Marco Polo (Solution to your lack of Game of Thrones fix)


 

Trust me I wouldn’t be talking(writing) about Marco Polo if I didn’t think it was worth it. I just finished binge watching season 2 last night and I have to admit I wasn’t disappointed one bit. Yes in terms of scale and production Value GOT definitely trumps Marco Polo but it has to be said that it MP makes up for it in palace intrigue and multiple subplots that come together in an impressive and immersive 10 episodes.

There are not many shows that deliver on multiple levels as Marco Polo right now and for it’s chutzpah I am really impressed. A whole new world in the east is introduced before us over two seasons and we gradually see how great a role the Mongolian Empire played in birthing what later became subsequent dynasties in ancient China.

A lot of people might not be willing to give Marco Polo a chance but I feel that would be somewhat foolhardy giving the reward of both a little bit of historical education along with quality entertainment the season promises, and I am not just exaggerating when I say it isn’t a bad substitute for Game of Thrones even if there are no dragons or white walkers.

From the onset we are introduced to the curious, naive but knowledgeable Marco as he forcefully travels with his trader father across the vast lands of the east and further into the North  across the treacherous Gobi desert. Things don’t particularly seem interesting but the minute young Marco comes face to face with the great Kublai Khan you begin to realize the true potential for how far this story can go. Gradually the story helps in introducing this most intriguing Royal court comprised of the usual loyalist, royal prisoners, bastards and traitors. Most important of them all turns out to be the great Wudang monk who trains Marco, there’s the snaky Yusuf and the ambiguous but wise Ahmad. 100 eyes is both captivating and gracious as he delivers both dialogues and martial art moments that make Marco Polo memorable.

Other characters such as Prince Jingim, Empress Chabi and Princess Kokachin have their moments but to be honest, they never truly come into their own till the second season and after almost a year’s wait it turns out to be truly worth the wait. We do hope Marco Polo season 2 manages to surpass the heights of season 1 as we believe that is a critical yardstick it requires to get a 3rd season greenlit.

If you’re curious enough you might as well do a bit of historical research on what promises to be a formidable plot regarding the legendary Prester John for an as yet announced season 3. In the meantime, enjoy Season 2. I sure did.

Lest I forget, special mention must be made of the amazing actors on this show, starting foremost with the brilliant Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan and Lorenzo Richelmy as the titular Marco Polo. It’s amazing how they managed to get the legendary Michelle Yeoh on but her addition definitely raised the show’s value several notches higher.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, My issues

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, My issues


So I think I have left it long enough before finally saying what I feel about this particular movie, but before we get into the real gist I want to make it clear that I am and will always be a DC comics fan first and foremost, something that I have always been proud of since I was in my preteens. My first comic book was a Superman comic predictably and that was after watching the classic Richard Donner opus Superman II.

The next few years had me plying through any DC comic book I could come across as well as watching any superhero adaptation ever brought to screen that I could lay my hands on and I went as far as some dodgy Spiderman series I used to catch on cable back in those days.  My love for comic books and superheroes has only grown especially with the work Christopher Nolan did in his Dark Knight trilogy.

Till this day The Dark Knight still stands as one of the best ever movies I have seen by any standard and Heath Ledger’s interpretation as the Joker is unparalleled. Then Warner Bros decided to get into the franchise game with all their cards on deck by rebooting the once troubled Superman and throw in all other members of the Justice league for full measure since Marvel/Disney were clearly smiling to the bank off a widely celebrated Avengers Movie debut.

First came Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel which I personally didn’t completely enjoy but accepted was a decent introduction story for the Man of Steel albeit with quite a bit more improving to do then DC chose to take large steps instead of baby steps by throwing in a Batman v Superman movie while introducing the nucleus of the Justice League roster. Did it work? I think not.

BvS was a mess from the first scene I saw with Bruce Wayne having to witness his parents dying again, like the poor kid hasn’t seen enough as it is already. As far as I am concerned that scene could have been left out entirely and Snyder would still have time to insert a few more minutes of substantial storytelling that would or would have not helped his case, but as things go along you begin to realize there’s much more wrong with this movie than repeating the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents.

Who does Lex Luthor have a grouse with and why is it that Batman seems to all of a sudden have no qualms with killing people? Considering how things played out in Man of Steel I wonder how Clark Kent/Kal El finds himself assuming the moral high ground against Batman regarding his methods of dishing out justice. So just like that a United States Senator can pull strings and permit full access to captured alien technology and the body of General Zod unsupervised.

Look, the whole idea of this particular Lex Luthor didn’t just add up. What were his motivations? That one man should not have all this power? So that justified in the most extreme of ways him unleashing a near unstoppable monster on the world? Why the hell would Snyder  let Metropolis be just across the river from Gotham City? Was that ever something to take liberties with?

