands and whose language was influenced by settlers a great deal. “American English is characterized by both uniformity and variation and heterogeneity” (Kövecses 73), and overall about two thirds of the population actually speak the same dialect. This very isolation factors in as it is capable of causing much greater divide among the dialects of a given language.
Hawaii in particular, being one of the most famous tourist destinations is always exposed to the newer and newer variants of the English language. When talking about regional dialects, by definition, we are talking about “a regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, especially a variety of speech differing from the standard literary language or speech pattern of the culture in which it exists” (“regional dialect”). When starting a research based on the definition above stated, both the 49th and the 50th state should be included and as such it is the aim of this paper to dissertate Hawai’i Creole English as one of the regional dialects of the United States. First, the dialect itself will be analyzed, followed by the historical background and a description of the substrate that influenced it. Afterwards the current state of this dialect within the state will be given, amidst examples of the American character’s presence in this regional dialect. In the essay the term “Hawaiian” will refer to the native tongue of the indigenous or aboriginal people of the islands, while Hawai’i Creole or Pidgin (with capital letters) will refer to the Hawaiian Creole English spoken today.
Hawai’i Creole is hard to define because it has a very intense history. We speak of dialects when the language “of a group of speakers shows systematic differences but these speakers can nevertheless understand each other” (Kövecses 52), such is the case with this dialect as “Hawaiian Creole English is pretty much mutually unintelligible with standard English” (Wilton). What is considered Standard American English also comes from a dialect-based variety that was spoken on the continent. Because it was used by newscasters, soon enough it was the one spoken in the Midwestern area that became the standard (Kövecses 202). On a geographical level Hawai’i Creole English does not only exist in the isolation of the islands of Hawaii, but can be found outside as well: speakers of it can occur within Florida, in the Orlando area; within Nevada, around Las Vegas; and mainly the west coast. The majority of speakers are, however, situated in Hawaii, as out of the population of 600,000 (according to a census from 2012), only 100,000 live in continental America (Lewis, Simons and Fennig). This dialect has no subdialects, just variations because of the vast amount of other tongues spoken on the islands.
This Creole developed from Pidgin English spoken on the sugar and pineapple plantations and has a mixture of words of Japanese and Portuguese origin in it as well. Pidgin is a combination of expressions and phrases and because of that it is recognizable for speakers of it, but for the foreign listener it might come off as slang (Wong). Pidgin was needed to help the communication among two different tongues, but once that version is taught as a native language then it becomes a creole (“Definitions”). Contact between English and other languages always gave rise to new variants; it was the same when it came to the islands.  When the previous language of Polynesian origin came into contact with the settlers’ English, the new variant was born which evolved over the years into what today is known as Hawai’i Creole English (“Major Regional Dialects”). It should be pointed out that both creole and pidgin are technical terms, and while linguist use them to differentiate an official tongue from an unofficial one, the speakers of the given dialect may prefer one over the other; such is the case with Hawaiians, who refer to their English variant as “Pidgin” (“Definitions”). This Pidgin became more stable around 1896, when the first generation of locally born speakers grew equal to that of the speakers of the superstrate language ("Substrate Influence").
To understand how this Pidgin works, there is necessity in examining the language from multiple angles. First, a historical background to the origins of the variant of English spoken on the islands of Hawaii has to be established. The archipelago in question is a group of eight islands: Hawai’i, Maui, Kaua’i, Lāna’i, Moloka’i, Ni’ihau Kaho’olawe, with the capital Honolulu residing on O’ahu (Riley 64). The islands, being in the North Pacific Ocean, were an important stop both strategically and geographically during colonization. The first settlers arrived towards the end of the 18th century and over the decades a lot of different nationalities have come and gone. These included China, Portugal, Japan, Korea, Spain, and even the Philippines before the English arrived around 1820 (Delaney and Hargrove, Sakoda and “Definitions”). It was estimated “that there were 683,000 Native Hawaiians on the island in 1778, when British explorer Capt. James Cook arrived” (Goo). Second, what is considered the standard Creole on the islands today “is part of the Western dialect family but shows less influence from the early New England dialect than any other American dialect” (Delaney). The inflections in the language are simplified using Hawaiian accents and many times the intonation remained Polynesian. Testament to the latter is that intonation rises in the middle of the sentence and then falls, rather than rising at the end as it does in English (Wilton).
American English can be said to be informal in pronunciation and spelling (Kövecses 220), not only that but it is also very inventive. The only reason why these pidgins could come to life in the first place is due to the fact that there is flexibility in how English is used and created. American English can easily be said to be the most innovative in its nature, and that can be demonstrated in the grammar of Hawaiian Creole as well (253). The grammar of the language is quite easy, as the tongue uses tense and aspect markers when conjugating, otherwise the verb without any marker is used to talk about things that happen all the time or are not defined in time. For past events the Hawaiian uses wen before the main verb and for future events go, gon or gona. For events that are in progress the language borrowed from the English, as many times it can have an -ing ending. Otherwise the auxiliary ste is put before the verb (Hargrove, Sakoda and Siegel). Sentences that give location also use the word ste, stay; to say there is/are the word get is used, while the past tense uses haed. Hawaiian Creole many times does not require any verb for a sentence to be correct, which is a quality it shares with other languages, rather than with English (Hargrove, Sakoda and Siegel). When it comes to verb negation the word neva is put in front of the main verb in the sentence (Thompson).
It has to be underlined that this is not redundancy in the dialect, as the spelling of the words changed because it wished to be faithful to their pronunciation (Kövecses 179). As a matter of fact, the grammatical composition in the Pidgin is a testament to the economic nature of American English, which wished to simplify the British English variant spoken in the thirteen colonies. This process of simplification began immediately after the War of Independence. Linguistic economy seeks to eliminate or avoid redundancy and superfluity (Kövecses 185). American English always prided itself in the differences from its British counterpart, by dropping extra vowels or irregular forms of verbs; it became easier for foreign learners. This economic nature is deeply embedded in the Hawaiian dialect: not only does it come from the simplicity of the Hawaiian native language, but it even managed to simplify an already easy English variant.
