Thursday, December 20, 2012

6 Benefits of Fairy Tales

Dear Mandy,

In your last blog post, you said this:

"Some would say that living in fantasy worlds as a child doesn't prepare one for the real world. Maybe that's true, but considering that I am now an adult nerd, I don't see how that's such a bad thing."

While I agree with pretty much everything else you said, I should like to take a moment to delve into this particular subject a little more deeply. Especially since I've been wanting to for quite some time.


Sra, Supreme Chancellor of the World and Jupiter

Is Fantasy Escapist?

I think I'll let Mr. Tolkien answer that one for us.
Tolkien points to the resolution of fairy stories in happy endings, in the return at the end to a normal world. These aspects of fantasy, says Tolkien, are not escapist. They embrace that which we most yearn for- an acute awareness of the beauty of the real world- by leaving it, imagining richly, and then returning.
- Phillip Martin (paraphrasing Tolkien)

The well-intentioned mothers who don't want their children polluted with fairy tales would not only deny them their childhood, with its high creativity, but they would have them conform to the secular world, with its dirty devices.
- Madeleine L'Engle

Does fantasy destroy our ability to see the real world for what it is?

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time...
- T. S. Eliot

Once we believe..... we begin to see the forms of good and evil. First as children, later as adults, we come to believe that even creatures as small as ourselves can play a role, that the world is affected by the actions we take.
-Phillip Martin

And, of course, no discussion on fantasy is complete without the incomparable Mr. Lewis.

In answer to the question of whether fantasy will warp a child's mind to confuse fantasy with reality: "It would be much truer to say that fairy land arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his lifelong enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth."
- C. S. Lewis

So What?

Poets are all fine and good. But let's leave off with the words of famous geniuses for a moment, and talk about it in layman's terms. Down to earth, plain old english. What does all of that mean?

As a certified non-genius, I've taken the liberty of breaking it down into six distinct categories. Six benefits of fantasy literature that show, without a doubt, that it is beneficial to the human mind and character.

1) Reading Makes You Smarter

What gets you ahead, when you're vying against 12 other people for that vice president's job? What makes the difference between you and the equally matched other guy, when you're playing chess, or football, or halo?


Outwitting someone in a game, or coming up with better ideas in an office, requires a little imagination. And reading fantasy not only helps, but forces you to develop said imagination.

You can't read about a dragon attack, and not come up with some kind of idea in your mind of what that was like. And the more you do it, the better your ideas become. The imagination is a muscle too. It needs frequent exercise, and reading fantasy is just the way to do it.

2) Deepens Beauty

This one is very closely related to the last. As Tolkien, Lewis, and Eliot all said up there, fantasy allows us to see things in our own reality that we never would have noticed, otherwise.

When we stretch our imaginations in a fantasy land, we are able to stretch them in real life, too. Okay, I'm going to cheat a little and use another C. S. Lewis quote here:

"No man would find an abiding strangeness on the Moon unless he were the sort of man who could find it in his own back garden."

Finding the magic in the world isn't about being able to travel to strange and distant places. It's about being able to see the beauty of the ordinary.

Reading does not dull the ordinary by introducing us to the fantastic. It teaches us, line upon line, how to see the fantastic. And once we can see it, we can find it in everything. Even our own back yard.

(Our own world is pretty fantastic without any help. => )

3) Gives Us Perspective

We can't appreciate what we have until we know what it's like to not have it. We forget how fantastic it is to be able to breathe through our noses until we have a cold that keeps us up all night from stuffy sinuses.

We don't taste the sour part of the orange juice until we take a bite of a donut first. We can leave our own world for a little while. Then when we finally come back, we see it in a new light.

See here for a post on how I learned to appreciate my place in life because of reading the Hunger Games.

One part of that new light is, just as Lewis said, "a new dimension of depth." We realize that there is so much more out there in the world than our tiny little sphere of experience. That we are capable of stretching and reaching and discovering. That if we only put out our hand, we can reach the stars.

We are no longer satisfied with mediocrity. We've glimpsed the wider world of possibility, and we now need to raise ourselves up to bigger and better things.

4) Is a Kind of Reality

"Of course it is happening inside your head, but why should that mean that it is not real?" -Albus Dumbledore

A football nut isn't actually playing football. All he's doing is sitting on a bleacher bench, wearing horrible fan-paint, and screaming at people. None of the action is happening to him. Often, it's not even happening near him. So, therefore, the intense emotions he feels must be fake, right? Unless he personally and physically experiences something, it's not real.

If you're shouting that I'm dead wrong here, you'd be right. But remember that truths don't only apply to actions of the popular majority. Truth is a universal thing.

Fantasy books are almost exactly like watching a football game. And personally, I'd rather second-hand-experience a dragon flight, than an overpaid beefcake in tights jumping on top of another overpaid beefcake in tights. Just saying.

In fantasy we love, we hate, we win, we lose, we live, we die. Those emotions are completely real, and become a part of our life experience, even if they came from words instead of actions. Just because we experience something in a non-physical way doesn't mean that the experience is somehow false.

