Friday, August 29, 2014

Otto Malpense: A Celebration



Photo Credit: bookshelvesofdoom.blogs.com

Three birthdays. Three weeks. Percy had his heyday last Monday, we have a very special birthday today,
and yet another one on Monday. This is the hard one. I could completely ignore it, if I wanted, but I can’t simply ignore the main character of my favorite series.

That’s right, I’m talking about Otto Malpense.

Otto is a fascinating character. He’s not my favorite character, but I like him because he has been engineered, and yet goes against his design plan. He grows; once he was a proud little British twerp and now he’s becoming the man who will conquer the world. He makes friendships. He picks his fights. And little by little, he is earning respect from the people who will one day work alongside him.

I am going to be honest, I write H.I.V.E. fan fiction all the time—and very rarely does Otto feature. It’s not that I don’t like him, but he is too dang hard to write. I applaud Mark Walden, not only because he manages to keep plugging out these books, but also because he has made a person a challenge. You don’t get that too often.

So, what can I possibly do to celebrate his birthday? I have decided on three things.

1. When You’re Evil by Voltaire


Dr. Nero would shudder, but it’s a catchy song, all the same. My dear Dr. Nero can suck it.

2. My Favorite Otto Quotes

I have me a nice notebook where I write down good quotes, and some of the ones in H.I.V.E. are frankly awesome. Otto especially has some wit.

“Friends, as they say, may come and go, but high powered laser weapons are forever.” –H.I.V.E., Mark Walden, page 24

“Otto very much doubted if the words ‘free snack machine’ and ‘sensible’ should ever be used in the same sentence where Franz was concerned.” –H.I.V.E., Mark Walden, page 135

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Oh, and a megalomaniacal headmaster, the world’s deadliest assassin, giant mutated plant monsters, an international cartel of supervillains, and the security forces of every counter on earth, but other than that… just fear.” –Otto Malpense, The Overlord Protocol, Mark Walden, page 70

“Hey, I like boring and predictable. It’s less likely to end in, you know… pain, death, all that stuff. We need more boring and predictable in our lives.” –Otto Malpsense, Dreadnought, Mark Walden, page 97

“If success is dictated by luck, then it isn’t really success at all.” –Otto Malpense, Aftershock, Mark Walden, page 111

3. A Good Old-Fashioned “Conspiracy” Theory

He might roll his eyes, but I am almost positive that conspiracy theories could be taught as a class at H.I.V.E. Now, the next book in the series isn’t due to come out until next summer (that’s what I’m hoping, anyway) but I have a pretty nifty theory about what will happen in the next book. YES, THERE ARE SPOILERS. IF THAT BOTHERS YOU THEN JUST CLOSE THIS TAB NOW BEFORE I RUIN YOUR LIFE.

Anyway:

There are Otto-clones in the making, and they’re coming for H.I.V.E. Between the beginning and the middley-climaxy part, they will invade and they will wreak havoc. Maybe they will let Anastasia Furan go. Maybe Nero will have to admit that he was either descended from/in love with a Anastasia’s sister (I’m praying for the love one because even though Mark has set it up so that it’s his mom I still think he deserves this terrible tragic romance that has embittered him until the end). Maybe Penny will die. But these new Otto-clones are not like Otto—they can reach into your very mind and make you crazy. As Otto threatened in Deadlock, they will reach into the minds of Block and/or Tackle, and leave one or both of them brain dead. The rest of the H.I.V.E. crew finds them vegetables, which is terrifying, because they know it will happen again. Fast forward. Ms. Leon knows some good information. The Otto-clones are reaching into her mind, and the H.I.V.E. crew has to find a way to save her. With all of this pressure Professor Pike does the best he can to return Ms. Leon to her original body. And for a moment, they don’t think they have—but then she is alive and has opposable thumbs and there is great celebration! Even better, Ms. Leon is the sneaky-meister and is able to help them sneak their way to success.

I am also really in favor of this idea because cats are not immortal, and I’m starting to worry about Ms. Leon’s life left in that cat.

So that’s that. Happy birthday, Otto Malpense, and here’s to the books to come!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursentary: Snow White and the Huntsman



Photo Credit: thechristianmanifesto.com

So here is what happened: I went to the library and saw Snow White and the Huntsman at the library. “Ooh!” I thought. “Thor is in this! This will be worth the watch!” I brought it home, and I watched it, and it wasn’t, but that’s okay because I learned something.

