Suzie81 Speaks! (This is a social media experiment.)

Suzie81 is running an experiment. I’ve decided to join in. The idea is to answer seven questions, either on Suzie’s thread, or in a post, in which case it’s ok to share a link to your post on the thread. She’ll compile the responses once the deadline for the experiment passes. If you choose to answer the questions on your blog, including an image would be a smart thing to do, because that will allow me to pin your post 😉 And you only have a few hours to do it before the thread closes, because I am late informing you about it.

© Gene'O 2014; original photo by Vicki, 2013.

© Gene’O 2014; original photo by Vicki, 2013.

1. How did you create the title for your blog?

I was brainstorming blog titles, trying to come up with something funny and geeky at the same time. I came up with Sorcerer, and Diana suggested spelling it Sourcerer to make it into an Internet pun. I wish I’d googled both those terms before I adopted it, though. There are tons of web-based products and projects with that name, so it isn’t great for searches.

2. What’s the one bit of blogging advice you would give to new bloggers?

Stockpile content before you start — the more, the better. Blog for two months and just save the drafts before you ever publish a single post and when you go live, make a big deal out of it for a day or two before you kick off your blog. If you’re even halfway competent with a camera, this includes stockpiling photos. Having your own images saves tons of time, and if some of them are good enough to use as stand-alone photoblogs, they get you easy updates on days when you don’t have time to write.

3. What is the strangest experience you’ve ever had?

Hmmm. It’s an ongoing thing for me. I live in a town of 50K, have been here since the 90s, and I’ve had a doppleganger the whole time. He looks like me and has similar fashion sense. We have no mutual acquaintances, but we’re so close together, geographically, that people get us confused. Now and then a person I’ve never met walks up to me and starts talking about a previous conversation that I have absolutely no knowledge of. When I say “hey, that wasn’t me, I was somewhere else,” they look at me more closely and withdraw in embarrassment. This has been going on for more than 15 years now.

Sometimes it happens only every six months, sometimes often. A year ago I was having one of these encounters every three weeks or so. The cashiers at my convenience store of choice told me they could only tell us apart because of the cigarettes we were buying (He smokes menthols.) Anyway, I have never once met this person, but he’s lived within a few blocks of me at least twice in the last ten years, and he looks just like me. Weird, eh?

4. What is the best thing that anybody has ever said to you?

“I love you.” There’s nothing better than that. People who love one another should say it more often  than they do.

5. When presented with a time machine, which one place and time would you visit?

I’d want to witness the Big Bang, and to see what the world looks like in the year 9,000 C.E. If I could only do one, I’d flip a coin.

6. If you had to pick a new first name, what would you choose?

Portrait of Gentleman, aka Cesare Borgia.

Portrait of Gentleman, aka Cesare Borgia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, my first name is pretty cool. If I just had to change it, I’d go with Cesare and insist on the correct pronunciation.

7. If you were a B Movie, what would it be called?

Damaged Genius.

We’re All Hooked on a Feeling – Guardians of the Galaxy

If you haven’t had a chance to see Guardians of the Galaxy yet, might I suggest checking it out? I have been blogging on Sourcerer about 2 things: comics and music. This movie is a perfect combination of those two things.

Previously, it seems like it’s Zack Snyder who had a hold on good use of music in comic-book type movies, especially Watchmen and Sucker Punch. But those movies were a lot darker: Guardians of the Galaxy has great music, and used it to generate a sense of fun, as well as emotional depth.

You can see some of how they use music in the first trailer, with the now iconic use of Hooked on a Feeling. I also think this is a perfect sort of character: it introduced the characters, the movie, and left it pretty much there without giving much away. I avoided other trailers after this one, and just saw the movie from there!

I will say, I do include the second theatrical trailer below, for music purposes. I’ll hit a spoiler section where this is appropriate; but the second trailer gave a lot away so know that. But for now, a couple of the reasons that Guardians of the Galaxy was good, in relation to its use of music!

Music as a Character

From the first moments of the movie, we can see that our lead character, Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt), loved and loves music. He was getting lost in music as a kid, and, after being abducted, clearly kept this obsession.

He ends up in space for the rest of his life, or at least so far, and his only connections to Earth are his memories (constantly referenced through pop culture), a couple of artifacts (trolls!), and his music.

Awesome Mix vol. 1One cassette. A mix tape, made by his mom, who died right before he was abducted. So it is not only the connection to Earth, to the life he lost, but to his mother, the family he knew. The music stands in for Earth, for family, for love. I used the word obsession, and I think for Peter Quill, this is probably just right.

But it’s more than that. The music functions almost as a character in the movie. It reminds us of the mother who left the music for Peter, it grounds us on the Earth we know even as we experience the cosmic Marvel Universe that is exploding off of the comic page onto the big screen. Because even as these recognizable songs play, you realize they’re not just a soundtrack: they’re the songs Peter has with him.

