Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do my ears deceive me?

Modern music that I actually like?! Say it ain't so! Now I usually go for classic rock, music from the 70's and 80's. I do like trance and some dance music, but after awhile, it all sounds the same. But this week I discovered two amazing voices, both young women and both full of talent.

I like some soul music, but not a whole lot. Adele's voice made me love it though. Wow. And even more impressive is that she doesn't do playbacks, that she sings it right there while shooting the music video. 100% natural.

Love, love, love Clare Maguire's voice! I know some say she sounds like Cher. She certainly has a deep voice like Cher's, but I wouldn't say she sounds exactly like Cher, you can detect a bit of an accent in her voice. Also, this music video is quite amusing if you get satire and can see she's purposely replicating Lady Gaga and Katy Perry's styles. Also check out her other beautiful songs: Ain't Nobody and The Last Dance.

So nice to see the entire music industry hasn't gone to auto-tune. I hope this trend continues.

BTW, the zombies are coming! Awesome zombie smilies here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Top Five Key of Awesome Parodies

Now if you've never heard of Key of Awesome you need to check their hilarious parody music videos over on YouTube. They also have other comedy segments like the Barely Guys and Batman - if Batman had lost his job and had to be a tour guide to pay the bills.

It was incredibly hard to choose five of their parodies because I love them all to some degree, but since there's only room for so much...

#5 Bad Romance Parody

This video was my first introduction to KoA and I think I've watched it a hundred times. They really hit the nail on the head about all the goofy, out-of-place stuff that Gaga shoves into her music videos. Whatever happened to simplicity?

#4 Adam Lambert Parody

I don't listen to Lambert's music (or much of anything from today's music), but I did hear about the whole "scandal" with him getting too close to one of his male musicians. KoA makes a good point, two girl can kiss on stage (and Lady Gaga can show off her vagaga), yet two guys can't get close? WTF?     

#3 EMINEM Not Afraid Parody

"I'm not afraid to throw a chair. It was from IKEA, so I don't care." Love it when they take the big names down a notch. Really, stop whining already!

#2 Ke$ha We R Who We R Parody

I love both their Ke$ha parodies (check out Tik Tok) but this one hands down wins. Yes Ke$ha, you're trying to hard, tone it down - and take a bath. Also, adore the Ke$ha parent bits.

*drum roll*
#1 Jennifer Lopez On The Floor Parody (ft. Pitbull)

Poor Pitbull. Todd did a great impression of Pitbull (Dalai!) and every aspect about this you just can't help but laugh out loud. And might I say far superior to the original?

If you've got a favorite KoA feel free to share it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My thoughts on dystopias

Well actually, I posted my thoughts over at Worlds Unimagined since we're doing a round robin topic discussion on dystopias. But here are the links to my oh-so-lovely posts.

Dystopias: Unhappily Ever After

Can dystopias be beat? 

And in case you were wondering… No, I’m not a fan of hopeful dystopias (sounds like an oxymoron). Gritty story with a sugar coated ending? C’mon! It undermines the whole point of dystopias, which was to get folks to be aware. And you can't be mindful of what's going on around you if you're comfortably numb in your own little world. Sometimes you have to realize how bad things are before you can fix them.

As an aside, there seems to be a lot of confusion about dystopias and post-apocalyptic stories. Somewhere down the line someone got them mixed up. They are, in fact, NOT the same. Dystopias are studies of authoritarian governments while post-apoc has a complete lack of government, otherwise known as anarchy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

So I just watched THE STAND miniseries...

It was okay, but not something I'd willingly see again. I was curious about it since there's word about Stephen King's THE STAND being turned into a movie and some of King's amusing comments on it (or lack of knowing about it). The acting, for the most part, was very decent. Except I could not stand Molly Ringwald playing Fran, I cringed every time she was in the scenes. Ringwald still has that teen girly girl persona from her roles in 80's movies such as The Breakfast Club, and it's clear that she hasn't grown out of that and into a more mature acting style. There was just none of Fran's sass and stubbornness to her. There were a few other roles I found iffy, like Trashcan man; he sometimes came off as more mentally challenged than Tom Cullen. And whoever played Nadine Cross made her come off as a psychotic bitch, whereas I saw her as more of a spinster type in the book, which would make more sense since she was saving herself. I know librarians aren't sexy, but I think part of the appeal to her was that she was some kind of forbidden fruit.

