Archive for the ‘Movies and TV’ Category

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Geeking Out Over Noblebright

August 17, 2016

Last night I discovered the term “noblebright.” I’m still geeking out about it. *happy squeak* ūüėÄ

It describes so much of what I write, and the tone of almost all my favorite stories.  Finding this term is like finding a word to describe a mood I have seen and loved all my life, but not had a way to describe.  It makes me so happy.

The term “noblebright” was created as a reaction to the negative term “grimdark,” which generally describes a setting that is dystopian, amoral, pessimistic, and/or violent – think Game of Thrones, or possibly Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. ¬†(The last few books of Harry Potter might also be described as “grimdark” in tone, although overall I don’t believe the series could be called grimdark.)

This Wiki page describes the differences between grimdark and noblebright:

In a grim world, no matter what you do, an individual can’t secure more than an individual victory, if even that, because the rest of the world is too big/scared/powerless/selfish to act upon his impulse. A noble world is one where the action of a single hero can change the world, and a single big villain can f*** it all up¬†: there are important people, who are so either by birth, rank or sheer willpower, and every single one of these people matter.
Now, a bright world is one full of opportunity, of wondrous sights to behold. It doesn’t mean that it has to be [My Little Pony], it can be dangerous, but your first instinct when looking at a new location should be awe and wonder: people may adventure to save the world, but they leave town with a smile upon their face, eager to see what comes next. The shadow of Risk is largely erased by the glint of Adventure. … A dark world is one where life sucks, and usually not long: whether it be because of demon overlords… or even the lack of water, everyone in this story may die, and they die for good.”

Art by Jane-Aspen

(There are also hybrids like¬†nobledark¬†– heroic heroes fighting evil in a very dark world – and grimbright¬†– which I guess would be the ability to secure only individual victories in a world of wonder and adventure?…weird combo. ¬†But I’m just sticking to the two main terms here.)

There is a basic worldview difference between these kinds of stories.

There are the stories where there is no hope, no meaning, and no lasting joy to human existence, where everything is sad and pessimistic – versus the stories where lives are meaningful because every individual makes a difference, good triumphs against evil in both small and great ways, there is beauty in the world, and there is real hope of victory.

Which of these is truer to my own worldview as a Christian?  The answer is obvious.

Art by Sandara

Now. ¬†I believe there is truth to grimdark stories as well. ¬†The world¬†is¬†fallen, cruel, full of atrocities and sometimes unspeakable evils. ¬†Sometimes we need to look that in the face. ¬†Sometimes we need grimdark stories. ¬†They show us truth about this passing life. ¬†We need to confront not just the evil in the world but the evil in ourselves. ¬†We¬†do¬†live in a universe where “good people” do bad things, where every person has a dark side (except Christ).

But that’s not where my worldview ends. ¬†When I look at the universe I see a noblebright place.¬†I see true beauty. ¬†I see right and wrong. ¬†I see God working through even the worst circumstances to bring about ultimate glory for Himself and joy for His people.

So it makes sense that all the books and movies I love best fall under the “noblebright” category in some fashion.

Art from a video game: Lord of the Rings Conquest

Noblebright stories include: The Lord of the Rings [edit: one could argue this one is more nobledark], The Chronicles of Narnia, Firefly, some Marvel movies, and most 0f Star Trek.  There may be horrible villains, and dark parts of the tales, but a sense of wonder, morality, and nobility courses through these stories.  Beauty is real.  Life might be full of despair and destruction but that is not the end of the story.  The heroes might be flawed, but they are ultimately fighting for the good, and good will ultimately win.

I never knew there was a word for it. ¬†I knew it was¬†there. ¬†I knew¬†this undercurrent of hope, light, and beauty ran through all the stories I love the most. ¬†It was part of my goals as an author to create worlds like this, running deep with joy, beauty, and love. ¬†But I didn’t know it had a name. ¬†And now I do!

I love noblebright.

