The Most Beautifully Awful Writing Advice Ever

Recently I was introduced to a gorgeous poem by the late Charles Bukowski called “so you want to be a writer?”

Here’s a small exert:

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.

You can read the poem in it’s entirety here of you could listen to a reading of it here.

It’s beautiful, right? Inspiring, powerful—something you would want to make a wall decal out of to impress your friends at dinner parties.

It’s also very, very, very, very, very, very wrong.

In fact, it’s difficult to recall anything that I’ve read that has been so astronomically wrong about writing.

Don’t misunderstand me, when he’s talking about writing for fame and fortune and sex he’s totally on the mark. Precious few writers reach the level of world-wide recognition and if you only want to write for accolades then you clearly don’t have what it takes to succeed in this craft. However, he also says–

“if you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again/don’t do it”

and

“if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it/don’t do it.

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Uhhhh….I don’t know a single solitary person, good writer or bad, who does not struggle with sitting down and writing.

I also do not know a single solitary person who has never had to suffer through a rewrite.

You know, because first drafts are dumpster fires of confusion and poor grammar.

For those of you who are fans of Charles Bukowski , did he not rewrite any of his poetry? My education on the man is lacking so that’s entirely possible. Nevertheless, if it’s true that he didn’t then he is an anomaly.

His poem goes on to say that a person should wait until the fires of passion are so hot  they have no choice but to let them out before writing something.

“if you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently/ if it never does roar out of you, do something else.”

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I have had moments where the desire to write something was so powerful that I felt like the story was literally trying to push its way out of me, but I’ll be the first to admit that these moments are few and far between.

If you wait until you feel as if you physically have no choice but to write something, odds are you will never finish anything.

The Inspiration Fairy is a very fickle creature and will oftentimes screw off at random, leaving you with no will to go on.

My favorite quote about inspiration goes as follows “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

Courting inspiration is a lot like trying to find a significant other. You can’t just sit around and wait for someone to notice you.

I have found that the best way to attract inspiration is to have a set amount of time each day to write. Believe it or not, the more you write the more inspiration is likely to show up. There have been months where I have struggled to produce anything; however, once I made the decision to write for at least an hour every day, writing started to become less of a drag.

I found myself feeling more and more motivated and my writing began to suck a little bit less.

Better yet I actually started to finish things I started.

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Did that mean I never struggle? Hell no. I’m struggling right now, to be honest. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it.

Same goes for you.

Struggling isn’t a sign you should quit, it’s simply a byproduct of trying.

And if you aren’t interested in trying then, and only then, would I say–

Don’t do it.

Flash Fiction: Everything and The Kitchen Sink

AN: This is an absurdist flash fiction piece I wrote based on the Reedsy short-story prompt “he glared at the kitchen sink in fury.” Enjoy! 

Leo glared at the kitchen sink in fury, holding the remnants of his spaghetti dinner in his hands.

“Hope this pleases Your Highness,” he murmured bitterly.

With a fork he scraped off the noodles that clung desperately to the porcelain plate, and little blobs of tomato sauce plummeted to the bottom of the basin with an inelegant plop.

The sink remained obstinately silent for a moment as if collecting its thoughts on the man’s meager offerings before releasing a low groan.

Leo tapped his foot impatiently until the appliance, at last, belched obnoxiously. The mouth of the sink expanded and a large boot flew from the opening, falling to the tile floor with a thud.

Leo took a knee and scooped up the boot, inspecting it with the scrutiny of an art critic The disgruntled homeowner turned the shoe to the right, the left, then peeled back the tongue to peer inside. He found nothing.

“Where is the rest of ‘im?” he demanded, throwing the footwear over his shoulder.

The sink gave another belch more pronounced than the last one.

It wants more, the greedy bastard.

Leo took the strainer and sauce pan from the top of his stove and stalked to the sink. Grudgingly, he ladled the rest of the tomato sauce from the pan into the sink’s awaiting maw. As soon as the spicy tomato sauce was gone, he grabbed fistfuls of the angel hair pasta and literally hand-fed them down the drain.

The sink devoured the dinner, rumbled and grumbling like a stomach with indigestion.

The contraption burped again and another shoe exploded from it’s mouth, landing hard on the linoleum.

Leo slammed his fist against the countertop.

“I gave you all I have!” he bellowed. “That was the last of it! Where is he?”

The sink did not respond.

“I don’t have any more food, you fat bastard! You’ve eaten me out of house and home! Just give him back.”