Bruce Wayne is a billionaire business man by day and I reckon has almost the same amount of resources as Lex Luthor while I would put a foot out to say he is probably smarter, so why didn’t he see Lex’s game from a mile away. Then there’s also Clark who I assumed had proven himself to be a capable journalist. How come he got a simple envelope with pictures from an anonymous source and didn’t start to question if he was being set up because at this point I knew Snyder had taken it too far trying to make us feel these legendary heroes of ours weren’t that smart.

Then there was the much touted fight scene which so happens to be the film title. Talk about a downer because we only get less than 15mins of slugfest and even that was lacking in oomph. I wish I could say I understand all the excuses made on behalf of Snyder’s work here but that’s the problem already; I read a hand full of think pieces about how Snyder wanted to delve into the psychology of these respective heroes and deconstruct them to a level we could all relate with, an effort in helping we the audience understand their motivations and their driving forces. Unfortunately that was a wrong direction because I don’t think it’s a good idea to deconstruct Batman & Superman.

These are two characters the world holds to a very high standard despite the fears and suspicions we have about them. We ask if Superman is too powerful to be trusted and if Batman truly has no regard of the rule of law. But as long as we have known them neither of them has proven those fears legitimate to considerable degrees hence that situation of tentative ease about a hero persists. But in Snyder’s interpretation all bets are off. Batman has a batmobile that has enough fire power and a grappling hook to end over half a dozen lives while we have already seen Superman’s battle with fellow kryptonians bring down skyscrapers with hundreds of people still in them. These are not the heroes we know, they are clearly flawed men, with daddy issues, powers and near unlimited resources. Now these are the versions the world ought to be worried about and I don’t like it.

The Winds of Winter review (my take)

The Winds of Winter review (my take)


 

It doesn’t get better than seeing the major characters finally take their positions in the build up to the impending final confrontation most of us have always predicted but in this case there are a series of confrontations actually.

As if by coincidence winter has finally come and the white ravens have been sent to all the castles in westeros to prepare for what many have predicted to be the longest winter in hundreds of years (and there are the pesky white walkers).  Cersie finally sits on the Iron throne a position I believe she has always desired even at the expense of the lives of her own children. It has to be said that there isn’t much to like about Cersie but you have to undoubtedly admire her pristine survival instincts. At great expense she has managed to hold on to power and stay relevant despite the many threats and deaths that have occurred to her loved ones and those around her and there is every indication that more is still to come from this formidable woman.

Then there is the resilient and resourceful Arya Stark. If you guys weren’t counting I have been and for a little girl she really is putting together the kind of body count that gets you noticed in both Bravoos and Westeros but no one knows she’s the one responsible for these particular killings, right. The more reason to see her as badass.  At this point the villainous Walder Frey is the latest to have a mouthful of both his oldest sons and the end of her blade as he bleeds out beneath her smiling gaze at the very table he sat while he watched over the slaughter of what was believed to be left of the Starks.

At least we know that’s not the case seeing as Jon Snow and Sansa Stark have vanquished the abominable Ramsay Bolton and taken back their home of Winterfell, meanwhile Benjen has brought young Bran as close to the wall as his now undead body can permit him to. The war between the living and the dead is coming and I have a strong feeling the entire armies of Westeros will have no choice than to band together to defeat this seemingly world ending foe, I mean the armies of the North alone can’t possibly defeat that undead horde and Daenerys’ dragon will no doubt help in finishing things off a bit faster.

Speaking of Targaryens our R + L = J theorists finally have their victory. Jon ‘fucking’ Snow is apparently Rheagar’s son and if a marriage was actually held while Robert’s rebellion was going on is the true and legitimate heir to the seven kingdoms. That’s not something dear Daenerys will be happy with once she finds out.

Now here are my concerns for specific characters going forward;

We know Daenerys has her alliance with the Greyjoys, Tyrells & Martels, her unsullied army, her Dothrakis and her dragons while Jon Snow has the armies of the North. What does Cersie have asides the Lannister armies? Despite being the Queen of the seven Kingdoms Cersie has surely gained more enemies than friends with the burning of the Balor and the eradication of the faith militant who it is widely believed stood for the people.

Now it seems most people have missed the key fact that Westeros is broke and the last official to seek money from the Bravoosi bank was a Tyrell so Kings Landing might be in more trouble than Cersie  imagined going into season seven next year.

Then there is the duplicitous and snaky Little finger who still has designs on occupying the iron throne. I have to say that I once admired little finger for his cunning before but at this point I believe he’s currently living on borrowed time if only Sansa can muster the courage to have the knights of the Vale move against him for killing the mother of their current Lord.

