Please Turn Over (P.T.O.) or Turn Page Over (T.P.O.)?

25 02 2015

Pen and Paper

For well over 10 years now, when I have written a piece of work and reached the bottom of the page, I have written the abbreviation T.P.O. instead of the standardised abbreviation P.T.O. Now while this subject may appear to be a bit of a weird thing to see on a blog post, I just thought I would pose and analyse the question as to which way it should be (this probably won’t be a long post).

Page Turning

I used to think it was T.P.O. because the abbreviation (at least in my mind) for Turn Page Over made more sense than writing P.T.O. because the abbreviation Please Turn Over did not really work for me as Please Turn Over does not exactly state to the person who sees it what exactly they should be turning over. If it is at the bottom of the page I can understand P.T.O. could be directed at the page and the reader to turn over the page, but as it is not necessarily used in that situation all the time, I think it is a rather ambiguous term to use. One time I had seen the term put to use in a non-page turning position; in an episode of the BBC Two show Robot Wars when the robot Pitbull had it on the underside as a possible way to get the other robots to turn it up the right way again (which worked once against Behemoth, but not against Firestorm).

Robot Wars Logo

I think the term T.P.O. works much better than P.T.O. as it defines what needs to be turned over; even though it could also be said that I started writing T.P.O. at the time I discovered P.T.O. But still I think T.P.O. is the better terminology due to it being more defined by mentioning the word Page with a P. Not unless the abbreviation P.T.P.O. (Please Turn Page Over) is introduced? What do you think?

GENEPOOL (Bit of a weird post I know, but I thought it might be fun to do it).





Books I’m Currently Reading

18 02 2015

The Knife Of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness - 2008)

Since reading The Hunger Games back in 2012, I have been a constant reader. After joining Goodreads in 2013 I have been posting up what is the most recent book I have read and they appear in a little tab on the side of this blog and my stories blog. in 2014 I took part in a reading challenge on Goodreads. Initially I thought I would try and read 10 books. I thought that was a good number. In total I read 25, (with me constantly editing the challenge every time I reached a milestone). This year I thought I would go up from the original 10 but not go overblown like I did with the challenge in 2014, and try to read at least 15 books this year. So far I have read 5 this year, but the first four were quite quick reads and in essence the first three were comic books. The books are:

The thing that I am struggling with this year though is getting late nights and therefore feeling really tired to actually read. On several occasions in recent months I have found myself trying to induce a power nap before hand so I can then have plenty of awake-ness to be able to read. The usual time I would read regularly is on the train to and from Preston, but due to the tiredness, I don’t feel up to reading, so most of the times I have read recently are when I feel like reading and when I force myself to do some reading. But given the last two books I have read, I haven’t minded, because they were truly gripping.

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd - 2011)

Another issue I have had (but this one is more constant over the last 2 years) is there is too much I want to read. Every now and then I find myself in Waterstones looking at new books I want to buy and read. The problem this incurs is that I start reading too many things when in hindsight I can read roughly less than 5 books at any one time. So at the moment I am pushing myself into that reading state and have no more than 4 books to read at any one time. While it is the case I have started some and not finished them as well as have quite a few books on my shelf that I need to get round to reading, I am forcing myself to stay on track with 4 books, and each one of these has a particular category. They are:

  • Main Reading
  • Bed Time Reading
  • Course/Research Reading
  • Christian Reading

My main reading refers to my main book reading at the moment and that is usually and has been for a long while, Fiction, particularly, Young Adult/Teen Fiction. I rarely find myself exploring adult genres, however, I have become a fan of Michael Crichton and have read both Jurassic Park and Micro (finished by Richard Preston). Bed Time Reading, is a spot I allow myself to read something completely different but only allow myself to read it as bed time approaches. Due to my current bed situation though, I am currently not reading anything at bed time. For the most part I read comics at this time as they are an easy read, mainly X-Men but have become interested in reading Fables at some point. Course/Research reading refers to reading something for my course at University, this has allowed fiction in the past with books including The Casual Vacancy (didn’t read all of it, 25 pages at most), War Horse and Jurassic Park. Christian Reading refers to the current Christian I am reading at the moment. My Christian book library is quite small at the moment, but each book I have read during this time has personally helped me every now and then. So with my current reading situation coming down to just 3 books. I thought I would let you know what I am reading at the moment.

