Category Archives: Commentary

The Flash is Superman in disguise

I’m the first to confess – I’m not a comic book aficionado. I haven’t picked up a good Archie comic since I was 12. I’ve never read superhero comics, though I  have to admit, I LOVE the upsurge in superhero television. I was sad to see Smallville go, and I look forward to my weekly dose of Gotham, Arrow and The Flash. I understand the hero and villain archetypes are at play here, but this week, The Flash patterned itself a little too closely after the Superman archetype  than the generic superhero one.

[Tweet “#TheFlash is patterned a little too closely on the #Superman #archetype.”]

In The Flash, Barry Allen is struck by dark matter lightning after a supercollider explosion. He is left with the ability to run incredibly fast (an understatement). He teams up with Star Lab’s Dr. Caitlin Snow, Cisco Ramon, and Dr. Harrison Wells, the scientists responsible for the explosion, to fight crime perpetrated by “meta-humans”, other people affected by the explosion in  Central City. Barry’s mother was killed when he was a child by a man wearing a yellow suit who possessed Flash’s speed, and his father was jailed for the murder. He was raised by his father’s friend, Detective Joe West, alongside Joe’s daughter, Iris. Barry’s in love with Iris, but because he’s too afraid to tell her, Iris is currently dating her father’s partner.

[Tweet “Iris and Barry ARE the new Lois and Clark! #TheFlash #Superman”]

This week on The Flash, Barry defeated a literal “Man of Steel”, the story of Barry’s mother’s murder was re-opened by Joe who believes Barry’s father is innocent. He suspects Dr. Wells was the murderer. He also reveals he knows about Barry’s attraction to his daughter. Meanwhile, Iris is penning a blog about “The Streak”, which puts her in danger. Barry and Joe try to dissuade her from continuing the blog and are unsuccessful. Finding his name in this episode, “The Streak” is renamed “The Flash”. He, too, tries to convince Iris to discontinue the blog. These are the scenes in which The Flash thinks it’s Superman.

In Superman, Lois Lane works with Clark Kent. Clark loves Lois, but he’s too scared to let her know. After meeting him, Lois falls for Superman. Seeing a chance to finally be with the woman of his dreams, Superman capitalizes on the situation. What he does is dishonest, but maybe Lois deserves it, seeing as she can’t see past Clark’s suit, glasses, and awkward social graces. Fans live for the moment when she finally uncovers his ruse.

In The Flash, Iris and Barry are friends. Barry loves Iris, but he’s too scared to let her know. After meeting him, Iris seems to be falling for The Flash. Seeing a chance to finally be with the woman of his dreams, The Flash capitalizes on the situation, flirting with Iris in a number of scenes. What he’s doing is dishonest, but maybe Iris deserves it, seeing as she can’t see past Barry’s geeky exterior and the fact that they were raised as foster brother and sister. Fans will live for the moment when she finally uncovers his ruse.

Get the picture?

[Tweet “Flash IS Superman. Think about it: Dr. Wells is Lex Luthor. Joe is Jonathan. Barry is Clark.”]

Don’t get me wrong. I’m enjoying The Flash. I can’t wait to see what Lex Luthor’s Dr. Wells’s plan is, and I love the fact that Joe has assumed the role of Jonathan Kent to Barry’s Superman. I just wish they stopped hitting us over the head with the comparison.

Move Over Fonzie…OUAT may be along for the ride!

This blog entry was written last week, after Once Upon a Time‘s “Breaking Glass” episode. I was unable to post then, but I’m choosing to do so now because last night’s episode, “The Snow Queen,” echoed the sentiments expressed in it.

Though “The Snow Queen” drew even further connections between the characters we’ve grown to love (Rumple, Belle and Emma), it still focuses more on the Frozen theme than not, which poses a problem for me. And while I dig the role reversal between Rumple and Belle–with Belle as the headstrong and Rumple as vulnerable–Belle was too quick to rush to control Rumple and Rumple too forgiving with no indication of a desire to remedy the situation in the future. Of course, there’s always the possibility that it really wasn’t his dagger and he was just playing along. The thought of this intrigues me more than does any amount of Frozen business.

