Monday, June 11, 2012

Recap, Review, and Riddle


This is going to be a random summary of my week, but hey...isn't that what keeping a journal is all about?


It's been a disappointing weekend. I really thought we had the Triple Crown winner this year. Really, really, really.  I still believe that after watching the race, not to take anything away from a brilliant win by Union Rags.  Great horse.  But he wouldn't win the Triple Crown.

And that's the rub.
After the last three weeks of hearing "I'll Have Another...Make it a Triple!" it was so disheartening to learn the day before the race that the champion would be scratched due to injury and retired from racing.

His owner said he'd done so much, he'd done enough.  And no one can argue with that.

But dang!  

It's been 34 years!

Thirty. Four. Years.

When Secretariat won it all in 1973, it had been a 25 year dry spell.  This has gone on almost a decade longer. 

It occurred to me that horseracing is a lot like writing. You learn to live with 'almost theres' and forge on. Tomorrow is another day, another chance, another opportunity.  Maybe tomorrow will be the day. Or next week.

Or next year.

Enjoy your retirement, I'll Have Another. 

That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Sequels

(Or in this case...prequels.)

As part of my SFR homework, I love to check out all the promising SF flicks to hit the big screen. This one held lots of promise. And for the most part, it delivered.

Spoiler Alert!

There's just no way to review this movie without giving away some of the secrets. So let me spell it out.  Prometheus is a prequel to the first Alien movie, and although it does leave a few strings dangling, it more or less takes us full circle to the set-up for the original film. 

A scientific team sets out from Earth to a distant moon aboard a ship called Prometheus following clues left in carvings and cave paintings of giant humanoids made some 36,000 years before. When the ship arrives, the crew finds an artificial mountain built by an alien race and starts exploring its caves and catacombs. They aren't really sure why they're there.  As a viewer, neither was I.  

Someone activates a hologram and the team observes the former occupants (the giant humanoids now dead for some 3,000 years who are called "Space Jockeys") running away a panic. 

The team searches for clues to what happened to the Space Jockeys and--after the loss of several team members to mysterious illnesses and attacks--deduce that the facility was a remote biological weapons testing outpost built by the Space Jockey species. Several chambers of the cavern are filled with sinister canisters that contain this biological scourge, and when the contents begin leaking out to attack the team, everyone on the mission is endangered.

The team discovers the Space Jockeys' ship (deja vu ensues for the viewer)--with one survivor still in hypersleep after 3,000 years. Oh...and surprise! Space Jockeys' DNA is an exact match for human DNA. We cameth from themeth, so clearly they must be our allies and we have nothing to fear.


Until the survivor tears the head off the artificial human member of the team (the annoying David) and tries to murder the others.  

I won't spell out the ending, but suffice it to say the Space Jockey's ship ends up pretty much as the Nostromo team finds it decades? centuries? later and we are left with one lone female survivor of the Prometheus crew who is bloodied, battered, sliced, stapled and has just had one helluva bad day.

What's past is prologue.

Weyland Corporation, it seems, had its greedy bead on this planet (a moon in Prometheus) long before the Nostromo set out on its ore-refining mission, and long before the planet/moon would come to be known as LV-426 or Acheron by a future shake-and-bake colony (who somehow managed to overlook both the artificial mountain and the "many other alien ships" littering the landscape. Oopsy.)

The introduction of another Ripleyesque heroine fell just a little flat IMHO, although her decision at the conclusion was a gutsy--if not foolhardy--call, and it certainly left the door open for more sequels.

Though the plot at times was a stretch and I didn't relate as readily to the characters as I did the first two movies of the franchise, this was a dark, mesmerizing SF flick with spectacular effects and awesome technology. If you're not the squeamish sort, it's well worth the price of a ticket.

I saw the standard version, but it's also available in 3D. 


I started reading 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias.  I haven't gotten far--not even out of Chapter 1 yet--but the ideas presented have already given me much to think about.

Chapter 1 asks a question. What is plot? How do you define it?

Plot isn't the skeleton of a story, or the framework, or an outline. It's more interactive and dynamic. It forms a pattern in the story, a pattern that does something specific. Plot puts forth information and then asks a question/questions that need to be answered by the characters, their thoughts and/or their actions. 

