Real Neat Blog Award

We’ve been doing many TAGs recently, but we found it’s a nice way to collaboratively write something fun quickly πŸ˜‰ We still have a few we wanna do, this time – it’s the Real Neat Blog Award – many thanks to Lashaan of Bookidote for the nomination! We will be using his set of questions, so remember – there are no stupid questions, and answers are our sole responsibility πŸ™‚

1. If you could do something better than you’re already doing right now, what would it be?

Piotrek: Organizing my time. I don’t have too much to do, just a bit more than I used to – and there goes good bit of my reading time, and, sadly, most of my blogging time. Less politics, less FB, better concentration – should help, if I find the willpower πŸ˜‰

Ola: Surfing. Achieving zen-like peacefulness in the middle of the week. Watercolor painting. I could go on and on, but that’s enough work for now πŸ˜€

surfing

2. What would you like this new decade (2020-2029) to bring to your life?

Piotrek: Personal life couldn’t be better (although some improvements are in order – see question 1 πŸ˜‰ ). Books, TV shows – there is a steady stream of great new stuff, and vast archives of as of yet unexplored gems… seems I’m safe on this front, as well. So, a continuation of existing trends would be nice there.

On larger scale, I would love to see my country choosing rule of law and modern civilization again.

Ola: Better prospects regarding the fate of the world would be nice :). On a personal level, I’d love to find a bit more stability, and fruition of some of my long-in-the-making plans. But I’ll be very happy with just the plan minimum – that my life will be just as it is now :D.

Piotrek: Aren’t we the lucky ones πŸ™‚

3. Is there a sequel to something that you look forward to?

Piotrek: Well, since we’re talking next decade, perhaps GRRM will finish his series ;)? I hope we can count on Abercrombie and Czajkowski to publish new books regularly, they have a proven record of doing just that… Butcher went back to Dresden, that’s good… oh, and I’d love if Vaughan and Staples did the second half of Saga faster πŸ™‚

Ola: I’m tired of sequels. I’d like to see something original and new, engaged in an intelligent discussion with what had come before. Pretty please?

4. What are some of your favourite stories in any medium (comics, books, shows, movies, video games, etc.)?

Ola: That’s a tough one. I like well-told stories with more than one layer of meaning. I appreciate when the author lets me into their world without pretenses, false claims and ulterior motives. The story should be the key, and by “story” I mean much more than just narrative: it’s a journey as much outward as it is inward, so characters and their development are very much an integral part of it.

Looks like I’m cheating my way out of the question πŸ˜‰ All right then, here we go.

Among my favorite stories are myths and legends – the story of Hercules, Achilles, children of Loki, king Arthur, fall of Angels, CΓΊ Chulainn, Faust, Zmij… So it should come as no surprise that I love books referring more or less overtly to myths and creating something unique on that common basis – Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, Mann’s Doctor Faustus, White’s The Once and Future King, Mignola’s Hellboy, Zelazny’s Lord of Light or even Lucas’s/Kershner’s Empire Strikes Back.

The Once and Future King Folio
White’s The Once and Future King is the only Folio book in my collection… for now πŸ˜€

I’m an avid consumer of war-related books, shows and movies, which allow me to neatly merge professional interests with passion, and among my favorites you can find as diverse stories as Herr’s Dispatches, HBO’s Generation Kill, Miller Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, Netflix’s Marvel’s The Punisher (S01) and Garth Ennis’s take on The Punisher, (particularly the war comics that I really should review one day!), Coppola’s Apocalypse Now!, Cook’s Black Company books and many more.

I love well-told stories, from the deceptively simple to extremely convoluted: Lynch’s Straight Story, Llosa’s Conversation in the Cathedral, Pratchett’s Small Gods and his City guard series, Hobb’s Fitz and Fool series, Stephenson’s Anathem (certainly the best book I’ve read this year!), Simmons’s Hyperion duologywell, you get the gist by now πŸ˜‰ Whenever I feel like a partner in the conversation with the author, I’m all the way in. I might not agree with the author’s views (as indicated in my reviews of Neal Asher’s Agent Cormac series), I might not be happy with plot resolutions or authorial decisions regarding character development (Czajkowski’s/Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt is a good example of that), but I’ll still wholly appreciate the book and the opportunity it presents for pure and simple intellectual enrichment.

