Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Darker Human Nature: The Good Luck Child

I'll bet you thought I wouldn't be posting for another eight some weeks, didn't you? Thought there would be a huge gap between posts? Well today I'm defying expectations. Continuing with the theme of exploring the darker human nature of literary characters, we're going to take a look at the story of "The Devil's Three Golden Hairs" by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. You may also know it as "The Good Luck Child."
If you're not familiar with the story, click the link to read it. http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/grimm/bl-grimm-devil.htm
In the story, this boy from, as far as we know, a family of no worth or title is born and a prophecy is bestowed upon him that in his nineteenth (or some versions it's fourteenth) year, he will wed the princess. The king of that land happened to be passing through, heard the prophecy, got very upset, and placed the child in a box and threw him in the river. The king thought he had rid his daughter of her "unlooked-for suitor," but as this was a lucky child indeed, he drifted downstream until he came to the shore of another poor man and his wife, who raised him as their own. The boy grows up, the king returns by chance, and realizes that the poor man's son is in fact the child he thought he had killed. To make a long story short, the king gives the lucky child a series of tasks in order to prove himself worthy of becoming his son-in-law, all of which are fool's errands and the lucky child is never intended to survive any of them. But as his name implies, he does. On the last errand however, he encounters a ferryman who has been ferrying people across a lake for years, and he wonders when his job will end. The lucky child discovers that all he need do is hand his oar to his next client and run away freely. On returning home to the king and the princess, the lucky child was rewarded by towns which he passed with lots of gold. The king asked him how he acquired it and if he, the king, could get more. The lucky child tells him he has to be ferried across the lake to get the rest of the gold. The king ventures out, but when he comes to the ferryman, upon remembering the lucky child's answer, the ferryman hands his oar to the king, runs away, and the king is left to be the ferryman for the rest of his life.
Now, bearing all that in mind, I found it interesting that throughout the story, the lucky child is by no means impish, cruel, or ill-favorable. He is virtuous, brave, smart, and determined. But he knew by sending the king across the lake, that the ferryman would hand off the oar, and the king would be gone forever. But if he is such a good guy, and throughout the story we have no reason to doubt that he is, why would he essentially send the king to his doom?
I believe that along the journey -and in the story I think the lucky child had to venture out about three times- the lucky child realized how perilous his journey was. He most likely also realized that the king had intended it so. The lucky child finally comprehended the king's disdain for him, because he was a poor boy. (I wonder if he even knew about the prophecy?) And so, to ensure the safety of himself and the princess, the lucky child sent the king to the ferryman, who would "pass the oar." Even though the lucky child is a good guy, and the king was his father-in-law, he did send him to his doom. I find that interesting, because I really don't think the lucky child just said, "Oh, yes, I got it from the palace across the lake; just take the ferry and you'll be fine." I don't think he forgot the answer he gave to the ferryman about how to leave his post. Sending the king away -permanently- was intended. I suppose even good guys must complete bad deeds for the good of their kingdom, at least when their predecessor would potentially go mad at having a poor man's son on the throne.
If you haven't read the story yet, I would suggest doing so. Despite the tone of this post, it's actually a very fun story and doesn't focus on the darkness of it all (which is saying something, considering it was written by the Grimm brothers). It has a happy ending at least! Good conquers evil and the bad guy gets his comeuppance.

-Grace

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Darker Human Nature: Red Riding Hood

Have you ever wondered if iconic characters of books and television had a hidden side to them? What if Princess Aurora was a rebel? If she were depicted in modern times, would she be that bad girl who always went against her parent (or legal guardians, in Aurora's case)? What if Daisy Duck had a secret online shopping addiction? Was Ursula once a mermaid? Bits of a person's character that have only been touched on or never explored. In short, the darker human nature. My friend Mark Venturini loves to explore the darker side of human nature with his characters. For more on that, see my last post where we had a very interesting discussion about The Hobbit. But Mark inspired me to take a look at a few characters and explore their darker side -or hidden side, depending on which character we're looking at.
(Little Red Riding Hood by Isabel Oakley Naftel, 1862)

(Meghan Ory as Ruby/Red in ABC's Once Upon a Time www.pixgood.com )

(Little Red Riding Hood by Evanira http://evanira.deviantart.com )

I want to start with someone a lot of people are fairly familiar with: Little Red Riding Hood. In the tale by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, Red is depicted as a young girl, quite innocent, venturing into the mysterious forest to do a good deed: bring goodies for sick, old Granny. She ends up being swallowed whole by the wolf, but then saved by the Huntsman before she can be digested.... Charming. (The version by Charles Perrault, which came before Grimm's, is similar, except the Huntsman slays the wolf before he can eat the grandmother and Little Red.) In another version, while the wolf is threatening Red and her grandmother, Red pulls a gun from somewhere and handles the villain Old Western style. ABC's Once Upon a Time (which I'm terribly behind in) depicts Red as... wait, too much of a spoiler. But in Scarlet, a book by Melissa Meyer, the main character who is a depiction of Red Riding Hood is a streetwise farmer who is trying to find her missing grandmere. So you have lots of different perspectives on this one character, although a few details stay the same, like the red theme, the wolf, and the grandmother.
It's interesting that in each of the tales, Red has to go on some kind of journey. It's also interesting how from the Grimm's version to now, there is a perceptible decrease in Red as being purely innocent. It's as if the tale by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm were the very start of Red's adventures, when she was a child, and as the story has evolved, the character has grown up and matured, becoming bolder and less predictable.
I like to think characters learn from their mistakes, even if they are make-believe. What did Red learn from all her experiences? Is the wolf merely metaphorical? Is the grandmother supposed to be the goal we are always trying to achieve, and the wolf the obstacles we must overcome? And what of Red's nature as a person? How did she change? Did she become more pessimistic or worrisome? Did the experiences make her braver? Did she crave danger? I think she would have made a good cop or PI. I don't know why, but for some reason those two just stick out to me.
Hopefully in a couple of days I'll have another character for you. Which would you prefer: heroes, villains, or secondary characters? Let me know in the comments. :-)

-Grace

Friday, December 12, 2014

Blog Interview with Author Mark Venturini

Here is my interview with author Mark Venturini!
(Mark Venturini, author of Whispers from Forbidden Earth)

Q: Let's start with something off the wall. Who's your favorite dwarf in The Company and why?
A: Part of my answer will surprise you, since my genre of choice is Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I hate the Hobbit movies. I guess my favorite dwarf is Thorin Oakenshield. He's driven and a strong leader. There's also a darker nature lying below the surface that I appreciate since my writing tends to lean toward the darker side of human nature. So, back to the Hobbit movies. As a teenager, I devoured all the books, from The Simarillion to the Return of the King. I consider the LOTR movies to be cinematic masterpieces in every way: character development, plot, stunning imagery, all worthy of Tolkien's epic tale. The Hobbit movies feel more like a bloated, large-scale video game. any scenes are unforgivably cheesy. I will plop down money and watch Battle of the Five Armies when it is released, but you won't find the DVDs on my shelf at home.

Q: If you could have a chat with anyone from history, who would it be?
A: There are so many.
  • Jules Verne
  • Thomas Edison
  • C.S. Lewis
  • The Apostle Paul
  • Albert Einstein
  • King Solomon
  • Abraham Lincoln

Q: I love the world you've created for Whispers, especially how Eversong is tied to music in almost every way. Can you tell me about where you got the inspiration for all that?
A: It started with the "Creation Song" in the very first novel I wrote many years ago. Crossway books considered publishing it, but eventually passed. The story was a fantasy retelling of the creation story from Genesis, where God sang the universe into existence. I incorporated some elements from that novel into Whispers and just added to it. From there, Eversong was born. I enjoyed playing with the musical theme. Some readers caught it.