He was answered with silence.

“I don’t care what them big-wigs say about your bloody rights. If you don’t give ‘im back now, I will personally rip you out and replace you with a garden hose, I will.”

To this the sink said nothing once more.

“Yeah,” the man said with a confident nod of his head, “think on that.”

Leo was close to boiling over. It was all their fault, Parliament. It had been their idea to give inanimate objects autonomy and this was the price tax-payers had to live with. Now you had a mass exodus of lorries, computers that demanded higher wages, and even laundry machines that wanted a vote in the next election.

Don’t do it, he’d said. It’ll give them airs, he’d said. And here was the proof of it. Back in his day, machines had respect for their human superiors. No longer.

Leo’s reverie was interrupted by a gurgling resonating from deep within the plumbing. He recognized it like the sound of someone about to be sick.

Finally, a large mass was pushed out from the opening of the sink, stretching the opening of the appliance like a cervix. A toddler fell end-over-end to the floor, landing soundly on his bottom. He was covered from head to toe in a slimy film that smelled like cleaning fluid. The tike’s blue eyes welled with tears that trailed down his cheeks.

The man towered over the child, arms folded across his chest. “Now what did I tell you about feeding the sink during the washing up?”

The child ducked his head guiltily and wiped the tears from his eyes with a wet sleeve.

With a roll of his eyes, the man hoisted the child up into his arms. “Come on, then. Let’s get you into the bath, eh? Let’s hope she’s in a good mood.”

Together the pair squelched to the washroom in the hopes that they wouldn’t wind up in the plumbing again.

Thoughts on “The Terror” by Dan Simmons

WARNING: CONTAINS MILD TO SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK. 

The Terror and her flagship, Erebus, are stranded in the arctic.

Their food source is contaminated.

Sickness is rampant.

Their ships have been ravaged by ice.

And no rescue is expected.

…….Oh, and, also, there’s an immortal polar bear demon that can only be appeased by allowing it or someone else to play another human’s vocal cords like a flute.

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What I liked: 

The characters. I thought Simmons did a pretty stellar job distinguishing between each crew member which is saying quite a bit considering how many characters there are in this thing. As someone who often struggles with remembering who is who in most stories (another reason why I have yet to actually read the Game of Thrones series) his repetition when describing each character and their physical features and rank was very much appreciated. While many other characters could have used a bit more development, I believe he did a good job of making them come alive, especially Crozier, the Captain of The Terror and Erebus‘s Goodsir, the anatomist who remains one of my favorite characters.

The attention to detail. It’s obvious that Simmons did a lot of research with this piece from boat geography, to describing an arctic landscape without just using the word “ice” over and over again, to the ranking system. It’s impressive to read. You actually feel like you’re there, freezing along with them. Before reading this book I had no idea how awful scurvy really is, not to mention the other illnesses the crew had to suffer through. And make no mistake, this book does not skimp out on the gross details or give the dying any sort of dignity. It reports on how they crapped themselves, screamed, bled and farted. While this can be tedious to read it does a fantastic job of conveying the pure hopelessness of their situation which made this piece all the more engrossing.

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Historically accurate attitudes. While it is a bit cringy reading bits where characters go on racist or homophobic diatribes, at the very least I can say that it is historically accurate for that time period and I’m glad Simmons didn’t try to politically correct the characters in order to make them more sympathetic or likable.

Crozier’s second sight. While I didn’t think all of his visions were strictly necessary I loved the reoccurring dream he had where he is forced to partake in communion with his eccentric grandmother. It painted a perfect picture of what was to come and provided the audience with beautifully creepy imagery.

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The surprise ending. I admit I nearly quit reading this book because of the sheer hopelessness of it all. I knew that it real life none of the crewmen survived so watching them furtively cling to life in what essentially would be an exercise in futility seemed like a chore. However, I didn’t give Simmons nearly enough credit and he ended things on a note I had not expected.  Turns out my favorite character, Captain Crozier, survived after all and made a family amongst the natives.

What I didn’t like: 

It’s too damn long. I’m not opposed to slow burns, but this book went on waaaaaay longer than it needed to. I, personally, think they could have cut out maybe 100 to 200 pages or so and it would have been just fine. I actually thought about giving up on this book just because it was such an uphill climb.

