Monthly Archives: December 2013

Book Review: ‘Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction’ by Jeff Vandermeer

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When I began college, I kept checking out creative writing reference books from the library, or else buying them from bookstoresit’s always a pain to discover later on that the book itself is not actually worth what you’ve paid. I’ve read all kinds: from dubious, purely instructional manuals to the philosophical but rather useless at dissecting technique. Some are essay collections, some are written in chapters.

And very few of them ever mentioned writing science fiction or fantasy, if at all. Those scarce mentions were either wholly unsatisfying single paragraphs (as if the writing of those two genres could ever be distilled in one paragraph) or else much-too specific books (reading about that many generation starships and dragons can actually put you off from writing them).

I was beginning to give up on books on writing when I encountered a mention of Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction on Chuck Wendig’s blog. Not too long a time later, the awesome Charles Tan dropped a copy in my stunned but willing arms (I am indebted to you. Really).

“Wonderbook is unlike any other writing manual you’ve ever seen. Taking a uniquely visual approach, it’s packed with over 200 images and pictorial exercises to stimulate your imagination and expand the reaches of your creativity.” —text on the back cover of Wonderbook

And boy, it does more than deliver on that promise.

Image taken from SFSignal.com

Image taken from SFSignal.com

Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook is both everything I wanted in a book about writing and also everything I didn’t know I wanted. Writing advice streamlined for science fiction and fantasy writers? Check. Nuts and bolts approaches? Check. Interviews and essays with favorite writers on their processes? Check. No artificial mention of publishing and formatting? Check.

But brightly-colored graphs on kinds of character arcs? Beautiful cutaway diagrams of marine life that suggest different story structures? A workshop appendix containing LARP and board game approaches to writing? Complicated creative writing prompts and exercises? A website with further anecdotes, essays, exercises, and other supplements that fully embrace contemporary times and alternative learning methods? Oh, my god, GIMME.

And if you’re looking for the kind of writing book that imparts a certain type of philosophy, Wonderbook is that kind of book as well, and it’s philosophy, of course, is wonderonly, the wonder is not simply in blocks of texts and how these are worded. It’s in the multitude of pictures, in the humorous ins and outs of the talking penguin and the woman with the gun, in the examples provided by the strange bird Myster Odd (an oddity in himself), in the hugeness and glossy-paged-ness of the entire package. Wonderbook will make you wonder at itself, but it will also gently turn your gaze outward, on the world itself, and the great alchemical mystery of writing and art in general. If you’re a cynic, it might make you take off your gray-hued glasses. If you’re already someone who imbibes wonder in your every day living, you will feel affirmed.

Wonderbook, in essence, offers you a new way of looking at things by simply turning something you already know upside-down, inside-out, making lines bolder or softening them at need. The tone of the entire book is by turns humorous and contemplative, but never combative or lecturingthe latter two tones being an irritable hallmark of some of the other creative writing how-to books I’ve read (and like I said, I’ve read a lot). I think I was, all this time, looking for such a book that not only advises that your fiction be open and leave room for reader interpretation, but embodies it in its own text. I can count on one hand the books that marry depth and openness to other genres, other structures, other kinds of everything, and Wonderbook is among these.

It’s also a great instructional manual for both amateurs and intermediate creative writersand I daresay, even professionals will find something new for their perusal here.  To be honest, I haven’t even read most of the exercises like I do with other books because I want to be fully-immersed in them, as if I were reading a novel for the first time. Little lessons on the side are indicated by delightfully-drawn help guides such as the aforementioned Myster Odd, the Little Aliens, the Devil’s Advocate, All-Seeing Pen-Eye, and Webinator, according to the needs and nature of such. If these alone don’t stimulate your imagination, then perhaps that muscle needs more than just exercise.

But Wonderbook goes beyond all that. It is so much more than that. Only on eBay and obscure bookshops will carry any writing books that talk about writing about the Other (Ursula Le Guin’s The Language of the Night does this as well), that attempt to pin down style and voice and leave you satisfied even though the feat was not actually managed, that acknowledge the connection between elements of TV and the elements of fiction (and which of the former are bad and good for the latter), that discusses how to handle fight scenes, that exude respect for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

If I were to read only one writing book for my entire lifetime, it would be Wonderbook. If I ever become a creative writing professor, I’d teach from this book, as well. It would also be one of the first I’d dive for in my room in case of a fire (knock on wood).

