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Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Future of This Blog (and Me, and Humanity in General)

By the time you read this, I'll have moved into my college dorm for the first time.

While it makes no difference in your daily life, it's a big deal for me.

This blog is also a big deal for me.

I'm not sure what will happen when these two big deals crash into one another.  It'll be my first time studying at a university, so I have no idea how much homework I'll have, and consequently, how much time I'll have for blogging.  Or even reading, which freaks me out.  It's exciting, but I don't know what to expect.

Sometimes I feel a bit like this dog.
Don't get me wrong--this is, in no way, a goodbye letter.  I'm not stopping blogging, reviewing, reading, writing, or any of the other things I do.  I still hope to be able to continue posting.  I'm telling you all this, though, to explain why I will most likely be absent in the next few weeks, or why posting might be sporadic.  Again, I just don't know how much time I will have, so until then, posting will be uncertain.

It's a step into the unknown, but it's also exciting.  I plan to double major in English with an emphasis on writing (approximate number of people who have been surprised by this: zero) and Communications & Journalism.  Communications & Journalism (commonly referred to as CoJo) is one major, the result of combining two departments into one in 2007.

At this point, my ultimate goal is to become a full-time novelist.  Since I am rather fond of not starving, though, I have to give myself another means of getting a job, since I know how few writers actually achieve this.  In that case, I'd love to work in editing and publishing, preferably with novels.  Maybe I'll even become a literary agent (since the idea of reading through a slush pile actually sounds fun to me).  Maybe I'll switch to screenwriting and work on Marvel phase 12.  Maybe I'll win the lottery and spend the rest of my life on a quest to break the world record for the number of books read by one person in one lifetime.

Basically, everything is up in the air right now, which is both cool and intimidating.  I'm excited to move in and start my classes.  I'll be sure to keep you updated, especially later in my studies, if I get the opportunity to have any writing-related internships or jobs.  Until then,, here I come!

Have you started the new school year yet?  Is anybody else also just starting college?

*I may have lied about the "humanity in general" part of the post title, but I liked how it sounded.  While I'm here, though, here are some predictions/thoughts about the future of the human race:
  1. Sherlock series 4 might come out in the next 25 years.
  2. The Yellowstone Volcano will probably not erupt in the near future, despite the fact that it's thousands of years overdue.  Which is a fact that should probably concern more people than it does.
  3. Some scientist will eventually figure out how to recreate live dinosaurs, despite the fact that we have both Jurassic Park and Spy Kids telling us why this is a horrible idea.
  4. A "Civil Rights for Pluto" movement will begin.  Protests will happen solar system-wide.  It will be epic.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Novel #2 Status: Complete!

I finished another book.  The rough draft, at least.  It took me over a year (hey, that's less time than the first book), but I got there eventually.  I completely blame AP exams and graduation for not finishing in under a year.  Before editing, it sits at 77,017 words, which is longer than I expected, but in a good way.

I wish I could give you an "official" description.  Or even a title.  Alas, I still have neither.  To recap the scattered description I wrote when I blogged about first starting this project, Untitled Sci-Fi Book About Icarus and Other Stuff is the story of two seventeen-year-olds, Everett Flinch and Mason Ardale.  The former has an ability that allows him to jump off anything, no matter how high, and never be hurt by the fall.  The latter is the ward of Marcus Brookwell, a sketchy guy that heads an organization called the Minotaur, which is trying to replicate Everett's ability.  It's not just them, though: we can't forget Mason's musical- and skater skirt-loving ex-girlfriend, or Everett's skeptical younger brother, or his double agent mother, or a man in a secluded cabin, or Icarus, the legend himself.  Other important things include a can of royal blue spray paint, a fire tower, a Captain America t-shirt, a silver pickup truck, a laboratory, and a pair of metal wings.

Or, as I wrote for the description of my Pinterest inspiration board for this book: "This is the story of Everett Flinch, the boy who cannot fall.  It is the story of Mason Ardale, the boy with nothing to lose and everything to hide.  It is the story of Sydney Fen, the girl who saw too much.  It is the story of Marcus Brookwell, the man with a vision that would change the world--or put him in prison.  It is the story of Rachelle Flinch, the woman must join the enemy to save her sons.  Finally, it is the story of Icarus, the legend who has lived too long."