Facing A Task Unfinished (Roger Carswell - 2011)

Title: Facing a Task Unfinished: A Personal Devotional for Evangelism

Author: Roger Carswell

Category: Christian Reading

I have owned this book since 2012 when I picked it up at Saved2Serve. It wasn’t until I left Saved2Serve 2014 and returned home that I began reading it. My reading of it is a bit on and off as it is a study course of one mini chapter per week. I find myself reading it when I can and read 2 or 3 chapters at a time. It is quite useful as it has a bible verse in each section, followed by a thought for meditation, then there is a little poem followed by a prayer you can read. the book also comes with space to allow you to write down your own personal prayers. It’s quite a nice little handy book to have as it doesn’t require much time to use and so even if you only have 5 or 10 minutes to spare, you have plenty of time just to read a little bit at a time.

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

Title: Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need

Author: Blake Snyder

Course: Course/Research Reading

I have been reading this book for almost 2 years now, not as long as it took me to read MogWorld, but still a long time. It’s the case that while I try to read it regularly, doing just that is quite hard. I find it weird though that I don’t regularly read it; because it’s so good. It’s very explanative and also very funny to read but also puts your mind in situations of understanding and then goes through with you certain important points of how to write a film script. These points include, pitching, structuring and plotting out everything before you even write the first ‘FADE’ on your script. A really terrific read that is both informative to those who want to learn how to write a script as well as interesting to those who are just interested in the subject.

The Ask And The Answer (Patrick Ness - 2009)

Title: The Ask And The Answer

Author: Patrick Ness

Category: Main Reading

What is now the third Patrick Ness book I have read in a row, The Ask And The Answer is the second book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy, the first being The Knife Of Never Letting Go. I have actually yet to start reading it due to the sleep problems but hope to start reading it this week. I am really looking forward to it and to see where the story goes as the last book finished on a huge cliff hanger and now have to wait and see what happens next.

Bookshelf

So that is what I am reading at the moment. While I currently am not reading anything at bed time, the floor is open to pretty much anything, as long as it’s a quick reading. as for the other collections, while I do not know what the next Christian Book will be or the next Course/Research book, I look forward to reading them, providing I enjoy them. While The Ask And The Answer will likely take me time to read it,  as long as I continue to enjoy the series I will probably proceed to read the final book in the series; Monsters Of Men, then I’ll have to start looking again as to what I should read next.

Monsters Of Men (Patrick Ness - 2010)

GENEPOOL





Big Summer Blowout – Frozen

11 02 2015

Frozen (Walt Disney Pictures - 2013)

For the last year and a bit I have been doing what I can to avoid watching Frozen. When it first came out I saw the poster and heard a little about it but thought nothing more of it. Unless it had the words Age and Ice in it, I was going nowhere near it. I didn’t even see a trailer for it at all. Months went past, saw it climb up the highest grossing films list for the year (annoyingly making more than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), but the only thing I heard more about it was a mention on Film when it had been nominated for Best Song (it also, annoyingly, won best animated feature, which really should have gone to The Wind Rises) at the Academy Awards, for “Let It Go.” Many months passed with no mention of it which I did not notice due to me not watching it. Then come November and the Christmas sales. Talk of people shopping like mad for Frozen Merchandise, rows of DVD’s at HMV of Frozen, Jumpers with the snowman on, and a clip of the snowman for Sky Movies. So why am I reviewing it then? In November, while in a Fairytale Writing class at University, my tutor showed me some clips from Frozen, and I got a little interested to find out what the rest of the film is like. I recorded it on Sky Movies Premiere, then eventually got round to watching the whole thing. My opinion of it was “Not as bad as I thought it was going to be.”

