I’ve had a terrible revelation

Originally posted on my Tumblr.

For the past several months my writing output has been way down. At first, I was really worried but I took a small step back and reminded myself that it’s not unreasonable to slow down and recharge. So I dialed back my expectations and tried to keep writing at a slower pace. This kind of worked but I’ve had to scale back a second time as my output continued to stagnate.

Today I had a revelation as to why my writing has been suffering.

Earlier this year I was moved from the jewelry counter to the sales floor. My writing flow used to be: write story fragments, a few hundred words or so, down during slow periods at the jewelry counter, come home and type up those fragments, and use that as a springboard to write more.

Now that I am working on the sales floor, I don’t have the chance to write anything down. I’ve lost my springboard. I come home and struggle to focus to write because I don’t have that easy jumping on point of typing up what I wrote earlier.

If I could write at work between customers why don’t I just write at home? Answer: At work, the only distraction is the store music, while at home I have podcasts, tumblr, random stories, video games, facebook, email, twitter, netflix, to name a few. At work, I have no choice but to be separated from the constant noise my brain seems to want.

So in conclusion, I think my writing output has gone down because I’ve lost the time I used to have at work, free from distractions, to write bits of stories that I would then type up when I got home thus priming me for more writing. Now I have to figure out a way to fix this, which is going to be easier said than done. I fell into the habit of writing when I typed up the bits I wrote at work.

So, I need to create a new habit for writing. I need to carve out time daily to shut everything off and think about stories. I need to reprogram the (now faulty)routine I’ve been running for the last few years. I’m sure this is going to be a piece of cake.

Random Doctor Who Reviews

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These are a couple of short reviews of Doctor Who episodes from the most recent series. Originally posted on my Tumblr.

My Beautiful Ghost Monument

I just watched the newest episode of Doctor Who. Fairly average Doctor Who episode but the ending, the Doctor reuniting with the Tradis, was marvelously heartfelt. The Doctor has a quick moment of gender confusion that felt very familiar to me as a trans woman. From the first episode, I loved that the Doctor being a woman was not presented as a problem or an issue to constantly commented on. I hope we get more passing (no pun) moments of “trans-ness” (for lack of a better word).

Rating 3.5/5


 

Doctor Who: Rosa Parks

So, I’m several weeks behind on Doctor Who but I’m getting caught up.

The “scifi bad guy” felt lacking in motivation besides being a racist from the future. The “current day bad guy”, aka white people, was horrifically realized without being over the top. The very matter of fact way they enforced segregation and their own “superiority” over black people felt the right kind of wrong.

Vinette Robinson, who played Rosa Parks in the episode, was great. Quiet but with steel bracing her every word. I am glad that the episode showed her as involved in the activism of the time and not just a tired woman.

I was struck by the similarities between the bus driver running off the bus to call the police and the continuing present-day trend of white people calling the police on black people for existing in what they perceive as white spaces.

Overall, I liked the episode but it is emotionally intense in a way that means I probably won’t watch it very often.

Rating 5/5

Gillian Reviews Venom

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Sunday night I went to see Venom after work. It was kind of a late showing, 9:15 pm, and I was debating with myself a good portion of the day. The trailers didn’t really grab me and combined with a general critic consensus of “it’s a bad movie” along with the handicap of being unconnected to Spider-Man, I had pretty much made up my mind not to see it.

Then I listened to a podcast review and heard something that piqued my interest. Near the end of the movie, Venom the symbiont admits he is a loser. He’s smaller than the other symbionts and can’t form as many different weapons as they can.

Forget the trailers; they’re straight up lying to you about Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiont’s relationship. Yes, Venom speaks with a deep gravely voice and yes he kills and eats people but he and Eddie have a much more equal relationship. You could even say it’s symbiotic. But seriously they bicker with each other like an old married couple and it’s kinda cute. The symbiont controlling and threatening Eddie never really happens in the actual movie.

Also, forget the comics because the absence of Spider-Man changes a lot of Eddie and Venom’s motivations and personalities. Surprisingly Venom without Spider-Man works fairly well. There are a few things that just carry over without much explanation, like his appearance and name. It’s never stated in the movie but the big white eyes are just what these symbionts look like. Also, his name, Venom, is just his name for no reason. These are minor things that I feel don’t break the movie.

The actual story is pretty straightforward with no real twists or turns which is fine for a super anti-hero movie. It’s not high art but it’s serviceable. The transition from second to third act is a little rough with some surprise motivations and character development but it’s still a thousand times better than Spider-Man 3. There is a mid-credits scene that sets up a sequel that I would be willing to watch.

I ended up enjoying the movie and will probably watch it again once it hits a streaming service. It is a departure from the comic character in many ways which may be a deal breaker for some people. This slightly new take on Venom was refreshing to me. It’s a new origin story for a familiar-ish character.

Rating 3.5/5

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