Move Over Fonzie…OUAT may be along for the ride!


I love (Love, LOVE) Once Upon A Time, but I’m afraid it’s jumped the shark.

I’m not digging the whole Frozen vibe.

[Last] week’s episode took a long time to give up few teasers: Emma’s previous relationship with Lily; Emma reaching out to Regina; the Snow Queen assembling her mirror. Elsa’s search for Anna, the “filler” in this episode, seemed belaboured and contrived.

That’s right. Even a storyline populated with fairy tale and Disney characters, [last] week seemed contrived.

I recently had the opportunity to re-watch OUAT’s first episode when I shared it with my students in a lesson on literary archetypes. I watched the whole episode, twice in a single day (the fourth and fifth time I’ve watched it in entirety) and loved every second of it. By contrast, I don’t think I could ever be persuaded to watch [last] week’s one again.

Maybe it’s because the Frozen episodes come after a rather strong season in Neverland followed by an interesting season in Oz. Maybe it’s because I never saw Frozen. Maybe it’s because this episode lacked the mesmerizing talent of Robert Carlyle.

Whatever the reason, I put my faith in the writers of the show to draw it out of its slump. I’m with you for the long haul, OUAT. Fonzie survived jumping the shark, my hope is that you, too, will emerge victorious for many seasons to come
.

Why We Fear Things that go Bump in the Night

rf-hide-and-seek

Ready or Not

I never climbed into bed as a child without checking under it first. I’d kneel to the floor in the centre of the room to do it, making sure there was enough distance between the bed and me to have a head start in case I had to make a run for it. The closet door had to stay open, too, for fear something might materialize in it during the night and try to get out. I blame Scholastic’s Real Canadian Ghost Stories series. That and the nightmare I had about the ghost that lived in our basement. (Of course, the fact that there was a Hydro field in our backyard beaming EMFs into my brain might also have had something to do with it.)

[Tweet “I never climbed into bed without checking under it first.”]

As a teen, I played Ouija board with my friends until The Exorcist put a stop to it, read Stephen King, and Peter Straub and Dean Koontz, and relished each and every Freddie and Jason and Michael movie, but was never seriously freaked out until I saw Videodrome and An American Werewolf in London.

As an adult, my fears are of more realistic things–family members sick or dying, school shootings, planes going down (especially with me on them). At some point between hiding under my bedsheets, feeling safe only if all body parts were covered and now, I’ve become immune to the fear of the supernatural in popular culture. Even though I sort of believe in the reality of spirits due to personal experience, I am nevertheless able to watch Ghost Adventures into the wee hours of the morning unaffected.

[Tweet “As an adult I fear more realistic things than the paranormal.”]

Still, I wonder why so many people, including myself, are drawn to horror as a genre and the paranormal in general.

Allegra Ringo, in her article, Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear? explains that, when people experience fear, the body releases adrenaline, dopamine and endorphins, in a fight or flight response. It is how our bodies handle these chemicals that determines if we will enjoy a good scare.

[Tweet “How our bodies handle adrenaline, dopamine and endorphines determines if we enjoy being scared.”]

In Why Some People Love Horror Movies While Others Hate Them, Margarita Tartakovsky says it’s because people know the threat isn’t real. People love horror “because they enjoy the adrenaline rush of of being scared while being safe.” She adds that horror, particularly stories involving the supernatural is what scares adults the most. Disease is also an adult fear, which may explain the recent upsurge in zombie fiction.

[Tweet “People love horror because they “enjoy the adrenaline rush of being scared while staying safe.””]

The Revenant was a first for me in the genres of young adult and paranormal fiction. In it I explore the horror of having to lead life after death as a mindless  zombie slave, as well as experiment with the blood and gore of a good Walking Dead episode, at the climax of the story.  The scary elements serve as a backdrop to the central themes of good triumphing over evil and persevering in the face of adversity.

Same plot, different setting

I watched last week’s premiere of Z Nation with some trepidation. I mean, did the world really need another post-apocalyptic television show featuring zombies? I already watch The Walking Dead–need I say anything more?  I was left with mixed feelings after watching, unsure if I liked it. Turning a baby, though reminiscent of Chucky, was a nice touch, but there was something that didn’t sit right about it (the show, not the zombified infant).

