What’s New for the New Year? (or, On My Ongoing Efforts to Get Sh*t Done)

Toshiba factory reset

What’s new for me for 2016?  In a word, not a heck of a lot.

For all that that’s actually six words.

New Year’s is my favourite time of the year.  I love new beginnings and the opportunity to forecast what shape the coming year will take by setting goals to help chart its course and advancement.

Given this, I’m no stranger to New Year’s resolutions.  I even have a fairly decent record of achieving them.

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Character Study: J from The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl (& on character tropes, diversity, and universality)

J from AWG

According to TV Tropes, one of the coolest, most addictive wiki’s on the internet,

Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.

Tropes aren’t bad in and of themselves bad and are not inherently cliché on account of their widespread use in mainstream media.

In fact, tropes can be very useful, particularly characters tropes, which can provide a firm foundation for character development and serve as a helpful cue to readers and viewers about the sort of character journey (and hence the sort of story) they can expect.

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When What’s Old is New Again for the New Year

Rearranging New Year's ResolutionsF**king Twitter!

I love the concept of Twitter – of microblogging in general.  I love the way those who are Twitter-savvy are able to use it to meet new people, remain connected to friends and fans, and obtain information that’s of value and of interest to them.

I just don’t seemed able to do any of those things myself.

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It’s the Silence That Keeps Me Awake

Can't sleep

What keeps you up at night?

For some reason, I have a disproportionately large number of friends who are insomniacs.

I’m not talking people who occasionally suffer bouts of sleeplessness like we all sometimes do.  Rather, I mean folk who chronically don’t sleep more than a few of hours, every night of their lives.

That must really suck.

The notion of insomnia really came to the fore of my mind due to my recent trip to Australia. From my connection at Los Angeles airport to Melbourne, Australia, the flight was about 15 hours long.

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On Female Ghostbusters, Gimmicks, and the Nature of Storytelling

Ghostbusters original cast(1984).

Ghostbusters original cast (1984).

By now, most people have heard about the plan to reboot the movie Ghostbusters with an all-female cast.

Some people are really excited about it.

Others are really upset.

Like really upset, to the point of borderline self-righteousness, with words like “gimmick” and “pandering” receiving a thorough workout.

Maybe I’m just splitting hairs over semantics, but in and of itself, I don’t consider a gimmick to be a negative thing.

All marketing and media uses gimmicks or “hooks” to attract a target audience, in this case the hook being the casting women where previously there’d only been men, ostensibly to attract – at least in part – a target audience of female viewers.

Which right there may well be the real issue.

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Everybody Has a Favourite (Quote)

Just like chocolate, everyone has a favourite quote as well. (Image from the 2000 movie Chocolat.)

Just like chocolate, everyone has a favourite quotation as well. (Image from the movie Chocolat, 2000.)

Quotations, it can be argued, second only to cats, are the foundation of the internet.

For they are found everywhere online: in status updates; in tweets; as part of social media bios; within blog posts.  Sometimes an individual blog post will be nothing but a quotation.

I too enjoy a good quote.  Back in 2010, I did the 12-week self-help, self-directed artistic rediscovery course known as The Artist’s Way, which is the subject of screenwriter Julia Cameron’s book by the same name.

It took me 11 months to complete the program.

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Planning the Perfect Vacation: A (Don’t-Ask-Me) How-To

Vacation plane

Some people are awesome at planning vacations.

These are the people who research their destinations exhaustively to discover the hottest sites to visit.  The people who book things months in advance to ensure they don’t miss out on those activities that always fill up and sell out.

These are the people who know ahead of time exactly the type of vacation experience they want, and make a near part-time job of scouring tour guides and soliciting knowledgeable friends and colleagues to transform the trip of their dreams into reality.

I’m not one of those people.  Not even close.

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Not the Girls We Think They Are: On unattractive female characters in fiction

Jane Eyre (2011)

Jane Eyre (2011)

“She isn’t ugly enough.”

This was my friend’s comment on the actress playing Tris Prior in the movie Divergent as we stood in line to buy tickets.

“She wouldn’t be my type if I were into girls,” I replied, thinking I’d missed the punch line of a joke and trying to compensate with humour of my own.

“No,” my friend insisted.  “People are complaining about the actress being too pretty because in the book Tris is supposed to be ugly.  Remember?”

We’d both read the book.  My friend enjoyed it more than I did, and as a result seemed to remember certain details better than me as well.

But now that she mentioned it, I did recall something about Tris considering herself unattractive, or in the very least, plain, and that she was sure her male crush would dislike her because of it.

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Lent: Not Just For Catholics, Not Only About Saying Sorry

Countdown calendar

So today, on St. Patrick’s Day – a day of parades, parties, and green beer in North America – I’ve decided to write about Lent.

I’m not Catholic, or even especially religious. Yet Lent is a ritual I practice regularly.

For those even less religious than I, Lent is the 40-day period preceding Easter and running roughshod right over St. Paddy’s Day during which, among other things, it’s customary for people to temporarily give up on indulgent habits.

It’s a period of penitence, self-denial, and reflection corresponding with the 40 days Jesus Christ spent alone in the desert prior to the start of his ministry, fasting and enduring temptation from the Devil.

The purpose of Lent is to prepare Christians to rejoice at the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

As I mentioned above, I’m not especially religious.

And yet, in recent years, for Lent I’ve given up,

  • Bagels
  • Chocolate
  • All desserts
  • Needless complaining

And this year, movies and Netflix.

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How Does the Music Move You?

One of the iconic ads for the first generation of Apple iPods.

One of the iconic ads for the first generation of Apple iPods.

I am of the opinion that music makes the world go ‘round.

Whether you like to belt out radio hits in the shower, hum to yourself while concentrating, assemble the coolest party playlists, or sing along at church, I believe that everyone is a music lover in one way or another.

And music truly does seem to motivate the world, right up there with coffee.  Every day – particularly on public transit, when I take it – I see people sporting the ubiquitous white (or red or black or what have you) headphones, piping sweet songs and strains into their grey matter.

My own days are no less musical, although, in tending to disfavour headphones, my method of delivery tends to differ.

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