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A Minor Encounter

 

I was on a bus sometime ago, to watch Gal Gadot do her ‘Wonder Babe’ thing.

 

It was good day; rain fell earlier but it had stopped, leaving everywhere cool and mostly abandoned. I was sitting in front of the bus ferrying me to Yaba, listening to…I honestly don’t remember who I was listening to.

 

It was sha music, feel-good music.

 

I almost didn’t notice anything till the door beside me opened. That was when I realized we were at one bus stop like that. Before I could tell which; a pretty something shaped like a lady climbed into the bus and sat beside me.

 

I don’t talk to women I don’t know – usually. It’s a silent, unspoken rule I have – usually. So I was just going to admire her, do the usual ‘hmm and ha’ and mind my business –

 

UNTIL I SAW SHE WAS CARRYING A RIBENA BOTTLE.

 

Ladies and Gentleboys and Wobe Folk, have you heard the one about ‘good intentions’?

 

All thoughts of Gal Gadot and that leather skirt flew out of the driver’s window, along with the music – pretty much the bus sef. The only thing that still existed was me, her and that Ribena bottle.

 

Without thinking too much, I pulled my earphones off.

 

‘Excuse me. I just wanted to say that right up till you entered this bus, I always thought I was the only person above twenty who drank Ribena.”

 

She turned towards me, smiled blindingly and said, “Oh, don’t worry. You probably still are. You see, I just turned eighteen.”

 

EIGHTEEN.

 

Gentle people, I turned back to the windscreen and put my earphones back in. And allow me add; I did not look left or right till the bus arrived Sabo.

 

Yeah yeah. I know they say ‘age is nothing but a number, but it decides on what side of the numeric table you’re on. And frankly, who ‘minor’ epp na?

Hugged To Death

 

They called it a ‘huggy’ jacket.

 

They said if you wore it, you would never feel alone. You would get hugs on demand, as many as you wanted. So you bought it.

 

And afterwards, you felt like most people do after new purchases; ‘Why didn’t I buy the other-color? What made me choose this one?’

 

You looked at it in your closet, feeling weird and childish. You wondered why anyone would need a jacket not to feel all alone and unwanted. You wondered how it is you fell for such an obvious scam.

 

After a while, you stopped wondering and just left the jacket hanging there.

 

And then, one afternoon, you were feeling down. No more than usual; but you had a bad case of the blues. There was power and all, but you didn’t want to watch anything. You weren’t in the mood for music either. You tried to read your books; at least maybe some line from Ekwensi or Achebe or Soyinka or Iyayi would make you laugh and lift the cloud that seemed to have taken home in your chest. So you started to read, and it was working.

 

You felt better.

 

In fact, you were just recovering from a bout of laughter thanks to Pa Achebe, when your glance happened on your ‘hug-me’ jacket. It made you laugh even harder – and then, it occurred to you to wear it. Let’s see if it works sef, you thought.

 

So you pull it on, enjoying the still-fresh new clothes smell. It fit you properly, just like it did at the store, but somehow much more. It wrapped itself around you like the arms of a baby, and you snuggled into it. It did feel like hugs all over. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all; you thought.

 

So you started to make your way back to your back and the Achebe novel you were halfway through when you felt something move across your back. You stopped and reached – but didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary. You continued on – and then, the jacket you were wearing seemed to come alive. Before you could do more than gasp in shock, fluffy arms tightened themselves around your throat.

 

Your arms dart up – but in the next moment, the ones around your chest, torso, and trunk all started to tighten. You called out – but your voice died in your throat, much like the spit that suddenly started to flood your mouth. You thought it was a joke – a cruel prank someone was playing on you. You kept thinking any moment now and the pressure would ease off your throat…

 

Till you heard a loud, wet crack. And insane pain flooded your insides. And although it had never happened to you before then, you had read enough books and seen enough movies to know what happened.

 

A rib just cracked.

 

You are going to die; you suddenly realized with intense clarity. You stagger towards the door, intending to get to the kitchen for a knife and hacking –

 

NEPA choose that moment to take power. You slammed into the bed and to your knees. And then you knew; it wasn’t NEPA at all.

 

Your sight…everything was turning black.

 

Pain started at the tips of your fingers; you had torn them open clawing at the polyester arms around your throat. Your last conscious thought is that you had to be dreaming; this couldn’t be how you would end your life…your journey here…

 

Everything went black.

