Everything is Awesome!

If I posted this yesterday, I could’ve say, “Happy Taco Tuesday!” Oh well.

If you haven’t seen the LEGO Movie, you’d probably be wondering, what is he talking about? I’ll just leave that opening hanging without explanation. I watched it yesterday. I thought it would just be a silly flick, but I actually find it surprisingly thought provoking, sufficient enough to call for a blog post, so here I go.

The setting is technically dystopian, but unlike what’s typical of dystopia, the tone is very much a humorous satire. So much so, that it didn’t occur to me that it was dystopian, until I really thought about it later on, but the dystopian element is unmistakable.

I’m fascinated by the “Everything is Awesome” theme song, a parody that flawlessly nails everything I despise about the pop music I despise. The sort of trendy, shallow music with obvious lyrics to a catchy tune that sticks in your head, that people unquestionably “love” because everyone else “does”, so your suppose love it.

As the movie poked fun of people being sheep in this way, with the Awesome song, the “Honey, where are my pants” show and everything else about the setting preventing the main character from having his own opinions, that’s the thing, for me, that made the beginning of the movie, well–Awesome! After all, this truly is a prevalent epidemic in modern culture.

The part that makes it dystopian is that the president of this LEGO is responsible for confining everyone in this controlled and structured life, following instructions, in a way that the citizens don’t fully realize as the follow their routines like sheep.

A major theme of the movie is that we are all unique individuals, so let’s start acting like it, embracing our creativity and “Let it Go” (Sorry I went there). It’s interesting how it all ties into the two fundamental approaches to playing with LEGO’s, following the instructions to build the set you bought or inventing your own creations with the same pieces, both being important parts of the experience.

Something happens toward the end of the movie, something very surprising, that brings the themes of the movie to whole new tender and poignant level. I’ll refrain from mentioning it, because of what a huge spoiler it would be. Suffice it to say, it was…Awesome! (Alright, enough of that)

The last thing I should mention is the whole look and feel of the animation. It had this rapid sort of busyness to it that takes some getting used to, but it has a distinct LEGO-like feel to it. I like the way everything in the world is LEGO-ly, even the water that flows in LEGO pieces.

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Batman is Dracula

#batman #dracula #gothic #comics

At the Life, the Universe, and Eveything Conference (LTUE) in Provo last February, one of the panels was about Batman as superhero gothic. The name for the panel was “Holy Gothic Archetypes, Batman”. A grad student shared his thesis analyzing the Gothic elements of the Batman comics.

The part I found most interesting is how the history of Batman has gone in full circle. In the beginning, much before the Adam West days, the Batman comics were very dark and Gothic, both the bat and his villains.

Later in the 20th century, the comic book industry went through a phase where outside influence put on the pressure to make things more soft, innocent, and kid friendly. This is where you get the goofy and quirky Batman of the Adam West days and the sidekick, Robin.

Then in time, when the comic book industry, for better or worse, was given more liberty again for artistic expression, being taken more seriously as an art form, Batman returned to its dark and gothy roots. This was especially prevalent in the Batman animated series I watched growing up, intrigued by the demented and psychologically tormented villains.

But I’d to take all this a step further. Not only is Batman Gothic and was Gothic from the very beginning, but I would argue that he is Dracula himself, one of the most famous of Gothic monsters. If you take Dracula and turn him into a superhero fighting crime and, ironically, strip him of his super powers, Bruce Wayne/Batman is what you get.

In both cases, you have a man who is super rich and powerful, dark and mysterious, intelligent, ruthless, and a terror in the night, even turning to the form of a bat. He lives in a very old mansion or castle that’s been in the family in a Gothic setting. Oh yeah, he even controls animals. Batman has this tech that influences the behavior of bats. So when I said, “Stripped of super powers”, this is a bit of a misnomer, since Batman imitates some of Dracula’s ability through technology.

Another interesting point, though somewhat off topic, as I thought more about Dracula, it occurred to me where the name probably came from. Dragon in Latin is Draco. I believe this name is inspired by the Book of Revelation, in other words, Dracula is the dragon or the beast. I could probably do a whole another blog post on how Dracula’s powers and traits parallel with Satan. But don’t read too much into that. I’m by no means arguing that Batman is Satan or anything weird like that. Just thought Dracula’s name’s interesting is all.

