Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Burdened With Glorious Purpose: Avengers, Conclusions

Well, here we are at the end of my lengthy Avengers review. So far I've talked about story structure, characters, humor, and theme. I could have gone longer - the action sequences, the costumes, the Joss Whedon touch, the music, what I disliked - but I've touched on everything that's especially important to me in a movie, so I think I'll leave it at that.

So what do we have left? Just a few parting thoughts about the film, and a little bit of application.


Yes, it's Christian-application-of-the-Avengers-time! You knew this was coming. Or at least you should have. Unless you're new here. (In which case, welcome!)

By the way, did you know that The Avengers has now crossed the $600 million mark? It's at third place behind Titanic and Avatar in highest-grossing films. 

This review is not as spoiler-filled as the previous ones have been, but still, don't read if you're trying to decide whether or not to watch it. My recommendation is: go ahead, watch it! You will most likely not be disappointed. And then you can come back and read this review.

You have been warned. On we go, after the jump...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Well, What Have We Here?

Because what this post really needed was a cat picture.
So are y'all getting a little tired of the series I've been posting, or have they been enjoyable? My five-part Avengers review ends tomorrow, although H2WaMM has three more posts to go. I might post a book review next week for a little change of pace.

It's been a while since I updated my Blogs You Should Visit page, so I did that over the weekend to include some of my new favorite blogs. I also cleaned it up a little to remove any blogs that had stopped posting, moved, or just stopped altogether. I realized I hadn't updated it since the A-to-Z challenge, during which I followed a lot of new blogs.

So go check it out, and let me know if you find any new favorites!

On Thursday Lisa Campbell left my 500th comment! I know for some of you bloggers it may not seem like a lot (Alex J. Cavanaugh gets about 100 comments per post, so he's probably up in the millions now) but it's very gratifying for me. Thank you to everyone who comments and continues to leave comments! I love to hear what you have to say.

Becky from Braveheart is currently writing a series that I very much like. It's called Ministry or Malarkey, and it explores whether fiction (malarkey) can help people reach God (ministry). So far she's posted on Christian Inspirational Fiction and Parables. Looking forward to her post tomorrow!

My sister Ava won a photo editing contest over at Randocology! Hop on over to her blog and congratulate her. And then maybe help her boost her follower count...

Speaking of followers, Jenn, who recently gave me the One Lovely Blog Award, also gave me the Liebster Award - an award designed to recognize and promote blogs that have less than 200 followers. Jenn has just reached 100 followers herself, and is hosting a giveaway! Go tell her congrats and enter to win either a $15 or $10 Amazon gift card.

Now, to accept the award:

Thank the person that gave it to you. Thanks so much, Jenn!
Link back to their blog. Jenn's lovely blog, Scribbles from Jenn.
Put the award in your blog. See sidebar.
Present the award to 3-5 blogs with less than 200 followers.*
Leave a comment to let those blogs know that you've recognized their awesomeness!*

*Okay, I'm going to do awarding a little differently this time. Instead of picking 3-5 blogs (choosing blogs is always hard!) or even just holding out an open invitation, I'm going to go with this:

If you have less than 200 followers, and your blog is on my Blogs You Should Visit list, then I nominate you for this award! So go see if you're on the list, and then leave me a link if you decide to pick it up. 

By the way, have you reviewed The Avengers on your blog? I'm collecting reviews to link to in my final Avengers post this Wednesday. If you wrote a review or found one that you enjoyed, leave me a link and I'll include it!

This is Lauren, signing off....

(because cat pictures are like potato chips; you can't have just one)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Can You Wipe Out That Much Red? Avengers, Themes

Note: yes, this post was supposed to be published on Wednesday. Yes, this is Thursday. I didn't get it finished on Tuesday and then was sick all day Wednesday. But hey, better late than never, right?

When I watched The Avengers the first and second time I really watched just to enjoy the movie. But the third time I watched it (with this review in mind!) I tried to pay closer attention to the theme.

I identified two themes, one of which I think is the "heart" of the movie, and another which is not quite as crucial to the plot. Call it a theme and a subtheme. Like a plot and a subplot.

And of course I must add that this is not, strictly speaking, a "review." It is riddled with spoilers, so don't read if you're trying to decide whether or not to watch it. My recommendation is: go ahead, watch it! You will most likely not be disappointed. And then you can come back and read this review.

You have been warned. On we go, after the jump...

Monday, June 18, 2012

All Quiet On the Weblog Front

Where have I been this past week? 

I've been on the Oregon coast, getting alternately wet and sunburned. I scheduled my third Avengers review for last week but neglected to schedule the second H2WaMM post, which is why it didn't appear on Friday. My apologies!