It took a few more days and a bout of in-class free association with respect to themes in literature for it to hit me.

Z Nation and The Last Ship are essentially one and the same.

[Tweet “#ZNation and #TheLastShip are essentially the same #tv show. Here’s how…”]

Let me explain…

The Last Ship is about a navy ship sent on a top secret mission to gather the primordial strain of a flu virus that is killing off most of the world’s population. They engage in war-lord-type power struggles including one with a Russian ship before finding a girl who is immune to the virus. They synthesize a cure for the virus from her blood and must rush the girl and the cure to a lab somewhere in the U.S.

Z Nation is about a group of people on a secretive mission to take a prison inmate to a lab in California. After being bit by zombies, the prisoner is seemingly immune to whatever it is that turns people into zombies. They need to take him to the lab so they can synthesize a cure for the zombie virus from his blood. So far there have been no war-lord-type power struggles, but you can bet they are sure to be on the near horizon.

I will be watching more of Z Nation, if only to compare it to The Walking Dead (in which, coincidentally, the characters are also sort of on a quest to take a scientist who claims to have a cure to a lab somewhere in the U.S. to create a vaccine) and other similar post-apocalyptic tales.

Did you watch Z Nation? Do you watch The Last Ship? Do you see a connection? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

5 Sites to Promote Your book on a Shoestring Budget

shoestringbudget

graphic from http://edgewatertech.files.wordpress.com/ 2009/03/2955706736_a31585470e.jpg

[Tweet “Calling all indie authors: read 5 Sites to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget”]

When it comes to promoting your book, you have to spend money to make money.

How many of you have been told that?

The first time I heard it, my heart filled with desolation. I live in the real world where disposable income is as rare as the unicorn–in other words, it doesn’t exist. What chance do I have of being successful with my marketing endeavours without the coin to back it?

The answer is: I don’t know. My book is relatively new (just over a month old at the time of my writing this) and it’s really too soon to tell. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share some of the places I’ve found online that allow me to advertise my book for free. Here are the 5 sites that top my list so far.

Indies Unlimited

The vetting process on this site is incredibly helpful. I submitted my novel for their free promotion. About 6 weeks later, the site contacted me with an excellent critique of my book description as well as suggestions on how to improve it. I made the corrections and received a second critique and even more suggestions–all for free! As far as I’m concerned, this site is indie author gold, for that reason alone.

[Tweet “@IndiesUnlimited is indie #author gold! See 5 Sites to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget.”]

Online PR News

This site provides a free place to post and distribute a press release. You have to write the press release yourself, but this is an excellent opportunity to reach people to which you might not otherwise have access.

[Tweet “@PRnews reaches people U otherwise might not. 5 Sites to Promote Your Book on Shoestring Budget”]

New Book Journal

Free author announcements for anything author related. Announce your book release or a book signing…the possibilities are endless.

[Tweet “@R_K_Alan & New Book Journal 4 author related stuff. 5 Sites to Promote UR Book on Shoestring”]

Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing

This website posts a list of new Sci Fi releases each week. I sent an email to the site administrator asking if my book could be included in the next list and he was happy to oblige. This taught me never to be afraid to send a query to anything online I’d like to be a part of. The worst that could happen is my request will either be ignored or rejected. To my surprise, that rarely happens.

[Tweet “@AISFPodcast lists new sci fi releases every week. 5 Sites to Promote UR Book on Shoestring Budget”]

My Book Addiction’s zOctober Event

I read about zOctober on a news feed site I frequent and sent an email and was accepted right away. I am posting a “Mad Lib” style puzzle and a short story on My Book Addiction’s site in October. Great publicity for my book and my brand, all of it absolutely free!

[Tweet “@Toni_BookAddict sponsors #zOctober 5 Ways to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget”]

That’s my list so far, opaline pearls in a sea of seemingly barren oysters.  Do you have any other hidden gems you are willing to share? Post them here and I’ll feature them on my next post with a link to your online pages–another great, free place to publicize!