As a final thought to all this, looking at the origin of things, it’s surprising and interesting to discover where they came from. Some things go back further than you think from places you don’t expect.

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Coexistence

#amwriting

Coexistence is my latest story concept. Two moons share the same planet, both inhabited by intelligent life. Coexistence is the story of what happens when the two worlds discover one another.

I mentioned in my last blog post, Dead People, about this other story I was developing and considering submitting to Writers of the Future. I actually completed that other story, but later on decided I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, so I’m changing it. This change will actually make it a bit longer. However, I think that my Coexistence story would have a better chance in the contest, so that’s what I plan to submit to it.

In the meantime, I continue with WereDragon edits.

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Dead People

#amwriting

I just started a new short story, inspired by the Sixth Sense. For some reason my brain became captivated by the question of what happens to little Cole now at the end of the movie. What will he be like growing up? This sparked the idea for this story of a man who calls himself a paranormal philanthropist. It’s actually turning out to be comical in tone.

In my last two attempts at  entering the Writers of the Future contest, I received honorable mention each time. I think I want to give it another go with this story and see if I can win it this time. In one of my workshops with Dave Wolverton, he mentioned that people are too serious in what they submit to the contest, so wouldn’t mind reading something more humorous. Let’s see if I have just the thing for his funny bone, shall we? Make the story about dead people be the one most alive.

Meanwhile, I submitted my last Writers of the Future story to Tor.com. They say It’ll be about three months, before I find out if they accepted it. Wish me luck on that one. Also, in the meantime, I continue my WereDragon edits.

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Scott Adams on Failure and Success

Scott Adams gives some interesting insights on how to be successful. He mentions some of the problems with the conventional wisdom out there, namely that one should follow their passions and set clear objective goals with deadlines.

First, the problem with following passions is that sometimes they are irrational and not really all that marketable. I think this following Scott Adams cartoon really says it all.

If one thinks taxidermy beer hats will be a hot product, at least here in the west, they will be sorely disappointed. Now this isn’t to say that passion is all together a horrible evil thing, just so long as it doesn’t blind you to objectivity.

Scott Adams, however, makes the interesting point that success can lead to passion. He, for instance, didn’t originally aspire to be a cartoonist, but now it’s safe to say, he enjoys doing it.

What about me? Have I seen success leading to passion in my life. I think so. I’ve seen both ends, in fact.

Things that I was once passionate about have fizzled when they’ve failed to lead to success. As I’ve looked back in hindsight at these things, I often come to discover that they are indeed taxidermy beer hats, aka not as good of an idea as it seemed at the time.

Also, success has indeed fueled passion. Take my love for programming, for instance. This is a field notorious for people loving it or hating it, based on how seeing the works of their hands run. A working program that you wrote truly is a magical thing. Also in writing, I definitely find completing two novels, and getting two honorable mentions for short stories is encouraging.

Second, the problem with the conventional wisdom on setting goals is that it’s not the goals that lead to success, but rather persistent work you put toward stuff. So saying, “I’m going to workout X number of minutes a day, eat healthier each meal, and wake up at such and such time”, all does far, far more for someone than saying, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds by such and such date.”

This is absolutely right. How did I complete my novels? Was it by reciting a date like a magical incantation, seeing a pen and paper dance, Harry Potter style, leading to a fully written novel when the date arrived? Clearly, no. It’s all about writing X number of words a day or other writing tasks like editing, brainstorming, planning, plotting, and things like that. It’s like the proverbial elephant. You can’t swallow it whole, so the way to eat it is a bite at a time.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the path to success is filled with failure. You try and you fail. You try and you fail. Rinse. Repeat. It’s like they keep telling you, you just keep on trying or like Dora says on Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” Not only that, but the learning and growth from failures aids in future success. Like I mentioned in a previous blog post, Yoda is dead dead wrong when he said, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Remember that this is a nefarious and destructive lie, so shame on him for saying it.

Scott Adams recently released a book, regarding all this called “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.”

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