Friday, March 29, 2013

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

April is finally around the corner, bringing with it the Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Last year's challenge was a rousing success . . . by which I mean that I managed to complete all twenty-six posts. And it only took a few 3 a.m. writing frenzies. 

For this year's challenge I intend to stay on top of things a little better. Only 2 a.m. writing frenzies this time! Sorry that you won't be staying up late, trying desperately to get you post finished in time? Don't worry – it's not too late to join the fun. Just click on the picture below if you'd like to sign up! 

Now that the challenge is less than a week away, I am thrilled to finally announce my theme for this year's A to Z blog posts. I considered and discarded at least seven different concepts before finally deciding on one that allowed me to talk about all of my favorite books, movies and TV series. Or as close to all as I could get. So without further ado, my theme for this year's Blogging from A to Z Challenge is:

Character Types and Tropes

Basically I'll be discussing a different character stereotype, archetype or trope for each letter of the alphabet, and my Top Five favorite examples of each. I can't wait to get started!

Good luck to everyone else participating in this event. I look forward to checking out each of your themes. Happy blogging!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ambiguous Endings

Have you ever gone to the movies and walked out after it was over, unsure about the ending. The movie Inception comes immediately to mind, with its spinning top. Does it fall, or does it continue to spin? Reality, or simply another dream? My friends and family have hotly debated that one on multiple occasions, and no matter how much we argue, we've never once been unanimous in our final verdicts.

However, Inception is far from the first movie that’s ending left me questioning. Here are a few (of the many) that I've thought about over the years:

The Graduate:
The ending of this movies is one of the most debated of all time. Their fading smiles as the bus drives away from the chapel haunts movie goes world-wide, making them wonder what happens after the final scene? Will Elaine and Benjamin stay together, or is their relationship already doomed? 
The Breakfast Club:
Ah, The Breakfast Club. It's one of those movies that appears to end on a high note, but in fact remains quite unclear. What happens the following Monday at school? Will the Breakfast Club remember what they learned about each other and what they shared, or will they revert back to their original behavior? 
The Break-Up:
I can't say that this movie affected me the way the others did, but as I had a debated the ending the other day with a family friend I thought I'd include it for consideration. When Brooke and Gary run into one another at the end of the film, is that an implication that they'll get back together,or is it merely an act of closure?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:
I've spent a great deal of time thinking about this movie since I first saw it my freshman year of college. And I've wondered over and over again, what happens after the credits? Do Joel and Clementine repeat their original mistakes? Are they doomed to the same fate they forcefully removed from their memories?

I couldn't even begin to guess how much time I've spent thinking about these films, wondering, re-watching for clues, debating. What about you guys? What are your thoughts on these five movies? Do you also find yourself questioning what happens next? Are there any others that you would add to this list? 

*** For the record, my answers are:
Inception: Yes, the top falls (meaning it’s real).
The Graduate: The realize they've made a mistake and leave one another.
The Breakfast Club: As Claire suspected, they revert back to who they were before their emotional breakthroughs.
The Break-Up: No, they don't get back together. In fact, from the bags he's holding and his general demeanor, I think Gary is in a relationship with someone else. 
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: They’re doomed to the same ending they originally had. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest

It's time for a blog fest - the first one of the year for me, and good preparation for the forthcoming Bogging A to Z Challenge beginning this April! Hosted by legendary Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, today's blogging festival is all about one of my favorite things . . . movies. For this challenge we're supposed to list our top ten favorite movies, something I've found incredibly difficult as I love approximately twenty billion of them. But if you're interested in joining, check the it out.

Okay, so over the weeks I had leading up to this blogfest I spent a lot of time making lists of my favorite movies and trying to narrow it down to just ten. And I found that it absolutely could not be done. I could make a list of my top five absolute favorites, or my top fifteen favorites, but not my top ten. I simply could not weed five of them out. Soooo, I decided that instead of a "top ten", I'd do blog about my top ten movies leading down to my TOP FIVE ALL TIME FAVORITE FILMS.

So here we go . . .

10. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - Yes, technically these are three different movies, but since I've already cheated once today, I figured I might as well break all the rules and think of trilogies as one larger, three-part film. Plus, they're too amazing to pick just one. 

9. Zombieland - My all time favorite zombie flick, it makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it makes me hope to god that if the zombie apocalypse happens, no one mistakes Bill Murray for one of the walking dead. 

8. Star Wars (the original trilogy) - See #10. 

7. The Italian Job - I love a good heist film, and this one in particular has always been a favorite. I love the characters, I love the byplay between Lyle (aka. the Napster) and Handsome Rob, and I looove the cars. Who wouldn't want to have a high speed car chase in a Mini Cooper?

6. Stranger Than Fiction - I love how unusual this movie is. As a writer, I love the idea that the characters I create could in fact be walking around somewhere, their lives narrated by my words. And the scene in which Dustin Hoffman gives Will Ferrell's character the test to identify what type of story he's in is one of the wittiest scenes ever written. 

5. The Harry Potter Series - Like the Lord of the Rings, these movies are some of the best adaptations from novel to screen I've ever seen (apart from Goblet of Fire, which I felt didn't live up to its full potential). 

4. Ocean's Eleven - Another heist film, this is perhaps one of the best ensemble casts ever put together. And one of the most hilarious scripts written to date. 

3. Serenity - Joss Whedon. Enough said. 

2. Penelope - This movie can only be described as a modern day fairy tale. It's one of those stories that reminds us of childhood and child-like belief in magic. It's a love story, a transformation story, and a journey of self-discovery, but managed to be unitedly original. 

1. Blade Runner - A sci-fi masterpiece, Blade Runner is one of those movies I remember watching with my parents as a kid that stayed with me through adulthood. Of the many different versions that exist today, I prefer the the Director's Cut above all others. 