Other minor plots I look forward to seeing further unfold in season seven have to do with the Hound and his choice to join the brotherhood without banners, Sam Tarly’s adventures in old town and Jora Mormmoth’s quest for a cure to his grey scale infection. Over all despite the slow build up in this season I think it was well worth it and stands out as one of the best seasons of GOT so far even if it were only for The battle of the Bastards episode and the first twenty minutes of the season finale (talk about Michael Corleone in Kings Landing).

2015


What a year!

2015

I can’t begin to describe the highs and lows of this year because I quite honestly want to keep this piece as short as possible due to my strong desire not to write like this anymore. I have become increasingly bothered about not being able to express myself through that key voice of mine I feel I have long hidden from the pages of this blog pages.

To be quite honest I can’t say that voice I speak of has featured prominently on this blog. Maybe in spurts and bursts, not in long flourishes that will definitely dominate paragraph after paragraph. But that’s that.m, let me not start off with another ‘i really want to write piece’.

Here I am beginning the year having experienced a whole new dimension to being some sort of responsible adult; being responsible for a fledgling business and a handful of people. To be quite honest I haven’t really had this full spectrum of responsibilities before now. Maybe in my first job I was required to supervise over 60 people including their own supervisors and managers but I was well insulated from key aspects of the larger scope of the business. Things are also developing at a faster pace than I imagined as regards growth and it brings a strong sense of satisfaction to me each day when I see my clients confess to the growth their businesses are experiencing.

So, yes, Business has been good so far.

In a few days I hope I’ll be able to share good news with friends and clients about key business decisions we had been working towards the end of 2015.

As regards other aspects I really am not sure how to simply talk about them. Like finding out I can actually like someone genuinely even though I soon realized that relationship was most likely heading nowhere, it hurt a bit but I am working on moving on everyday (it’s not easy).

But the sweetest part for me this year has been seeing the bond within my family grow stronger. That for me is the one true crowning joy of 2015. I pray you all have a wonderful 2016.

Bless up :))

Notes from Kajuru


Somewhere worth going
Somewhere worth going

I have never been fond of travelling, anything that puts me on a Nigerian Federal road makes me uneasy, especially now that I recently survived a near fatal car crash. So you can imagine my particular surprise when I found myself looking forward to a trip to Kajuru in Kaduna. My friends (about 20 of us) had pooled our resources together to get the chance to see the famous Kajuru castle. At this point I must confess the excitement build up as the day drew closer was hard to contain. Based on pictures I had looked up on the internet and word of mouth I had gathered Kajuru seemed like THE PLACE to be.

Kajuru Castle
Kajuru Castle

It’s been 2 days since we got back and the euphoria from the experience is just beginning to slowly ebb away and the memory of the view all around the castle. Now that is something I am not willing to let go so easily. Anyone who gets to see it probably should never forget such a view, at least I know I won’t for the foreseeable future.

Part of the things that impressed me about the castle itself were the efforts to make it look as authentic as possible; from the knight sword and armor to the hanging shields and weapons. Then there was the secret room behind the bookshelf that bit of revelation was so cool for me and now I feel grateful to that visionary German who made quite an effort in bringing such a European concept and piece of architecture to the North Central of Nigeria.

Just look
Just look

Something understated that struck me about the castle was how I could barely think of any Nigerian who had embarked on such a significant project without requiring it to edify him or place him in the public spotlight at considerable length. Maybe the German was going for that and as a result of him being an outsider didn’t quite get the reception he felt he deserved, maybe, but he sure built something that has helped make a great impression about the Nigerian landscape.

The greenery, the massive/towering rocks and the near endless rolling hills still take my breath away when I stare at the pictures I took on this trip.

DSC_0034

It might not be for everyone but I quite honestly wish a majority of Nigerians could experience the opportunities involved in seeing our own country side at its most original and untouched state; beautiful and majestic. Maybe just before these untouched vistas are tampered with and physically eroded and degraded people will eventually get to see such places. I honestly do pray so, if only for the calming effect it might bring or if I were permitted to wish for the impossible, for people to for just a moment be at one with nature.

Splalsh!
Splalsh!

In the Court of Social Media


I have always heard of ‘being tried/judged by the court of public opinion’ but what I saw on social media yesterday was quite disturbing. Over the past couple of days the 14 year old Ahmed Mohammed has been at the centre of an Islamophobia storm in Irving Texas after being handcuffed and arrested in his school for building a digital clock and bring it to school, upon showing his teacher she thought it was a bomb.

Yes people, the world has come to this, people don’t even wait till these kids have gotten their driver’s license before they are profiled as extremist or not. Truth is Irving Texas has been famous for quite some time now. The Mayor is widely popular for holding anti-Islamist views apparently and it is no surprise this reflects on the mindset of its other public servants a few rungs down the pyramid structure of governance.

