Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pirates or Ninjas?

Alright people, it’s time for me to ask the ultimate question of this generation. The question my friends and I have debated (heatedly) more times than I can possibly count. The question that divides us all.

The question of Pirates or Ninjas?

Do you like Pirates of the Caribbean or The Three Ninjas? Captain Hook or Ra’s al Ghul? Dread Pirate Roberts or The Hand? Throwing stars or cannons? Katana or cutlass? Are you stealthy or swarthy? Do you prefer training or drinking? Would you follow a Sensei or a Captain?

Think hard before you answer, because there’s no going back. Your answer will define you. So what would you choose? 

          


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hollywood, Harry Potter and an Award

Last weekend I took a much needed vacation and went to see my amazing friend Julie in California (she callously moved away a few months ago, but I’ve since forgiven her enough to come visit). She planned all sorts of amazing activities, including a viewing of her wonderful superhero themed play – where she amazed me by using one of the superhero alter egos I created for my current manuscript for her own villainess character – a trip to the most delicious bakery I’ve ever been to, a tour of the Kodak Theater, and best of all, we went to Grauman’s Chinese Theater to check out famous celebrity handprints!

It was amazing. We ran around ooh-ing and ahh-ing over Hollywood’s finest. Of course I was thrilled when I came across Star Wars and got to check out the “footprints” of C3PO, R2D2 and one of the best villains of all time, Darth Vadar! Sadly Julie is not a Star Wars fan (something her husband and I are doing our best to rectify), but we BOTH squealed like little girls when we found the Harry Potter crew. Not to sound like a total fan girl, but it was a serious highlight. And for the record, whoever decided that along with their hand and footprints, the three Harry Potter stars would also make impressions of their wands was genius. I may be in my twenties, but I haven’t lost my childish enthusiasm for things like that. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I wasn't going to leave without getting a picture. Check them out:

 Not the best picture I've ever taken, but here's R2, C3PO and Darth Vadar.

Harry Potter hands, feet, and wands!!!

Yup, I did it. I took one of these ridiculous tourist pictures. And I'm not ashamed. 

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I’d also like to thank Cassie Mae for presenting me with the Smart Cookie Blog Award. It was such a – haha – treat! I’m not sure what the rules are for passing it along, so I’m just going to award it to a two of my favorite new blogging buddies from the A through Z challenge, Andrew Leon from Strange Pegs and Michael Abayomi. Thanks for your amazing posts guys!

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Loves Blogfest

As a follow up to the Blogging A Through Z Challenge, today I’m participating in the First Loves Blogfest hosted by one of my favorite bloggers, Alex J. Cavanaugh. So today I’m going to talk a little about the first movie, music, book and person I ever loved.


It’s hard for me to say definitively which movie was the first one I ever loved, considering even as a child I was always something of a cinephile. However, my mom told me that when I was two years old and my dad had to travel a lot for work, I became obsessed with the Wizard of Oz. I became terrible upset every time he left, and the only thing that calmed me down was watching Dorothy and her friends journey across the yellow brick road. In fact, my mom got so tired of renting it for me that she finally went out and bought it, making it (I believe) the first VHS we owned.

I have absolutely no trouble remembering the first band I ever loved. When I was in elementary school, I fell in love with Losing My Religion by R.E.M. I remember playing that song on repeat on the huge stereo system in my family’s downstairs living room until my parents finally insisted that I put something else on. If memory serves me right, it was around this time I was finally given my very own CD player for my room. Wonder why . . .





My love of reading began early with one series in particular – Nancy Drew. When I was still too little to read them by myself, my mom used to read them with me before bedtime, beginning with my first (and to this day favorite), Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the 99 Steps. I was obsessed from that point on. I read Nancy Drew books day in and day out. I even used to read them on the playground at recess (that’s right, I was that kid). Thanks to Nancy and her best friends George and Bess, I am a lifelong reader. And if I ever come across a mystery that needs solving, I’ll know what to do.

Last but not least, I’m going to talk about the first person I ever loved. Now, I’m sure that the intention behind this category is to talk about romantic love, but I have something a little different in mind. To begin with, I’m an only child. I always wanted siblings, but unfortunately was never blessed with any. However, when I nearly seven years old my little cousin Allie was born. (That's her to the left. She screamed a lot as a baby. I loved her anyway). Though it wasn’t exactly the same as having a sister of my own, it always felt like it. We grew up a few miles away from one another and were basically raised side-by-side. Most of my childhood memories revolve around her tagging along after me. Though we’re six years and ten months minus four days apart (we keep track), we’ve always been incredibly close. We’ve had to be to survive some of our family get-togethers! Allie’s my cousin, my friend, and my sister all wrapped up into one, and the first person I ever remember loving. Here's us now:


Mature, right? Anyway, those are all my first loves. What are some of yours?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

All Hail Joss Whedon And The Avengers

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you've been waiting for a movie to come out for a long time . . . a movie you've followed from the moment the studio announced it was in pre-production, watching daily for sneak peeks, and reviews, director interviews, anything related to it . . . waiting for months on end for it to finally, FINALLY make its way into theaters. And then it does, and it SUCKS. Do you know that feeling?