As always, the novel didn't turn out looking anything like I expected.  They never do.  When I first had the idea, I envisioned it as a quiet, more literary magical realism piece.  Somehow it became a kind-of-sci-fi-kind-of-fantasy thriller.  I'm not sure how that happened, but I think it works better this way.  Besides, I've never really tried my hand at quiet, literary magical realism piece, but I doubt it's my thing.  I'm more Eoin Colfer than I am Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Besides, a more commercial style allows me to make all sorts of fandom/pop culture references.  I was definitely playing the "how many Marvel references can I stick into this story before people get annoyed with me" game.  I mention Steve Rogers a few too many times--does the average person even know who that is?  This is problematic, since his story was a heavy inspiration for mine.

Overall, though, this book was a totally different experience from the last one.  Secrets of the Legend Chaser was all street thieves punching princes (to be fair, the prince punched back and then taught the thief how to use a sword) and everyone was riding dragons and sneaking around in castles and such.  And now my characters can actually drive places and send text messages.  Nothing can replace my love for high fantasy, but the twenty-first century sure is convenient.

Like everything else I've ever written, it was a learning experience, if nothing else.  I came up with a huge list of odd questions, including:

Do straight guys notice other guys' abs?  (The jury is still out on this one.)
What do you call those cushioned tables with the weird paper in doctor's offices?  (Exam tables.  They're called exam tables.  I won't even tell you how long it took me to figure that out.)
Is there such thing as an intravenous tracker?  (Hey, it's my book, so why not?)
Is cupholder even a word?  (Not according to Microsoft Word, but I used it anyway.)
Can I invent nonexistent Minneapolis skyscrapers at will and pretend they're real?  (Yes.)
What kind of gun do you use for a holdup?  A pistol, or something else?   (Never judge a writer based on her search history.)
Is there a way to disable doors marked "alarm will sound"?  (There's actually an entire website dedicated to this type of thing.  The legality of their ideas is questionable, but it's a gold mine for writers.)

I also learned a few things about myself.  Mainly, that I can never let characters be happy for long.  Sometimes I'm all "I love my characters--here, have some happiness" and other times I'm "LET THEM BURN.  THEY MUST ALL SUFFER." and there's no in-between.   Let's face it.  I want to be the Steven Moffat of my generation.  I want to cause havoc in fandoms.  For some reason, that sounds like an awesome job.  (If nothing else, Moffat can plot like nobody's business.)

--my characters, probably
Miscellaneous notes about the book: First line: "I had one chance to convince Everett Flinch to come quietly. If he didn’t, well, things wouldn’t go well. For either of us."  Last line(s): "'I’m right behind you,' I said, but he was already halfway to the ground. I followed his lead, positioning myself for the fall.  No, not the fall.  The flight."  Chapters: 37.  Characters (including spaces): 417,228.  Average words written per day (excluding days I didn't write at all): 520.  Hypothetical movie casting includes: Andrew Garfield, Jack Gleeson, Rupert Graves, Jenna Coleman, Samantha Ferris.  Songs on playlist include: 'Icarus' by Bastille, 'C'mon' by Fun. and Panic! at the Disco, 'Nothing Left To Say / Rocks' by Imagine Dragons, 'Don't Look Down' by OneRepublic, 'Lost!' by Coldplay, 'Broken Arrow' by The Script, '1961' by The Fray, 'All Alright' by Fun., 'Sloom' by Of Monsters And Men.

But I ramble.  The main thing is: it's done.  It needs revision, and I probably need to re-outline it to make sure the structure is sound.  Still, it's in better shape than SotLC was after just one draft, and I'm proud of that.  Will you see either of them in bookstores ever?  I don't know about that (but I can always hope).  No matter what happens, though, Everett Flinch and Mason Ardale had a story that needed to be told.  I told it as best I could.