As J. K. Rowling so brilliantly said here, (Watch the whole thing. It's worth it,) "Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared."

5) Teaches Us Compassion

And on that note...

Humanity, by nature, is imperfect. Every human being has flaws, and every human being has a backstory that explains those flaws (though it may or may not excuse them.)

When we become judgmental, which we all do at some point, it is nearly always because we forget that people have a past. We know we have flaws, but we also know why we have them, so we can excuse ourselves as not-quite-so-bad. But we don't see that deeply into others. We don't see their thoughts, intentions, and motivations, and so we forget.

But books remind us.

What is the difference between a book we read once, and a book we read five times in the same year? Good writing helps, but it's not essential. Many poorly written books have been national bestsellers. Plot? Certainly not. Even the best plots only work once. (The movie Signs, for example.) After we know what happens, the shock and surprise are gone.

Or are they? We return to the same books again and again, and we're scared and excited and devastated every time, even though we know what happens. Why? Because we're so in love with the characters. We can't bear to see them in pain, even when we know it will turn out right in the end.

And yet, all of the best characters are just as flawed and stupid as the people we meet in every day life, but we love them anyway. In our favorite books, we learn to love people despite their mistakes. We're reminded of those backstories, and the fact that we're only human.

The more we read and the more we remember our flawed humanity, the more we are able to forgive others in real life. The more we are able to find sympathy and compassion for those around us.

6) Moral Lessons

Most authors don't purposefully put lessons and symbolism into their novels. And the ones that do have to be truly masterful about it to avoid preachiness, which everyone hates. But even the most un-preachy of novels teach us a great deal.

In every great fantasy novel ever written, good defeats evil. The hero stands up for right, even when it would be easier not to. The characters are brave in the face of adversity and trial. (And that doesn't always mean battle.)

Oh, yes, there are evil characters too. But we know which is which. And we return again and again to those characters that uphold honor, virtue, and integrity.

Whether intentional or not, we learn to be better people from those heroes. They teach us, as Phillip Martin said, "that even creatures as small as ourselves can play a role, that the world is affected by the actions we take."

Fantasy reminds us that we can make choices, and stand strong when trials come. That we can be brave and kind and good, no matter who we are, or what we've done in the past.

Tell me that's not something worth keeping around.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Meh on the New Superman

This isn't just about superman, though. It's also my attempt at explaining why I, a dyed in the wool nerdbox, have not gotten googly-eyed over the past few years' veritable slew of supposedly epic movies, like everyone else has been.

Watch this trailer.

The music is spectacular.
His re-vamped suit looks pretty cool.
The guy who plays him is pretty awesome.
The graphics look good.
The trailer is REALLY well made.
The character conflict is actually real, as opposed to most of the older superhero movies.

So, what's wrong with it, you may ask?

Nothing, per se. Except for the fact that we've seen this exact same movie about 42 times already this year.

I'm just really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really,


tired of superhero movies. Really. Tired.

I wouldn't be, if there were a couple of little tweaks. Nothing major. I really don't ask for much. But as it is, I'm so done.

Let's break it down, shall we?

1) The darkening of the character was a really good idea...the first time it was done.

It made sense with Batman. The whole police not trusting him thing. The warrants for his arrest. The misunderstanding. In Gotham City, it's only to be expected. That's the way the world works in those stories. And aside from all that, Batman is one of the darker heroes anyway. He always was.

But these days it's like slouchy leg-warmers in the 80's. Everyone's wearing them around, and there's no good reason for them.

Take the Amazing Spiderman. There's a giant dinosaur man rampaging through town, facing down machine gun bullets, killing people for no good reason, and hatching a plot to turn everyone into creatures like him. But where are the cops? Oh, just busy setting up traps for some kid who likes running around in spandex. Because he's OBVIOUSLY the important threat to New York.

Tell me, how does that make any sense, except as a plot device for keeping Peter Parker away from saving the world until the last possible moment?

No really, if there's an actually good answer to this, do elaborate.

2) But that brings me nicely to my second point, which is infinitely more important, and which I shall also begin to elaborate on by using the Amazing Spiderman. I could forgive stupid mistakes like trying to copy someone else's style so they can be as cool as other people. I really could, if I actually cared about anyone in the movie.

But seriously, the main character is an idiot. And I don't mean that in the intellectual way. He's got a high IQ, and he's dating a girl who somehow knows the way to cook genetic mutation antidotes, although they're both still in high school. Whatevs. But I mean that in an an eye-rolling, "start thinking with your brain, please." way.

He crawls over the roofs of half of New York with one hand, trying to stop the bleeding in his bullet wound, and nearly falls to his death several times. But as soon as those cranes start moving, THEN he uses his webbing as a bandage, which miraculously allows him to run at a full sprint with no difficulties. Why didn't you do that like an hour ago?

We won't even start on that idiotic closing line he used to win his girlfriend back. Or the way that she's trying to clean this ginormous gash across his chest, to keep him from dying, and all he can think about is making out with her. *Puke*

Picky, picky, blah blah blah. I know. Those things aren't fatal flaws. Good characters should be flawed. But good characters also should have something really great going for them, that makes us like them anyway.

