TCWT: Late, late, late!

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I just realized that I entirely forgot about my Teens Can Write Too post.

Scratch that. I think I didn’t ever hear that I got accepted. Bah. Comment reply, acting up again.

So, better late than never, right?

Anyway: Books in non-novel format.

Oh, yes. Absolutely.

But it takes a very talented author to pull one off well. Though, that’s not about to stop me from trying.

I keep forgetting to update my “Novels” page, so this may be new news to some of my readers, but one of my best plot bunnies recently was about a virtual world that drove people insane, and not by some MK-Ultra thingy.

Rather than having stuff in it designed to drive people insane (well, at first… *ominous laugh*), it was too realistic. People couldn’t cope with it. It was called “Second Life” for a reason–it was too like the real world, and people aren’t supposed to try to live two lives at once.

The thing about this plot is that it would be pretty hard to write it as a novel. So I was thinking about writing it as a movie script first, and then adapting it as a novel. Maybe it would be easier, coming at the plot a second time.

(It’s definitely psychological thriller. I’m really starting to like this genre.)

On the other hand, there are styles which have been around for centuries which are non-standard format. The epistolary style, for instance, in which a story is told entirely through the use of letters written between two friends. Or enemies. Whatever you like.

Case in point: C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece The Screwtape Letters.

Collections of poetry, and short stories, too. Also, plays. (Like above!)

I’ve read about more innovative versions, such as stories which were single-sentence flash fiction, the most recent installment building on all those before it, yet still stand on their own. I don’t have the patience or the energy or puzzle-box of a mind that it would take to build something like that.

I recently read about a story which was told entirely in a series of texts, as a twist on the older epistolary style, and another which was written entirely in txtspeak and sent to subscribers’ smartphones as a serial.

However, while those avant-garde styles are intriguing, I don’t think an author should pick a style just because it’s intriguing. I think he or she should pick the style that fits best with the story he or she wants to tell.

Marshall McLuhan, a media scholar, once said in a rather extreme example “The medium is the message” (emphasis added.) While, obviously, the same message can be sent via mail or email, the choice between snail mail and email will define things such as word choice, style, tone, and also perhaps the size or length of the message. You can’t make the same impact with a song-fic that you can with a fan video; you can’t be as clear with a fan video as you can in a song-fic. Movies and books are two entirely different mediums, with different necessities and different emotional effects on the audience. That’s why it can be so hard to make a movie of a book sometimes. Medium–format–is important. But it all depends on the message. If your ambition is simply to use a certain medium, stop now. That’s not how you tell a really good story. Fit the medium to your plot, not your plot to the medium.

I’m all for non-standard format, whether avant-garde or traditional. That doesn’t mean I’ll forgive a poorly-told story for the sake of its format.

And that’s pretty much my entire opinion on format. Cake anyone?


6thhttp://www.ch1con.tumblr.com (Post will be published at night on 3/6!)

7thhttp://www.kirabudge.weebly.com/

8thhttp://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/ – Iris!

9thhttp://rcubedreadsreviews.blogspot.com/

10thhttp://ramblingsofaravis.wordpress.com/

11thhttp://arielkalati.blogspot.com/

12thhttp://semilegacy.blogspot.com/

13thhttp://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

14thhttp://abookishflower.wordpress.com/

15thhttps://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/ <– clearly, this is not the correct date… :-S ELEVEN WHOLE DAYS LATE. *faceplants into keyboard* Sorry, everyone. :-S

16thhttp://theedfiles.blogspot.com/

17thhttp://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

18thhttp://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/

19thhttp://jasperlindell.blogspot.com.au/

20thhttp://allisonthewriter.wordpress.com/

21sthttp://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

22ndhttp://from-stacy.blogspot.com/

23rdhttp://miriamjoywrites.com/

24thhttps://introspectioncreative.wordpress.com/

25thhttps://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

26thhttp://stayandwatchthestars.wordpress.com/

27th – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)

Archivist of Selay’uu’s Journal: A March Hare Fling…?

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Clearly, it is one of those days.

I woke up this morning after a sleepover in heaven. I was actually nice and warm, which is not very usual post-sleepover. And comfortable, which is even less common.

It turns out that at some point while still asleep, I had snuggled up to Steve’s back, and Bucky was tucked close up against mine, and somehow we’d shared all our blankets.

Who knew the Winter Soldier was a closet cuddler?

Anyway, it was heavenly. They both have a slightly-higher-than-usual body temperature, so I was warm. Chaste cuddle pile. It’s a wonderful way to wake up.

Unfortunately, the moment Bucky rolled over and kicked me in the shoulder (without waking up), I knew it was going to be one of those days.

Before I had even finished the thought, Bucky’s kick had rolled me entirely over Steve’s shoulder, which woke him up, and I ended up nose to nose with Captain America. Talk about awkward. Also, did I mention my hair was in his face? Which prompted a rather ill-timed sneeze.

And suddenly Bucky started to snore. Which, normally, our resident supersoldiers do not (in case you didn’t know, snoring tends to be linked to health problems. Like allergies, but more often obesity.) I think Bucky’s irregular way of getting the serum means that it actually prompted an allergy or something… but I’m not a scientist. Anyway, later that morning, we were dealing with a huffy, sulking former Soviet assassin. But we made pancakes!

He got better.

But then things got crazy.