Before I share that, however, let’s recap what all it was that I saw.

The Rundown (by me)

Queen Ravenna killed her husband, the King, and executed a Hostile Takeover: Kingdom Edition on her wedding night—and her young stepdaughter, Snow White, has lived locked in a tower ever since. Snow grows into Ravenna’s greatest rival, politically and physically. Snow must escape the queen’s reach and find allies to restore her throne, but if she is to regain her throne she must win the hearts and hands of her future citizens. Though accompanied by the best tracker in the land, trust and hope are Snow’s only allies. Allies that will betray her. Snow will defeat the queen, that much is sure—that is, if the queen doesn’t defeat Snow first.

(Yes, it is still Snow White so I bet you can guess the ending, but let me have my mystique. Come on.)

Spekalation: Key Things I Didn’t Like (Top 8 Edition)
[SPOILERS, bee tee dubs]

1. main character confusion: Half an hour into the movie, Queen Ravenna was still the main character. Then Snow comes back and the story gets constantly switched between the queen and the princess. I might have liked it more if the story stuck to one or the other—and frankly, I think the movie would have ended better if Ravenna stayed the main character. We didn’t get enough time with Snow for me to care too much.

2. fairy tale: This isn’t necessarily a stab at the movie itself, because it was interesting the way they did this idea, but I don’t like the idea of a fairy tale where a woman’s value is solely based on her physical beauty. (And it’s an arguable point, I understand. Just not my favorite thing ever.)

3. recycled villains: It seemed like with the relationship between Finn and Ravenna I was looking at a cross somewhere between the Lannisters or Targaryens from Game of Thrones. Also, starting the first half hour with the very bad villain doing her very bad evil with her very bad mirror friend was cliché. Just saying.

4. too much: By switching away from Ravenna’s POV, there were a lot of characters and backstories that ended up falling by the wayside or didn’t get as much attention, so in some ways the movie felt cluttered because all of the stories were still crammed in there.

5. Thor’s wife: We heard about Thor’s wife all the time, but we never really got flashback time with her. I don’t think they exploited the device as much as they should have. (Yeah, I know Chris Hemsworth’s character wasn’t named Thor, but other than the subtitles they never really acknowledged his name.)

6. no romantic closure: I didn’t need a wedding. I didn’t even need a passionate kiss. But at the end, when William was looking at Snow and Thor was creeping around in the back at the coronation, it would have been nice to see an indication of which guy she was going to go for. Little smile. Slight nod. That’s all I needed.

7. Thor’s romantic identity: I was liking the fact that Thor wasn’t actually going to be Snow’s main love interest and then he got drunk and there went my joy. Oh, well.

8. hiking: If I recall, a lot of Snow’s POV included hiking. Wee bit boring.

And it wasn’t all bad. I liked the parallel between this Snow and the Disney Snow praying, the color schemes Ravenna had were superb, and I liked the dwarves and Hart. Snow White even knew how to react to a forest fire! But on the back cover of the DVD, it said, “This Is No Fairy Tale” and I beg your pardon but that’s exactly what it was.

The reason we hold on to fairy tales is because we can make do so many things with them, and each new revision adds something a little different. This added some, but it borrowed a whole lot more, and so I learned this: if you’re going to borrow, borrow wisely. ‘Too much of a good thing’ is a real phenomenon.

If you do watch it, I propose you think about it with my substitute title: Queen Ravenna Pitches a Fit. It might prepare you a little more for the plot that is to come.

Star Rating: 2/5

Did you see Snow White and the Huntsman? What did you think? Share in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Then and Now



Flickr Credit: Jeffrey James Pacres

There are those times when you look back on your life and you think, “Yeah, I’m pretty much the same as I
was then.” Yeah, no. Recently I indexed all my writer’s journals and diaries. They started around sixth grade. I even had a few diaries from when I was in like, second grade. The grand total was twenty-three bound vessels, encapsulating yours truly through the ages.

And let me tell you: Heather today is way different than Heather yesterday. Thank goodness. My reading and writing identity has grown extensively over the years—I’ll bet yours has too. However, there are a couple things in particular I’m glad I left behind.

Terrible Spelling—Okay, this is not unique to me. But I now know the difference between “existed” and “excited,” now. No, I don’t get everything right, but at least I know what I’m saying.

No Genre Preference—I used to be willing to read anything. Captain Underpants, Common Sense, Percy Jackson, they were all the same to me. I have higher standards now, and understand my preferences.