Not enough monster. At a certain point in the books, after the crews decided to abandon their ships and go it alone, the monster attacks just…stop basically. And for no discernible reason. I guess it’s because the story would be over with too quickly? I’m not sure but it’s absence is sorely missed and hard to explain. In fact the monster more often than not appears as a sort of McGuffin. If you look at the story itself you wonder if the book even needs a monster at all. It’s not as if the crew didn’t have enough problems already. I mentioned the starvation, the intolerable atmosphere and the spread of illness. Then again, I did like the creature and the mythos surrounding it so I guess I can excuse it.

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Some of the character perspectives are pointless. Not many of them, you understand, but I’m still trying to figure out where Simmons was going for when he wrote the part where one of the oldest shiphand was talking to a former lover of his about the chances of rescue and Darwin and whatnot. It wasn’t a badly written scene or anything, I just don’t see why it needed to be there. Especially when neither of the characters present for that scene had that much of a part to play in the grand scheme of things.

Overall opinion: 

So, in spite of this book’s foibles, I did enjoy it quite a bit and even consider it one of my favorites now. I’m hoping to sample more of Simmons’ work in the future and hope his other pieces are just as entertaining as this one.

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TL;DR: The Problem With Big Books

This may make me sound like a traitor to readers everywhere, but I am generally not a fan of big books, specifically ones that exceed 450 pages in length.

That’s not to say I don’t like any large books. One of my favorite books of all time, Gone With The Wind, is nearly 1,000 pages long. However, in recent years, it seems to me most of the thicker novels I’ve suffered through have been long purely for the sake of being long.

Unfortunately, I believe I know the reason for this.

Across the literary community, there is this presumption that if a book is large and takes ages to read then said book is deep and important and the reader should take it seriously. After all, so many classical works of literature boast a heavy word count.

“Why use one word when you can use twenty, my good man?” say the classic writers, smoking their pipes and not raising their ten plus children. “Why not add in a stock character and detail their entire lives even though they will ultimately have no baring on the plot whatsoever?”

I’m not saying I’m incapable of being patient and waiting it out, but you got to give me something book.

Don’t string me along for 300 plus pages just because I’ve become invested enough in the plot and characters to wait.

Don’t put in pages worth of padding just so you can disappoint me with a predictable twist and cardboard villains.

One of the most aggravating reads I’ve ever sat through was The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma, a hefty 720 page monster that took me over a month to finish. I stayed with it for so long because it had an excellent premise which the author got to…eventually. But in the meantime the reader had to slog through hundreds of pages of extraneous material that had no impact on the story at all.

Honestly, I have no idea how it got past an editor’s red pen of doom. The main character doesn’t even show up until the novel is almost halfway over. How do you even get away with that?!

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Then there was The Magus by John Fowles which was the most dense, pretentious, and mind-numbingly dull book I’ve ever read. Getting past the annoyingly self-congratulating attitudes of the main characters, the readers is subjected to page upon page of backstory that can be summed up in a paragraph or two.

(Sidenote: If you’re having difficulty sleeping, listen to the audiobook for The Magus on Youtube. I haven’t slept this heavily in years.)

That’s not to say a story should never be long, but there has to be some criteria, wouldn’t you agree?

I’ll answer my own rhetorical question with a non-rhetorical yes.

Here are a handful of justifications for writing a large novel:

  1. It takes place over the course of many years/months.
  2. There are multiple characters whose prospectives help increase the depth and overall quality of the story.
  3.  The story requires time devoted to explaining the world and how it operates to further engross the reader and create a feeling of realness.
  4. Extra time is needed to tie up loose ends.
  5. It is creating an atmosphere that will help with the climax’s pay-off.

If none of the reasons above are applicable, then I have no interest in reading it. I’m sorry, but there are hundreds of books out there that I could be enjoying and I don’t want to waste my time with a story that just wants to meander on forever.

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My Emotionally Abusive Relationship with Daphne Du Maurier

I can say with unshakeable certainty that Rebecca is one of the best horror novels I’ve ever read. It wasn’t an action-packed gore-fest like many books of the same genre, but in my mind that’s what makes it one of the greats.

It’s a British novel positively dripping with atmosphere and dramatic tension with an excellent pay-off.

It’s for this reason that I’ve found many other of Du Maurier’s works to be…less than stellar.

After reading Rebecca, I thought I had discovered an unsung hero of classic literature. Why had I gone so many years without knowing who Daphne Du Maurier is? Why had I been deprived of knowing her name?