I put on an Owl City CD in while I was working on my Easter dress, and Connor was, apparently, bored while I was trying to figure out his backstory and the one character who’d already been killed off. So, naturally, he started dancing to it, and Obi-Wan joined in with him (when he’s a teenager–especially a slightly-insane one–he’s really… um. I think I should probably just explain what happened.) So, they were trying to do a swing step, but somehow Obi-Wan got a hand tangled up in Connor’s gear harness (I don’t know why, but they were both in combat black as well as tactical gear…) and they ended up in a pile on the floor. Of course Bucky had to join in, trying to teach Steve to dance, but Steve was tripping over all four of their feet. I’m not even sure how that’s possible, but he managed to do it. Gaius was trying to untangle the Jedi and assassin, but at one point he ended up holding both of Obi-Wan’s wrists, and that triggered a panic attack (for reasons that should be pretty obvious–poor lad.) So that led us all on a manhunt through the entire mansion, trying to catch Obi-Wan and bring him back to the land of the living before he could hurt himself or anyone else. I decided to work on the latest story with Obi-Wan to try and get things under control, and then Anakin wandered around. Turns out he’d had a bit too much of the Unicorn Cider from the Camp Nanowrimo Cafe and as a result he was loopy. He was singing the Unicorn Song and insisting that Siri’s middle name was Meredith. Siri was not amused and brained him with the Travelling Shovel of Death. Of course, Anakin wasn’t dead, but then he had to go and pick on Merlin, who turned him purple. Which Padme liked, but Anakin did not.

Anyway, along came Moriarty, who was drunk in the normal way. He was flirting with everything and rambling about flying cheetahs and generally creeping me out, so I whacked him in the kidney with a mop, then bashed him in the head with the Captain’s shield.

Just another one of those days.

It absolutely has to be March.

 

The 777 Writing Challenge

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Proverbs31teen has nominated me for the 777 writing challenge.

Basically, you scroll down to the seventh page of your WIP, count seven lines down, and post the next seven lines in your reply. Here’s mine!

The girl beside me—clearly just out of college—actually did yawn, then caught herself self-consciously. “When are they going to open up the doors?” she asked. “It’s chilly out here.” I shrugged.

“I don’t know. One thing you can be certain of, though—it will seem like a lot longer than it really takes.” She laughed.

We were only two in a crowd of reporters, waiting for the press conference that would begin in hopefully a few minutes, as soon as the police were done with the scene.

Technically, this is actually really another Colorblind sample post… :-P

And now, I nominate:

Irisbloom5 (if you’ve seen this before, then go seven more pages down to do it ;-) Or you can just add my name to the list of nominators and do it once.)

Sheikah (I really want to see what you’re working on! ;-) )

Rachel Carrera

Professor V.J. Duke

PorterGirl

Coruscantbookshelf

IcedMocha34

Thanks for reading and God Bless! Don’t forget to support these people and drop in to see what they’re working on! :-)

It Comes Down To One

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Because there is a distinct lack of good Dr. Erskine fic out there. Also, I thought he was an awesome sort of mentor-figure, like a combination of Gaius and… um… maybe Uncle Iroh. (I wouldn’t know. I have not seen Avatar: The Last Airbender.) I am not ashamed to say this: I cried when they killed him off.

Okay, here we go.


 

It Comes Down To One

                Out of all the hundred recruits who were brought into Camp Lehigh, Abraham knew it really only came down to one.

He knew it when he crossed out the names of the first two platoons that had been on the list. Their names were sorted the next day. Two weeks later, they were all gone, shipped out for other camps, to different divisions.

The third platoon—technically, now a half-platoon—two squads—twenty men. Out of those two squads, only one was informed of their true reason for being here.

To a man, all of that squad volunteered of their free will for the project.

However, only one man’s eyes lacked the eagerness, holding solemnity instead, with a deep determination underlying it.

(“Go ahead,” he said. “I’ll do it.”)

Ten.

Forner was crossed off the list when he sat down and refused to go any further on a march. He wasn’t going to be a supersoldier—but he was going to have his backside whipped into shape, one way or another. (The man, to Erskine’s total irritation, was a draftee—had Abraham had his way, the camp would have contained only volunteers.)

Nine.

Bensley did not understand the reality of war. When Rogers tried to set him straight and told him that war was not glorious and death wasn’t funny, he flipped Rogers and shoved him under his bunk.

Rogers showed up to morning roll-call with bruises. Bensley did not show up at all.

Eight.

By now, all of the remaining candidates couldn’t help but look a little nervous whenever Abraham, Agent Carter, or one of the other specialists walked by. (They had always been wary of Carter, and all of them always snapped anxiously to attention for Philips.)

Collough was probably Scottish, naturalized American; he spoke with a brogue and looked his commanding officers in the eye, calmly, when he told them that he believed he could serve his country better elsewhere. Phillips grunted noncommittally, but he sent Collough off to receive further training as a radioman, among the best in the country.

(Collough was probably the only man in the camp who had seen what Erskine saw in Rogers.)

Seven.

Clay was the next to go. (He took the last apple so that Marley would have to eat the syrupy, disgusting canned fruit instead, at lunch.)

Six.

Marley went right along with Clay. (He’d taken the apple from Rogers, who didn’t finish his meal anyway, but it was rude all the same.)

(“Are you sure you want this?” he asked silently.

(Rogers’ earnest face looked back at him, saying quite clearly without the necessity of speech, “I know the risks, the dangers. I just want to help people.”)

Five.

Samson was out next, for being too good at his job. They couldn’t afford to lose a sniper that good on a mere science experiment.

(“Good riddance,” Phillips grumbled as Hodge’s crony was sent off. Somehow, he had managed to annoy even the colonel.)

Four.

When they were down to nine, he’d already discounted Hodge, but he did not have a good reason to send Hodge off, until the experiment was done.

Elliot was next to go. He hadn’t stopped firing when ordered on a training exercise. Not even when the sergeant had tried to take the rifle from him. He went to a desk job—“psychologically unfit” for front-line duty.

