Now that I’m in the interim between graduating and starting my MFA, I decided to catch up on books, T.V. shows, and movies that I missed while wrestling with my thesis. I decided to do something quite unusual for me, and that’s follow an actor’s movies. I generally don’t see a movie just for the actor because often times I start to see more of the actor and less of the character. There are, however, a couple of exceptions.
Adam Driver is one of those exceptions.
I, like many others, was first introduced to Adam Driver as my new favorite angry creepy pathetic space prince Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He just has this intense screen presence that I could not get enough of, so I decided to check out what other stuff he made. So here’s a list of what I watched in the last two weeks (in the order that I watched them) and my general feelings about them.
I know, I know. So much virtual ink has already been shed on this topic that is a source of woe and misery for many such as myself, but it is a topic that never really goes away.
I always thought of you as a sister.
I like you, but as a friend.
Oh no, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to lead you on.
Yes, yes. I’ve heard all of the apologies, felt the sting that comes from misreading another person’s signals, nursed my hurt with dark beer and ice cream. And, in truth, I’ve said similar things myself.
I’m sorry, but I only want to be friends.
You always seemed like a brother to me.
Maybe we can stay as friends?
I’ve seen the hurt in their faces, but this pain is small potatoes compared to the real hurt of leading someone on because you feel sorry for them or that you owe them something. That, to me, is cruel. That is not the kind of person I want to be, much less date. I don’t quite understand the mind frame of men who like to suckle on articles confirming their entitlement to women’s bodies and…ah.
If you’re the kind of guy that does cling to articles decrying that men and women can’t be friends because “sex gets in the way,” then enjoy living your self-fulfilled prophecy, bro.
Men and women can have friendships that are beneficial to both parties as long as they, you know, treat each other like complex human beings instead of dating Sims with limited romance options. Word on the street is that friendship can actually be quite magical. Trust me, my stay at the friend zone has been quite pleasant, with plenty of engaging conversation and delicious food. Good friendships require work and effort on both parties, and can be quite rewarding as a result.
But maybe this is because I view my friends as autonomous people with wants and needs of their own, and not automatons created for the sole purpose of my pleasure. They don’t owe me shit, and no one owes you shit either. Over the years I’ve kept good friends after awkward romantic attempts, and either lost friends or cut out bad people after romantic attempts. I’ve done what I’ve could to minimize the hurt on my side and for the other person, I’ve made mistakes I’ve regretted, but I’ve also made right choices.
It’s sad how these “men can’t be friends with women” guys don’t see having good, healthy friendships with women as a positive thing to have, and would rather lock themselves in their own pity party prisons and blame women for not giving them the sex they felt entitled to get, for not making relationships flawless when by nature they are messy, and for not wanting to get dragged into playing out personal fantasies.
You’re the kind of guy who wants to escape the friend zone? Dig the key out of your ass, unlock your prison, take a step outside, and accept the fact that women don’t exist for your needs.
But in the time I’ve spent not being here, here’s what happened:
I got my MA in English w/Creative Writing Fiction!
I was accepted for the MFA in Fiction!
I wrote a book! (Editing)
I’m writing another book! (That I will probably publish first)
I’ve been writing more World of Warcraft and now Star Wars fanfic!
I went to therapy and don’t feel like shit on a log!
So, things have so far been on the up and up for the most part and I’m slowly but surely getting better at time management. So I have a bit of stuff I’m planning on publishing in the months to come before school starts up again:
Beauty and the Beast review (because hoooooo-wee does that look like a nuclear dumpster fire)
A craft post on making fabric gift boxes
Video on how to write fan fiction (summer)
Also, to keep me in the habit of writing on the blog, I’ll be reviewing each new episode of MLP:FiM season 7. They won’t be super in-depth reviews, but more or less me oohing or booing. Speaking of, DID YOU GUYS SEE THE NEW CLIP?
Hear that? That is the sound of my inner-ten year old screaming because OMG MAGIC CIRCLES SHIPPING PORTAL OMG OMG OMG MAGIC MAGIC STARBURST
Anyway, see you soon! When I come up with a better end tag, I’ll let you know.
Slapdash review: This is a good summer popcorn film, lots of laughs, characters I love being around, and a pretty fun ride. This film personally resonated with me enough for me to see it twice, but YMMV on enjoyment. The cameos are interesting, the film encourages you to watch through the credits. Go see it at least once, and stay for the end credits!
And now for my more lengthier thoughts about the film. BEWARE!MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! SPOILERS ABOUT THE ENTIRE MOVIE, ALL THE WAY TO THE END!