Plot is a riddle.


Plot IS a riddle. 

A riddle lays out facts and then asks you to solve the puzzle. Like a plot.

If you don't get the answer to the riddle by the end of the book, the plot has failed. And if you don't understand the question the riddle is asking before you reach the end of the book, the plot wasn't well executed. If you understand both the question(s) being asked and can use your imagination to deduce the answer(s), then the plot is well-crafted.

The thing about both plots and riddles is that they are most effective when there's a surprise, a little twist to keep you on your toes.


I found this image of a planet on Google and my first thought was, "That's Draxis!" This planet would make a great actor to play the role of my fictional world. Now let me have a little fun with that.

Here's your riddle:

This planet is Earth-like and has continents, deserts, large oceans, and is in our solar system.  Which planet is it?

Logic tells you this is a trick question.  There's only one planet in our solar system that's Earth-like and that's Earth. Right?

Well, that depends...

You see, the riddle tricks you into looking for an answer to what and where...but not when.

Therein lies the twist.

Want to take another guess?  

The description is of a planet as it was over 4 billion years ago

The planet is Mars.

Surprise ending!

Have a great week.

~~ * ~~


  1. I wonder if we'll ever be able to make Mars look like that again. Or will we end up making Earth look like Mars does now before we ever get that far...?

  2. That's a scary question, Pippa. If Mars used to be so much like Earth, what happened that changed it so drastically...and are we headed in the same direction.

    I think there's been a lot of talk about terraforming Mars to make it more like Earth so we can eventually colonize on a massive scale. But I think at the same time we need to learn how to be good stewards of our home planet's environment.

    1. I'm afraid I have rather a dystopian view of the future. But it is scary when you consider how similar Earth and Mars - and even Venus are - that it's not hard to see how fine a line there is between a dead world and our own. And how little it might take to turn one to the other. Somehow Earth had the perfect combination of elements and circumstance for life. We aren't taking very good care of that.

  3. I don't know, Laurie. I think we might have to have a Siskel and Ebert review showdown over PROMETHEUS. While I agree that the effects were spectacular and the acting was first-rate from Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace, the writing left enough holes for entire planets to fall through. As one character said, "So you're just going to ignore several millenia of evolution, that's your theory?" And the reply was, "That's what I choose to believe." Pretty much sums up the whole approach to science in the movie.

    Trained scientists take off their helmets and breathe the alien atmosphere, touch things freely, carry an alien head back to the ship with minimal precautions and reach down to play with the "cute" snaky alien fauna (just before it wraps itself around his arm and consumes him, the idiot). Really?

    And don't even get me started about the "annoying David". His motivations are never clear. I guess "never trust an android" covers it, no matter where he was coming from.

    The film was visually beautiful and had its moments of high-tech cool (mapping drones that produce a holographic image of underground tunnels; an emergency surgical bed that conducts the surgery without benefit of human hands). But all this gloss wasted on a B-movie plot.

    Um, guess that's kind of a long comment. :-)

    1. Lol, Donna. That was pretty much what my husband had to say. His main peeves were the 'snake' and the stapling after her surgery.
      Where are the vidually stunning AND great story line films?!

  4. LOL Donna. Siskel and Ebert it is! So guess I'm the thumbs up side of the equation...with caveats. The reason for the mission was my biggest stumbling block, but overall, I enjoyed the shiny stuff and the story. Oh yeah, especially those mapping drones.

    Pippa, for your last question, I think that would be Avatar. :) Speaking of which, where is Avatar II?

  5. Sad about the horse!! But at least he's lived to spend a happy old age. I wonder if he's suitable to be put to stud? What a way to retire!! I think my husband would be first in line - er not with the horse obviously but - oh darn it, you know what I mean.

  6. Barbara, yes, I'll Have Another is definitely headed to stud. He's not a "fashionable" bloodline at present, so he most likely won't command the massive six figure fee, but he's got an amazing pedigree and I don't think he'll have any trouble attracting many top flight fillies. Look for his first crop to avenge him in 2017. :)

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