 

Wierd

 

If you had read the instructions on the inside of the jacket, you would seen a small warning in red on the back of the label;

NOTICE: Be careful. Might become too friendly if neglected for a long time.

Lẹ́bẹ́ Book II: Second Strike Out Now!

 

Finally…

 

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Book II is finally out and ready to hit your hands…well, technically, your devices which you hold in your hands!

 

So…I’m not crazy.

 

If you’ve been here with me before, thank you. You can buy Lẹ́bẹ́ Book II: Second Strike here: Second Strike.

 

If this is your first time, WELCOME. Check out Lẹ́bẹ́: The Series here: The Series.

 

And here’s a small taster from Book II: Second Strike:

 

 

“I am Sensei Uloma, the master of this dojo. I hold black belts in four martial arts including Taekwondo, Wing Chun, Aikido, and Kick-Boxing. I am honored to meet you,” she said and bowed. Straightening, she smiled. “I have heard a lot of you from him,” she threw a thumb over her shoulder. “However, I would like to see what you can do.”

She stepped onto the mat. Lanre made to follow – but she held up her left hand, palm facing Lanre. He stopped and she pointed at his feet. Only then did Lanre notice she was barefoot.

The Converse he was wearing put up no protest as he untied the laces, and soon he was standing on the mat in stripped socks. Uloma walked up till they were arms’ length apart and stopped.

“This is a light sparring match, therefore no heavy hits. I’ll be mostly trying to touch your chest, shoulders, and head; you’ll be trying to do the same. No kicks, just hands. I want to see how fast and skilled you are.” She paused. “Understand?”

Lanre frowned and turned to his left. “Oga Kelvin, is this the pessin I come and meet?”

Kelvin nodded. “She just introduced herself – she just told who she is. She is the trainer I’ve been telling you about – “ he stopped because Lanre was shaking his head.

Kelvin frowned. “What is the problem?”

“I not fight girl,” was the muttered answer.

“WHAT?” Kelvin said, rather loudly. “What do you – what are you talking about now?”

Lanre had stepped off the mat and was bending over his shoes. “You say I need training, no wahala. You wan’ me to fight beta, no yawa. But to fight girl?” he shook his head this way and that, speaking in time with the shaking. “No, no, no.”

A hearty chuckle stopped Lanre. Uloma walked forward and stood beside him, silently making him straighten. “I understand how you feel,” she said softly, “I also understand this is important. So this is what we’ll do; we’ll do some light sparring for one minute. If you can hit me five times in that minute, I won’t train you. In fact, it’ll mean you deserve more than I can give you. But if you don’t, then you’ll stay and do whatever I ask of you.”

“This is absurd – “ Kelvin began to say.

“Please,” she implored, facing Kelvin. He nodded and she turned back towards Lanre who was looking at her, arms folded across his chest. “What do you say?”

“Five times in one minute, you say?” At Uloma’s nod, he grinned. “That wan no suppose too hard na.”

“So you accept?” Uloma asked.

Lanre nodded, kicked off the one sneaker he had started to put on and assumed the classic boxer stance; knees slightly bent, one hand defensive, the other offensive. He watched the girl closely and regarded her loose stance with puzzlement. She didn’t look like she was about to fight. In fact –

In fact, she looked just like Tattoo Man did before he kicked his ass*.

 

I hope you enjoyed that!

 

Thoughtful Tuesday: In The End

To which we say; we’ll be fine.

We will be, won’t we?

While we pick up the dust and ashes of failed dreams,

Romance and true love we killed on a whim,

In our youth, we danced and spun on fate’s wheeling wheels,

With wind in our sails we bent life to our will,

Will we or will we not forever live?

We will be fine; we say,

While forward! We march onto our graves.

We will be fine.

F8 or Fate of The Furious: A Review

 

For the most part, the premise of the Fast and Furious movie franchise can be summed up in one sentence:

 

‘Watch; don’t think’.

 

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It’s hard to knock a franchise that has grossed over five billion dollars and is eight movies deep. However, it is what it is. The Fast and The Furious franchise has been around for seventeen years and have collectively grossed over five billion dollars. When you consider, however that the last one (Furious 7) single-handedly grossed 1.6 billion dollars, more than the first five installments of the franchise combined, you know they (Universal) know they’re onto a good thing – and as is usual, will ride it till it can be ridden no more.