What makes me dwell on this case two days after it initially happened is what I found myself spending the better part of my day on social media doing yesterday. There is no debate about whether the school authorities and police force of Irving Texas got it wrong because it is clear they could have handled the situation way better than they did despite all the excuses about school shootings and terrorist threats. What shocked me yesterday morning was the seeming attack and castigation of the boy when pictures of the said clock surfaced on the internet.

You see, someone had taken the effort to take a somewhat crude picture of the said clock and put it on the web in a manner that was altogether misleading. The picture being circulated on social media depicted something that looked like an open suitcase judging by its chrome like metal frame and dark  felt inside, inside the case were a couple of wires, a red bar at the top half of the case (most likely the digital display), a small circuit board and a power source. Sounds rudimentary and simple, right? Well this picture covered the entire frame of the picture except for a plug which was left on the table while the picture was being taken.

I can see how easy it was for people upon first viewing the picture to draw conclusion that what they were looking at was clearly a suitcase which would have been somewhat inappropriate when making a clock hence suspicion should have been raised, but when I looked at the same picture it simply didn’t add up.  Why would anyone repeatedly call a suitcase a pencil case in such a delicate matter and why would the boy’s parents allow him leave his house holding a suitcase while calling it a clock. So I decided to do a brief research on Google. I first of all read up a few accounts of the story, viewing reports I considered unbiased, then right leaning reports and reading a few blog post that I felt were opinionated and well-informed, in all of those reports and posts, none of them made any allusions or references to a suitcase. The literature was consistent that Ahmed had brought in a pencil case clock to class and shown his teacher in order to impress him. The boy was even wearing a NASA T-shirt (how nerdy can one get).

So I did a search on what the pencil-case actually looked like. Judging by the results observed it was clear I wasn’t the only one who found the picture being circulated questionable. It didn’t take me long scrolling through the images that came up to find what the pencil-case actually looked like. I quickly posted both pictures on twitter trying to start the process of dissuading people from embarrassing themselves but it seemed I was too late. Most of what I met was resistance and rebuke for being ignorant of the various ways IEDs could be presented or the harm such a small-sized explosive device could cause( I won’t get into the matter of IEDs today but some responses I got had me doubling over in laughter). At that point I knew I was fighting a losing battle but I still persisted until I could persist no more.

The experience brought into focus most of our folly while engaging or commenting on issues, how ill-informed most of us are of the context, multiple angles and perspective a developing story has but we will still choose to comment, condemn and take sides. This is the Court of Social media, one where its ease of access to a wealth of information ought to promote a more informed group of people but is still populated by those who can be emotionally manipulated or those who do not feel the need to fact check or consider multiple facts presented or easily available.

Yesterday exposed me to the ease we have chosen to quickly box ourselves in with fear and paranoia, claiming that this post 9/11 age inevitably presents a strong case for racial profiling and islamophobia. Forgetting the multi- religious society we live in I didn’t expect to hear that from a Nigerian. I was born into a Christian home and lived most of my life amongst Muslims but 9/11 didn’t make me see them differently. For a town like Irving Texas, I see the possibilities of a narrow minded group of people pronouncing judgment on the boy for bringing a clock that might or might not have looked like a bomb to school but I wouldn’t expect such from what I thought were a hand full of well travelled and read Nigerians.

For a while now I have hailed the internet and social media as a game changer for traditional media institutions, called it a new estate where truth can be sought out. But just maybe it isn’t the right place to seek or expect justice.

My ship, Your ship, our relationship Part 2


Still my ship. How is yours?
Still my ship. How is yours?

I remember beginning a piece in 2013 about uncertainty, how steering my ship had seemed…so unsure and near aimless. It seemed as if I was terribly reaching for something to grasp. Not out of desperation or hopelessness but with a strangely dissatisfied sense of hope, searching towards positive things ahead. I confess I feared for myself in moments of deep introspection back then, worrying I would never see proper new horizons of light and purpose I longed for.

I must admit that period stands out as a low ebb for me, my days were filled with pondering. Nevertheless I never for once accepted the storm would claim me, as days went by I began to accept I was going to be alright, needing mainly to become more adept at seeing the early signs and seizing winds of opportunity.

Fast forward to 2 years from that post and I think I am finally getting a little hang of this steering thing. I’m still a bit clumsy but at least I’m heading somewhere now and I feel the wind of managed expectation blowing against my face. The jagged reefs and the shallow shores have become familiar and there is the understanding that all I need is a reinforced hull and a willingness to keep pushing further out to sea no matter the many times I feel marooned.

As for you guys, it’s been a while. So how are your ships doing? Peachy I hope…