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I looked farther into her works and rejoiced to find My Cousin Rachel, a novel that promised more atmospheric English countrysides, three-dimensional characters, an intriguing storyline and a gut-punch ending…..

Well, three out of four isn’t bad….

You see, the more you read Daphne Du Maurier, the more it seems that you run into this problem. The woman can write. She is a wonder at creating haunting environments, interesting characters and working up mysteries.

The problem is, more often than not, her endings tend to be woefully underwhelming. And when they aren’t, they’re just frigging weird.

One such example is Don’t Look Now wherein a couple that has just lost their child decide to go on holiday to Italy. While there they meet a pair of elderly twins, one of which purports to be psychic and prophesies doom for John, the main character. Well, the story keeps you on the tips of your toes in true Du Maurier fashion. Red-herring after red-herring is thrown at you, Then…the climax and……!

He’s murdered by a serial-killing midget…..

A serial….killing…midget….

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Kay, that was f*cking weird, but the next ones gotta be….!

Okay, guy is randomly murdered and random weird greek symbolism that doesn’t…really relate to the climax…

Okay, this next one will….! Okay, massive homophobia-

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In spite of the many times she’s disappointed me, I just can’t give up on her.

She’s just good enough at what she does that she is able to draw me in again and again. But those endings…man, those endings kill me. And not in a good way.

I just don’t understand how someone could have such a strong character and personality, only to demure when it matters the most. She makes all of these promises and she never keeps them. She beguiles me with gorgeous imagery and diction, only to leave me crumpled on the floor like a used tissue.

Why? Does she feel too much pressure to perform? Am I more invested than she is? Has she just moved on to bigger and better things?

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Why, Daphne? Why didn’t Rachel just kill Philip when she had the chance? It doesn’t make sense, Daphne.

I’m currently working on Jamaica Inn and I’m fretful that I’ll drudge through it and experience the same kind of disappointment again. But I’m just so curious….I have to know what happens.

Maybe this time will be different. Maybe she will have that jarring jump-out-of-your-pants ending I’ve been waiting for. I mean, it’s not like all her endings were that, bad right? Maybe I was being too hard on her. Perhaps I’m the one to blame for my high expectations.

I’ll give you another shot, Daphne.

I can’t quit you.

Man, The 13th Doctor’s A Woman: My Super Late Thoughts On The First Female Doctor

This reaction is so late that it borders on irrelevance, however, I wrote a majority of it the week it was announced so I wanted to publish it anyway. 

So…yeah…here you go:

^ What happens when you leave a professional media major alone on the weekend.

So, in spite of the super subtle *cough* hints from the show-runner that The Doctor could be a woman like-

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and-

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I think many fans were still surprised by the announcement that the 13th Doctor is going to be a woman.

Surprised and…perhaps a bit perturbed.

When I discovered Jodie Whittaker was going to be the Doctoro numero trece, I went through a whole roster of emotion. The first and most prominent one being–

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This was the most random casting choice I’d ever heard of. Sure, I knew Chris Chibnail had worked with her on Broadchurch but…..the bitchy mother from Broadchurch?! The bitchy mother from Broadchurch is going to be The Doctor?!

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However, the longer I thought about it, the more this idea seemed like a good one. I don’t know much about Jodie Whittaker, but I know from what I’ve seen of her that she can act.

Okay. I’ll give this a shot.

Then, as I thought about it even more, I realized that this could potentially be the best thing that has happened to Doctor Who in years.

I already addressed this in posts previously, but, no matter how many people insist this show will last forever, it probably won’t. And the surest way to make sure that it suffers a premature death is by continuing to do the same crap over and over as it has done unapologetically for the last six years.

Making The Doctor a woman is the surest way to wipe the slate clean, to show us a new angle and convince us to care. I couldn’t be arsed if The Doctor thinks he’s a good person anymore. I don’t care if the universe is in danger. It’s in danger every frigging episode. I need to be persuaded to give a crap again.

This is new. This gives us a completely new color pallet to work with. This is something we’ve never seen before. And considering this is a show that is nearing its 54th birthday, that’s saying something.

I’m invested now.

I care.

Aaaaaaaaand now it’s time to address the controversy-

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As with any Doctor, the casting choice has left the fanbase divided. However, unlike in Doctors past, this one spurs controversy for a completely different reason.

No points for guessing why.

Now, considering the tongue baths I just gave to making the choice to hire a woman as the starring role, my opinion on the opposition to The Doctor being a woman might surprise you.

