Destination: Disappointment City

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**SPOILERS**

Last stop – Disappointment City a.k.a: Legends of Tomorrow. Sadly, from the get go, this show seems like an attempt to make money vs trying to make a fun show.  I know, I know,  lots of TV shows are created to make money. But with this rage of super hero fan-dom blazing across screens big and small, this one feels more like  a pursuit for “more” instead of “better”….or good (said with a sheepish grimace).

To be honest, I didn’t really have high hopes. There is a reason these characters didn’t sustain their precarious roles on Arrow or Flash. However I am  always game to give anything “super hero” a chance and say the words “time travel” and I’m there, no questions. Even with the time travel element being the main premise of this particular series, I’m four episodes in and have yet to be “captured” and drawn in. The shaky story line is forced, my super power – the ability to suspend reality – seems temporarily on the fritz as soon as the title credits begin to roll,  and to be even more frank, basing the background on the ancient Egyptian reincarnates Hawkman and Hawkgirl is tedious.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl are not my favorite superheroes. Before this series, I could have taken them or left them. But the arguing and the back and forth and the “we’re destined to be together across time” and the running from the same villain over and over for eternity seems tired and redundant.  I know it is their origin story, but to make it so much of an integral part of a series is not doing it for me.

Captain Cold is probably the best character so far. I enjoy him on Flash and he doesn’t imagesdisappoint in Legends.  But then I’m a sucker for a villain who begins to find a new path –  Silar from Heroes or Hook in Once Upon a Time…the list goes on. And there is some humor in Cold’s relationship with the Atom – Raymond Palmer.

I really liked Ray’s character on Arrow. He was fun, awkward and sweet. But Ray as a super hero??? Not buying it.  Even Barry Allen has a tougher nerve in him than Raymond.  He is just too…sweet.  There is something about him that doesn’t make me think he could make the hard  choices or be the “tough guy”.  (Yes, I know the Atom is one of DC’s creations.)

All in all – four episodes in – I am finding the ensemble incompetent, irritating and they don’t have the finesse I would want to see in a group who was trying to save the world.  The goal is to make as small a footprint as they can on each point of the time line visited – and yet, they are so destructive that they tear holes in the Pentagon and destroy anything in their radius.

Truly, I had hoped for more.  Especially since I’m a big fan of Arrow, Flash, Gotham…etcBut Legends of Tomorrow doesn’t hold a candle.

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Currently Reading….

The Conquering Dark: Crown and Key Trilogy

Well, I have moved on to the third and final installment of the Crown and Key trilogy.  I have really had a blast with this series that I blindly stumbled upon.  The Crown and Key Society is like Gothic Avengers.  They fight magical forces that threaten to destroy Britain and the world. All three books are full of action – which is a major win in my opinion. There is enough of a love story to make the characters relational and vulnerable, but that element is by no means the crux of the series.

Book 2, The Undying Legion was exciting and perhaps a bit darker than The Shadow Revolution. Also, the second book leaves the reader on a major cliff hanger that makes book 3 a must. The Shadow Revolution, in comparison, could almost be a stand alone. However, 51KEtNv7qiL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_the characters are so enjoyable that the desire to keep getting to know them more is very present.

All types of ghosts, magicians and beasties fly through the pages wreaking havoc that only the Society can tame. I found the writing well crafted, the characters and plot exciting and enjoyable.  A fun read with humor, action and intrigue.

I’m halfway into book 3 and can’t wait to see what awaits the heroes.

(rated PG-13 for violence and suspense)

The Lies of Locke Lamora

I’m still reading The Lies… with a read along group through Babbling Books. It is an extremely interesting and unique story of a crafty thief, street gangs and “mob bosses” within a fantasy city. TLOLL is the first in a series called Gentleman Bastard. If you’re looking for something new and exciting, with an element of Ocean’s Eleven criminal masterminds, then this would be something to try out.

(rated R for language, violence and adult situations)

What are you reading right now? Let me know!

Move over Chopin. This is a whole new awakening!

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Ok folks – let’s be honest, do we even have words for last Sunday’s TWD6b premiere? Because, truthfully, it has taken me this long to have the wherewithal to process through it and even write anything! THERE IS JUST SOOOOOO MUCH!!!!

In the end, what really stands out (aside from the merciful death of a kid way too terrified to ever survive the zombie apocalypse to begin with) is the awakening that sweeps images-2through the characters over the course of the episode.

Sam, RIP, realizes that he just can’t escape the monsters.  When Gabriel leaves the group with Judith and Sam stays behind there is a small trace of hope that a new strength will emerge in him. But the truth is that Sam isn’t meant to go on.  He will never survive the monsters. In the end, he is swallowed by them…quite literally.