What's next?  I thought I knew exactly what book was up next.  I have another story begging to be told, this one about a girl who daydreams excessively and makes up intricate stories in her head, only to find out that these characters are slowly becoming real.  There's a catch, though: the more they exist, the less she exists. But then, a few months ago, another idea smacked me in the face, a sci-fi/dystopian novel that I'll only describe for now as "copyright law gone horribly wrong in a beautiful way".  As much as the idea of writing a dystopia makes me hesitate, a friend and I spent some time brainstorming and I think it has potential.  We'll see what happens, though.  Right now I'm just happy because I finished my current work in progress.

What are you writing right now?  How is it going?  Any title-searching tips?
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Dear Killer, Guardian, Eve & Adam, and The Archived Mini-Reviews

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell 
Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.

Released: April 1st 2014                 Pages: 359
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books   Source: Library

Dear Killer presents itself as an exploration of morality from the point of view of one who has none, a "sinister psychological thriller", as it claims to be.  I just didn't get this feeling from it.  It seemed like it would be an interesting character study, and had the premise for it--a teenage serial killer who kills not for revenge or any other internal motive.  Instead, Kit simply kills who people tell her to kill, making no judgments on herself or those who request the murders.  You'd think a character like this would be fascinating, if not scary, but she somehow becomes bland.  Her detachment from emotions is an important part of her, but it's almost too much.  For too much of the book, her personal stakes are almost nonexistent.  She strays too close to Mary Sue territory, somehow succeeding at pretty much everything she does with little conflict.  And she's a serial killer.  How does a serial killer become a Mary Sue?

The other main drawback is the writing.  It's full of annoying clichés like the lazy and overused mirror description trick.  At times, awkward phrasing throws off the flow of the story.  Occasionally, it's even condescending--do we really need to include a clunky, ill-disguised infodump paragraph on the definition of nihilism?  The narration stays distant from Kit, never allowing me to get into her head as much as I would have liked.  This might be partly due to her lack of emotion, but not completely.

The book begins to discuss the issues with Kit's morality, but never fully explores them.  The predictable ending doesn't help, and just left me wanting more, but not in a good way.  Overall, it's an okay book, but I'm disappointed with it.

Similar Books: It's a YA thriller involving serial killers like I Hunt Killers and Project Cain.  It's a high school-centric thriller like Boy Nobody.

Guardian (Proxy #2) by Alex London
In the new world led by the Rebooters, former Proxy Syd is the figurehead of the Revolution, beloved by some and hated by others. Liam, a seventeen-year-old Rebooter, is Syd’s bodyguard and must protect him with his life. But armed Machinists aren’t the only danger.

People are falling ill—their veins show through their skin, they find it hard to speak, and sores erupt all over their bodies. Guardians, the violent enforcers of the old system, are hit first, and the government does nothing to help. The old elites fall next, and in the face of an indifferent government, Syd decides it’s up to him to find a cure . . . and what he discovers leaves him stunned.

This heart-stopping thriller is packed with action, adventure, and heroics. Guardian will leave you breathless until the final page.

A fast-paced, thrill-ride of novel full of non-stop action, heart-hammering suspense and true friendship—just as moving as it is exhilarating. Fans of Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, James Dashner's Maze Runner, Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series, and Marie Lu's Legend trilogy will be swept away by this story.

Released: May 29th 2014      Pages: 352
Publisher: Philomel               Source: Library

Proxy was one of my favorite dystopian novels of last year, and for good reason.  It has a fascinating premise, three-dimensional characters, and is full of emotion.  For the most part, Guardian is on par with this.  Instead of Knox and Syd, the story now focuses on Syd and a new character, Liam.  Since Syd was already an established character, I already liked him and had a sense of his personality.  It took me awhile to pick that up with Liam, but once I did, I liked him more than Syd.  He's honest, loyal, and determined, and I genuinely felt for him.  I loved how his relationship with Syd develops and changes over the course of the novel.  They aren't quite friends, not quite something beyond, but they're more than mere allies.  I'm eager to see how Alex London will continue developing this in the next book.