Currently I’m going to SFSU for my MA in English w/creative writing, with the intention of not only becoming a better writer, but to become a great teacher! One class that I’m taking to is Teaching Creative Writing, which is probably one of the bet classes I’ve taken. Essentially you’re creating a syllabus for a creative writing class or workshop, and my teacher has been extremely flexible with what kind of class we created. Naturally, I created a class that is basically an Introduction to Fantasy Writing class.
In Teaching Creative Writing, we have a 5, 10, 15, and a 20 minute presentation on the different elements or processes of craft we want to teach. Yesterday was my 20 minute presentation in which I attempted to define fantasy fiction.
Luckily most of my classmates don’t know a lot about fantasy (making them perfect guinea pigs for this presentation) but had some experience with speculative fiction, and one classmate is as knee-deep in fantasy fiction as I am. Before I handed out my handouts, I had asked my classmates to think of an adjective to describe fantasy. After I wrote down “the fantastic,” “portal fantasy,” “immersive fantasy,” “intrusive fantasy,” and “estranged fantasy,” I went down my list of classmates and received a wide variety of adjectives describing fantasy (from “Justin Trudeau” to “silly”). This was a perfect segue to hand out my handouts:
I talked about the aspect of the fantastic and how Farah Mendlesohn’s essay attempted a taxonomy of fantasy by creating four categories of how the fantastic is incorporated within the story. My main goal was to show why the fantastic element is important in fantasy stories, and that if that fantastic is taken away, the story can either change dramatically or just completely fall apart. This is where William Joyce’s Jack Frost came in handy.
Spoilers for Jack Frost, btw.
For those who haven’t read the story, Nightlight is a “creature of light” who is sworn to protect the Man in the Moon (MiM). He saves MiM from Pitch, but falls to Earth and is frozen in a comatose state long enough for him to forget his previous life. When he awakes, he’s now changed into Jack Frost, but is lonely and purposeless. MiM helps Jack by helping him remember who he use to be. Jack remembers his oath to protect MiM, but now amends it to protect the children of Earth, and is much happier with renewed purpose.
First, I related his story to the four categories. Jack Frost could be interpreted as a portal fantasy because our protagonist Nightlight falls from the world of the fantastic and into our reality, but it could also be interpreted as an intrusive fantasy because his magic, the magic of the Man in the Moon, and Pitch have also intruded on our reality.
Second, I made sure to point out how the texts guides the story while the art takes Jack’s internal feelings and makes them external. For example, let’s take a look at one of my favorite and most heartbreaking pages in the book:
Jack is tiny and sitting next to a dead tree, staring out into the nothing of snow blindness. The story guides us by telling us that Jack’s name is now Jack, but the pictures really emphasis Jack’s loneliness and possibly depression (or I could be projecting since this story feels like a fantastical version my life in the past five years):
Thirdly, I explained how the fantastic is necessary for this story about losing one’s purpose, wandering, and regaining that purpose. I feel I didn’t explain myself as clearly as I could have, but I do recall saying that what fantasy does is separate the reader from the problem, and because of that the reader is able to look at the problem differently than they may have done if the story was told straight naturalistically. Here we can see our protagonist physically change from his old life Nighlight to his new life Jack Frost, see his emotions being illustrated by how snowy everything, and most importantly, see how he keeps his purpose once he remembers it, but he changes it to fit his new life.
Anyway, once I finished my presentation, I received feedback and answered questions with my classmates that I’m just going to summarize here. Here’s the crux of the matter with defining fantasy: it’s essentially undefinable and can be applicable to just about anything and everything. In a classroom setting I can apply rules and categories to give students structure and focus to create effective and engaging fantasy. However, attempting to define or even categorize the fantasy genre can lead to generalizations like all magical realism stories would fall under estranged fantasy or portal fantasies are quest stories. Another issue with defining fantasy is that ultimately, the author decides how they want their story to be identified. With my experience in academia, there is still a lot of negative stigma against the term “fantasy” (which I have personally experienced) but not so much with “magical realism” (and that…that is a whole ‘nother rant).
All around though, my classmates and teacher really enjoyed the lesson. My teacher suggested that the four categories would be really great for writing exercises, and I completely agree! I was also told that even though the categories ran the risk of generalizing, they really are a great way to think about how fantasy works and why it is the way it is. So over all a great success, and now I’ve got a syllabus to work on!
Special thanks to William Joyce. Your books make for great presentations!
So, as some of you may know, I absolutely love My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. What brings me to write right now when I wasn’t even all that excited about season 6 because I was still bitter about how quickly everyone forgave Starlight Glimmer and how she was going to be apart of the main cast when poor Sunset Shimmer was still stuck at Canterlot High and blah blah blah?
Reunited meet cute happened.