Piotrek: Amen. I agree, and I count most of the above mentioned stories among my favourites. I could add some more books, but let me change the medium. Witcher 3 is a computer game that tells a great story that is co-created by the player. It’s a vast, complex set of larger and smaller adventures that together form one vast tale. A task of creating such a tale is very demanding – it needs to have multiple possibilities that would satisfy different players, and whenever the story demands that players are prodded into certain direction, it needs to be done in a discrete way. Lashaan recently reviewed a game that failed to do that. In Witcher 3 I always had a feeling the games allows me to make choices that corresponded with my vision of the protagonist, and I was very satisfied with the end result. Plots of computer games are not as sophisticated as great novels, but they give you a sense of immersion not available in any other medium. That’s why I still try to find some time to play πŸ™‚

02

5. What are some of your least favourites stories in any medium (comics, books, shows, movies, video games, etc.)?

Ola: Don’t make me start! πŸ˜‰ I won’t name any names and mention any titles, but I will say that I abhor unoriginal, redundant, stereotypical, trope-y stories of any kind. Unnecessary sequels and prequels, needless or harmful retellings and remakes… The commercialization of art is one of the sticky points for me – I said I won’t name any names, but a certain big Hollywood conglomerate who acquired some famous trademarks could have done an infinitely better job of curbing their greed and focusing more on the quality of their products instead of sales πŸ˜› And “originality” for the sake of mindlessly introducing illogical or incoherent twists just to be different is also on my black list (yes, I’m talking about that guy whose name rhymes with Bling, who destroyed one iconic comic book character and is now on his way to destroy another…)

Star Wars Disney
I said no names… Nothing about pictures! Above, the epitome of redundancy and cash grab that nearly destroyed a beloved franchise.

Piotrek: Unnecessary prequels, the bane of movie franchises… but I wanted to concentrate on something else. One of the things I hate is when an decent, established author tries a genre he has no talent for, just because it’s what currently sells. Well, that’s my, harsh judgement, maybe the motivations are more complex, but I really wish Brian McClellan kept to non-urban fantasy, and Tad Williams’ detour into the same field was equally frustrating. I guess, I mostly want to say urban fantasy is not easy to do right and I’m frustrated the publishers often cannot recognize the good stuff? When the story is just a repetition of the most overused tropes, garnished with painfully stereotypical jokes, that’s the kind of story I hate.

6. What does blogging bring to your life?

Piotrek: It gives more structure to my reading, often I start thinking in terms of a post while still reading a book. I pay more attention to details, to connections that can be found. Yes, it made me a better reader. It’s also a way to connect to people sharing similar tastes, to find some support to my passions that are not always fully appreciated at home πŸ˜‰

Ola: I could actually point up to Piotrek’s answer, it nicely sums up most of it. I’d like to emphasize the connection aspect, though. I find it incredible that through the blog I can communicate with people from so many various places and cultures – literally around the world; that I can enter into long-lasting, fascinating discussions on everything from global warming to favorite comic books. The support and the community I found in the blogosphere is something I cherish.

7. If there’s something you could change of the world, what would it be?

Piotrek: In the world? That’s big, and, potentially, political. In my current after-election mindset I would go to abolish nation-states in their current form. We’re probably not ready for a united planet, but the I’d rather have the European Union for my homeland than the parochial, hateful Poland of 2020. It could also be big enough to meet the challenges of our times, climate change, global migrations, technology changing the economy ever faster.

Ola: Are we going into the “peace in the world” category? I have a few ideas… πŸ˜›

8. What do you wish you could eat right now?

Piotrek: My girlfirend’s fruit crumble, but I’ll have to wait for tomorrow…

Ola: I’m past breakfast, thank you very much. Bit more sunshine would be nice, though (and the ability to draw sustenance from it wouldn’t hurt either) πŸ˜‰

9. If there was one mythological creature that could ever exist in the world, what would it be?

Piotrek: Dragons, obviously.

Ola: Loch Ness monster. And yeti. But ARE they mythological? 🀣🀣🀣

lochness monster

10. Do you think there’s a cure for stupidity?

Piotrek: The only one I know to be reliable is bitter, personal experience. It’s rare for people to wise up after reading a book or even having a discussion with someone smarter. Individuals and societies learn best when their stupidity hits them in the face, forcefully. And then after a few years, or a generation, they forget everything.