Three.

Coleman started a brawl with staff, then tried to pass it off on another man.

(“Are all the men in the camp this bad?” Erskine asked himself, in a moment of uncharacteristic cynicality.)

Two.

Hodge had never put a foot wrong.

But when it came down to the choice, there really had only been ever one choice.

One.

Rogers did understand the risks, the danger, the possibility of failure.

Abraham feared that the younger man did not realize that the risk to him, personally, was greater if there should be success. He had seen heroes before—they had come back from the Great War, often broken men.

He knew the mark of true greatness well, and he saw it on the scrawny, unpromising recruit. Should the process succeed, it would mean difficult things would be asked of Rogers, and Abraham wished he could spare the young man that.

However, he could not pass this up. He could not deny the world the hero it so gravely needed, nor could he deny the chance to Rogers. (The chance that would give him the ability to do all he could with his big heart, to give him the physical strength to match his mental and spiritual strength.)

But Rogers did know what would be asked of him, the burden of this truly double-edged gift. And still, he volunteered.

(“Do you really want this?” Erskine asked silently. The young soldier’s grave expression was answer enough.

(“Do it.” the silent reply said, steely. “If I don’t try, then who else will?”)

 

From the beginning to the end, there really had been only one candidate.

It all came down to one.

 

“Big Hero Six” Review!

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Last week on Sunday, I saw Big Hero Six for the first time. And while it didn’t completely blow me away, instantaneously, like some other films I’ve seen, I thought it was a pretty good movie.

And then, I was sick on Monday and for most of the week. And while I was sick I re-watched it, and went WOW!

Okay, from now on, there will be SPOILERS, so if you have not seen it yet, consider yourself warned.

Sometimes, it seems like Disney movies are always either hit or miss. Sure, they’ve done some movies that are okay, but mostly they either smash or bomb. And just to be kind to Disney, I’m qualifying this as a Disney movie even though technically it’s also Marvel (though it was made by Disney Animation, not Marvel Studios.)

This movie is, first and foremost, a family movie. So much of it is driven by the dynamics of the family, and the movie benefits. Hiro’s relationships with his brother and aunt (Tadashi more than Cass) have lasting impacts on his actions, decisions, and his entire life. This would make it like Disney’s other animated superhero classic, The Incredibles, but the family dynamics in Big Hero Six are different. Rather than being about a more mainstream family that has drifted apart over time and must find out how to come back together, Big Hero Six is about two brothers and an aunt who are very close knit, and then has one member torn from them. As such, it’s somewhat darker and more of a drama than a family comedy.

I had had part of the movie spoiled for me, but I also knew it had to be without receiving any spoilers, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that they didn’t kill off Tadashi almost as soon as they’d introduced him, instead giving him his own hopes and dreams and making him a hero in his own right. More power to you, Big Hero Six.

This movie deals with some pretty heavy stuff for a Disney movie. Personal loss, grief, dark sides, what people are willing to do to other people to get what they want–Hiro is no angel, and at one point his grief drives him to take away what makes Baymax unique, what makes Baymax himself, in order to get back at the villain. However, I was delighted once again–at the end of the movie, Hiro redeems himself, following in his brother’s footsteps to save the daughter of the man who had been trying to kill them.

Now, on to the characters!

I absolutely loved the characters. They were diverse (not just racially), and well-fleshed-out. Wasabi is probably my favorite, though I loved all of them. The filmmakers did an amazing job, especially with Baymax. His almost glitch-y repetition of words and phrases like “Tadashi is here” actually made him seem more human. Also, though his played-for-laughs misunderstandings of metaphor and figures of speech and his expression of the sound of the explosion for a fist bump are funny, they’re even more endearing.