When did sharing intellectual property become criminal?

Graphic by Parker Knight, "Family 1353" under Creative Commons

girl graphic by Parker Knight, “Family 1353” under Creative Commons

About a month ago, I came out with the synopsis of my  next novel, a YA science fiction with time travel, entitled I Was, Am, Will Be Alice.  Here’s the synopsis:

After narrowly escaping death in a school shooting, 9 year old Alice Carroll realizes she can time travel when under extreme stress, a situation she is determined to learn to control in order to go back to that day and save the lives of her teacher and classmates and discover the identity of the woman who sacrificed her life so Alice could live.

This week I was horrified to learn of a middle school teacher in Maryland who was put on administrative leave and taken in for an emergency medical evaluation after officials learned he wrote a sci fi about a future school shooting. As you can imagine, my thoughts turned to my Alice book and the repercussions I might suffer should I go ahead and publish it.

[Tweet “What repercussions might I suffer if I #publish my book about a #school shooting?”]

Try as I might, I cannot wrap my head around this. Maybe it’s because McLaw’s shooting takes place in the future? Maybe it’s because an ungodly number of people are killed? Maybe it’s because, given gun laws in the U.S., McLaw’s story is plausible and people are scared?

Granted, Alice differs in that it takes place in the present, the shooting is in the past, and Canada has fewer incidences of school shootings than the U.S. due to it’s more stringent gun control, but it doesn’t make us any less scared of the possibility of something like this happening.

As a teacher, I’ve been flirted with, felt physically threatened, been subjected to bullying from my students, told I’d be better off dead, called the “C” word, and the “B” word and worse, had students bring concealed pocket knifes and BB-guns to class (thankfully, both remained concealed) and heard tell of students going on to commit nefarious acts both outside of school hours and after graduation. That doesn’t even take into account similar (and sometimes worse) offences and assaults I’ve heard from my peers. Quite frankly, I’m scared.

Writing empowers me. If through my writing I can identify with a character that has went through the amalgam of my fears and learned to conquer them, more power to me. But now I am left worrying if the school officials won’t agree and what the consequences may be.

[Tweet “I identify with a character that has experienced the amalgam of my fears and lived to tell”]

I want to go on record stating that the school shooting in Alice comes from a place of wanting to conquer my fears (much like the characters in the novel). In the book I totally identify with Alice and not Dodgson who is an amalgam of the students who have caused concern over the years. I will press on with the proofing and publishing of this novel because I think it’s my best work to date. I’m hoping McLaw will prevail, unless there’s something we aren’t being told about his situation that actually warrants this 1984-style breach of what are McLaw’s basic human rights. Hopefully by then, sharing the fruits of my intellectual property won’t be subject to similar scrutiny.

Extant casts wide net; may come up empty

image from globaltv.com

image from globaltv.com

It’s Alien.

It’s ET.

It’s Predator.

It’s AI.

It’s Extant, and it’s having trouble deciding what it wants to be.

[Tweet “#Extant is having trouble deciding which #SciFi sub-#genre it wants to be.”]

Extant is the story of astronaut Molly (Halle Berry), her husband, John (Goran Visnjic) and their “son”, an android–called a humanich–named Ethan (Pierce Ganon). After spending 13 months in space, Molly returns pregnant. Half-human, half-alien, the baby is removed from Molly’s body and incubated in a secret facility ran by the Yasumoto Corporation, which also happens to be John’s employer. Molly’s friend and colleague, Alan Sparks (Michael O’Neil), is in charge of the project.

This week, Sparks escapes the facility with the hybrid (known as the Offspring) and goes to an isolated resort where he can be alone with the visions of his deceased daughter the Offspring shows him. He calls his ex-wife to join him in the reunion. In order to maintain enough energy to produce it’s illusions, the Offspring must feed on humans (calling to mind Defiance’s Irisa and Atlantis’s wraith). The people survive the feeding in order to do Alan’s bidding.  Meanwhile, John and Ethan are essentially held captive by Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) at his house along with Odin (Charlie Bewley), a member of an anti-humanichs group, pretending to be interested in John’s assistant, Julie (Grace Gummer). In a third sub-plot, Molly is handcuffed inside a truck by one of Yasumoto’s men who supposedly wants to help her find, raise and protect the Offspring.

