27 February 2011

The Importance of Awards

The Academy Awards are tonight.

When the nominations were released, I asked a friend what she thought of this year's pick. At this point, I was wondering if she thought Inception was snubbed like quite a few fans of that movie (like me and one of my Production class TAs). She gave me a look and said, "I don't follow that. It's just a big popularity contest." There was so much venom in her voice that I was certain something award-related happened to her.

This got me thinking, not whether the Academy Awards is a big popularity contest, but whether she follows awards at all. You see, she doesn't base quality off what other people say. The entire world could think something is crap but she'll still think that something is amazing. Not like this would happen, of course -- she's an excellent judge of quality. But her excellence in judging doesn't mesh up with the political atmosphere of most awards such as the Academy Awards.

On another note, she is a really tough critic when it comes to movies and books. She loves the movie How to Train Your Dragon but I'm pretty sure she'd be bored out of her head when watching The King's Speech. Same girl won't understand the story intricacies of The Social Network as much as she understands them in Iron Man. She's not a drama person, and that's what separates her from the Academy Awards. In fact, she probably understands this to the extent that she pointedly avoids the Oscars because they're never her type of movie. This is the sort of avoidance genre writers make to University creative writing programs because they specialize in literary fiction as opposed to romance or fantasy.

But what's the importance of following award systems like this? What does it mean to you, the individual?

To my friend, the Academy Awards mean nothing; her field is science-related, not media-related like mine. To me, the Academy Awards mean an intense discussion in my production class on Monday, a slight overview on my American Film class on the same day, and perhaps some argument between fellow film major friends. In my future, the Academy Awards mean something I must follow if I wish to stay up to date with the present condition of the film industry. Are they favoring science fiction films this year? Or are they favoring their usual dramas? Perhaps a comedy got nominated for Best Picture. What does that mean to the industry? What does that mean to me?

Award ceremonies in general track trends in an industry. Winners of said awards are people to follow because they were good enough to gain a following to warrant a nomination. And it was the quality of their work that got them their award. Fashion Designers in Fashion Week are people to follow because of their involvement with the latest fashion trends. Hugo nominations are science fiction stories worth reading. Academy Award winners are worth watching because they really are high quality movies.

If you hear people complain about Inception in the Oscars this year, ask them if they've seen The King's Speech. I haven't seen it myself, but I hear it's really an amazing movie. As much as Nolan rocked Inception as a director, the movie itself was still simply good. Multiple viewings of it decrease the hype from the first viewing. Whatever Inception did, it still used standard science fiction conventions and codes. Whatever The King's Speech did, it made a bigger emotional impact. And that is why Inception wasn't really snubbed but lost in a sea of movies of the same caliber.

I have seen The Social Network, which is a well-made movie. When given the choice between Tron Legacy and The Social Network, I would choose Tron Legacy simply for entertainment. While this is the exact thing that separates me from the Academy Awards, entertainment is the reason I see movies. Sure, I would want to make movies that are entertaining and don't garner awards, but awards still track a certain quality of films. I acknowledge that award systems are run by an elite group of bureaucrats. I also acknowledge that attaching your name to an award nomination tells the world that you did something to catch the eye of the Elite --- and the Elite aren't followed for nothing.

As a film major possibly continuing that path to Hollywood, I must watch the Academy Awards if I want to keep up with my peers. I should know what will warrant a nomination, what will get me rejected, and what the Academy believes is good quality. Aversely, as a science fiction writer, I follow the Nebula and Hugo awards for the exact same reasons. Receiving either award would bring me from my lowly amateurish status to someone who's worth keeping an eye on. It's a gateway to the Elite, also called the Big Shots, the Head Honchos. Don't you want to be involved with that?

**There is clearly an argument to this. Feel free to challenge me or voice your own opinion. Please be respectful. Disrespectful posts will be ignored; disrespectful comments will be deleted..**

23 February 2011

The Big Lie Revealed

Are ya ready? Are ya ready?

I don't consider myself humble.

That's right, I think I'm pretty fricken awesome. I won't tell you in person, but I will let you guess that by yourself. I also brag about various things in my life such as how many countries I've been in and the fact that I have a blog. Saying that you have a blog in Real Life makes me feel pretentious. And if someone ever thinks "That chick is sooo pretentious" then I think unto them "Damn right I'm pretentious."

The big news today is I am now the chief editor of the UW Flash Fiction website. Only UW-Madison students can submit and it'll be about a month before the site begins regular updates. But go check it out. I completely re-did the layout today between class and work.

And if you're going to be in the Madison area around mid-April, then you should check out Lit Fest happening in the new Union South. Here's our teaser trailer for it; it's all awesome and arty and filmed by my good friend (super secret) codename Mike.

22 February 2011

Two Truths and a Lie - Crusader Challenge #1

I'm sure most of us have played Two Truths and a Lie before. There are five categories. Each will have two truths about me. The category with a lie will have three qualities, and it's your job to figure out the lie in the comments. The Crusades are hosted by Rachel at Rach Writes.
- I only consider myself resourceful because I model it after my roommate (the one without the rabbit).
- Despite my excuses to my roommate, I really do want to sleep in the capitol building. You only live once, right?