Harry Potter is an angsty whiny-baby sometimes. But he's got the courage of a lion, and the goodness of his mother, which make us root for him anyway.

Peregrine Took is a complete moron. He makes a lot of stupid choices, and isn't the brightest crayon in the box. But he's funny, and charming, and optimistic, and when he's called out to fight against orcs who are twice his size, he does it without a question. And therefore, we love him anyway.

Aladdin is a thief. So is Flynn Rider. Prince Adam (Beast) is an enormous monster with the patience of a nuclear bomb. Emperor Cuzco is a selfish, whiny brat. Aurora spends 3/4 of the movie asleep. Woody seethes with jealousy. Hercules is naive to a fault. Simba doesn't care about anything that he should care about until the movie is 9/10 over.

And yet, every single one of them has something about them that we love anyway. We care about them anyway. When bad stuff happens to them, we cry. And when good stuff happens, we cheer. And even if we've seen the movie a hundred times, the scary parts are still scary, because we love them so much that we're afraid for them.

THAT is what a good character should be. And that is what none of the main people in any of the latest superhero movies do.

Transformers movies? Ack! Please, just scour them from my brain. Please.

That part in Avengers where they thought Iron Man was dead? I gotta be honest, I was not all that bothered. If he had died, I would have felt exactly the same about the movie as I do now. *shrug*

I was a little, tiny bit almost sad when he shed one tear because he couldn't call Pepper before he sacrificed himself. But that was the first time Tony Stark ever did anything that made me feel like he deserved my sympathy. In general, he is not a likable person. He has no redeeming qualities. And therefore, I didn't care about his movies.

Same with the Hulk. Or Captain America. (He was kind of angsty. Which seems like NOT what Captain America is supposed to be.) Or Spiderman. Or Green Lantern. Hancock? One of the only Will Smith movies ever made that was plain old dumb. And that Catwoman one? Ooh. Oh, add that to the Transformers list. Just make it go away.

Am I too picky? Do you want a good example from the past few years? Alright. Here we go. Two days ago.

*SPOILER ALERT* If you haven't seen the Hobbit yet, skip this paragraph. Unless you don't care about me telling you something that happened.

There's a part where wargs are chasing the company, and they have to climb up trees to get clear of them. Then they're all stuck in trees, which subsequently catch on fire and trap the good guys with no escape.

This part is pretty much directly from the book. And if you've read it, you know they eventually escape by means of a flock of giant eagles swooping in to the rescue.

I knew this. I knew it well. I've read the Hobbit more times than all the other LOTR books put together. I knew that no one was going to die. I knew the eagles were coming. There was no question in my mind about it.

But, owing to the excellence of the movie making, I knew these characters better than I had done from the book. I was more attached to them than ever before. And though I knew it would end alright, I was Stressing. Out. The eagles did not come nearly soon enough for me. I needed them to be safe, and I needed it immediately.

That is what a good character should do to you. It doesn't matter how many times you've read/watched something. It doesn't matter how well you know the sequence of events. When it comes down to the danger, it's still scary every time, because you still love the people every time.

None of these superhero movies have done that yet. And since all of them are emotionless, and all of them are the same, I am SO BORED.

Now we'll return to Man of Steel. 

(I think they got the same guy to re-design his spandex, as did the spiderman getup.)

2) Superman is cool. I have no inherent problem with him, and he is a likable dude by nature. So I should be able to survive this movie without being annoyed.

1) But that's just the thing, though. Turning superman all dark and angsty takes away most of those things that make him superman in the first place.

It was never about the muscles and the powers. It was about his motto. Truth, Justice, and the American way. He was supposed to be the embodiment of good. Of helpfulness, and charm, and right. Make him angsty, and all of that is gone. Then what's the point?

1-B) The trailer goes on about "Oh, you have to hide, because they'll never accept you" and blah blah blah. And that's the whole basis for the angst. Sure, it's hard to not fit in. I would know. But the dude is basically immortal. He only has one weakness, and that's some mineral from a far-off planet. What are the people gonna do to him if they decide they don't like his powers? Shoot him? Imprison him? Big whoopdee-twee.

<= Seriously, what is this? Like handcuffs would ever stop superman anyway.

Now I could be wrong. Coming at it from that angle could work really, really well. It could be a fabulous learning-to-be-the-right-kind-of-man story. You know the type. Even though the world would have a hard time accepting him, he helps them anyway, because that's the kind of man he wants to be. And in the end, he finally overcomes his angst in coming to this conclusion.

In that case, it would be the only useful superhero movie of the past years.

But I have lost my faith in the superhero franchises. And in humanity in general. People don't like stories of learning to be good even when its hard. Not anymore. They just want to see things blow up. (I cite the Avengers as the poster child for this. They added just enough of the learning to be good to make people feel okay about life, but they didn't take it far enough to matter. People are scared of that these days.)

(And dang. They really do massacre these cities in every movie. Who pays for them to become un-demolished, I'd like to know. Not the superheroes, obviously.)

