Author update

So, story and blog posts have been a bit sparse during the last few months. I had a bit of writer’s block/story block for some weeks. Regular posting is going to resume but at a lower rate. Instead of posting two stories a week(eight a month), I will be posting two a month as a minimum up to four a month. This is to give me time to edit and improve my writing. For the last couple of years, I’ve put a lot of focus on just pumping out stories on a regular basis. Forcing myself to hit that deadline of a “finished” story every few days was a good exercise for me.

I’ve also restarted work on the ebook collection of stories from last year. No timeline on when it’ll be done. I was way too optimistic at the start of the year to think I would have it done by March or April. My only goal is to have it done before 2019.

Also, I set the price for “Love and Comets” and Other Stories, the ebook collection of stories from 2016, at pay-what-you-want on Gumroad.

Gillian Reviews Power Rangers

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Power Rangers is the reboot movie of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers tv series.  It presents a slightly darker and grittier version of the Power Rangers but not as dark and gritty as the “fan-made” short film that came out a couple years ago.

The plot is simple: a group of kids gain superpowers and must defeat the evil enemy.  While I liked most of the characters, they weren’t the characters I knew from the series.  They are present in name but with different backstories and character traits.  There’s a little shuffling of races to avoid matching with their ranger color and the cast ends up slightly more diverse because of it.

My main nitpick with the movie is that the five kids have no connection with each other or reason to work together until the film says they have to.  I rewatched the first episode of the tv series after watching the movie and I buy those kids as a superhero team more than the movie’s kids.  They’re all friends and supportive of each other and just nice kids.  I’ll admit the show is a little rough to watch twenty-four years later but the characters are the rock of that show.

On to the costumes.  I did not like the design of the armor.  I get they were trying to avoid referencing the tv spandex too much but the low rent, bio-techno, Iron-Man look isn’t good.  The color scheme is inconsistent across the armors with some having patches of white and others having shades of their primary color instead.  It’s a nitpick but it bothered me as a fan of the old show.

The zords were honestly hard to look at.  They looked like rejects from a Transformers movie.  The mastodon zord had six legs for some reason.  I did like that they had a chance to fight separately which they rarely did in the show.  The Megazord was something of a let down since it wasn’t made from combining the zords in Voltron-esque sequence and instead combined offscreen into a giant robot that looked like the five robots had been melted down and recast into a man shape.  Easily the most recognizable sequence from the show is the zords combining and it gets cut out and turned into a non-reveal since it was a foregone conclusion that they would be combining their zoids.  Another nitpick from a fan of the show.

In fact, lots of things bothered me about the movie as a fan of the show.  The movie is a fine superhero movie but is a below average Power Rangers movie. I will admit I came very close to tears during the emotional climax of the movie. The characters aren’t my Power Rangers but I’m in my late 30’s and the movie was aimed at a younger demographic.

Rating 2.5/5

Alien Covenant and Faceblindness

The other night I watched Alien Covenant with my roommate.  She hadn’t seen it before but I had seen it in the theater. This isn’t a review so beware of spoilers if you haven’t seen it.

I wanted to write about my experience watching this movie as someone with faceblindness. Faceblindness is the inability or difficulty to recognize or remember faces.  My own faceblindness is fairly mild. While I can learn to recognize a person’s face it takes some time. A person I’ve just met is as easy for me to lose as a grain of sand on a beach. Unless I take note of some distinguishing feature or clothing item I could literally turn around and not recognize them when I turn back. Even after I know a person’s face, I mostly rely on hairstyle, clothing, and body shape to recognize them.

Alien: Covenant starts by reintroducing David, the robot from Prometheus, played by Michael Fassbender. After a short ominous scene with his creator, the film cuts to the spaceship Covenant, where we meet Walter, a different robot also played by Michael Fassbender. To my eyes, Walter looks like a different person. Fast-forward to after the Covenant’s crew has landed on an alien planet, been infected by alien spores, fought white pseudo aliens, blown up their landing ship, been rescued by David, and led to a destroyed city. David walks right past Walter and calls him ‘brother’. I still don’t recognize them as the same actor. I think David is calling Walter brother just because they were both robots.

Fast-forward past David cutting his hair to a similar style as Walter, to an extended scene of them interacting as David teaches Walter how to play a flute. They are literally face to face split screen Parent Trap style. I think “Hey they kind of look alike,” but I still don’t think they are the same actor. Walter has a bulky physique and wide face while David’s is slimmer and has a thin pointy face.

Fast-forward again this time to the two of them fighting. Wait are they the same actor? Then there is a cut away from the fight when it seems like Walter has won but we don’t see the killing blow. Later, Walter rejoins the other survivors but something about him is different. He still looks like Walter but there is a tiny voice in the back of my head saying “David has replaced Walter.” That’s nonsense of course. How is the movie going to explain it? Walter and David look nothing alike. Did David skin Walter? Maybe he downloaded himself into Walter. The action is really picking up at this point with an alien fight with a crane attached to a flying platform so I mostly ignore these thoughts. They kill the alien and get back to their ship in orbit.