For some reason, I had forgotten about many of the plot points and minor characters since I read Proxy, more than I usually do.  I'm not sure why this happened, but in any case, it took me a few chapters to reorient myself.  Once I did, though, my interest never wavered.  Guardian is more political in nature than Proxy, but it's equally engaging, and still raises important questions.  It looks at the flaws of both unchecked capitalism and unchecked communism, showing a dark side to both.

My only major issue is with the omniscient narration.  Instead of dividing the point of view chapters between Syd and Liam and focusing on only one in each, the narration shows both Liam and Syd's thoughts with no divisions between.  It is possible to use this type of narration successfully, but in this book, it didn't work for me.  It was easy to lose track of whose thoughts I was reading, and they switch back and forth often enough to become disorienting at times.

Overall, though, I enjoyed Guardian almost as much as its predecessor.  I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a novel set in a unique, fully-realized dystopian world.

Similar Books: It asks questions about the value of human life like Unwind or The House of the Scorpion. It has a near-future, high-tech setting like Ready Player One, Legend, or even The Maze Runner.

Eve & Adam (Eve & Adam #1) by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
And girl created boy…
In the beginning, there was an apple—

And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker’s head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.

Just when Eve thinks she will die—not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.

Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect... won’t he?

Released: October 2nd 2012      Pages: 291
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends       Source: Library

Eve & Adam takes a long time to actually get started, despite its lightning-fast pace.  As soon as we're introduced to the main character, Eve, she's already getting in a serious car crash.  Still, for the first half or so, there's almost no real conflict.  Eve is recovering, and she's recovering suspiciously well, but she has none of the personal stakes that give plots depth.  Even as she begins to create Adam, the so-called "perfect boy", the biggest problem in the story is her best friend's boyfriend issues, not hers.  This is probably why I had trouble connecting with her or caring about her, despite the fact that she is a decently well-developed character.  

Solo, the ward of Eve's mother, is more interesting.  His backstory comes out slowly, but it gives him depth and explains his actions.  Half the book is in his point of view, though you wouldn't know it from reading the back cover description.  He has more to lose than Eve, which makes his half more compelling.

When the actual plot does finally get moving around halfway through, it moves fast and gives little chance to keep up.  It felt rushed, and at 291 pages, there was room to expand upon certain plot points, but evidently this space was ignored.  The issue of the ethics of human creation is discussed, but briefly.  This book could have spent more time exploring these topics, but instead it devotes more words to the best friend's boyfriend subplot (which is, admittedly, important, but not the main focus) and the awkwardly-forming romance between Solo and Eve.  
Overall, it's interesting, but it had the potential to be so much more.

Similar Books: It's a high-tech novel about the implications of advanced, human-modifying technology, like The House of the Scorpion and Unwind.  It would also appeal to fans of past-paced thrillers like another of Grant's books, BZRK.

The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Released: January 22nd 201     Pages: 328
Publisher: Hyperion                 Source: Library

So many reviewers on Goodreads love this, but it just left me bored.  The premise is interesting in theory--the dead not being lost, just held in a, well, archive.  In practice, it isn't as cool.  I'm not sure what it was, but the concept of the Archive never quite "clicked" for me.  It made sense within the story, but I felt like there was always something missing.  For the longest time, there is no direct threat to the Archive in itself, and maybe this is part of the problem.  Also, there is a lot of term-dropping, with titles like Librarian, Crew, Keeper, etc., but we only ever really see Keepers in action.  I still haven't figured out what exactly Librarians do, other than patrol around and make things difficult for Mac.

Mac herself is the strongest part of the book.  Her emotions came through clearly, and her grief over her brother's death and trying to adjust to a new home made her feel real and relatable.  Her relationship with Wesley, another Keeper, feels natural and brings out a brighter side to her personality, even if it does come out of almost nowhere.

This might've earned four stars, if not for the plot.  The plot is a bit slow for my taste.  The conflict is there, but the tension or feeling of urgency isn't.  There is a problem, yes, but why should I care?  It flashes back to Mac's training with her grandfather on a regular basis, which didn't help, and I don't see why these scenes are necessary.  Also, it's confusing to have a character named Da (Mac's grandfather) and another named Dad.

Overall, I don't see why this book gets so much praise.  It's not a bad book, but I never felt invested in it.  

