Mulan: Best Disney Role Model by JOY (BLW Contributor)

It’s weird, I never thought I would be writing about a Disney character, but here we are. This all started yesterday when my friend and I began talking about our childhood memories and our favorite movies. She told me how much she loved Disney and how Cinderella is her favorite princess and then I proceeded […]

http://belikewaterproduction.com/2016/03/03/mulan-best-disney-role-model-by-joy-blw-contributor/

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Writer’s Digest Weekly Writing Prompt, 2/23/16

Prompt By: Brian A. Klems | February 23, 2016

You are an expert at capturing alligators—they call you “The Alligator Whisperer.” Your work has helped scientists gather extensive information on the life of alligators and you are hailed as a hero in the scientific community. Everything is going great until one day the alligators start hunting you. What do you do?

Warning: This story has strong language and some disturbing imagery.

‘Shit!  Shit!  Shit!’ Harold thought as he hobbled as quickly as he could toward the Cold Turkey Convenience Store.  He was tired, dehydrated, had a twisted ankle, and was hearing voices.  To make it worse, it was night.

“Crush!”  One voice said.

“Kill!”  Another responded.

“Meat!”  Came yet another.

Harold gritted his teeth and did his best to move faster.  The voices were getting louder.  They were getting closer.  He was running out of time.

Inside the Cold Turkey, Ralph was leaning on the wall next to the scratch-off tickets.  His green vest was pristine, the store’s golden letters embroidered over his left breast.  Below that was his nametag, covered in grease after months of him swearing he would clean it.  His friend and trusty co-worker, Jay, was leaning against the front counter, arms folded next to the register.

“Yeah, man,” Ralph said, staring contemplatively at the hotdogs turning on the warmer.  “Darcy’s a bad-ass.  I mean, who gets to be a total dick and still gets the girl at the end?”

“Nah,” Jay said, shaking his head.  “It’s more of a statement of Elizabeth’s character, if anything.  She doesn’t even like the dude until she finds out he’s rich.”

“Money talks,” Ralph smirked, scratching the back of his head.  Jay snorted and shook his.

The unlocked-side of the banged open and in walked a very scared, hurt and tired Harold.  Both of the clerks jolted.  Jay gave Harold a weary look and white knuckled the front counter, his thumb hovering over the silent alarm.  Ralph casually leaned forward, hand resting on the butt of a baseball bat.

Harold flipped the lock on the door and closed the blinds. He thought, ‘How the fuck did this go so wrong?  Why would the gators wait so long?  Why now?’  He stood at the door, breathing hard, body tense, staring at nothing.

“Excuse me, sir!”  Jay said.  “We don’t close until 2 and it’s only 8.  It’s even still too early for a robbery, if you ask me.”  He smirked and looked at Ralph, who responded with a scolding look and a disappointed shake of his head.

“Yeah,” Harold quickly contemplated and nodded.  “This is a robbery!”  He reached inside his vest and pulled out his buck-knife.  Jay pushed the silent alarm.

“The problem here, sir,” Ralph said, pulling out the bat, “is that celebrities like you already have a ton of money.  I don’t think Harold ‘Wrangler’ Jacobs is having a hard time supplying for his family, or feeding some heavy drug-addiction.  I don’t think this is really a robbery.”

“Damn!”  Jay exclaimed, making Ralph and Harold jump.  “You’re the gator whisperer dude!  From TV!”

Harold licked his lips, panicking at being recognized.  He lifted his knife, Ralph his bat.  Sweat was streaming down Harold’s face, his eyes were wide with fear and adrenaline.

“Listen to me,” Harold growled.  “This is going to sound bat-shit.  There was a gator rescue tonight.  Three twelve-footers got into a retirement community’s pond.  Happens all the time.  Something happened and they- they’re coming for me!”

“The gators?”  Ralph asked, dropping his arms.  He then jumped and screamed as there was a loud bang against the front door.  There came a stronger bang that shook the blinds.

Harold walked over to the door and peaked through the blinds.  There, eye to eye with him, was an alligator’s face.

“Meat!”  It screamed in Harold’s head.

Harold jumped back and opened the blinds just in time to see the alligator get on his hind legs and fall toward the door.  Harold swore under his breath and moved out of the way as the gator came crashing down, breaking the glass.  Both clerks screamed and jumped on the back counter, against the wall.

The alligator thrashed, growling and snapping.  Harold hit a piece of metal and the gator stopped moving for a moment.

“Meat!  Meat!”  The gator screamed in Harold’s head.  It flipped itself right-side up and seemed to hiss victorious.

“Meat!” it exclaimed as it rushed Harold.

Harold dove out of the way, down a small aisle, canned goods.  The started turning, slowed by the lack of space.  When its back was turned to him, Harold thought a prayer, took his buck knife in his teeth and leapt on its back.  The gator thrashed hard, Harold barely managing to pin its jaws shut.

“Meat!” It screamed at Harold, emitting loud growls.