Ola: Education helps. There are always exceptions, but if we’re talking about pure and simple stupidity, and not the wilful, malevolent type, education is generally my answer. As for whether our current education system is up to the task… well, that’s a totally different topic ;).

 

We had fun, now’s your turn! πŸ˜€ As we’re too lazy to come up with our own questions, we invite you to answer Lashaan’s ones – they’re real neat!

55 thoughts on “Real Neat Blog Award

  1. Excellent post which I enjoyed reading. I love your Folio edition of ‘The Once and Future King.’ 😍 I have a few Folio Society books which I bought many years ago. My favourite is ‘The Hobbit.’ They’re beautiful books, but a bit beyond my budget now. I’ve been casting envious looks at Bart’s Folio edition of ‘Dune’ from his review on “Weighing a Pig.” Those illustrations are stunning!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! πŸ˜€
      Ye, Folio books are generally wonderful, but there are some rare beauties among them – The Once and Future King is one, and Dune another. If only they were a bit cheaper! πŸ˜‰
      They even have Marvel series now… πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Would you like a try? 😊

      You’re right! Just like a century πŸ˜‰
      I don’t know if I should be happy about it or not, but at least there’s one more year to achieve my goals (if I ever start caring about yearly resolutions and some such 🀣)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I fear, Iβ€˜m not on the optimistic side of things. Every decade has its right for at least one huge crash. I’m thinking of 2001/2008, and now 2020. Brace for impact, Winter is coming.
        Sorry to sound doomy.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. piotrek

          Heh, and I wanted to bring a little sunshine to Re-E, after our recent gloomy political post πŸ˜‰ But yes, it’s likely to be a hard decade and there are not many real reasons for optimism.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. We’ll, pointing out that 2020 is still in the passing decade, maybe we’ll be just dealing with consequences – and these can go both ways (though I hold no illusions as to the global political and economic impact of the pandemic). There’s hope some of the populist/ authoritarian rulers might be removed from offices, at least. And that some sound environmental decisions might be finally made.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Tags can be a great filler, that is for sure. And from a blog writers perspective, it can be a nice break from the “Review” mindset.

    In regards to War Stars (because obviously naming no names), I think the jury is out on whether the franchise is dead or not. I think that determining what qualifies as “dead” is the most important part. I think it all hinges on whether anything else with the popularity and mindset of the Mandalorian is produced. If we get things like Solo, or another trilogy like 7-9, then I will consider the franchise completely dead.

    After reading Williams War of the Flowers, I never read a non-fantasy book by him again…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. piotrek

      I have “War of the F” on my shelf, used copy bought on the cheap, but never read. Now I’m worried πŸ˜‰

      As to SW.. there’s gossip they might bring Lucas back, and get rid of Kennedy before her contract expires. That could save it πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I don’t think ANYONE could do a worse job than her. Call me paranoid, but I think she hates the franchise and has tried to destroy it. I just can’t believe that someone could be that obliviously incompetent…

            Liked by 2 people

    2. Tags are cool from time to time, and you can learn about the bloggers in question surprisingly much in the process! And yes, sometimes churning out the reviews must be broken up by something more lightweight.

      I’ve heard gossip that Kennedy was trying to get rid of Favreau and take over The Mandalorian… That would be the end of this franchise. The Mandalorian is the only hopeful thing that happened to SW for decades (not counting The Rebels, which I adore πŸ˜‰)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Dave! 😊
      Man, if I were you I’d probably just plop down in the couch and not lift a finger for as long as possible – in your current situation, with so much work, I’m amazed you still have the strength to blog! Sending good thoughts your and Milou’s way!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Susy! Would you care to try your hand at them?? πŸ˜„
      Ikr! However whiny and grouchy Fitz is, he’s still one of my favorite characters (and Nighteyes even more so). But even they must make space for Sam Vimes! 🀣🀣🀣

      Like

  3. I’ve done a couple of tags in the last few months and like to space them out so won’t adopt this, however interesting the questions are. Going on your full responses I can see the allure though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can always come back to it at a later date, Chris! 😁
      This one was surprisingly time-consuming, though – the questions aren’t easy, and writing the answers took us a long time!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you talking about mine? πŸ˜… If so, don’t feel obligated! I already feel bad spoiling your lazy weekend afternoon – and I’m not going to begrudge you a bit of relax! πŸ˜€