Similar Books: It's a paranormal novel that deals with death, like The Everafter.  It also reminds me of The Raven Boys and The Secret Hour.

PS: The Midnight Garden, another book blog, is hosting a giveaway of Patrick Ness books.  If you haven't read any Patrick Ness, you definitely should.  You can enter right here.
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Monday, August 18, 2014

18 Thoughts and Reactions to Guardians of the Galaxy

"I am going to die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy."
-Gamora inadvertently summarizes the entire plot

That's it.  That's all you need to know.  That's the movie.

If you still want more, though, Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie about a cassette-obsessed human, a talking tree, a genetically modified warrior princess, a muscular blue guy that doesn't understand metaphors, and a raccoon with a rocket launcher.  They also somehow manage to save the entire galaxy.  What's not to love?

Here are eighteen spoiler-free thoughts:
  1. I had ridiculously high expectations for this movie.  I have high expectations for every Marvel movie, but for some reason, I was expecting a lot from this one.  I'm not familiar with the Guardians of the Galaxy (which I will henceforth refer to as GotG) comics, so I didn't know much about it other than what I saw in the trailers, but I liked the look of it, which made my expectations high.  Besides, if Marvel is going to take the risk of releasing a movie starring a raccoon with a rocket launcher that hangs out with a talking tree, it had better pay off.  Also, I kept seeing glowing reviews like this one, and people claiming that this is Marvel's best movie yet.  How could I not have high expectations? 
  2. The beginning is disorienting.  This is one of only issues I have with this movie, and in the grand scheme of things, it hardly detracts from my enjoyment of it, but it's worth mentioning.  It goes from The Fault in Our Stars to Star Trek in 0.3 seconds. Then, suddenly, Peter Quill is running around in a gas mask, and then it swings around to people throwing sketchy-looking dust at a blue Lee Pace.  The first time I saw it (I've seen it twice now--the first time in a theater, the second at a drive-in), it took me a few minutes to get my bearings.  Who is Peter running from?  Who's the bad guy and who's the bad bad guy here?  Why is Thranduil blue?  All that being said, after it gets moving, it's easy to get on track with it.
  3. It's fun.  While Marvel movies are never without a healthy dose of comic relief, some are much darker than others.  Movies like The Winter Soldier or Iron Man 3, for example, are more intense, deal with more difficult themes (human modification, PTSD, etc.), and make a statement about politics/life/society.  GotG never quite shifts into "gritty" territory like The Winter Soldier or even other comic book movies like Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.  It has some profound things to say--as should any good movie--but it doesn't have to be cynical and dark in order to do so.  While watching Catching Fire, I had this pit-like feeling in my stomach the entire time because of the emotional intensity of it all.  I left the theater after The Fault in Our Stars with a deep sense of loss.  When I walked out of GotG, I was just grinning.  Don't get me wrong--I love the emotional intensity and often-dark themes of these movies and others, but sometimes, it's refreshing to have a movie that's more fun than anything else.  
  4. I love the grungy sci-fi look.  Some sci-fi is very "modern", all clean lines and polished LED lights and seamless, quiet engines (see also: Tron: Legacy, Star Trek Into Darkness).  And then there is what I like to call "grungy sci-fi", which is all rusty paneling, secondhand spaceships, and sketchy taverns (see also: Firefly, or how I imagine books like Black Hole Sun or possibly Avalon would look on the big screen).  GotG falls into this second category.  The world of the characters is colorful and visually interesting, but it is wonderfully imperfect.  Again, this makes it feel more down-to-earth (for lack of a better term) and realistic. 
  5. It's goofy.  The main character challenges the Big Bad Villain to a dance-off.  Need I say more?  When I saw this in the theater, people frequently laughed out loud.  It's not exactly a comedy, but it's the funniest movie Marvel has made.  There is a serious plot, of course, and a galaxy to be saved and all that, but that never stops the sarcastic comments, inappropriately timed pop culture references, and general complete incompatibility of the Guardians themselves.  
  6. Which somehow makes it more realistic.  For some reason, this offbeat sense of humor makes it feel more real.  These characters are not perfect heroes.  Most of the time, they're not heroic at all.  They accept it, though, because they're real people and not larger-than-life Chosen Ones destined to save everyone.  More than anything else, they just got caught in the wrong place at the right time.  And so Peter Quill challenges Ronan the Accuser to a dance-off.  Because real people don't pull off perfect superhero poses and toss around flawless, poetic monologues.  They resort to weird diversion tactics and fumble supposedly dramatic handoffs (Peter drops the Infinity Stone, for goodness' sake) and mess up solemn, important moments.  GotG embraces this side of heroism.
