Sorry For Not Posting

Yoda with the Caption "Deeply Sorry I Am"
Image Source: https://memegenerator.net/instance/67596029/yoda-star-wars-deeply-sorry-i-am

Sorry that I haven’t been posting on a more regular basis. I have been working on catching up with my students’ grading and preparing for my final conference. My students had to receive their mid-term grades by Friday, March 6, so I needed to make sure that I had all my grades finished by this time. I also wanted to make sure that I filled out the paperwork for MTSU for reimbursement for the conference. Now, normally, I don’t do that, but since this is my first major (regional) conference where I’m going to be flying and staying in a hotel, I wanted to make sure that I was able to get everything done correctly.

I Have a Post That I’m Working On

So, I am in the middle of a post that I’m working on, so even after this one posts, there will be another one either by the end of the week, or at the beginning of next week. I’ve never watched Batman Begins nor The Dark Knight, even though I’m 1) a comic book fan and 2) I like Heath Ledger. There are many reasons as to why I’ve never seen these two movies–more than I probably need to go into at the moment, but these have been on an off streaming for the past couple of years. They are scheduled to go off Netflix by the end of this month at the time of writing. While they’ll probably be back, I decided to jump in and watch The Dark Knight (mostly for Heath Ledger’s performance) before it went away (and because of the looks I got from two of my GTA friends who I (shouldn’t) have told that I’d never seen those two movies.) Also, as I am a film student, I suppose that I should see it as it is one of the seminal movies, but (spoilers) I new that I wouldn’t like it because of the subject matter, so I decided to wait–but the time is now, I think. I’ve seen 2 hours of the movie, but since it is 2.5 hours long, I still have a half an hour to go, so I wanted to wait and finish the movie before finalizing my post on it.

Spring Break Next Week

Next week is Spring Break, so hopefully, I’ll be able to work on a few more entries and get them posted. I have tons of material ready to write up (book reviews, movie reviews, video games, computer stuff, even a couple of “household” successes, but the problem is finding time to get it written up. I’ve changed my writing style to try to find a more convenient time to actually write creatively and its worked. I try to write just after breakfast and my shower before I leave for whatever task I have that day. There’s a period of about 20 mins or so that I have daily that I’m using to write. The problem is, even though I only have one class to teach, I’m finding that it is draining all my time and energy throughout the week. So, I’m having to take a lot more time–time that normally I’d devote to getting blog out (at least every other day or so). Still, since I’m 750-800 words into what should be the “final” draft of The Independent, I’ll just have to keep marching along this way until its done.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Revising Section 1 (of 3)
    Deadline = February 29, 2020
  • Project Arizona (Fantasy Short Story–Weird West))
    Finished: Story Outline
    Next: Character Sketch
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • Ship of Shadows: Screenplay
    Finished: Script Outline (Rough Draft)
    Next: Script Outline (1st Draft)

Tennessee Philological Association Conference 2020

Image Source: https://twitter.com/mtsuenglish?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Sorry for not posting, but these past few weeks have been a lot of work between classes and preparing for the various conferences that I’m attending this semester. I just finished the first of 3 conferences that I’m going to and I had a blast. I read a paper and was inducted into the association’s membership. This was a really cool conference on a great and friendly campus.

The Lion (and Panther) That Roared: The Mythical Interlinkages between The Lion King and Black Panther

Over Summer 2019, I took a Children’s Film class with Dr. Hixon and this paper is one that I wrote as the final paper for the class. We watched The Lion King in class and I was struck by some of the mythic elements that appeared in both films: the mythology of ancestors who “return” from the dead to help their progeny, the way that Judeo-Christian myth is linked between the films (Scar and Killmonger as the “betrayer/usurper”), and how race, particularly in Africa, can be viewed through the lens each film. My paper dealt with these subjects and showed how two seemingly disparate films can be linked together through the use of myth.

Still Nervous

One of the things that I still struggle with is that I still get too nervous when I’m reading to a crowd, especially when I know that scholars with PhDs already are listening. Luckily, the TPA is a really nice group of scholars, so I think I need to practice more in order to assauge my nervousness. I practice writing by doing very different things in my writing (blogs, short stories, scripts), but I don’t often practice reading my work before reading it in front of a crowd and I think that I need to do that in order to get my nervousness under control.