Whether it is when she is being held captive or has finally arrived at the clinic, Denise awakens to her bravery. In the first days of Rick’s group arriving in Alexandria, and into the invasion of the herd, Denise is fearful and unsure. In these moments of desperation and need she chooses what she is going to do with her fear and allows her bravery to breakthrough.

Morgan’s awakening is one we all saw coming. Sadly. He wants to live peacefully without killing, but his wolf captive forces him to revisit his Zen conversion. When Eastman finds Morgan, the man has been broken down seemingly beyond repair. But Eastman sees life in the bereaved man and pulls him back from the brink of utter destruction. Now that Morgan has found life in desolation, he is desperate to cling to it. So when he has the opportunity to save someone that others may see as beyond saving, he grasps it. The wolf could be a way for Morgan to prove that there is good in everyone and that everyone is worth saving. Unfortunately, it seems that all the captive does is reawaken the lost man Morgan and Eastman had tried to bury.

Gabriel and the original citizens of Alexandria realize that they cannot hide in the dark of uselessly beautiful homes – poor facades blocking the nastiness of the world – or they can step out into the light and fight. They realize that they can die weak and afraid, or they can brandish their weapons and strike out against the danger closing in on them. As the wave of walkers threatens to drown them all, the citizens decide they will not go quietly. Screaming and clawing their way through the melee – hatchets, machetes, Michonne’s katana, axes, and shovels push back the invading masses.

And Rick. Grown so cynical and hopeless. A shadow of the man who put on his sheriff’s uniform and rode a horse to Atlanta with the hope of finding his family. He has lost all images-1faith in anyone he could meet outside his group.  He definitely has none in the people of Alexandria.

In the finale to the first half of the season, Deanna chips away at some of Rick’s hardened shell. Her fortitude and desire to fight but to also believe that the world CAN be rebuilt, seem to give Rick a suggestion of something bright. As the people of Alexandria pour into the streets beside him, hacking down walkers left and right, he is strengthened. His arms fly with renewed vigor. Bolstered by new hope, Rick fights with his comrades until the final burning walker falls.

Beaten, bruised, bloodied, but far from defeated, Rick sits at Carl’s bedside – a familiar picture to fans. The Rick of Alexandria seems to mirror the man who sat in Hershel’s spare bedroom waiting for Carl to awaken from his first gunshot wound. He talks to Carl about his hope of a new world. How he sees what Deanna envisioned and what she desired for humanity. As he speaks, he is not unlike an earlier Rick, pleading for his son to awaken and promising that the world does not lie in complete ruin. While Morgan’s awakening is a tragic realization of the presence of darkness, Rick awakens and begins to step back into the light.

Did you notice any other “awakenings”? I would really like to know what you thought! The rest of this season is going to be incredible. Please connect with me here and let me know all your TWD thoughts!

 

(images: Carl and Rick: enstarz.com    cast fighting stance: huffingtonpost.com                 Sam: amc.com)

An Artist’s Story: Part 2

I truly hope you are enjoying hearing from different artists and their process in telling story. I find it very fascinating that each person’s story is so different and that leads to such unique creations from equally unique people.  Let’s meet Christine.

SR: Thank you for taking the time to share! Can you tell us a little bit about who you are?

Artist: My name is Christine Tyler. I am a homeschooling mother of three boys. I work part time as an artist and an aerobics instructor at Stronghold Gym. I’ve been married to the same great man for 10 years and we are active in our church, Grace Presbyterian (Columbia, SC) .

SR: Why is art important to you? IMG_5042

Artist: Art has been my self-expression, stress reliever and self-esteem booster all at once. I am enthralled by what people can create and how incredibly talented some people are! Art covers such a multitudes of expression for people. A life without art would be so very incredibly boring. We wouldn’t have fashion, children’s illustrations in books, advertising or frankly anything fun.

SR:  What is the medium you work with the most and how did it become “your” medium?

Artist: Acrylic –  whenever I am in the mood to slather on the paint and use vibrant colors! It is a great quick fix for a day I just need to get some artwork done!! It is easy to clean up and dries fast.

But….my true baby is oil. All of my favorite pieces are done in oil. It can be so forgiving since you can go back in and rework a piece days after you have put on the paint. It also blends well. After several layers you can use a paintbrush and mix the paint or paint on top of other colors without the undertones completely bleeding through. The more important thing for me about oil is it forces me to slow down. You cannot slather on oil paint. The process of putting it on your canvas alone takes time and effort. Any amount of detail in oil will force you to chew on your cheeks (my personal bad habit) as you mull it over and rework it. Oil paintings can take months to complete while acrylic may be done that day or within the week.

SR: How do you express story through your medium?

IMG_5017Artist: Some of my works are more expressive than others. Often when you look at artwork it may hit you like a ton of bricks the meaning and pain the artist is expressing. When I became a Christian I created a piece that showed my mother weeping outside of my bedroom door on the floor while I was on the other side in chains. She used to pray outside my room at night for my salvation and those tears were not in vain.