Because of that, I don't trust that they'd actually dare to take the movie in that direction. Or, like in Avengers, not far enough to matter. Although I really hope they do. 2) I'd like to have a superhero movie that actually means something, and that doesn't star some selfish, obnoxious dude who happens to have powers and condescends to save the world because no one else can.

I guess we'll come back to this post in 2013 and see what really happens. It has the potential to be excellent. But will they allow it to be? Probably not. Sadly.

PS. However bad the movie, though, I will buy that soundtrack. It's so good. Hans Zimmer. One of the best.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I just got into another argument about Brave. Probably the third or fourth one so far. Kind of ridiculous, but I just needed to write a post about it, describing my opinion on the matter. 

I guess the thing that bothers me is that I feel like people judge it over-harshly just because it's pixar. It's not any worse than a lot of other movies. I felt the same way about Kung Fu Panda, but everyone else loved it to death. And if I were to dare say "plot holes", "cardboard characters", and "avengers" in the same sentence, I'd be lynched on the nearest tree. 

(Don't get me wrong. I liked Avengers well enough. But only as much as I generally like a random movie that I saw because I was bored.)

I went into Brave expecting it to be terrible, because everyone had said it was, and I ended up really liking it. So I kind of feel this need to remind people about all the good things. 

To start with, the soundtrack was amazing. The graphics were amazing. And one of the things I loved about it was the Scottish feel of the whole thing. The environment and the aura of the movie was very well crafted. 

The feel and mood of something is just as important as the stuff that happens in it. I don't read Dracula over and over because I've forgotten what happens, and I want the action again. I read it over and over because I'm in the mood for a gothic, creepy, dark world for a little while. 

I won't watch Brave again because I forgot what happened. I'll watch it again because I want to be Scottish and magical for a little while.

A perfect example of that Scottish feel. =>

Here is the first part of the current argument against Brave. 

"Brave sucked! It has so much potential to have a real coming of age story with a strong female lead and they turned it into lolololol bears. Brave is just a mix of brother bear and Mulan. Easily the laziest pixar movie story wise of them all."
First of all, "anything sounds bad when you say it with that attitude." (Awesome points if you name the movie.)

Saying something with a snobby air doesn't actually change facts. 

Second, I would definitely say that Cars was the laziest of the pixars. With my own attitude thing, I say, a deusch-bag car that gets lost on his way to a big race, and has to learn how to not be a deusch so that he can get to his fans in time to get paid? Why should I care?

In that line, cars is just a mix of every male macho movie ever made. Thor, anyone? Dude who's a jerk. Loses his limelight. Has to learn to not be a jerk so he can get his powers back.

(Again, don't get me wrong. I liked Thor too. But seriously, if we're trying to talk about plot line originality, Brave doesn't fall nearly as short as some of the other pixars.)

Merida is a character that a lot of people can relate to. A rich and famous car is... what exactly? I root for Merida to get what she wants. I don't care one way or the other if the jock car makes it to his stupid race or not.


Putting personal preference aside, yes there was room for improvement on this count. There ALWAYS is. In every movie. The perfect movie has yet to be created. Not even by pixar.

The second part of the argument:

"So the fact that the first part of the movie had NOTHING to do with the rest of the movie doesn't bother you? Scottish games? Wedding suitors? Who cares, the movie was about magic bears! It was all just a set up to get to the bear parts, and then provide comedic relief. Pixar was lazy in that they have two separate story lines going and no way of tying the two together. The girl didn't change her mothers mind, being a bear did. I fail to see how she's even a strong character honestly, her role was terribly cliched and just when you think she's going to really start developing (after the arrow tournament thingy) nope, magic bears, because why not? Every thing from that point on was just downhill development wise for Merida.

I get that she's supposed to be a strong female lead, and I really wanted her to be because that would have been awesome and unique and something that Pixar of all movie studios could have pulled off wonderfully. Brave is ultimately a movie that didn't know what direction it wanted to go so it tried to go both and missed the mark on both ends. Forgettable characters and major plot flaws, the only redeeming thing about Brave was the fact the main character was a "strong female", if that wasn't the case the movie would be laughably forgettable."


Firstly, Why not? Is there a really good reason that bears aren't allowed as magical accessories in a magical story? Because if not, what's the problem?

Secondly, it's not actually about bears anyway.
I don't think the two parts of the movie were nearly as disconnected as all that. 

Mother and daughter clash over a really big life choice. Their relationship is smashed to pieces. The only way they can repair it is by actually listening to each other and trying to be a mother and daughter again. Trying to see the good in the other person. But they're both so dang stubborn that it only happens when they're forced into it by drastically bad choices. IE. through "your basic spirit guide transformation magic." (10 more awesome points if you can name that movie.)

In other words, it's not a movie about magic bears. It's a movie about the relationship between a mom and her kid, and them learning how to not be too stupidly stubborn, and remembering what's really important in life. It just happens to involve bears. If it had been crocodiles instead of bears, the movie would have been exactly the same. (Though much less Scottish.) 