Noblebright stories forever!!! ūüėÄ

Do you like stories that are darker or lighter in tone? ¬†Which kind of truth impacts you more? ¬†What are some awesome examples of noblebright stories you’ve seen or read (because I want to know more!!)?

Art by Sandara

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Sunshine Blogger Challenge – 11 Questions Answered!

July 19, 2016

I was tagged for this fun challenge by Gracie Mae DeLunac! ¬†The idea is that you answer the 11 questions the previous blogger asked, and then “tag” 11 other bloggers and write them eleven new questions to answer.

I know not everyone enjoys (or likes to pass along) these challenges, so I won’t tag anybody specific here. But if you take a fancy to my questions at the end, consider yourself tagged! ūüėÄ Answer the questions on your blog, then link back here in the comments so I can see your answers. ūüôā

Here are Gracie’s questions, answered by me!

1. What is your favorite movie/tv show quote? What is it from? Why is it your favorite?

That’s a tough question!! ¬†There are so many good movie quotes. ¬†I think these few tie for my favorite…

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I love this quote from the captain deeply, because it reminds me of a much deeper and more beautiful truth: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,¬†you did it to me.” – Jesus, Matthew 25:40

And my second favorite:

Every human soul has significance.  None of us are unimportant.

And my other favorite:

This one I love because it reminds us that what goes on inside our heads is immensely powerful. ¬†It shapes us! ¬†(This is especially true for writers. ¬†And for reading.) ¬†Just because something is imaginary doesn’t mean it won’t impact us in a real way, perhaps for the rest of our lives.

2. What do you like to think about most when plotting (characters, plotline, plot twists, villainous acts, etc.)?

I think about characters, plot twists, and intense moments the most. ¬†The parts I’m most looking forward to writing, and the characters’ motivations, and what drives them toward each point of the story.

3. What is your preference of “apocalyptic” groups: zombies, aliens, or mutants?

Mutants all the way!!…if we’re talking X-men type mutants, that is.

4.  What kind of food do you eat to feel decent enough to write?

I’m a little confused by this question, as I don’t really consider food a part of my writing prep at all, and I usually feel decent enough to write as long as I’m not having a bad day or something. ¬†For writing snacks, that totally depends on the day. Sometimes I just want a glass of water. Sometimes I want a big plate of healthy snacks like string cheese, applesauce, wheat crackers, carrots and hummus. ¬†Sometimes I want a mug brownie¬†with a dollop of ice cream. ūüėÄ ¬†And no, the brownie and ice cream probably don’t help me feel decent, but my mouth is fond of it…… ūüėČ

5. Do you bring your own personal views (especially political and religious) into your tales?

I think it’s impossible not to do this! ¬†What we write flows out of our hearts; no matter how hard we try, our beliefs will show up in our writing in some way. ¬†Some of my stories portray my faith more overtly, with openly Christian characters and religious themes. ¬†In others, it shows up more quietly and symbolically. ¬†My current WIP probably has the least religious content of any I’ve written…I’ve been kind of surprised at that!

6. Would you say you “commune” better with nature when gardening [hands on], lounging outside [kinda near], or viewing it from inside your place [far away]?

Can I say moving outside? ūüėÄ I’m weird about nature. ¬†I am more of an indoors person. ¬†And definitely not hands on so much! ¬†But I don’t find outside a very relaxing place to be. ¬†I consider it an active place to be, for the most part – I’d much rather be walking, hiking, dancing, biking, etc. than lounging! ¬†I think I subconsciously feel like if I stay still too long, the bugs will get on me more easily… Hahahaha.