Looking back on this review, I’m saddened knowing that I did not do this wonderful book any justiceI’m probably going to slap my forehead later, cursing about something I forgot to add and sneakily adding it later on. But that only means that you should see for itself what magic infuses its pages.

With that, I leave you with the quirky book trailer from publisher Abrams Image (that also does not do it justice):

Adam David on small press expo Better Living Through Xeroxography

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Taking a page out of my friend Rie Takumi’s book, particularly when she conducted a lengthy interview with legendary Ateneo High School teacher Onofre Pagsanghan and couldn’t include it all in her article.

Parts of this interview, which was conducted via Facebook chat due to conflicting schedules during the event itself, will appear in an article about small press expo Better Living Through Xeroxography IV for GMA News Online. Here is the interview in full.

Q: What inspired you to start BLTX?
A: I wrote an entire essay on this a few years ago, when I used to write stuff for the Philippine Free Press. You can read it here.
The short version of it is: the impetus was the disdain I felt for how mainstream publishers and retailers were ruining the art and industry of publishing with their efforts to maintain their respective franchises and monopolies. I also believed that a lot of the truly good, truly new work were being produced by people who were left by the wayside. I thought that maybe there’s a way to organise most of these people and have their production be available somehow in some way.

Q: How come some years, there isn’t a forum? How do you determine the forum topics?
A: The real practical cause for this is the availability of venues that are hip enough to tolerate our demands – little to no cost, big enough to house at least thirty people, can be open the whole day. Now we’re trying to plan it in such a way that we do at least two major expos a year, one with a forum, and another with a workshop.

So far, the topics are chosen based on their relevance with regards to whatever practical publishing concern needs addressing. The first forum that we did – in Chef’s Bistro Morato, BLTX 2, March 2011 – we covered the most number of topics that we could inside of twelve hours or so, all about practical publishing concerns like how to apply halftone patterns on your art so they won’t produce Moiree effects on the page, what to watch out for when looking for a good printer for your books, how to make your self-publishing effort a sustainable project and not just some fly-by-night operation, etc etc.

The most recent forum – in the Lopez Museum, BLTX 4, December 2013 – covered only one topic: establishing alternative ways of book distribution. Lots of reasons why this is important, but this was mainly influenced by National Bookstore’s impending effort to cut its shelf space down to 30% for all the books they’re selling – all the genres, from both international and local publishers. It’s a very real threat, set to cripple the book industry in a significant way.

Funny thing is, another reason why we’re doing BLTX is so we can make available to people books and komix and zines that they won’t otherwise see in the shelves of places like National Bookstore – well, with National Bookstore cutting down the shelf space, even the mainstream publishers are going to be in that same situation. Happy to announce that some self-publishers and small press outfits already have some solutions for this problem. We felt it is to everyone’s advantage if we shared them to other like-minded individuals and groups.

Q: Why was BLTX at the Lopez Museum this year/how did you get them to agree as a venue?
A: More or less our priorities aligned somewhat, haha.

Personally, though – BLTX was conceived as a happening that can ideally be adapted to any given situation or setting, as long as there are writers, artists, musicians, et al, who are marginalised somehow, by choice or by force. The spirit of the thing is to unionise these people, to empower them, to show them that their efforts, however small, are noticed, can have an audience. In short, the actual physical setting only matters on a secondary level, the first and foremost concern of the project is how to help these people get connected.

The first three BLTXs were set in Ilyong’s, a videoke bar operating in the street I grew up in, hardly an art institution, and the venue’s easy-going drunken non-art circumstances helped shape the small small press community that makes BLTX happen. But sadly, with any and all groups of people with a limited number of members, I felt the concept – and the community – needed some form of shaking-/shaping-up. Thus the choice to stage this year’s expo in the hallowed halls of an art institution, to see if the concept (and community) can survive such a change of circumstances – remember that one of BLTX’s points is that it is portable, adaptable, should be able to work in any place as long as there are marginal publishers etc etc.

