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Tag Archive | young adult

Metal Heart Goes to Rose City Comic Con!

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Hello everyone!

We will be at Rose City Comic Con this weekend promoting the book. No booth just yet, but we’ll be mingling in the crowd, passing out postcards. If you spot us – stop by and say hi!

REMINDER – two weeks left to pre-order the first installment of the Metal Heart trilogy and qualify us for The Nerdist Inkshares Collection Contest!

Pre-order here: https://www.inkshares.com/projects/metal-heart

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Oscar Nominations 2011

These lame duck nominations serve to highlight that 2011 really was a BORING year in film. A non-fiction flick about baseball? Yawn. A boy and his war horse? Snooze. George Clooney being an asshole in Hawaii? Blah.

Oscar StatuesAlthough movies about women rose to meteroic box office success via Bridesmaids and The Help, they certainly aren’t represented in the Best Picture nominations. There is only one movie on the Best Picture roster that would pass the Bechdel test for women or race. It manages to accomplish both. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the only movie I’m even pulling for. Yeah, I’m talking about The Help.

Usually this time of year I’m in a mad scramble to view all the Oscar nominated films before the big day, but I can predict from this vantage point who is going to win based on all the politicking that comprises these awards ceremonies. Please be advised, these are my knee jerk reactions.

Best Picture: The Artist (Hollywood is predictable in it’s love and lavishing of praise upon feel good “foreign” films)

Best Director: Martin Scorsese – Hugo

Best Actor: Brad Pitt – Moneyball

Best Actress: Michelle Williams – My Week with Marilyn

Best Supporting Actor: Jonah Hill – Moneyball

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer – The Help

Best Original Screenplay: Bridesmaids – Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Ides of March – George Clooney

Perhaps I will watch The Artist, which is the only flick with the potential to shake up the predictable picks. Also, I reserve the right to completely change my mind by Oscar air date, so friends and family who usually bet in our Oscar party pool, don’t go getting any ideas.

My favorite films of the year were all comic book or science fiction related, and those will never be deemed worthy of Oscar material. No bitterness here, right? Really, there is a bit of bitterness. I don’t expect anyone to give loads of love and credit to all my super nerdy interests. But I hoped for at least a nod to Young Adult.

Is anyone else over the George Clooney and Brad Pitt bromance? Clooney’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes was kinda barfy. We get that you guys are the hottest thang in Hollywood right now. Good work.

There is a twinge of sadness for the dudes who got shut out. What about Leonardo DiCaprio who’s been in a string of good films in the last five or six years while going completely un-noticed? Or Ryan Gosling who has busted his butt in independent flicks and whom you couldn’t possibly ignore this year if you were living or breathing in the world. Also Michael Fassbender, my favorite sharp tooth Magneto who stole the show in X-Men, Jane Eyre and apparently flopped his wang out for Shame (on my “to see” list). Poor guys. Don’t you know Clooney and Pitt will never gracefully share the spotlight? They are like the Jay-Z of their medium. While they exist, very few others can rise in the game, unless given the blessings of royalty. Even then, it’s tough competition.

Am I wrong in these assertions? What are your Oscar picks? 

Saluting the United States of Tara

Finished up the third and final season of United States of Tara today. 

United States of Tara PosterYes, I’m on a Diablo Cody binge right now. Decided to give it a spin after having mixed feelings regarding Young Adult and to a certain extent – Jennifer’s Body and Juno. I just might be the only person on the internet that didn’t really have a problem with Jennifer’s Body. In fact, as a horror fan, I thought it was spoofy and high fun. It seemed to both mock and alternately love the horror genre in ways few flicks manage to get right.

The Ginger Snaps comparisons are lost on me. I’ve seen both and didn’t once think of Ginger Snaps while watching Jennifer’s Body. If anything, I thought of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. All the goobery dialogue and tongue-in-cheekness there.

Also – how hard does a female writer have to work to get some respect up in H-Town ya’ll? She won a damned Academy Award and at least two characters she helped script have either won major awards or been nominated (possibly a third depending how Young Adult fares). And still, she gets a ton of e-hate and bitchy comments cause she stripped for a year or something. I don’t even know. But it totally has nothing to do with her gender or anything. Carry on.

Back to United States of Tara: The show is about a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) leading a suburban life in Kansas, raising two children with her husband who is a self-employed landscaper.