I thought it was amazing, how well Hiro’s grief was expressed by the writers and actors, and the moment when he takes away Baymax’s personality to get what he wants (revenge on Callahan) was gritty and tragic. I am so impressed with how well they did this, and still more impressed by Hiro’s redemptive act, mirroring his brother’s sacrifice earlier in the movie. Too often, people forget to add the necessary balance (aka, adding the redemption to counter the transgression in a hero or keeping a sympathetic villain villainous by having him violate something sacred to the reader), leading to an unbalanced story or an antihero who is completely unlovable, or worse things. Such as a villain who doesn’t drive the story forward because, I don’t know, he’s not really a freaking villain!?! (Sorry, that’s my pet peeve.)
Speaking of villains, while I pretty much predicted who the villain was going to be about halfway between the beginning and the big reveal, I still think Callahan is one of the most compelling villains I have ever seen. Think Inigo Montoya gone badly wrong, out for revenge for his daughter rather than his dad, and you have Callahan. It’s one of the best motivations for a good man gone bad that I can think of, and is compellingly done. One of the quotes, though, was disappointing to me; when talking about Tadashi’s death, Callahan exclaims “Then that was his fault!” or something like that. I thought he cared about Tadashi and would have been more satisfied if Callahan had showed that he, too, felt guilty about Tadashi’s death. Maybe he blamed Krei for that, too? It seems like a waste of potential for character development.
When I first heard about the premise of this movie, I thought it sounded a lot like Iron Man. However, it’s not like Iron Man at all. While the premises (making bionic suits to fight villains) are very similar, the execution is different, and Big Hero Six is entirely innovative. Microbots? Tony Stark has nothing on them. Also, aren’t you glad they didn’t make any Jericho jokes? (Because the Jericho missile played the same role in Iron Man that the microbots did in Big Hero Six.) While there are parallels between the movies, Big Hero Six doesn’t feel like an Iron Man ripoff. In my opinion, Big Hero Six has even more heart (though, about the same amount of style) as Iron Man.
The visuals of this movie are incredible, with a more sleek feel than Iron Man, and the team dynamics are similar, though distinct from, The Avengers. It really feels like a near future sci-fi story, but is realistic enough that you can believe it could happen any day. The setting, San Fransokyo, is actually in California, but it takes place in an alternate history where, after the 1906 earthquake, San Francisco was largely rebuilt by Japanese immigrants, creating a unique, streamlined, Asian-American, city-of-the-future culture. It is so beautiful and believable, you’ll want to take your next vacation there and then be surprised to hear that it’s not a real place.
However, I do have a few issues with elements in this movie. For instance, how did Callahan live after his presumed death? Did he have a separate bank account set up to allow him to lay low after faking his death? In which case, does that mean that the fire was set by Callahan, or was it just a “lucky” accident? Also, Callahan’s use of the microbots seemed a little lackadaisical–if he’s such a robotics genius, why doesn’t he innovate something new to use with them, or figure out a new way to use them, or play around with them a little more?
For another thing, I would have loved to see more of the titular team… you know, acting as a team. Mostly, we just see them operating on their own, coordinating their attacks, but otherwise just working alone, which was sad for me. The teamwork in Avengers was what elevated it above all other movies of its genre, in my opinion, but Big Hero Six is, out of necessity, different. While Avengers always was a team movie, with an equal focus on each character–it was essentially a journey with six equal protagonists–Hiro Hamada is clearly the main focus of Big Hero Six. All his teammates are supporting characters, and while they are autonomous, they aren’t given equal screen time, like the Avengers were. Still, that doesn’t mean that all the characters couldn’t have done more team stuff. (I did like it, when early in the movie, they ended out cancelling out each others’ work because they weren’t being a team. Way to go, Disney, showing that teamwork is necessary!)
Other than that, I did see the Big Plot Twist coming from a mile away, but maybe that’s just because I’m an author and I write Big Plot Twists. Good grief, I’m practically the unchallenged queen of Big Plot Twists! Still, Disney, you’re getting predictable, and I like to be surprised.
Overall, though, my experience was all positive, though, due to the issues I mentioned, I can’t give it five out of five. So I’ll settle for giving it four and a half out of five stars.
(On a side note, if you must cross your crossovers, forget the Big Four (also known as the Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons); I want to see Rise of the Guardians, How to Train Your Dragon, and Big Hero Six crossovers!!!)
Big Hero Six, ladies and gentlemen–the best animated superhero movie since The Incredibles.

“Paralyzed Dreams” Book Tour

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Good morning!

Today, I’m joining in the Paralyzed Dreams book tour, in order to get the word out about my good friend Proverbs31teen’s new book. She’s published, people! It’s seriously exciting! :-D

While I have not yet read this book, it looks like a great story about faith and overcoming adversity. Here’s the blurb:

Fourteen-year-old Pam Wilson’s life is going perfectly. She and her best friend, Lauren, are becoming an amazing volleyball duo, and her dreams of playing in the Olympics are coming along wonderfully.

Then a car accident paralyzes Pam from the waist down, and her dreams for her life are shattered. No more volleyball, no more walking, no more future.

Now, I’m going to pass the post on to Proverbs31teen!

paralyzeddreamskindle

I’m working on typing up yet another fanfiction piece when I hear a knock at the door. “Yes?” I call.

Benedict, my secretary, sticks his head into the room. “Bri, Pam is here.”

I smile. “Okay, send her in.”

Benedict ducks back out, and then a dark-haired teenager comes in. She looks like she’s about fourteen or fifteen. She’s wearing a navy blue volleyball uniform, and her smile lights up the room. I make a couple notes on her appearance and smile back at her. “Hi, Pam. Go ahead and take a seat.”

Pam obeys and leans forward. “Sorry, I didn’t have time to change after practice. I’m super excited about all of this.”

I smile. Teenagers always seemed to have this extra energy flowing out of them… well, the athletically inclined ones, at least. “I’m glad to hear that. I know you’re short on time, so we’ll keep this fairly short, all right?”

She nods. “Okay. I’m ready.”

“How old are you?” I ask.

“Fourteen,” she answers, grinning. “Fifteen in a couple of weeks.”

I type in her answer. “What do you love doing?”

Pam gives a little bounce on the edge of the chair. “Volleyball. I want to be an Olympic volleyball player someday. Lauren and I are both helping each other out.”

I nod. “And Lauren is…”

“Lauren’s my best friend,” Pam says, leaning forward even more. “We’ve known each other for ages. Volleyball is one of lots of things we have in common. She’s amazing, the best friend I could ever ask for.”

I grin. “It’s always nice to have a really good friend. What would you do if you couldn’t play volleyball anymore?”

Pam’s face turns serious, and a bit of confusion flickers over her face. “Not… not play volleyball?” She bites her lip and stares at the ground. “I don’t know. Volleyball’s all I really ever want to do. There’s no way I could give it up.”

“Ah.” I make a note of it. “Well, what are some of your favorite things?”

Pam smiles. “Chocolate, hanging out with Lauren, church, volleyball…” Her face gets red. “Talking about guys with Lauren,” she admits.

I laugh. “Sounds like pretty much every teenager.”

She blushes and glances down at her watch. “Oh, I need to get going. Anything else before I leave?”

I glance over my notes. “Your personality…” I pause. “In three words.”

She stands up, grinning and heads to the door. “Fun, energetic, and passionate,” she calls over her shoulder.

I smile as the door closes behind her. Somehow, she reminds me of myself. I type the last few words onto my laptop and shut it, leaning back and wondering what will happen next.