Q: Can we expect a sequel to Whispers? If so, tell us about it.
A: There is a sequel. The working title is Blood Tithe. The portal that opened between Earth and Eversong in the first novel also freed faeries from the Winter Court (the Unseelie) and Summer Court (the Seelie) to run amok on Earth and cause major troubles for Jason Snider. I'm really excited about how two parallel plot lines between Jason on Earth and the elf Strum and Magus Sinngh on Eversong unfold.

Q: I know you're working on a project called Medieval Mars with author Travis Perry. What can you tell me about that project?
A: The concept is interesting. The world of Medieval Mars takes place in some future time after humans colonized Mars. Over time, though, technology and scientific knowledge was lost and society degraded to a feudal system reminiscent of the Middle Ages. What little technology that survived is referred to as coming from the "Time of Magic." The stories primarily take place in the area from Olympus Mons eastward to the Chryse Planitia that is now a shallow sea in our world. I really enjoyed exploring the region and the society that lives there within the stories.

Q: Let's talk briefly about the writer's group Pittsburgh East Scribes. We have both been involved since the very beginning. Can you believe it's grown as much as it has? And all the writers have gone in so many different directions.
A: I am humbled by the success of Scribes. I started the group with one goal in mind: to provide information, resources, and encouragement to help aspiring authors pursue their dream of seeing their work published. We've assembled a great group of writers that I think covers most genres. The energy and passion and commitment I feel at every meeting is so encouraging to me. Every time I suggest a summer or holiday break, I'm shot down. Everyone wants to meet. I can't tell you how that makes me feel.

Q: I feel like I know you too well that I can't think up any good questions. So let me see here... I know you love kayaking and basically the great outdoors. You told me not long ago that you saw a bear! If you could go and do anything in the world and you had no restrictions, what would it be?
A: After my rafting trip through the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago, I have 3 items left on my bucket list.
  • Hike to Everest base camp. I don't want to climb Mt. Everest, but I think the 16 day hike through the Himalaya Mountains in Nepal to base camp where the expeditions are launched would be spectacular! (I have a feeling I would not be doing this with my wife, Kathy.)
  • A cruise to Antarctica.
  • Explore Alaska by rail and hopefully do some kayaking during the trip.

Q: Do you still make time to read?
A: With a full time job and many obligations, finding time to do everything I want to do is really a challenge. The only way to fit in everything is to give up on sleep. That isn't going to happen. Thank God for my kindle and kindle app on my smart phone. I have a 45 minute commute to work on a rideshare van. That's when I do the majority of my reading as well as my critiquing.

Q: What kind of traditions do you and your family keep around the holidays? In other words, how much does your Italian show?
A: For Thanksgiving, we're traditional with the turkey and stuffing. For Christmas, though, we keep the tradition of the "Feast of the Seven Fishes" on Christmas Eve. Menu items vary from family to family. We've added a few items to our menu over the last couple of years.
  • Linguine with a red anchovy sauce
  • Orange Roughy in tomato sauce
  • Calamari
  • Baccala (salt cod)
  • Whiting (fish)
  • Scallops
  • Smelts (fish)
  • Shrimp
  • Bagna cauda (warm anchovy dip)
Add to this all the Italian cookies! Christmas Eve is always a special time for my family.

Q: And on a fun note, what do you think about Twitter? Do you like it or would you rather keep what you had for lunch today to yourself?
A: I've always been uncomfortable with the marketing and social media end of the writing business. I'm basically a private person. But Twitter and Facebook and blogging and Goodreads (I could go on) are all necessary evils. So, I tweet and do all the other social media stuff that's expected. Am I as active as I should be? See my response to question 8 about making time to read. :-)

Thanks for the interview, Mark!
Check out Mark's blog to stay updated about his stories: www.markventurinijourney.blogspot.com
Also find Mark on Twitter (@Mark_Venturini), Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/markkventurini/ ), and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7173590.Mark_Venturini?from_search=true ). Mark is also a contributing author to the Colony Zero series, up on Amazon now! Links to his chapters are below.
Colony Zero -Volume 1 -Contact http://www.amazon.com/Colony-Zero-Contact-Travis-Perry-ebook/dp/B00IC86952/ref=asap_B00G14LU1W?ie=UTF8 
Colony Zero -Volume 3 -In the Midst of Sorrow http://www.amazon.com/Colony-Zero-Volume-Midst-Sorrow-ebook/dp/B00JFZJXLI/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1GYBGEXEYZ9WF4YC4JVQ 
Colony Zero Series II -Volume 2 -For the Children http://www.amazon.com/Colony-Zero-Series-II-Children-ebook/dp/B00OGOXBFM/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1SGBER1JZ36S7WD0X2Z7

-Grace

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blog Interview with Willow and Darrion of "The Call"

Ooh, this is exciting! As promised, here is a special blog interview from writing sisters Willow and Darrion, who maintain their blog, "The Call." Enjoy!



1. Tell us a little about yourselves.
Willow: I'm a Christian introvert teenage writer who loves Lord of the Rings, cosplay, Doctor Who, Marvel, and photography. I'm two years the elder of my younger sister, Darrion. {Wow, that was a mouthful!}

Darrion: I consider myself an extrovert, a Bible believing Christian, an amateur photographer and artist, and last but not least, writer.

2. How did your blog “The Call” get started?

Willow: I originally entitled it "Many are Called but Few are Chosen", though we never really used it. I did two fanfics from the "Star Wars the Clone War's" and "The Codebearer's Series", but never really got into it. Then I joined a story blog called "The Story Club" where I wrote most of my story "Once a Pirate, Always a Pirate", a fanfic of Pirates of the Caribbean. I realized how much I loved writing, and reworked "The Call" into what it is now, to put my book "Friends and Enemies" on, and D wanted to get into the action finally. She'd wanted to originally, but didn't want to be a part of the blog until she had something to put on it, which turned out to be "The Watchmen Files", and we eventually added our friends Ammelia Gabriella and Billie Catherine.

Darrion: See above.

3. Aside from your fantasy stories, have you always liked writing fanfiction?
Darrion: Yes, in fact that's where our fascination with writing started with. We sort of inserted ourselves into the stories we loved (Star Wars and every other TV show or movie we watched) and always intended to write the stories we invented down. And that's how we started: our little imaginary ventures in written form. I think one of the best things about fanfiction is that you can make it what you want to. Actors interpret their characters in their actions and delivery of lines, but writers can do whatever they want. They can be all of the characters, they can make them act however they choose. And I love that.

Willow: What she said!

4. How do your tastes differ from each other in regards to your writing? Willow, I know you have “Friends and Enemies,” which is a wonderful fantasy story, and Darrion, you have “The Watchmen Files,” which is just a fantastic build-off of the Marvel Comic universe.
Willow: I really love fantasy, and the modern world, but I do think that I like writing fantasy more than D does.

Darrion: I think Willow's writing style is more conversational, and I like more description. I also really try to cram as much emotion into my characters as possible, and I love character development (even if it does mean someone has to suffer, which Willow does not prefer). I wouldn't say that either of us could choose one genre over the other, but I am really looking forward to making a fantasy tale, and Willow is also excited about a more modern story.

5. You are both such wonderful writers. Do you think it’s something you’d like to pursue as a career, if you could? Why or why not?
Willow: I would love to do that as a career, but there are other things I plan to that that writing would get in the way of. I still plan of writing for fun, more and more books will make their way onto our blog, but I doubt I'll actually turn it into a career.