Cody’s skills as a creator and writer are on fine display here. I was wary approaching it – a bit burnt out on mental illness as comedy fodder, or reality TV fodder, or fodder in general.

What struck me? In the same way that Juno struck me? The mid-west normalcy. The harkening back to classic TV shows that I identified with in my youth, like Roseanne. A family living together using sarcasm, humor and love to sustain themselves. Only mental illness fills the role of economic hardship as the main struggle in the lives of the Gregsons.

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Movie Review: Young Adult

Young Adult was a bit of a surprise. Expected to like it much more than I did – with all the feminist overtones and multi-dimensional, flawed female character rumors swirling about on the interwebs. This was the second pairing of screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman, their previous venture being the much beloved Juno.

THE GOOD

Young Adult posterCharlize Theron is phenomenal in this role. She swaggers across the screen in her Uggs and sweatpants, chomping up the scenery with her ice-cold glare and washing it down with giant swigs of Diet Coke. Her moments of extreme cattiness, minus the awkward attempts at seduction are gleeful rather than off-putting. I would watch an entire movie of mean Mavis and love every minute of it. I’m sure that’s wrong, but I don’t care.

Other good bits? Matt and Mavis had chemistry. Patton Oswalt is such a lovable curmudgeon. While they glowed together in their general dislike of the world, I would hate to be drunk in a bar with them. Their level of bitter and hate is best viewed from a distance.

I was also thrilled by the little scenes with Mavis planning out her outfits, packing/unpacking, getting mani/pedis, putting on her hair and makeup. Those simple daily ritualistic acts that often define the female gender but are usually never displayed in films except for comedic effect. These scenes had a completely different tone. For Mavis it was like putting on a suit of armor to head out into battle. The calculation and effort with which she went about it was strangely compelling.

THE BAD

Unfortunately, we are largely treated to small, shining moments of mean Mavis and then long, extended periods of uncomfortable tension. Awkward scenes of wooing a clearly disinterested and skeeved out ex-boyfriend. Another horrible scene around her parents dinner table where she waxes effusive about her high school days and then promptly announces she’s an alcoholic. Her parents react with blank stares. Oh poor BBZ. Mavis is lacking a serious amount of love in her life.

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Vampire Diaries Episode 15: A Few Good Men

Hell yes we are believable as High School students.

The first season of Vampire Diaries has already had several schizophrenic fits and starts. It doesn’t bode well for its renewal when the second half of the season produced only two new episodes, and then another break until last night.  

Blame it on the Olympics? Blame it on March Madness? I’m not quite sure what the problem is with the scheduling for Diaries, but it’s helping to lose my already waning interest when they can’t air three new episodes in a row.  

What’s great about this show? Damon Salvatore. The evil vampire is the only actor with any captivating screen presence – played with malevolent glee by Ian Somerhalder. Most folks will probably remember him as Boone from “Lost” (before he met his untimely end) or Paul Denton from ” The Rules of Attraction.”  

The rest of the plot unfolds something along these lines: 17-year-old Elena Gilbert (played by the dark-haired and smokey voiced Nina Dobrev) is introduced to the audience only four months after the death of both her parents in an auto accident. She and her bumbling, stoner brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) are now living with their frazzled Aunt Jenna (Sara Canning). Their friends and family all encourage them to get over their grief, and even their teachers give them a hard time about it. Huh. Maybe that’s the drawback of living in a small town?  

Enter vampire teen heart-throb Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley)…and his evil brother.  

Elena has the misfortune of looking like the dead lover/vampire whom the brothers quarreled over a century before. Pretty twisted, and already piled with loads of plot and side characters (her best friend, Bonnie, is a witch). It’s based on a Young Adult book series of the same name written in the early 90s, which has been slightly modified and revamped (hah!) to fit with the current decade. Also the books are being republished. Check the wiki here.  

What kills me with this show is the pacing, the often-times pointless drama and the weak characterizations. While it does quite often ride head and shoulders above “Twilight” in terms of having…ya know…an actual PLOT, it’s populated with a male and female lead that are sinfully boring. Not the actors mind you, they are giving their full skill to creating people with personalities,  but when the characters are such Puritans…it’s hard to generate much appeal.  

Stefan and Elena rarely make tough moral decisions, and are mostly around to clean up in the wake of the evil vampires which are constantly streaming through the town. Poor Stefan has to play the role of the serious, brooding vamp with his out-of-control eyebrows, and he does so pitch perfectly. But that archetype has been done to death in pop culture.  