But that’s a story for another day.


C.B. Cook is a teen author with many short stories under her belt, and now a published novella, Paralyzed Dreams. She has been blogging for over a year and is working on writing a middle grade fantasy series. When she’s not balancing homework or writing, she can often be found messing around in Photoshop or talking to her dog. You can visit her at www.theworldofthewriter.wordpress.com.

Well, that’s all for today! Don’t forget to drop in for the rest of the Paralyzed Dreams virtual book tour and go visit her web site! Thanks for reading, and God Bless. :-)

Movies with the Best Sound Design

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A little while back, I listed the movies with, in my opinion, the best movie soundtracks. This list will be a bit shorter, mostly because I’m listing movies with sound design that really made them stand out. In order from the last to the first in place. Please keep in mind that this is limited to movies that I have seen, and it has to be absolutely memorable and unique to get a place on the list. (I’m narrowing it down, due to the sprawling mess I had last time.) Here we go!

7. The Lord of the Rings (and possibly The Hobbit.) There were so many different, unique sounds in this fantasy staple that it was impossible to leave it off the list entirely. However, unlike any other entry, the real reason why it’s on this list is almost entirely due to the way actors’ voices were modified, whether on stage or during post-production, and the mind-shuddering realism and grittiness of the sounds. (Trust me, Legolas sliding down the stairs in a silent Douglas Fairbanks movie would not have been nearly as exciting.)

6. Big Hero Six. (Ha, it places right at its name…) I couldn’t possibly narrow this down to one signature sound, unless it was the subhuman squealing sound of the microbots in motion, especially under the control of the man in the kabuki mask. Also, the slashing hum of the magnetic-contained laser swords that Wasabi uses. Still, the second has sort of been done before, so we’re down to the microbots–which means this one only places at number six on the list. (Oh, and then there was the sounds of Honey Lemon’s chemistry experiments, and Go-go’s electromagnetic hyperspeed suspension, but still. This one didn’t stand out enough to go any higher. Sorry, Disney, but Dreamworks beats you out for originality.)

5. The Star Wars franchise. Star Wars is on this list mainly due to its ground-breaking sound design. Star Wars was ground-breaking in so many ways that that’s almost not fair to the rest of the entries on this list, so I’ll elucidate. The real reason why Star Wars is on this list is due to its ability to branch out and and continue to astonish with both its originality and variety. For instance, while there was not much that we had not heard before in The Phantom Menace, they invented the bizarre language of the insectoid Geonosians in Attack of the Clones, and who didn’t shudder at the vile sounds of the poisonous centipedes that were used in that assassination attempt on Padme? Moving on, the Clone Wars animated television series of 2008 (which also had some pretty sweet original music, beginning especially around the end of the second season–Boba Fett’s Conflicted Innocence theme, anyone? {If it doesn’t begin at 19:27, which it should, then just skip to that point–that’s where the music in question plays.}) entirely re-invented the sound of the blaster for Aurra Sing and introduced us to the wholly unique sound of a holocron being opened and/or used.

4. The Rise of the Guardians. Some of you might be shocked by the inclusion of this entry, but it really deserves this slot. The sounds of this movie, combined with the soundtrack, make the action seem so much more. There is the soft humming whir of dream sand, the brisk crackle of Jack’s ice… and sadly I can’t go much further without giving spoilers. While not nearly as auditorially stunning as it was visually stunning, it still has a unique sound feel to it, which is also necessary to the plot, given that it goes to places we, as the audience, have never seen before. As much as it redesigns the North Pole, it also redesigns the sound of reindeer bells.

3. The Captain America movies. As we see Cap using his shield in more and more innovative ways (this isn’t a one-use tool, people!), so the sound design team over at Marvel Studios has upped the ante in creating the sounds that the shield makes. (I actually have a theory for this one–since vibranium absorbs vibrations, the slight humming sound you hear is actually the utter stillness of the air around the shield. It’s a little like the ringing you hear when there is no real sound.) It really sounds like something out of science fiction, and even the most mundane clunking sound will tell you that this is neither aluminum nor steel, this is something else entirely. It’s frighteningly beautiful. Also, from the clips, the Winter Soldier’s prosthetic. Oh. My. Goodness. It has a sort of mechanical scream all its own.

2. The How To Train Your Dragon movies. One sound. The scream of the Night Fury. This sound is totally unique and, while it can be approximated by the human voice, it can not be really imitated. (It’s unsurprising that there are so many animated movies on this list–sound is a major way that they use to approximate a fictional world.)

And, in the number one spot:

1. The Kung Fu Panda movies! Being essentially based as a parody of the kung fu genre, this movie relies on its unique sound design to fuel its chi… *coughcough* *giggles* Anyway, as a kung fu movie, they kind of had to push the bill, and Kung Fu Panda‘s sound design does not disappoint. The sound–especially the soft ringing in the slowed-action sequences–lends a sense of stylized yet powerful realism to the movie. Top marks, Dreamworks. Though the TV series was utterly ridiculous and extremely untrue to its source material, when it comes to movies, Po is one I’m definitely coming back to see.

So there you have it–my list of the top seven movies with the most impressive sound design. Overwhelmingly in favor of Dreamworks. So what? Disney doesn’t seem to do that many movies which have truly outstanding sound design, even if they do now own Skywalker Sound… oh, good grief, this is giving me a headache… *snaps a rubber band at Disney and boos*

Was there a movie you think should have been on this list? Did I shortchange someone? Or did a movie that wasn’t all that spectacular, sound-wise, end up placing? Please, tell me! I want to hear your opinions!

