Sunday, May 31, 2015

June Daily Writing Warm-Up Challenge

Writing can be a challenge. I am often caught in an awkward in-between of wanting to writing and actual writing. I have ideas and plans for short stories, blog post, children’s books, or novels but when I finally sit in front of my computer the ideas have evaporated. I am recognizing I need to change how I approach writing. If you have ever felt the same way I invite you to join me in June for my new “Daily Writing Warm-Up Challenge.”

The goal is to cultivate at daily writing habit that begins with a 5 to 20 minute warm-up exercise. I was inspired by Bret Anthony Johnston’s essay in Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer, “A Note About Daily Warm-Ups.” In it he says,
“I employ these warm-ups the way musicians practice scales, the way boxers work a speed bag, to heighten concentration and to awaken creativity. The narrative calisthenics have essentially no bearing on the major project at hand, but for all of their whimsy, they serve that deep and abiding purpose?: they purge everything from the writer’s mind except a concerted attention to language. They make it easier to get your butt in the chair, and to keep it there. (For this reason, they’re also terrific antidote for writer’s block. They bring your fingers to the keys, or your pen to the paper, without bias or expectations.)”
How The Challenge Works:
Starting tomorrow, June 1st, a new daily writing warm-up exercise will be available each morning around 6am ( the prompts will be finished earlier and set to publish at 6am). Those participating will use the daily prompt to getting the writing flowing at the start of a writing session.

How To Participate:

1. Choose a Goal
The overall purpose of this challenge is to improve writing habits. This will look differently for each writer so three levels to choose from as a goal:
Bronze: Complete 10 days of writing-warm up exercises
Silver: Complete 15 days of writing warm up exercises
Gold: Complete 25 days of writing warm up exercises
2. Sign Up
Signing up isn't necessary but it is helpful. Having others know you are participating in the challenge, even if it is strangers, helps keep you motived to keep your commitment. To sign-up leave a comment below along with your challenge level. You can sign up from now till June 20th.

3. Write
There will be a new prompt every day in June. Use them as your warm-up writing exercise to meet your goal.

4. Share
On days you use the prompt, leave a comment sharing your success. It can be as simple as "I did it." Or you can share your track record 5 out of 20 accomplished. If you have a blog where you share writing leave a link to the corresponding results.

My Goal:
I am trying for the gold level, 25 days of writing that start with a warm-up exercise.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Friend Movie Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Welcome to the long over due Avengers: Age of Ultron movie review. Donna took me to see it over a week ago. We went to the late late show and were the only two people in the theater. It was a great way to see a movie. It was like our own private viewing; the only downside was that we couldn't pause for bathroom breaks. After, we tried very hard to get a decent us-ie* with the movie picture... we didn't really succeed but there you go.

The upside to my procrastination is I got see Age of Ultron a second time at the drive-in double feature with Aurora and Alice. That means more friends to share their perspective.

It was Alice's first viewing and Aurora's second. The second feature was Cinderella. I think I am more impressed with Cinderella after the second viewing. One of my favourite versions of this classic story. And the Frozen short is still fun, to quote Aurora, "I love the snow snots."
Now on with the review. There will be SPOILERS ahead. Read on at your own risk. If you haven't seen Avengers: Age of Ultron and don't want to know details stop reading now. You have been warned.

Good:
Donna: All of it, this was my second viewing and I still like everything about it. It has all the things I enjoy in a good movie, awesome bad guy, banter, and great heroes. James Spader I the perfect voice for Ultron. This is a film I know I will add to my collection.
Alice: It had Joss Whedon, how could I hate it? There was great dialogue and banter, the plot flowed and was fairly tight, the stunts were fun, and I appreciate that they addressed importance of rescuing the civilians. I also would be winning to watch a Black Widow movie after seeing her in this.
Aurora Lee: Alice summed the good well. I liked the banter and fun as well as the addressing of the civilians needs. The only I can add is that it was nice to see Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) be awesome even in a bit role. 
Me: I agree with my friends. This was a good movie for the reasons they give. I loved so many lines it could take up the whole post (and they are less funny out of context). James Spader was the perfect voice for Ultron. I liked the use of Pinocchio's 'There are not strings on me' song. I also loved that four of the battles didn't take place in North America, the "explanation" scene for why Pepper and Jane were missing, the Stan Lee cameo, the growing relationship between Hulk and Widow (I might be the only one) and the redemption story of the twins.

I also liked the question of "who is the monster?" thread throughout the movie. Black Widow asks Banner if he still thinks he's the only monster on the team after she shares a bit about her past. Stark says "we're not monsters; we're mad scientists." Banner confesses that the team is wondering if the Vision is "the monster Ultron made you to be." The theme ends with a great speech by Captain American, that I didn't copy perfectly, but goes like, "are we monsters? Ultron seems to think we are so this has to be about more than beating him but finding if he's right." 

Less Than Good:
Donna: I have no complaints.
Alice: it should have been Hawkeye that died not Quicksilver. The Hulk and Black Widow relationship seemed out of the blue. And the climax was too similar to the first Avenger movie, with most of the heroes fighting the enemy hordes while Iron Man flys to risk everything to solve the bigger problem.
Aurora Lee: Black Widows lines, especially "Beep beep"!!! I would not watch a Black Widow movie. 
Me: There was no second “easter egg” clip at the very end of the credits, not even shawarma eating. I was disappointed. Also, there were four specific scenes where I thought they were foreshadowing Hawkeye's death predicting the wrong death bugs me. However Quicksilver's death caused me more grief and I've come to expect that from Joss Whedon things. 

Favourite Hero:
Donna: Captain America
Alice: Iron Man with Jarvis as a close second
Aurora Lee: Ultron 
Me: I hate choosing; I'm with this kid:
Final Rating:
Donna: 4.5 shields out of 5
Alice: 4 Whedons out of Joss
Aurora Lee: 3 Ultron robots out of 5 
Me: 4.2 infinity stones out of 5

*us-ie -a "selfie" photo taken with more than one person

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Simple Woman Daybook 156

FOR TODAY: May 24, 2015
You can find the more daybooks at Simple Woman's Blog.

Outside my window...the darkest of night but thankfully not as cold as last night.

I am thinking about...potential story ideas, a number of blog ideas for the next few weeks, and finalizing the 35 challenges for this years birthday bucket list.

I am thankful for...sunshine.

In the kitchen...it's been a great few weeks cooking and sharing with my roommate sad to see her go yesterday.

I am wearing...my comfy Despicable Me minion PJs.

I creating...I'm between projects, there are a few sleeping, but tomorrow is a card making craft day that I am looking forward to.

I am going...blog an Age of Ultron review right after this is posted.

I am wondering...what I was wondering. I had something specific I wanted to share. Now, that I am writing I can't remember.

I am reading...Will Grayson, Will Grayson (audio) and Eat to Live.

I am looking forward to...Hal-Con which is only 157 days away!

I am learning...Spanish (70+ days into the project).

I am hearing...finial episode of this season of Survivor. I'm a few days behind discovering who won; this has been one of the best seasons! AND MIKE WON! (the person I was rooting for him). The reunion  special has begun.                

Around the house...beyond regular chores I am going to be working on my organizing my office and crafting supplies. I expect this will take a few weeks.

One of my favorite things...cherry juice

A few plans for the rest of the week:...I've been using a day planner to keep from double booking myself but surprised at how much I am still trying to cram into this week. Monday will be the busiest day with the monthly craft day, games, and writing group -all of which I am looking forward. The rest of the week will be filled with appointments and the need to adult. I'm going adult this week. Last big plan, I've been invited to celebrate a friend's daughter's baptism.

A picture to share... the great crew I spent my week with at Mark East.

Mark East was an amazing week and the best way to start May. This group of friends were a large part of what my week great -thank you!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Friend Movie Review: Furious 7

The drive-in opened this weekend for summer season. Saturday night, AuroraLee, Roommate and I saw the first show, Furious 7. The second movie was Unfriended, which didn't interest us.

Be warned, there may be SPOILERS ahead. Read on at your own risk.

I was really excited, I have enjoyed this whole franchise. It makes me smile. Roommate hadn't seen any of Fast and Furious movies since the first one and was curious about what to expect. Aurora came up with the best explanation "it is a superhero movie with cars." Which actually lead to more confusion, "there are superheroes? I don't remember that. I thought it was about racing cars."

Aurora expanded her thought saying, the only way to enjoy this movie is completely suspend reality. When you let yourself think of everyone as super humans with super strength and super skills and very fast cars the movie becomes much more enjoyable. The first (few?) movies were action and adventure with the regular movie magic impossible moments but as the series has continued the stunts have become more ridiculous and epic and superhero-esque. I completely agree with her; it is what I enjoy about these movies. We had fun loosely "counting" superhero moments. We lost count after 20-something and then jumped to fictional numbers after that. If you do see this and count, what is your superhero count?

The Good:
Aurora Lee -572 "superhero moments," fast cars, and the tribute to Paul Walker.
Me -they parachuted cars on to a mountain, things exploded, none of the main characters died (I don't count the Hans' death in Tokyo which actually happened in Tokyo Drift) which was great cause I couldn't have enjoyed that type of story.

Less Than Good:
Aurora Lee -The dialogue was cheesy; but even that kinda fits with the whole movie.
Me -I don't enjoy Jason Statham as a villain because I enjoy rooting for him but not above wanting the Furious 7 team to win. Sadly, I realized I missed seeing Six. That's not Seven's fault but I had thought that I had. Anyone want to see Six with me?

Favourite Stuff:
Aurora Lee -The Paul Walker tribute at the end.
Me -"Cars don't fly, cars don't fly, cars don't fly," -Paul Walker as Vin Diesel drove a limited edition car out of penthouse into another building and then another building.

Final Rating:
Aurora Lee -4 hot cars out of 5
Me -3.9 explosions out of 5

Final Thoughts:
If you like explosions, Vin Diesel, or any of the Fast and Furious it is worth seeing. I thought it was a great wrap to the Tokyo Drift "what happened Hans?" story arch. Everything since Three has been leading to this. Also, Paul Walker tribute felt like closure.

Roommate's voice is missing from the review because she's student on co-op and didn't have the head space; this isn't a comment for or against the movie.