Friday, May 29, 2015

Tomorrowland's Borrowed Plot

My friends and I went to see Tomorrowland the other night, and while I'll admit my expectations were fairly low to begin with, I found it better than anticipated. Not a movie I'd run back to a second time, but certainly a decent Wednesday night break.  

However, something became startlingly clear as the movie progressed; every aspect of the plot I found interesting was essentially borrowed from preexisting stories. 


I'll begin with the most obvious -- the futuristic world of Tomorrowland. A place where thinkers, inventors, and dreamers are free to immerse themselves in creativity without restriction or hinderance. Sound familiar to anyone else? For anyone intimate with the work of writer/philosopher Ayn Rand, it will definitely ring some bells. Tomorrowland is reminiscent of Atlas Shrugged's Galt's Gulch, a safe haven for the great minds of the world away from the oppressive majority. And apparently I'm not alone in making this connection. Brad Bird, the movie's director, has been cited numerous times for his objectivist tendencies (links to a few of these articles here and here). Still, borrowed or not, you can't discount that it made for some interesting visuals. 

Moving on from some decidedly Rand-ian concepts, I'd next like to point out the film's technological device that shows the future. Afraid of the doomsday images he sees there, Tomorrowland's Governor David Nix broadcasts these images to the people on Earth, hoping to frighten them into enacting change. Instead it acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy and world rushes toward it's own destruction. Again, you might recognize this plot device from other stories, most notably Philip K. Dick's "Paycheck" and it's 2003 movie adaptation. It's your basic "seeing the future creates that future" concept, and far from original. 

Last but not least, the Audio-Animatronic robot, Athena. A scout in search of new Tomorrowland recruits, she befriends a younger Frank Miller (aka. George Clooney) and forms complicated feelings toward him which she attributes to a glitch in her empathy matrix. Okay, now come on. That's just a Disneyfied repackaging of the "I know now why you cry" scene from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. And no one can tell me any different. 

Like I said in the beginning of this post, it wasn't a terrible movie. I just couldn't help but feel that 90% of it came from other stories. But hey if you're going to commandeer concepts from other books and movies, at least Brad Bird chose some of the greats, right? 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blood, Boobs and Carnage Blogfest

Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather Gardner are hosting a blogfest today, yay! And it's possibly the best title I've ever heard of . . . the Blood, Boobs and Carnage Blogfest. So if you haven't already signed up to participate, just click here and share your favorite movie, TV show and/or book that falls into the blood, boobs and carnage category.

Call me crazy, but some of my all time favorite books, shows and movies fit perfectly into this genre. It's going to be a challenge for me to pick just one of each, but I think I've narrowed it down to the best of the best.

Starting with one of the best shows on TV, Strike Back. A co-collaboration between the British Sky1 channel and America's Cinemax, it's an action-packed series following Section 20 agent Michael Stonebridge and ex-Delta force member Damian Scott as they hunt down the world's most dangerous terrorists. Between the many bombings, gunfights, and hand-to-hand combat scenes, the show does not lack for blood and carnage. And I doubt there's a single episode where you don't see Damian Scott (aka. actor Sullivan Stapelton) and his many conquests going at it in various states of undress. In fact, we see Stapleton's ass so many times I read he banned his mother from watching the show. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you get started NOW. You will not be disappointed.

For my movie entrant, I had a terribly hard time whittling my list down. I mean, just about any vampire movie would have worked (Underworld 2 immediately springs to mind), and of course there's the very blood and boob-a-licious Sucker Punch, Catwoman, Species . . . the list goes on and on. But in the end I decided to go with movies based on the work of Frank Miller, most notably Sin City and The 300. Lots of carnage and sex appeal in those films!

And last but not least, books. I thought long and hard about which book to post about, and briefly considered mentioning the Game of Thrones series. But since just about everyone has at least heard of them (and I suspect many of you will mention them during today's blogfest), I decided to go for something a little different. Instead I want to feature a book I fell in love with when I was probably much too young to read it, Anne Rice's The Witching Hour. Most people are familiar with her Vampire Chronicles, but I think her witch series is actually much more interesting. It chronicles the lives of the Mayfairs, a family of witches with a dark past, a penchant for incest, and a spirit with malevolent intent haunting their bloodline. This series definitely gets checks in the blood, boobs and carnage categories!

