Big Hero Six Review

BIG HERO 6Finally got to watch Disney’s newest animated movie Big Hero 6.

Not surprisingly, I loved it. And yes, that could be due to the fact that I’m biased toward Disney movies once again (I mean, who hasn’t been the last ten years?).

I think it’s great that Disney is expanding its universe into unfamiliar (to me, anyway) territories such as anime comics, which is what Big Hero 6 is based off of.

Who’d have known Anime could be so much fun and original? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Disney took some major creative liberties to get it up on screen, but the fact that they’re reaching out and making unknown stories known, I think is a good thing.

Now about the movie itself. While it doesn’t linger long in your mind like Frozen did, and it’s not as emotionally gut-wrenching as Meet the RobinsonsBig Hero 6 delivers in all the ways a Disney movie should – with some new twists and extremely poignant scenes.

You’ll no doubt fall in love with Baymax and Hiro the moment they’re introduced, and the lesson about letting go is a really tough one to teach kids and teenagers, and I think Disney does a superb job of getting the point across and creative an avenue for parents to talk to their kids about death.

Lots of fun. Great visuals, tons of humor, and dark action make this an awesome film for your next family movie night. Keep ‘em coming, Disney. Share your thoughts of Big Hero 6 below.

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On Writing: Motivation

motivation

When it comes to writing and developing characters, you need always to keep one word in mind: motivation.

Motivation is helpful in two fronts. Motivation…

a) defines characters, and

b) pushes the story along

Think about it. In order for the beautiful harmonizing of a solid story and lovable characters to occur, several things must happen, but the main thing is motivation.

Think Lord of the Rings. Not only is the story itself driven by the motivation to destroy the ring, but the characters are defined so clearly because of that motivation.

Think Finding Nemo. The title itself is the motivation behind the story and the characters.

Motivation is nearly everything in a story. Why am I writing this? Why is the bad guy bad? Why did my protagonist just do that?

Motivation.

But the catch is, the motivation must be believable.

Writers – don’t make your characters bad just to be bad. Don’t dwell on it, but give your readers a reason why they’re bad. The Toy Story franchise does this best with their antagonists (need I say more than Lotso/Daisy?).

Likewise, give your readers a reason to believe that your protagonists really are good, and ask yourself the question: Why is my protagonist good?

Another trick: To help keep your story on track, ask yourself at the end of each scene, Why? Why did this scene just happen? Why did my character just say/do that? You ought to be able to answer confidently with the ending in mind so that you’re always heading in that direction.

When I wrote The Man in the Box, I was always prepared to answer someone who might ask me, “Why did you write this book?”

You should be too.

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What I Learned From Michael Scott

With Christmas being over and taxes coming up, I figured it was time for a laugh. Sarabeth and I are currently watching The Office literally for the 4th or 5th time. Saturdays are our most stressful day of the week, so that’s the night we turn on the next episode and let go of all our worries and every time we have a really good laugh (it’s good therapy).

So below I have listed some things that we’ve learned from Michael Scott over the years, and perhaps you can list a few more…

goodbye_michael_scott

Don’t promise an entire class of kids that you’ll pay their college tuition until you have the funds to do so.

Don’t write an age-sensitive joke in a woman’s “bird-day” card.

Don’t conduct a meeting on obesity dressed in a fat suit.

If you’re going to fake-fire someone, make sure you have the punch-line right. (“You’ve been X’d, punk!”)

You can’t declare bankruptcy by yelling it.

Giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dead bird does nothing.

Clear it with your boss before you announce in front of the whole company what branch is closing down.

If you’re trying to catch the ice cream man, make sure you open the screen door first.

Don’t hold a roast in honor of yourself. It actually might hurt your feelings.

It is, in fact, a “dog-eat-dog world,” not a “doggie-dog world.”

Abraham Lincoln never said, “I will attack you with the north.” (Though it has long been our favorite Lincolnian saying in our house.)

If you’re going to a job fair to represent a paper company, you might want to have some paper with you.

Don’t hold the pizza delivery guy hostage just so you can get your discount.

Watch out for indoor ponds.

Just because someone says, “What’s up-dog?” doesn’t mean the joke’s over.

Feel free to add your own favorite Office moments.

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Baby A’s First Steps

So she’s walking now.IMG_1864

Sarabeth and I were lucky enough to be together when “Baby A.” took her first step a few nights ago. And now it’s official. She’s a walker, and the days of crawling are behind her.

I came home from work last night and guess who just hobbled up to me all the way from the living room, through the dining room, and into the entryway to give me a big hug? Okay, it wasn’t a hug more than an attempt to snatch my glasses off my face, but you get the idea.

I’ve been wondering though, where are those feet going to take her? I thought of all the professions that she might take up, and then I stopped abruptly because then I thought about her feet carrying her down the wedding aisle… and I can’t quite go there yet. I’m still just trying to get her to say “Daddy,” because she’s got “Momma” pretty much down pat.