When people say they don’t want a female Doctor… I kind of get where they’re coming from.

Some people might not want a woman to play The Doctor simply due to their sexist perspectives, nonetheless, I don’t believe that this is the majority.

I’m willing to give most the benefit of a doubt because many people who didn’t particularly like Capaldi’s Doctor (a.k.a people like me) were often pigeonholed as being ageist and shallow.

Oh, you don’t like the 12th Doctor? Well, he’s old so that must mean you don’t like him because you can’t imagine him as a boyfriend anymore. Go back to watching Twilight. 

It’s a lazy argument and–while it was justified in some cases–most of the time it was just used as a scapegoat so people didn’t have to defend the poor direction and bad writing choices used when it came to the 12th Doctor.

But the people that are opposed to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor haven’t even seen her in action yet. They’re basing their opinions of her entirely on her gender!

Yeah but the BBC kind of packaged her that way.

All we saw her do was peal off her hood and walk towards the TARDIS. We didn’t hear her say anything cool, interact with companions, or anything.

It’s obvious that the main focus was meant to be on the fact that The Doctor is a female.

I could see how someone could interpret this negatively as Doctor Who has become more brazen in recent years with its political opinions and, whether you agree with the messages they espouse or not, Doctor Who is generally pretty bad at telling political stories.

Most attempts come across as ham-fisted, choosing to paint people with opposing ideologies as inherently evil or stupid (usually both). What’s worse is the stories themselves often can’t stand alone without the context of current events and are usually boring or convoluted, lacking the gravitas that the subjects they are addressing deserve. Some may argue that the over simplification is due to Doctor Who being a kid’s show, but then I would have to point out that this show has also discussed mass genocide so…yeah. The argument that nuance is too mature for this show is a bit moot.

Sylvester McCoy recently bragged in an interview that during his tenure, the show mocked Margret Thatcher mercilessly, creating plots with a political edge designed to protest her and her policies.

What happened after that?

Oh yeah.

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Regardless, I honestly think this could potentially be a great decision, provided they go at it from just the right angle. Some claim that her gender is completely irrelevant, but I think it’s a topic that needs to be addressed.

In spite of what many claim, there are differences between men and women, both physiological and psychological, and I think it would be a great idea to explore some of those concepts. I’m not saying they should make stereotypical jokes about women at her expense or that we must constantly bring attention to the fact that she is no longer a male, but since The Doctor has never been a woman before this is a great opportunity to explore the concept of gender and how it affects a person’s worldview or how the world perceives that individual.

There are so many ways to do this right that they just have to make a good character out of this.

I have a lot of confidence in Chris Chibnall as a character writer so I have faith that he isn’t just using this as a way to pander to progressives. In his hands I’m hoping Doctor Who will regain the magic and wonder it once had and bring in the viewers it started losing midway Matt Smith’s tenure.

I’m Still Alive and Also Writing Things, or Going on a Writing Bender

It’s been an inexcusably long time since I update this blog, I know.

I try to update at least once a week, but this obviously hasn’t been happening recently. I have a good reason for this, however……

Okay, not a good reason, but it is a reason nonetheless.

You see, I’ve actually been writing recently. Like properly writing. Every day. Ever. Single. Day.

You know, that thing I’m supposed to do but blog about instead. And, to be frank, I’ve been more concerned with this project than I have updating. I’m starting a new chapter in my life and I think this is the start of more serious writing.

I can’t tell you how awesome this has been. I feel like I’ve been training for a triathlon for months and made first place.

This could potentially mean I update every other week rather than every single week. However, I don’t plan on abandoning this blog any time soon. I’ve put too much work into it so far.

I will see you guys later!

*plays theme music*

My time has come.

Thoughts On “Wonder Woman” The Movie

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR EVERYONE WHO HAS NOT SEEN WONDER WOMAN AHEAD.

What I liked: 

Wonder Woman herself. I admit I had many misgivings going into this movie because Hollywood can be notorious about writing terrible female characters. Particularly in films about women.

Diana was an excellent well-rounded character that, while ignorant about our world, wasn’t a moron. She was a vivacious warrior, but she also had a great amount of empathy for everyone. Especially the innocent.

I love that they showed that you can have a great deal of emotion without it crippling you. In fact, Diana’s passion and kindness were what drove her throughout the course of the movie. As well as her unshakeable confidence in her own abilities.