Putting Our Best Foot Forward

In the comics, as with a lot of science fiction, we come to find that humanity is far behind when it comes to technology. Indeed, this is a major plot in The Avengers, as Nick Fury talks about how they were working on advanced weapons technology because they had found out how powerful the rest of the galaxy seemed to be. Blame Loki, I guess; everyone else does…

Often, it’s human pluck and determination that stands out, or human ingenuity, inventiveness, and diversity. Vague notions to make us feel good about ourselves, and staples of science fiction. It’s rare that something specific gets held up as a special thing from humanity, something that the alien species encountered like from humanity.

Guardians of the Galaxy give us that something. Music. I can point out three examples:

  • The guy who takes the headphones, seen in the trailer. He puts them on, listens, and keeps them. Even shirking his guard duty, completely oblivious to the station falling apart around him. He likes the music.
  • Gamora. Both in the middle of the film, when Peter is introducing the music to her (and suggests dancing), and you can see her get into the music. So much so that she lets her guard down. And then later on, when she is listening to the music on the ship, and starts dancing.
  • Groot. The number one take-away meme from this movie is going to be Groot. I guess to avoid spoilers, I’ll leave it at that.

We can conjecture some of it too. Peter grew up with the Ravagers, and kept his stuff – and kept the Walkman running! – throughout this time. Surely they were exposed to it as well. Also, Peter seems to have a pretty extreme rakish side to him. You can see him potentially sharing his music with women – like he did with Gamora – and having them fall in love with it as well.

I love that there is something of humanity, something of our society and culture, that stands out on the galactic stage. And more than that, I love that the thing that stands out is our music.

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Sophie Turner, Elle Fanning, and 2 Female-Centric Mary Shelley Biopics, Oh My!

Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell, 1840

Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell, 1840

My nerd-heart is absolutely leaping up and down right now. Mary Shelley has long been a favorite of mine—not least because she penned Frankenstein, one of the most enduring pieces of monster literature and a cornerstone of the Gothic horror genre. She’s also just a fascinating woman. And this year, we’ll get not one, but two Mary Shelley films, one that focuses on the writing and publication of Frankenstein and another on her relationship with husband Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Elle Fanning in Maleficent, 2014

Elle Fanning in Maleficent, 2014

The first of the Shelley films due out this year stars Elle Fanning and will be titled A Storm in the Stars. The biopic is intended to show the relationship between Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley, including its tempestuous beginning. Haiffa Al Mansour, (Wadja) the first female Saudi Arabian director, will direct a script written by Emma Jensen.

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, 2014

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, 2014

And just announced is Sophie Turner’s (HBO Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark) involvement in another Mary Shelley project. She has just been cast as writer Mary Shelley in Mary Shelley’s Monster. The film will be directed by Coky Giedroyc; her work includes American Horror Story and Penny Dreadful. (Yes, we’re getting one of our PD directors on this film—horray!) Mary Shelley’s Monster was written by Deborah Baxton. It tackles a Faustian tale of Mary’s monster alter-ego as she writes Frankenstein. Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story) is set to play Claire alongside Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) as Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie, 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie, 1797

Mary Shelley is the daughter of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who penned A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, a pivotal early text of the feminist movement. But Mary Shelley didn’t know her mother—she died in 1797, less than 2 weeks after giving birth to Shelley. And the legacy that Wollstonecraft left behind was a complex one–she was both celebrated and condemned for her promiscuity, for her ideas about femininity, and for her genius.  Shelley’s father was William Godwin, a mostly-political writer with anarchist philosophies. Left to care for Shelley and her sister, Fanny Imlay (Wollstonecraft’s daughter from an affair), William began searching for a wife. In the meantime, he took great interest in Mary’s education, and so her early childhood education was well supervised. He remarried in 1801; Mary’s stepmother didn’t seem to like her much: her stepbrother, Charles, and stepsister, Jane (who later changed her name to Claire), were formally educated while Mary was left at home; Mary’s access to her father was limited; and Mary’s mail was often opened by the new Mrs. Godwin.

William Godwin by James Northcote, 1804

William Godwin by James Northcote, 1804

Despite her lack of formal education, Mary Shelley listened to such thinkers and writers as Charles Lamb, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Wordsworth, friends of her father’s, when they visited her home. They were often interested in her, the product of two such forward intellectuals. She also had access to her father’s rather extensive library. Mary grew up reading, and early on she turned to writing, too. At the age of 10, she had a children’s story published by her father’s company, a children’s book company that was the family’s livelihood when Godwin’s books didn’t sell well.


Percy Bysshe Shelley by Alfred Clint (1819)

In 1812, Mary met Percy Bysshe Shelley and his then-wife, Harriet Westbrook Shelley. Over the course of many evenings dining with the Godwins and talking with Mary, Percy and Mary fell in love. It was only after his attempted suicide in 1814 that Mary was truly convinced of this, though, and she and Claire fled with him to France shortly after. In 1816, Claire had an affair with George Gordon, Lord Byron, and it was during a visit to his home that Mary Shelley came up with the inklings of what would become Frankenstein. One evening, the group was driven inside by rain, and they began reading ghost stories. That night, as a sort of game, they were all supposed to write their own horror tale. Mary’s was to be the beginning of her novel. She was 19. And the world was never to be quite the same.