The Lego Movie — Review and Personal Reflection

This was a great film – perhaps not as good as it’s hyped up to be, but good nonetheless.

The story is primarily about Emmett, a Lego construction worker living in a world ruled by the villainous Lord Business (who is voiced by Will Farrell, a fact which has a surprising amount of importance for the film). Emmett is completely ordinary; in fact, so ordinary that no one can remember him or distinguish him. Lord Business plans to end the world by gluing the entire world together with the Kragle (Krazy Glue), aided by his henchman, Bad Cop.

Inexplicably, Emmett comes upon the Piece of Resistance, the only thing that can foil the Kragle. He then must journey into the heart of Lord Business’s tower, with the aid of the Master Builders (Lego figures capable of great creative construction feats) Wyldstyle, Batman, Vitruvius, Unikitty, and that 80’s Space Guy.

First the bad: Wyldstyle and Emmett have a romantic arc that I’m really sure was there only cause every other story of this kind has that arc (though it only culminates in them holding hands). I really didn’t care for this arc, and it was quite cliché. On another point, there were a number of weird beneficial coincidences that occurred from time to time (such as the Millennium Falcon suddenly appearing). Sometimes these were justified, sometimes they were essential to the plot moving forward, other times they were so little I wondered why they were in there at all. It was as though they were concocted by a child…

…but that’s okay, for reasons I can’t say (spoilers!). On the good side of things, the gags were hilarious. Although the whole story followed the typical “you are the chosen one who must defeat evil” plot (complete with prophecy, delivered rather tongue-in-cheek by Vitruvius in the first moments of the film), the film subverts it in a number of ways. One of the more comical subversions: after Wyldstyle saves Emmett from Bad Cop and begins the typical history lesson exposition speech, Emmett totally fazes out of the conversation, hearing “blah blah blah, I’m so hot, blah blah blah….” Most importantly, at Emmett’s lowest point, the film completely shifts gears, changing how one perceives everything about the story.

This is a film for all ages. It’s action-packed and silly for the kids, but also deep and subversive for the adults.

But if there’s anything to make this a great film, it’s the film’s themes: anyone can be great, everyone can be creative, the world/Lego isn’t for keeping in strict, glued-together confines, but rather to be explored and played with.

 

This film made me want to play with Legos. It also made me consider my own play style: there was one scene in the film where several Master Builders are building together, and Batman says something like, “if you have any black pieces, I need them,” which reminded me of times when I would build Legos with my siblings; also, the entire idea of gluing together Lego pieces made me think.

I don’t like playing Legos with people much. I’m kinda a control freak when it comes to playing and building with Legos. But I’m not the kind to glue pieces – though I often do wish to immortalize my creations, often through photography – creating new things is something I enjoy a lot (as I suppose anyone who’s read this blog can tell). But I don’t interact well. I suppose I could if I and some partner planned what to build and what to do with it before we even started, and I didn’t have to worry about unexpected divergences from my plans, or any…silliness. By silliness I mean the sort of unbounded imagination pouring out of a small child’s mind, unrestrained and untrained in the art of the narrative, and the small child creates Mary Sue characters that beat up everyone and everything they “see.”

It makes me wonder what I’m going to do if I have small children of my own. I’ll have to deal with this…silliness, most likely, but my potential children will certainly play with Legos. I want them to discover, like Emmett, that everyone is creative, everyone can be special.

Year One — a reflection on blogging

Wow.

One year. Eighty-one blog posts. That’s like, more than one and a half blog posts a week. And with each blog post averaging a thousand words or so…

It’s been an interesting year. And a busy one. Between starting college and all the activities in my life, I’ve been learning a lot.

I’ve learned about priorities. It’s almost a blessing no one can see the exact times when my stories were posted, since they kept me up late about as often as my homework. Most were, needless to say, quite last minute.

I’ve learned about creativity. A creative mind is a full mind, a satiated mind – one gorged on literature and sleep. There was a long stretch during the middle of this year when I honestly ran out of ideas of things to write. I’m pretty sure if anyone cares to review my posts, they could probably find where that started happening. It was part of the reason I stopped posting twice a week, opting for once every five days.

I’ve learned about writing. It’s been fascinating to see how fast a page of writing can fill out. How easy, or difficult, it can be to finish a word quota. And to see just how many of my posts actually went longer than I intended them to go.

So that’s been this year.

I started this blog with two series: one as a sort of spin-off or introduction to a book I’ve been writing, the other my Twilight review.

The book’s third draft has been completed, and is due for a major overhaul in the planning stages for draft four. I’ve started some of the planning, but I have a couple other projects (including a different novel) to finish before I continue.

Although I feel the Twilight craze has finally died down after the release of the last film, I will continue to review the rest of the series. The other books, though, will only have one post each, as opposed to Twilight’s six.

