Wed Oct 8 2014
I think it’s kind of funny that I can spend months (even years) drafting, fleshing out, and revising a single novel-length story idea — yet for quick little blog posts, if I don’t get it down right away, odds are, I’m never coming back to it.
*selects all Drafts, moves to Trash*
Soooo, what should we talk about?
Just for fun, here are a few of the things that I had intended to discuss but have now lost the urgency to compose roughly 500 words about:
- The adorably melodramatic Korean drama Boys Over Flowers. With a tie-in to S.E. Sinkhorn’s post about enjoying problematic media.
- The crap finale of How I Met Your Mother.
- A happy update about the crap finale of HIMYM: They re-edited the ending, and the better version is available on DVD/Blu-Ray. (Also it was leaked online for a while, and I loved it.)
- The awesomeness of BBC’s Sherlock. Tentative post title: “Bromance with brains.”
- Dawson’s Creek, with its John Green-esque dialogue, and how I connect with Dawson’s character (naive, optimistic, single-mindedly passionate about his art) but also with Joey (nerdy, inexperience, brunette, tomboy, crushing on the best friend she grew up with).
- How I’ve always processed life by writing about it. For kicks, I had planned to include one of the letters I wrote as a kid to my parents when I was very upset about something. The little hearts over the i’s really meant business.
Tue Sep 30 2014
With straightforward but poignant prose, Forman made the lives of Mia and Adam feel authentic and brutal and intense… for me, the book was both inspirational and educational.
My friend Ingrid already shared her thoughts on IF I STAY, both the book and the film adaptation, and my feelings basically echo hers. But I wanted to elaborate on a couple notes that really hit me when I was watching the movie last week.
- First, this incredibly successful story is simply about love. The protagonist isn’t fighting injustice or saving the world. She’s exceptional with the cello, but otherwise she’s just a normal teenager. Don’t get me wrong, I love Katniss Everdeen, but it’s refreshing to see a different kind of heroine carrying a blockbuster.
- Second, Mia’s mom and dad are present, well-developed, and positive influences in her life. Again, it’s refreshing. Too many stories keep the parents “out of the way” — through death, abandonment, etc. I’m not saying those things don’t happen, but they’re definitely over-represented in the YA genre.
- Most importantly, If I Stay was very clearly written from the heart. Just recently, author Gayle Forman revealed more about the inspiration behind the story: the painful loss of her good friends and their children in a car accident. I didn’t know about that back when I read the book, but I didn’t need to, because there was such a strong, genuine spirit bursting from every page.
For me, If I Stay was not only a pretty good film, but also a friendly reminder that “small” or “quiet” stories can be big and loud in their own ways.
(If I have one criticism of the movie — and I suppose the book too — it’s that there is a noticeable lack of diversity.)
Tue Jun 3 2014
I know I’m late to the party, but Game of Thrones, man. Wow.
Spoiler level: Somewhat high, but only for Season 1.
I could talk about these characters and their stories forever, but today I want to focus on Ned. Head of the noble Stark family. Warden of the wintry North.
In many ways, Ned is the prototypical hero figure: a strong, handsome man governed by his own sense of honor and morality. He’s a loving father and husband, and a successful leader who is fair to those he rules over and serves.
All of these good qualities are what endear him to us — but unfortunately, they are also what lead to his downfall.
Out of loyalty, Ned follows an old friend into treacherous territory. Out of compassion, Ned warns an enemy about impending danger. Out of love for his children, Ned compromises his integrity and is forever branded as a traitor to the king.
In most stories, we would expect Ned to find a way out of his predicaments. He’s a hero! He’s not supposed to lose.
But Game of Thrones isn’t most stories, and Ned doesn’t win.
It’s such a twist on our expectations. It’s a slap in the face to the long-held tradition of good always triumphing over evil.
The boldness of George R.R. Martin’s decisions is hugely appealing and inspiring to me. (And to many others, it seems, based on the popularity of the series.) It’s not that the good guys can’t ever come out on top — it’s that GRRM makes us really think about whether or not they will. He makes them earn it.
Of course, this also works because there is no one single hero in Game of Thrones. It’s an ensemble cast with many compelling characters. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I talk about them.
Now excuse me while I go binge-watch Seasons 2-4…
Thu May 1 2014
In case you missed it, the YA community is spearheading a charge for increased diversity in contemporary literature. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is amazing, and you can find out how to participate here.
For my part, I’m tweeting and re-tweeting, and I’m writing diverse stories, and I’m now (as ever) sharing my own personal thoughts and experiences.
Last night, I caught a rerun of the 60s television show Bewitched, which I used to love as a kid. The hijinks of a witch and her ad exec husband — what’s not to like? Best of all, they had a kid. A HALFIE kid. Like me. And even though little Tabitha didn’t do a whole lot in the story, I adored her. She was one of the few “biracial” characters I knew growing up.
Other favorites included Evie, the half-alien star of Out of This World, and Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, who was half-Betazed. Noticing a pattern, anyone?
There’s more. My favorite Disney princess was Belle, a brown-haired, brown-eyed book lover, and my favorite anime character was Sailor Jupiter, a brown-haired, brown-eyed tomboy. No matter that they were French or Japanese, respectively. I was looking for myself in stories, and these were the closest resemblances that I could find. Not precisely right, but better than nothing.
Now imagine a kid who can’t see herself anywhere. Not even in these pale approximations. The idea of that honestly makes me cry.
We need diverse books — and movies, and music, and teachers, and business leaders, and politicians, and everything else. We need them, and we shouldn’t have to justify why. The reasons are pretty evident.
Thu Oct 24 2013
First, a very relevant shout-out to my mother: Happy birthday, Mom! Thanks for always supporting me in the pursuit of my dreams.
After a series of controversies, Dillon Panthers star running back Smash Williams finds himself without a scholarship. Which means he can’t afford to go to college. Coach Taylor lines up one last opportunity, but Smash isn’t sure he’s going to take it.
Smash: Hey, I’m not going to the walk-on next week.
Mrs. Williams: What?
Smash: Alamo Freeze made me an offer. They want me to be a regional manager. It’s a good job, and I can help you —
Mrs. Williams: Alamo Freeze? Hell no.
Smash: Well look, I decided. And I’m gonna tell Coach tomorrow.
Mrs. Williams: All you’re gonna tell Coach is thank you. After all that man has done for you? He could have lost his job, Brian.
Smash: This is not how it was supposed to be. I mean, I was supposed to buy you a house.
Mrs. Williams: I did not have kids to buy me a house. What is wrong with you?
Smash: I’ve done everything right. I’ve done everything I was supposed to do, and it’s still not enough.
Mrs. Williams: And you’re gonna keep doing things right. That’s what makes you a man. The son I raised is a man. So you’re going to that tryout, and you’re going to play like God made you to, and you are going to go to that college.
Smash: What if I don’t take your help?
Mrs. Williams: Oh, you’re gonna take my help. I am your mother. Maybe you’ll get the scholarship, but if you don’t, I am going to help you. You let me be your momma. That is my job.