Saturday, July 30, 2016

The 5 Worst Cliches in Books and Movies

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know that things I absolutely hate most when reading a book or watching a movie is clichés, tropes, and stereotypes. It's nothing more than lazy writing. If you can predict everything that's going to happen in a book within the first twenty pages, then why read all two hundred? 

So, this is my dedication to those crappy, lazy clichés and stereotypes that plague modern literature and television. Enjoy. 

5: “The Dame” is the sneaky, backstabbing traitor 



Because women are so treacherous and evil (unless they're a virgin; then they're just weak and stupid). 


4: Revenge (as the sole reason a character or story exists)




This happened in Game of Thrones the show; they completely changed all of Dorne and turned a strong pacifist into a two-dimensional revenge-seeking caricature (This article goes into further depth). 


Obviously, revenge is important and is a major motivator for epic stories, both on an individual and communal level. But to have it be the only reason a character is there? When they have no other purpose, no other passion, nothing? Lazy. 


3. Workaholic Woman



A woman who's actually dedicated to her career? There's no conceivable way that can be sexy or attractive (never mind the obvious passion behind it and big paycheck). 


This usually happens in movies, and the man's job is to show this woman how all of her problems can be solved with his penis. 

2. Damsel in Distress



By now it should be obvious that I am a feminist and therefore prefer my women characters to be more than talking sex objects.

I'm not saying women are invincible. We're no more indestructible than men. But we're not three-year-olds who blindly walk into danger every week and need a big, strong man with an actual narrative arc to come and rescue us. Give us some credit.

1. Romantic Subplot


Because this is something everyone can relate to.


I hate this one the most because it's a gateway cliché. It leads directly to the Damsel in Distress (especially in superhero movies), and you'll be hard pressed to find a female traitor or workaholic woman who also isn't the hero's crush. 


Love triangles are the absolute worst. 


It also reinforces the belief that men and women cannot be in the same room together without romance. Like it's somehow the woman's job to be the hero's girlfriend at the end of the book (because that's the real victory: making sure he gets laid). God forbid we have two characters of the opposite sex go through a crazy adventure together and then decide at the end of it, "Wow, you're a really good friend and I'm happy to have met you. Let's stay platonic besties and do this again sometime."


So there you have it. The worst clichés you can find in any movie or book. But I’d like to make one thing clear before I finish: clichés exist because, sometimes, they can be very good. Even the romantic subplot (i.e. Nico di Angelo and Will Sherman in Heroes of Olympus). People use them over and over and over again because at one point they were the height of originality and imagination. And sometimes, if the writer is very very good, they can put in one of these horrid clichés in their book (or movie or TV show) and have it be beautifully captivating and amazing.

And to show you that I’m not lying in an attempt to avoid bad comments, here is a list of every book, movie, and TV show that I’ve seen successfully pull off one or more of these clichés:

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus (both of which I go into further detail here), and Trials of Apollo series (full review here).

Miss Congeniality does the workaholic woman well because while Hart spends most of the movie getting glammed up, in the end she goes back to being just her: an industrious tomboy. (The romantic subplot adds no value to the movie and shouldn’t be there at all, but it takes up a total of, like, two minutes, so it’s not so bad.)

Game of Thrones, the books and the show, usually (I’m always gushing about it on my blog, but I have a fuller review of the series here and here). There are so many traitors and spies, a few are statistically bound to be women. Romance and love are huge motivators and factors in human psychology. And revenge is a big reason wars get started (although, as I mentioned above, sometimes it goes a little overboard). 

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms has, like, eight different love stories and triangles between mortals and gods, but the heartbreak is fundamental to the villain’s backstory, not just unnecessary drama.

Harry Potter uses several clichés, but somehow makes them work. J. K. Rowling’s magical that way. 

Every Pixar movie, and several Disney movies. 

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Thanks for reading! :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Flying Cobras!

Rain is dead. The Harenan army is on the move. The heroes need to get to the city of Argentum, before the Harenans turn it to ash.

They're about to meet someone interesting...

Flying Cobras Ch. 20-22

The Paladin

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Monday Movie! Star Trek: Beyond

Bechdel Test: fail
Mako Mori Test: pass
Sexy Lamp Test: pass
(The Sexy Lamp Test is "can the major women character(s) be replaced by a sexy lamp with no affect on the story?" In this case, no. Uhura and Jaylah are too important.)