Are you confused yet? I can’t say as I was, but it is an awful lot to take in, the net result being that I have a lot of questions.

[Tweet “#Extant asks more questions than it answers, which is an awful lot to take in.”]

Alan is a die hard professional, determined to see the project proceeds in a by-the-books manner. In this episode, his character moves to the opposite extreme. He is now a devoted father, determined to spend as much time as he can with a facsimile of his daughter, which–on some level–he knows is an illusion produced by the Offspring. Nevertheless, he does his level best to protect her. He feeds the Offspring, not for the creature, but to maintain the illusion of his daughter. Alan is a scientist. Why does he fall so easily for something he knows is in the domain of the heart and not of the head?

Molly is a smart woman. She goes to space hoping absence will make her heart grow fonder for her husband. She knows Alan is working against her even when he insists he’s on her side. She figures out why friend Sam (Camryn Manheim) turns against her and uses Sam’s predicament to work in her favour. Why is she so quick to believe the  ruse Yasumoto’s man portrays about putting all of his employer’s resources at her fingertips once they recover the Offspring?

Ethan is part android, part child. He is inquisitive like a child, but shows incredible logical and analytical deduction ability. Why is he so quick to believe Odin’s bologna  about parents not being trustworthy and shun John as a result? Every character–and I mean EVERY–is a scientist. Why is someone like Odin able to outsmart them all?

My last question deals with the focus of the show. Why can’t Extant decide which sub-genre of science fiction it wants to be? Rather than decide, it tries to be all sub-genres at once. This week alone, Extant covered the following sub-genres: parasitic infestation; vampires; androids; paranormal investigation; mind control and conspiracy theory. And I’m probably missing a few more. I really like Extant. In addition to having two of my favourite actors (Visnjic and Manheim), Extant is refreshing for it’s focus on future families striving to stay together in spite of the perils that threaten to tear it apart, rather than on sci-fi elements alone.

As of this week, I can no longer say that about Extant.

Extant taken on too much? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

[Tweet “Has #Extant taken on too much? Extant casts wide net, comes up empty.”]

Everything I need know about Allusion I learned from “The Big Bang Theory”

bigbangtheory

Graphic from wall.alphacoders.com

Allusion is when a reference to something–a person, place, thing, or work of literature–is mentioned in a story. The idea is that people get what the reference means and the connection brings a deeper meaning to the reader’s experience. As an English teacher, I already knew about allusions and how they worked, but it wasn’t until I started watching The Big Bang Theory that I learned how to use them in a piece of writing to help develop rich settings and characters.

[Tweet “It wasn’t until I started watching @BigBang_CBS that I learned how to use allusions in writing.”]

Let me explain. For those who have never seen it, The Big Bang Theory follows the lives of four stereotypically nerdy scientists as they struggle on the outskirts of popularity. They eat, sleep, breathe, and live sci-fi, sometimes literally (remember Sheldon’s Gorn-infested sleep or the group’s misadventures as a Star Trek Next Gen landing party?). Their lives are programmed around television schedules, comic-cons, new sci-fi movies, and trips to the comic book store. But what makes this show especially enjoyable for me are the endless references–some of them quite obscure–to current popular culture. As a devout Trekker and sci-fi enthusiast, I identify with the boys and their never-ending struggle to fit in.

[Tweet “Read about my ‘The Big Bang Theory of Allusion’ as a way to make characters seem real. #WritingTip”]

I’ve adopted what I’ve dubbed “The Big Bang Theory of Allusion” in The Revenant (and my current work in progress tentatively called I Was, Am, Will Be Alice). The theory tells us that, because as writers we want our characters to seem as real as possible, we should make them consumers of current and real popular culture. This is not a new idea. Shakespeare did it, referring to bible passages or ancient Greek and Roman mythology (keep in mind he had 500 years less of popular culture to draw on). In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee draws on civil war knowledge, politics, and what we now think of as classical literature, but which would have been popular and current at the time, such as Ivanhoe, Dracula, and Tom Swift. Many of the references to movie stars such as Mae West, alluded to in Tennesee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire may be lost on today’s readers, but at the time of its release, these references would have brought a deeper meaning to the story for its audience.