Now, my work is a bit more subtle. I like to give my audience a feeling of calm and peace if it’s one of my more neutral oil paintings or just fun and vibrancy while looking at an acrylic piece. You may relate to my trees with feelings of bleakness if you are looking at works I did while struggling with depression. You may relate to my sorrow if you look at my work done of a lone owl on a bare tree branch after I miscarried our third child. Or you may laugh out loud while looking at my fluffy palmetto tree labeled “Bad Hair Day”. IMG_5014Though you may not know the whole story, you will be feeling, in some small way, my mood during the creation. So, looking at most of my work you should feel like you have had a glass of wine!

SR:  Just for fun and because this is what we talk about in The Story Realm:

Currently: What is your favorite:

a. book: The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers. It’s a heavy read and you may cry ugly tears. Just saying, but the book is incredible.

b. movie: While You Were Sleeping staring Sandra Bullock ’cause I’m a sucker for Sandra! (Except that one where she is in space…will never ever ever see that one. I have an irrational fear of space and suffocating up there without air…)

SR: Excellent movie choice!!! I’m pretty sure that I saw While You Were Sleeping multiple times at the theater – and that doesn’t even include the amount of times I watched it with my friends when it came out on video…or DVD…the movie and DVD’s may have come out at the same time! Clearly, 1995 was a good year.

As for Gravity, I feel your pain! I couldn’t even finish the movie because I was freaked out.  Kind of weird for a syfy nerd.

c. TV show: This one goes back and forth… right now it’s Longmire, a Netflix original, and Broadchurch. Both of these are detective like shows although one is a sheriff in the midwest and the other is a British detective by the who lives by the ocean. They are both thrilling and awesome and soooo suspenseful!

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Christine has an art show coming up from May 1-June 12 at Cool Beans in downtown Columbia, SC.

Please stop by her facebook page Art by Christine Tyler to see more of her work.

An Artist’s Story: Part 1

Today is the first in a series of posts about artists and how they tell story through their work. This is a great project because it has given me a little window into their souls. Over the next few weeks I will post a different artist’s interview so that we can see how people who use different mediums celebrate story.

Come with me and let’s take a peek together!

 

SR: I’m so excited that you have taken the time to share! Can you tell us a little bit about who you are? Screenshot_2016-02-12-10-55-13

Artist: My name is Anna Napier-Hood and I am an Art Teacher and practicing artist in Charlotte, North Carolina. I also do quite a bit of hand carved block printing.

SR: Why is art important to you?

Artist: Art is important to me because it allows me to get in touch with a very primal place in the brain that helps me understand and sort the world around me.  It helps me form opinions and express emotions that need to be expressed.

SR: What is the medium you work with the most and how did it become “your” medium?

Artist: My degree is in printmaking and most of my work is either graphite drawings or block printing; although I sometimes paint or use water-soluble graphite.  Simple drawing became my media in my first years in school when I realized my weakest area was rendering images accurately (basically—I couldn’t draw).  So, I made it my major (drawing and printmaking go hand in hand and are combined into one major at most schools) at University of North Carolina at Charlotte and really found that I excelled within it. It became how I was able to best express myself.

SR: How do you express story through your medium?

Artist: Story in art is very different than story in film or literature.  While some forms of art, like illustration, can give the viewer a broader spectrum of information, most pieces of art are snap shots of single events or parts of stories.  For me, most of my art is a non-fiction story that expresses little moments in my life that have had an impact on me. For example: I had a very unique up bringing that included lots of different countries and cultures. In my adult life, I am drawn to these bits of my “story” and I like to make them real again through drawings.

Specifically, I have worked on a series of drawings of only African animals.  As a little kid living in different countries the things I remember the most are the crazy little moments like a baboon chillin’ on our back fence eating orange slices. daddy's rhino This animal imagery is still vivid in my mind 30 years later.  I can recount that old story simply through a drawing.  The action of making the drawing transports me back to the original event, and I can visit with the people who were a part of it.  I can relive the story just like it was a movie or book over the period of creating that piece.  The end product is an amazing flash of “story” every time I see it.

 

Beyond those cultural events, most of my art are mementos or souvenirs of little events that have stuck in my mind.  These events are either about my own life, or others lives I am watching around the world. They are markers of a giant connected plot line in our collective “story” as an entire population.  They may not be chronological or seem to have relevance to each other, but as a whole they will tell a biography of the time I have been on the earth, good or bad, interesting or dull, happy or sad.