Happy to report that even with a number of people vocally disagreeing with the change of venue – and it has to be said, I share all of their concerns – the event was still successful, successful in the sense that this most recent expo not only had the most number of sellers, but setting it as a morning-to-afternoon thing attracted a number of new type of buyers. We were also able to give DIY food people – mainly bakers – space and time to sell their stuff, something we weren’t able to do when we were doing it in the videoke bar. Some people complained that the museum setting didn’t allow for them to hangout, certainly an activity that helps cement communities, but then some people mentioned that the more sober atmosphere of the museum allowed them to interact more with the community people, so I suppose it really depends, too, on what you want to get out of the thing.

But of course, just because we did the most recent one in the museum doesn’t mean we’ll always be doing it in museums from now on, in the same way that just because we did the first three in a videoke bar doesn’t mean we’ll always be doing it in a videoke bar. The concept is for the thing to be portable, and I don’t think there’ll always be a videoke bar or a museum in Baguio if we decide to do it in Baguio, or in Cebu if we decide to do it in Cebu.

Q: How do you know when a BLTX event has been successful?
A: My expectations are always low when it comes to these things – as long as people sell stuff, as long as people buy stuff, as long as people are happy while buying and selling stuff, I think it’s a success. Of course, it’s always good to hear when people report that they earned almost thirty thousand pesos in one afternoon, so there’s that, but there are also people who only managed to sell six copies of their books, so there’s that, too, but I can imagine that that happens in all of these events. But I don’t really know. Maybe the increasing number of sellers every year means more and more people are wanting to join the thing, which is probably indicative of some measure of success in terms of PR word-of-mouth thing, which is probably indicative of some measure of success in a holistic sense.

Q: How do you fund the event?
A: It’s always been crowd-funded for the most part, in the sense that participants pay a uniform fee for the tables and chairs (and food and drinks when we do it in the videoke bar). When we do it in the videoke bar, we charge around P500 per table, as bars have more of a target amount to earn for the night to justify our comandeering the facilities for the duration of the event. For the museum, because they’re more sympathetic with art concerns (however it may fuel their own artistic curatorial capital), I was able to lower the amount to P100 per table, which meant we were only paying for the rental for the tables and chairs (= two tables and two chairs = P80 + P20). All the other expenses – for the recent one, food for the forum speakers, for example – I use my own money, earned from my day job as a longshoreman in Manila (joke: I’m a layout artist for a sustainability-report-design studio).

Q: How would you say BLTX has helped make a dent in the publishing scene, if any?
A: Can’t really say, truth be told. I’m hoping we’re somehow setting some sort of example, showing some people that there are other ways to get their words out. We’re trying to do out best! It’s probably safe to say that there are more self-publishers and small press people now than four years ago, but I can’t justifiably say that it’s all because of BLTX. There are other, bigger entities that also support independent work, like Komikon, and I can safely say without envy or ache in my heart of hearts that they’re far more influential than we are. But that’s just splitting hairs, as our goals are more or less the same, and proceeding towards the same general direction.

Movie Review: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

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Spoilers and Tolkien geekery abound. 

I didn’t exactly fall in love with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. As the first of a trilogy-that-should-not-have-been, it was so obviously padded by both material from the appendices and scenes completely made up by Jackson and the screenwriters. The music was great, the acting was more than many Hollywood movies could ever ask for (I mean, that rendition of “Riddles in the Dark” felt like a coming home to me)–but so much of it was, for want of a better term, fanfiction. And they were so obviously feeling their way around–I’d never complained about the length of a movie before Journey.

So I wasn’t going into The Desolation of Smaug with very high hopes. And then I read my cousin Nico Parungo’s review, then edited Misha Lecaros’s review of it. The former had never read the books and the latter had. Two good reviews from entirely different viewpoints had to mean something, right?

(Answer: Yes, yes, they most certainly do.)