And no one makes broody eyebrows better than Angel.  

Which leads to my earlier statement – how deliciously sinful the presence of Damon becomes. He reminds me more than a little bit of Spike (another Buffy alum). Without him, there would be no forward progression of plot (again – Spike’s scheming tacked on at least three seasons to Buffy’s shelf life). But the writers can’t seem to decide if they want audience sympathy or complete revulsion, and Damon’s character often seems like a split personality – wavering between completely evil in one scene, to something resembling compassion and reason in the next. Consistency is sorely needed.  

It doesn’t help that so much of the show is without humor. BTVS worked because of it’s light-hearted nature and comedic timing, whereas Vampire Diaries is a touch too clunky and angsty.  

Now that we’re all up to speed…  

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Twilight Bites and Sucks

Just cause there’s vampires in it. That’s all. 🙂

I did actually enjoy the first book of the Twilight series which I picked up Thursday during my lunch break, and finished Saturday afternoon. Yeah, it was one of those kinda weekends.

To be honest – I’m not quite sure why I liked it as much as I did. The writing is fairly generic for a young adult series, except for the descriptions of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, but that’s probably personal subject preference more than anything else.

But I found after sitting down and reading through the first few pages, I was totally hooked. Stephenie Meyer is some kind of idiot savant, who write an entirely engaging series about a usually fringe subject matter (vampires) and managed to garner the widest appeal possible.

TRUE STORY:

I was in Subway on Friday during my lunch break, picking up the sub o’ the day. The line is usually long, so I brought Twilight in to read whilst I waited for the lovely ladies behind the counter to take my order. When I got to the first gal who was prepping the bread – we chatted amiably and I mentioned reading the Twilight series.

Mostly cause I was holding the book in my hand. Not cause I was totally infatuated (at that point). Suddenly – heads swiveled. I’m really not exaggerating. The woman in charge of veggies piped up, “that book is amazing.”

The lady in line next to me offered, “I’ve heard really good things about it.”

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Try the Sampler Platter

Reviewed here: American Born Chinese, Faker and Off Road

My latest trip to the library not only yielded me around $20 in overdue fines (damn the man!) but also a stack of about 20 tpb/graphic novels to consume. I’m going to forego lengthy blogs about each for a review snack pack of three books in particular.

#1

american-born-chinese-jacket-cover1American Born Chinese written and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang. It was nominated for a National Book Award in 2006 for young adult literature, the first graphic novel to ever have that honor.

So – sounds pretty tasty right? Sounds like something meaty I could sink my teeth into, what with seeing it on many folks Top 10 Lists popping up all over the net.

This book was engaging, but never resonated with me on a strong emotional level. On a literary level, I appreciated the artistry and craft that went into intertwining the three different stories together. The art, with the muted color palette and clean, thick lines works well with the theme, and is especially pronounced during the Chinese mythology sequences.

Again – this didn’t catch me in any emotional core – and that could simply be my inexperience with how young-adult Asian Americans might experience America. I could get on board with the concept of being an outsider, teased and tortured by classmates, and those lovely awkward first moments trying to woo the opposite sex. There were definite laugh-out-loud moments…but there were also sections that I feel alienated from.

I would suggest this for it’s intended audience – which is young adults, and not just the Asian American ones –  but I can’t say it’s going to make any of my Top 10 lists.

#2

Faker. Written by (yet another British dude) current X-Men scribe Mike Carey and illustrated by (yet another British dude) Jock (aka Mark Simpson). It’s published by the fun and edgy DC Vertigo label.

Here is what I’ve been thinking lately: I love Marvel’s line of popular superheroes. And I love DC/Vertigo’s naughty and subversive “adult” content.

The cover art is actually what initially spurred me to pick this book up – and the name Carey splattered in the white space held a special kind of promise, as he is right in the midst of gutting my beloved mutants, I thought I’d see what kind of extracurricular shenanigans he’s been getting himself into.

For a British dude – he’s writing expertise sure can cater to my assumptions of what Minnesota college students are like. He gets that compliment right off the bat. But seriously – this is a thoroughly engaging story, and I found myself nearly consuming it in one setting. Mostly because I was stood up for an orientation, and had an hour to kill waiting around in Starbucks to see if the person really would show.

They didn’t. But I clipped cleanly through the pages and emerged on the other end.

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