Markers—I would write in those skinny Crayola markers in my diary. In sixth grade. You can hardly even read what I had to say, the words are so disfigured. Now I write in pen, and if my marker side returns, I have five lovely Flair pens to use instead.

Writing to Diaries as Characters—I thanked my diary for listening. Nowadays, if I’m talking to anybody in my diary, it’s me or God; the object that holds my personal reflections is not a person anymore.

Bad Handwriting—My handwriting is even legible now! Also, I stopped writing in cursive, so that might have helped.

No Emotional Connection—I used to only record what happened in my day, and it’s very dull reading. Now, if I record something, I almost always include the emotional or spiritual impact, which matters.

Very Sporadic—I’ve never been the kind to write in a diary every day, but it was that months or even years would pass before I picked up a journal again. Now I manage reflections a few times a week, and it’s enough.

Distaste for Reading Logs—I used to hate reading logs; I thought they wasted my time. Now I like keeping track of what I read, and seeing how far I’ve come.

Trouble Writing Without Lines—I would rather have lines than not have lines, but at least now I can write in a generally straight-ish direction across a page.

More Pictures—Sometimes, because I was lazy, I would draw pictures so I would not have to write anything. I can neither confirm nor deny that this still happens, if with rarer frequency.

Trouble Expressing Things—This goes along with the previous one; I would write down words just to fill up pages, not because I necessarily had anything to say. Now I find emotional value in writing.

No Need for Privacy—I don’t want people to read my emotional outbursts or foolish fantasies, but former Heather didn’t record those things and so wouldn’t have needed the same kind of privacy I want.

Reading Level Mattered—Reading above my grade level was really important when I was little, but I don’t always try to stretch myself anymore. Yes, I’ll try to read a classic I will struggle to understand, but I also won’t ignore A Series of Unfortunate Events or Ranger’s Apprentice just because the “age group” is for sixth graders. Awesome has no age limit.

Different Names—I would sign my name with an alias or an emotion, not my name. I still sign my name at the end of entries to show where the thought ends, but it is my name and not me wishing I had another one.

Internet Slang—I thought saying “kewl” or “Iz” or “lol” was appropriate in my writing. In retrospect it looks immature and weird. LOL.

Different Scales—On my reading logs, I pretty much had a scale from 1 to infinity, 1 being Lord of the Flies and infinity being the Percy Jackson series. Now I realize that using a scale that size really makes all books worthless, and thankfully found a more realistic scale to use.

Unawareness—Loving reading and writing used to be simple facts of life for me. Funny as it may seem, this isn’t necessarily a fact for everyone. The fact that I love this means that I can do something with it—it doesn’t have to be a mewling hobby.

Whether I saw it or not, I’ve been growing. What about you? How has your reading and writing style changed over the last few years?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mouse Box



Flickr Credit: Brian Kellett
We have mice in our house, and my dad and I are not thrilled. More than that, I have even more reason to detest them because I am the one who listens to them at 2 AM while they tear at the hole in my ceiling.
When it is that dark and that quiet they sound like seven-foot murderers.

So I have a mouse box.

Not a trap, it’s simply a black box that makes a high pitched chirping sound and blinks a red light so the mice stay away. The frequency is supposed to hurt their ears.

Initially, I thought the noise was annoying. I only kept it on when I wasn’t in my room, and hoped that would be enough. It wasn’t. Just a few weeks ago, it was in the early hours of the day when I heard them. I couldn’t tell how many mice there were or what kind of party they were throwing in my ceiling, but I was scare. It was late, dark, and I couldn’t even contemplate what I would do if a mouse were to shimmy down the curtains and onto my bed.

I got up. And I turned the mouse box on. And I went to sleep.

The mouse box reminds me of God, a little bit. It can be hard to let Him into our lives—practicing love and leaving behind our inner jerk is like, really hard and feels impossible. We don’t want His voice in our heads when we’re trying to do something else and we want to be able to turn Him off at our convenience.

But there’s a point where we have to give in.

I can neither handle my mouse problem nor my sin on my own, and I have to accept that I need help, or I will be screwed.

That’s when God’s inconvenience becomes a gift. It becomes constant, it never fails to protect us, and keeps the mice—I mean, sin—away from us.

Because of Jesus I am saved and because of my mouse box I am safe.

And I think those are two great reasons to celebrate. Happy Sunday.

Where have you seen God today?