As always, thanks for reading, and God Bless!

The Brooklyn Project: Unsung Heroes

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Continuing from the last Brooklyn Project post.

Last time, I posted on heroism, the basic elements that all heroes must share, or come to share. Today, I’m posting on the unknown heroes, heroism that isn’t accepted.

It’s a not-often-realized truth that for every hero, there is someone who believes in him. However, in real life, many heroes never get more than just that someone. And even that someone may not know the truth of all that they’ve done; they simply believe.

It’s like praying in your closet and giving in secret; it does good, regardless or not if anyone knows that you did it. Indeed, to do good without anyone ever knowing is perhaps the very greatest thing of all.

However, most of the literature you will find today features heroes who do meet with applause. By the end of the book, everyone knows what they’ve done for the good of others. (Notable exception: at the end of the Agent Carter miniseries, the guys from Congress give all the credit to Thompson, who, by the way, is one of the best examples of a dynamic secondary character that I can give you. And Agent Thompson really did deserve the recognition, to an extent, in my opinion. Thompson’s awesomeness aside, Peggy is once again entirely overlooked. No one but the SSR agents involved know that she was the true hero of the hour. Admittedly, this doesn’t count because at least Peggy’s coworkers know of everything she’s done, but though Peggy has been fighting to be a strong woman in a man’s world through the entire series, she finds that she really doesn’t mind that no one gives her the recognition she really does deserve.) I think that the trend in literature towards heroes who are known is partly because we, as human beings, crave praise and recognition. However, in these cases, it is actually an example of our ability to step outside of ourselves rather than of our hunger for recognition; we want our heroes to be recognized. (One of the greatest reasons for literature’s existence is the human capacity to reach outside of ourselves in order to empathize, commiserate, and sympathize with others.)

I think the Lord of the Rings, while Frodo and Sam and the rest did have their actions recognized, was pretty good at this. Neither Frodo nor Sam ever really did expect to have their actions memorialized like they were. The thoughts they had of being in a story were more distant, held to keep their spirits up. Aragorn speaks to Eowyn of the unstoried heroes who they all may become, ultimately, should the threat of Sauron come to completion. Boromir was motivated in part by the glory of his home country, but in the end, he gave his life for two hobbits whom he had met mere months before, far from his home, before the larger war even began. The heroes of The Lord of the Rings acted not in the interest of glory, but because what they did had to be done; even if their world was to be enslaved, they’d die trying to stop Sauron from enslaving it.

Heroism is a curious thing. While it is somewhat based on the opinions of others, true heroism is the heroism that nobody ever sees.

Thanks for reading, Brooklyn Project followers, and God Bless! (If you like what you see, don’t forget to drop by my Brooklyn Project page and check it out–we’re always open for new recruits! :-D )

Hours of Men and Monsters

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And now, it’s here. Two-thousand-plus words of world-saving and humor, for your enjoyment! (Also, I think the Avengers already know that Coulson’s still alive in this one… um, I don’t know why, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Tony’s doing.) Just in time to make the deadline for proverbs31teen’s Super-Duper Fanfiction Crossover Challenge! :-D

Enjoy!


Hours of Men and Monsters

                “Mycroft, you know I always hate you, but today I want to murder you even more than usual.” Sherlock glared through the frosted glass in between the living room and dining room-cum-kitchen at the Avenger sitting uncomfortably on a couch that was not designed for a man his size. Fortunately, the man couldn’t see him. What really got to Sherlock, though, was how much Mrs. Hudson seemed to appreciate the superhero’s manners. No sooner had he walked in the door than he proceeded to charm the landlady.

“Sherlock, perhaps next time it would be better if you were to simply not interfere in my business,” Mycroft scolded. Sherlock heard it and promptly decided to ignore it. “Fury is a law unto himself. If I had my way, the men assigned to your detail would be much less… conspicuous.” Much as Sherlock disdained most of Mycroft’s associates, this Fury character must indeed be quite daring to cross Mycroft in one of these subtle ways. And it was only according to the man’s abominable sense of humor that he assigned this particular Avenger, Mycroft didn’t add, but it would have not taken a Holmes to deduce that he was thinking it. Apparently, Fury, whoever Fury was, had been making a point to Mycroft.

“I will do all in my power to break custody, Mycroft,” Sherlock vowed and cut Mycroft off, deciding as an afterthought to lock Mycroft out of his mobile for a while as a further precaution. That done, he re-entered the living room and stalked across to his pile of case files, pointedly ignoring the man on the couch. This didn’t seem to bother the superhero; not that it would. This man had been fighting off what was apparently an alien invasion mere months before. That said, it seemed like overkill to dispatch him for a simple protection detail.

Mrs. Hudson came back with tea, serving Sherlock as well as the American despite Sherlock’s patent displeasure with her usual impossible calm. After she had gone, Captain America spoke up suddenly. His voice was a low baritone, with the startling quality of an unusual pitch range and a flat Yankee twang. “I don’t trust your brother, Mr. Holmes.” Sherlock rolled his eyes.

“Does anyone? I’m not to be trusted, either,” he added for his bodyguard’s benefit. The captain coughed noncommittally.

“Noted.” He continued to work carefully on a drawing. It was only Sherlock’s boredom that made him curious about the artwork, but he reined in his curiosity, determined not to show any interest whatsoever. He was Not Pleased.