      Like

    1. Yeah, it’s weird. You can edit everything on your own, and you can’t amend comments posted on other blogs. Once I didn’t notice that the autocorrect changed the name of the person I was writing to… That was embarrassing! 🀣

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It seems TOAFK is OOP, it’s not on Folio’s website anymore. While browsing there, I noticed that they recently did A Book Of The New Sun. Over 400 euro’s. The pain of capitalism!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw! Four books! Look great, but the price… I’d be far happier with A Wizard of Earthsea, it’s still available and not so expensive. Though sending it to NZ would cost a treasure πŸ˜’

      Like

      1. I love a wizard a lot, a 5 star favorite, I think New Sun surpasses about anything. Luckily I don’t like the outer cover illustrations, or I would have been tempted. The inside looks great though, by the same illustrator as Dune. The Wizard of… looks great too, as an edition that might be the better one indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think, Piotrek, we’ll be waiting longer than this decade for Martin to crack on 😭

    He’ll probably use the pandemic as an excuse. As a writer myself, I totally understand how being stuck indoors with your computer can be awfully unproductive for a writer πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What a really interesting post. Thanks muchly.
    I would probably add the adaptation of the Hobbit to your comments above about least favourite stories – I love the book but didn’t appreciate the adaptation at all.
    And, it’s such a shame we’re not in a place that’s ready for a united planet.
    Lynn πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Lynn!
      Yes, Hobbit was a lost opportunity, certainly.

      Well, maybe if more of us keeps dreaming, we’ll finally get there! I have some hope that after Covid-19 we might become more prone to introspection and will actually think about ways to improve life on our planet for all of us.

      Like

  7. Thanks for this doing this tag and for the shout-out guys, I appreciate it. πŸ˜€

    Cutting down on Facebook sounds like a solid idea if you’re to make time for other things that you might end up finding much, much more useful! πŸ˜›

    Hope those long-in-the-making plans of yours Ola will see a hopeful and joyful resolution! πŸ˜‰

    Love that Folio edition of The Once and Future King. I mean, their books never fail to impress, at least visually. I recently got my hands on the first book of that series myself (The Sword in the Stone?). I look forward to diving into that one.

    Hell yes for Witcher 3. You could spend your whole life on there sort of like on Skyrim too. I am curious to see how the developers plan on moving on to a new video game title after the success of Witcher 3 though. The pressure is on!

    Hahahaahah at that one author who has his hands on your boy Rorschach. I, honestly, can’t wait to see how that project goes. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for tagging us, Lashaan! 😊

      Yeah, I want results now even though I know it’ll take some time before I can truly expect them. I’m not the most patient of creatures, I guess πŸ˜‰

      This is the Folio book I like the most. I’d love to have their edition of A Wizard of Earthsea too! And Dune, sigh πŸ˜‰ But I’d strongly recommend reading The Once and Future King in its entirety, not in single installments.

      Any mention of King in the context of Rorschach makes my teeth grow longer 😜 Wakizashi mentioned that King has a sort of midlife crisis and paints all characters in his own embittered and rather unsavory image… Would that he had gained some insight in the process of aging, alas – apparently it’s too much to ask 😜

      Like

  8. This is fascinating, your answers have been very detailed. Lot’s of connections going on in your answers, I noticed. I agree, that’s a big part of my love of reading and blogging, too. I particularly like the way you describe reading, Ola, as becoming ‘a partner in the conversation with the author’. I find reading such a buzz when that happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Cath! 😊 Maybe you’d like a try yourself?

      Yes, when this happens it’s such a joy! A connection joining separate continents and ages, and all thanks to the wonder of written word! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It is a lengthy one, and curiously time-consuming if one wants to afford the questions and the answers the thoughtfulness and care they deserve. I for one was surprised by how much time I had to spend on it, and how lengthy it turned out to be! πŸ˜‰

          Like

  9. buriedinprint

    I really enjoyed reading your answers: thanks for playing! And you’ve inspired me to add the rest of T.H. White’s books to my TBR. Last year I finally read The Once and Future King because it was on a challenge list for me (as being one of the books that had sat on my shelves the longest, unread) and I really enjoyed it, but I hadn’t really thought about finding the others to read them too. Your single, but treasured, Folio copy has given me pause! πŸ™‚

    Like

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