F1

Based on the Hans Christian Andersen Fairytale The Snow Queen, directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and released by Walt Disney Pictures; Frozen has been in development for a long time. Original plans for a Snow Queen film came in 1937 but over the years and through many script changes finally got produced for a 2013 release. The film though is different in one crucial fact to the Hans Christian Anderson story as in the Snow Queen in the Fairytale is actually the villain, where as in Frozen she isn’t.

F2

The film begins with Princess Anna pestering her older sister Elsa if she wants to build a snowman. They go into the grand hall where Elsa uses her powers to create snow and ice related things to entertain them. Things end badly however when she accidently strikes Anna. Their parents, the King and Queen (Maurice LaMarche and Jennifer Lee) of Arendelle take them to see a group of Trolls (Ciarán Hinds and Maia Wilson) who fix Anna and her memories. Elsa is then isolated from her sister and Anna grows up wondering what she is doing. One night their parents are killed and three years later Elsa (Idina Menzel) is to be coroneted as Queen. Anna (Kristen Bell) is excited about this as she can finally go outside. There she meets charming prince Hans (Santino Fontana). They quickly build a relationship and decide to get married. Elsa does not agree with this and after a brief confrontation with Anna, her powers are revealed and she runs away creating an eternal winter in the process.

F8

Anna goes in pursuit of her and tells Hans to look after the Kingdom. At a trading post and sauna run by Oaken (Chris Williams), Anna meets Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer Sven. Kristoff who sells Ice for a living has suddenly hit hard times. Anna gets him some supplies if he’ll take her to North Mountain. He reluctantly agrees. They travel to North Mountain with Kristoff’s sled getting destroyed in the process. Along the way Kristoff and Anna begin to bond gently even though Sven takes an immediate shine to Anna. Soon they encounter Olaf (Josh Gad), a snowman created by Elsa who wants to experience summer (completely unaware that he’ll melt). Eventually they arrive at Elsa’s castle but Elsa does not want to return accidently freezing Anna’s heart in the process and creates a giant snow troll (Paul Briggs) to throw out Anna, Kristoff and Olaf. Back in Arendelle; Hans sends out a search party to rescue Anna. The Duke of Weselton (Alan Tudyk) on the other hand asks his guards to follow and kill Elsa. Kristoff discovers Elsa is dying and takes her to see his friends and adoptive family, a group of rock trolls who tell her that she is dying and needs an act of true love to save her. While it is obvious to the trolls that Kristoff and Anna are made for each other, Kristoff takes Anna to Hans. Hans’s men arrive at Elsa’s castle and are attacked by the snow troll. In the ensuing chaos Elsa is knocked out and imprisoned at Arendelle.

F9

Anna arrives at the castle to receive true love kiss from Hans, who backs away saying she doesn’t love her and says that he only wanted to marry into the family to become King. He claims that Anna has died and uses the opportunity to kill Elsa who has escaped. Sven convinces Kristoff to return to Arendelle just as a big storm builds up over it. Anna is rescued by Olaf who sees Kristoff is coming back. On the ice plains Kristoff is within reach of Anna, but Anna spots Hans trying to kill Elsa and stands in front of him, destroying his sword just as she turns to ice. Elsa’s love for her sister enables her to bring Anna back to life and cause summer to return. Olaf is given his own cloud so he can enjoy summer without melting, Kristoff and Sven are given a new sled as Kristoff (ok, this is not stated, but it’s pretty obvious) and Anna starting a relationship. Hans and the Duke are forced to leave the area and Elsa returns as a loved queen, providing everyone with a snow rink and promising to keep the castle gates open.