And now that I've completed my Top Ten Movie Countdown, it's time for my TOP FIVE ALL TIME FAVORITE FILMS: 

The Terminator -
Though many would say that Terminator 2: Judgement Day is better, I've always believed that the first Terminator film was the best one. It's not only stunningly terrifying with amazing action sequences, but is also arguably the most beautiful love story ever written. 
The Fifth Element -
#1 it has Bruce Willis.
#2 it has has an amazing female bad-ass in Milla Jovovich.
#3 it has a terrific story full of action, adventure and romance.
#4 it has a blue opera singer.
And #5 it has Christ Tucker in his funniest role ever. Bzzzzz.
The Princess Bride -
This is one of those movies that defined childhood in the 80's. Everyone who's ever seen The Princess Bride loves it, whether its because they love Inigo Montoya, think "inconceivable" is a terrific word, like to rhyme "mean it" with "peanut", enjoy a lisping priest, laugh hysterically at Miracle Max and is bickering wife, or think Wesley and Buttercup are this generations' (much less tragic) Romeo and Juliet. 
Aliens -
Yet another movie with a female bad-ass at it's helm, watching Ellen Ripley go to town and massacre a hoard of aliens which protecting a spunky little girl named Newt may be one of the defining moments of my childhood. 
Die Hard -
The is without a doubt the best action film ever made. And the reason Bruce Willis is my hero. I'd argue that it's a Christmas Classic - and I certainly watch it every year for the Yuletide holiday. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Princess Psychoses - The Scary Behind the Fairy Tale

Last weekend my friends and I got into a discussion about the celebrated Disney princesses. Little girls have long looked up to these royal ladies as the epitome of perfection for years; however, it occurred to us that they’re actually quite far from perfection. Truth be told, just as the real life offspring of royal families have battled diseases like haemophilia, the Disney princesses are chalk full of pathological psychoses and medical maladies.

Take Aurora for example, the famed “Sleeping Beauty”. She pricked her finger and slept for a hundred years . . . and no one thinks it might be a good idea to consult with a physician? I mean, is it possible that she just suffers from narcolepsy and no one bothered to diagnose her? Or perhaps a coma? The same could be said for Snow White, though I tend to think she's got a bad case of catalepsy, a nervous condition which causes rigid muscles, slowing down of body function – such as breathing – and a lack of response to stimulus. So while she may have appeared “dead” to her dwarf friends, it’s quite possible that she merely needed to be treated by an experienced medical team.

Catalepsy: Can cause "death-like"symptoms.
And then there’s Cinderella. The poor girl lost both her parents at an early age and was then raised by a malicious stepmother – is it any wonder that she developed a few mental disorders? Like OCD for example, the cause of her obsessive need to clean. And then there’s the schizophrenia, the mental disorder that makes her hallucinate a pumpkin turning into a carriage and talking mice. No worries there. 

Hmmm, is that normal???
I've long suspected that Rapunzel was merely agoraphobic, using the guise of an evil enchantress locking her away from the world so she could Howard Hughes-it up in her castle. And Ariel – that girl’s got Compulsive Hoarder Syndrome written all over her. And little Miss Alice in Wonderland needs to get her LSD addiction under control. Fast.

That sure is a lot of, uh, "treasures"she's got stored in there ...
But my personal favorite is Belle, the beautiful girl who looked beyond the monstrous features of her prince to the man beneath. Or, you know, developed Stockholm syndrome toward the real life monster that kept her locked up for months and months. Definitely not the “fairy tale” romance young girls should dream about. 


All these fairy tales seem wonderful and romantic on the surface, but cause some serious concerns when you delve a little deeper. Maybe instead of waiting around for their princes to come rescue them, these princesses might have done better to high-tail it to a psychologist. Just a suggestion . . . 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Fresh Starts

It seems like a hundred years since I've entered the vast (and occasionally overwhelming) blog-o-sphere. In fact it’s only been about three months. But suffice it to say three months can, on occasion, feel like an eternity. And now that an eternity has passed, I begin my attempt to dust off the old blog and dive back into the deep end, and what better place to begin than the Insecure Writer's Support Group

A few months back I wrote a blog post entitled The Perks of Amnesia in which I commented on the upside to losing one’s memory. Looking back I have to say . . .

I’m an idiot.

As someone who’s had a recent up close and personal experience with memory loss, I am here to tell you there is absolutely no upside to amnesia.

For the record, I am not afflicted with the aforementioned condition - though by my neglect of this blog, you might wonder if I were. But a few months ago while on a family vacation, my mother’s heart stopped for nearly six minutes, and one of the many residual effects of this traumatic event is a major loss in memory. Fortunately it’s not a permanent change and it gets a little better every day; but it has taught me a valuable lesson. Memories are fragile things. Like snowflakes or fingerprints, no two are alike. They cannot be reconstructed or recreated. If you once loved Harry Potter, that love is in part tied up in the midnight release parties and the hours of discussion over whether Harry will or won't survive the final novel. Objectively you can still say it's a wonderful story regardless of a fractured memory; but your love of the series is inextricably linked with your memories surrounding it. 

But I digress. 

So, what with the family problems and amnesiac hell, it's been a brutal past few months. Months in which I have written not one single word. So I think it's time for a fresh start. New book idea (which I'm already finding overwhelming before I've yet to even begin), new positive outlook (or at least an attempt to stop being quite so gloomy), and (hopefully) a renewed devotion to blogging. My Insecure Writer's Goal for the Month is to get back to posting at least once a week, thought you'll have to pardon me if I'm a little rusty. 

Hopefully I'll be able to stay on top of these goals and will stop neglecting my writing. Fingers crossed. And good luck to all you other Insecure Writers this month!