7. What is the strangest/rudest thing you have ever heard your written characters say?

Well, my villain in my current WIP used a swear word in the latest chapter…..this is totally a first for me and I’m not sure what I think of this. O.o ¬†I’ve never had a character who swore before! But this is definitely what he would say….so it fits him as a character 100%. ¬†I haven’t decided yet whether to censor him. ūüėČ

8. Paper or plastic or re-usable?

I love my re-usable bags, made by the owner of this Etsy store, Jiggety Pig! If I don’t have those with me, I prefer plastic, because…….well, to be honest, they make good sacks to tie stinky diapers in when you’re on the go. ūüėČ ¬†And I’m never sure what to do with a paper bag after I’m done with it. Throw it away?? They’re so sturdy and “nice” compared to plastic bags that it feels like a waste to just toss it!

Some of Jiggety Pig’s bags, because I know the maker, and the bags are awesome:

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9. What movie/book/show would you say has made the most impression on you? When? Why/how?

There are so many… ¬†I’m going to go with my gut on this one and say Lord of the Rings. *happy sigh* ¬†I was obsessed with LotR throughout most of my teens. ¬†I lived and breathed Middle-Earth everything. ¬†And while I was a little bit unbalanced in my obsessions at the time, ūüėČ I still deeply love Tolkien’s world, because there is so much love, beauty, and truth in it. ¬†The beauty of sacrifice, the love of friendship and loyalty, and the truth of light versus darkness and nobility and courage in the face of certain death.

10. What is your favorite color?

Now that’s an easy question. ¬†Purple!!!

As a teen I painted my side of my bedroom in my favorite shade of lavender. ¬†I miss having that beautiful purple writing corner… Someday,¬†someday,¬†I hope to have a purple writing nook again. ūüėÄ

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11. If you were able to publish one of your tales and go somewhere to showcase it (author tour, opening night for the movie, etc.), where would you go?  Why?

I confess I haven’t thought about this much! ¬†I¬†have¬†considered a bunch of plans for future release parties for my main story-love,¬†The Kraesinia Trilogy…foods I would serve, excerpts to read, costumes to potentially make, gifts I’d give away. ¬†It really depends on the book, I suppose! ¬†Going off my current WIP,¬†Disillusioning,¬†it would be awesome to do a semi-local author tour in some nearby states…sign books in Barnes & Noble and meet readers face-to-face. That would be fun. ūüôā

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Thanks for the fun questions, Gracie! ūüôā

Here are my 11 questions to anyone who’d like to pass this challenge onward…

1. If you could have any magical/supernatural ability, what would you choose?

2. What’s one of your happiest childhood memories?

3. What is your favorite writing spot / workspace like? Why do you like to work there best?

4. What ministry or calling is closest to your heart? ¬†What’s something you dream of doing for that cause someday?

5. Chocolatey desserts or fruity desserts??

6. What was your favorite book as a small child?

7. What’s something you used to be afraid of but aren’t scared of (or not¬†as¬†scared!)¬†anymore?

8. What’s your favorite kind of outfit to wear?

9. What Bible verse has God used most powerfully in your life recently?  How?

10. How do you feel about rollercoasters? Love ’em, hate ’em?

11. Do you like sad endings or movies/books that make you cry?  Why or why not?

Let me know if you decide to take on the challenge and send me a link to your post! I’d love to learn more about you.¬†ūüôā

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EDIT: Author Yaasha Moriah answered my questions, and she had some beautiful answers! Check out her post here: http://www.yaashamoriah.com/home/sunshine-blogger-challenge-11-questions-answered

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Simmer Starters – May 21, 2016

May 21, 2016

Our Respectable Sin – Laziness¬†(David Prince) – Hard-hitting words here! ¬†“We have come to believe that the reason we work is so that we can rest. Work in this way of thinking is a necessary evil, and that is too often the story we tell ourselves. But thinking in this way turns God‚Äôs work and rest rhythm completely on its head. Biblically, we do not work so that we can rest; we rest so that we can work.”

Beware of ‘Trans Movement’ as Patriarchy in Disguise¬†(Pia de Solenni) – This! “Yes, some individuals suffer from gender dysphoria, but I am very hesitant to say that their struggle gives them the right to identify with the sex of their choice. As a woman, I cannot concede that being female simply means that one wears makeup, sexy lingerie, and a hair-do.”