If it were a movie where the action was important (like in the avengers) I would understand the point and agree with it. What the heck? But it isn't. If the intelligence of all animals was judged based on its ability to climb a tree, dolphins would be royally screwed over. You just can't judge it with the same filter. A feel-good, warm fuzzies, relationship movie will never accomplish what a smash-em, bash-em, blow-em-all-up movie does. But neither one is inherently better or worse than the other. They just reach different audiences. 

As the audience for Brave was clearly a warm-fuzzies, generally female, focus on the characters type, I posit that it accomplished exactly what it was trying to accomplish. 

Thirdly, I think "forgettable characters" probably depends on the personal taste. That isn't something that's empirically measurable. I mean, I'll remember Merida significantly longer than I'll remember lighting McQueen and his

Dang. I honestly don't remember what her name was. Or even what color she was. I only remember that scene about the pinstriping tattoo.

Huh. Well, case closed on that account.

Fourthly, major plot flaws....

Hmm. I feel like the definition of "major plot flaws" would be something to the effect of things that are so jarring that you can't get over them in order to enjoy the rest of the movie. The poster child for Major Plot Flaws would be Snow White and the Huntsman, sadly a movie that even Chris Hemsworth couldn't save. Worst case of arbitrary convenient occurrences ever. I even started counting how many times the queen could have offed Snow White right then and there, and had done with her, but monologued instead. I lost count halfway through the movie. 

<= Chris Hemsworth. The only good part of that movie, and even he sucked in it. Pretty badly. 

A good movie that still has a few plot holes would be more accurately housed in the "minor plot flaws" section. Like how the Hulk conveniently learns how to control his power while falling to his death. And how Iron man conveniently falls back through the portal just in time to not be nuked to death. And how the alien forces conveniently all die when their mother ship gets blown up. And how Iron man says "This thing is gonna blow in less than a minute", and yet it takes over two minutes to fly it up into space and let it actually blow up. And how Odin conveniently finds a way to send Thor back to earth in order to get Loki, although he can't seem to do it so that Thor can be with his girlfriend. Or how Hawkeye can shoot his bow backward without looking and still hit stuff? Seriously?

Need I go on?

The point is, a movie can still be very good and very enjoyable to the masses, even when it has some random stupid little conveniences. Brave does not have any Huntsman level plot fissures. Even though I can't think of anything off the top of my head as I type this, I'm sure it does have some holes on the "minor plot flaws" scale. But they obviously weren't jarring enough to rip me out of the movie. Therefore they are forgivable. Just as those Avengers conveniences are forgivable. 

And now for the end:

"If you're a company that has built it's self up a reputation of being as close to perfection as Pixar has and leveraged that to make billions of dollars, yes, it is fair to hold them to a much much higher standard. Pixar is where they are now because they've demanded perfection in every aspect of their business model and it's worked with very very few exceptions. Cars/2 was a let down but it was creative enough to still be unique. 
 I agree on your about the relationship between the mom and daughter and I like that it was focused around that, I just feel that there are better ways to go from A to C with our having to resort to the magic as B. The visuals and soundtrack were both amazing I'm not arguing that at all.
Pixar are master story tellers, that's their "thing". Brave as a regular movie was just ok, a feel good movie and aimed largely at a much younger audience. As a Pixar movie, it was a let down, Brave could have been so much more, and frankly deserved much more than it was given."

 Firstly, of course that is true. Pixar has built up a reputation. It needs to uphold it. But that is not at all what I mean by my argument about how people judge it too harshly. This is what I do mean:

When I was a kid, I proudly told everyone in Virginia that I was from Utah where they had "real mountains". I was so excited to get back here where the mountains were so epic, and then... I did. And those everest-ine peaks were just piddly little brown chunks of dusty rock. 

This is what I expected. 

This blip is what I got.

Now, the rockies are not piddly at all. (Except maybe directly around provo. :P ) But I built them up so much in my little kid imagination that the real ones will never again hold any magic for me. 

Therefore, in regards to Brave, I don't mean that it didn't deserve to be as good a movie as Pixar could make, or that Pixar made it flawlessly. I just mean that when expectations get to a certain point, they are unattainable, even when the result is still awesome and great.

When we all imagine perfection, near perfection will always be a disappointment. 

Secondly, I just read an essay on this exact thing, and I refer to the words of C. S. Lewis and his abundant wisdom when I say this.The use of magic is not inherently "resorted to", and I take exception to the inference that it is. 

A person can create magic in their world because they want it to be magical. Not everyone who does so is only doing it because they can't think of a better plot device to get their point across. To assume so is to be exceptionally close-minded and judgmental. My novel My rules. Fire-breathing princess, if I freaking want it. 

Yes, there are other ways to get from A to C without B being magic. But that doesn't make them inherently better. Nor does it make magic the wrong choice. 

An author (or screenwriter) makes that choice based on the feel of the story he wants to present. As I said before, it could have been crocodiles instead of bears. But it would have made the story feel completely different. Perhaps egyptian instead of scottish. Wrong? No. Different? Yes.