Harold started wrestling the gator, trying to get it on its belly.  This is what he did.  It was what made him famous.  Of course he was known for saving gators.  Not this one.

“Thrash!”  He suddenly heard another voice.

“Destroy!”  Came another.

He finally pinned the meat-gator and, after a second’s hesitation, stuck his knife in its brain.  A guttural cry rang out in his head and then came the actual sounds of two more gators growling.

Ralph was shaking as two more gators came in through what was the front door.  One seemed interested in him and Jay and the other prowled toward Harold.

The one interested in the clerks stopped and opened its jaws wide, hissing menacingly, its tail thrashing.  Ralph hugged his knees and kept his eyes on the gator.  It leapt and bounced off the front counter, but still managed to to almost tip it over.  Ralph looked away for a second to see the baseball lying on the floor.  It was too far away.

“Destroy!” the gator hissed in Harold’s mind.

“Thrash!” Said the other.  Harold was sure it was preoccupied with the clerks.  He hoped he could get to that one in time.

In killing the meat-gator, he had knocked over the canned goods shelves, leaving more space.  Harold swallowed and ran.  The destroy-gator took chase.

Harold knocked over shelves and threw things at the gator.  Part of him knew he was pissing the cold-blooded killing-machine off while actually succeeding at slowing it down.  Then he tripped.

Thrash-gator leapt at the counter again, snapping at the air.  It was pushing the front counter closer to the two clerks, as well as over.  All both clerks could think to do was stare.  There was a loud crack as the twelve-foot long alligator leapt again and completely flattened the counter.  Then came Harold’s scream.

Destroy-gator had his lower left leg in its jaws.  The pain was unbearable; Harold knew he was going to pass out.  The gator thrashed and disconnected Harold’s knee.  Harold yowled and passed out.  The gator then tore his left leg  off at the knee and started swallowing.

Thrash-gator was getting ready to leap again.  Then there came a high pitched whistle from the doorway.  It worked, whoever it was, the gator looked at the doorway.  The two clerks did too.

Standing in the doorway was a police officer with a double-barreled shot-gun.  “Come here, you son of a bitch,” she muttered and cocked her gun.  There was a crack and the alligator attacking Harold fell over dead.  The shot-gun officer’s partner shot from the police car, right through destroy-gator’s mouth.

“Come on!”  She then yelled.  Thrash-gator hissed and charged.  It opened its mouth as it got ready to attack her legs and she pulled the trigger against its head.

It was over.  Ralph threw up.

The other officer ran in with a first-aid kit and started tending to Harold.  He also called it in to the precinct.  The shot-gun officer turned to check on the two clerks.

“How’re you two doing?” She asked.

“F-fine,” Ralph managed, then turned to throw up again.  Jay nodded that he was fine too.

The shot-gun officer went and got the two clerks waters from the cooler, trying to not kill herself on the mess.  Ralph looked worse for ware, pale and clammy.

“I actually have a question,” Jay started when the officer returned.  “What do you think of Darcy?”

“Jane Austin’s Darcy?”  The shot-gun officer asked rhetorically, with a small smile.  “He’s a douche.”

Prompt is from www.writersdigest.com.   This is my first fictional story in a while.  If you enjoyed, please like.  Also, feel free to comment.  And thanks!

 

Writing. If you’re not scared, you’re doing it wrong.

Live to Write - Write to Live

etsy print by Andrekart etsy print by Andrekart

I keep a magic wand on my desk. It’s a simple, unassuming implement made of basswood. I picked it up at a Renaissance Faire a couple of years ago because I liked the feel of the smooth wood and the look of the ash-gray striations that run along its slender length. Also, I didn’t have a magic wand.

I use my wand all the time. I have yet to see it display any overt magical properties, but it is a comforting talisman when I find myself confronted with a writing task that feels beyond my ability. This happens almost every single time I sit down at the keyboard.

I had an honest conversation with some writer friends about this recurring and paralyzing lack of confidence. It was immediately clear that this condition is common among writers. Each of us could relate. Each of us…

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All So Comical: The Return of a Fan