IMG_1858Oh, and more good news. We go to court in a couple of weeks to change her goal to be permanently adopted by us! Even as I write this, I’m getting real soppy and can hardly see the computer. I mean, I’ve always known that she’ll be ours the moment I saw her, but to actually make it official… our lives would be completely incomplete without her – temper tantrums and sleepless nights (for Sarabeth) and all!

At any rate, I hope her feet take her far and wide and to places that will bring her much happiness in this life. But I’m just so glad that her first couple of million steps will be made under our roof.

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Why I Wake Up at 4:00 A.M.

 

earlybird1I get up at 4 in the morning to work.

Not to go to work, which starts at 6.

I get up at 4 in the morning to work on what I don’t have time to work on the rest of the day.

People are always saying, “I don’t have time to accomplish my dreams, or do what I want to do.” They’re saying this as they’re flopped in front of the TV mindlessly tuned in to The Bachelor or Game of Thrones.

“I hate my job,” people say as they sleep in as late as they can without being late to their day job.

I say, Get up at 4 (and earlier if the alarm hasn’t gone off yet and I’m awake). Freedom didn’t come freely or easily, so why should your independence, or your dream job, or your money?

I get up at 4 because I believe, with all my heart, that if I work hard enough and sacrifice enough sleep, that my dream job will come true. So I get up at 4 in the morning and write, and write, and write.

At least, at the end of the day, I can say, “I got to do what I wanted today.”

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Marriage: A Beginning, Not An End

funny-marriageIt seems marriage has become the topic of ridicule and mockery. The prestige and honor of marriage has been replaced by the glamor and dazzle of bachelorhood and promiscuity. Not that this is anything new.

But honestly, when is the last time you’ve heard a good word spoken about marriage? When is the last time you’ve spoken honorably about your spouse?

Think about it. We spend the whole first part of our lives searching for our significant other – someone to spend the rest of our lives with. And then, when we find that person, we grow tired, and spend our time wanting out.

(The Man in the Box is a great book for those who feel this way.)

I, myself, often forget that marriage takes work. I take for granted that I don’t have to stress over who I’m going to take out on Friday night (not that that was often), or figure out some clever way to score a girl’s phone number (I got numbers to Bill’s Plumbing and Domino’s quite often).

Then I met Sarabeth. I achieved the Big Yes. When I said “I do,” I was 25.

If I live to be a hundred, I’ve still got 75% of my life to live.

We get this idea in our heads that marriage is the end-all goal, when in fact, things are just beginning!

I love Disney movies. But they repeatedly got one thing wrong with their classic princess movies:

Marriage is once upon a time. Not happily ever after.

Happily ever after is years of commitment and devotion and love in the wake of an elderly couple still holding hands … not the first kiss after slaying the dragon.

The dragon invades our marriages in the form of finances, late oil checks, dirty diapers, dirty kitchens, morning breath, unseemly hair, burnt food, the Hallmark channel, etc.

So, a reminder to married people and to myself: let’s begin to treat marriage as the midst of a journey we’re trekking through, each bounding toward a certain goal, warding off the dragons together.IMG_1180

To those of you not yet married, start ingraining it into your heads that marriage is the start of a new life, not some early retirement.

I’m thankful to be married to my wife. Her corrections sometimes sting, and my attitude toward her often needs to be checked. But with her help, I am growing and learning, and without a doubt, I am a much better person today because of her than I was eight or ten years ago. (I dress better, too!)

And no matter what, I know she loves me, and I love her, and we never have to worry about who we’re going to spend Friday night with.

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On Writing: Curing the Creative Rut

giphyYou writers and creative-types – you’ve been there. It’s a hellish place, for sure. A chasm of fear, doubt, agony, frustration…

While everyone else around you seems to be excelling in their craft, accolades are given to everyone but you, your neighbors hit the jackpot…

Come on, I’m not the only one. You’ve surely been there, right?

Idea-less.

A hellish place for sure. It’s worse than that moment you’re about to start the first sentence on a blank page.

It’s worse than having to wait 119 days until Jurassic World finally opens.

You know how I find my ideas when I at this point? It’s embarrassing, and no one has ever seen me do it, except Sarabeth when I thought I was alone, or my little girl who just thinks it’s hilarious. 1tumblr_lgp6q5NhE21qcjtu8o1_500

I dance.

I talk out loud.

I sing.

I act.

And I’ve yelled.

It’s humbling, but true. I imagine myself standing before the heads of Universal Studios or Disney and I’ve got five minutes (I’m generous) to pitch them my idea.

So I yell, I act, I pitch like a storyboard artist convincing the director that my idea is the only thing that will work. I talk aloud about something that I believe in.

I might not yet have an idea to believe in, but I believe that I will find one.

I encourage you to give this a try. Crank up some Fun. or Owl City, or Delta Rae on the ipad and dance.

ac-slater-dance-o

Yes. Just start dancing. Let your body go. Just release the stress of everyday life. The last thing you want weighing you down when you’re trying to be creative is the rock-hard facts of  life that your readers are looking to escape from.

numa-numa-kid-oSo… escape.

Dance.

And talk.

And then ask yourself later, What did I talk about? Anything interesting? Jot it down.

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