On the DZA Review Scale, I'm giving it a solid fantastic (half a step down from Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

Pre-order it here!



I went into this movie thinking "It's going to be a fun action-packed hour and a half with jokes, but that one alien girl is only there to kick people and Uhura's just there to moon over Spock."

I was right on the first count, sort of right on the last one (trouble in paradise with Uhura and Spock, similar to Into Darkness). And the uniforms are still pissing me off.

But then Uhura kicked a bunch of bad guys' butts on her own before trapping herself in a room with the bad guy (played by the awesome and terrifying Idris Elba) and figuring out his entire motives. And Jaylah turned out to have her own narrative arc and backstory! It was a tropey backstory, but it was her own. I was thrilled!

Also, Spock laughs.

Spock. Laughs.

In front of McCoy, who understandably freaks out.

He also swears. Even though he's quoting McCoy, it's still weird.

Speaking of which, we get more Spock & McCoy frenemy time! I absolutely love their relationship. They didn't get nearly as much time together in Into Darkness (understandable, since the focus was on Jim and Spock's friendship, but still irksome), but Beyond more than made up for it.

And I'm so glad that the writers included a five-second shot of Sulu with his husband and daughter. A movie that unapologetically shows an LGBT relationship as perfectly normal always cheers me up.

All totaled, it's a great movie full of fun little surprises (and one big one toward the end; but spoilers!).

Pre-order Star Trek Beyond here!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Flying Cobras Update

The heroes have made it to the surface in one piece, only to find something far more dangerous and evil than anything they've ever encountered in the Deep Cities.

Ain't no party like a Flying Cobra party, 'cause a Flying Cobra party has a guest list where everyone on it wants you dead. 




Also, I have a new piece of artwork for this part of the story. Unfortunately, I'm on a fishing trip in Wisconsin, and we couldn't fit a massive scanner next to the fishing rods. So, artwork for Friday! :)

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Thanks for reading!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns and you're not comfortable leaving them in the little comment box below, then please contact me directly

Friday, July 8, 2016

#TeamCap (Or, Why Tony Stark was an Idiot in "Civil War")

Please note that I'll be going to Nowhere, WI for the week with my grandparents, so internet might not be a thing for a few days. :/

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I saw Captain America: Civil War when it came out, and the reason I didn't blog about it then was because I needed to mourn. It was an amazing, awesome movie that managed to be unpredictable toward the end (and I do not say that lightly, especially for a superhero movie) and it completely tore me apart. I love the Avengers, and I hate seeing them attack each other.

Well, okay, let me rephrase. The big airport fight was the highlight of the movie and was totally awesome, but that was in part because no one was actually trying to kill each other (with the exception of Black Panther, but he wasn't actually an Avenger, so that was fine). Rhodey getting hit was an accident and Sam Wilson tried to save him despite being on opposite sides.

But then Zemo had to be a dick, Tony had be an idiot, and shit got real and broke my heart.


So now that I'm mostly over my grief and can write about this without breaking down in either rage or tears, I'm going to explain why I've always been #TeamCap and why Tony's an idiot. An understandable idiot who is also my favorite Avenger, but an idiot nonetheless.

First and foremost: the Accords. Great on paper. A predictable outcome considering one of the biggest issues in the Marvel Universe is how much humans are afraid of mutants and want them registered/regulated/whatever.

But when has that actually ever worked? The last time an organization had even a smidgen of control over the Avengers (SHIELD), they actually turned out to be Hydra.

And when does the international community ever actually step up and help out with worldwide issues? I just got back from a study abroad in Rwanda, which experienced a genocide twenty years ago, that the international community knew about, knew exactly what was happening, and didn't do jack shit. So if the Avengers were real, had been around at the time, and had been under the control of the international community, they wouldn't have been able to do anything, either.

And considering the fact that the humans who were trying to bring Bucky in were going to shoot him on sight, instead of arrest him and put him on trial like what we're supposed to do (that whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing), I can see why Steve and his team would be hesitant to place themselves at the mercy of paranoid non-mutants.