  7. It's insane.  It's funny, but it's also one big roller coaster of impossible situations, spaceship crashes, explosions, explosions, small animals lifting guns as big as they are, and more explosions.  I recently read Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I spent the whole time marveling at the sheer madness of the situations Locke Lamora found himself in, all the while wondering when he'd finally outsmart even himself.  GotG is like that.  You know the characters will make it out, but that doesn't change the fact that there has to be a somehow.  
  8. This is smart placement for Marvel.  Since everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is connected and intertwined with everything else, one movie can't just pretend a plot point from another never happened.  After certain events in The Winter Soldier and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (involving S.H.I.E.L.D.--I want to be spoiler-free, but some of you know what I'm talking about TONY YOU FAILED.  NICE TRY NOT REALLY.), the MCU has some readjusting to do.  You can't change a major, established structure like that without repercussions.  After tWS, though, GotG gives fans time to mull that over while still having a new movie to enjoy.  GotG isn't affected by it, which lends time to build suspense.  And recover.    
  9. Marvel is just flaunting their power over DC.  DC is still muttering about why a solo Wonder Woman movie wouldn't sell (spoiler alert: it would), and they're insisting that all their movies be dark, gritty, and realistic.  If DC is the brooding, standoffish kid to whom everyone gives a wide berth, Marvel is the kid sitting on the floor, oblivious to everyone, playing with plastic dinosaurs like nothing else in the world matters*.  And we love them for it.
  10. Chris Pratt.  I don't know where Marvel gets their actors.  I'm convinced that they have a secret facility somewhere where they produce actors that are perfect for their roles.  I don't know much about Chris Pratt, but from what I've seen of him outside this movie, he seems like just as much of a goofball as Peter.  I love it when actors are so similar to their characters.  
  11. That is one incredibly non-subtle Avengers reference.  Peter has 12% of a plan?  Hmm, where have I heard that one before?
  12. WE ARE GROOT.  I didn't know I could get so emotionally attached to a tree, happened.  Somehow, with only the phrase "I am Groot" (and one "We are Groot"), Vin Diesel and Marvel's animators managed to create a lovable character with an obvious personality.  He's loyal, sweet, and even has a little bit of an attitude.  And so, of course, Marvel had to go and destroy my feels at the end.  Why, Marvel?  Why?  Anyway, he has an interesting relationship with Rocket, and the two can be hilarious together.  They protect each other and are buddies in a way that the other Guardians aren't--not yet, at least.  (This Buzzfeed article speaks to my soul.) 
  13. I like Gamora's hair.  And Gamora in general, of course.  I'm usually not a fan of obviously-dyed hair, but I love Gamora's black-to-purple look.  And she has some sort of interesting braid during the prison scenes, though I could never quite catch exactly what it looks like.  (I have long hair, and I like to find new ways to wear it, so I pay attention to these things.)  Besides the hair, though, Gamora is still fabulous.  She can beat up some bad guys, but she's also prepared to die for the sake of others.  She has an interesting backstory that I assume will be explored further in future sequels, especially her relationship with her sister Nebula.  
  14. This comic about how GotG should have ended is the funniest thing I've seen on the internet in a long time.  I won't post the whole thing here, because that would get rather unwieldy, but it's fantastic.  And you have no idea how much money I would pay to see Lee Pace, in costume, yell, "Curse you, Kevin Bacon!"
  15. This scene is perfect and nobody can convince me otherwise.  (Click here for video.)
  16. Apparently, it's news that females actually like comic book/sci-fi movies.  We're in 2014, people; why is this still newsworthy?  I keep seeing articles about how this movie's record-breaking female audience proves that yes, girls like superheroes.  SPOILER ALERT: This is not news to anybody.  I'm pretty sure people figured out that males and females can enjoy the same stories about the time that we figured out that the wheel is efficient.
  17. That being said, it's cool that this was the first Marvel movie written by a woman.  Well, kind of.  Nicole Perlman is the first woman to have a writing credit on a Marvel movie, which isn't quite the same thing.  Still, it's a step forward.  Maybe someday we'll get to the point where nobody will think about science fiction as a "male genre", but for now, I'll take this.  Speaking of woman writers, though...Marvel, if you need a writer in ten years or so, well, let's just say I know a girl.  *makes not-so-subtle gestures toward self*  Also, apparently Marvel has an internship program where students can work on developing future storylines.  WHERE DO I SIGN?  
This movie makes me so immensely happy, and I don't remember the last time I walked out of the theater with that feeling.  It's meaningful, but it's also full of laughs and has a lot of heart.  If you haven't seen it yet, what are you still doing here?  For everyone else: I leave you with this dancing baby Groot.