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Me after this movie

The romance. Okay, so I know a lot of people that are complaining about this, but I really enjoyed the relationship between Diana and the Captain. No, I guess it didn’t necessarily need to happen, but the way that they did it worked very well. It was a very organic and I could genuinely see the chemistry. While it’s heavily implied they had sex, there was no sex-scene. This could be because of the rating, but I think it’s because they wanted to focus more on the mechanics of their relationship rather than the carnal element. My favorite scene between them was the boat scene where they’re having a quiet moment together. It was a great character-developing moment.  It didn’t take anything away from the film and Diana didn’t turn into a ditzy idiot because of it, and for this I am happy.

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The fight scenes. Maybe there were too many scenes of Diana and the Amazons doing barrel rolls in slow-mo, but damn if it didn’t look awesome. I loved seeing the fluidity of their moves. It was more like watching a dance recital than a battle (in a good way) and it’s in keeping with their culture. They are a society of warriors so all of this is second nature to them.

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The music. As soon as I heard Wonder Woman’s theme while she was taking out those Nazis, I was cheering. It’s so powerful and personalized. I already have it on my phone and have been listening to it while zipping in and out of traffic on the way to work.

They address sexism , but don’t beat the audience over the head with it. It was a concern of mine going in that they were going to overcompensate with the “girl power” aspect of Wonder Woman. This is another foible of Hollywood. They have to reinforce the concept that a woman is powerful to the point where they sound almost self-conscious about it. However, that was not the case here. While many male characters balk at the idea of a woman being involved in a war, as soon as the ensemble cast see her in action all their doubts are assuaged. We don’t have to be reminded every two seconds that this is a woman and it’s remarkable that she can do these things.

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The message. Yes, the “are humans worth saving” concept has been done before, but it was done so well in this movie. Especially when it’s revealed that Ares actually hadn’t done anything to start this war, he just planted the idea into the heads of humans. I was honestly curious about how they were going to approach the concept of Ares influencing humanity because it was obvious he isn’t the reason why humans fight each other.

Steve’s sacrifice. I hate that Steve died, but I know why he had to. I’m glad they didn’t pull some deus ex machina crap and have him come back to life either. The way that they filmed his final moments really got to me. The way that he hesitated just before pulling the trigger showed us that Steve wasn’t a conventional superhero, he was just a regular guy trying to do the right thing. He didn’t want to die but he was willing to do so because it meant others would live. We might not be able to see ourselves in Wonder Woman, but we can definitely see ourselves in Steve. I can also appreciate that his death meant that there were actual consequences for all of this. The heroes don’t just get to have their cake and eat it to.

Okay, now that I’ve given this movie a tongue bath, time to talk about the things I didn’t like or had a problem with.

What I didn’t like:

They use the “Fighting Is Too Dangerous” Cliche. What makes this worse is the fact that it doesn’t really go anywhere. The mother just ends up accepting it as soon as Diana takes off for the land of mortals. It also doesn’t make that much sense. In the event that this with Ares war did happen, which would be better: for her daughter to be an exceptionally skilled fighter or for her to be a sitting duck when Ares comes around? I get that motherly inclinations aren’t always logical, but…seriously.

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Dian’s aunt dying is kind of brushed under the rug. No, I didn’t necessarily want to sit through another death-of-a-mentor scene, but it was kind of glossed over in the grand scheme of things. She doesn’t even mention her again in the rest of the movie. It’s just kind of….this:

Diana: NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOO- And now I’m over it. ADVENTUUUUUURE!!!

They use the “Repeating a Line Another Character Said Previously To Establish A Lesson Learned” cliche. “It’s not about deserve. It’s about what you believe.” I don’t know why movies keep doing this. It’s not particularly clever and yet screenwriters keep doing this. 

Diana’s CGI battle with Ares. Don’t get me wrong. Most of the battle was awesome. However, there were certain places where you could obviously tell that neither or the actors were actually there. Especially towards the middle/end when she uses her whip on him.

The reveal that Diana was a goddess is kind of an anti-climax. I will admit, I was surprised that God-Killer was a fake. However, when it was revealed that Diana was a goddess and only a god could kill another god, I just thought “oh.” And that’s it. Nothing about her character really changed for me.

Overall Opinion: 

I loved this movie and had a pretty difficult time coming up with things I didn’t like about. There were a few nitpick here and there, but it was a great movie and (I hope) it will be a harbinger of better female superhero movies to come.