The tongue has a syllable-times rhythm, so the syllables have approximately the same length, like in Spanish and Italian. The sound /θ/ as in thin and the sound /ð/ as in then are replaced by /t/ and /d/ respectively, e.g., thin is pronounced as /tin/ and then is pronounced as /den/. The article the is pronounced as /da/ and finally the sound /r/ after vowels is dropped, e.g., better is pronounced as /beta/ (Thompson).
It is important to remember that the composition of Hawaiian Creole cannot be reduced to two steps, as it is the case with many Neo-Latin languages. Those tongues developed with a substrate language spoken on the territory that was then overwritten by a superstrate language. Although there is some similarity, as Hawaiian spoken by the natives on the islands is considered the substrate that influenced it, English cannot be considered the one and only superstrate language. As it was demonstrated so far, most grammatical and pronunciation features of Hawaiian Creole do not resemble English in any way. The stability of this Pidgin, as stated before in the paper, was solidified at the end of the 1800, what followed was the beginning of the 1900, which saw a rise in second generation locally born speakers of the dialect. These included men of Chinese, Portuguese and Japanese descent (“Substrate Influence”). These three, more than any other tongue, can be found repeatedly in the etymology of Hawaiian words. The composition of this tongue has several levels, and even if ultimately it was dubbed an English dialect, initially it was influenced mostly by other languages. In the end it was justifiably considered an English dialect not for its vocabulary or grammar, but for its character. Another testament to that is the straightforward notion of this dialect. Just like American English, the idea is to make sure that language is easily followed and understood by all speakers (Kövecses 186). Alaska and Hawaii are special for another reason when discussing regional dialects: they have enforced and kept most of their native cultural traits alive as much as it was possible over the years. On continental America there is a social-psychological reason which enforced unity among the states, and even if many of these were adapted even outside of the country, it is still mostly uniform only within the continent (Kövecses 73).
In this second part of the essay the substrate, Hawaiian native tongue, will be analyzed in order to help understand how their Pidgin is constructed. Ultimately, language is, without question one of the key components to get to know someone’s culture, and it was this that motivated Joshua Katz to compile the maps on regional dialects. He said: “To me, dialect is a badge of pride; it's something that says ‘this is who I am; this is where I come from’”, and the speakers of the native Hawaiian tongue had greatly diminished over the years. Today it is considered one of the world’s endangered languages, as there are only about a thousand native speakers, and the majority are over 70 years old (Wilton). Native Hawaiian is a recognized racial classification and in “the 2010 Census: 527,077 people reported that they are Native Hawaiian alone or of a mixed race that includes Native Hawaiian” (Launia) out of the 1.4 million population of Hawaii. “U.S. Native Hawaiian population today, 36% identify as two races and 26% identify as three races; only a third – 33% – identify as only Native Hawaiian” (Goo), which is around 8000 people.
When settlers arrived, besides their own language, they also brought diseases which significantly decreased the population of native speakers on the islands (Hargrove, Sakoda and Siegel). What followed was the prohibition of the language at the end of the 19th century for native speakers in schools, and soon enough in their homes as well (“The Language of Ni‘ihau”). It was here that isolation resulted in the salvation of the language as each island was treated differently. The island of Ni’ihau escaped the near extinction of the language, but this also brought about a different dialect, leaving the island the only one that uses Hawaiian as its first and only language (“The Language of Ni‘ihau”). Thankfully the language had a renaissance era and today “thousands of people study the Hawaiian language and other aspects of Hawaiian culture” (“Hawaii's Languages”). The Hawaiian dialect is closely related to many others of Polynesian origin, among them Tahitian, Maori, Marquesan, Rarotongan, Samoan and Tongan.
During the 1800s the island of Hawai'i became one of the most literate nations in the whole world, with 90% of its population able to read and write and was the first one western of the Rocky Mountains to have its own newspaper. As always printed press helped the learning of the language, and oppression of the language, as stated earlier in the paper, did not become into full effect until 1898, leaving older generations able to pass on their language (“The Language of Ni‘ihau”). The country, previously a monarchy, was known for its rich oral history, but due to the pages of their newspaper still available today and the propaganda to establish written materials helps in the study of the language. These were written with the standard English alphabet, the same way Pidgin is written today (Thompson).
The Hawaiian native language itself is famous for having the fewest number of letters, only twelve: five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and seven consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w; Riley 5). The language itself if full of glottal stops which are called ‘okina, and they are signaled with a stress mark in writing (‘). ‘Okina occurs between two vowels. Many guides and dictionaries, as well as grammar books of the language count this glottal stop among the consonants, making the alphabet of all together thirteen letters (5). In Hawaiian the vowels have two sounds, based on whether or not they are stressed or unstressed, and if there is a line above them, called kahako (eg. ā, as in the island of Lāna’i) they are pronounced by drawing out the sound. These, however, “should not be confused with the bar or macron that is used to differentiate an English ‘long’ vowel from a ‘short’ vowel, as in the words hate and hat, respectively” (“Hawaii's Languages”), because in Hawaiian the usage of kahako means a difference in meaning as well (akau - right; ākau - North). The vowels can merge into diphthongs, which is quite common in the language (Riley 6).
As there was no written form of the language when the missionaries arrived, they had a hard time learning and annotating the language. Once they did write down testimonies and collections of words and expressions, they did so without the ‘okina or the kahako, which was no problem for the natives, but it would be for anyone wishing to learn the language. This is the reason why today there are so many variants, both without and with the proper markings; the simplest example is the island of Oahu which, for natives, is written as O’ahu, but the one without the ‘okina is so widely spread that it sometimes overwrites the correct one (“Hawaii’s Languages”). There is also a difference as the state of Hawaii is not the same as the island of Hawai’i, which is one of the eight in the archipelago. The latter, written with the ‘okina, is also used to denote the Creole spoken on the islands; in order to underline that the second “i” does not merge into the one preceding it when pronouncing the word the ‘okina cannot be omitted. Even the name of the state should be pronounced as such; although the spelling has no ‘okina those pronouncing it as [hə-wä′y] instead of [hə-wä′ē] are doing it incorrectly (“Hawaii”).  