Did you see it?  What did you think?  Are you still having feels about Groot?  Because I definitely am.

*Oh, look.  Plastic dinosaurs.
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Macbeth In GIFs

Last fall, when I was trudging my way through a massive essay on Shakespeare's Macbeth, I found myself thinking, "It would be awesome if I could clarify some of my points with a GIF."  Because that's how my brain works.  While there was no way to work GIFs into my essay, that particular thought process resulted in a crude retelling of the entire play.  Somehow.  I'm not even sure how it happened.  

It sat in my drafts for months, like many of my weird mid-essay musings.  I couldn't help being irrationally proud of it, though, so it's been up on Goodreads for awhile.  But today I found myself in need of a blog post, with nothing else anywhere near completion.  And so it was decided that I should just go for it.  

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present A Thing You Probably Didn't Want But Are Going To Get Anyway: Macbeth, in GIFS.


King Duncan to Macbeth:

Macbeth to King (secretly):

Lady Macbeth:


Lady Macbeth to Macbeth:

Macbeth to Duncan:



Malcom and Donalbain:


Macbeth to Banquo:



Malcolm to Macduff:

Macduff and Malcom:


Lady Macbeth:

Lady Macbeth:





And now, textual clarification, in case the GIFs were ambiguous:
Witches: Some shenanigans are about to go down.  We might or might not have caused them.
King Duncan to Macbeth: You rock, dude.
Macbeth to King (secretly): Yo Duncan, I'm really happy for you, and I'mma let you finish, but I'mma kill you.
Lady Macbeth: *shredding guitar solo*  Off with their heads!
Macbeth: I'm not so regicide or not to regicide?
Lady Macbeth to Macbeth: Wuss.  Make up your mind.
Macbeth to Duncan: Sure, why not?  YOLO.  *stabs Duncan*
Duncan: [I'm not sure how that GIF can be any clearer.]  Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
Malcom and Donalbain: Enough of this.  We're out.
Macbeth: Kneel, peasants.  I am Macbeth of Scotland and I am now king because of reasons.
Macbeth to Banquo: I KEEL YOU.
Macbeth: WAT IS LIFE
Fleance: *goes the way of Malcom and Donalbain, which is away*
Malcolm to Macduff: Can I trust you?  
Macduff and Malcom: Watch your back, Macbeth.
Macbeth: *angsts like Harry Potter in book five*
Lady Macbeth: I have made a terrible mistake.
Lady Macbeth: *dies a suspiciously ambiguous death*
Macbeth: [Again, there's no need to clarify this.]
Army: *random army of trees appears out of nowhere*
Macbeth: What in the name of Bucky Barnes is going on?
Macbeth: *is now dead*
Witches: LOL, my bad.
Everyone: *sighs and starts wiping up the blood*

If you haven't left yet, please know that you can read the real Macbeth for free right here.  If you want to watch it, I'd recommend this intense and creepy Patrick Stewart version.  Unless the GIFs are enough for you, and in that case...

*clumsily sneaks out of room*

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