Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Single from NKOTBSB: Don't Turn Out the Lights

Let's get this out of the way: I'm in no way capable of being objective about NKOTBSB. Its pretty much my teenage dream come true, minus Justin Timberlake. I've already bought tickets to see them in Detroit and have pre-ordered their May album. This is HAPPENING.

That said, I won't pretend that this is deep, meaningful music. However, its great 90s throwback pop! It makes me feel a little old that there is such a concept as 90s throwback pop, though it's possible I made it up just now. Enjoy!

Bad Movie Rant: Legion

If you follow me on Twitter or know me in 3D, you know that I *love* bad movies. And I don't have very high standards for movies I consider good. I unironically own both Transformers movies and The Covenant. I like pretty boys, explosions, and fights, especially if they involve superheroes or robots. I generally have the same movie taste as a 17 year old boy. If I can't genuinely like a movie, then I can usually have a good time making fun of it.

Its a rare movie that falls in between enjoyable and so bad its good for me. Past offenders: Miss Congeniality 2, Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, and Battle: Los Angeles, most recently. We can add Legion to that list. It takes itself way to seriously to be so bad its good, but its not even anywhere close to good.

Legion is kind of an action/horror movie, but its not really scary enough to be true horror and the action isn't all that exciting either. As has become a sad trend in movies, you see all the cool parts in the trailer above. Seeing those scenes in context takes away from whatever cool factor they had in the trailer.

The story is spare and trite. Its the end of the world! And this baby will save us! Somehow, he will. We're not sure how. But we believe Paul Bettany when he says it. The acting is hamstrung by horrible dialogue and the idiotic plot, which is sad, considering that I have enjoyed almost everyone in this movie in other roles. I mean, Dennis Quaid is Remy McSwain, for God's sake. I worship at the altar of Adrianne Palicki on Friday Night Lights and Supernatural. Tyrese, though one dimensional, is serviceable in the Transformers films. I adore Paul Bettany in A Knight's Tale. Not a single one of them is good in this movie. Shameful.

And then there's Lucas Black. Look, I know that people loved Sling Blade. I didn't see it, but I know that it was a well-received movie. It's time to move on, people. Lucas Black is just not a good actor. I watched F &F: Tokyo Drift (shut up, I like cars). I don't understand at all why he was cast in this movie, and the movie suffers for his presence. When I can look at both of the movies I've seen you star in and think how much better they'd be with Channing Tatum in your role, then you have a problem. I hate to be so harsh on poor Lucas, but I've seen no evidence that he's earned these parts on the screen.

I was at least hoping that Legion would be fodder for bad movie nights. Instead, its just bad and unfunny. The director of Legion, Scott Stewart, is attached to direct the adaptation of the first Mortal Instruments book by Cassandra Clare, City of Bones. I'm a little less excited to see that movie today than I was yesterday. Hoping that his movie, Priest, out this summer gets better reviews.

Grade: D-

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Song of the Day

Mostly I'm posting to see if the feedburner link I set up to push my posts to Twitter is working. But! I did buy Number Ones by Sir Elton John today and have been listening to it this afternoon, so Sir Elton and George Michael get to be the Song of the Day. BTW, I bought the album from Amazon for $3.99 and if you haven't looked into their new Cloud Music Player then you really should. It stores your music purchases for you to listen to anywhere you have a web browser. It also offers affordable storage space for documents and files you want to be able to access anywhere. You get 5 gb storage for free, plus 20 gb when you buy your first mp3 album!

Road Trip Wednesday: The Books of My Childhood

The folks over at YA Highway ask a reading/writing question every Wednesday and invite people to blog their responses. Today's question is: What books were you obsessed with as a kid?

Here's the list I came up with off the top of my head, though I'm certain that I'm leaving out something important. I refrained from including the romances that I started reading at the age of 12 and included only those non-romance books that I read up to early teen years. The late teen years were basically exclusively dedicated to Harlequin.

Baby Sitters Club Series by Ann M. Martin - Pretty much the series that made me love reading. When I was in elementary school, my mom worked for the local Wal-mart, one that didn't open until 9 am (gasp!), stocking shelves in the early mornings before the doors opened. Since she was a single mom and I was too young to stay alone, she often woke me up at the crack of dawn to go to work with her. Small town, Arkansas FTW. An empty Wal-mart is pretty much a 7 year olds dream, or nightmare, depending on how many lights were turned on on a given day. I did like to wander around the toys, but inevitably, I would wind up in the book aisle, sitting on the floor, reading the BSC books that I loved but couldn't afford to buy. Then they'd go back on the shelf. As an adult, I can only hope that I didn't damage them too much.

The Giver by Lois Lowry - I think I found this in the middle school library, and its the first book that I can remember which made me really think about the message it was putting forth. I was a really type A kid, and part of me was really attracted to the way that Lowry's dystopian society was so organized and regimented. It was an interesting exercise to get to the end and have to evaluate Jonah's actions and what they meant about my own attraction to the system he was escaping.

The Graduation by Christopher Pike - This was the 3rd book in a series, and I'm not really sure if I ever read the other two books that precede it. I include it because it's the first book that I was truly crazy about because I had a crush on a character, Michael Olson, and I wanted him to get the girl in the end. It was also probably the first book I read that included reference to teens having sex, though it was fade-to-black. There was even discussion of condoms! Heady discussion for a pre-teen. Can you tell my mother didn't screen what I read at all?