An Introvert and a Scholar

So, I just finished booking my flight to my 2nd conference of the year and I have to say that I’m feeling just as much trepidation for this next conference as I did for the TPA Conference. As an introvert, it is VERY hard to do new things and meet new people when all you want to do is be wrapped up in your own thoughts, words, books, media (games, videos, what have you). Being an introvert and a scholar is (what I’d imagine) it would be like to be an introvert and an actor–often physically painful as you have to put yourself on display constantly in order to do the profession when every fiber of your being is saying, no, I want to be alone with my thoughts. Yes, I have things to teach, but to push myself out into new situations and meet new people is (at best) hard, (at worst) painful. However, I have to say that the fine people at the TPA make it at least bearable in that they are a friendly and welcoming bunch, so it isn’t as hard to put oneself out there. I just hope this second (much larger conference) is also a friendly bunch–with flying and finding a hotel for the very first time, I really hope to see scholars who can at least take pity on a neophyte scholar who is most definitely out of his element.

Fingers crossed.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Revising Section 1 (of 3)
    Deadline = February 29, 2020
  • Project Arizona (Fantasy Short Story–Weird West))
    Finished: Story Outline
    Next: Character Sketch
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • Ship of Shadows: Screenplay
    Finished: Script Outline (Rough Draft)
    Next: Script Outline (1st Draft)

Happy New Year! Welcome 2020!

Pink fireworks blooming like flowers over a cityscape and river.
Image Source: https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/g13502602/best-places-to-celebrate-new-years-eve/

Just a quick note to wish everyone a Happy New Year and a joyous, prosperous 2020!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Why I Play Video Games


So, every Friday one my favorite YouTube channels puts out a list video in which they create a list based on video game related topics. As I have a preference for PlayStation, this is right up my alley and is “destination TV” for me after a long week. The channel is called (of course) Playstation Access and a couple of weeks ago, one of the presenters, Rob, listed 7 reason why he liked playing games.

While reasons #1 (escapism and “becoming” the character interactively), #4 (new narrative structures–as the director and writer of your own individual journey) and #7 (keeping the inner child alive) are particular ones that speak to me. However, I wanted to just briefly articulate a couple of the more important reasons why I play games personally.

The Story

So, with Grim Dark narratives like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad, it is so very hard to find really good shows that aren’t characters just “crapping” on one another for the prurient interests of the viewer. Shows like this, to me, are anathema and are just like people jamming the interstate to look at the horrific crash that has occurred. Video games allow me to actually engage with stories and characters that I truly enjoy. The “hero” hasn’t gone, but rather morphed into the video game protagonist. Yeah, sure, there are games that are more akin to those hated shows above, (the Bioshock games come quickly to mind), but generally speaking, most games task you with being, if not the hero, then a protagonist that you can identify with and (usually) enjoy playing: Ryder and Commander Shepherd from the Mass Effect series comes quickly to mind here. It seems as if the protagonist “hero” has pretty much come into his or her own here.

Worldbuilding

An interesting corollary to the story (or narrative) is the focus on setting and world building in video games. Sure, the visuals are nice, but the best games have “atmosphere.” Due to the interactive nature of games, it is very easy to “fall in” to the world (much like the way description works in books). It is really nice to be able to play characters who you like and identify with in worlds that seem real and lived in.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Temporarily Incommunicado–Semester’s End

Chipmunk stretch itself out on a rock
Must . . . Make it to semester end.
Image Source: Memegenerator.net

So this is a very short note to let you all know that with the end of the semester, grading, and me having to write a 12-15 page paper that is due tomorrow, I won’t be writing any significant posts until the latter part of the week (hopefully, Weds/Thurs/Friday). Everything should be better after this week, but I just wanted everyone to know that this week is completely jammed up for me (especially the early part of the week).

Hope to be back soon!

Sidney

Too Many Problems: First Two Episodes into The Bodyguard

Image Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7493974/

So, I’ve finished watching the newest season of Stranger Things and, while I need to do a blog post on my thoughts on the season, I also found myself without a show to watch over the weekends now that ST has finished (I watched it weekly for the past 8 weeks since it was released and resisted the temptation to binge it). I tried a couple of replacement shows (I’m only watching Defiance on the weekdays as “reward breaks” after I finish a major piece of homework.) One of the shows that I tried was a British series called, Bodyguard. I actually did “binge” it a bit as the trailer promised “action” in the style of Bourne and the first episode didn’t really have it (although it did have an intense introductory scene). The 2nd episode did have the action I was craving, but only for one super-intense and action filled scene in the episode. However, it was what the narrative was doing that caused me concern and made me stop 4 mins from the end of the 2nd episode. I will probably finish the episode, but I’m unsure as to whether I’ll finish the show. I just checked its stats to make sure I had the title correct and it has a ridiculously high Rotten Tomatoes score of 92%. IMDB and TV.com ratings are similarly high at 8.2 & 7.8 respectively as I write this.