F3

As someone who has rarely seen any Disney films, Frozen is not too bad. During my childhood I resisted watching Disney Films as my knowledge of them was along the lines of flowers and singing, whereas I was more into action based things like X-Men (and Godzilla). I have not seen The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast (another one I saw a bit of recently and want to actually want to see), The Little Mermaid, Lady and the Tramp101 Dalmatians (I have seen the live action film though) and many more. I have seen the beginning of The Rescuers Down Under, the end of The Rescuers, all of Hercules, Almost every Pixar film from Toy Story to Up (missing out Wall-E although did see the last bit), and have seen Dinosaur. I do remember going to see Aladdin but don’t remember anything about it except the first frame. Along with those I have also seen One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing; which is awesome. But back to the point, as a non-regular Disney watcher (minus films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and probably the next lot of Star Wars Films) I was pleasantly surprised by Frozen. It’s alright, not bad at all, just generally good but probably won’t rush to watch it again other than to watch the Oaken Trading Post scene (best moment of the film). The films cast are an interesting mix and the characters they play are almost on the edge of being a group of hits and misses. The Duke seems a bit too comedic with his guards being more a part of the film than him. Hans is an interesting villain (on the other hand), and given by the plot of this film, the only one and need of. He is quickly able to get on the right side of the audience as the ‘dreamy’ prince but when his real motives are revealed, more of his character is released and becomes someone you just can’t stand. Elsa meanwhile for many reasons should be the film’s villain (as given by the original source text), however her character being one of more caring but locked from the outside world is more interesting than the plain villain. Her song (I’ll get to it later) reveals more about her character, and once understood better makes her a stronger character. The way she continues to lock herself away after supposedly letting everything go as given context by the song just continues to make her intriguing. As in relation to the rest of the characters though she is kind of minor, but this is not necessarily a bad thing as it allows them to stand out more in their own right.

F10

The character of Kristoff is in many ways the unlucky hero of the story. He plays the part of the one who happens to be the hero. This is Good Story Telling 101 as it allows the audience to connect and feel for the character. It is a system that has worked for many stories in the past and RPG (Role Playing Game) video games. The point of surprise for an ordinary person when he discovers he is to be the big hero of the adventure. This could be seen as a departure also for Disney as it is not the dashing prince who saves the day (nor the dashing prince who just wants to be normal) but instead someone who is more relatable to the audience as he is not a prince but someone with an ordinary day and upbringing……….for the most part. Anna is quite a cool character. Being the extremely caring sister to Elsa even after Elsa was locked away from her for all those years. Anna’s love for her sister is second to no-one else in the film and when she turns into ice it is quite a sad moment. Her relationship though with Kristoff and the little adventure/first date they go on is enjoyable throughout. She is though a little vulnerable too as she has no understanding of what is going on with her sister and the friendship they shared as children is taken from her and she ends up growing up in a world that she doesn’t understand. Her vulnerability of her misunderstanding of the situation though is why you care for her It’s not the case that she is the heroine and a plot point but rather a character you care for and want to survive. From start to finish she remains this rather cool and pleasant character but with deep emotions that makes her relatable.

F7

I’m not all too bothered with the character of Olaf; I just don’t see a point to him. I could understand from a child’s point of view that he is funny and is a character for little kids to like, but for the most part, he isn’t actually needed and serves absolutely no point other than being an arbitrary comedy character and one important plot moment; that being rescuing Anna. Other than that though, there is no real need for him. That said though he does have some good comedy moments from impaling himself to counting 1 minute and some scenes with his carrot nose.

F6

The film though does make some real stars out of its more secondary/teary characters and when it comes to that there are some real treats. I really do like the character of Oaken and think his scene is the best in the entire film. What starts out as a comedy moment gets funnier as he reveals his size and strength. His unwavering happiness in the situation no matter what is going on means he remains funny, and brilliant throughout. I do however think that it is a shame he doesn’t have any more screen time and could have been a secondary hero for the film overall appearing somewhere before the climax. The small trolls are a nice little treat and offer something more than constant shots of people in the snow. Their little song and dance routine as well as all the scenes they are in are all very enjoyable. The Snow Troll/Giant Snowman is a character I like a lot. Not much in the way of monsters in this film with the entire magic goings on. His general appearance is great (even though he bears similar resemblance to The Iron Giant) and when he grows his spines looks even grander. Add to that his terrific voice and dialogue scenes (and scene in the credits) and you have an overall terrific character.