Interesting Quirks
- A while ago, my friend pointed out that I have a thing with killing off my main character's best friend. Then another friend corrected that statement and said I had a thing with what she called Friend Tragedy (citing a story where the best friend did not die but was torn away in such a method to make the two characters mortal enemies).
- I love love LOVE 16x16 Monster Sudoku, but only the kind with the letters and not the numbers that go all the way to 16.

Annoying habit
- I bite my nails and play with my cuticles. Even on my toes. No blades, just teeth.
- Succumbing to the munchies when I sit at the computer or read. This helps by simply not buying snack food but is hindered my frequent moments of weakness.

Best Character Trait
- My humbleness, exemplified by the fact that I have really hard time bloviating.
- I occasionally have a very witty comeback. A few weeks ago, a friend asked if Superman checks in his luggage, and I said "Nope, he chucks it ahead of him as he flies." He was silent and I was victorious because he always has a comeback for everything.
- My ability to be prompt to everything. Seriously, I schedule myself so I'm at least 15 minutes early to stuff.

Favorite Thing in the Whole World
- When Squee leaps into my lap on his own accord then settles in a fuliguline way. Best thing ever.
- How to Train Your Dragon. Enough said.

Something is a lie. Can you find it? Someone please remind me to post the answer tomorrow; I get easily distracted.

21 February 2011

Microfiction Monday (4)

Microfiction Monday is hosted by Susan on Stony River

This week's Microfiction Monday will be different. Instead of something creative made up on the spot, you have a brief two sentences from my current short story entitled Dream Giver --- about a woman named Trisha who is drawn to a psychic in a coma through dreams. The sentences come from the opening dream sequence.

Sterile white doors lined the walls. Even though my feet propelled me forward, I didn’t move an inch
My crusader challenge will be up shortly. Eventually. By Friday. Maybe. These next two weeks will involve me doing the following (on top of regular homework):
- finalizing submission for Illuminations
- finalizing submissions to Madison Lit Fest
- debate about submitting to the Kenyon Review
- create a rough draft for a storyboard (for class)
- write 8-10 pages analyzing Iron Man (for a different class)

Here, have a video to entertain yourselves. Taken from John Scalzi's blog.

15 February 2011

The Ambiguity of Rick Deckerd

The following post discusses various aspects of the movie Blade Runner. If you haven't seen it, would like to see it, and don't want the ending ruined for you, then don't read this blog post. If you have seen this movie and notice that my interpretations are inaccurate, please let me know in the comments or through email.

Today, my discussion section discussed Blade Runner. I figure this would be an interesting topic to blog about. Please note that I've just seen the original theatrical release of the movie last Thursday for class, and I saw the 1992 director's cut last year for a different class. Having only seen this movie twice and not having the exact scenes and shot composition in front of me, keep in mind that not everything I say will be too accurate.

Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott) is based off the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. As I've never read the novel, the following analysis will be based off the movies only. The movie takes place in 2019 Los Angelus, California. The Tyrell Corporation has created genetically artificial humans called Replicants as slave labor for off world colonies. Because of an uprising in space, Replicants have become illegal on Earth and are thus hunted down by a special force called Blade Runners. The movie follows ex-Blade Runner Rick Deckerd as he's recruited to hunt down five escaped Replicants who are trying to reach the head of the Tyrell Corporation.

This movie asks questions about humanity which can be debated until the cows come home. But I'm here to initiate a discussion on the main character Deckerd. One of the subtle questions of the movie explores the possibility that he is a Replicant. This question is more prevalent in the 1992 director's cut with Deckerd's dream sequences (featuring a unicorn). Less subtle proof can also be seen throughout the rest of the film.

Replicants are shown with halos in their eyes. The fake owl in the Tyrell Corporation has it, and the other Replicant characters have them as well (Rachael, Pris, Roy, etc). There is one shot, however, where Deckerd has this same thing. This information comes from a classmate who pointed it out, and I can't remember the exact scene when this happens. Deckerd and Rachael are together in the same room. She steps into the light, then Deckerd steps into the light. My classmate pointed out that he thought the halo in the eyes was an indicator of a Replicant, but then Deckerd had it, so he mistook it as a film style. Nonetheless, it's something that most people bring up whenever they're attempting to prove Deckerd's Replicant-cy. Another indicator are the photos on Deckerd's piano, which echo the photos Leon collects and the photo Rachael has of her and her mother. This second one is more of a thematic hinting than physical evidence supporting the theory.

These are fine examples of proof, but I have questions about Deckerd's past that I don't recall being answered throughout the course of the film. How long has Deckerd been a Blade Runner? And how long has he been retired and living the life he currently lives? Replicants are programmed to live a total of four years. This is to ensure that they do not gain an emotional independence and start vying for freedom. (Events in the movie seem to indicate that their life span is indeed long enough to start a rebellion of some sort.) In the scene featuring Deckerd in the police chief Bryant's office, Bryant seems to know Deckerd like they've worked together for a while. To me, this says that Deckerd spent time as an actual Blade Runner during his life. Although, you can point out that he can very well have spent two years as a Blade Runner, less than a year as a retired blade runner, and thus has at least one year left to live.