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A Tribute to Adam West, My First Batman

I doubt many people my age will know who Adam West is, but he is possibly the best Batman that has ever lived.

Adam West was the Batman for the hammy but earnest live-action Batman TV show from the 60s.

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Each episode was primed with colorful and strange characters, adrenaline-charged fight scenes, and impossibly creative traps. I loved all of the villains, the goofy police officers, the silly catchphrases, Robin’s random declarations like “Holy Basket-Eating Clowns, Batman!” and, most of all, those damn cliff-hangers.

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The show was campy, silly, and downright ridiculous.

I, however, had no idea and took it completely at face value.

I would marathon the crap out of this show, wearing out the many VHS tapes we had, always wanting more.

My mom was lucky enough to meet the real Adam West at a con many years ago when I was still a little girl. From what she tells me he was exactly what you’d expect: a kind man who was grateful for his lot in life, in spite of the fact that the show made it difficult for him to find work afterwards.

They discussed me at length and, eventually, he asked if she had a picture of me. He then autographed the picture for free and then told my mom to give it to me the next time she saw me.

When she came home with that picture, I was over the moon.

You don’t understand.

Batman signed a picture of me.

And this was long before the age of Twitter, or Facebook, or Amazon. I couldn’t just buy an autographed photo online. What I was holding in my hand was a treasure. A freaking golden ticket to the proverbial chocolate factory of fandom.

Luckily, in spite of him having little luck finding a job as a live-action actor, he lended his voice to many a animated character and was prevalent in many cartoons I watched as a child. He played Catman in The Fairly Odd Parents, a Kim Possible villain, Mayor Grange in The Batman animated series–he did so many voice-overs I can’t even list all of them here.

I always experienced a sudden rush of excitement whenever I heard his voice. “It’s Adam West!” I’d scream every time without fail. Especially when he made a guest appearance in Batman shows. It was like he was giving his blessing to the newest version of the character, and reminding everyone of it’s humble but wholesome roots.

I consider Adam West to be the grandfather of Batman. His Batman might not have been the “coolest” incarnation of The Dark Knight, but he still remains my favorite. So much of West’s warmth and humor went into the role and I can’t help but admire him. Who else could say those lines with a straight face?

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News of his death hit me hard. It feels like a real talent has passed from the world. Not just a real talent, a kind soul.

I’ll never forget you, Adam West.

I never got a chance to meet you, but you will always hold a place in my Bat-heart.

Thoughts on “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK OUTLANDER AHEAD.

Strap in, folks, this is gonna be a long review. Then again this was a long book, so what do you expect?

What I liked: 

The great characters. I didn’t always like Claire, but she always felt like a person and not just a vassal through which the author could carry out the story. Everyone had an interesting backstory and their own distinct personality, which really helped me get into the spirit of the novel. The dialogue was very personalized as well and I was impressed at how each character was able to give lengthy exposition without it sounding too unnatural. I also found that, despite the Game of Thrones level number of characters, it was easy enough to remember who each one of them were because of how unique Gabaldon made them.

The immersive environment. It’s very easy for a reader to lose themselves in this book. The way Gabaldon is able to describe the lay of the land is impressive and I never had any difficulty wondering where exactly these people were or what the environment looked like. What I can appreciate is the environment isn’t just a backdrop, it’s engrained into the story itself.

Sexy times for all. While the romance between Jamie and Claire may have been a bit rushed, what with Claire still having a husband back home, I believe the chemistry between these two is strong. The fact that they’re both well-developed characters helps me care more about their relationship and I think Gabaldon writes sex pretty well. She doesn’t explain so little that you can’t tell what’s happening, but she also doesn’t explain so much that it comes across as mechanical and weird.

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The historical accuracy. It’s obvious that a lot of research went into this novel and as someone who has tried to write historical fiction with mixed results, I can really appreciate her efforts. The details she put into this really help the story come alive, especially when she writes about the environment and costumes people wear. She also doesn’t shy away from describing the abominable odors that persist in these types of places back in the 18th century. I was doubly impressed when she went into details about which herbs to use for healing and how to describe how someone would properly attend a wounded man back in those days.

What I didn’t like: 

The focus was all over the place. I don’t think I would be out of line for saying that this book is by and large plotless. While there are many obstacles that the lead characters run into, there is no centralized conflict. For the most part, the structure of the story is “this happened, and then that happened, and then this happened.” It didn’t ever seem to be leading up to anything. On the one hand it left me guessing as to what would be the final outcome of the story, but on the other hand it made me wonder just what the point of all of this was. This is a shame because there were so many points of interest such as Claire missing the modern world, Jamie’s outlaw status and, I think most importantly, the inevitable doom that is to befall the Highlanders.