Others I loved:
  • The Hardy Boys (I loved the ones set in the 80s)
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (school assigned book that I loved)
  • All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (the main characters were Jewish girls in NYC in the early 1900s, and I was fascinated by the culture differences)
  • Sweet Valley High Series by Francine Pascal (Duh.)
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Also duh.)
  • Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene (I loved the 50s set ones best)
  • Bad News Ballet Series by Jahnna M. Malcolm (Thanks to The Mighty Ducks, I loved these books because one of the characters was a hockey player)
  • Palm Beach Prep Series by Elle Wolfe (Again, blame a movie, but I got into this series because one of the characters was a soccer player and I had just seen The Big Green)
If you're curious about other answers to YA Highway's question, check out the comments on Road Trip Wednesday.

New Layout, Another Pledge to Actually Blog

I've been thinking for a while that the old layout/theme was a hindrance to me posting more often. For some reason, short posts looked awful with that layout, so I was reluctant to just dash off a post about whatever is interesting to me that day. I felt like I needed multiple paragraphs and pictures or videos for it to look aesthetically pleasing. I think this new layout will fix that issue.

So here's to blog re-launch 1535. May it go better than the last 1534 relaunches.*

*Does this thing have a sarcasm font?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On Love Triangles

Oh love I love and loathe you all. I've been thinking about love triangles today thanks to author Rachel K Vincent's blog post on what constitutes a love triangle and why she thinks her characters aren't in one (caution, mildly spoilery for those not caught up to the current book in her Soul Screamers series).

Vincent lays out a few ground rules for what she thinks constitutes a simple love triangle:

  1. The person in the center of the love triangle has to be aware of the feelings of both of the other sides. 
  2. The person in the center must be asked to choose between the two sides.
  3. The person in the center must love both of the two choices to the point where choosing between them is difficult.
I agree with these points, at least as far as a generic love triangle can be defined. Of course, they're always more complicated than this, but this is the general gist of a true love triangle.

Now, maybe I'm not reading the right books or the right genres, but based on these rules, I'd argue that there are very few true love triangles in any of the series that I've been reading the past couple years. Most of the time, the person, usually a girl, knows exactly who she wants to be with, but circumstances might point her towards someone else for a while, because all books need conflict.

Case in point, Twilight. The Team Edward vs. Team Jacob "conflict" sold a lot of t-shirts and generated a lot of page views as people debated. However, I'd argue that this was not a true love triangle. Rules 1 and 2 were certainly met, but rule 3, not so much. Bella is clear with Jacob that it was always going to be Edward, as long as circumstances allowed them to be together. She genuinely cared about Jacob, but he was never going to be her first choice.

But obviously, there were plenty of people out there, those Team Jacob people, who would disagree with me. And why is that? Its because people project their own feelings onto the characters. I just did it in the paragraph above. Only Stephenie Meyer could tell you if she intended for Jacob to be a genuine contender for Bella's love (and I think she's made it clear that she had a different plan for him all along, as evidenced by the events of Breaking Dawn). Because I preferred Edward over Jacob, I never viewed Jacob as a legitimate threat or believed that Bella would choose him in the end.

This sort of reader projection results in a lot of "love triangle" debates when there might not even be a triangle in the first place. I think that its in rule 3 that the reader's feelings are brought most strongly into play. Rules 1 and 2 are pretty cut and dry, but the reader's feelings about whichever side of the triangle they prefer certainly color their interpretation of the center person's difficulty in choosing.

Another good example, and one that's caused lots of drama within the fandom, is the Stefan/Elena/Damon "triangle" on The Vampire Diaries, the tv show. Let's look at our rules again. For rule 1, I don't think that we can comfortably say that Elena is "aware" of how Damon feels about her. She must know that Damon cares about her, but I wouldn't go so far as to say she knows he's in love with her. In fact, he's tried to make sure she doesn't know by compelling her to forget he confessed his love (and thoroughly breaking my heart in the process). As for rule 2, I don't think Elena has to choose between the two Salvatores if we accept the idea that she doesn't know that she's in a love triangle. Rule 3 is irrelevant if the center is both unaware of one of the sides' feelings and isn't being forced to make a choice. However, its the rule that creates the best drama when both rules 1 and 2 have been fulfilled.

There are, of course, Damon/Elena shippers who would argue with me on every point, and that's their right to do so. However, as a person who is immensely interested in seeing a Damon/Elena relationship at some point on the show, I don't think that I'm projecting some sort of Stefan/Elena agenda onto my argument. I just think that some shippers are incapable of being objective when they have a passion to see a certain thing happen. And then they rant about it on Twitter.

The last example I'll cite is the Jace/Clary/Simon "triangle" from Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series (spoilery):
  1. The first rule here would be met, Clary is aware that both Jace and Simon care about her in a romantic way.
  2. Yes, Clary had to make a choice between the two, though it was complicated by the uncertainty of her and Jace's familial status.
  3. Here's where the projection of the reader comes into play. In my interpretation of the book, Clary only thinks to pursue any sort of romantic relationship with Simon when she thinks that a relationship with Jace can't happen. And she realizes that its not fair to keep stringing Simon along when its really Jace she wants. So, in my opinion, Rule 3 is not satisfied.

So what's my point, here? Even I'm not entirely sure, but I think its that love triangles aren't as common as we think and some of the most famous ones right now aren't really love triangles. However, with the degree that readers' feelings play into Rule 3, then perhaps love triangles exist wherever the reader believes they exist. At least fandom discussions won't be boring!