Darrion: I would like to make it an on-the-side sort of thing, since I don't think I could live off of my writing. But I plan to keep at it as life moves on, and who knows where that will take me!

6. What do you guys like to do in your free time?
Willow: Surf pinterest, grabbing pins for books/future reference {hehehe} and search eBay.uk for Clara Oswald cosplay stuff, and designing book covers :) Just a few things!

Darrion: When I'm not on Pinterest (like Willow, snatching up ideas for stories), I enjoy sketching with pencil, mostly fanart, which I post on my personal/art/other blog, 'Sincerely Darrion'.

7. Yeah, I'm a Pinterest junkie, too. Just out of curiosity, are you both homeschooled or do you go to public school? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.
Willow and Darrion: We're both homeschooled.

8. That's what I thought. Takes one to know one, I guess. ;-) Who are your favorite book characters (could be from more than one book)?
Willow: I love Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, Fili and Kili from the Hobbit, Samwise in Lord of the Rings, Aravis in the Horse and His Boy, and Hope and Trista from the Hunter Brown books.

Darrion: Thorin Oakenshield and Bilbo Baggins from the Hobbit, Frerin from the appendix in the Return of the King (not so much what is written about him, since there really is hardly anything there, but what I imagine him to be like), Gimli from Lord of the Rings, and Edmund and Lucy from Narnia.

9. Who are your favorite on-screen characters (could be from more than one show/movie)?
Willow: Elsa in Frozen, Fili and Kili in the Hobbit Trilogy, Samwise, and Eomer in Lord of the Rings, Skye and Jemma in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America and Hawkeye in the Avengers, Edmund in Narnia, and Clara and Donna in Doctor Who.

Darrion: Thorin and nephews (and Balin and Bilbo!) from the Hobbit (especially the Unexpected Journey), Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc., Flynn from Tangled, Captain Rex and the rest of the 501st from Star Wars the Clone Wars, Anna from Frozen, and Captain America from the First Avenger, and more then I have room to mention here.

10. This might be inappropriate since you both incorporate worlds and themes from Lord of the Rings and S.H.I.E.L.D. into your writing, but… humor me. If you could live in another fictional world, which would it be and why?
Willow: Tough one, but Lord of the Rings. I'd love to live in Rivendell.

Darrion: Ouch, that's difficult... I think I'd want to live in Erebor, before the firestorm.

11. Finally, if you could have a conversation with any writer in history, who would it be?
Willow: I'd talk to J.R.R. Tolkien and ask him questions about the Hobbit, and have him sign our copy!

Darrion: I would do the same... Tolkien, tell me about the heart of every character in the Hobbit!

Thanks for the questions, Grace! You picked really good ones, and it was very nice of you to ask us :)


And I'd like to thank Willow and Darrion for participating in my little interview.  You guys were wonderful guests. :-) Click the link below to visit their awesome blog.
http://www.willow-the-call.blogspot.com/

-Grace

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Dragon Chronicles: Leia

Well this is embarrassing. Here I was hoping to give you guys a blog interview, but unfortunately I haven't gotten all my questions out, and the ones I have have not been responded to yet. No worries. Instead, I present to you a short story entitles The Dragon Chronicles: Leia. Enjoy!


Leia measured the sun’s position as it pertained to the height of the trees, then turned back to glance at the mountains, and then back to the sun again.

            “We’re lost, aren’t we?” said Natalia, sounding unsurprised.

            “No we’re not,” assured Leia. She blew a strand of brown hair out of her face. Her wings drooped a little, betraying her uncertainty. “The cove is just… this way.” She pointed to a gap in the trees that looked somewhat familiar, and she and Talia flew towards it, the hedgerow a cool, dark, luscious green. The fairy sisters zipped through the leaves and for a moment Leia was confident they were going the right way… until they came to the river. For the third time.

            “Great!” said Talia, exasperated. “We’re lost.”

            “We are not lost.” Leia flew high above the trees and shielded her eyes from the sun’s glare.

Talia’s voice appeared beside her. “I thought a graduated fairy was supposed to be a highly intelligent keeper of nature. You don’t even know where north is!”

Leia brushed away her comment. “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s that way. And besides,” she added, flying toward a maple tree she thought she recognized. “I am an intelligent keeper of nature. We’ve been trained to pinpoint locations instantly.”

“Instantly, huh? Well, we’ve been flying around for fifteen minutes. How is that instant?”

Leia rounded on her little sister sharply. “Oh, will you stop it? I could find my way out of this forest blindfolded.”

Talia crossed her arms, her blue eyes narrowing under platinum blonde bangs. “Then maybe we should blindfold you. It would probably get us home a lot faster. We weren’t even supposed to go this far. Mother said to stay by Make-A-Wish Falls.”

Leia was about to respond when she spotted a dark figure over Talia’s shoulder. Eyes widening, she grabbed Natalia and dove just as the hawk’s claws missed them. “Hurry!” she yelled as they dashed away from the hungry bird. Leia heard the bird’s angry cries and could feel its wings beat against the wind as it gained on them. Sparing a glance at Natalia, she saw her sister’s wide blue eyes frozen in panic even as her wings pushed her faster and faster. “To the river!” Leia called over the wind.

Talia nodded stiffly and they both straightened their arms against their sides, piercing the air like bullets.

They were close now, the river a mere stone skip away, when suddenly the hawk swooped in front of them, spreading his wings like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Leia spread her wings wide to stop, but Talia soared straight into the hawk’s embrace. Grabbing her by the wings with his beak, the hawk gave a gargled squawk and started to rise.

“Put me down!” Talia cried, thrashing in the hawk’s mouth. But the hawk shook her once her cries reduced to a whimper. Pulling wings was like pulling hair.

Leia watched in silent horror as her sister shrunk from view, helpless in the predator’s clutches. Looking around, she only saw a few pinecones, some pebbles, and a cluster of mushrooms. She needed something to help Talia. She needed something to fend off the hawk. She needed something now! And then, out of the bushes toddled a brown and grey porcupine, its pointed face nuzzled to the ground, searching for food. Suddenly inspired, Leia raced to the porcupine and hovered carefully above it. She reached for one of the spines, but the animal wouldn’t stop moving. Talia screamed again.

“Sorry, mister,” Leia said. “But this is gonna hurt.” Grabbing a handful of spines, Leia yanked with all her might until they came loose in her hand. The porcupine yelped but Leia didn’t wait for his scolding. She sped toward the hawk brandishing her spines.

The hawk only realized what was happening an instant before it came to be.

Leia jabbed him sharply with all three of the spines and the hawk gave a pained cry. Talia dropped from his mouth. Seizing her hand, Leia and Talia flew toward the hedgerow and waited until the hawk disappeared from view before braving the skies again.

Leia stuffed the porcupine spines into the back of her belt. She was sure she could find another use for them. Turning to Talia, she saw her sister’s cheeks had grown a tender pink, her bangs hiding her dark blue eyes.

“Thanks,” said Talia, sheepishly.

Leia smiled and blew another strand of brown hair out of her face. “You’re welcome.”

“I’m sorry I was mean to you before.”

“It’s okay.”

There was silence for a few moments before Talia spoke again.

“So… how do we get home now?”

Leia pondered, her gaze drifting to the laughing river. “Maybe if we follow this,” she said with a gesture to it, “it will lead us to Make-A-Wish Falls. Then we can find our way home from there.”

Together the two sisters drifted above the water, enjoying its’ sound and the peace it brought. Leia spared another glance to Natalia. She had been very close to losing her today. The thought made her want to hug her sister. But instead, she dipped a foot into the water and splashed Natalia in the face. By the time they reached Make-A-Wish Falls, both of them were laughing and soaked. Thankfully the air was warm as evening came, the summer sky turning shades of pink and lavender. Before the sun had set, the cove came into view with its’ bustling populace of fairies. Leia and Talia made their way to their hovel, which had once been a mole’s home before the family converted it to a fairy home after the mole’s departure. Mother only looked slightly taken aback at the state of the sisters’ frizzy hair. Leia produced the porcupine spines and set them in the corner by the coat rack, which had been fashioned out of two paperclips twisted together.

“Where did those come from?” asked Mother with a knowing look.

Leia and Talia glanced to one another. Leia cleared her throat. “We found them… while we were… looking for algae. For the tadpoles.”

Mother smiled. “I see,” she said. “What else happened today?”

Talia looked down, but Leia only smiled and leaned casually against the compass which served as the dinner table. “Oh, nothing. Played in the river. Raced each other.”

“Uh-huh.” Mother turned stirred some kind of bluish mixture in an acorn bowl. “What a day. Why don’t you two set the plates for dinner,” she suggested. “You father will be home soon.”

Lei and Talia nodded and began the nightly ritual. Occasionally they would catch each other’s eye and smile or wink. And to think, all that adventure had come from a few minutes of playing a little too long.

What a day indeed.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What's to Come

Hi everybody. So, just a little heads up, I'm doing a bunch of blog interviews that I'm hoping to post this coming week. The interviews will be from different authors and bloggers of various genres, what they like to do in their free time, who their favorite fictional characters are, what being a writer is like... all kinds of stuff. I'm trying to switch up the questions for each person, but you may see some of them repeated.
Be on the look-out for interviews from Mark Venturini, Tracy Krauss, Travis Perry, and Willow and Darrion, the authors of one of my favorite blogs, The Call.
Stay tuned!

-Grace

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Disney Parents


What does Disney have against parents? If you’re in a Disney movie and you’re a parent, more than likely you are either single or dead. Why is that? There are a few exceptions, of course: Rapunzel’s parents in Tangled (though Rapunzel was separated from them most of her life); Aurora’s parents in Sleeping Beauty (same situation as Tangled); Prince Naveen’s parents in The Princess and the Frog; Mr. and Mrs. Darling from Peter Pan; King Fergus and Queen Elinor of Brave; and Fa Zhou and Fa Li of Mulan. This is not a complete list, but you get the idea. Compared to how many Disney movies have parents who are either single or deceased, the scale is remarkably unbalanced.

While this strategy may be handy in removing unneeded characters from the plot and giving some depth to the protagonists, the reasoning must go deeper.

Children are raised with stories of brave knights and dastardly villains, rescuing the princess or saving the village. In tales like those from Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, kings or parents in general usually play a significant role in the story. But as fairytales have evolved, the role of the parent seems to have diminished to that of a prop in the background. No longer are fathers the voice of wisdom and reason. Mothers are so rarely ideal role models (take Mother Gothel from Tangled for example). While many other Disney themes are wonderfully imaginative and otherwise agreeable, their regard for parents has dwindled to something nearly nonexistent.

My dad works as a flight medic. One day he came home and was telling us about his interesting patients. He said a middle-aged man was moving a very heavy dresser in his bedroom and the dresser somehow fell on top of him. The drawers and knobs pinned his limbs in place, and the only things not being crushed by the very sturdy piece of furniture were the man’s head and one of his arms. His Mac computer happened to be sitting on the desk with the power cord running down the side. The man had gotten hold of the power cord and very carefully tugged the computer off the desk so he could type an e-mail to his mother telling her that he was trapped under a dresser and couldn’t reach the phone to dial 9-1-1. It was the man’s mother who had called for help for her son, but not until she read the e-mail… two days later. The medics stormed the man’s house and strategically removed the dresser while keeping pressure on certain body parts so the blood wouldn’t rush to his heart and give him a heart attack. The man was fine after a lot of medical treatment, but as my dad was relating this story to us at the dinner table, it struck us that the man would still be under that dresser if he hadn’t e-mailed his mother. And it made me realize that no matter how old you are or where you settle down, you will always need your parents.

I don’t think this theme is expressed enough in Disney films. The value of parents throughout our lives is not something that can be measured in dollars or pounds. And I don’t mean calling them when you need a recipe or you’re trapped under a dresser. My parents are people I want to be more like. People that others can depend on and look to for encouragement. I hope someday to have gained my father’s wisdom and my mother’s compassion. I hope one day I can understand what it means to be a good parent.

And while I still love Disney films and am all about strong female characters, it would be refreshing to see a more family-oriented tale from my favorite storytellers.

Friday, October 31, 2014

"The Fortelling"

Hello everyone. I'm posting a short story I wrote for my Creative Writing class. It's sort of a prequel to a story that I wrote years ago. For class, the objective was to write a fictional piece that was no longer than two pages. Now, one thing you have to understand about me is that I cannot write short stories. They are the bane of my existence (along with ethical papers, argumentation, and spam). But then something occurred to me: who said this had to be a completely pulled-something-out-of-my-hat story? Why couldn't it be a build-off of something I had already written. A prequel. Or a sequel, depending which way you leaned. It was so much fun getting back into this mindset, into this world. Without further adieu, I present to you "The Foretelling."


Lord Ivan and Lady Larissa passed through the large, decaying archway as his ancestors had done before him, the reasons the same for every one of them: they sought to discover their child’s destiny. A child’s destiny was a precarious thing. While some believed a person was free to choose their own path, those of the old families knew the truth: the future had already been written, and there were only three beings who could decipher it.

            The Fates.

            Lady Larissa clutched her daughter closer to her chest, the chill seeping into the marrow of her bones. Lord Ivan placed an arm protectively around her shoulders. Tattered grey drapes sewn into the very stone, the frigid floor seeming to have been taken from a mountain, the ceiling that towered like a cathedral to a point too high to be seen. Markings etched into the walls spoke of a time long passed, where great kings and perhaps even gods dwelled in this shrine of a room. Battle scenes and paintings bleak with age, scripts that had once spoken of great names and quests now lost to time.

            They stood almost in the middle of the room now, in front of a round marble platform with three steps, waiting for them to appear. The baby, awaking from her sleep, gave a shrill whine and the sound reverberated off the walls like an animal call.

            “Shh,” Lady Larissa cooed. “It’s all right, my love, my dearest. My sweet Giovanna.”

            Giovanna wailed and Lord Ivan and Lady Larissa shrank away from the sound.

            “Keep her silent!” Lord Ivan hissed. Another cry and Lord Ivan yanked the blanket away from the baby’s face. “Hush, now! Hush! You’ll wake the dead!”

            “Good evening, Lord Ivan,” came three voices from above. Lord Ivan and Lady Larissa looked up to see three hooded figures standing on the platform. The one in the middle was tallest by a head. The hood of her cloak concealed her features, but she was lean and Lord Ivan imagined she would have an angular nose and sallow cheeks. To her right, the other figure was short and rounded, her height barely reaching the waist of her sisters. The third one, to the left of the middle, had an unremarkable frame, and had it not been for her hood, she probably would have looked like a scullery maid.

            The three figures stood in exactly the same manner –backs straight, hoods drawn, hands hidden within the opposite’s sleeve.

            “We anticipated your return,” said the Fate in the middle. Lord Ivan remembered from his and Lady Larissa’s first visit that this was the eldest sister, the First Fate. Her voice was harsh and raspy, as if someone had stretched her throat.

            “We wish –” began Lady Larissa.

            “To know the destiny of your child,” finished the shortest Fate, the Second. Her voice was cold and grimy and frog-like, as if she were speaking around a cough. “We know.”

            “Will you accept her?” asked Lord Ivan. Though the Fates were rumored to be all-knowing, they were not required to share their knowledge with anyone, not even the gods.

            The Fates were silent for a long time, seeming to contemplate the request. Finally the third and final Fate answered in a voice like sunshine, “Bring her to the altar.”

            With a wave of her hand, a podium appeared from a twirl of white smoke, the same white as the platform. On it was a basin. Lady Larissa ascended the platform and placed Giovanna in the basin, withdrawing her hand slowly as the baby held on with a firm grip. Giovanna screamed and Lady Larissa, joining Lord Ivan, clutched her husband’s arm for strength. He rubbed her arm comfortingly, never taking his eyes off his daughter.

            The Fates surrounded the altar, gazing at the screaming child as if looking into a pool of stars. At precisely the same moment, the Fates each grasped each other’s hands until they made an unbroken circle around the altar. Lord Ivan heard chanting, though he could see no mouths moving, for the faces were still cast in shadow. But he perceived a change in the air, a crack of heat as if lightning had shot through the room. The chanting grew louder. Lord Ivan held Lady Larissa as they watched, uselessly, from beyond the platform as the three mysterious Fates dug into the churning froth of the world’s existence and located Giovanna’s destiny, like a thread in a tapestry. The basin glowed a vibrant, angry red and suddenly Lord Ivan saw the First Fate holding a knife above Giovanna, the tip impossibly sharp. All in a moment the chanting ceased and the Fate brought the knife viciously down. Lady Larissa screamed. The metal sang against the stone, filling the room like a single chime of a church bell.

            Lord Ivan jerked to retrieve his daughter, but something stopped him, some subconscious knowledge that assured him his daughter was alive.

            The Third Fate picked up Giovanna and placed her gently, so gently into Lady Larissa’s eager arms. Lord Ivan’s eyes searched hungrily over his daughter for the knife wound, but all her saw was the tiniest scratch on her arm, barely more than a hairsbreadth. Lord Ivan looked up at the Fates, but they were all concentrating on something inside the basin. A warm orange glow emanated from the basin, and Lord Ivan could almost perceive one of the Fate’s facial features.

            “She has fire in her blood,” said the Second Fate. “Fire that will breathe and consume her very core until she possesses the strength and essence of a dragon.”

            “And she will be brave,” continued the Third Fate. “As your general, she will lead your army into many battles and triumph over enemies both foreign and domestic. Not a single foe will cross her path that she will not conquer.”

            Lord Ivan gazed at Giovanna, who wriggled in her mother’s arms like a worm. Her eyes, the color of rich mahogany, seemed to gaze at her surroundings in wonder, as if she understood the significance of this sacred place.

            A general, Lord Ivan thought. A woman… my daughter… a general. He tried to imagine her grown up, those sharp, clever eyes looking into the face of an enemy and taking a life. He could not imagine something so innocent becoming something as cold and battle-hardened as, well, him.

            “But innocent, she will not be,” said the First Fate, as if she had heard his thoughts. “The child shall grow amongst those she would call her own, but just as the fire which courses through her blood and her fingers will one day lay waste to entire lands, her heart shall be as dead as the worst of these. She will fall into the hands of Hades and intertwine her fate with his, but it will be by her doing that your legacy shall continue.”

            The orange glow receded and the Fates dropped their hands. Silence like a storm overturned the room, heavy and foreboding. The Fates turned in synchronization toward Lord Ivan and Lady Larissa, their hands once again hidden within their sleeves.

            “Is this it then?” Lord Ivan demanded. “Is this to be my daughter’s fate?”

            “Ivan,” Lady Larissa said, but he brushed her off.

            “Born to raise my family up but doomed to die with her life intertwined with Hades’?” Lord Ivan took a step to advance upon the platform, but an invisible force held him back. He glowered at the faceless fortunetellers. “So long as I live, I will not allow a single member of my family to die the way you have said. You have foretold falsely today. The life of my daughter shall not be like that of a sheep led to slaughter.” Without another word, Lord Ivan turned on his heel, and he and Lady Larissa left the Fates, his sacrilegious words ringing behind him like a thousand thousand ghosts.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Historian

My brother has very weird taste in T.V. shows. That is to say, then, that everyone has weird taste in T.V. shows lately, seeing as he likes pretty much everything on except reality T.V. One of his favorite new shows is FOX's Sleepy Hollow. I wish I had seen this show from the beginning because it does look very interesting, but I poked my head in while my brother was watching an episode and it was very... different. I was having trouble following the plotline, but that's the risk you take when you jump right into a series without watching the previous ones. Still, it looks good and I still want to see it from the beginning. Maybe then the headless soldiers and trunkful of crossbows will make sense.
After all the hype I've heard about this show, I did some rudimentary research on Sleepy Hollow's leading man, Tom Mison. What I found was a brief but inspiring little quote at the end of his biography on IMDB.
"I've always been a history buff. It was one of the few subjects at school that really, really caught me. I think you'll find a lot of actors will be interested in history because it sparks your imagination so much. When you enter a period of history, your imagination just goes wild in creating the world, which is really what acting is."
This quote stuck out to my, I think because it made me realize... all actors were historians, in some sense of the word. And somehow, that made me see some actors differently. It's not like they were just playing pretend; they were delving into the time period, fleshing it out, bringing it back to us in the liveliest way possible, through acting.
Since then, I've been imagining different actors and wrapping the word "historian" around their profile, just to see how it fits. And I just kept repeating to myself...
This guy's a historian.
(Tom Mison, picture courtesy of http://justjared.com )
She's a historian.
(Adelaide Kane as Mary on The CW's Reign)
She's a historian.
(Picture of Emmy Rossum, courtesy of http://fanpop.com )
And this guy just can't seem to keep himself out of period dramas, so you know he's got a few research essays up his sleeve.
(Picture of Tom Hiddleston courtesy of http://marvel-movies-wikia.com )
It does make me view these people, and others, in a different light. Not that I thought they were puppets or something, but it's fascinating that so many actors, as Mr. Mison points out, are probably history buffs just like him.

-Grace

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Excerpt from "Cinderella and Sebastian"

For your enjoyment, here is a short paragraph from my story (working title) Cinderella and Sebastian. Let me know what you think!


The bark dug into Sebastian's back as he pressed himself against a tree, listening to the travelers’ conversation. "Aye, an' he hired the bloke to kill the Caliph, he did," said the one with gravel in his voice. One of them spit. "He's a trai'or to his blood, he is," added the other. Sebastian's heart plummeted and he squeezed his eyes shut. Banished and yet wanted at the same time, he thought with no amusement. But when he opened his eyes he saw a girl standing there, her eyes like saucers as she took in his attire, his weapons. Without thinking, Sebastian tackled her to the ground and muffled her cries with a hand. He drew his dagger and held it to her throat. The girl's eyes, too shocked for tears, did not blink. Seb listened until he could no longer hear the travelers. Still keeping the dagger aloft, he held a finger to his lips. The girl nodded and he drew his hand away. "Forget my face," he said, and stole deeper into the woods.


-Grace

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Celebrity Look Alikes: Dina Meyer VS Erin Richards

This will probably be my last Celebrity Look Alikes post for a while. I really want to refocus my blog on the writing aspect, as I set out to do in the beginning. So, I hope you enjoy this post before the meme goes on a hiatus.
Our candidates today are the lovely Dina Meyer and Erin Richards.

(Dina Meyer picture from the Heroes for Hire website, http://heroesforhire.us)
 
(Erin Richards at the premier of The Quiet Ones)
You've probably seen Meyer in numerous roles including Johnny Mnemonic, Starship Troopers, ABC's Castle, and CBS's NCIS. Richards, on the other hand, has most recently been seen on FOX's new series Gotham as Barbara Kean, although you may also have seen her in The Quiet Ones, Open Grave, and the BBC's Merlin. These women both have some intense stares, ethereal baby blues, and luscious textured locks. Clearly there's a secret to keeping your face acne-free. (Side note: Acne doesn't end when you're seventeen! This is something they don't tell you: you get it the rest of your life!) Their chins are also slightly pointed, and they both have arched eyebrows and nude-colored lips. The biggest contrast is their hair. I wonder what Miss Richards would look like with auburn hair. I find it interesting that Richards plays a character named Barbara on Gotham, which centers around the fictitious city from the DC universe before the pseudo name Batman came to be. Dina Meyer starred in Birds of Prey (2002-2003) as Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl aka Oracle. Do I see a character parallel here? Granted, Gotham has only aired one episode (Mondays at 8/7c on FOX) but it has already been hinted that Barbara Kean has a shady past with another character on the show. I wonder if it has anything to do with computer hacking. If so, that would be a great set-up if she were eventually to become Oracle. Although that would mean Oracle would be much older than Bruce Wayne once he and she connected.
Ahem.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little post. Once again, I hope to post more writing-based posts in the future. Stay tuned!

-Grace

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Celebrity Look Alikes: Nicolas Giraud VS Kit Harington

This seems to be the only thing I'm good for these days. What can I say? Between writing and college, my methods of detoxing are pretty slim. So I find quite a few people who share certain resemblances.
On that note, here are two more that I think you'll find rather interesting. Say hello to Nicolas Giraud and Kit Harington.

(Above, French actor Nicolas Giraud from the movie The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec)
 
(Above, actor Kit Harington showing off his Jon Snow figurine; known for HBO's television series Game of Thrones)
 
 
I first saw Mr. Giraud while watching The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, a French film that kind of reminded me of the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel. Both films are extremely entertaining. They contain elements you certainly won't find in your typical comedy sketch.
You might recognize Mr. Harington for his role as Jon Snow on HBO's mega-hit series Game of Thrones.
Both men have incredibly dark features: black curly hair, dark eyes, and a generous growth of hair around the jawline. They may not be twins, but I think they could even play brothers.
That's all I have for now. I promise to get make to more writerly stuff soon. Believe me, the wheels have been turning. If our bodies could indicate the kind of workouts our minds got on a daily basis, there would be no need for gyms.
Have a wonderful week.
 
-Grace

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Check Out My New Toolbar

You may have noticed the righteous new toolbar that displayed when you came today. Isn't it lovely? Now you can share my grammatical mistakes all over the web! I've been swamped with homework lately, especially Basics to Web Design. I'm learning all about HTML and accessible web pages -where there's alternative texts for images and multimedia. It's all very interesting. As I've been reading through, I've been thinking, "I can totally use that in my blog." Anyway, just wanted to give you an update about the new toolbar. There's some really faded text above it that says "Tell Your Friends!" I hope to tweak it so that it's a little more visible.
Later.

-Grace

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, Touch

For my Creative Writing class, we were instructed to describe the scene in the picture below using each of the five senses at least once. For your enjoyment, the surfer.

Daniel stands before the churning green waves like a sentry, an avenging angel of the sea. Another wave crashes and dissolves at his ankles. He digs his toes into the sharp sand, mostly crushed sea shells, remembering the last time he was here. Because last time, Layla had been with him, and her wide, eager smile had shone brighter than the sun.
Daniel squints back tears as soft water mist brushes into his eyes.
One more wave, Danny. Please? He can hear her musical voice now as another wave builds far in the distance. Perfect surfing weather, as it had been that day. Just one more wave.
Water crashes at his feet, nearer, stronger, gaining breath and attitude after a resting period. The seagulls caw overhead, the sound lulling and familiar as a salty breeze cools Daniel's face.
He couldn't save her. His heart turns over in his chest at the thought he had punished himself with for the last three years.
It must have been near here, he thought, gazing out to where the sky met the water and down along the coast. Water far in the distance rolled in anticipation. Daniel remembered showing off for Layla as she paddled out a little farther. They were always competing against each other even though she was five years his junior. Daniel remembered cresting a great wave when, out of nowhere, Layla sipped alongside him. He had been so caught off guard that he turned his board hard and the end had caught Layla in the head. He fell into the water like a fish thrown back after a catch, and when he emerged sputtering, his board had washed into the shallow water... and so had Layla. Facedown, yellow hair splayed in every direction, she didn't heave or even twitch.
Danny had rushed to her and hauled her onto the beach, checking to see if she was still breathing.
"Layla?" he said. touching her forehead. "Layla?" He pressed his fingers under her jaw, searching for a pulse. People had started gathering, their murmurs swarming around him, but he paid them no mind. Daniel pressed his ear to Layla's chest and counted to four before he started CPR. Fifteen compresses, tilt, pinch, two breaths. Again, again, again....
Another wave crashed, washing away Daniel's nightmare. He took a deep, cleansing breath, tasting the energy in the air. He waded farther out, the anxiousness of the water mounting with his own rising adrenaline. Daniel picked up his board and went farther out, faster this time, and then slapped it onto the water, sliding easily onto his belly. Paddling out, he glanced down out of habit at the ribbony blue letters painted near the top of his surfboard. Layla, they read.
Come on, Layla. Let's do one more wave.

The photo is by G. Baden of Corbis Images. I think it's called Contemplating the Surf.

-Grace

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Celebrity Look-Alikes: Jennifer Ehle VS Meryl Streep

So I was watching this video montage of period drama couples (courtesy of YouTube). By period dramas, I mean movies like Pride and Prejudice, North and South, and Tess of the D'Ubervilles, although the genre could extend to include many Renaissance-y movies like Ever After, or even Phantom of the Opera. Anyway, I stumbled across one such video and noticed the woman who played Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice looked a lot like Meryl Streep. However, as some of you will probably know, it was actually the very talented Jennifer Ehle who portrayed the spunky Bennet girl. There is a twenty year age difference between the woman, and I personally believe they could play relatives in a movie someday. What do you think?

(Picture of Jennifer Ehle from http://imdb.com)

(Picture of Meryl Streep from the Indiana University Cinema website http://cinema.indiana.edu)
 
Yeah. Totally mother-daughter material.
 
-Grace

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Celebrity Look-Alikes: Wes Bentley VS Matt Bomer

This is fun! I enjoy finding people who look alike. Today's episode of "Celebrity Look-Alikes" include The Hunger Games' Wes Bentley and USA's White Collar's Matt Bomer. See for yourself.

(Picture of Wes Bentley from http://metro.us)

(Picture of Matt Bomer)
 
The top photo is of Wes Bentley, who recently played Seneca Crane in The Hunger Games (the guy with the crazy facial hair) as well as Jerry Cohen in Cesar Chavez. The second photo is Matt Bomer, whom I know for his portrayal as smooth con man Neal Caffrey on USA's White Collar. As you can see, both gentlemen have a similar angled jawline, low-set eyebrows above light blue eyes, and in these pictures they even style their hair in similar manners. However, I think Bentley's eyes are slightly more sunken while Bomer's cheekbones are a little more prominent. But they both look fantastic in a suit and tie, no?
I hope you enjoyed this segment of "Celebrity Look-Alikes."
 
-Grace
 
PS: I will be getting back to more writing-based posts as the weeks progress. I've been swamped with my own projects as well as a few stories for Helping Hands Press. More on those soon. Stay tuned! Enjoy the weather!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sticky, Time-Consuming Failure

Here's what I learned today: when making caramel sauce from scratch, don't try and substitute sweetened condensed milk for evaporated milk and 1 1/2 cups of white sugar. It's so not the same!
I woke up a few days ago thinking about caramel apples, especially since yesterday morning was so nippy. Well, today I decided I would give it a shot. But they would not be just any caramel apples. Oh, no. They would be rolled in deliciousness! I'm talking mini M&Ms, a rocky road blend of miniature chocolate chips, crushed graham crackers and marshmallows, and of course a few with chopped nuts. So I started looking up recipes and ideas for my endeavor. I had never made caramel apples before, so I didn't know if you had to get a special kind of caramel or if you could use the sundae kind or what. But I found this one website where a woman made her own caramel out of some very basic holiday baking ingredients, one of them being sweetened condensed milk. Along with white corn syrup, 1/4 cup of butter and a pinch of salt, that was your caramel sauce right there. So I measure out the corn syrup and dump it into my saucepan. But when I went downstairs to find the sweetened condensed milk that I was so sure we had, what did I find but evaporated milk! Evaporated milk! It was even in a can! Well for some reason I was crazy enough to add the evaporated milk to the corn syrup, hoping for the same result if I just heated it a little longer. (When it's in a can, you can hear the evaporated milk slosh around, whereas condensed milk is thick and goopy and doesn't slosh.) But after about a minute of stirring I began thinking, "What's the difference between evaporated and condensed milk anyway?" Google! A quick search had me thoroughly convinced I had ruined the recipe. But when I was seconds away from tossing the whole batch, I wondered if there was a substitute for sweetened condensed milk. Back to Google. As it turns out, you actually can use a 12 oz can of evaporated milk if you boil it with 1 1/2 cups of white sugar and then let it cool before using it. Now, I had already added the evaporated milk to the corn syrup, and I really didn't want to scrap all that ingredients. So I thought, what harm could it do? In went the sugar and I stirred in faithfully for thirty minutes straight. It had gotten the nice caramel color, but it wasn't thick and it still looked kind of grainy from the sugar. Maybe it will change once I add the butter and vanilla, I thought. In went the butter and vanilla. Stir, stir, stir. Taste. To my surprise it tasted great. Success! Rereading the directions, however, I ran across the line... "Stir corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a heavy saucepan, stirring constantly... Remove from heat and let cool five minutes... Add butter and vanilla..." Whoops! It was supposed to cool before I added the butter. Oh well. I'll just let it cool a little longer. This is like one of those bad sitcoms where the main character says something offhand and it always leads to disaster, like, "What could possibly go wrong?" So I prepped the apples and the things I was going to roll them in: mini M&Ms, Heath and Toffee chips (since I wasn't ambitious enough to create the rocky road crumble stuff), and chopped almonds. After allowing the caramel to cool a few minutes more, I brought it over and placed it at the front of my caramel apple assembly line. I decided to try out the almonds first. To me, if one of the dips were to fail, this would have been the most likely. I dipped my apple in the caramel and then rolled it in the almonds. Almost immediately the nuts began sliding off, and by the time I got them to the buttered parchment paper, they had all settled to the bottom of the apple in an unattractive clump. Well, they're nuts, and pretty chunky, was my thought. Maybe it's just too heavy for the caramel. It actually made sense since the caramel was going on pretty thin, despite my best efforts. I continued with the M&Ms and the Heath chips, and while those were a little more promising, before long they too began sliding off. My apples are now in the refrigerator where they will remain for the next hour and a half, at which time I will see how my toppings have fared. For anyone who has successfully made caramel apples and even tried to do what I did (dredging them in toppings), I salute you. I'll just stick to my cookies and brownies, thank you very much.

-Grace

By the way, this was the expectation...  
This was the reality... 
Imagine clumps of candy all mangles at the bottom, and that's what I ended up with. Oh well. I guess I'll eat 'em. My mom will probably put on a good face and say they still taste good. God love that woman.

Friday, August 29, 2014

List of Brunette Antagonists and Protagonists

My last couple of posts have been about how people with blonde hair are recently being presented as evil or just mean characters. No longer the symbol of beauty as it was in the time of chivalry and knighthood, blonde characters have recently been pushed to portray evil. This post is a list of brunettes (or black-haired) antagonists and protagonists from books, movies, TV shows, and maybe even a few video games. Enjoy!

Brunette (or Black-Haired) Antagonists:
  1. Katherine Pierce (The CW's The Vampire Diaries). Although in the books she was actually flaxen-haired, Elena Gilbert's freaky vampire twin has little in the way of sympathy. And it's hard to like her, really. One conversation and you immediately think, "Ice Queen." It makes me feel bad for Elijah, Klaus, Damon, and Stephan. What were they thinking?
  2. Damon Salvatore (The CW's The Vampire Diaries). Relax, TVD fans, he'll be in the "Protagonist" section, too. But in the beginning of the series (and the book) he was painted as the bad guy. I think he even enjoys it sometimes. No doubt he certainly looks the part with his black hair, blue eyes, and devil-may-care swagger.
  3. Dean and Sam Winchester (The CW's Supernatural). Let's face it. These guys are their own worst enemies.
  4. Morgana Le Fey (BBC's Merlin). Katie McGrath is absolutely gorgeous as the legendary Morgana, illegitimate sister to equally-legendary Arthur Pendragon. Why is it always the half-siblings who never get any love? Oh, yeah. That's right. Because illegitimate children were frowned upon during that time because Christianity and the Catholic Church were both battling for Europe during the Dark Ages.
  5. Loki (The Avengers). Personally I prefer the God of Mischief to the God of Thunder, but to each his own. I love the smooth exterior Tom Hiddleston grants to Loki, this kind of con artist with ice beneath his skin.
  6. Young Magneto (X-Men: Days of Future Past). Okay, I will be the first to admit that I haven't seen this movie yet, but I know what happens. We forget for a while that the man playing chess in a giant library turns into the same man playing chess in a plastic prison after trying to wipe out New York. We meet Magneto when he is, by our definition, a villain. But when you understand the backstory and work out the story in your mind, that word, "villain," becomes hazy. He may not be on the same side as Professor Xavier, but is he an antagonist? For the sake of argument, let's just say yes. But remember, every villain is a hero in his own mind.
  7. Ian Quinn (ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). This lucrative business man may have the world fooled with his generous donations to charities, but Coulson and his team know the real man behind the mask.
  8. Grant Ward (ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). This was the most shocking plot-twist in the entire series. More shocking than Skye's heritage, more baffling than the improvements made on Coulson's car, affectionately named Lola. And after the bomb is dropped, we started seeing how torn Ward really was about his mission and the emotion he felt for his team. For him, the lines between teammate and traitor were never well-distinguished. We are left wondering if he will ever find himself again, or if Hydra has poisoned his mind to the point of seclusion. Who is Agent Grant Ward? A soldier without a cause? An agent without a director? A man without a mind?
  9. Clove (The Hunger Games). Some people have mentioned there being a romance between Clove and Cato. The Untold Romance of the Hunger Games or something to that effect. Honestly it's hard to keep track of twenty-four tributes from twelve different factions all trying to kill each other. At the end of the chapter all you remember is this person is the one with the sword, this one has a fox-like face, and that one killed Rue.
  10. James Moriarty (BBC's Sherlock). 'Nuff said.
Brunette (or Black-Haired) Protagonists:
  1. Katy Swartz (Lux Series). I really like this character because for one thing she's a bookworm and a blogger (two things I've been regretfully slacking on lately) and she can give as good as she gets. That trait seems to be a requirement when you're in a relationship to Daemon Black.
  2. Daemon Black (Lux Series). Luxen, older brother, sarcastic by nature but with a capacity for extreme sensitivity. Yep, it's easy to see why readers love Daemon so much, albeit he can be absurdly annoying at times.
  3. Dee Black (Lux Series). The only girl in the trio of her family, Dee's vivacious, Alice-Cullen-like personality is lovable and infectious. But I often feel bad for her because everyone treats her like she's going to break in half. A lot of motivations behind some dodgy behavior have been along the lines of, "I did it to protect Dee," or "I couldn't let Dee get involved/hurt," etc. Which, don't get me wrong, is very sweet, but let's face it: no one can protect her forever. Not even her brothers.
  4. Dawson Black (Lux Series). The other male in the Black family triangle. He's spent a disturbing amount of time out of the books, and once he returns, the circumstances surrounding why he was absent become even more disconcerting. However, once I read Shadows, the prequel to the first Lux book, it was easy to love Dawson's easy-going manner and his obvious devotion to his sister, Dee.
  5. Elena Gilbert (The CW's The Vampire Diaries). We are talking about protagonists here, not just heroes or saving graces. Technically she's still the main character in the show. Anyway, she started out as a good girl and has mostly tried to stay that way, but after everything she's been through, no one can blame her characteristically for occasionally going off the deep end. Still, she is TVD's leading lady and we hold out hope that she and her friends don't give in to temptation.
  6. Damon Salvatore (The CW's The Vampire Diaries). As promised, here is the elder Salvatore brother. It's kind of sweet because he does try to be a better person for Elena, and there are times when you really see what all he's had to do to get where he is now, mentally and morally.
  7. Diggle (The CW's Arrow). The coolest bodyguard ever and sidekick to Green Arrow, this former war vet is one of the best characters Arrow has to offer.
  8. Roy Harper (The CW's Arrow). Man, The CW is dominating these lists. At any rate, Arrow/Oliver Queen has taken in this young gang-banger as his protégé after said gang-banger was injected with a serum that amplified his physical abilities, giving him unnatural strength and agility, but also a mind so focused that he sometimes forgets that annihilation is not the means to an end.
  9. Melinda May (ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Let's not forget that Ming-Na Wen also played the speaking voice of Mulan in Disney's 1998 telling of the legendary female warrior who took her father's place in the army. But in this fun series from the Marvel Universe, we get to see Ming-Na as Agent Melinda May do some serious butt-kicking of her own. It's always a delight to watch beloved characters adapt to a different skin, as is the case for both soldiers.
  10. Jemma Simmons (ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). She may not be Hermione, able to invoke instant paralysis with 0.1 microliters of dendrotoxin, but Simmons is so adorable throwing around words like "aglet," "nanobatteries," and other biochem jargon, that we can't help but love her.
  11. Skye (ABC's Marvel's Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D.). This witty, dusky computer hacker won over both audiences and Coulson's team with her outside-the-box thinking and resourcefulness.
  12. Rick Grimes (AMC's The Walking Dead).
  13. Glenn Rhee (AMC's The Walking Dead). Okay, so I don't keep up with this series, but Glenn always struck me as pretty cool, so for that he's included in this list.
  14. Rogue (X-Men). Rogue is one of my favorite X-Men. Why? I think her ability is really cool, able to basically borrow another mutant's powers temporarily, albeit to their discomfort.
  15. Gambit (X-Men). This is my other favorite X-Men character. I love Gambit's devil-may-care attitude, his southern charm, and the fact that he fights with a bow staff. Kind of reminds me of my brother.
  16. Logan/Wolverine (X-Men). A man with a most intriguing past, Wolverine has seen a lot of turmoil in his days. Although famously more of an anti-hero (Like Batman), he always has something new to show us, whether it's in sadistic comments, action scenes, or belting out "Bring Him Home" when no one's watching.
  17. Bonnie Bennett (The CW's The Vampire Diaries).
  18. Richard Castle (ABC's Castle). Ah, who can resist Whedon veteran? Nathan Fillion brings light and life to Richard Castle, a mystery novelist who uses one of New York's best detectives as a muse for his books. It's certainly a delight to watch their colorful banter as Castle and Detective Kate Beckett solve homicides, put bad guys behind bars, and try their best to bring closure to the families.
  19. Kate Beckett (ABC's Castle). Smart, intrepid, and relentless, Detective Kate Beckett is the perfect muse for mystery novelist Richard Castle. She is also faithfully one of our favorite characters because of her incredible instincts, her heart, and her ability to hold her own in a predominantly-man's profession.
  20. Kevin Ryan (ABC's Castle). The more sensitive of his partner duo, Detective Ryan is no less good at his job whether he and Esposito are at the precinct or out on the streets.
  21. Javier Esposito (ABC's Castle). I love that Esposito is a war veteran. It just adds so much depth to his character. Although he can sometimes be a bit macho, he and Ryan make an unstoppable pair as they solve homicides alongside Beckett and Castle.
  22. Snow White (ABC's Once Upon A Time). Once Upon A Time remains one of my favorite shows on television! I love how they've taken classic fairytales and their characters and given them a darker twist. Snow White is no exception, and she has proven worthy of the title Princess, Queen, Hero, and Mother throughout this series.
  23. Prince Charming/David (ABC's Once Upon A Time). It's wonderful to see someone as faithful and devoted to his family as David, aka Prince Charming. Those qualities seem to pull him through trial after trial, no matter who the foe.
  24. Killian Jones/Captain Hook (ABC's Once Upon A Time). I think it's safe to say that Hook is a good guy right now. Though he was certainly a shady character in the beginning (he is a pirate, after all), this nomadic rapscallion has won over audiences everywhere.
  25. Regina (ABC's Once Upon A Time). Regina's on-again-off-again status as villain was getting a bit wearisome, but it's nice to see her stick to one side for more than three episodes. And she does make a lovely queen, even when she is ripping people's hearts out. To each his own, I guess.
  26. Ruby/Red (ABC's Once Upon A Time). Another one of my favorite characters, just because it's Red Riding Hood! No longer is she the innocent little girl who got lost in the woods on her way to Granny's. Once Upon A Time has given Ruby a solid, memorable character who resounds with watchers and remains a loyal friend to others.
  27. The Doctor (BBC's Doctor Who). I am referring to Doctors 9, 10 and 11, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith, respectively. I'm not sure about the Doctors before these ones or the ones after them, but they are brown-haired, and they are protagonists.
  28. Sherlock Holmes (BBC's Sherlock). This is my other favorite show. I can't get enough of the British humor and I've always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes, whether it was the books, the animated series, or even the Wishbone adaption. (Remember Wishbone, that adorable dog from Oakdale who imagined himself as main characters from famous literature?) I don't think anyone is suited to play England's smartest detective better than the incredible Benedict Cumberbatch, do you?
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little segment. Tell me what you think. Do you agree with some of these? Disagree? Who would you add to these lists?

-Grace