My absence can also explain why I haven't replied to comments or been to any of y'alls blogs lately.

No, they don't say y'all on the Oregon coast. In case you were wondering.

I didn't really take a lot of pictures this year. You see, I didn't bring my camera, just my phone, and I didn't want to bring my phone to the beach because I didn't want to get sand in it. So I don't have any pictures of the sights (besides the one above).

But what I did take pictures of (and please don't hate me for this) was all the misspellings I found around camp and at the museum that we went to. I know, I know, I'm so nitpicky. But some of them were amusing. Let me share:

The reward he "hopped" to earn. Maybe it's like "jumping" at a chance?

Norwegion. Perhaps it's a region in Norway.

By the way, I'm thinking of keeping the name "Norske Love" around for a possible future character in a possible future story. I like the name. It means "Norwegian lion."

Okay, this one could go either way. Site or sight. But I'm guessing that it's really supposed to say "sight."

If, of, what's the difference, ya know? Just one little letter.

Also last week I worked on filming this project:

I just threw together the trailer this morning. Not professional quality, but I think it gets the point across.

Anyways, that's what I've been up to this past week. Be prepared for part 4 of the Avengers review and part 2 of H2WaMM coming up on Wednesday and Friday. 

How was your week? Are you on vacation, or planning one soon? Ever snapped pictures of misspellings you've found? What do you think of the trailer?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Understood That Reference: Avengers, Humor & Nerdiness

Nick Fury: ...his own personal flying monkeys.

Thor: Monkeys? I do not understand

Captain America: I understand! (looks around, grinning) I understood that reference.

One aspect of The Avengers that made it really stand out was the humor. Of course, with Joss Whedon directing it, how could it not be funny?

It was a movie that didn't take itself seriously. Unlike the dark, gritty Nolan Batman films, most Marvel films are bright and funny, sort of lighthearted and colorful, like comic books. Not that either is better, just that it's one of the differences between the Marvel and DC movie universes.

Another great thing about the movie is that there weren't that many inside jokes - the kind of jokes that only comic book fans/nerds would get. There was only one obvious one that I can think of. This made it appealing to both fans and to moviegoers who aren't "comic-book-people."

Just a reminder, this is not, strictly speaking, a "review." It is riddled with spoilers, so don't read if you're trying to decide whether or not to watch it. My recommendation is: go ahead, watch it! You will most likely not be disappointed. And then you can come back and read this review.

You have been warned. On we go, after the jump...

Friday, June 8, 2012

H2WaMM: the Prologue

I'm no murder mystery expert.

Actually, I really prefer the non-violent mysteries (thievery, forgery, etc.) But the murder mystery is the most famous (and the largest) genre of mystery, so I've decided to focus on that.

Welcome to How to Write a Murder Mystery.

Me and murder mysteries go way back. I have read all sixty canonical  Sherlock Holmes stories, a goodly amount of Agatha Christie, nearly every Peter Wimsey, seen every episode of Psych... 

However, I've never written a (serious) one.

Wait a minute, Lauren, you say, why are you telling us how to write a murder mystery if you've never even written one yourself??

The answer: I'm not. I won't be telling you how to write a murder mystery. Instead I'll be attempting to show you.

Yes, my readers, I have written a three-act murder mystery that will give you the formula to write a formulaic MM. I have left no trope untouched, no cliche unturned. 

This three-act mystery will star our two generic heroes, Detective and Sidekick. They will be hired by Client to discover who killed Victim. And of course we'll have Bumbling Inspector, Sheltered Woman, and Heartless Murderer, as well as a good smattering of Suspicious Suspects.

It's a big cliche-fest, so get ready to gather round and prepare to predict what happens next. Hopefully you'll see murder mysteries in a way you never have before. Or at least you'll have a good time.

Either way, be prepared for next Friday, when I will present for your pleasure H2WaMM: Act One.

Are you a murder mystery fan, or more of a non-violent mystery fan? How many murder mysteries have you read? Ever written a murder mystery? What murder mystery cliches have always bugged you?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sort of Like a Team: Avengers, Character & Continuity

Tony StarkThe Avengers. It's what we call ourselves. Sort of like a team. "Earth's Mighiest Heroes" type thing. 
The Avengers would (obviously) not be the Avengers without the characters that make up the team. And what's great about the film is the depth of the characters.

The team doesn't really get along. As I mentioned in this post, The Avengers is a prime example of every character having their own agenda. Each character is pulled from their own story and stuck into this one, and not all of them like it. There's arguing and fighting and insulting. Almost every character can be pitted against another and you can easily point out all the inconsistencies between their characters and the reasons they fight with each other. There's lots of good tension there.