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Claire’s unrealistic reactions to killing. The book makes it clear on several occasions that Claire is accustomed to seeing people dying because of her position as a nurse during the War. However, I’d like to point out that there is a huge difference between watching someone dying and actively participating in their murder. In my humble opinion, Claire’s reaction to having murdered someone is disturbingly understated. Granted the person she murdered was trying to sexually assault her, taking a life is an unnatural act and a psychologically stable person would be horrified at having to do so. Especially one who swore an oath to always preserve life in any way she can. I thought they would explore this more after she was forced to murder a 16 year-old in order to save Jamie, but even then she doesn’t seem to feel that guilty about it. What makes this even more difficult for me to swallow is that this boy really didn’t do anything wrong. He was just a young lad who was trying to do his job to the best of his ability. He just happened to be on the wrong side.

It went on for too long. I think much of this can be attributed to the fact that this book lacked a plot so the author just went along with the story until she felt like stopping. While I enjoyed this book, most of this story didn’t actually need to happen in the grand scheme of things and I’m actually shocked at what they left out. For instance, the final battle to collect Jamie from the infamous Scottish prison….happens off screen…….

We spent pages and pages talking about Claire fighting a wolf (a conflict that I don’t believe even needed to exist since it doesn’t contribute anything to the plot), but when it comes to the climax, the great escape, the novel’s main villain dying….it happens off screen…….

There was no reason to cut that part out. There were so many other pointless scenes that could have been scrapped. They did not need to cut the one part that needed to be in there.

I admit, I’ve gone into this fandom totally blind so perhaps Black Jack comes back with a cyborg eye and there will be a real show-down. I don’t know. I’m just judging this book by its own merits.

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What the hell is up with Chapter 39? So the scene where Claire tries to save Jamie’s life after his torture at the hands of Randall while they’re at the monastery….Can anyone tell me what happened in that scene? I think she was trying to rekindle his will to live but…that should not have worked. Mind you, I only have a passing knowledge of psychology when it comes to PTSD related events, but I’m pretty sure forcing a patient to relive a traumatic event literally days after it happened in an uncontrolled environment would not result in a sudden miraculous turn-around in their mental behavior. Particularly when they are at death’s door to begin with. In fact, I’m reasonably sure that should have made him keel over.

Jamie’s torture. I’m gonna be honest, I thought it was overkill. The extent of his injuries and psychological torture should have left him a completely unresponsive husk of a man or dead. At least if this had stayed as true to life as it had been before. One of the most interesting aspects of his torture was left, for the most part, unexplored. While recounting the horror he faced while against Randall, he lets slip that the sight of Claire makes him ill because Randall basically conditioned him so every time he thought about Claire he would either be beaten or worse. In one of the most emotionally devastating scenes in the whole book, he tearfully explains that he doesn’t want to see her again because just her being there reawakens all of these awful memories.

Me:

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Wow. That is dark. More than dark, that’s completely and utterly heart-wrenching.

Aaaaaaand after Claire’s Most Awful Idea Ever, he’s totally fixed and ready for some bairn-making.

Ummm……

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There’s no reason why this should have worked. You can’t just undo classical conditioning.

Mrs. Gabaldon, you seem like a smart lady and all, but I don’t think you understand how psychology works. Sadly, once a mind is screwed up that badly, the damage is usually permanent. If not, it takes a looooong time for an individual to overcome it.

I think that Jamie’s aversion to Claire would have made an excellent jumping off point for the next novel and would justify a book of equal length, especially if she found out during this debacle that she was pregnant with his child. Not only would Claire have to deal with the impending slaughter of the Highlanders and the Dragoons looking for Jamie, she would also have to confront the possibility of raising a child in a foreign country in the past alone. That’s more than enough conflict for a book, in my opinion. But instead we get a miraculous recovery from Jamie and they all live happily ever after. At least for now.

Overall opinion: 

I enjoyed reading this novel and I’m more than a little interested in reading the next installment. However, I also believe this book could have been so much better if some things were cut and if the story had been given more focus. It was interesting just watching them go about their daily lives, but I think actually giving it a plot would have raised the stakes a considerable amount.