Well, it starts a bit earlier than that. Here’s the key thing about building a good ship: you get a good crew if you’ve got good captains–er, characters. The audience doesn’t have to relate to the character, but should be able to emphasize with them to some degree. I was so bitter about Starlight and wishing she’s go away forever until Twilight said she’d be meeting with Sunburst. Not only can you see on Starlight’s face how absolutely terrified she is when the idea is brought up, but she quite literally has auditory hallucinations that block Twilight out. I can emphasize with her because she was literally evil last year and now has to tell her best friend who left her behind about it, and she’s terrified that he won’t forgive her (even though everyone else has so quickly). I also sympathize with her because I have a buzzing in my ears when I’m under extreme stress. I’m extremely curious to see if these auditory hallucinations are brought back if Starlight’s put under the right amount of stress, and if the show will ever address it.
I wasn’t completely won over to this plot until Starlight meets Sunburst and…and it’s too cute I can’t
I absolutely love Sunburst’s really unique color scheme, his cloak, his beard, his glasses, and even his tweedy voice. Combine that with the very adult situation of “oh hey we were friends as kids but lost touch now we’re adults WHAT YEAH I’M DOING AWESOME I’M SURE YOU’RE DOING AWESOME AHAHAHA I’M NOT A FAILURE IN LIFE AHAHAHA” just completely won me over with these two. It’s obvious that Sunburst is lying through his teeth, we see that they have way high expectations of each other and they clearly have their own regrets that we know or can easily guess at.
Predictability is not a bad thing, especially when there’s a little unpredictability mixed into it. Starlight might become angry at Sunburst for leaving her behind for magic school and not even become the great wizard he was supposed to be. Sunburst might be fearful of Starlight’s genuinely terrifying powers and her past evilness, even though she’s on the road to personal redemption. They could have been angry at the end of act 2 only to hastily make up before act 3 ended.
Instead, we get this:
But Giddy, you benevolent barn owl, I thought you wanted righteous justice against Starlight Glimmer and hated how everyone forgave her so easily. And while this is true, Sunburst forgiving Starlight Glimmer is a lot different than the Our Town ponies and the Mane 6 forgiving her instantly:
He never directly had to fight her as an evil villain, he only knew her as a childhood friend that he was kind of a butt to by leaving her behind and butt-bumping her as he celebrates his cutie-mark.
He even admits that, had he reached out, he could have helped prevent her from going evil. This in no way excuses Starlight’s actions, nor are her previous actions Sunburst’s fault. However, I can sympathize with that feeling of “if I hadn’t been a jerk then, we could have been different now” that I think Sunburst may be feeling.
It’s clear that Sunburst carries a lot of shame for not being the great wizard he and Starlight thought he would become, and carries shame for lying to Starlight. Because she forgave him so quickly and kindly, he’s more likely to return the favor when Starlight reveals her own past and fears.
You could totally tell with that glasses-slide that he now has a crush on Starlight. Yes this is a valid reason to forgive someone shut up.
In the spirit of all this forgiveness, especially on this Easter Sunday, I’ll forgive the season 5 finale’s extremely rushed redemption of Starlight Glimmer. Without it, we wouldn’t have had this episode that gives Starlight Glimmer and Sunburst’s relationship to blossom.
AND BOY DOES IT BLOSSOM:
Here’s where I think the writers are setting these characters up for not only a platonic rekindling, but a possible romantic relationship as well: they complement each other and bring out the best in each other. Sunburst has extended knowledge on not only magic spells but magical theory to a point where he can pull up new spells at the drop of a hat. He just don’t have the magical chops to do it, but Starlight Glimmer very much does. Starlight’s aggressive, but without that aggression she wouldn’t have been able to get Sunburst to the castle nor convince the other ponies once he announced he wasn’t really a wizard to give his idea a shot anyway. I actually really like how Starlight’s aggression is shown to be a positive and negative aspect in her life. Her aggression helps her get things done, but you can see when she finally spills her guts to Sunburst (as well as season 5) that she struggles with anger. Hopefully we’ll get to explore that aspect of her character further in the season!
Also, these two are literally made for each other. Just ask that ol’ hippogryph Silver Quill about color theory:
At least Sunburst does have an identity outside of Starlight, and I’m intensely curious to know more about magic school and what happened after magic school. His line about knowing a lot about magic but not really being able to do it really hit the heartstrings, and I want to see more. So hopefully we won’t have to say goodbye to Sunburst anytime soon! In fact, he may be an excuse for Starlight to visit the Crystal Empire, home of the princess and prince of One True Love, wherein the love-powered Crystal Heart lies…
What with the changeling sighting at the end of the episode, I wouldn’t be surprised by another Canterlot Wedding-esque season 6 finale only with a much more developed relationship I can root for. Keep your claws crossed!