Fast-forward past the final fight with the last alien to Walter putting the Heroine of the movie into hypersleep. She makes reference to the log cabin she was planning on building with her husband and he doesn’t react. As she begins to realize Walter is David, I see, like magic, Walter’s facial expression shift into one of David’s. I am now 95% sure David and Walter are the same actor. David does a final bit of creepy robot stuff and the credits roll. There in black and white, I see “David/Walter Michael Fassbender” and then finally I am sure they were the same actor.

TL;DR – I only suspected two characters, played by the same actor who were supose to look alike, were the same actor near the end of the movie and wasn’t sure until the credits.

Year End Update

This is the end of my second year writing and posting on a regular basis.  My goal for this year was to post 90 stories/poems/serials.  I posted 87.  Not a bad showing considering those missed posts were caused by a hurricane.  The last two story posts are up on Patreon and will be out next week on my site and tumblr.

Looking forward:

Next month, I am going on hiatus to work on my second ebook.  I am going to be reblogging stories from earlier in the year and last year on tumblr.  I hardly ever reblog my stories because I don’t want to flood my followers’ dashboards with repeated reblogs.

Like the last one, this e-book will be a collection of stories I posted in the last year. I plan to have completed revising, editing, and formatting it by early March.  Patrons get free copies.  Stories will resume in February on the same schedule as this past year, eight stories a month posted on Wednesdays and Saturdays (Patrons get new stories a week early).

Gillian Reviews Train to Busan

Just watched this and I loved it. It’s about a father and daughter who are traveling on a train when a zombie outbreak happens in South Korea and zombies get on the train.

The little girl nails her scenes. The suspense and action are great. The film is centered on the two but addition character give it an ensemble feel. One of the main themes of the film is saving yourself vs saving others and I love how they played it out.

It is a South Korean film so subtitle reading is required but well worth it.

Rating 5/5

 

No More “Firsts”

Danica Roem is the first openly transgender state legislator in the USA. Not the first. Althea Garrison was the first transgender state state legislator in 1992.

It’s important to celebrate firsts. They show progress to, hopefully, a better country. I was going to say world but I think many places have beat the USA to many of the “firsts” we celebrate. By saying “this is the first time this has happened” we plant a flag in history but the USA has a bad history with planting flags where they don’t belong.

The new news article is the headline. Whole stories are condensed into a single sentence. Then as often happens with online media someone writes a new article off of the first. They can’t use the exact same headline so they change it. “First Openly Transgender State Legislator” becomes “First Transgender State Legislator” becomes “First Trans Person Elected Ever”.

It’s a game of telephone played by “journalists” and bloggers for sensational news. I see it happen every time a “First” is announced. “The First” is a story but maybe it shouldn’t be. Firsts are great but they aren’t and shouldn’t be the start and end of a story.

“Trans Woman Elected to State Legislator” is a rare enough event that it doesn’t need to be the first. This is news. This is history. This is what should be reported. Clear factual articles. Remember headlines are the new news articles.

“Firsts” are flag waving and we’ve had enough flag waving in the past year.

Gillian Reviews Star Trek Discovery ep 1&2

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Star Trek: Discovery ep1 or Star Trek: Shenzhou series finale part one

The opening credits are interesting. I like the mix of technical drawings and “strange new planets and new lifeforms” imagery.

As someone who grew up idolizing Spock and Data for their logical natures, I find Michael Burnham to be very interesting. Her logical nature overriding, but not eliminating, her emotions is what I had hoped to grow into as a child. She very obviously is not a human pretending to be a Vulcan but a human who was raised by Vulcans. Her overtly emotional response to the Klingons at first seemed in opposition to her “upbringing” but is fully in line with being a survivor of a Klingon attack as a child. Sarek even cautions her during their vip call to not let her past influence her decisions.

This first episode is very Burnham centric which makes sense because she is the main character but I don’t really feel like I got a read on any of the other characters. Except for Saru, Doug Jones’s character, the science officer. He is very good at sensing danger and death as we are reminded every time he speaks. Despite Burnham having served on the Shenzhou for seven years, I felt there was a sharp separation between her and the rest of the crew. I’ve stayed away from most spoilers but I know the Shenzhou does not survive episode two and Burnham is transferred to the Discovery. I don’t know if any other characters survive so this might just be to keep the audience from getting attached to temporary characters.

I don’t mind the new(old) look of the Klingons. Klingon history and government was not offered as an elective at my high school but there’s enough exposition to keep the plot running without bogging down the story. I do like the idea of the different “races” of Klingons.