After my current series (“Eight”), I’ll begin posting once a week. This series has about five more parts, so expect me to return to random shorts about mid-July.

Hopefully, this will be a year even better than this last one.

I’d like to thank you all for your support and for following my blog!

Easier Said than Done – A reflection on NaNoWriMo

As I said in this post, I was going to try to write 50,000 words about a telepath running around the US from the government and a terrorist organization. I only wrote…23,262.

In my defense, I also wrote at least 2,000 words on one novel, at least 5,000 words on another novel, plus a total of over 10,000 words for this blog during this past month. That’s a lot closer. Still, that’s all only almost there, and there was two other reasons that I don’t think I finished (which may be a good thing).

First, and most importantly, was real life. As a college student coming quickly on finals week, there was a lot to do that involved leaving the computer off and going to classes and doing homework. All those things I wish I didn’t have to deal with so that I could just write for all eternity. Sigh.

The other issue was only a little less warranted. It largely included the internet, and while I could argue that I occasionally needed some mindless, relaxing entertainment, there is also something to be said about excessive entertainment, which I’m sure I crossed into on a few occasions.

That being said, I’d like my family to know that I have been putting my homework before my writing, and there’s been a lot of that to do.

On the other hand, even when I was writing, I was running into brick walls. This was a particularly difficult story for me to write, largely because of what I’d like to christen “The Middle Gap”.

Simply put, this is the tendency for a writer to create the beginning and the ending of a story – and then leave the middle till they get there. This is something that happens to me a lot, and “Psychic” was no exception. The only problem was that that I never reached the ending, and the fact that I really didn’t know what would happen in the middle caught up with me rather quickly.

Now, generally there’s nothing wrong with not knowing the next step. The problem, for plotters like me, is what to fill in for the time between Point A and Point B, especially in the chapters that contribute less to the main plot.

When people ask me how fast I write, I usually tell them about a thousand words per hour. Honestly, I think this is perhaps the only way of accurately measuring type speed. Words per minute is only for people who know each and every word they will type, five sentences ahead. But that’s generally not how a first draft goes. Generally, word speed changes from a thousand words per hour when the writer knows what’s going on or when it’s a particularly fast paced scene, to around two hundred words per hour when the writer has no clue where to go next. And I found myself in the latter position far too often.

All that being said, I don’t think I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo next year. Even if I did put a gratuitous amount of planning into a story three months beforehand. I had far too many other things to spend my time on this month, and I don’t think that will be any different this time next year.

Not that I’ll stop writing, of course, or even put anything on hiatus. I love putting words on a page too much for that. I did enjoy doing NaNoWriMo, and getting significantly farther in this story than I’ve ever written or thought up before. While I didn’t get to write the most beautiful words of writing, “the end”, I still loved discovering the story.

NaNoWriMo — Psychic

This post is part of a blog chain that will be discussing plans for NaNoWriMo. What is NaNoWriMo? Well, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is commonly called November. Every year, hundreds of crazy people try to write a 50,000 word novel, with the best getting the promise of publishing. So, yes, I do think I can write 2,000 words a day in addition to working on college homework. So today I’ll be discussing what I’m planning, where it came from, and how I might write it. Enjoy!

 

I find that the best way to come up with things to write about is to just write down all the crazy, random ideas accrued during the day. I have a notepad in my back pocket, just for this purpose. And boy, do I have some crazy ideas.

The story, which “Carrie”s the temporary title of psychic, originated in two ideas, or rather, inspirations. The first was the age-old trope of a woman disguised as a man that intrigued me after watching “As You Like It”. The second was about genetics, namely, the idea that a person might be able to have purple eyes naturally. Initially, I had two different stories for these, one about a married couple hiding out in an enemy castle, disguised both as men (don’t ask – it was even worse than it sounds) and the other about a commando princess from Hungary with special eyes (purple eyes).

However, none of these stories were developed much, and I decided one night to scrap them. But I still liked the concepts, so I tried to see what I could do with the original concepts. Ultimately, two stories were born that night: Dragonslayer and Psychic. Dragonslayer (a tentative title and given before I learned about the Disney film) combined the aspects of a woman disguised as a man in a very tough role. Psychic took the idea of special physical features and combined it with two other ideas, one about exploring telepathy, and the other a desire to break the cliché of the “evil government” trying to take back a stolen human experiment.

There are essentially four main characters to this novel:

The first is, naturally, the experiment, Ennoia, or Ariel. She has long, red hair and violet eyes to make her distinguishable for her “creators”. She has telepathic powers, but only by contact or short range metal contact. The nature of her experimentation, though, makes her unable to speak. She’s not mute, though, she just doesn’t know English, or any language for that matter. Rather, she speaks in ideas or concepts – what I suspect language would look like without words or sounds. You might have, at some point, become aware that your thoughts are really just yourself speaking in your imagination. Ariel doesn’t speak in her imagination when she thinks.