Probably the biggest plus I can give the miniseries is that a lot - and I mean A LOT - of the fat from book. Stephen King has this habit of overwriting, which if you ever read the extended version of The Stand, can be seen very clearly. They cut out unnecessary characters and scenes, combined characters or moved their appearance up.

But there was one thing I realized, which wasn't so apparent when reading the book: The whole plague is just backstory. That's right, a third of the book is dedicated to setting up the big conflict. Here, I'll sum of plot in one-sentence: God chose Mother Abigail to gather the survivors of an epidemic in order to stand against the growing army of the Walkin' Dude. That sounds about right, right? Nothing about surviving a plague, because the plague wasn't of any real concern. The only real threat in the story was the Walkin' Dude, and thus the meat of the story revolves around him and the trouble he causes. Funny how I didn't notice that before, might be because you get so involved in the characters that you don't realize how little their current situation has to do with the plot. But it's good to point such things out so you know not to repeat them in your own writing, as one of the complaints against King is that his stories do take some time to get rolling. I respect his characterization though, and there's a lot to be learned from that.

Curious how Hollywood is going to make this into a movie, probably won't work out but hey! might be fun to see.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What is in a genre? (science fiction)

Is this sci-fi?
Interesting discussion over in QLH about genres in a query. Of course the most important thing about a query is hooking the agent with your AWESOME story. However, the query should convey a genre as well, and this is something I'm struggling with. I wrote, what I believe, to be a sci-fantasy, it may also be considered a soft sci-fi or futuristic UF (even though this technically doesn't exist). But apparently, because my query doesn't scream 'science!' 'technology!' it can't be a sci-fi.

This is where I think people have different ideas of genres. If you read hard sci-fi, soft sci-fi may look like fantasy to you, because there is no "real science" in it. But if that's the case, then Star Wars isn't sci-fi, it's just a western in space. And I can understand that, but really, it has aliens and spaceships, all the classic tropes of the sci-fi genre, so who cares if the technology is utter BS? It still looks and feels like a sci-fi.

But let's look at dystopias, those tend to focus more on the sociology and status quo, not the technology. Using George Orwell's 1984 as a example, sure there were two-way telescreens and cameras watching your every move (Big Brother's watching you!), but this wasn't what drove the story; it was the character's struggle against the system.

In soft sci-fi, there is going to be some handwavium where things "just work" with no further explanation, and although that may annoy some people, the point of the story wasn't to explain how the world/universe works; it's to give us something compelling to read. And considering how attention spans have shortened, a little handwavium helps move the plot along to stuff we really care about, like characters and the shit they go through.

Of course that doesn't mean the author shouldn't know how things work.

But yes, I believe you can have a valid sci-fi where the technology is more of an aid to the characters, out of the spotlight. And personally, I enjoy character-based stories (which soft sci-fi often is) more than plot-driven; it's what makes you give a damn about the characters and their dilemma. Otherwise, so what? The world is going to end? Oh well, I didn't care for that world anyways. MC getting shot at by aliens - tough luck for him!

So I suppose I'm at a lost as to why sci-fi must have technology at its focal point, or why people think that. If magic isn't at the center of a fantasy story, do we consider it not a fantasy?

What's important is how the world makes you feel, regardless whether the technology or the magic is center-stage or not. If I see spaceships and aliens, I'm calling it a sci-fi!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Aliens are Invading! - our music videos

Just saw Katy Perry's new E.T. music video and found it amusing how everyone seems to really be into aliens at the moment (just look at Lady Gaga's Born This Way). Hey, I say that's a good thing! It might mean sci-fi will make a come back (I hope). Plus, who doesn't love aliens? They're a thousand times cooler than any vampire, especially one that sparkles.

For comparison:
Lady Gaga - Born This way

Katy Perry -E.T. (LOVE the costumes in this video - but don't love Kanye)