A moment later, the superhero’s head came up, as if in response to some sound that, Sherlock noted with displeasure, was inaudible to him. A second later, the front door opened and shut and John’s awkward, still-slightly-lopsided-on-bad-days walk was heard coming up the stairs. The superhero appeared relaxed on the surface, but he was posed in the peculiar stance of a soldier ready to leap into action at any second. Sherlock had seen John adopt that posture any number of times. A moment later, Sherlock’s flatmate and assistant in all criminal investigations opened the door. John took it all with his usual calm. “Did one of your nonexsistent friends finally turn up or do we have a client?” he asked, shrugging out of his coat, but not setting it down or hanging it up. Sherlock frowned.

“Neither. Mycroft seems to think I need protection.”

“Last night was a bit much,” John said, remonstrating with him.

“Mycroft has no respect for me,” Sherlock announced.

“You refer to him as your ‘archenemy,’” John remarked. “I think he’s entitled.” He turned to the superhero. “I’m John Watson,” he said. Rather than shaking his hand right away, the tall man saluted.

“Steve Rogers, sir,” he said. “Captain.” John blinked and saluted back.

“I’m retired,” John said. “You knew I was a soldier.” Rogers shrugged, awkwardly.

“I’ve been in London before, used to spend quite a bit of time around your special forces and SIS… I mean intelligence…” He stammered slightly at the end. “It’s just been… a while,” he concluded, lamely. Sherlock made a face at the superhero’s back.

“Sherlock, have you done anything productive today?” John asked, ignoring the stranger for a moment, taking it in his stride, like he normally did.

“There’s nothing productive to do,” Sherlock complained, throwing himself on the couch. He watched with interest for a moment as Rogers flinched involuntarily and reached, inconspicuously, for one ear. Barely touching it, he reached into his pocket instead and hurriedly sent off a text.

“Mr. Holmes, I hope you’ll pardon the profanity—” John snorted—“but what the hell have you been getting into?” As if in response to the sudden words, a gun went off in the street below. Sherlock’s head came up. Before he could do anything, though, Rogers flinched again and actually touched the concealed earpiece this time. “Barton, speak clearly. I can’t tell what you’re trying to say.” Both Sherlock and John froze. John looked both irritated and dismayed, as if he’d been hoping for a peaceful evening, for once. Sherlock was more curious. “All right, all right! Stop shouting!” Listening again. Then, Rogers hissed an imprecation through his teeth. He turned to Sherlock and John. “Gentlemen, it seems my backup has found trouble more quickly than I gave him credit for. We’re going to have to go take care of it.” Sherlock brightened up. John shook his head, but went for his sidearm all the same. Rogers lifted a large, circular—was that actually a shield?—from behind the sofa. Sherlock had thought, hearing about the Battle of Manhattan, that the shield was just a gimmick, but now it was clear it wasn’t so. From the way the superhero held it, it was actually a weapon, and one he knew how to use. It looked slightly out of place, the silvery red and white bands and blue field with its star, with his civilian outfit of mostly navy, white and gray, but it looked anything but silly. Sherlock moved toward the front door, but Rogers caught the sleeve of his coat and pulled him with almost gingerly gentleness toward the fire escape instead. The next several minutes were a rapid journey through the alleys and back-streets of London. Rogers’ knowledge of London’s backways seemed to even rival Sherlock’s. Not long later, they arrived at a run-down district. Rogers slipped his phone out of his pocket and nodded, once, grimly. Any trace of the slightly-awkward young man of only minutes before was gone; now, he was a soldier, entirely focused on the mission. He looked at Sherlock.

“In a few minutes, we’re going to go in there, get Hawkeye, and blow those scum to kingdom come,” he said. “I’d ask you to stay back, Mr. Holmes, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t listen to me, and I generally make it a point not to give orders when people are just going to disobey them.” There was a brief flash of humor in the American’s gray eyes, then he walked briskly toward the entrance to the empty warehouse.

“How cliché can they make it?” John muttered. Rogers cocked his head, as if listening to something on his earpiece. Then he reached down, grabbing the padlock and slipping two fingers on each hand into the metal loop. He pulled straight out and the loop bent, then simply shattered. He slid the door open a crack, looking in.

“Let’s move,” he said.

It was eerily silent inside. The warehouse was almost entirely empty, gutted. It had been recently swept and dusted, though, as if waiting for sale to a new owner. For such a big man, Captain Rogers could move with astoundingly little sound. They kept to the shadows, hoping to remain undetected, as Rogers scanned the area.

“Five men on the upper level. Two below. The two down here are supposed to be keeping watch. If we can slip past them, though, we’ll have the upper hand. We’ll get to the upper level, free Hawkeye, and then take them out.” That said, he shot off into a flat run, entirely silent and completely unnoticed by the men who Sherlock could just barely make out. He sprang to the upper level, using hand- and foot-holds that most people would not have been able to find or utilize. Tucking into a tight roll, he flipped over the bannister and slammed the shield into the back of someone’s head. Sherlock sprinted to the stairs, followed by the doctor. Rogers had grabbed a knife from someone else’s sheath and cut up through the cuffs on the man kneeling on the floor. The blade snapped with the strain, but it did the trick, freeing the other man, who leaped to his feet, swiping the legs out from under one of his former captors. Sherlock swept out the gun and shot one of the men in the shoulder; John’s revolver cracked and another fell, clutching his leg. All the hits were non-lethal, through unspoken consent. If Mycroft chose to clean up the mess later, that was his affair.

Between the four of them, they took down all but one of the seven men. The last of the enemy footsoldiers stood awkwardly, half-on and half-off the stairs, one leg over the banister in his nervousness and eagerness to escape. “Sir, please dismount the banister,” Rogers shouted at him. John cleared his throat, to cover up a laugh. “Last warning.” The man pulled out a gun, shakily. Hawkeye had a bow now, an arrow on the string.

“Want me to put one through his eye, sir?”