If people are so worried (and yes, I can see the whole accountability thing), then have the Avengers be a a non-government organization (NGO). Each country treats them differently according to their own laws, they're registered, they're held accountable, but they're not in the pockets of specific countries/politicians. If nobody outside the Avengers can hold them accountable should one of them screw up, have the group set up an Internal Affairs thing, like what police have.

(And yes, I know, not a simple solution, not a quick fix, it has its own problems. But this is the best solution I can see and it doesn't end with my favorite characters trying to kill each other, so everyone wins.)

Then there's the thing with Bucky.

Obviously, seeing the murder of your parents is going to incite an emotional reaction. I'm not going to blame Tony for going off the rails a little bit. But here's what I don't get:


Clint Barton: spends the majority of the first Avengers moving trying to kill the Avengers due to being brainwashed by Loki. Ends the movie fighting alongside them, no questions asked.


Wanda and Pietro Maximoff spend the majority of the second Avengers movie on Team Ultron, a choice they made of their free will! They end the movie joining the Avengers and Wanda ends up joining up as a permanent member.


Bucky Barnes: spends the majority of The Winter Soldier trying to kill Steve and Nick Fury due to being brainwashed by Hydra, a process that took seventy years of torture. Ends Civil War as a wanted fugitive.

You can't have it both ways, Tony! If Loki's responsible for everything Clint did in The Avengers, then Hydra's responsible for everything Bucky did. If Bucky's responsible for the Starks' death, then Clint's responsible for all those agents' deaths. Now tell Steve you're sorry and go fight some bad guys.

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Thanks for reading! :)

Watch Captain America: Civil War here!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns and you're not comfortable using the little comment box below, then please contact me directly.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Flying Cobras Update

The Flying Cobras are trapped miles underground in the Deep Cities, its citizens out for blood (apparently, killing political leaders and threatening a slave economy is a big taboo). Their ally on the surface, Mindartis, is in deep shit.

Never a dull moment with these guys.


Chapters 9-13




Also, I've finished creating a new (non-ridiculous) cover for the series! Unfortunately, technology hates me and I couldn't find a scanner big enough for the 11" x 17" design in time for this week's update. :(

Friday, July 1, 2016

Top 5 Disney Princes

Because I did Top 10 Disney Villains and that was fun.

Also, the book I'm currently reading is over 1000 friggin' pages. Why the hell did I decide to do that? That sounds like a bad idea.

Eh, whatever. Here are my favorite Princes!

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5. Naveen (Princess & the Frog)


Hey, I'd rather chill all day in a palace than do any type of hard labor, too. I can totally relate to his laziness.

And he's so sweet toward the end when he's proposing to Tiana. :)


4. Eugene Fitzherbert (Tangled)


Frying pan sword fight with a horse.

I love arrogant yet vulnerable, selfless characters who don't get over all of their flaws. He's still stealing the crown at the end...which reminds me, how exactly did that conversation with the king and queen go? "Well, you stole the crown, which is an offense punishable by death...but you've hooked up with and probably banged our daughter, so I guess we'll call it even?"

One problem with this guy: didn't he think to cut Rapunzel's hair after he was healed? Wouldn't that have gotten the same result while avoiding the death scene? Timing, Eugene!


3. Emperor Kuzco (The Emperor's New Groove)



He's such a bitch. I love it.


2. Kristoff (Frozen)



Honestly, just for this scene where he explains everything wrong with every previous Disney movie:

"Hang on, you got engaged to a man you'd just met that day? [...] What if you don't like the way he picks his nose? And eats it?"
"Excuse me, sir, he is a prince."
"All men do it."

Also, at the end, he asks Anna if he can kiss her, which is an important lesson on consent.


1. Stitch (Lilo and Stitch)

Shut up! He totally counts as a Disney Prince.

How can you say no to this little face?


Or cheer him on as he destroys San Francisco? (I mean, come on, it's San Francisco. It has to go.)


And look! I found fan art of him dressing up as Appa from Avatar: the Last Airbender. This is the most awesome image of all time. It needs to be shown to every human being in the world and included in standardized testing.


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Thanks for reading! :)

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns and you're not comfortable using the handy comment box below, then please contact me directly.