The Hawaiian Islands are listed among the top tourist destinations today and their language has contributed to the vocabulary of standard American English over the years. One of the major reasons this was possible was through Hollywood, as several movies after and because of the Second World War were shot on the islands. Many, at first, just used the natural beauties it had to offer, but soon enough movies discussed the cultural heritage of the 50th state. Before this dialect was recognized, the residing children, many still of Portuguese descent, until the last quarter of the 19th century, were taught Hawaiian, and English was taught as a foreign language ("Substrate Influence"). Meanwhile they spoke a form of pidgin at home and it was the mixture of all of these that influenced the vocabulary of today’s Hawaiian Creole English (Hargrove, Sakoda and “Definitions”). Because Hawaii was just a territory of the U.S. for over a hundred years, it did not have in the same rights as other states, and as such there the American’s rejoiced in supremacy. This is one of the reasons why natives and their tongue could be cast aside and English could be enforced. Hawaii only became a state in 1959 (Goo), years after the Second World War and years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The latter is considered one of the greatest tragedies of American history.
There are several words from this dialect that have embedded themselves in the English language and are now of everyday use. The most well-known is the greeting aloha, followed by the common abbreviation of brother, brah (in slang it is most commonly used for friend). Others include haole, a non-Hawaiian, Caucasian person; hula referring to the dance performed by natives which is taught not only on the continent outside of the islands but everywhere else in the world as well; kahuna meaning priest, healer, or sorcerer, and as such it often refers to someone who was power over others; lei, for the garland of flowers; luau, an outdoor feast by fire light; poi, a dish made from fermented taro root and ukulele, the four string instrument (Wilton). Later on the ending of ukulele would be used for another instrument: banjolele, which is a miniature banjo with four chords like its name giver. This is a typical example of backformation in which the new word is made by removing the ending of another word (Kövecses 263), the ending –lele did not signal the size of the instrument, nonetheless the ukulele is widely considered as a smaller version of the guitar, thus the name speaks for itself. This language also originated the name of one of the most famous contemporary websites: the word wiki means fast, so the compound word Wikipedia alludes to a fast way to get the same amount information we would get from an encyclopedia (Thompson).
Being another dialect of the English language, just as it is in other regional dialects, some word combinations have different meanings, like stink eye means “dirty look” and chicken skin can mean “goose bumps”. This dialect also shares words that have completely different meaning than in the English: choke means a “vast amount”, so the definition choke cars would translate to “heavy traffic”; while grind means “to eat”. Another example is the word beef, which in the sense of “to have a beef with someone” can mean a disagreement in AmE too, but in Hawaiian Creole English it literally means “fight” (Hargrove, Sakoda and Siegel). In Hawaiian the words have no plural form, to pluralize them a “nā” is put in front of the word (book – puke, books – nā puke); as such any and all words that are of Hawaiian origin but have the standard -s ending to signal the plural have been added from the English variant of the language (Riley 6).
A little over a year ago Hawaiian Creole English was accepted as the national language of Hawaii, which means that it is no longer considered just a dialect. Although it is considered and accepted as a national language, defining it is still problematic because there are over 100 other languages spoken on the islands all together (Laddaran). Even the speakers of this language define it as “the local, slang-sounding vernacular” (Wong). Slang can be defined as a variety of a language that goes against the norms of the standard in order for the speakers of it to differentiate them, and as such this Creole does count as slang rather than a separate language (Kövecses 119). The problem comes with integrating Pidgin as a language. In order to enforce it education has been encouraged to introduce it in schools to help students find the grammatical differences between it and standard American English at an early age, in order to be able to grasp it much better later on (Wong). The language itself is blooming as the literacy rate according to the 2012 census is between 66%-75%, with it being taught as an elective for native and nonnative children, and also in primary school. It is also used for radio and television programs (Lewis, Simons and Fennig).
The fact that it has been accepted as a separate tongue could mean changes in the way African American Vernacular English or Chicano English are looked at (Wong). It is important to remember that although English is the national language of the United States, it is not the language stipulated on a federal level. As a matter of fact, speakers whose mother tongue is other than English are becoming the majority in the U.S. just in the past two years (Burgen). This also alludes to the idea that perhaps the word creole or pidgin no longer do justice to denoting the language, still, it has to be differentiated as Hawaiian language is that of the native indigenous speakers of the island. An inconclusive research conducted from 2009 to 2013 found that those who spoke Hawaiian Creole English used it generally as a second language, but a language nonetheless (Wong). Calling the individuals who participated in the research bilinguals elevated this dialect into a tongue spoken by majority of the residents of the islands. This Creole became a nationally accepted language at the end of 2015, which means that it is young as far as languages are concerned, but it is very old as a pidgin, even older than the United States.
In conclusion, when studying regional dialects of the United States, each region has to be looked at closer, not just the ones on continental America. The aim of this paper was to demonstrate that Alaska and Hawaii are always taken aside, and for good reason, but their history and the birth of their dialect shares a lot in common with what is considered today the standard American English. When looking at regional dialects pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary as well as geography play an important role in defining them. The Hawaiian Islands, prior to becoming a state, were visited by several countries seeking colonies in the Northern Pacific Ocean. The islands had a tongue of their own, which served as a substrate that influenced the language spoken today. There are over a 100 languages spoken there and these continually influence the Pidgin of the island. Although this Pidgin originated from the encounter of Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, before the addition of English, it still possesses those character traits that are typical of American English. It is economic in its nature, somewhat informal, thus straightforward, and it is considered to be a form of slang by its speakers as well. The majority of residents of Hawaii were deemed bilingual in 2015 which elevated the Pidgin to national language of the 50th state of the U.S.A. English in America is just a national language, it is not accepted on a federal level and this means that Hawai’i Creole does not clash with the standard, and now other Pidgins spoken within the country could be elevated to the status of language. The aim of this paper was to demonstrate that despite the distance of the archipelago of Hawaii, it was still incredibly fruitful in its history and contribution to what is considered standard American English. Hawaii should be included and studied among the regional dialects, rather than be neglected, precisely because of its isolation. The distance from the continent emphasizes the differences; however, on a closer look it seems that there are a lot of similarities that justify its classification as an English dialect.

