The Cheese Theory of Adaptations

Mar. 28th, 2017 03:05 pm
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My sister and I went to see the Power Rangers movie this past weekend.

You may think this was due to some nostalgia on my part. It’s not: I never watched the show, never had any of the toys, only vaguely knew it was a thing. My previous attachment to Power Rangers was nil. But the trailer looked fun and I’d done a whole lotta adulting over the previous couple of days, so off we went, even though my sister said that “everything Haim Saban touches is covered in a layer of Cheez Whiz.”

This led to us formulating the Cheese Theory of Adaptations.

At the low end you have something like the G.I. Joe movie. Was it cheesy? Yes — but it wasn’t good cheese. In fact, it was pre-sliced American cheese, and we’re not even sure the film-makers remembered to take off the plastic wrapper before offering it to us.

On the high end you have the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Which is also incredibly cheesey — but you find yourself saying, “dude, is this gruyere?” We’re talking high-quality cheese here, folks. The sort you can eat without feeling ill afterward, and even want to eat again.

The Power Rangers movie isn’t gruyere, but my sister and I agreed that it’s a good, decent cheddar. The weakest part of it was the obligatory Mecha Smash Fight at the end; by putting all the heroes into mecha, you restrict 90% of their opportunities to act, because the close-up shots of them mostly consist of them talking and then being shaken around their cockpits. But the good news is that the mecha part only comes at the very end of the movie, because the writers were far more interested in spending time on character development. These Power Rangers are a bunch of messed-up kids, and they aren’t able to “morph” (manifest their color-coded suits of armor) or control the mecha until they sort out some of their messes. That runs the risk of being pat — an After-School Special kind of story — but it isn’t, because “sort out” isn’t the same thing as “get over.” Nobody learns a Very Important Lesson and is thereafter rid of all their issues. Resolution comes in the form of honesty, of admitting they’ve got problems and trusting one another with their secrets. It lends weight to the idea that they have to work as a team; you can’t do that when you’re afraid to show your true self to your teammates, very real warts and all.

And there’s something to be said for throwing your entertainment dollars at a movie that shows a broad cross-section of the teenaged world. The Red Ranger and team leader appears to be your usual whitebread sports hero (and in the TV series that’s apparently what he was), but he’s got a history of sabotaging himself in disastrous ways; the introductory scene ends with him wearing a police-issued ankle monitor after a high-speed chase and subsequent wreck. He’s the only white member of the team. The actress playing the Pink Ranger (whose color palette has shifted closer to the purple end of the spectrum) is half-Gujarati, and her character is in trouble for having forwarded a sexually explicit photo of her friend to a guy at school. The movie shifts things around so that the black character is no longer also the Black Ranger; he’s the Blue Ranger instead, and on the autism spectrum, while the Black Ranger is Chinese-American and taking care of his seriously ill mother. Finally, there’s been a fair bit of press around the fact that the Yellow Ranger (played by a Latina actress) is the first LGBTQ superhero in a feature film.

So like I said: a good, decent cheddar. The characters are vivid and interesting, their problems feel very real, and the resolution on that front isn’t too tidy or simplistic. The villain and the throwdown with her are the least interesting parts of the whole shebang, but they don’t take up too much of it overall. It was a fun way to spend my Sunday afternoon.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

two last icons!

Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:52 pm
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I realized recently that not only do I not have an icon for Within the Sanctuary of Wings, I don’t have one for In the Labyrinth of Drakes, either.

So! I have two ARCs of Sanctuary to offer in exchange for people making me pretty icons out of the cover art for those books. You can find the full images for Labyrinth here and Sanctuary here. The icons need to be 100×100 pixels and contain the titles of the books; beyond that, arrange ’em however you like. I’ll pick two recips out of everyone who sends me an icon — so if you want the book early, fire up your mouse!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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It isn’t nice to taunt . . . and you still have nearly five weeks to wait before the novel itself can be in your hands. But if you need your appetite whetted just that little bit more, Tor has posted the first chapter of Within the Sanctuary of Wings.

April 25th. If you think you’re chewing your fingernails off, know that mine went away months ago!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

The New Green Wave

Mar. 17th, 2017 12:05 pm
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Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Lives in the Balance

Mar. 17th, 2017 12:25 am
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I’ll keep this short and to the point.

The intended replacement for the Affordable Care Act is going to kill people.

It sounds melodramatic — but it’s true. It will leave an estimated 24 million Americans without insurance (compared to the ACA), which will make it extremely difficult for them to afford healthcare. It cripples Medicaid, because poor people don’t deserve to be healthy, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, because children only matter while they’re fetuses — oh wait, insurers wouldn’t be required to cover maternity care, either. Nor birth control. Nor gynecological exams. And we all know what the right wing wants to do to Roe v. Wade. So you’re having that baby whether you like it or not, but don’t expect any support from conception until after your kid has graduated. Guess you should have kept your legs closed, bitch.

Call your elected officials. Call them until you get through, because their lines are swamped, and it may take you a while. Especially if you’re represented by a Republican in either chamber, for the love of god, call them. A number of them are already wavering; they know this is bad. But this isn’t the kind of bad where it’s okay to let it happen and let them reap the consequences later, because for them, the consequences will be that maybe they get voted out of office two or four years down the road. For other people, the consequences will literally be death. They need to hear voices telling them not to do it, before we get that far.

For the sake of the millions of people who will be hurt by this, speak up. Make your voice heard. Make a difference.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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