Too Many Internal Problems

One of the things that I’m concerned about is how much is actually going on with the characterization of the protagonist. I’m very sensitive to characterization at the moment as this is the primary aspect I’m focusing on in my own fiction to become a better writer. The main character, David Budd, has no less than 4 specific and identifiable internal problems that he’s dealing with: 1) he is an Afghanistan war veteran and is dealing with issues of PTSD, 2) the PSTD has affected his marriage and right now, his wife and him are separated and moving towards divorce, 3) due to the PTSD and war, he is now cynical of all politicians and their motives (esp. in regards to the war), and 4) his son is in need of Special needs services and his inability to (initially) get help for is son is aggravating issue #2). In my mind, that’s too many problems and rather than helping define David’s character, it is pulling both him and the narrative in too many competing directions. However, based on the high scores the show has received, either I’m missing something, or I haven’t watched enough of the show. However, at this early juncture, I feel the show could be much more taut and suspenseful than it actually is (again, the high scores don’t seem to agree with my assessment).

Too Many External Problems

Just as I feel there are too many internal problems that the character is facing, so too I feel the same way about the external problems. I think that the character is put into too many problematic situations so that the narrative seems to lurch from problem to problem. There’s x problem and y problem and z problem and aa problem and bb problem, and so on. They intentionally try to ratchet up his problems. While this makes for good drama in most cases, it feels like I can see the writers pulling strings to get this to happen. Can’t the show have David, the protagonist, work through his multitude of internal problems without piling more and more external problems on him? While one or two external problems might help drive the plot forward, I count–just like his internal problems–no less than four different external problems that he’s facing and it just doesn’t ring true for me as a viewer.

Will I Continue Watching?

Not sure–its a great character who is very well realized. However, I find it tedious to sit through and wish that the writers would tone down the internal and external problems. I’d love to see this complexity stretched through multiple series/seasons, but not jammed-packed into the first two episodes. I’m not sure I’ll return any time soon, but I’ll let you all know if I do.

Thanks and have a great week!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Mini-Review: Overlord (No Spoilers)

Private Boyce rescues a formerly captured squadmate and carries him down a laboratory hallway.
Image Source: https://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/overlord-review-1202954042/

I watched this movie over the weekend and I have to say that it (like the newest Robin Hood) this is another movie that is anachronistic period piece, but unlike that movie, it manages to be both exciting and realistic and actually cares about delivering a fun experience for the movie goer who watches this movie.

I watched this movie over the weekend and I have to say that it (like the newest Robin Hood) this is another movie that is anachronistic period piece, but unlike that movie, it manages to be both exciting and realistic and actually cares about delivering a fun experience for the movie goer who watches this movie.

Anachronism Done Right

Basically, this is a World War II movie where “dark experiments” are taking place during the liberation of Europe. The trailers made this seem like the story was going to take a slightly different path than what actually occurred in the movie, but it is still an enjoyable movie. I really enjoyed watching it as it most definitely was still fun and intense, even if the trailer made it seem like it would be a different type of movie (slightly). It features an African American as the protagonist and he is characterized as “goody two-shoes” (so much so that his squad rags on him for not killing a mouse in the barracks). While not Afrofuturism/Afrofuturistic, it does make a strong nod in that direction while allowing soldiers of multiple races and cultural identities (African American, Jewish, Caucasian, Italian) to be part of a team and to contribute to the ultimate success of the mission. Now, the reason why it is anachronistic is that the movie doesn’t explain its multiculturalism, but just throws them together. While I don’t mind this per se, (and wish society could be like this always), knowing the historical truth of the time period is something that I always have to remind myself when watching these types of movies. Yet, the movie gets the characters right–and that’s the main difference between it and Robin Hood. You really understand each character’s motivations and the plot puts the characters in situations that test them and their morals.

Anachronism Done Wrong

So, there are a couple of problems with the movie–one deals with anachronism itself and one deals with the way the movie was marketed. I’m going to tackle the marketing first. It was marketed as if there was something “supernatural” going on in WWII. This is the case and it isn’t the case. I won’t go into spoilers here, but while technically one could say that is true, it doesn’t match the implication hinted at in the trailers. It’s still fun, but just not what I was lead to believe based on the trailers for the movie. It is the anachronism that really took me out of the movie, however, on routine basis. From what I know of WWII and African Americans, many of the situations and even cool character moments of the protagonist would not have happened due to the way race relations were at the time period. Yes, we pretend this wasn’t an issue (which the movie does), but it makes it far less realistic than it should. What would have been a better response would have been to do what Doctor Who does and quickly reference the race situation in a scene, deal with it, and move on. Both actors of color who have appeared as companions to the Doctor have remarked on their skin color when they went back to the past, the Doctor comments on it (or a scene plays out) and then it isn’t effectively mentioned again for the entirety of that companion’s run–the latest Doctor did an entire episode on it as well, so there are ways of handling that. I think I might have rated Overlord higher if they could have just acknowledged the race issue, quickly shown why it wasn’t a problem/issue in this case, and then moved on.