The second character is Ariel’s escort. I think his name is Anderson, but it’s been a while since I’ve done any work on this story (which is one reason I’m doing it again in November). Anyway, he picks up Ariel after her escape and accompanies her on her adventures. In a sense, he’ll act as her love interest, although I feel that’s rather cliché, and I think a sheltered, psychic girl on the run would prefer more platonic relationships.

The third character, Al Anszlough is a government official who will act as viewpoint of the scientists who created Ariel and the police and special ops forces tracking her down. Chief for this perspective will be Doctor Hanson, the head scientist who sees Ariel more as a daughter than an invention, and an unnamed police chief.

The last character is a member of the terrorist organization that originally attempted to capture Ariel, providing the perspective of the villain(s) and their interactions with Ariel and the government. I’m not sure if this character will be redeemed at the end or not. We’ll see where the symbolism leads me.

So, if I were to start this story, it would probably look something like this:

Someone was getting fired today. Anszlough knew it wasn’t him, fortunately, he was essentially only an innocent bystander, but he knew someone was getting it. A band of terrorists doesn’t get into a top secret government laboratory and release valuable secret property without someone getting the axe. He hoped it wasn’t Doctor Hanson – if there was anyone who would do anything to fix the problem, it would be him. Anszlough could remember the passion in the scientist’s voice as he brought him through the facility, earnestly describing the project.

He sat back in the chair on the first floor of the building that, a mile below, contained the secret laboratory he had been touring only an hour before. The building was swarming with media and police and the streets outside was filled with curious pedestrians, all vying for a glance at the white outlines of the dead security guards killed either by the terrorists or, here Anszlough shuddered, the girl.

It seemed that action was the only thing that worried Hanson. He didn’t seem to care that his experiment had escaped and might be in the hands of malevolent terrorists (perhaps he was confident of her abilities) – no, he was fussing over the fact that she had shot someone.

In her defense, it had been self-defense, since the security guards had been rather aggressive in restraining her. But that didn’t seem to matter to the scientist. Anszlough sighed, recollecting his thoughts.

Two hours ago, he had come down the long elevator with Hanson, passing a dozen security checkpoints as they descended. Frankly, it was surprising the terrorists had been able to get in as fast as they had, what with all the requirements for entry.

The laboratory itself was probably about the size of a football stadium, which Hanson explained was necessary for a growing girl.

“She needs room to run around – we can’t keep her cooped up in one room all the time.”

“Well, who’s she?” Anszlough had asked.

That was before they entered the heart of the facility. Outside, there was plenty of evidence that there was a growing girl present, from the dark bedroom with a door slightly ajar, to the long track with all sorts of physical equipment. But none of it compared to the heart.

Anszlough opened his mouth in awe when the doors opened, revealing the inner sanctum of the laboratory. There, in the center of the room, stood a large plastic tube filled with some blue liquid. And, suspended in the liquid, floated a young girl who Anszlough estimated to be about seventeen. Her long, red hair floated eerily about her, and the thin dress she wore was absolutely still. She looked like some alien creature, something beautiful, yet terrible.

“Who is she?” Anszlough asked.

“That, sir,” replied Hanson proudly. “Is Ennoia, our psychic.”

 

So that’s that, for now. If you’re interested in other stories, be sure to check out either the rest of my blog, or these other blogs, who are also covering their NaNoWriMo ideas this month.

October 5th – http://www.lilyjenness.blogspot.com  – Lily’s Notes in the Margins

October 6th – http://realityisimaginary.blogspot.com – Reality Is Imaginary

October 7th – http://onelifeglory.blogspot.ca – One Life Story

October 8th – http://gabrielletheauthoress.wordpress.com – Of a Writerly Sort

October 9th – http://towerofplot.blogspot.co.uk – The Leaning Tower of Plot

October 10th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com – This Page Intentionally Left Blank

October 11th – http://whatupdates.blogspot.com – What Updates?

October 12th – http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com – Miriam Joy Writes

October 13th – http://cinderscoria.blogspot.com – Between the Lines

October 14th – http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com – Inside the Junk Door

October 15th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com – Musings From Neville’s Navel

October 16th – http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com – Kirsten Writes!

October 17th – http://mirrormadeofwords.wordpress.com – A Mirror Made of Words

October 18th – http://theteenagewriter.wordpress.com – The Teenage Writer

October 19th – https://platonicpencil.wordpress.com – Platonic Pencil

October 20th – http://markobrienwrites.blogspot.com – Mark O’Brien Writes

October 21st – http://amandafoody.blogspot.com – It’s All In My Head

October 22nd –http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com – The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer