Inside Out

http://melindasnodgrass.com/inside-out

http://melindasnodgrass.com/?p=1976

There will be some spoilers (not huge and probably obvious) but you have been warned.

I went to see INSIDE OUT last night.  I liked it a lot, but I didn’t love it as much as I’d expected to.  Like FROZEN I think it suffered from the hype.  It’s still a very fun and charming movie, but on balance I liked Tomorrowland better.

The reason was a basic writing 101 problem — they didn’t ground me in the theme early enough in the film.  I thought the idea that we need both sadness and joy if we’re to have a full range of experiences was the message/theme, but it was a little unclear until fairly deep into the film.  They kept offering me other alternative threads that might be the theme so I kept grabbing mentally at them instead of being taken where the writers wanted me to go.

I did love the fact that a brain researcher was part of the team that made this film.  In many way Len Wein had it right when he said this was a film for adults that kids would probably enjoy.

Lewis Black absolutely stole the film in his type cast role as Anger.  Amy Poehler was appropriately chirpy as Joy (to the point that I wanted to kill her).  The other stand out for me was Richard Kind as Bing Bong.

My two favorite moments were when our heroes had to go into the area of abstract concepts, and the cat brain at the very end.  It was also fun when they cut into “headquarters” in the parents brains as well.

This is one of those films where I may need to see it again with my expectations re-calibrated and re-evaluate.  I had that happen on Thor: The Dark World too.  It was a good deal better than I initially thought on my first viewing.

Have They No Shame?

http://melindasnodgrass.com/have-they-no-shame

http://melindasnodgrass.com/?p=1973

Forgive me. I try to keep things fun and talk mostly about writing or horses or games or cool science stuff, but what happened at the Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina has left me shaken. The killings themselves are a sadly familiar story.  Black churches have been targeted before.  In 1963 four little girls were killed when a black church was bombed. As Larry Wilmore pointed out Larry Wilmore The Nightly Show nobody back then tried to claim this was about religious liberty, or that the bombers were architectural critics who thought the building was an eye sore, or some other bogus claim. Everyone knew why that church was bombed. It was done to terrorize African-American citizens in this country as they demanded their equal rights.

It was racism that killed those children.

The spectacle yesterday of a supposed news network twisting themselves into knots as they attempted to cast these murders as something other than racism was disgusting. There are presidential candidates who have taken up this same line of “reasoning” rather then face the fact that racism still runs like a toxic infection through the body of our nation.  I feel sorrow over the senseless deaths.  I feel rage over the actions of a certain segment or our punditry and politicians that refuses to acknowledge the legacy of America’s original sin.

Even if these so called journalists and national leaders didn’t want to grapple with these difficult issues couldn’t they have at least accepted the facts as presented by the killer himself?  Dylann Roof has confessed that he murdered these people because they were black.  Because he wanted to start a race war.  This had nothing to do with religion.  I expect the next move to avoid having to look in the mirror is to talk about mental illness.  No, Dylann Roof isn’t crazy.  He’s a racist.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has written far more eloquently and with greater knowledge then I of the history of oppression in America. Google him, read the articles. You’ll come away with a much deeper understanding of how much of our nation’s wealth was created on the backs of enslaved people.  John Stewart in a powerful monologue pointed out that not only does the confederate flag, a symbol of a rebellion launched in an effort to own human beings, still flies at the state capitol of South Carolina, that African-American citizens drive on roads named for confederate generals.  The Daily Show.

If mapping the human genome has taught us anything it’s that race is meaningless.  At the most fundamental level, in out DNA we are all the same.  We’re human beings.  Maybe someday we’ll come to accept that fact.  But not until cowards stop trying to change the subject.

And The Mad Bullet Beat Goes On

http://melindasnodgrass.com/and-the-mad-bullet-beat-goes-on

http://melindasnodgrass.com/?p=1970

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the horrific shooting in South Carolina. As most of you know I’m not religious, but there is something particularly repugnant about a killer entering a church or a mosque or a temple to kill peaceful worshipers. And suggestions on Fox news that pastors/priests/ imams ought to be armed just shows how mad this entire discussion of guns and their place in our society has become.

Here is a portion of the President’s remarks. “At some point as a country, we have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,”

This is a hate crime driven by racism. It had nothing to do with Christianity or religious people. This young man was targeting African-Americans. So let’s dispense with that ridiculous fig leaf.

Another interesting question has been raised by several news outlets — is South Carolina going to fly the Confederate flag that still flies over the state house at half-mast? The very thought is sickening. It’s also cognitive dissonance of the highest magnitude.

The Rabbit Problem

http://melindasnodgrass.com/the-rabbit-problem

http://melindasnodgrass.com/?p=1968

Today as I was working on the second space opera novel, EVIL TIMES, I was faced with the perennial science fiction problem.  What do you do about animals on alien worlds?  Or in a fantasy novel?  In my universe Old Earth is a climate change decimated hell hole.  The capital of the Solar League is on a planet called Ouranos, capital city Hisselek.  Naturally Earth animals have been brought with the settlers, but there are local fauna as well.

The problem isn’t that there are going to be native fauna, the problem is what the fuck to call them?  Do you make up an annoying name — rabbithorn — or do we assume the human settlers will just use familiar word to describe the critters?  If it fills the spot that rabbits fill on Earth why not just call it a rabbit?  Or use a foreign word — lapin or conejo or a older word like coney or hare.

I was thinking about C.J. Cherryh’s FOREIGNER series where the riding animals aren’t called horses, she uses the alien’s word mechieta for the critters.  (Except she admits she’s misspelled the word in her own novels.  Maybe just saying horse is easier).  The difference in my books is that there wasn’t an evolved race living on Ouranos before the humans arrived so I guess the humans get to call the native animals whatever they’d like.

This does mean when the books move to the worlds native to various aliens I’m going to have to come up with the Hajin, Isanjo, Tiponi Flute, Sidones words for rabbit.

*Sigh*

Pavlov Meet App

http://melindasnodgrass.com/pavlov-meet-app

http://melindasnodgrass.com/?p=1961

My technology is training me into a conditioned response.  I downloaded this pedometer app for my IPhone, and now that I’m home in NM where it is beautiful and I’m not breathing exhaust when I go outside I have been taking a lot of long, brisk walks.  Since I don’t have a gym here I’m using free weights at home and these walks as a way to stay in shape.  I generally average around 8500 steps each day or about four miles.

But yesterday I hit 10,000 steps in one day and my phone had a party.  Suddenly there were fireworks and showers of green and gold petals falling across the screen and a message YOU DID IT!

I was suddenly filled with a sense of enormous accomplishment.  I felt good and special.  And now I have to do it again so my phone will throw another party for me.  I resented the fact I had to go to Albuquerque today for appointments and a board meeting because it meant I could only walk my usual four miles and not get the fireworks.

I welcome our robot overlords and I’m happy to know mine loves me when I walk 10,000 steps in one day.