Image taken from IMDB.com

Image taken from IMDB.com

This second installation of The Hobbit trilogy picks up (almost) right where the previous movie left off. The Company is already halfway or more to the Lonely Mountain, though they have to get through a shapeshifter, a relentless troop of Orcs, a kingdom of haughty Elves, and men both sleazy and honorable first–and between all that, crazy barrel rides, spider attacks, Gandalf disappearing on a secret mission, a looming threat in Dol Guldur, poisoned arrows, and Elves both smitten and jealous. And when they do finally get to the mountain, they find that the dragon Smaug is more than what they bargained for.

Okay. I still don’t agree with resurrecting an Orc who should have died during the great war of Dwarves and Orcs (die, Pale Orc, die), but I’ve long accepted that a movie adaptation of a book is a completely different animal from the book itself. Rare are the movies that follow their source books faithfully, and even with those, a few visual liberties needed to be taken in order to fit the medium (I’m looking at you, Catching Fire and the first two Harry Potter movies). And considering that one, The Hobbit is a slimmer book than any of the Lord of the Rings books and two, this is the closest all us Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales fans are gonna get to a screen version of the aforementioned books, it’s totally understandable that material from the LOTR appendices were added for the fleshing out of the storyline. The difference between Journey and Desolation is that the former is like Bilbo using Sting for the first time in the Misty Mountains and the latter is more like Aragorn wielding Anduril on any occasion.

Indeed, it seems that Jackson, the cast, and the crew are all treading with surer footing. The pacing is just right, the dialogue not as useless (Fili: “If there is a key, there must be a door!”–straight out of Legolas a.k.a. Captain Obvious’s book), the action scenes are more fun than tedious–only Peter Jackson will think of slaying Orcs while jumping barrels–and plotlines both canon and Jackson-made are more deftly woven together (I mean, I don’t feel so bad about watching Azog strut his stuff onscreen even though he should, by all rights, be dead).

The humor has also gotten a whole lot less slapstick (though there’s still plenty of that to go around) and a whole lot wittier. From a double entendre between Kili and Captain of the Mirkwood Guard Tauriel to Legolas insulting the Dwarf Gloin’s family (which, incidentally, includes his future best friend Gimli), we’re definitely looking at a more put-together script, whether the jokes are to your taste or not. There is, thankfully, less of Radaghast’s antics (and by association, way less bird poop).

There is a romance now, too. I wasn’t going to like Kili and Tauriel at first, though interviews between Journey and Desolation alerted me to their existence. I thought Tauriel would have been better suited to Legolas, and besides, every flirtatious scene between the hot Dwarf and the beautiful badass Elf made my sister and I stick out our clawed hands in silent OH GOD WHY WHY WHY. But then, the chemistry between Aidan Turner and Evangeline Lilly was so palpable and I am, for some reason, a goner when it comes to sappy lines uttered in some elevated form of English, so there it is. I am trying very hard not to like them as both a couple and as individuals, considering how I feel that this will only end in tears, but I am failing miserably. And I guess it adds more tonal variety in an already action-packed film.

Things start to get a little more serious as well, beginning from when Kili takes a poisoned arrow to the leg. I didn’t realize it until I watched him stagger from the pain, but it was rather unsettling that all 13 dwarves of the Company (plus Bilbo and Gandalf) escaped any serious injuries this far into the trilogy when Frodo almost dies of jab from a Morgul blade in the first third of The Fellowship of the Ring. I also liked Gandalf’s scenes in both the tomb of the Ringwraiths and in Dol Guldur–here we have a 7,000-year-old Wizard, more powerful than most creatures on the face of Middle Earth, and yet, he can still be thrown back by a bunch of Orcs. Somehow, showing that they’re not all invincible takes away a little more of the cartoon-y, picaresque caricature quality of 14 tiny beings and a wizard on a quest to reclaim gold from a dragon. They are made more human this way, even though none of them really are.

Kudos to the acting chops of Martin Freeman (Bilbo) and Richard Armitage (Thorin). With simple gestures and deceptively simply facial expressions, both of them convey the sense of falling into corruption: the former due to the Ring and the latter due to Dwarf greed. Thing is, considering how this is going to tie into LOTR, we all know who’s going to fall faster.