When it got to the point that even comic book stores were carrying fewer comics and regular issues of my favorites were harder to come by, I simply gave up. Then, last year, I got an i Pad, discovered Comixology and Amazon’s sizable graphic novel list and have been trying to catch up ever since. There’s so much out there! A feeling that comes with the enjoyment of reading these stories and enjoying the art is a dreadful panic that I’ll never “catch up”. There are all of these #1’s everywhere, new Universe reboots, classics I never got to enjoy before. I found a pretty sizable list of what I would make regular books and others I would dabble in. I still haven’t put a dent in the list of what I want to read.
There are so many quality popular books, that there’s a twinge of guilt for not getting to the “little guys”. Saga is at the top of my list for regular books, I read Snyder’s Batman for a while, but I stopped at the beginning of A Death in the Family (I shall return!). Marvel’s Deadpool serves up as my guilty pleasure book and Rat Queens itches a very odd scratch I never knew I had. Hardcore high-fantasy works for me. I’m also big on Mark Waid’s Daredevil and Ed Brubaker’s Velvet. There are other books I pick up regularly, but so much more that I also want to read.
For some reason, the original plan of getting “trades” went out the window. It would be a much easier way to binge-read, but then the appeal of buying multiple books a week is lost on that. On the other hand, I would catch up faster. Sure, there’s a hot debate between digital and physical books, but being married and living in an apartment with limited storage, I don’t mind depending on the cloud. If I want to re-read, I can just reload it on my phone or iPad and be a happy comic-nerd. There are also services that have sales on the books, or they’re just outright cheaper (thank you, Amazon!). The value of actually holding a book is not lost on me and every once in a while I’ll walk into the nearest limited comic book store and euphorically flip through an issue. I’ll even occasionally buy a graphic novel. Honestly, though, digital seems much easier on the commuting every man.
As someone who dreams of being an aspiring writer (I’m aloud to self-demean), I find that I’m more interested in who writes the books than who draws them. This is not a slight to the many talented artists who tell these spanning stories as the majority of a books appeal, and attitude, is in the visuals. Tight pacing, good dialogue, and a story that makes me care are key for me to keep getting a book. Fan service plays a factor also as Action Comics and the recently renewed Amazing Spider-Man are among my life-long favorites and continue to entertain. After just starting Gail Simone’s Red Sonja book, I can’t wait to read more and I never read either Red Sonja or any of Simone’s other work. Scott Snyder’s Batman is the first Bat-book in a long time that has made me feel like the Caped Crusader could possibly die in this run, and that’s saying a lot. I have many plans to make room in my list for both writer’s other works.
One strange thing I’ve noticed when returning to comics is I tend to vear away from the popular team books. I’ve barely touched any Avengers or X book. I shrug and say “meh” at the Justice League stuff. I’m sure there are great stories being told, but I find it hard to find the time to care.
More adult books have taken up a chunk of my attention as well. The earlier mentioned Saga is bizarely sexually gratuitous and everyone talks like drunken sailors. In Rat Queens, blood squirts everywhere, someone takes drugs, and again there’s the cursing and more-occasional nudity. Books such as Black Science are solely more adult in subject matter, geniusely appealing to more sentimental and instinctual fears to create an adventure unlike most I’ve read. It’s impressive how publishers like Image and Vertigo have changed from when I initially stopped reading. Speaking of Vertigo, I started reading Sandman. Yeah, it’s really good.
I’m glad I returned to this old hobby of mine. I’ve always been more of a consumer than a collector. I value the stories and characters over the physical conditions of the books I read and I like it that way. I hope to be going to my first Comic Con this summer and hope my wife will come along. I’m excited to geek-out.

Better Late Movie Reviews: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

It’s very rare for a superhero movie to be in the realm that Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 is. On one hand, this is the best representation of Spider-Man ever seen on the screen, period. Andrew Garfield is uber convincing as Peter Parker/ Spider-Man, New York accent and all. His chemistry with real life girlfriend Emma Stone (Gwen Stacey) makes their relationship all that more believable. Then we get to the villains. To call this movie crowded is an understatement, it’s jammed to the point of everything getting stuck. Paul Giamatti’s Rhino doesn’t appear for much more than 2 minutes supplying some weird comic relief and Jamie Foxx is poorly used as the downgraded-to-henchman Electro. We also didn’t need another Green Goblin origin, yet here we are.
The movie has some serious talent behind it and no one phones it in. Villians wise, Jamie Foxx has the strongest presence, starting out as an emotionally unstable mechanic working for Oscorp and ending up a super powered henchman for his boss after an on the job accident (in splended franchise fashion). Giamatti gets the short stick, as I would have loved to see more than thirty seconds of him “driving “his Rhino mech-suit and hamming up a Russian accent. Harry was the best written and most rounded of the villains, desperate to cure a hereditary condition that could kill him and eventually turning into the Green Goblin. Dane DeHann excellently exudes the proper broodiness. On the family side, Sally Field’s Aunt Mae is spot on and enduced great nastalgia to some of the older Amazing Spider-Man issues.
There is fan-service in full in this movie, trying to disguise a “meh at best” score and a sense of well-intended rush to get the movie out. Winks and nods to possible future series installments left me excited, but weary. Are we just going to get more of the same? On the other hand, there are brave directions the movie decides to go down that many genre-movies don’t touch and well executed emotional moments.
Director Marc Webb and co do an amazing job of bringing the webcrawler to life. Even the spirit of the movie closely mimmics that of the comic it’s based on. The humor is there, the costume is awesome and he pulls some amazing moves. In the climatic battle I did wonder why he didn’t actually punch anyone, but other than that, the Spidey stuff was amazing. The villain stories felt mainly crammed in and mostly unneccesary, but hopefully the franchise payoff is worth it. Unfortunately, the inclusion crowding causes the movie to buckle under its own wait. In the end, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a middle of the road movie and still has me excited for the series’ potential as a born-again fan.

My Grade: C