And there you have it, my favorite examples of blood, boobs and carnage. I can't wait to check out what books, movies and TV shows everyone else picks for today's fantastic blogfest! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Teleportation and Gibson's Vision of a Beige World

I've travelled a lot this year and, unfortunately, I've got several more weekends of planes and car rides ahead of me until I hit my third trimester and mercifully get a doctor-approved break. And as much as I love traveling, I have to admit I find all this back and forth fairly exhausting. To those of you out there who travel weekly for work, God bless you. I can't imagine trying to keep up this pace on a regular basis.

As I sat down to book yet another series of flights and hotel rooms, I couldn't but but speculate how much simpler life would be if I only possessed a teleportation device.

Think about it. It would eliminate the need for airports and road trips (at least road trips that are not of the recreational sort). No more pulling out your laptops and liquids for TSA inspection, or holding it until you drive past a decently clean and/or safe looking bathroom. You could zip across the country in the blink of an eye. You could save hundreds and hundreds of your hard earned dollars by eliminating the need for hotels. Who needs a reservation at the Marriott when you can hop to Paris for the afternoon and be back home before bedtime? Not to mention the effect it would have on long distance relationships and the job market. No need to move to a city that caters to you chosen profession. Live in Chicago but dating someone in San Francisco? No problem! With a handy teleportation device, all your geographic troubles disappear. 

Ideal, right?

But as I fantasize about the benefits of teleportation, I can't help but think about William Gibson's Neuromancer. He wrote of a completely homogenized world, one where countries bleed together and cities around the world are practically indistinguishable. And I can't help but wonder if the lines between cities and countries become moot, would the world's most recognizable and treasured cities all meld together? Would we wind up with a beige world, stripped of what made different places around the globe unique?

Imagine stepping out of a teleportation device and not being able to recognize if you're in Bangkok or London. Of taking a trip to Tokyo and thinking how similar it is to Milwaukee. The very thought of it makes me think a little more favorably of planes with screaming babies, endless miles crammed in a car, too-firm hotel beds and even the dreaded TSA. 

What about you? Have you ever wondered what life would be like with teleportation? 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post! A big shout out to Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting this group, and this month's co-hosts for being such a great support! If you're an insecure writer or just looking to support others who are, join us here

My writing insecurities this month are caught up in my personal insecurities -- I'm going to be a mommy. My husband and I are beyond thrilled (especially now that the morning sickness phase has passed), but as a writer, it's instilling within me many of fear and doubt. Will I have time to write after the baby comes? I barely have time to write now, let alone when a tiny person is dependent on my constant love and attention. I write Middle Grade fiction, so a part of me hopes that my soon-to-be bundle of cuteness will inspire me in new ways. But it's hard to know what my life will be like five months from now. 

What are some of your writing insecurities this month? Any other writing mothers out there with advice for me? 

Monday, May 4, 2015

A to Z Reflections

It's always sad when April gives over to May and the Blogging from A to Z Challenge comes to an end, especially since this year was such a blast. I find I have so much more time on my hands now and absolutely no idea what to do with it. (I guess I'll have to start working on my writing again . . . ugh.) I hope all of you had as great a time with the challenge as I did!

For those of you interested in giving us some help making next year's challenge even more of a success, now is the time! The Blogging from A to Z Reflections blog-hop will be open from today until May 8th. We'd love to hear about what you did and didn't like about the challenge, how you thought we did as hosts, what could be improved, cool bloggers you met or new blogs you're excited to follow, how you dealt with writing 26 posts in one month, and anything else you'd like to share! Write a post about your experience with the challenge and then add the link to your post to the Linky List below. Make sure to add the link to your reflections post and not the URL to your blog itself. 

For my reflections post, I'd like to start by saying how much fun I had catching up with all the bloggers I found during last year's challenge. It was so great to see so many returning bloggers taking on the alphabet once again. And I found so many new blogs to follow. Nerd blogs and literary blogs, blogs about writing and so much more!