Overall Grade: B

This is an above average movie for me. I really enjoyed the movie and thought that its anachronism was something that, while pulling me out of the movie, didn’t do so in a way that was so totally egregious that I couldn’t enjoy it.

Fantasy vs Reality

Pictures of Batman and Spider-man, fantasy representations (artistic) vs real life representations: two men in suits climbing over a low white wall.
Image Source: http://themetapicture.com/fantasy-vs-reality/

While reading an article (“Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”) for an annotated bibliography that I have to turn in for class, the author Chris Hildrew references the theories of Doug Whitley who explains the differences between fantasist, realist, and anti-realist. These were fascinating to me and I want to take moment to explore them in context to my own life and works.

Fantasist

So, this one is easy — Hildrew says that this is where the world or elements in the world are presented as “extraordinary.” This is where I find the most enjoyment. Yes, there should be an element of realism to ground the work, but I like things that I cannot see/experience in real life. This is where I live, this is where I work, this is where I breathe. One of the first books that I remember reading and enjoying on my own is a book about a car with the fins and tail of a fish and it “swims” underwater. While I, unfortunately, cannot remember the title or author (if anyone knows please leave it in the comments–you can even leave it in the comments of an unrelated post if this is closed as I want to know it so badly). There are books that I enjoyed so much, such as The Girl with the Silver Eyes that are a part of this Fantasist idea.

Realist

This one is also easy as this is one where real life is recreated and nothing extraordinary happens. I feel that there is a reason that this is called “mundane” by J. K. Rowling, but many more people love this representation of reality than fantasy (which they associate with children)–unfortunately, it seems that many critics (movie or otherwise), live in this space and prefer the concept. It goes without saying that this is my least favorite of the representations that Hildrew talks about.

Anti-Realist

Finally, the Anti-Realist is a very interesting paradigm as they are interested in showing the artifice behind movies (for example), although this could be extended to illustrating the those who remove the artifice. The example used in the article was the showing of movie cameras and boom mics in order to illustrate that a movie is a made thing that is constructed by people. I find this mode to be fairly interesting because (generalization here) many Americans (especially the ones that I come in contact with) don’t like to know how something is made (especially if it is entertainment). However, rhetoric is all about breaking things down and figuring out how they work. Now, I’m not mechanically inclined, so I can’t break down physical things (outside of computers). However, I can break down writing and reading fairly well and I’m able to understand the purpose behind things that I read or see, so the Anti-Realist structure appeals to me.

Any, thanks for allowing me to talk about this concept as I found it interesting. Have a great day!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Zen and the Art of Lawnmower Management

Image Source: https://www.fatherly.com/parenting/young-children-yardwork-outdoor-chores/

I was off yesterday and took time to I’m work on the (many) yard work projects that have to do. I was able to get two of the major projects that done, but I still have quite a bit of work left to do over the summer to truly get the yard back in order.

If It’s Broke, Then Fix It.

Last summer, my lawn mower broke, so this summer I bought a new one. I managed to use it twice and was able to (slightly) get ahead of the yard work. Then guess what happened? Yup, it broke too. Now the thing was still under warranty, so I could have called the warranty information number and got service. However, the part was a small one and the failure was minor (a bolt that held the mulching cover to the mower had rusted and broke off). Now, it took me a while to find the correct cover on Amazon and a YouTube video that showed how to repair it (a couple of weeks, in which time the grass and other yard works grew exponentially). My stepfather saved me some time and money by reminding me that I didn’t need to order a new part; I just needed to remove the part from the old mower and put it on the new one. This weekend, I finally was able to go to Ace and get the tools to effect the repair. However, I ended up returning them as it turns out I didn’t even need them (they were too big for the job anyway). A simple wrench that I’d bought from Ace already was sufficient to do the job. It only took about 20 minutes to get it done and I was back in business.

It’s a Jungle Out There

So, the 2nd major project that I tackled was clearing the brush from the various fences. I didn’t clear everything–that will take a while, but I was able to make a dent in the fences and other areas around the house where the bushes could clearly be seen from the street. I did miss one set, if I’m honest, as it required me to climb on the ladder and I was too tired to drag it out (I did this at about 4:30 pm in the afternoon, so the temps were about high 80s/low 90s (F). It didn’t really affect me, but I should have done that set first because, at the end of a long day of cutting, I just didn’t feel like getting out the ladder.

Still, the pile was fairly substantial and I called our city’s brush removal services in order to get them to come and pick the brush from the lawn. So, while I didn’t get any writing or reading done (in any meaningful way), I did at least work on making the house more presentable and got it looking fairly nice (just in time for the rain which is forecast for Thurs/Friday of this week). Oh well, at least that’s done for this week and I can move on to other things. Have a good one!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

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