“I’d prefer the hand, but he’ll get a concussion either way,” Rogers said. The man on the railing tried to bring the gun up, but Rogers threw the shield in a single smooth, powerful motion. It ricocheted off the man’s chest and knocked him from his perch. Without batting an eye, the soldier caught it easily. “Idiot.” John snorted again. Rogers glanced at him. “What?”

“You know, you sounded exactly like Coulson for a moment there,” Hawkeye remarked, quietly.

“Are you sure it’s not the other way around and Coulson sounds like me? Because that might make more sense, considering the time displacement.” Hawkeye scowled at him. Rogers gave the other superhero an innocent look. “What? You said you liked mind-benders.”

“It’s a wonder the Avengers ever get anything done,” Sherlock mumbled as he fired off a text at Mycroft. John cleared his throat and shot him a meaningful look.

“We’ll probably end up hanging around for a few days, but that’s only a formality,” Hawkeye—or Clint Barton—informed the detective and doctor over tea, later. “And to assuage your brother’s paranoia.”

“You do realize that Mycroft probably has the flat bugged, right?” John said quietly. Rogers shrugged.

“I refused to turn up at my own Medal of Honor ceremony last time I was in London, despite all the brass and politicians who were planning on coming. I don’t care what they think or want to hear, I’m always going to stick with the honest truth, no matter how much they hate me for it. And Clint would prod them just to see them fume. Trust me, doctor; neither of us cares who overhears what we say. While SHIELD sponsors the Avengers, we’re technically independent, which means that the WSC doesn’t have us in their pocket. I’m sure that doesn’t bother Mycroft Holmes, because he can predict us, but it does rather put a nettle in the trousers of certain of the other members.”

“It’s almost frightening how good a judge of character you are,” John remarked. Rogers made a face.

“It’s a necessary part of being a leader.”

“Hey, at least he won’t tell you where you’ve been just by the pebble stuck in your shoe,” Barton chimed in. “Though he is a pain at other times. He tries to make the rest of us eat—” he shuddered—“healthy food. And exercise. And do stuff like that.”

“You’re just a lazy donkey, Barton,” Rogers teased. Barton leaned back, lacing his fingers behind his head, and whistled.

“I’m good at what I do,” he said. “I don’t care about what I don’t.” Rogers looked at John.

“I think you know what I have to put up with. I stepped into their last handler’s place as the official babysitter for five superheroes.” John gave him a conspiratorial look.

“I’m surprised you don’t have gray hair lurking somewhere,” he said, obviously actually directed at Sherlock.

“It might be hard to find,” Rogers mused, tongue in cheek, as he ran a hand through his dirty-blond hair. Barton poked his team leader in the side.

“You’re only twenty-six,” he accused.

“Almost twenty-seven,” Rogers protested.

“Details, details,” Clint waved his hand airily. “You’re still the baby of the team.”

“I am not!

John grinned. Sherlock gave him the not-quite-smiling look that said I’m-actually-laughing-now-but-you’ve-never-heard-me-so-you-wouldn’t-know.

Later on, when John typed up this strange case of the globetrotting supervillains, he posed the question on everyone’s minds.

In the time of gods and monsters, what is the worth of a man?

                Whatever he makes it.


What say you, readers mine? Did it make the cut? Would you like to see an expanded version? Please tell me in the comments. :-)

Thanks for reading, and God Bless!

The Brooklyn Project: Protagonist-Centered Morality and the Double Standard

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Continuing from my first post on protagonist-centered morality; scroll to the bottom and you’ll find the comment from Sarahtps that inspired this post. I’ve also probably posted on this before, but who cares, you can never have enough character development posts. ;-)

How annoying is someone who spouts preachy nonsense without following it in real life? … yeah, that’s what I thought you’d all say. ;-P This is another reason why protagonist-centered morality deserves to be ditched; it creates a double standard. Otherwise known as you-just-made-your-hero/anti-hero-a-hypocrite. And somewhere in the world, there is a reader who will call you on it. There are multiple readers who will hate on your hard-written book because of it.

Simply put, even if your heroes (well, only anti-heroes do this; real, actual heroes don’t,) don’t hold themselves to the standards they hold others to, you should.

If your hero breaks a rule and doesn’t feel any remorse for it, have karma come back to bite them in the posterior for it. Even if they later do feel remorse, do not hesitate to let the universe at large slap them silly for it. Temporal punishment is a thing, you know (and if you have never heard that term before, you are not a very-well-catechized-Christian and I can tell you what it is on demand. ;-P )

A good example of this would be in the case of the antagonist(s) in Ben-Hur; Massada ends up almost dying in a chariot race and then being permanently crippled, almost as a direct result of his abuse of Judah’s mother and sister, and Iras, the woman who betrays Judah earlier in the book, is stuck taking care of the now-utterly-boring Massada. (She tries to play the pity card with Judah, but she dug herself into that pit and he knows, I think, that the only way for her to ever redeem herself is not by attempting to seduce him but rather taking care of Massada. However, I think it’s pretty clear that she and Massada will eat at each other with their words until he gets her executed or she poisons him out of spite. Sorry, it’s been a while since I read it…)

I’m trying to recall the title of the book and names of the characters I had in mind while writing this post, but for some reason they continuously slip my mind. The story featured a redeemed thief who was continually held back from trying to be a hero due to his past… maybe it was Ladyhawke? Though that’s a movie, not a book…

Actions have consequences (I’m certain you’ve heard this before in much less polite terms.) Don’t forget that, and don’t let your heroes forget it, either. Even if they don’t hold themselves to the standard, it falls to you to hold them to it.

Protagonist-centered morality and double standards make Mary Sues. À bas les Sues!

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