Works cited:
Burgen, Stephen. “US Now Has More Spanish Speakers than Spain – Only Mexico Has More.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 29 June 2015. Web. 11 Jan. 2017. <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/29/us-second-biggest-spanish-speaking-country>.
Delaney, Robert. “American Dialects : Dialect Map of American English.” Robert’s page. LIU Long Island University, 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Jan. 2017. <www.robertspage.com/dialects.html>.
Goo, Sara Kehaulani. “After 200 Years, Native Hawaiians Make a Comeback.” Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, 06 Apr. 2015. Web. 13 Jan. 2017. <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/06/native-hawaiian-population/>.
Hargrove, Ermile, Kent Sakoda and Jeff Siegel. “Hawai’i Creole.” Language Varieties. University of Hawaii, n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2017.
“hawaii.” American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company 12 Jan. 2017. <www.thefreedictionary.com/Hawaii>
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Hickey, Walter. “22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Differently From One Another.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 05 June 2013. Web. 03 Jan. 2017. <www.businessinsider.com/22-maps-that-show-the-deepest-linguistic-conflicts-in-america-2013-6/#the-pronunciation-of-caramel-starts-disregarding-vowels-once-you-go-west-of-the-ohio-river-1>.
Kövecses, Zoltán. American English: an introduction. Broadview Press, 2000.
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Launiu, Stephanie. “Hawai'i and Native Hawaiians.” WanderWisdom. WanderWisdom, 03 Aug. 2016. Web. 13 Jan. 2017. <www.wanderwisdom.com/travel-destinations/Hawaii-and-Native-Hawaiians-What-You-May-Not-Know>.
Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig. “Hawai’i Pidgin”. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Nineteenth edition. Dallas: SIL International. 2016. Online version. <http://www.ethnologue.com>.
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