Yeah, this was not one of those times.

I have to admit, as I arrived at the theater last weekend to see Marvel’s The Avengers, I was somewhat terrified. I’d been waiting to see this movie for years. I’d watched avidly as Marvel Cinematic Universe broke away from Marvel Studios to independently pursue a line of films leading up to The Avengers. It’s first release, Iron Man in 2008, far surpassed my expectations (which were somewhat low following the four preceding Marvel films, X-Men: The Last Stand, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer).

But this new Universe of films signified a fresh start Marvel superheroes. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, even a revision of The Incredible Hulk (which, thankfully, made up for the utterly terrible Eric Banna version) – one after the other, they were all amazing, and shared an intertextuality that promised a planned future endgame.

For two years following Iron Man’s release I waited and watched, internet stalked and speculated with my friends. Only to find out in April 2010 that my idol – Joss Whedon himself – was going to write and direct The Avengers feature film. Joss-friggin-Whedon.

Which makes sense of course. The man is no stranger to heroes and villains – Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog is chalk full of them. Not to mention Buffy, a superheroine if there ever was one. And of course, Firefly. Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew are, in their own words, “big damn heroes”. And the coup de gras, Whedon’s own experience writing for Marvel. He wrote several issues of The Astonishing X-Men, one of the most recognizable and beloved superhero teams. He was clearly the ideal choice for this project, already several years in the making.

So after yet another two years of agonizing anticipation, it was with trepidation that I took my seat and waited for the movie to begin. I went into The Avengers with the highest of expectations, trying to prepare myself for the likely possibility that it wouldn’t be able to hold up to four years of anticipation. And I came out with my mind BLOWN.

It was AMAZING. Beyond amazing. It was phenomenal.

First of all, let me praise the acting. This film had some huge names attached to it, but you just never know how all their acting styles, not to mention the diverse characters they portray, will mesh on screen. But with talent like this, I needn't have worried. These actors made a rag-tag team of superheroes come together in a very realistic way. They  managed to cover the whole spectrum of human emotion, from lost and out-of-time (Chris Evans), to sarcastic (Robert Downey, Jr.). Having been a big fan of Edward Norton's performance in The Incredible Hulk, I was adamantly opposed to recasting Bruce Banner for The Avengers, but I have to admit that Mark Ruffalo did a great job stepping into this titular role. And as the newcomer to the Marvel team, Jeremy Renner was spectacular as Hawkeye. So spectacular that I forgot his lack of superpowers at times (hint, hint: please make a Hawkeye solo film). Scarlet Johansson killed it as Black Widow (she's sort of my new idol), and Samuel L. Jackson – the key holding the entire team together – was, in his usual fashion, awesome. Though I personally felt that Robert Downey, Jr. stole the movie, he certainly didn't run away with it. The entire team pulled off one collectively incredible performance. 

While I cannot say enough about the acting talent, Joss Whedon's incredible script could have made the world's worst actor seem brilliant. With an undertaking this massive, it would be easy to get lost in the battle and sacrifice characterization for action. But Whedon manages to put the internal struggles all six heroes first, turning the movie into a human interest piece as well as an explosive action film. As is the Whedon way, he also finds the perfect balance between gravity and humor, something which we've seen time and time again in his work. There were sad moments of self loathing and doubt, broken up by hilarious one-liners that had me literally rolling with laughter. And amazingly, he manages to subvert some of the standard action film clich├ęs with a witty charm I can only describe as Whedon-esque. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen the movie already, but for those of you who have, I’m referring of course, to the Hulk’s reaction to Loki’s attempt at a long, “I’m a god” speech. Hysterical.

At the end of the day, it was just a spectacular movie. And I cannot wait for the follow-ups. I know they're already getting started on Iron Man 3 (the first of Marvel's post-Avengers films), as well as Captain America 2 and Thor 2. I'd love to see Hawkeye and Black Widow in their own feature films (or even in one toegether), but I have my doubts as to whether that will ever come to fruition. But I'm already looking ahead to Avengers 2!

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Blogging A to Z Reflections Post

Today is the day those of us who participated in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge reflect on our experience. To begin with I’d like to say how glad I am that it’s finally over. The challenge was a blast, but it definitely stretched me to my writing limits having to post every day. Note to self, next year write more posts before April rolls around.



That being said, it really was an incredible experience. I got the opportunity to write about a lot of topics that interest me – topics that I’ve long thought about but never taken the time to sit down and analyze. I also met a ton of new bloggers who not only commented day after day on my posts, giving me fresh insights into my areas of interest, but also introduced me through their own blogs to previously unknown books, movies, music, and fascinating topics. And as for the bloggers I followed before the challenge began, it was great getting to learn a little more about you through this experience. And I had no idea so many of you enjoyed science fiction too!