I suppose one can argue that Deckerd being a Replicant would explain his strong feelings against his old job as a Blade Runner. The job of the Blade Runner was to kill a Replicant on sight. In the voiceover of the original theatrical release, Deckerd refers to himself as an "ex-killer" in reference to his feelings on the matter. I argue that anyone would feel similar to what he feels. Your job is to kill Replicants, who can integrate quite well into human society (see Rachael). After a while, you would see yourself as a killer.

According to my TA, the majority of the people who worked on the film claim that Deckerd is not a Replicant. This gives some certainty to the question, but how positive can you be about someone who's only involved in a small aspect of the story? To me, the only answer I would believe would be from Ridley Scott himself. If you are interested to know what he says, take a look at this interview here. If you would rather not read the interview and discuss this matter in the comments, then don't click the link.

If you've seen Blade Runner, what are your opinions on this matter? Is there anything else the movie suggests that you wish to discuss as well?

(note) If you're going to go watch this movie for the first time, I recommend the 1992 director's cut. The original 1982 theatrical release has this horrible deadpan voiceover that makes me cringe every time I hear it.

14 February 2011

Origami Valentine

Not sure why I didn't think of this before. The following image was taken from my daily Origami calendar. I think it would make a cute Valentine for someone. You can open it up to reveal a cool message inside. It is a "kimono" heart, after all.

Microfiction Monday (3)

Microfiction Monday is hosted every week by Susan on Stony River. The challenge is to write a short story in 140 characters or less (equivalent to one Tweet). This week proved challenging because your eyes went to two places with this picture. Anyone else agree?

"Yes, ma'am, I really am a woman dressed like a man. Now please remove your hand from my jacket."

12 February 2011

Ba a Crusader!

Pick up that pen and lay down that sword! We be fighting battles scarier than Oriental dragons and Egyptian gryphons!

There is a large Something-or-Other happening over by Rach Wites.... I'm not sure what to call it, but a lot of bloggers (like me) will be introduced to other bloggers and writers and people in similar boats as you. There will also be challenges to accomplish every few weeks or so. I like this "every few weeks" idea what with school work coming in waves. I find the whole thing to be interesting, so here I am, joining in the Crusades like King Richard from Robin Hood.

For those of you writers out in the world, you have until 11:59pm on 12 February to get your name in there! Join by going to this link and following the directions given.

Hope to see you all there! Happy writing!

10 February 2011

Fun PIctures of Squee


In other fun pictures, the cat sat on my computer the other day. He's really my roommates', so I get kitty kuddles all day without ever having to empty a litter box. This is Squee, which is short for Squeeze, but we just call him Mr. Squiggles.

You see, he has a pension for dancing birds. They kind of fascinate him.

He was hit by a car before he was adopted by my roommates, hence the eye-ness. Despite the handicap, he continues to kill large rodents like squirrels in the basement. How a squirrel got into our basement, we're not sure we wanna know. But Squee killed it, so now it doesn't really matter.

He's like "I'll get you, bird."

Now he's like "Where did it go?"

"Darn human, you're behind this!"

Then he snuggled on my lap for a bit. He has this thing, as I'm sure all cats do; when they get comfortable they flex out their claws. It's only slightly unpleasant when they press against your thigh. But only slightly.

08 February 2011

Service Note

There is a new gadget on my blog. It's under construction, but you can now read a poem I recently wrote for fun. And when I say under construction, I mean that I'm going to play with privacy settings for this one poem before I start adding more pieces of writing to the list. You will know I'm finished when I take down the [under construction] notice on the gadget.

I realize displaying your writing on the internet can be risky, hence my toying with privacy settings and such. As of now, the goal is for a visitor to click a link and be taken to a document. Ideally, they will be unable to save this document to their computer and be unable to copy and paste the text of the document onto another document. If you know a way to make this happen, please let me know through email. If anything is currently not meeting this goal, send me an email notifying me of such. If you cannot find my email, please leave a comment below.

Along that same tune, anything that's posted in the gadget will be either a poem or flash fiction. This is not to say that I only write small pieces, just that I'm more willing to share those small pieces with the Larger World of the Internet than I am the longer pieces. I also do not want to decrease the importance of writing small pieces by singling them out. The reason I'm more willing to post something small rather than something larger is because they are a fast read and merely a taste of my writing. As always, constructive criticism is always welcome. A feedback policy is upcoming. For now, just send me an email with your thoughts if you so desire.

However, my current concern is not the writing but the feature used to display the writing. Any comments in regards to that will be the most helpful at this moment in time.

Thank you and happy reading.

06 February 2011

Microfiction Monday (2)

Microfiction Monday is hosted by Susan over on Stony River. She features a picture and fellow bloggers have to write a microfiction 140 characters or less. For those not in the know, 140 characters is the max amount of characters for one tweet on Twitter. Feel free to check out her blog and join in the weekly fun.

The clock on Main Street wondered how long it would take for passersby to notice it stopped working before realizing that it can no longer keep track of time.


Down with the Steelers!

What? I'm from Wisconsin!