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SR: Just for fun, and because this is what we talk about in The Story Realm:

Currently: What is your favorite:
a. book: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry .  I read this book frequently as an art teacher because I feel like it keeps my mind close to the little guys that I try to teach every day.

b. movie: The Place Beyond the Pines by Derek Cianfrance.

c. TV show: Transgender. Though this show is full of controversial issues and very adult subject matter, at its core it is a story of adult children struggling with their own lives while taking care of aging parents.  It’s about multi-generational family problems that date back to before the 1st world war.  It’s about how your faith fits in with life choices others are making around you.  It’s about the different stages of life we will all go through.  It’s beautiful.  And the music in it tells its own story. (Rating: R for language, sexuality and adult situations)

 

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HoodlumPrints -block printing stationary

 

 

(Please take the time to visit the link to Anna’s Etsy shop: HoodlumPrints and see her block print stationary. Those same salish orcaprints are available on different types of merchandise at RedBubble under the same shop name.)

 

 

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I am so thankful to Anna for taking the time to share with us a glimpse of her artistic view and journey. What amazing things are the mind and creativity! How sadly grey our lives would be without the ability to engender story in so many ways. And how gloriously and miraculously unique each of us were created to be and that we are given the ability to reflect that in our own artistic creations. I hope you will check in next week to read about our next artist’s story. 

 

Encouraging Reading

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Are you a parent, a teacher, a friend, a co-worker, a student…a person? Chances are you fall into one of these categories. That being the case, then you most likely know people. Among those people are probably persons who have, at one time or another, admitted that “I’m not a reader” or “I wish I liked books” or “I HATE reading.” It’s OK, don’t be too shocked.  It’s true.  There are people out there who do not like to read. In fact, maybe you are one of these people.

But I have a theory! I think that those folks who fall into the “I don’t like to read” category just have not found WHAT it is they LIKE to read. I believe that in school the books they read had the joy sucked out of them by projects or detailed tests. (I’m a teacher, so I know that does happen. In fact, I was most likely a joy-sucker, myself.) Perhaps some people had such a small exposure to reading growing up that they don’t realize that the genres and reading material is infinite. I think that, unfortunately, there are some people who have had the idea planted in their heads that they aren’t “smart enough” or “intellectual enough” to enjoy certain types of literature. What?! Preposterous!

I’m a mom of three beautiful kiddos….or creatures that pass for children. Sometimes I’m not sure.  But anyway, my little ones are growing in ways that surpass my understanding.  And part of that is that they are starting to become interested in things individual to themselves.  One of my great joys are our frequent trips to the library. Oh the library – what a glorious place. We can spend quite a while walking up and down the aisle together trying to find the perfect companion to accompany us home. But the thing is each one wants a different adventure. Annnnnnnd!!!! part of it is that they are so young and so new to this magical thing we call reading, that many times they choose books that fall into such contrasting genres that it makes me joyous to remember that time of discovery and learning who I was through story.

So what does that mean for us and encouraging others to read? Well, it means that we have friends and children and co-workers and neighbors that might love a bookish adventure, but would never know! First, we need to be aware that there are so many more genres and mediums than there used to be. Graphic novels are extraordinary reading material (Amulet, manga The Fullmetal Alchemist). There are so many talented writers of non-fiction who tell the story of a person’s life or history in a way that we feel like we could have lived it with him. (My hat off to Ms. Laura Hillenbrand!)

Not to mention magazines.  Yes.  I said magazines.  I’ve had many a student come through my room with a mother distraught because her son wouldn’t read.  Guess what he would read – hunting magazines and articles.  Why is that not acceptable? If he likes reading those there are books on hunting. Or novels about young men who survive in the wild (Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain, Into the Wild). I am passionate about exploring new genres with kids or my friends and seeing them get excited when they stumble across one that they really fall in love with.

Audio books!!!!! What a great way to help struggling readers follow along with a book. Or to help non-readers learn the excitement of a story by listening first. There are so many well produced audio books (Harry Potter series read by Jim Dale -wow!) that we cannot exclude them from our discussion.  We readers are lovers of story! The beauty of a book doesn’t come from a page with a smattering of letters on it. It comes from the world that materializes when those words are strung together in precisely the right pattern.

So for heaven’s sake! Let someone read to you from your car stereo while you’re on a long drive. Show your kids to the graphic novels shelves…or you go look in the adult section. Pick a fun read you think your friends would like to discuss and try a read along. If you’re a non-reader, experiment at the library.  Take home a plethora of new finds and give each of them a go.

There are millions of worlds out there, waiting to be explored, let’s not keep them to ourselves!

 

 

1 Week!!! TWD 6B!!!

Oh my goodness!!! I’m so excited for mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead! I really Screenshot_2016-02-07-18-05-30-1can’t wait. And I think these next couple of months are going to be some of the best and most intense that we have seen so far! So start your count down…if you haven’t already!

7 days!

168 hours!

Just a few celebratory Valentine’s TWD memes for your enjoyment. Thanks all of you out there who are so cleverly funny! Check out last weeks 2 week count down post Warriors and the Weapons they Wield – a look at a few TWD characters and their weapons choices.

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