Luke Evans (Bard), Evangeline Lilly, and of course, Orlando Bloom, are welcome additions to the cast. Thing is, Lilly seems to have a default face, whether she’s being interrogated by Thranduil (Lee Pace) or saving Kili from a poisoned arrow. Orlando Bloom has gotten visibly older, and not to mention, is playing a very different sort of Legolas this time around. His nose actually bleeds and his hair becomes a mess! I both dread and can’t wait to see the incident that will turn him into the smooth-haired, marble-faced Legolas we all know and love from the LOTR trilogy.

And lastly, a word about the music. Howard Shore never fails to deliver with his wonderful orchestral compositions–I just can’t remember that particular scene when the violins really stood out, it might have been when Bard was sneaking the Dwarves into Lake Town. But it was Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” that really stole my heart this time.

The amazing thing about this movie was that I never once thought to myself, “Where is this going to end?” It was only when Smaug momentarily transformed into a golden dragon that I thought, “Oh shit! It’s going to end there?!”

I already wish it were December 2014, even though I know I’m prolly gonna have to dole out the tissue alongside the popcorn.

17 Reasons Why We Should Never Stop Reading Print Books

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18. It’s easier to make a friend with someone sitting down with a book in a sea of people than someone sitting down with a Kindle or e-reader (who knows, they could just be playing games).

Thought Catalog

Print books are increasingly going the way of the dodo bird, the passenger pigeon, and the Miss Congeniality franchise. This is scary. Here are a few reasons why we should make sure that never happens:

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1. E-books do not allow for the cultivation of a physical book library. And if you can’t show off the fact that you have a personal library, there’s little point to actually reading.

2. If the book in question is a textbook or required reading for school, you get to underline random phrases and hilariously convince the person taking the class next year that you’re much smarter than them.

3. Books are a journey. Some books are even about the 1980’s rock band, Journey. But with an e-book, you’re always on the same page. Which in addition to being a very annoying buzzword phrase, compromises any tangible notion of your intellectual voyage.

4. Bookstores that sell…

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Movie Review: ‘Frozen’

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Spoilers abound.

I remember back in 2011, my college friends and I (all of us Fine Arts students) were already expressing not-so-high hopes for Disney’s Frozen. Many of our complaints centered on it possibly being a bastardization of yet another fairy tale (Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” about a little girl named Gerda rescuing her friend Hans from the Snow Queen), and possibly a rip-off of Broadway’s Wicked, considering that it was about two girls at odds and it had Idina Menzel playing the misunderstood antagonist. I was also a bit iffy with it, for I was expecting a traditionally animated Disney Renaissance part 2, not a seeming copy of 2010’s Tangled.

I am so glad to have been proven wrong. Frozen exceeded all expectations.

Frozen's UK poster. Image taken from SKWigly.co.uk

Frozen’s UK poster. Image taken from SKWigly.co.uk

Frozen follows the story of two estranged princesses, Anna and Elsa, who have been shut away from the rest of the world by their parents due to the magnitude of Elsa’s ice powers, of which Anna has no recollection. On the day Elsa is crowned queen of Arendelle, the powers she has been trying to control and conceal all her life explode into public knowledge and Elsa runs off to the North Mountain, unwittingly creating an eternal winter. With the help of ice-cutter Kristoff, his dog-like reindeer Sven, and childhood snowman Olaf, Anna chases after Elsa in the hopes of reversing both the winter of Arendelle and in Elsa’s heart.

Music

As with all Disney movies, one cannot help making comparisons to previous works.

The first thing to take me pleasantly by surprise was the amazing opening song “Eatnemen Vuelie” or simply known as “Vuelie,” a South Saami folk song rendered to soaring heights by Norwegian female choir Cantus. The last time Disney a movie opened this way was 1994’s The Lion King. Also, the film’s sensibilities were very Broadway too, from the music to some of the scene transitions–not really surprised considering the presences of Broadway actors Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff. Even Kristen Bell, who displayed impressive musical chops, apparently got her start in Broadway.

If I keep going off about the music, it’s really because I haven’t encountered a catchy Disney song since the opening of 2001’s Lilo & Stitch. My sister and I were dueting on “Let It Go” and “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” for the rest of the night.

And those lyrics! “My soul is spiralling in frozen fractals all around”…clearly, “Let It Go” is my favorite song.