This year was a little different for me because it was my first time acting as one of the co-hosts. I was nervous that I would get so caught up in my "hosting" duties that I wouldn't have time to actually enjoy the challenge, but thankfully that wasn't a problem. In fact, I think I had even more fun this year, and that was due in large part because of all the amazing participants. You guys were wonderful and encouraging, and just flat out awesome!

And a HUGE shout-out to my Minions, Michael at Michael Abayomi, Carrie Ann at Carrie Ann Tripp, Susan at TheArtofNotGettingPublished, and Stepheny at Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin. You guys were such a big big help and I want to thank you for making my job so easy.  Seriously, you guys rock!

I also want to thank everyone who voted in my A to Z Movie Smackdown. Some of you even went the extra mile and voted for every single match-up. WOW! You guys are the best! And what a great time I had tallying up all the votes. As a part of my reflections post (and upon a few requests), I thought I'd go ahead and post the results of all the voting. So without further ado . . . 

A to Z Movie Smackdown Winners:

A is for Angel Apocalypse winner: 
  - with several write-ins for Dogma (I seriously regret not having made this one of the choices) 

B is for Bygone Battles winner: 
  - with a TIE between King Arthur and Braveheart for the alternate pairing

C is for Clones winner: 
The Island 
  - with several write-ins for Never Let Me Go and Multiplicity

D is for Disasters winner: 
  - with several disgruntled write-ins for 2012 (I clearly made a mistake leaving this off the list)

E is for Espionage winner: 
  - with Red winning the alternate pairing and one write-in for Austin Powers

F is for Film Noir winner: 
The Maltese Falcon 

G is for Grand Theft Auto winner: 
Gone in 60 Seconds by ONE vote

H is for Hitman winner: 
The Professional 
  - with several write-ins for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Pulp Fiction (I totally approve!) 

I is for Island Isolation winner:
Cast Away 

J is for Jailbreak winner: 
Shawshank Redemption 
  - with many votes for my personal favorite, O Brother Where Art Thou, and two write-ins for Stir Crazy

K is for Kung Fu winner: 
Enter the Dragon 
  - with Kung Fu Panda winning the alternate pairing

L is for Libraries winner: 
The Librarian 

M is for Mice winner: 
The Rescuers 
  - with several write-ins for Stuart Little

N is for Nicholas Cage winner: 
Con Air came in FIRST with 13 votes
National Treasure came in SECOND with 11 votes
The Rock and Face/Off tied for THIRD with 10 votes
  - This was probably my favorite Smackdown of the challenge!

O is for Outer Space winner: 
  - with two write-ins for The Last Starfighter

P is for Prom winner: 
10 Things I Hate About You 
  - with Never Been Kissed winning the alternate pairing

Q is for Quest winner
Monty Python and the Holy Grail 

R is for Robin Williams winner
Mrs. Doubtfire 
  - with my personal favorite Jumanji coming in SECOND and Hook in THIRD 

S is for Sharks winner
  - with a write-in for Deep Blue Sea

T is for Trials winner
A Few Good Men by ONE vote

U is for Under the Sea winner
Finding Nemo 
  - with write-ins for Splash and The Abyss 

V is for Vampires winner
  - with write-ins for Interview with a Vampire and Bram Stoker's Dracula

W is for Westerns winner

X is for eXtraterrestrial eXterminators winner
Men In Black 
  - with Edge of Tomorrow winning the alternate pairing (It would certainly get my vote for winner)

Y is for Yuletide winner
Home Alone 
  - with my most hated A Christmas Story Coming in SECOND and my most favorite How the Grinch Stole Christmas in THIRD (how sad) and several write-ins for White Christmas

Z is for Zombie winner
World War Z by ONE vote 
  - with a TIE for the alternate pairing of Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead (unless you count MY vote, in which case Zombieland won) 

Well there you have it, the results of all your Smackdown voting. Any surprises? I know there were a few winners I just did not see coming. And there was not one, not two, but three Smackdowns that came down to just ONE vote . . . wow! What a nail-biter. 

Well, I can't wait to hear all your challenge reflections. Until next year A to Z Challenge! And as always, happy blogging!