They could have encountered something besides magic to get to their ending. Would that be wrong? No. Different? Yes. And in this case, different is not what they wanted. They went for mystical, magical-ness. That's what they got. 

Thirdly, are not all pixars aimed at younger audiences? The great thing about both pixar and disney is that they are masters of making a movie for children that adults not only tolerate, but love as well. I don't agree that Brave is the exception. (Hunchback might be, though. Good movie, but too dark for kids to really understand.) 
Ask anyone in the world, and they'll say that disney makes kids movies. All disney and all pixar are geared toward kids. But all of them make the movie good enough that not only to the children love it, and get exposed to quality media. But the parents and babysitters love it too, and are not driven to distraction by it. 

Lastly, yes, I agree to an extent. There are loads of things that Brave could have been given. But I don't know if I agree that they should have been added. As I've said about twelve million times already, the aura of the movie, and the type of story they wanted to tell were achieved successfully. Changing it into a different movie by adding more explosions, or less bears, or more handsome men, (blah blah blah) wouldn't make it better or worse. Just different. Sometimes different is good. Sometimes it isn't. 

So, in conclusion, I'm sorry that you were not part of the target audience for this particular installment of Pixar.  But Brave wasn't bad just because it wasn't for you. Tune in next time, and maybe cars 3 will suit your need for manly things.


PS. I don't actually believe this, but here's some food for thought. What if the reason that girls loved Brave and guys didn't is because the guys are offended at seeing an accurate example of how men really act?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ABC's of not spouting false election information

People! People! *facepalm*

Let's get some facts straight, before you go off looking like complete idiots. Again.

"The mormon church is" alphabet:

A) Just a nickname for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (Yes, long, I know. But note the names involved.)

B) Does, in fact, worship Jesus.

C) The guy named Mormon was a historian. Like Herodotus or Plutarch. Just not greek. (Hence "The Book of Mormon". As in "The book of Matthew" or "The book of Mark" Not "A book that worships some random dude instead of Jesus.")

D) Does NOT believe that black people should still be slaves. (Seriously, where did that even come from?)

E) Does NOT believe that black people are an inferior race.

F) Does, in fact, have members who are *gasp* black. Quite a few, point of fact.

G) Actually does MORE for humanitarian relief than quite a few big-time organizations. ( ).

H) And no, I don't mean just money and blankets. Take a good look at all the work hours put in by non-paid volunteers.

I) Does NOT believe that women are inferior.

J) Does NOT believe that women shouldn't vote or have jobs.

K) Does NOT believe that women who have been raped "deserved it" or were somehow at fault.

L) DOES believe that families are of utmost importance.

M) Does NOT believe in tearing families apart.

N) DOES believe in love and tolerance.

O) Not to be confused with supporting bad habits or becoming enablers. But one can love a person and treat them with respect without agreeing with that person's opinions or choices.

P) Does NOT support bullying, hate-crimes, or persecution, no matter what the relevant issue is.

Q) Does, unfortunately, have members that don't always act in accordance with the above.

R) Does believe in the right of every human being to exercise freedom of choice.

S) Does NOT believe in using force or coersion to "convert" unwilling members.

T) Does want to share their beliefs with others. (When you taste a food that makes your tastebuds throw a happy-dance party, do you hide it away, or do you tell every one of your friends how delicious it was and that they should go out and taste it too?)

U) Does NOT have political affiliations. The official stance is: Go out and vote. Participate in the civic processes. Use your own freedom of choice to decide who you vote for.

V) No, that is not code for "You know how we want you to vote, but make it look like we're not controlling your lives". (Believe it or not, there are leaders at the head of the church from both major political parties.)

W) Is not a rich-white-people-only church. There are 14 1/2 million members, and over 8 million of them live outside of the United States.

X) Does NOT still endorse polygamy. That would be the Flds church. (A radical splinter group that broke off about 100 years ago, and became an official religion itself in 1932.)

Y) That Warren Jeffs guy? Yeah, Flds. (See above).

Z) Is NOT against science, knowledge, and informed rational thinking. Quite the opposite. The church strongly believes in getting a good education, and also believes that science does not contradict religion, but enhances it. God created the world. Science is the exploration and appreciation of that world.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

All men aren't equal. Them's the breaks, kid.

I am so tired of this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

Seriously, for every one Obama smear picture I see somewhere, I see at least 16 Romney/Ryan smears. And I'm not even exaggerating that number. Facebook side ads. Pop ups. Shares on my home page. I'm ready to go burn someone's house down, it annoys me so much.

Is it because I'm a Romney supporter?


It's because I'm a fair-treatment supporter.

We shouldn't be voting for people based on how good they look in swim trunks, or how easy it is to make derp faces in photoshop. That entirely defeats the purpose of these elections. Things like this shouldn't exist at all, on either side. But they definitely shouldn't exist only on one side.

No joke, I have not seen one single photoshopped Obama derp on my facebook wall. Or in a pop up. Or in a random email ad. Not once. I lost count of how many Romney loser pictures I've seen.

