Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Captain America - A Review

I saw the film Captain America a few days ago, and frankly, it was excellent. 

A few caveats; I'll admit, I can be easy to entertain.  Put a good (or even decent) story in front of me, well acted and throw in some cool scenery, and you've probably got me for about two hours.  This does not mean I don't enjoy good films, I just feel no need to be a snob about 'art' films vs. blockbusters.  Entertain me for the two hours and I'm good.

Also, I've never cared that much for The Avengers as a comic book.  It's okay, but never hooked me, y'know?

That said, Captain America the film hit all the right buttons.  The acting was well done, the visuals were great, neither overshadowing the film or lacking.  The overall plot was good, and even had a few surprises.

*Possible spoilers ahead, read at your own peril.*

What really made this film, was the story 'moments.'  Times where they worked to bring out the characters but did so in the story.  The characterization of the Captain/Steve Rogers:
Doctor Erskine: "do you want to kill Nazis?"
Steve Rogers: "I don't want to kill anyone, but I hate bullies, no matter where they're from"
(Okay, I'm probably not remembering the dialogue verbatim, but you get the point)

Same at the end, where he's on the radio to his girlfriend and they make a date, even as he flies the plane into the arctic icecap.  The final scene is well done too.  At every turn, and kudos to Chris Evans for the portrayal, they reinforce his character without hitting the viewer over the head with it.  They wrote a story that wraps itself around both the characters and the plot, showing them both smoothly.

This is where the film succeeded and went beyond my expectations.  It was well worth the fare.

That said, stop with the 3D already!  It wasn't necessary in this film, and most films don't need it either.  It won't save a bad story, and a good story stands on its own with or without 3D.  I had laser surgery to get rid of my glasses, I certainly don't want to put them on again for your film!


Thor, the preceding 'Avengers movie' was similarly successful.  I'll give Captain America the win for being better written, but one thing I like about both is they set out to do something (i.e. introduce their respective characters) and did so very successfully.  They didn't try to overreach their goal, and by the end of each film I felt satisfied with the story and its outcome, and each film succeeded in its mission.

Also, if you haven't seen it yet, wait aaaaaaalllllllll the way to the very end of the credits and there's a teaser.  You won't be sorry.

That's my nutshell review.  Good movie, go see it.
That and I like to see examples of good writing, where the plot, characters and settings interweave and reinforce each other, rather than glaringly standing out saying 'look at me!'  It's the kind of thing I want to accomplish in my writing, and I've always preferred it in my reading.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Wet Head

Today I am in the process of reshaping my beret.  As anyone I did basic training with will tell you, my beret and my head have waged a never-ending battle.  Then, the dress regs changed and we were allowed to wear the ship's ballcaps off-base.  Yay!  My beret slid to the bottom of a drawer, biding its time, waiting for the chance to make my head look ridiculous.

Well, today I pulled it out in preparation for our journey to England, where we shall be on training for the last four months of the year.  Apparently they don't like ballcaps, so back to the beret it is.  Now I've been sitting in my chair reading, with a soaking wet beret on my head so as to reshape it.  This time, I've learned a few tricks and seem to be winning.  However, it is a canny thing, that beret, and I shall have to keep a close eye upon it.

This week as been slow, as I've mostly been readying my packing/repacking lists and sorting plans for England.  True, we don't leave for another month, but I've got leave back home in between and a chance to swap out some of my kit for things at home.  Frankly, being away from home is a pain in the butt when you've got to prepare to travel to a third location.  That and some days have just been wasted.  I didn't get as much writing done as I desired, but this weekend shall be the time I make up for it.  Hell, Wednesday I didn't do a think.  I sat in my chair after supper to read for a half hour while digesting, and woke up hours later and crawled over and into bed.  Very sad, but at least I felt great the next day.  Sometimes you gotta listen to the body.

I also tried more barefoot-style running.  After that first time, my calves were screaming in protest for the next three days.  This time, not so much, though experience told me to stretch a bit extra afterwards.  That and my legs didn't feel like a group of dwarves had surrounded them and beaten them with warhammers, so maybe this style of running is for me.  More data will tell.

That's about it for now.  Have to get to some more writing.  My recent successes (read: useful daily word counts) seem to beget success.  This is nothing new, as with many things, the more success you have, the more you are spurred to do it.  Happens all the time with painting models.

With that, I leave you to write words and fight with my beret.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Some random coolness

I have nothing for today, must write not blog.

For your pleasure, the Millennium Falcon, 'cause, why not.

This bit of coolness brought to you by my lack of werewithal to bring you actual content.