What's Next On My List? Zootopia

You already know this is awesome, but I have to talk about it nonetheless, seeing that it has been nominated for an Academy Award, I thought it would be a good excuse to bring it up! So let us dig into the cutest and loveliest of all Disney movies:


Judy Hopps becomes the first police officer who is not a predator and she believes she will be the best crime fighter. However, her boss has other plans for her and after having made him mad she is left alone to solve a case that no one could solve. For that she decides to recruit, against his will, a fox by the name of Nick Wilde. He is a conman, but he knows the city and a lot of people. The two make an unlikely team and are able to crack the case.

Of course, you have already seen this film, more than once probably, as have I. The attention to detail makes you want to go back over and over again and see every little thing, worried you might have missed something. The characters are super fluffy and cute and you can't help but love them. The story is not the most original you could have, but who cares? The twist got me, actually, and it is about delivery. Most movies play with the same stories, but the dynamic of the characters is what sells it, and here? Trust me, it did just that!
The story is that of someone who got bullied all their life and decided to take revenge. The plan of course has to be big enough to make an impact, but Judy has, in all her life, fought for what is right, and with or without a badge, she is not going to stop. Nick, on the other hand, was also bullied as a young fox, but he decided to run away from it, and with good reason. Each character had a solid motivation and that is what makes them relatable, even the bad guys. There is a common ground and what they made of it is the interesting part! Good or bad? How bad? And is there a chance for redemption?
Of course it is no surprise that this movie was nominated for an Oscar... every year there is one Disney movie nominated, even the bad ones... and they always win, Dreamworks kinda has to be told off, although they make great cartoons too. And I am yet to understand why on Earth can I still find Frozen merchandise in the stores instead of Zootopia... I would buy that without question!! I would sure love to see more of this universe, even in a different style, 2D even, think of the facebook stickers, they are super cute too! And of course, maybe cute was not what they were going for, but hey, it worked!

Watch it? What, you mean you haven't yet? What is wrong with you?! Go and watch it, now! Buy it, show it to your children, spread the awesome story that is Zootopia, as it teaches you to live your dreams and fight bullies all your life! What better moral message do you need?

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

Judy Hopps - Ginnifer Goodwin
Nick Wilde - Jason Bateman
Chief Bogo - Idris Elba
Bellwether - Jenny Slate
Mayor Lionheart - J.K. Simmons
Gazelle - Shakira

Monday, January 23, 2017

FRESH FROM THE THEATER: Rogue One

The newest movie in the Star Wars anthology that I only got to see yesterday due to my exams and other school related nonsense. (Spoilers ahead!)


A young girl is recruited by the Rebel Alliance as her father is the key to stopping the battle station called Death Star, the strongest weapon of the empire yet. Her father planted a way for it to be destroyed, but the rebels need the map of the Death Star in order to be able to stop it. The girl, Jyn Erso, with a group of volunteer rebels heads into the archives of the empire with the hopes of getting the message out in time to the leaders of the Alliance.

First, the bad, because unfortunately it wasn't without fault. I feel like they should have given more lines to Felicity Jones... she is a wonderful actress, she might be one of the best ones of our generation and much of her was wasted on scenes where she doesn't speak. I was very sorry about that. That having been said, I can't think of anything else that I didn't like. On the side of the protagonists, I also have to bow to Diego Luna's Cassian Andor. When you think about it, he is a very similar character to Han Solo, but they were bolder, because Cassian did shoot first (!) and still you did not get the sense that you should not like him or that he cannot be trusted. His character was built up slowly but very efficiently.
Let's talk about the bad guys. Our main enemy was a man by the name of Krennik and I liked him very much. His character progressed from being someone in the background to become reckless in oder to prove himself to the Emperor. His actions were all fueled by the want of recognition and because of it he was too blind to see that he was trying to stitch holes in a boat that was already half under water. And that cape... He can wear a cape like no other, I really wish they were in style! Anyway, I think it is fantastic how in a universe that many feel should be ended they managed to bring to life a completely different and equally interesting villain. Speaking of, 40 years later and I can still shit my pants when I see Darth Vader. That is a testament to great writing and acting! Good job!
And then the supporting cast. Like... stop making me love robots so much! You make reality look like shit in comparison! And then the members of the team, Chirrut, Baze and Bodhi... they were all adorable and shared the wish to make a difference. If you thought about the movie, you knew what was going to happen, but if you didn't it is from the second half of it that you understand that the real title should've been "Suicide Mission: The Movie". You start crying, like a lot, as you slowly accept that they have to die because they were never mentioned in other movies. That is the problem with prequels. This movie... it was wonderful. A good example of how this universe can be expanded and not overused. Many of my friends complained about the length of it, but I found no problem with it and was moved by the ending.