The second thing that took me by surprise was the film’s first five minutes, which detailed the shared childhood of the princesses, sisters Anna and Elsa. Oh my god. By the time we got around to explaining how their parents died, big fat tears were rolling down my cheeks and off my chin–and it turned out that my sister and I were both trying to hide the fact that we were crying from each other. I’m pretty sure we could see ourselves in sunny Anna and frigid Elsa. My heart just broke when Anna sits before the door to Elsa’s room, singing a sadder version of “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” and just sighs out that last line. Ugh.

So, just as I was calming down and watching the rest of the movie like a sane person, Frozen lets loose one of its other surprises, apart from the tiny Rapunzel and Flynn cameo that let’s you know that this happens in the same world: at the coronation ball, when desperate-for-love Anna presents Hans to Elsa and announces that they’re getting married, Elsa says, “You can’t marry someone you just met!”

You hear that, Disney? You just can't. Image taken from UKMix.org.

You hear that, Disney? You just can’t. My face when I heard that line. Image taken from UKMix.org.

Characterization

The directors and scriptwriters, who apparently resurrected a project stuck in development hell for over 40 years, can pat themselves on the back for a job well done on Elsa’s characterization (seeing as their main problem was making the Snow Queen more relatable and relevant). Elsa is not only relevant–she’s such a broken, well-meaning, and very independent character, at least when she comes into her own. I loved her. I’d watch a movie about her. Idina Menzel did a good job sounding much younger, though I guess she couldn’t help it when singing–but what the hey, her voice sounds awesome either way, and it repairs the injustice of not utilizing her talents in Enchanted (2007).

If Elsa wasn’t who she was in the movie, Anna would be my favorite character: clumsy, funny, spunky, very forward, and unafraid to stuff her face with chocolate (the only other Disney princesses I’ve seen actually eating something are Tiana, who loves to cook; Belle, who samples some confectionery cream during “Be Our Guest”; and Merida of 2012’s Brave). I guess what I’m trying to say is, she feels like a real person: for most of the movie, she’s hankering for somebody to love, almost at the price of ignoring the people who already love her. I’ll get back to Anna later.

Kristoff, too, was a pleasant departure from your average Disney prince. For starters, he’s pretty grumpy–something Disney hasn’t done since the Beast in 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. I didn’t really have high hopes for him since in early pictures, he looked either gruff or somewhat dim-witted (and a far cry from dashing, funny Flynn Rider). But he’s got his heart in the right place and he really does care about Anna. His reindeer Sven is the sillier, doggier version of Tangled’s Max the horse…but with all these animal sidekicks with dog-like qualities, one wonders why Disney doesn’t just flat-out give them a dog. Olaf is more like Rey from The Princess and the Frog (2009) and oodles more charming, probably on par with…wow, I don’t think he’s on par with any past sidekicks with speaking roles. He’s much more.

Plot

Sometimes I wonder if Frozen seems fresh to me because of the wonderfully upturned Disney tropes or because I’m seeing all these wonderfully upturned Disney tropes in a Disney movie. But at the end of the day, I guess it doesn’t really matter, because my initial reaction to it was a soaring kind of joy, helped along by a stressful week at work.

Frozen had me worried throughout, though. There are two guys, Hans and Kristoff, and at least one of them is bound to end up with either princess, with the remaining one going to the remaining girl (well, according to movie logic anyway). But Elsa is way too messed-up an individual to be in a romance with anybody–and thankfully, this is addressed in the most modern way possible. (“Yes, I’m alone, but alone and free.”)

Kudos also to that twist involving Prince Hans, I really didn’t see it coming. But I guess one of my favorite-ever surprises was how the true love’s kiss trope got turned on its head. One of the things that really bothered me about Disney movies, although they comprise most of my happy childhood, was that the princesses rarely save themselves or the day (and that’s why I adore Mulan and Tiana). Anna not only saves the day–she saves Elsa, thus saving herself. That’s got to be one of the most powerful messages of love and family and self-worth Disney has ever broadcasted. She’s got the most growth of anyone in the movie; Elsa realizing the key to controlling her powers was just a little too quick for me.