 

For the most part, The Fast and The Furious requires suspension of belief from the audience in spades – but never more than in the latest installment; The Fate of The Furious.

 

While honeymooning somewhere ‘off the grid’, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is approached by a mysterious woman who coerces him into working for her against his ‘family’.

 

The end.

 

I’m serious. That’s as far as ‘plot’ for this particular movie goes.

 

Fate (as I will be calling this movie from here on) opens with; (wait for it)…a street race. I mean, of all the openings F. Gary Gray, fresh off the huge success of Straight Outta Compton could have gone with, it had to be the cliché of all clichés – as far as this particular movie franchise is concerned?!

 

Huge disappointment.

 

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An alluring, mysterious woman; Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up at Dom’s honeymoon destination (you get nothing for guessing where this destination is) and shows him something on a mobile phone screen, ‘something’ she believes is powerful enough to make him come and work for her – even though she’s a terrorist and he knows. Almost immediately, Dom gets a call from Agent Hobbs, asking for his help. The usual suspects (the family) are quickly rounded up again by Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson; The Rock) to go steal some EMP to stop it from falling into some terrorists hands – same piece of machinery Cipher needs for her ‘grand plan’. The mission is successful – only for Dom to sabotage it, steal the EMP and dump Hobbs into police hands.

 

Somehow, he ends up in the same prison Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is in…

 

One of the biggest issues I have with this particular outing is how short on memory everyone seems to be. Wasn’t Deckard the same dude who killed Han (Sung Kang) as revenge for his brother’s ‘death’ in the sixth film? All too suddenly, they’re forced to work together and when the team is given news of Deckard’s death, they’re actually sad.

 

WTF?!

 

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Trust me; moments like the one I just described abound. Cipher, played with amazing detachment by Charlize Theron is another misnomer in her role. She’s the big bad in this movie, and unfortunately, she has nothing different to offer from the other ‘big bads’ in the other Fast and Furious movies. She’s a boring antagonist; it isn’t clear what she wants, she rambles a lot about nothing or pointless rhetoric, and is passionless. Her ‘kissing scene’ with Dom was just that; a bland uninspired lip-lock.

 

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Exhale for a bit – and then, wonder with me how human hands can be used to redirect the path of a torpedo. Or how a submarine dives and resurfaces effortlessly as though it is a dolphin. Moments like those are why the description ‘mindless action’ exists.

 

The ‘family’ was interestingly inept in this venture; it was as though they couldn’t find any use for themselves individually. That diversity that made us love As an aside, be prepared to hate that word ‘family’. It is thrown around like so much confetti at a wedding, as though the characters need to remind themselves in their many ‘why are we doing this again?’ moments.

 

Roman’s (Tyrese Gibson) humor was responsible for quite a number of the laughs in the movie – and frankly, it begins to be annoying at some point. I would have loved to see more Helen Mirren who played Magdalene Shaw, and the partnership between the Shaw brothers was another good one.

 

All in all, for all my issues with this installment, I acknowledge the truth that Fate isn’t a bad movie. For all my knocking it, I don’t go to cinemas for ‘intellectual, life-changing’ movie experiences. I do that shit in my house.

 

No; I go to the cinema to be entertained and refreshed. And on that score, Fate delivers EXCELLENTLY.

 

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On Logan: A Paper.

 

This Took Longer Than It Should Have. I Apologize.

 

 

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Maybe it has to do with the type of comics I grew up with.

 

Maybe it was the idea that heroes stood for more than themselves; heroes were a voice for people who couldn’t speak.

 

Maybe it was the escape it offered such that; whenever I was having a bad day, I could just reach for a comic – and like that, I’m gone away like so much magic dust. Maybe it is the realization that comics; like X-Men for instance, showed me a world where people were feared and hated just because they are different. A world freakishly like the one I live in.

 

Maybe it was the fact that I learnt the difference between a phrase and a clause; thanks to an Incredible Hulk comic.

 

Whatever the reason, I am a proud comic book lover.

 

Long before DC started to drop box office bombs with the frequency of a radio broadcast, I was discussing with a number of friends and wondering what it would be like when these guys came on to the screen. As a result, we/I watched EVERY on-screen adaptation of comic books, just to see if they lived up to the image the owners have consistently created in our/my head(s) for years.