PS: The CGI on Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher was simply outstanding! Technology never ceases to amaze me!

See it? I recommend it gladly. The casting was marvelous, the story, the atmosphere stayed true to the originals and that is what us fans, well me, look for in these separate movies of the anthology. You can see that someone cares about the scripts of these movies, and they are not just doing it for the money. Be ready to cry!

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

Jyn Erso - Felicity Jones
Cassian Andor - Diego Luna
Krennik - Ben Mendelsohn
Chirrut - Donnie Yen
Baze - Wen Jiang
Bodhi - Riz Ahmed
K-2SO - Alan Tudyk
and
Galen Erso - Mads Mikkelsen

Friday, January 13, 2017

FRESH FROM THE THEATRE: Assassin's Creed

Let's be honest, movies based on games can't win with the public... I, however, went in with an open mind. Needless to say, this is my favorite game series of all time, so I was judgy, but I decided to leave out all of my worries and concerns before entering the cinema. Let's see what happened next:

Assassin's Creed

Cal Lynch gets a chance to live a new life without his past act following him, at the condition of helping scientists retrieve something they lost in the past. In order to do this, he is put in a machine which lets him enter the memory of his ancestors, in particular that of Aguilar, an assassin at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Cal is reluctant to help these people, until he gives in just to be free, but only then does he realize that he is aiding the Templars, the very group Aguilar and all of his ancestors before swore to defeat. After having reclaimed his memory and his knowledge of the Creed of the Assassin's he and others take up the hood again to fight against the Templars.

I f*cking loved this movie. Don't listen to anyone, go and see it! Every single movie adaptation of a computer game is either a complete remake of the game - except you can't play it -, or it comes up with a shitty background story for one character that has little to nothing to do with the original. Now, this movie is NOT like that. The movie builds up what you as a player already know, but with a different character, with someone you spend time with and you begin to care about them. One of the main reasons player don't really care for Desmond, the character you play with in contemporary times, is that you never get to know him. He is deceived by the Templars and then is saved and he is used, now by the good guys, to do the same as he would've for the Templars. He does have his father present but it is very limited and sometimes annoying compared to the magical world that opens up once you enter into the animus.
Going into the present was a nuisance when playing the games, but it isn't in the movie. The story progresses both in the past and the present and because they introduced the character in much more detail you do have a genuine interest toward knowing what will happen to him. Or at least I did. And then there are the women.In the past we have someone who is fierce, a badass assassin who clearly has an emotional relationship with Aguilar, but they never kiss, never profess their love, it is simply in their eyes and it was done beautifully. The other women is of course the enemy.
Sofia is a scientist working with the Templars, but her motivations are unclear. She does not seem to care about the war between Assassins and Templars, she too is deceived in a way, as her work was used to aid a war and not for good. On some levels she new, because she new her father and the kind of men she worked for, however, when her father used Cal's hatred of his own father to get him to cooperate, her feelings changed. Not just that, but through animus she was able to see other assassins and among them she recognized one who seemed to be her ancestor. It is unclear how that is possible, but I am guessing she was adopted or stolen by the Templars at a young age.
This movie was the first step. I think there is so much more that can be done now that they opened the universe! I did not care about the fact that most of the scenes were in the present, because you need people to get involved. The action scenes were simply brilliant and when yo understand how the use the animus... oh boy!!! Using this machine is very dangerous and you need to set that up! Even in the series there is just a separate game that left the main character stranded in the animus with no way out at first look! You might be upset that some characters point out moves that are well known in the game, like the leap of faith, but I wasn't because it was set up properly! There is a difference between forcing onto the viewer that "you could do this by pressing R2 and X", or if you have a background as to why such move is important.
In the movie Cal disconnected from the virtual reality when he failed the move at the first try. This is important! He could die! If something is set up properly it does not feel forced! Not to mention that when the characters are in the past? Oh my god... the costumes and the colors and the fight scenes! I found myself squealing with joy during the fight scenes! And you know what? They were in Spain. They portray native Spanish men and they spoke in Spanish in every single scene that was played in the past! It is simply genius! You know how much easier it is to do it in English, and pretend that of course they were speaking that other language, blah-blah. But no. Not here. They portrayed men whose mother-tongue was Spanish and they stuck with that. Done beautifully.