The main allusions in The Revenant are about superheroesSuperman, Batman and Spiderman–but there are also references to characters in the sci-fi canon. Zulu, the male protagonist, imagines himself Khan Noonian Singh on the deck of the S.S. Botany Bay fighting his nemesis Kirk, as well as Hook on the deck of the Jolly Roger seeking out his nemesis, the crocodile that bit off his hand. Kat, the female protagonist, imagines herself as Buffy of vampire slayer fame and Zulu as her Angel. Zulu prefers to think of himself as more of the Spike type. Going after bad guys like he does, Zulu draws parallels between himself and Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter, the vigilante who satisfies his need to kill on people who have circumvented the law. There are also references to Hiro Nakamura of Heroes comic book and television show fame. Fans of these shows will recognize the allusions and understand the thoughts of the characters making the comparisons; others might recognize the references as allusions but miss some of the meaning, and that’s okay. We don’t need to know anything about The Gray Ghost Dill offers to swap with Jem if he touches Boo’s house in Mockingbird other than that he’s staking a treasured book on the bet.

[Tweet “Does using too many allusions date your work? That depends on syndication and DVDs. #WritingTip”]

The concern with over-use of allusions is that it may date a piece of literature. How many people will remember shows like The Big Bang Theory or Dexter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer ten years from now? How many in twenty? Given the examples in this essay, quite a few, I’d say. Classic Trek was cancelled in 1969, yet the legacy of that show is still going strong. Shows like Buffy, Heroes and Dexter are still sold in DVD/BluRay collections and available for streaming online anywhere from two to ten years and more after cancellation. Given that The Big Bang Theory is now in syndication, chances are it will continue to be broadcast to tickle the funny bones of future generations with its allusions, keeping anything it references in mainstream popular culture, for years to come.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on The Revenant Blog Tour. For past and future posts, see my Blog Tour Itinerary.

blog-tour-graphic

Walter White as a Tragic Hero

I realize I’m coming late to the game with my analysis of Breaking Bad, but I just finished season five this weekend. Somewhere in the middle of the last season I realized that the series played out like a tragedy with Walter White as the typical tragic hero, and I needed to write about it.

A tragedy, in the Ancient Greek tradition, includes the following traits:

  1. The hero meets his downfall through a combination of his pride, “fate, and the will of the gods“.
  2. The hero eventually encounters some limits as a result of his quest to attain his goals, usually due to “human frailty  (flaws in reason, hubris, society)“.
  3. The hero must undergo a change in fortune or revelation or recognition (anagnorisis) at the end.

So let’s examine how Breaking Bad adheres to these rules (Warning: spoilers abound from this point on):

The hero meets his downfall through a combination of his pride, fate, and the will of the gods

At the beginning of the series, Walter White is a meek, science geek schoolteacher, well-liked by the people around him.

Walt’s pride rears its ugly head when he begins cooking the purest form of crystal meth the market has ever seen, something in which he takes pride.

The second thing that sends Walt on his downwards spiral is the discovery of his lung cancer (the will of the gods). This prompts him to continue cooking in order to earn enough money to keep his family safe upon his death.

It is only a matter of time before his DEA brother-in-law, Hank, catches up to him (fate). Walt’s only human, and though he does a good job of covering his tracks, making it hard for the DEA to track down the elusive Heisenberg, and for Hank to draw the connection between Heisenberg and his brother-in-law, he eventually slips up due to human frailty where Jessie is concerned, arranging for him to start over rather than killing him when he has the chance.

The hero eventually encounters some limits as a result of his quest to attain his goals, usually due to human frailty

Walt is nothing if not frail. He manages to beat his cancer only for it to return in the final season. Knowing it will get the better of him, Walt figures he has nothing to lose. Consequently, this is also when he is at his most bold (hubris). Love is the most powerful human frailty contributing to Walt’s downfall.