Joss Whedon handled the screen time of each character very well, so that it felt like everyone got their turn in the spotlight. And everyone had their own little bit of character development as well. Every character changed a little during the course of the story, although some did more dramatically than others.

Going character by character, I'm going to attempt to pinpoint the development made in each case.

Obligatory warning: this is not, strictly speaking, a "review." It is riddled with spoilers, so don't read if you're trying to decide whether or not to watch it. My recommendation is: go ahead, watch it! You will most likely not be disappointed. And then you can come back and read this review.

You have been warned. On we go, after the jump...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Isn't It Lovely?

Well, yesterday I promised to post a picture of The Blotter, and here it is.

Lovely, isn't it? Lindsey, a talented artist and one of my very good friends, painted the picture that was used for the cover.

So what is The Blotter? It's a journal of collected stories and poems that were all written by the members of the writing group that I'm a part of.

Why is it called The Blotter? Because our group is called The Inkblot Society (not to be confused with these Inkblots.)

We have three featured works this edition; Bethany contributed a short story, Doug Hayes contributed a poem, and I contributed a poem which I've previously posted on this blog (Death of a Maple Leaf.)

I don't know if I can exactly say that I'm a "published author" now, since strictly speaking the journal is not "for sale" - I think it's more of a "suggested donation." (my, what a lot of quotation marks)

But it's still exciting to see my name in print. I believe the journal will only be for sale locally, although personally I'd like to see it online someday. Maybe an e-zine type thing, you know.

Also, it's kind of a coincidence that when I opened my dashboard today I saw this post by Leslie Rose. She has contributed a story to a short story anthology that is now for sale. It's currently $0.99 on Amazon. Go check it out!

Remember what it's like the first time you saw your name in print? Still looking forward to that day? Ever been part of a writing group or contributed to an anthology? 

Monday, June 4, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award & This Week's Menu

Last week Jenn at Scribbles from Jenn awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award. Thanks so much, Jenn!

As usual, a questionnaire goes along with the award. This one has some interesting questions.

What is your favorite song?
Most of my favorite songs are psalms or hymns, but if I had to choose a song that wasn't, I would say Bearing Witness by Collective Soul.

Bearing Witness by Collective Soul on Grooveshark

What is your favorite dessert?
Almost any kind of pie. Except pumpkin and pecan.

When you're upset, what do you do?
Being an introvert, I normally hide my feelings, so most of the time I just continue doing whatever I'm supposed to be doing. Usually pretending not be upset makes me less upset, if that makes sense.

What was your favorite pet?
These two kittens have been my favorite pets.

What do you prefer to wear, black or white?
I prefer to wear black. White just doesn't really look good on me.

What is your biggest fear?
You know, that's a good  question. I know I'm claustrophobic, and of course have the traditional firstborn fear of failure, and perhaps am afraid of being abandoned by people I love, but I don't know what my biggest fear is.

What is your attitude mostly?

What is perfection to you?
Strictly speaking, perfection is found in God alone, and He is perfection to me. But in the less strict sense, "perfection" for me is when something I've planned all comes together and becomes something even better than I could have imagined. A wonderful feeling.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Talking during movies. Everyone usually hushes me, but I love to do this sort of running commentary where I make fun of the characters' motives, or say what is unsaid but what should be said. So yeah, don't watch movies with me.

Okay, now let me see, a few lovely blogs to nominate. These are four that I find aesthetically pleasing:

Booktalk & More - I love the yellow and grey, and Ruth's reviews are always hilarious.
Ellyn Gibbs - her blog has a sea-faring theme since she's currently writing a sea-faring book.
Head in the clouds - I love her background - London!
Scribbles, Scripts, and Such - one of the loveliest blogs I follow - both aesthetically and content-wise.

This is not the week's menu. 
Also, I thought it would be fun to post this week's "menu" - what you'll be seeing on Word Art this week.

Tomorrow I'll be posting pictures of The Blotter - a journal that my writing group has collectively put out. One of my poems is included in there. Pretty exciting!

On Wednesday expect part two of my Avengers review - this one on Characters & Continuity. If you missed the first one on Plot & Structure, you can read it here.

On Friday I'll be posting part one (yes, I know, I do so many series!) of "How to Write a Murder Mystery," or H2WaMM, as I'll be calling it.

Why part one? Because it's much too long to include all in one post. Want further details? Sorry, you'll just have to wait.

This week's menu for my off-internet life includes taking the Introductory Sociology CLEP. I love when a test is just plain fun to study for, and that's been the case with Intro Sociology. It's a fascinating subject.

Have you received the One Lovely Blog award? Do you talk during movies or know someone who does? Anything you're looking forward to this week?
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