I really don't think people gave this movie a chance. It was postponed for years because they wanted a good script and guess what, they got it! It was made with great actors and they set up this world all over again leaving place for new stories and new ways to relive the past. I personally am dying to see what a new encounter between Sofia and Cal would look like. The game itself presented a universe that is not finished. There are hundreds of assassins with hundreds of descendants. This was the story of one of them and in my humble opinion it was done magnificently!

Go see it for yourself!

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Cal Lynch/Aguilar - Michael Fassbender
Rikkin - Jeremy Irons
Maria - Ariane Labed 
Ellen Kaye - Charlotte Rampling
Joseph Lynch - Brendan Gleeson
McGowen - Denis Ménochet

Monday, January 2, 2017

20 TV Shows I Wish Had One More Season

First of all, I am sorry for skipping the last review of the year, but after the celebrity deaths, people I really cared for, I just couldn't bring myself to writing a witty review about some movie. However, I decided that I will gather my strength and remember them with a smile. So, instead of a movie review we are starting this year with a list, thank you for reading! Have a great 2017!

_ _ _ _ _ _ 

I have read three hundred lists on TV shows that should have "never" ended and I thought to myself... isn't that a bit too much?... like think of The Simpsons, do you still watch it? If no, why not? Is it because it has different writers or it was stretched out too far long, what is the reason? Because if it happened to that show, it will happen to other shows you love too. That is why I just wish some shows had 1 more season. Maybe to give closure to the story, or just so I can get used to the idea of it not being on air anymore, or simply because I find that they were cut too soon (probably due to bad scheduling!). Many of these I simply just miss. This is my list:

20) Firefly

I put this here not because of the main story arc, which was given an ending to in the movie, but because I miss the atmosphere. I very much enjoyed their adventures and there was less unnecessary deaths than the movie... I would like to see what they are up to now! [The show's Shepherd Book, Ron Glass, passed away recently, may he rest in peace!]

19) Young Justice

This show was so awesome that people managed to get it another season, however, when I compiled this list I put it onto it and I wanted to leave it because the fact that three years later there will be a third season is a testament to the awesomeness of the show. The fans did not give up. This right here was DC comics coming to life for me and the reason I adore DC characters in the first place. I can't wait to rewatch it before the third season.

18) Vanished

This show was going somewhere and it was cut short and it bothered me so much I can't tell you... The wife of a senator goes missing and it turns out that she is not who she really was. It seems, however, that many around the senator, including the senator, had reason to have her disappear. The show had 13 episodes and I think there was a significant change in writers as the second half was a bit different and maybe that was the reason why it didn't get renewed. Nonetheless, I was always mad I never got to find out what the mystery was and the show had some great actors in it, many of whom I still look for today!

17) Perfect Couples

It was a fun sitcom with adorable characters and it portrayed three kind of couples that I do believe exist in real life too. It was far better than many others that survived and I think there was potential for more. Would be nice to have another 10 episode season. If you don't know it, check it out, most of the actors you will know from other places, thankfully ;)

16) Flight of the Conchords

The two writers, creators - Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie - admitted that they wanted the show to end because it was hard for them to keep on writing new and quality material. Still, I adored this show. And well, I don't think that another season can't be made if they are taking time in between to write songs that they are proud of. I would be into it very much!

15) John Doe

Another one of those shows that had a mystery element to it which we never got to discover and I feel that they knew a cancellation was coming as they tried to quickly wrap things up, which left just a lot of holes. The main character woke up on an island not knowing who he is but with the knowledge of everything else, from any field of science to practical knowledge. He helps the police with their investigations and of course they are reluctant at first but with time grow fond of him and try to help him. I would've loved to see what the writers had in mind when they came up with the show and well I very much fell in love with Dominic Purcell.

14) Scoundrels

I haven't enjoyed a show as much as I did this one for years. A totally dysfunctional family that has a hard time admitting that they are useless without their father, currently in jail, have to now rely on their mother. Slowly their mom gets them together and against all odds manages to get the family on a straight path. The cop who arrested the father keeps showing up and the mom's feelings start to change over the months while her husband is away. The show stopped on a cliffhanger, with the mother starting something with the cop, while her husband gets back home and I just really want to know what the writers had in mind... Check it out if you haven't seen it!

13) Moonlight

This poor show had the misfortune of coming out one year before people went insane for vampires... I think it would have survived longer, with a vampire private investigator and all. It only had a couple of episodes that were just as good as any investigative show out there. I'm super happy Alex O'Loughlin is in Hawaii Five-O which is one of my favorites, still, would have liked more Moonlight.