Six Ways to Self-Edit and Polish Your Prose (Kristen Lamb) РGood self-editing tips to consider.

Why Referring to “Screen Time” May Not Be Helpful¬†(John Charles Dickey Dyer) – A thoughtful article showing how there are different uses for screens, some more beneficial than others. It lists several categories of thinking “that can help us think more deeply about how we‚Äôre using our happy little¬†glowing rectangles.” ūüėÄ

How To Write Faster (And Why Maybe You Shouldn’t)¬†(K.M. Weiland) – K.M. Weiland presents a typical formula for becoming a bestseller, and then explains why the formula might be a good or bad idea for you to follow.

This is a Jar Full of Major Characters (Time Machine? Yeah!) РGreat metaphor illustrating why it makes a huge difference to write diverse casts of characters into our stories.  This really stuck with me Рgood food for thought!

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Simmer Starters – January 16, 2016

January 16, 2016

Hooray!! ¬†The Simmer Starters are back! ¬†I’ve been saving links ever since I stopped blogging…it will be hard to pick the best. ūüėÄ

Blue Pomegranates¬†(Abby Jones) – “[The famous pastor’s] response was to lump all fantastical type stories into a form of discontentment for the world God has created. Not only did he put Twilight hand-in-hand with such epics as Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter, andThe Odyssey, but he said they were all a form of saying God just didn‚Äôt make the world cool enough so I‚Äôm going to make my own.¬†Obviously, I took a strong offense to that.”

Catholic or Pagan Imagination¬†(David Russell Mosley) – This is a fantastic rebuttal to an Atlantic article that asserted that the British tell better children’s stories because Great Britain’s literature has its roots in paganism instead of puritanism.

Three Questions to Ask Before Listening to Any Sermon (Tony Reinke) РThis is a great way to cut right to the worldview of anything.

In the Grand Scheme of Things¬†(Hana Schank) – This is long, about a mother’s coming to terms with her daughter’s blindness, but I love this quote in particular. “I‚Äôd known, of course, that there were people who weren‚Äôt perfect, but they had lived at the fringes of my vision, barely existent in a landscape populated by the able-bodied and able-minded. And now, suddenly, the entire focus of my world had been inverted. I no longer saw ‘normal’ people as the focal point, with blurry disabled people at the edges. The whole world, I now understood, was made up of disabilities. Some people just wore their disability a little more obviously than others.”

Nine Questions to Help You Steward All of Your Life for God’s Glory¬†(Brad Hambrick) – I found this exercise very helpful; although my direction in life is pretty “fixed,” it gave me a little bit of a better understanding of where God might be leading me.

The Clever Trick My Dad Used To Turn Me Into a Rabid Reader at 8 Years Old (Christopher Reiss) РLove this story!

The Force is With Her¬†(Alicia Cohn) – If you haven’t seen¬†The Force Awakens, beware spoilers, of course. “Throughout the series, Star Wars has shown us a chosen character grappling with how to use his unmerited gifts. It established the pop culture expectation that a young man has the right to choose his own path. Now perhaps it‚Äôs time for an iconic coming of age tale about a young woman. It is particularly encouraging ‚ÄĒ particularly for the mothers taking daughters ‚ÄĒ that for once, a female coming of age story in popular culture might not involve a messy sexual awakening, but her own search for power, agency, and calling.”

The True and Better YA Hero¬†(Shannon Stewart) – Love this!!! ¬†“All these things we find so magnetic in our fictional heroes are already ours in Christ.” On a similar note, check out this article by my friend RJ Conte¬†which talks about a common fiction trope and how it shows a longing for God at the root.

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5 Best TV Shows on Netflix for Toddlers and Preschoolers

August 28, 2015

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My two oldest children are 4 and 3, and have sampled many of the children’s TV shows on Netflix. ¬†Here are my five favorites of the shows currently available (as of August 2015).