So what if I like Romney better than Obama? Does that inherently make me a retard? Am I automatically relegated to a lower IQ level because I make different choices than you do?

Democrats and liberals make a huge stink about being open minded, and "Don't judge me because I sin differently than you do."

It's all a big fat lie. 

Because I don't approve of Obama's policies, I'm automatically a racist.

Because I prefer the ideas of a guy who's easy to photoshop, I'm automatically a retard.

If I started putting doofy pictures of Obama up here, do you know how many people would hunt me down and set fire to my apartment? But it's okay to smear Romney 3 times a day with derp pictures and Pinocchio noses...

Oh wait. I forgot. Romney is a rich white guy. Obama is only a millionaire black guy. Forgive me for laboring under the mistaken impression that all men were created equal.


I googled pictures. Do you know how easy it is to find Romney doofus pics? I tried googling Obama pics, and there are about 3. All the same ones. And this was the best they could do for me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Politics Schmolitics

Gather round ye children, and listen as I tell the story of why politics are the number one, all-the-way-at-the-top thing on my list of most annoying things ever.

You may recall a post in which I explained why people think I hate sports. (Several posts, in fact.) You may also recall it having a great deal to do with the way that the competition turns people into screaming green rage monsters.

(See here for further details. And here.)

Just in case you were too lazy to click on those links, (Which most people are) I'll give a brief summary. I like to play sports. Occasionally I'll watch a sports game just for entertainment. (Nearly always baseball or soccer.) But I never keep up with when games happen. I never keep track of which teams are doing what. And I certainly never pay attention to which players are doing which things for which teams.


Well, as I said, the thing I despise the most about the sporting world is the way a game (note the terminology) can take a decent, rational human being and turn him into a homicidal maniac. I also despise the politics involved in the thing. They're people getting paid to play their favorite games all the time. Why does it matter to anyone which order they get drafted in, or which owner traded who for who?

But I digress.

The point is that the sporting world is full of arguing, fighting, hate, anger, revenge, pride, and everything else that makes up the worst part of humanity.

<= Seriously? Seriously?

Politics is exactly the same. It takes something that should be good, and endows it with every terrible trait humans have ever come up with.

People don't base their votes on the issues any more. They base it on whether Obama is black, or Romney is mormon, or Obama looks better in swim trunks, or Romney is too rich, or who made the worst mistake while trying to say their lines, (As if no one else in the world has ever gotten tongue twisted before. *rolls eyes*) or a whole buttload of other stuff that is totally, completely, entirely, 100% irrelevant to anything.

Instead of civilly discussing the facts of an issue, people shout over each other, yelling louder and louder until no one can tell what anyone else is even saying.

Instead of telling the truth, people just say whatever they think we want to hear.

Instead of gracefully admitting a defeat, people bluster and taunt and jibe.

Instead of using facts at all, people use smear campaigns.

The main anti-Romney campaign is entirely based on trying to make him look like Doofy McDooferpants.

And it ain't one sided.

Need I say more?

People beating each other to a pulp over insignificant things... sounds a lot like the sporting world, doesn't it?

No, but really. Doesn't it?

It's become about winning, not about running a country.

Just like sports.

I suppose that brings up the question, why would I put politics at number one on my annoyance list, when there are other things that are so similar?

In one sentence: Because it's my civic duty to care.

Let's say they passed a law that forced me into caring about stats and players and seasonal averages in football. I would be so annoyed. I would be required to learn about and participate in things that I just do not want to bother with.

For all you sports fans out there, try this out for size. Let's say there was a law that required everyone to start caring about ballet. And I don't just mean watching the occasional performance. You are now required to keep up with who's doing what in the dance world. You have to know which style each master prefers. You have to compare Sleeping Beauty adaptations. You have to actively participate in the casting of critical performances. And you have to care.

It doesn't matter how much you HATE ballet, you have to care. You have no choice.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Luckily, I can ignore sports if I want to. I don't have to care if the cowboys beat the redskins in a twisted mockery of the old west. I don't even have to care that it is a twisted mockery. It doesn't affect my life at all.

But I'm required to care about the government. I can't be any sort of halfway reasonable citizen if I don't at least try to understand what's going on in these convoluted things they claim are campaigns.

I can't just sit around and let someone take away my rights, or force me to live certain laws, or repeal protective prohibitions. I have to be part of the process. I am obligated to participate, even though I don't want to.

I don't want to care. I don't want to have to care. But I don't have a choice.

Seriously. Worst thing ever.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Which WHO season should you buy?

My friend from work just asked me that question. And it's a question that is very difficult for me to answer. I did, in the end, write her a long and wordy response, which I shall reproduce here. (With the addition of a few pictures and formatting changes.) I provide it for the benefit of those who are not yet indoctrinated by the WHO-vyness.

And also because I can. It's my blog. And it seems like something that really, really should be part of my blog.

Her exact question: "If I got the doctor who seasons, which ones would I want?"

The short (and most real) answer is: "All of them. You would want all of them."