12) Bunheads

Never watched Gilmore Girls and I don't care much for it either... I do think, however, that the creator had a great show on her hands with this one and I was sorry it was canceled. Especially because it did not seem like it was going to be axed and I think a lot of people were shocked. The story was original, funny, the characters were unique and lovable and some of the lines were dead serious. They had some of the best monologues and dialogues I ever had the fortune to hear. It is a shame it doesn't have more season!

11) The IT Crowd

I mean... who doesn't want one more season of this? It was probably one of the best comedies out there! And yes, four seasons, but they are all just six episodes each... I miss Roy and Moss and Jane!! And well... Richmond :D I need more Richmond in my life!

10) Dallas

This was one of the few re-booths that was successful, in my humble opinion, and I do think it would have worked better as a Netflix series because I enjoyed binge watching it. It was on the wrong channel, I think, but it was a wonderful cast that paid homage to the original without going overboard with it. The stories were fun, the twists got me every single time and the arc that each season followed showcased how good the writers were. I would've liked for it to have a conclusion.

9) The Tudors

I am super pissed at this show, because it had 5 seasons and in the beginning it seemed that each wife of Henry the VIII would get a separate season, and that is not how it went down and it legitimately upset me... This was one of my favorite shows, even if historically elements of it are debatable (as they always are), it had an accuracy to detail and the accents of people and the acting ... it was sublime. I am sad that they did not stretch it into one more season, that is all.

8) Third Watch

With six seasons and a moving conclusion you could assume that this show has no place on this list, but as I emphasized in the beginning, these are not necessarily shows that got axed, but those that I would love to watch still. Thankfully, with Chicago Fire-PD-Med and upcoming Justice I got back some of that magic that made me love this show so much, but Chicago is not New York!

7) The Borgias

From a historical point of view this show was one season away from its finish and I was really mad that they canceled it... It is hard to believe that with such casting it had so terrible ratings that a last, finishing season was not possible... Of course, at least we can look up history books, which is a great help, opposed to those fantasy and sci-fi shows that will never have an ending, still, I would have liked it to be concluded.

6) Happy Endings

It is quite unclear to me why a show with 7,7 rating on imdb got canceled, and it was also infuriating because I know several hundreds of other shitty sitcoms that have lived on despite not being funny at all... they had a great cast with wonderful jokes and I found myself waiting for new episodes because the writing just kept getting better and better... it is a shame it got canceled!

5) Cold Case

This was one of my favorite investigative shows of all time. I loved the detectives, their stories and there was something humane about each case... you know most current shows usually have serial killers and people who just go nuts on corpses and it is gross, literally disgusting sometimes. Here, jealousy, money and love, those are the main motivators and sometimes the deaths are caused by accidents. Of course, there were a couple of special cases, but otherwise they were pretty straight forward. The actors were great, the chemistry worked, it had seven seasons but I have been looking for something similar since and haven't found anything like it. I would sure love it if there were just a few more episodes.

4) Pan Am

Up to today I cannot understand why this show was canceled... I love period pieces. Great cast, great stories, it was unique and inventive and showcased a period when finally women could stand up and show that they don't need a man to live a full life. I think this show could have gone places, it certainly wasn't enough for me!

3) Political Animals

Sigourney Weaver... I mean... how could I ever get tired of watching Sigourney Weaver? This show brought together the politics of The West Wing and the excitement that was All The President's Men (1976), the movie by Alan J. Pakula. Wonderful cast with an intriguing story that was just about to get even more interesting and it was one of those few shows that got me glued to screen from the first to the last second... Boy, I wish it would've continued! Six episodes were not nearly enough to satisfy me!

2) A Gifted Man

This was probably one of my favorite medical shows. The reason for that was the casting of course, but I think it had a good concept - testament to that is that a similar show, Saving Hope, managed to survive five seasons -, while this, airing in the Friday night death slot to begin with got axed. In it the main character sees the ghost of his deceased wife and she advises him to help out in a clinic instead of working in private practice. The main character slowly comes around to it as he learns that helping those in need is a lot more important than getting a pay check. I will forever be mad about the fact that they put it on on Friday... such a shame!

1) The Whole Truth

This was beyond comparison the best legal show I have ever seen in my life. I don't want it to end so badly that I still have 3 episodes of its 14 episode run that I haven't seen. I just... goddammit! You had two lawyers and in the first half they showed the defence and in the second half the prosecution setting up their case and at the end of the episode they showed us if the given person was indeed the culprit or not, without the lawyers knowing. And that is what was different than any other show, the lawyer's job is not to stand on the right side but to defend their client. It can be super hard sometimes because you too might not believe you should defend your client, but that is the job ultimately. I love Maura Tierney and I love Rob Morrow and this show was exceptional. I will never get over the fact that it was cancelled. I just won't!

And what were your favorites that got axed? Let me know in the comments below!