1. Octonauts

This is hands-down my favorite kids show on Netflix right now. ¬†It reminds me of an undersea children’s Star Trek – a team of cute animated animals live together in an underwater station/submarine, and travel around helping marine creatures. ¬†There are two stories in each half-hour episode, and each story features a new sea creature or fish.

I love that the show is NOT centered around interpersonal conflict.  The characters care about each other, help each other, and rescue each other.  Each has a distinct role and personality, too, such as Peso Рa Mexican penguin medic who is fearful of everything, but always summons up his courage once he realizes that someone needs help.  There are some moments of (very tame) peril, but even scary sea creatures like sharks are animated in a cute, harmless way and their voracious hunger is played for humor rather than fright.

And at the end of every episode is an adorable, fun theme song called the “Creature Report” which recaps everything they learned about the featured sea creature (along with a photo or video clip of the real-life animal). ¬†My son, especially, has retained a¬†lot¬†of what he’s learned from this show.

Potential cons for some parents may be: occasional use of burps for humor’s sake, and some talk of “ghosts” and “monsters” (which of course always turn out to be perfectly normal sea creatures).

2. The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That

This is¬†essentially¬†The Magic School Bus for the toddler set! ¬†In each story, two neighbor kids named Sally and Mick find a new conundrum to solve, and the Cat in the Hat shows up to whisk them away in his “Thing-A-Ma-Wigger,” a contraption that – like the Magic School Bus – can transform itself in all kinds of ways. ¬†(They always get their mothers’ permission before leaving, too, which is a nice change from the Dr. Seuss books where things are done behind the mom’s back.) ¬†They learn about animals, habitats, insects, and sometimes processes like how chocolate is made. ¬†At the end of each episode is a random collection of animal facts and songs.

Potential cons: I can’t even think of any, except for the extreme catchiness of the theme song, which can be a bit annoying at times!¬†ūüėõ

3. Curious George

The Curious George show is very different from the books. ¬†I have a major beef with the books – he always disobeys and makes all kinds of trouble, but never gets any consequences and is portrayed as a hero by the end! ¬†But the TV show is NOT like this. ¬†George still gets into mischief, but we see him try to right his mistakes and get reprimanded for them, and he always realizes that what he did comes with consequences to the other people around him. ¬†By the end of each story things are made right again, and rather than learning he can get away scot-free, George has actually learned the importance¬†of listening and staying out of trouble. ¬†The result is that the show is a just a sweet, cute romp through an adventuresome monkey’s life as he learns new facts about the world around him. ¬†It’s all about learning and exploration.

Potential cons: sometimes George imagines people crying in response to whatever trouble he made. ¬†These “thought bubble” scenes (and other scenes where George or side characters are afraid) are disturbing to my son, who is rather sensitive to characters’ emotions. ¬†I doubt most children would have a problem with it, but it’s a con for me.

4. Stella and Sam

This show wins the prize for “sweetest!” ¬†It’s about a big sister who leads her brother in fun imaginary adventures, using ordinary, everyday things like leaf piles, sweaters, chairs, and rainbows. ¬†It’s a very gentle, happy show that portrays and models kindness and affection toward your siblings, which I greatly appreciate.

Potential cons: unless you are opposed to discussion of imagination and pretend “magic,” I really can’t think of any!

5. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

There is a lot to like in this show. ¬†It’s modeled after Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, except it’s about an animated tiger and his family and friends. ¬†It’s like Mr. Rogers meets Blue’s Clues (which is not on Netflix – but it is free for streaming on Amazon Prime, if you’re looking for another great kids’ show and you are a Prime member!).