 

Usually, there’s stuff to complain about. Very few movies have nailed it down – even the most ‘critically acclaimed’ of these movies get a whole lot wrong. And even judging them on their own merit; at worst they created a hot, fudgy mess (Dawn of Justice, any of the CW series), at best they create amazing stories (Netflix Daredevil, Batman Begins and so on).

 

Logan is one of the latter moments.

 

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There was cause for concern; obviously. The first two Wolverine films were (even now I am shaking my head as I write this) just something to pass the time. I doubt I saw either of them more than twice, definitely not up to five time collectively. There just wasn’t anything to see – apart from a train roof fight sequence from the second one. Nothing.

 

Then Hugh Jackman teased this:

 

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I wrote a piece then, talking about how I suspected they were going to adapt the Old Man Logan storyline from the comics, or at least come pretty close. The biggest issue with adapting that would be the fact that it was a universe-wide event; even though it happened in a Wolverine story, it affected multiple characters; characters 20th Century Fox do not have rights to. I really wanted to see how they would play that.

 

I mean considering what they did with Civil War

 

I saw Logan twice before attempting to put anything down about it, and this was the first and only post I made concerning that film:

I will not be writing a review of Logan – simply because I don’t have anything new to bring to the conversation. I will, however be writing a treatise on why it’s one of the most important superhero films ever made.

There was only one scene that made me unable to control the waterworks from my eyes; even though there was a girl I was trying to impress present.

The climax.

No, it wasn’t the fact that Logan was dying; anybody who’s watched more than five movies should have seen that coming. People like Wolverine don’t get to retire peacefully. Their deaths have to be as violent as their lives (you’d understand better if you’ve seen Shane or actually listened to that part in the hotel room scene).

He had to die.

What made me cry; what shook me to my fibre was when the not-so-little little girl said, “Daddy…”

Forget that she was built in a lab. Forget that she’s killed more people than you’ve had orgasms (wellllllllllll). Forget that she’s a violent, half-animal, I-can-talk-but-would-rather-stay-mute-cos-that’s-way-cooler, murdering mutant. In that moment, she was just a child about to lose her father.

And that, is the type of pain no healing factor, no matter how heightened, can heal.

Aloha, Logan.

Aloha.

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One of the pieces I read after the second viewing said ‘Logan is the Batman Begins of the Marvel Universe’ and I agree completely. What both films have in common is that they brought superheroes to our level. ‘Begins and Logan were not ‘superhero’ films, they were films that had a couple of superheroes in them. In other words, the story/plot/progression wasn’t based on superpowers, these are stories that could happen to anyone; the characters just happened to be heroes.

 

Take away Christian Bale’s costume and gadgets. Remove Logan and Laura’s claws and healing factors. Would we still have stories? Yes; with minor adjustments. For example, in Logan, we wouldn’t have Reavers chasing Laura and the other kids because they were mutants, they might just be child-traffickers trying to catch some runaway kids some high-end clientele have paid for. Bruce Wayne could just have been some guy who wants to clean his city, a well-trained martial artist. The crime had a human face; Falcone, even the ‘super villain’ Scarecrow was just an insane doctor.

 

Ordinary people in extra-ordinary circumstances. Just like you and me.

 

 

Logan is a fitting end to Jackman’s run as Wolverine; he has never been better and I doubt he can ever be. Patrick Stewart was at his telepathic finest even with his mind ravaged by Alzheimer’s (see the irony?) and the new girl, Laura aka X-23 was just…

 

In all the many, many mortalities in all the X Men films, none of them hit me like the death of Logan. Not because he’s my favorite X Man (well, till they find a perfect Gambit) but because it was human. This was not a superhero, mutant, claw-popping, accelerated healing factor rocking guy dying; this was just an old man who happened to have lived too long.

 

In fact, I was kinda happy for Logan.

 

Finally, he’s going to rest. I mean, he has the burden of outliving EVERYONE he’s ever cared about. He’s lost his one excuse for sticking around; Professor Xavier, so his life pretty much had no purpose from then on. Finally, this lonely and grumpy old man will have peace.

 

But, he had a daughter.