But it is cool, isn't it?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A day of victory

Today was what I like to think of a day of victory.

On the writing side, I bashed out over two thousand words.  In a mere two hours.  I took my laptop to the park near the Admiralty House museum on base and sat in the shade and just slipped into the zone.  It was good but reality did come calling.

On the professional side, I passed my Naval Engineering Indoctrination board.  Actually I passed it last Wednesday, but I'm including it here because I feel pretty good about the whole weekend.  Since it's my blog, I can do that.  :-)

I even tried an experiment when I did my workout today.  I've been reading about the concept of 'barefoot running' lately.  Now, you must know, normally I hate running.  Can't stand it.  It's too slow (and I admit I'm no sprinter) compared to my beloved bicycle or inline skates, it's too boring unless you can find a trail to run, and frankly, it tends to hurt.  After a friend sent a few articles about running barefoot, using the body's natural running stance (more of a midfoot hit rather than a heel hit), and looking at some interesting shoes (Vibram Five Fingers - www.vibramfivefingers.com, not endorsing, just passing the interest), I decided to try the whole idea out.  I went to the track over by the base hospital and spent the first ten minutes of my run barefoot (on the grassy part, not interested in the gravel portion, thanks), then put shoes back on and continued for the remainder.

Observations; I found that the barefoot stance was more natural, and wasn't as jarring as a heel hit that one uses with a more traditional running shoe.  I definitely used some muscles that haven't been used much lately (hello calf muscles!), but it was very interesting.  I can honestly say it didn't suck as much as I find running normally does.  That said, the track was still boring.  I'd be interesting to try a trail, but would want some shoes and before I actually lay out money for these odd 'foot-gloves' I think I'll continue my experiment for a while. 

The benefit of running for me is that in the military, it's an easy piece of kit (i.e. shoes) to take with you, and you can do it anywhere, from a treadmill to a flight deck. 

Add to all of that some laundry done and I think I'm going to toast myself with a nice, cold beer.  Tomorrow is another day, and another good one for writing.  Now if only it wasn't so thrice-cursedly hot.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Switch in focus

Success this weekend.  Roughly 1500 words.  It started with an agonizing ripping of even the most willing verb onto the page, and by the time the weekend was done I was pouring them out.  Well, relatively speaking.  There was studying to be done as well.

This next week promises to be a busy one.  Exam on Friday so studying and preps will take the lion's share of time.  Words shall have to wait.  Once this week is done, though, I can regain balance.

That's it for now.  Just happy to crank some words out and finish a scene that was being ... fussy, for want of a better term.  Oh, and I just looked at the bottom of the page.  Page 100!  Whooo! (yeah, I'll take the small victories.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Words vs words vs words

Nothing like being on the opposite coast from home to give you time to write. I'm in Halifax right now on another training course. Seems endless some days, but that's what you get when you change trades.
The downside: my family is still on the west coast. This sucks, but my wife and I decided that any course (or combination of courses) under a year would be a 'no move' if possible. Saves on the upheaval.
The upside: I have only my course to worry about, and the after hours are free to write.
Have I been ironclad in my discipline and written every day? Heh. This is me we're talking about here folks. However, despite my procrastinative tendencies (yep, I did just make that word up), I have actually managed to churn out more words. When added to the pile I've done since the last time I posted, I'm cruising right along.
(And no, there's no reason besides life and other craziness why the last post was so long ago. Deal.)
So now here I am, a naval engineer now instead of MARS, and ready to finish the book this year. I'd say earlier, but courses and other job-related things (those things that pay the bills right now) have a terrible habit of getting in the way.
An interesting thought came to me as I was walking back from the grocery store. I was laughing to myself (inwardly, of course, else people do tend to look at you funny and cross the street) as I carried my parcels down the street. Why was I laughing? Well, I was thinking about Queen's Legacy, and how I'll definitely need to rework things in revision. Then I wondered how my words could ever be as good as many of the published writers I read every day. Then my mind turns back to the fact that all those people are just people, like me, who have put a lot of work, practice and effort into their writing. So my mind returns to its original confident state, thinking that with enough work and practice, so too can I go there.
The point of my rambling is not to draw down the accomplishments of published writers, many of whom I enjoy and/or revere. Rather, to remind myself that it is mere mortals who write these words, and pour hours of effort and work into their texts. Like any other profession, it's skills are learned through doing. I can do this. Maybe no one will want to read my works. Maybe they will. I'll not know unless I finish, and get them out there.
That's my thoughts for today. If you've stuck through my rambling, then good on you. Right now I think it's time to get back to writing, then some technical drawings.