I do have some minor quibbles with the movie. It doesn’t explain why Elsa has ice powers, much like the way Tangled explained Rapunzel’s healing hair (although there’s a deleted song somewhere on Youtube that mentions something about a prophecy, I just can’t find it at the moment).

I also thought that Anna’s forgetting Elsa’s powers were going to play more of a role in the movie, or at least have a more dramatic return to consciousness–that would have made for some great drama, right alongside Elsa revealing to Anna the catalyst reason for why they lived like shut-ins for over ten years in the first place.

I thought Kristoff was going to reveal how he saw his troll family reverse Anna’s Elsa-induced ice injury when they were all children–I was going to let that one go until I realized he probably heard the trolls whispering how the king and the queen were present with their daughters. Anna did tell him she was raised in a castle.

But like I said, those are minor quibbles. I had more things to love about Frozen than to complain about. Like how it didn’t end in a wedding, for instance. And the way Elsa’s hairstyle phases in “Let It Go” and how she looks so confident at the end of that song (and maybe that entire sequence in general). And that little line in the end credits: “Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Snow Queen.'”

Overall, Frozen has a lot of the heart, magic, music, and a good deal of the modern interpretations of love and female roles down pat. It’s not in traditional animation, which I adore, but at the very least, the computer graphics are very smooth (minus the part where Elsa’s braid phases through her arm, but I didn’t notice that the first time around). I hope Disney keeps it up for future movies.

UPDATED Program for the 3rd Filipino ReaderCon

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See you there!

Filipino ReaderCon

Hello everyone! Two days to go before the 3rd Filipino ReaderCon!

Due to the unforeseen supervening event that caused the postponement of the ReaderCon last November 9, consequently affecting the schedules of the original speakers as previously announced, we found it necessary to make a few adjustments in the program. The schedules for all the panels and discussions are the same, but kindly take note of the new line-up of speakers.

The 3rd Filipino ReaderCon - Program (12-2-2013) copy

See you there! 🙂

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200 Words at a Time: The Helping Hat (part two)

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For Chuck Wendig’s 200 words at a time challenge.

The Helping Hat by Aaron Browder

Dire straits preyed upon the frozen Pentagon City.
Its otherwise fair midwinter afternoon was disturbed by a great white beast winding through the streets — one-third dragon, one-third yeti, one-third unrequited lover, and one hundred percent malice. Every three moments it huffed deep, drawing slick-wheeled cars and the occasional unlucky pedestrian into its maw, and then bellowed a conflagration of blue frost, whistling like a blizzard and freezing the whole block.
To the Hatter, the clamor was only a distant hum. Instead his ears focused on the revving engine inside the Chrysler stuck in the snow off Interstate Seventy-Seven. He listened patiently until the engine fell idle, and a bleach-blond girl emerged, her nose red, her hands muzzled in mittens. She worked her eyes on the Hatter, who stood right there, listening patiently.
“Need a helping hat?” he asked. The girl only stared. He was dressed for the weather, all in gray except for his white scarf, and was perfectly ordinary except for the scruffy round hat atop his head, which had sat in that exact position so long a swift had nested there, and was now warming a clutch of tiny eggs.
“Uh,” the girl said at last, before she smiled.
—My words follow—
“Oh, don’t mind these,” said the Hatter. With one hand, he whisked the nest–swift and all–off his hat and behind his back. With the other, he removed the hat, spun it twice, and rested it on his stomach as he bowed to the girl. Then he repeated all the motions in reverse.
The swift was rather ruffled, but it still did not leave its perch. It twittered madly, but the hatter paid it no mind.
“I am the Hatter,” he said, smiling. “And you, charming lady, are…?”
“Call me Mittens,” said the girl, bemused, but still smiling politely.
“What a strange name.”
“Why give your real name to someone who’s given you a fake?”
“Touche,” the Hatter tapped the side of his nose. “So, do you need a helping hat?”
Mittens gripped her arms, sneezed. “Well, it seems that a monster straight from the Book of Revelations is snaking its way through the city and I, like most sensible people, am trying to leave. Only my car’s broken down and I’m supposed to be meeting my boyfriend at the outskirts. But I don’t see how a hat is supposed to help fix my car.”
The Hatter’s smile could have split his face. “You have obviously never heard of me.”