F5

The best character by far though in the entire film is that of Sven the reindeer. Something of a surprise that he is unable to talk in a Disney Film but is able to present what he thinks and the emotions he feels extraordinarily well. Sven looks very dopey but is in fact one of the strongest if not the strongest character in the whole film. His portrayal reminded me a lot of the bulldog in Sherlock Holmes in how he acts to the presented situation. Add to that how he is able to make friends quickly, grows very fond of Anna and can make people realise what they truly feel and you have one superb character. I enjoyed every scene he was in and wanted to see more of him (even though he has more in common with a moose than a reindeer due to his size, bulk and even facial look).

F4

The film is beautifully produced. The area of Arendelle looks very much like a Fairytale setting. The castle in particular looks a lot like the castle of Neuschwanstein (which also happens to be the design of the castles at Walt Disney Theme Parks) with its pointy spires, a very Fairytale look about it. The snow and ice effects are brilliant and altogether produce a very winter wonderland style of setting. The German/Scandinavian theme as given the home of many fairytales has been mixed in the films’ context quite well with character names appropriately given. When including other animals and pictures of mountains, the effects of this film have been done quite well.

Neuschwanstein Castle

I suppose I can’t run from it for long, we now have to talk about the songs. Not being one for musicals, I found most of the songs rather dreary. My problem is that most of the characters can’t help but burst into song when given a subject to start one. I mean, I don’t do that (although at time of writing this I was constantly singing – in my head – the theme music from Red Dwarf). The film also contains a strange piece of background almost tribal piece of music during the open credits and when Summer returns which I feel doesn’t fit in with the movie’s setting. For the most part though in this instance I thought nothing much of it and there were some cases that were alright at best. The song Do You Want To Build A Snowman was actually quite sweet and took me back to memories of my childhood (it doesn’t snow much round here, and when it does it’s hardly enough to build a snow man). The love troll’s song was pretty good for the situation and Anna singing to Elsa in Elsa’s castle also had its moments. I also rather enjoyed the opening ice cutting song too. It’s a piece that really sets the scene for the rest of the film. Then it comes to Let It Go. You see the thing is, it’s alright, just nothing more than that. It had its moments were it felt strong in tone but it kept wavering a bit and I just don’t feel all that strongly for it. The context of the song though is a lot more interesting; the idea of singing about letting go but pretty much doing the exact opposite in the process. The general point of it being a piece of music does have its moments but I don’t feel all that strongly for it. The song’s lyrics though when looked into a little more depth reveals more however and Elsa does come out as a much stronger character for it, especially when you realise that while the title of the song is Let It Go, she isn’t letting anything go but hiding it and herself, the only thing she knows how to do after so many years of doing it (the piano opening also makes me think of the Malta entry to the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest).

Altogether, Frozen is actually quite an enjoyable film. While it may have not originally have been the kind of film I would have seen, and went to great lengths not to see, I am pleased about seeing it in the end. I find that the film is good but not necessarily great. I think there are far superior animated films out there to Frozen and would rather watch again than Frozen, but I wouldn’t at all be put off watching Frozen again, even though I doubt I’ll be rushing to do that again. Don’t be put off by that though as Frozen is generally a good film and well worth a watch. While it has its moments of annoyance, people bursting into song at the drop of a hat and characters that don’t seem necessary it also has for the most part very funny points, interesting pieces of music and genuinely good moments to make an overall enjoyable film. The ending though is a bit weird. I mean; why is it that the (all be it brief) eternal winter is over and summer has returned that everyone immediately wants to go Ice Skating?

GENEPOOL





Batman Begins – A Bite Size Film Review

5 02 2015

Batman Begins (Legendary Pictures - 2005)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (Batman and characters created by Bob Kane).

Cast: Christian Bale, Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary OldmanCillian Murphy, with Ken Watanabe and Liam Neeson.

Composer: James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer

Cinematography: Wally Pfister

Studio: Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Syncopy Inc.

Best Line: “It’s Not Who I Am Underneath, But What I Do That Defines Me.”