Star Trek: Shenzhou series finale part two

In this episode, we get a glimpse of Burnham seven years ago when she joined the Shenzhou crew. I’m a little confused about how some one who trained at the Vulcan Learning Center and Vulcan Science Academy just joins a Starfleet crew. Maybe they transferred her credits. Anyway we see her Vulcan upbringing did take quiet well but she has loosened up a bit in the last seven years.

Surprise, Burnham is carrying part of Sarek’s soul with her that lets them mind meld over light years and it’s never come up in the past seven years or anytime before that. This would have been a great season one reveal during Star Trek: Shenzhou.

Starfleet is thoroughly established as non-violent which I like.

I was not expecting the ending with Burnhan being court martial-ed and sentenced to life imprisonment. It’s going to be interesting to see how they justify making her first officer of the Discovery. I knew “something” happened, the Shenzhou was destroyed, and she ended up on the Discovery. I didn’t expect that “something” to be her committing mutiny.

Previous series and movies have kind of played a little loose with enforcing Starfleet regulations. As long as the hero saved the day any transgressions were swept under the rug or punished with a slap on the wrist. For example, Kirk and co. stole the Enterprise and blew it up during The Search for Spock and were punished in The Voyage Home by being assigned to the new Enterprise.

These two episodes are well crafted and fun to watch but I’m worried about how the rest of the season will(or won’t) flow with them. They set up a lot of Burnham’s character and the state of Klingon/Starfleet relations but I feel like that could have been revealed in episodes set on Discovery. The series is named after the Discovery so it seems like an odd choice to the start the story before the main character reaches the ship. I’m not saying I don’t like these episodes. Maybe it was important for us the audience to see the Shenzhou’s last mission before getting to Discovery. I will be watching the rest of the series.

Rating 4.5/5

Getting My ID

So, a couple of years ago my driver’s license expired. I put off renewing it because I’m just bad at taking care of things like this. The previous time it expired I was able to renew online but when it expired this last time I had to go into the DMV to renew it. Today I went to get an ID card because I haven’t owned a car in more than nine or ten years so I don’t see the need to have a driver’s license.

I took the bus for the first time in a while. I rarely go further than my job or the superstore where I shop, both of which are within walking distance of my home. It was weirdly nostalgic to ride past almost every place I’ve lived in the last fifteen years.

Because it has been more than two years since it expired, I needed my birth certificate and other documents to prove my identity. To get a birth certificate you need to show your DL or ID but you can use other documents to prove your identity as well.

I honestly thought today was going to be a struggle to get my documents because I’m trans and haven’t changed my name or gender marker. I don’t pass perfectly but generally I get treated as a woman. Having average looks helps sometimes. Also I don’t have like guy clothes anymore so I couldn’t try guy drag. I have some polo shirts but no pants. I gave up on pants a couple of years ago. Skirts are just more comfortable, cooler on hot days, and can be layered on cold days.

Anyway, all my worrying turned out to be for nothing. I got my birth certificate with no problems. At the DMV, the woman didn’t comment about anything. I didn’t get misgendered at either place. I don’t think either of the women I talked to used a honorific at all which I don’t mind but is a little odd for Texas.

Gillian Reviews Dreadnought by April Daniels

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Dreadnought by April Daniels is awesome. It’s about a trans girl superhero and it’s written by a trans woman.

The first chapter and a few others made me cry; it hits on a lot of things I felt as a closeted trans teenager.  April Daniels does not pull any punches about what it would be like to live with an abusive transphobic father. I didn’t have to deal with that myself because I came out a little later in life but some things still ring true. Like the way he says “son” and “boy” when we meetup. The quiet wishing that he would just accept me for who I am.

The superhero part of the story is funny and action packed but also real about how messed up being a superhero would be. It reminds me somewhat of “Soon I Will Be Invincible” by Austin Grossman on that front.

It’s a good book that hit me hard in the emotions. Be warned that it doesn’t shy away from the trauma trans girls live with.  Goddess, I want this to be a movie just to hear Danielle’s last line said out loud, “I’m transgender, and a lesbian, and I’m not ashamed of that.”

The sequel just came out today so I have another book to read right now.  Both books are available on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats.

Rating: 5/5

“Love and Comets” and Other Stories Ebook

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My first collection of stories from my website is available on my Gumroad Store for the low price of $1.99.  It contains forty stories I published on my website in 2016.  Stories include:

  • “Love and Comets” – a slice of life space adventure featuring a trans woman
  • “What’s the Last Thing You remember?” – Just a normal story about a woman having her memories uploading into a clone after her death
  • “Our Ghosts” – a poem about space and ghost stories
  • “Watchtower at the End of the World” – post-apocaliptic fantasy story about a small group of people surviving
  • “How Long is Forever?” – a poem about an immortal pondering her life
  • “Hidden Trees” – a surreal story about hidden spaces
  • “The Day is Hot” – a story about an encounter I had on a hot day
  • and many more…

The first twenty five people who use the code “firstbuyers” get it free.