I wanted to give a special thank you to our co-hosts for this challenge, for doing such an incredible job:
Alex J. Cavanaugh at Alex J. Cavanaugh
Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs
Jenny Pearson at Pearson Report
Tina Downey at Life is Good
Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie
DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude
Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse

Elizabeth Mueller at Elizabeth Mueller,
Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs
Karen Gowen at Coming Down the Mountain
Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small.

And lastly, I want to leave you with one final though about science fiction. A fellow English major from college once told me they he didn’t read science fiction because it was just “a bunch of badly written books about aliens, robots and space travel”. First and foremost I’d like to say – badly written? Seriously? I find it hard to believe anyone who’s read anything written by H. G. Wells, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Aldous Huxley or Robert Heinlein (to name a few) , could call it bad writing.

But more importantly, I noticed a recurring theme that popped up over and over in my A to Z posts. Time and time again, the sci-fi books and movies I wrote about begged the question “what does it mean to be human?” Is it being born of man and woman, without scientific interference? Is it the ability to feel emotion? Can humanity extend beyond the human race?

This question – this search for the meaning of life – is an essential and inherent part of the science fiction genre. And it elevates it beyond mere triviality about “aliens, robots and space travel”. I’m not suggesting that sci-fi is for everyone, but I am suggesting that it’s a genre worthy of recognition and respect.

So thank you to everyone for all your support throughout this challenge and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, and time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. So here’s my insecurity for May . . .


Last month my agent sent my manuscript to a bunch of editors from various big name publishing houses, and so far the tally is: Rejections – 6, Interest – 0.

With all these negative responses coming at me, I'm beginning to feel utterly defeated. Some of them think it's not "funky" enough. Several have said that my characters aren't the right age for my Middle Grade genre (meaning that I have to begin a whole new round of edits, to my everlasting horror). One even said that she liked the story, but not my writing style. Which basically felt like a knife to the heart, though I guess in the grand scheme of things, I'd rather her hate me than my characters, who have begun to feel very real after two very intense years working together.

I managed to stay positive during the first few rejections, but I think my optimism, always somewhat fickle, has now abandoned me all together. Anyone else feeling the same way?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Upcoming Movie Watch List

With the Blogging A to Z Challenge finally over, I find that I don't know quite what to do with myself. So I've decided to fill the now empty space in my life with movies! And good lord are there a lot of movies coming up this summer. Check out my list:

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MAY:

The Avengers - May 4
Dark Shadows - May 11
Battleship - May 18
What to Expect When You're Expecting - May 18
Men in Black III - May 25

CONCERNS:
I'm still not sure how I feel about the direction Tim Burton took with the new Dark Shadows film, but I loved the original TV series so I still plan on going to see it.

MOST ANTICIPATED:
Definitely The Avengers. Joss Whedon, Robert Downey, Jr., the whole team squabbling and ganging up on one another like a bunch of kids . . . this is definitely going to be a winner.


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JUNE:

Snow White and the Huntsman - June 1
Prometheus - June 8
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - June 22
Brave - June 22
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - June 22
G.I. Joe: Retaliation - June 29

YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING:
Never would I have imagined that they'd make a sequel to the truly horrible G.I. Joe film. But they are, and I am not ashamed to admit that I need to see it. It looks terrible in a seriously awesome kind of way.

MOST ANTICIPATED:
Prometheus! I have been waiting for this day to come for years. Finally, the long anticipated Ridley Scott prequel (well, sort of) to the Aliens franchise.

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JULY:

The Amazing Spider-Man - July 3
Red Lights - July 13
The Dark Knight Rises - July 20
Neighborhood Watch - July 27
Step Up Revolution - July 27

GUILTY PLEASURE:
It's embarrassing to admit, but I love these incredibly cheesy dance movies, and I'm really looking forward to the latest addition to the Step Up franchise. No mocking me.

MOST ANTICIPATED:
If there's anyone out there that doesn't consider The Dark Knight Rises to be the most anticipated movie of the summer, they're certainly not a friend of mine. I get goosebumps every time I see the trailer.

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AUGUST:

The Bourne Legacy - August 3
Total Recall - August 3
Hope Springs - August 10
The Awakening - August 10
The Expendables 2 - August 17
ParaNorman - August 17
Premium Rush - August 24
Lawless - August 31

MOST ANTICIPATED:
The Bourne Legacy, but just by a hair. I can't wait to see where they're going to take the franchise with Aaron Cross. Runner up for most anticipated August movie is Total Recall, which also looks incredible, and I'm excited to see a completely different adaptation of Philip K. Dick's short story than Arnold Schwarzenegger's.

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Spider-Man swinging to the rescue? Abraham Lincoln kicking some vampire butt? A little kid  named Norman who has the ability to speak to the dead? What movies are you looking forward to this summer?