Assuming that most people are NOT as completely, totally, and utterly dorky as I am, (which is a very safe assumption,) and they just want to buy one or two of the best, then here follows the information you need to make that choice. (These are the new seasons, but the old ones are good too. In other ways.)

**NOTE: At the writing of this post, only 3 episodes of season 7 have been aired, which is not enough information to make a judgement call, even if they had all three been mind blowing. Which they weren't.

So, the answer to this question really depends on what you want out of your viewing experience. Each season is great for different reasons.

1 & 2 

1 & 2 are special to me because I started at the beginning and went through chronologically. I adore Rose partly because she's cool, but partly just because she was my first doctor companion. There is also much emotional stress at the end of 2. So much.


But without that emotional connection, the actual episodes are good, but not amazing. (With a few really great exceptions strewn in.) So you could get 1 and 2 if you want the chronological completeness factor.

And also, 1 is the only season with the 9th doctor. Poor Chris gets forgotten a lot. He deserves a little more credit than he's usually given. Especially for pulling off a pretty great doctor on such a low budget and rather experimental basis. (At that point, no one really knew if a modern Doctor Who would be popular enough for anyone to care about it.) And you gotta love the leather jacket.

I think 3 has the most good stand alone episodes. Blink, and the 2-part Family of Blood episodes come to mind. (The family one is SO SAD. AHHH!) By the time you get to 5 and 6, most of the episodes depend a lot on knowing things that happened earlier in the season, but 3 doesn't so much. They're just fun little one at a time deals, for the most part.

The Master comes back into things during the last few season 3's, (which are the only ones, really, that play off of the bigger story.)

If it makes any difference at all, Martha is definitely one of the most physically attractive of the companions. But some people really love Martha, and some hate her. Depends. I like her, but Donna is becoming my favorite.

Also, captain Jack. 


Speaking of Donna, season 4 is awesome. Doctordonna. Arguably the best combination ever made. But yeah, season 4. David Tennant (aka doctor #10) absolutely at his best. He is a fantastic actor, and he and Catherine Tate (Donna) have spectacular chemistry. She is hilarious always.

There are some super emotionally intense episodes, and the "End of Time" specials (Which, if you get 4, make sure you get those too.) are CRAZY. The doc gets into some really dark places, and David Tennant pulls it off beautifully. It also has one of the best soundtracks. If you get 4, I'd say the thing you get out of it is the best doctor in his lowest and highest moments.

(Most people like Matt Smith (aka 11) best, and he is good.Very good. But David has something extra that Matt lacks. He is and always will be my one true favorite.)

5 & 6

5 & 6 kind of go together. The have the same doc (Matt 11), the same companions, (Amy, Rory, and River), and a few running story lines through the whole thing.

Even though I love David the mostest, there are some really good pros to going with 5 and 6. One being, like I said, a vast majority of the world likes Matt Smith as their favorite doctor. My personal opinion on this is that he's their fav mostly because the episodes that he is in are some of the best. Not that he isn't good. He is. It's just that better funding, better writing, and a bow tie do tend to affect things.

Two, which goes along with that, is that by the time we get to 5 & 6, the WHO fandom has re-established itself, so the funding and the good writers really are both more prevalent. 5 & 6 have some of the most well written, most intense, most amazing and visually well done episodes. Seriously crazy stuff that totally blows your mind. Totally. Blows. Your. Mind.

And anyway, River Song is one of my most favoritest who characters ever. I want to be her. In fact, I will be, for halloween. Amy is awesome too. And Rory. They're just all great.

So anyway, if I personally were to choose only one season to buy, the answer would be that I'd probably die and be sad forever that I could only pick one. But if I did have to pick only one, I might go with season 4, just because of David, and Donna, and greatness, and so many, many things.

BUT, if I were to pick a season for someone else to buy who wasn't as nerdily and devotedly attached to David as I am, and also if I were keeping in mind the idea of "which things are most likely to get them to go back and watch the others and be obsessed with it all with me?" I'd go with 5. Or 6. Or 5. Or 6. Or both. It's hard to pick. There are crazy things in both. But one of those two. Probably 5, just because there are occasional things in 6 that make more sense if you know 5.

That was a very long answer to a not so long question. But something you should know about me is that I don't like making decisions. And typing vast paragraphs of explanation helps me to feel better about making arbitrary decisions for people. So that if you don't like my choice, in the end, you'll at least know why I made it. And also, if you want something different from your viewing experience, you have the necessary information to make your own, separate choice.

Oh, and by the way...


UPDATE: I've figured it out. I've figured IT OUT. At last. The reason that David is a better doctor than Matt, despite the fact that Matt is so great.

One of the opening lines in season 7, episode 3. "It was about a man who lived forever, but his eyes were heavy with the weight of all he'd seen."

David pulls that off. David does Goofy McGooferton, but he also brilliantly manages the weight of the world.  It's genius.

 Matt is amazingly goofy. Funny. Hilarious. But when it comes to the serious parts, he's a bit lacking. Don't get me wrong. He's not bad... but not weighed down by 1200 years of tragedy and despair. Not like David.