Every episode follows Daniel through a new experience, situation, or adventure…picking strawberries, going to the doctor, first day of school, trying new foods, first sleepover, etc. ¬†One of my favorite things is that each episode teaches a short, simple song to help kids remember things like saying please, keeping your temper, or what to do when you’re afraid. ¬†These are simple, helpful ditties that might actually help kids cope with new situations or unpleasant emotions. ¬†There are also frequent interludes about using your imagination, in which Daniel imagines inanimate objects coming alive to sing with him. ¬†At the end of every segment is a live-action portion with a child experiencing whatever Daniel did during the story.

Potential cons: again, unless you are opposed to the hefty use of imagination, there’s not much to critique here. ¬†There are some episodes about fear, which might be something to consider if you have a sensitive child like my son.

A few short reviews of other shows you might check out:

Chuggington¬†– This show follows a team of anthropomorphic trains who are “trainees” (get it?) learning to do their jobs. ¬†There are lots of episode themes like responsibility, following directions, including others, and so forth. ¬†Recommended!

 

Magic School Bus¬†– This show is great, but it’s better for the older set, who will get more out of it. ¬†There are also a few episodes I prefer to skip at this point because they focus on haunted houses or I’m concerned about other aspects of the content. ¬†When my kids are a little older I’ll love it for them! ¬†If you have a more advanced or older preschooler, this is still a great show to check out for them.

Mighty Machines – This is a cool show that just uses live footage of construction vehicles and adds voice-over vocals to make them talk about what they do. ¬†A new type of machine is featured in each episode. ¬†I’ve found my son adores this show but my daughters are disinterested.

Thomas the Tank Engine¬†– I suppose most of us are familiar with Thomas. ¬†It’s not a bad show! ¬†Aside from some grumpy or ill-tempered characters, and the occasional supposed “ghost” (which isn’t real) I don’t know of many cons for it, but my kids don’t find it incredibly engaging. ¬†They rarely ask for it. ¬†Worth checking out especially for a younger toddler boy who loves trains.

Kipper¬†– This animated show about a dog and his friends is very, very tame and quiet. ¬†It’s visually minimalist, with quiet British voices. ¬†I would like it more if it were not for the strange obsession with aliens… ¬†For some reason every other episode is about Kipper encountering something that came from space, with spooky music. ¬†Also, I’m pretty sure there are some episodes with a ghost. ¬†I’m not a huge fan. ¬†(Also, Netflix lumps the episodes into hour-long collections, rather than bite-size episodes by themselves.)

Clifford¬†– My daughter asks to watch this occasionally. The characters can be so catty, and all the lessons it teaches are about doing the right thing – which, of course, means that they show the characters doing the wrong thing first, a concept that can be great for older viewers but for toddlers just seems like a great way to teach them bad behavior. ¬†It’s not my favorite show.

Sofia the First¬†– I saw a few episodes of this at a car dealership once. ¬†They’re cute stories, but like Clifford, characters can be very catty and mean to each other (no need for my kids to learn that sort of behavior), and there was also an evil magician who was portrayed in a way I wasn’t comfortable with.

Trotro¬†– The first time I saw an episode of this, the donkey was hiding his food under his napkin so he could go outside to play faster. Thanks for teaching my kids that cool new trick, Trotro! ¬†Bye forever. *clicks back to main menu* ūüėõ There are so many cute shows for kids – I don’t want to spend time on TV that teaches my children new ways to misbehave.

Bob the Builder¬†– Cute animated show about an architect/builder and his team of anthropomorphic construction vehicles. ¬†Some shows have live-action segments with real builders, explaining how they construct homes, train tracks, or other structures. ¬†Most of these on Netflix are “collections” of episodes, so they are over an hour long each, but definitely worth checking out, especially if your child is into construction vehicles.

LeapFrog educational videos¬†– There are several of these short movies on Netflix, so it’s kind of like a short TV show season and worth including here. ¬†They teach skills like counting, math, letters, and phonics. ¬†The older ones are a bit annoying (terribly corny dialogue and music), but the newer ones with the digital animation style are much better.

Do you know of any other good shows for toddlers and preschoolers that can be streamed online?  Let us know in the comments!