BB1

After suffering the loss of his parents during his youth; Bruce Wayne dons the cape and mask to become the legendary caped crusader Batman, as he attempts to save Gotham City from the criminal underworld it is built on, as well as those around him. Set in a realistic setting other than a comic book world, Batman Begins is an interesting film as it becomes more of a crime/action film than a Superhero film. The film is beautifully produced. Gotham City looks gives the impression of a dying criminal city with very few things to appreciate in it. The action scenes, particularly the end train chase and mid car chase are spectacularly done and impressive to watch.

BB2

The films cast are a brilliant selection and easily dive into their specified roles and are very believable but also easy to connect with. The emotional devices of Wayne’s love for Rachel, as well as the emotion he feels after his parent’s death and how this changes them can be felt on a high level even if it is more an action film than a drama. The film’s soundtrack is one of its most standout features. A nice mix of emotional pieces and action pieces, particularly the train chase at the end are used to raise tension to great effect. The film’s main theme is the main attraction as it is easily recognisable but also surprisingly catchy. Altogether Batman Begins is an enjoyable film and a definite must see.

GENEPOOL





Is It Possible To Write A Film Review In 100 Words Or Less?

4 02 2015

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Michael Wiese Productions - 2005)

A few months ago I had this idea of trying to write a short film review. The idea being to write a short film review that more or less got to the point quickly without analysing the film in detail as I think that my monthly film reviews are more of analyses than reviews. Originally the idea was inspired by the Blake Snyder book; Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need. Snyder talks about the situation we have all been when we want to go to the cinema but have to decide what we see.

“We’ve all had this experience… It’s Saturday night. You and your friends have decided to see a movie. One of you is picked to read the choices from the newspaper while the others listen and decide.“ – Save The Cat! (2005)

Snyder goes on to describing the situation similar to pitching a movie. Snyder was what is called a Spec Writer who would write a script then attempt to sell it to a big studio. Snyder though points out an important problem which both you as someone who wants to see a film and as a writer faces in a pitch.

But what’s it about? If you can’t answer that question, you know it pretty quickly. If what the movie is about isn’t clear from the poster and the title, what are you going to say to describe it?” – Save The Cat! (2005)

This is where the idea of a 100 word film review spawned. As point of a blog post possibility as well as a Creative Writing exercise. To get a full review within such a strict word count would be hard, but it would restrict me to how much detail I went into. It would basically come down to what happens in the film, who’s in it and is it any good, as well as any additional footnotes regarding who made it, soundtrack and effects. After a few months wavering over this idea I finally sat down to attempt it.

Neo-Tokyo

Originally I was thinking of using the film AKIRA as the first one as I saw it a few months ago for the first time, loved it and is one of the film reviews I want to do the most. When it came to it though, I didn’t want to spoil a bigger post of it later on as I feel a full-blown analysis (of the kind I produce) would be better off as there is a lot I want to cover. So I did a film I have reviewed once before and know pretty well: Batman Begins. When writing it however I discovered a problem, at least a problem for my writing style. The word count of 100 words was not enough. The problem was that despite me trying to get to the point quicker, my style of writing was still a bit too detailed. Even with some cutting I struggled. So I upped the limit, sounds like cheating, but it gave me options. I raised it to 250 words and only kept that to the blocks of text reviewing the film and not the quick references at the top of the review stating who directed it, who’s in it, who composed the music for it, who was the cinematographer and which studio produced it (and the film title also). Also, originally I was going to give it the title ‘100 Word Film Review’ followed by the title. Due to the increased word count I changed it round to ‘250 Word’. In the end however I gave it the title “A Bite Size Film Review” as I thought it was a much better title. While in the end I was not able to produce a review in 100 words; I feel like I have managed to accomplish the original intention however. Thus managing to produce a film review template that allows people a quick source option when wanting a quick guidance on whether or not they want to watch a certain film (that reads like an essay at university level). I now just have the uphill task of doing it for many more films.

Batman Begins Poster

GENEPOOL (The film review in question will be posted up tomorrow).








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