Family is a powerful motivator for Hank (flaw in reason). His main imperative is to keep his wife and children safe. When Jessie begins to break down and Walt realizes he has become his Achilles’ heel, Walt orders his murder. Because he considers Jessie family, he insists it be quick and painless. In the end, his desire to make things right with Jessie is what leads to his death. When Todd and his uncle’s gang of thugs hold Hank at gunpoint, Walt insists Hank is family and should be allowed to live.

In the end, it is only when Walt’s family renounces him they are truly safe. Walt stages a phone call convincing the police (limit from society) wife Skyler was coerced into participating in his drug empire, forcing her to keep her distance. His son wishes him dead. His sister-in-law tells him to kill himself. His brother-in-law is dead as a result of his doings. He assumes pseudo-son Jessie is also dead, having ordered the hit himself.

It is at this point Walt experiences anagnorisis.

 The hero must undergo a change in fortune or revelation or recognition (anagnorisis) at the end

Walt experiences a host of ups and downs throughout the series, always managing to escape his situation and come out on top through sheer dumb luck. He reasons away every death by his hands as necessary for his survival, but at some point that changes. I believe the turning point is Gus Fring’s death. Though one could successfully argue Fring’s death is necessary, the same could not be said for Mike Ehrmantraut’s. Walt kills Mike in a fit of rage, not because he poses a threat, but because Walt wants him dead.

Walt’s change in fortune is simultaneous with the return of his cancer. The DEA becomes aware of his connection with Heisenberg at around the same time. I have to admit, though I never really liked Walt as a protagonist, I began to hate him from this point forward.

It’s not until he’s hiding out and tries to find a way to get his remaining money to his family that he begins to redeem himself. Walt begins to experience recognition with Hank’s death, but it’s not until he speaks with Skyler and admits he stayed in the business because he liked it that his redemption begins. Anagnorisis occurs when he sacrifices himself for Jessie and he accepts his death in the last seconds of the final episode.

What do you think? Is can Breaking Bad be best described as a tragedy? Is Walter White a tragic hero? Weigh in with your comments below.

[Tweet “@BreakingBad_AMC as a #Greek #tragedy. #review #tv #BreakingBad”]

Abraham the Vampire Slayer? Review of “Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”

Image from ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BNjY2Mzc0MDA4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTg5OTcxNw@@._V1_SX214_AL_.jpg

Image from ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BNjY2Mzc0MDA4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTg5OTcxNw@@._V1_SX214_AL_.jpg

I had the opportunity to catch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter on Space last night and I was surprisingly impressed. What I thought was going to be a campy movie turned out to be entertaining with amazing CGI.

In case you haven’t seen it, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter hypothesizes that former President of The United States, Abraham Lincoln, was a trained vampire hunter. After he witnesses his mother being killed by vampire, Jack Barts,  young Abe is trained by Henry to wield his silver-tipped axe to kill vampires. Abe wants to use his training to exact revenge on Barts, but he makes a vow to Henry only to kill those Henry chooses. After learning that the King of Vampires, the aptly named Adam, plans to take over the U.S., Abe take him on.

Like all paranormal hunter/slayers, Abe has his own “Scooby Gang”, composed of “Watcher” Henry, friends Will Johnson, Joshua Speed and wife, Mary Todd. I liked the dynamic between members of the gang, but would have liked to see Mary slay a few vamps of her own, no matter how out of character for the time. I also liked the revisionist history in the movie that draws a parallel between the fight for emancipation from slavery and the fight for the emancipation of the U.S. from becoming a country enslaved by vampires.

Benjamin Walker plays the part of Abe Lincoln well, and looks strong and sexy twisting his axe like a baton as he slices through attacking vampires. I was glad to see Rufus Sewell again, a favourite of mine since Eleventh Hour and Pillars of the Earth, who plays the evil Adam with great aplomb. Deserving equal billing with the actors are the CGI effects. There is an impressive scene in which Abe chases Barts on the backs of a stampede of wild horses. Equally impressive is the climactic scene on top of a speeding train and the final showdown on the burning bridge.

Though the title sounds like it promises to be a groaner, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a movie worth watching.