 

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Someone who knows she was built in a lab finds out she has some kind of tie to humanity; she has a father. A father who denies paternity – but a father nonetheless. And when, just when he’s finally accepted she’s a part of him –

 

They kill him.

Even now, putting down these words that have been hovering in my head for almost two months, my eyes still smart. Finally, an X Men movie I can not only enjoy; but relate to. Themes of friendship, responsibility, purpose, destiny keep going on, over and over.

 

And then, when you consider I have a little girl of mine…

 

As far as I’m concerned, Logan is a movie that belongs in the ‘How To Make A Superhero Movie’ corner of libraries, film schools – and whoever else archives stuff like that. Me?

 

I’m just thankful I’m alive to see stuff like this.

 

Now, who has some tissue?

 

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – A Review

 

Warning: Major spoilers ahead.

 

With Marvel these days, a sequel is a certainty.

 

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Scratch that. With ANY high grossing movie, a sequel is ALMOST a certainty. Why, word dropped only some time ago about a sequel to The Wedding Party. Who can blame them? The biggest reason (or the second-biggest) anyone puts money down to support almost anything is to make more money, no?

Therefore, a Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is a no-brainer.

When I heard in 2013 that a movie adaptation of these characters was being made, my first question was ‘Which Guardians?’ I know I keep harping on this fact – but you should read a freaking comic.

There are two teams known as Guardians of the Galaxy. The original team created in 1969 by Gene Colan (don’t quote me) comprises different characters, some of who you saw/will see at the end of the second movie; Charlie 27 (Ving Rhames), Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone), Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Yondu (Michael Rooker; appears in both films), Adam Warlock (mentioned at the end of two) and so on. But as is usual, the whole thing was retconned for the movie(s). The Guardian team the movies are mostly about is the 2008 version.

In this sequel, the Guardians get in trouble because Rocket Raccoon (if he catches you calling him that, don’t say you read it here o) decides to steal a bunch of batteries they (the Guardians) were hired to protect by The Sovereign. On their way from the planet, they are attacked by their erstwhile employers, The Sovereign – but are protected by a mysterious man who calls himself Ego (Kurt Russell) (after the living planet in the comics) and turns out to be Star-Lord Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father.

 

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That pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film – that; and further exploration of the relationship between Yondu and Quill. We get to understand why Yondu has a soft spot for Quill and, more importantly, why Yondu decided to keep Quill for himself instead of delivering him to – as per his employment at the time.

The sequel is a good movie; refreshing humor and emotionally satisfying moments well put together. It is not as good as the first one, however, and a number of head-scratching moments further take away from the shine of this outing.

 

Head-Scratching Moment 1 – why did The Sovereign hire The Guardians in the first place? As seen further into the movie, The Sovereign are quite capable and vicious in their own right. Ayesha (also known as Her and Kismet from the comics) explained it as ‘each of the Sovereign are created to specific genetic codes. We are all special and therefore must be protected’ or words to that effect – but still.

 

 

Shallow excuse.

Head-Scratching Moment 2 – why did Ego tell Peter Quill about killing Quill’s mom Meredith? I know, the ‘good guy’ needs inspiration; usually delivered via rousing speech to remember what he is fighting for – but that?

Made no sense. AT ALL.

Look out for the coming of Adam Warlock, one of the original Guardians! Well, it’s an Easter Egg so pay close attention or you’ll miss it. And The Watchers…!

The sibling rivalry between Nebula and Gamora came to a quite disappointing end – and some of that doesn’t make sense either. Nebula attacks Gamora with a jet, crashes the jet and is trapped. Gamora carries a big-ass canon, shoots the jet into a hole, ‘has a change of heart’, climbs into the hole and rescues Nebula. WTF?

Call that Head-Scratching Moment 3.

The movie had some slow parts; dialogue that seemed irrelevant and went on and on – but lends to the overall shape of the movie. James Gunn’s strength as writer/director remains the ability to not take any of the on-screen happenings too seriously – and that translates well for the characters. Quill remains as fun as ever, Drax the unintentional/well-meaning brute and loudmouth, Gamora who looks and fights nothing like her comic counterpart, Raccoon who remains as annoying as ever –

And Baby Groot who steals every scene he’s in with childlike charm and baby cuteness.

 

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A good movie; definitely worth watching.

Guardians of the Galaxy is now showing in cinemas across the country.

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