Just Justification

Why, yes, I am working on some writing. I started writing out a song parody that describes one of my series and I started a song fic but I think I abandoned that one. I had to take a break from writing personal stuff for a school project! Yes!

For my final(ish) project in Audio Production we have to do a short film. I’m with these two guys and they’re both rather artsy, but one of them doesn’t seem to have his shit together and the other thinks about his shit way too much which prevents him from getting his shit together. I can’t really be judging though, as I often put off my shit till the last minute preventing me from getting any shit actually done. Anyway, I really need to steer away from always changing topics with “anyway” and “so.”

So anyway, when we first got together we talked about doing one of their projects for our short film, he had good concepts and good ideas but the story was so incomplete. He actually sounded a lot like me … in middle school. He had ideas and he knew what he wanted to do and the characters were all superficially well developed and fully named. Now if you know me, which you probably don’t, I love names and I think they’re one of the most important aspects of a story. So hearing this guy, that’s probably more than a couple years older than me and well past me in his degree plan, tell this great idea with more than a handful of plot holes with these half-personalized named characters was a little weird. The names themselves weren’t bad, I could definitely tell he came from the border, since they were all pretty White names with Hispanic surnames, there was even an Athena. In fact, he named, arguably, the weakest character Athena, after the goddess of wisdom, craft, and war. I was gonna say something but I bit my tongue, didn’t want to make an enemy out of a future colleague. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I didn’t want to seem like a bitch at least.

Now imagine my surprise when I pulled a plot out of thin air and a reddit story (part 2, part 3) and he thought that that was a project worth doing instead of his own story that he’d been working on since, probably, forever. This made me really think about something. I’m a good writer if I can grab a few random details and meld them into a cohesive story that people want to hear. If only I knew how to write scripts. lol.

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I’m not a journalist

I’m a writer.

Isn’t a journalist a writer?

Yes, but I’m not that kind of writer. I’m a story-teller. I write stories. I don’t cut them down to the facts for mass consumption. Not that I don’t love journalists, I do, and I have a huge respect for them. Hunting down the facts and always correctly wording everything. But this isn’t about them. It’s about me. This is my blog.

Anyway, I sure do say “I’m a writer” a lot for someone that hasn’t written in at least two years, and for someone that can’t stop hitting the wrong keys on accident. Because of this, I’ve decided to make a proposition. Whenever a writing prompt appears to me, most likely from tumblr, I will write from it. Aaaaaaand my phone just restarted for no reason.

The other day, for example, I saw a really cool prompt. It was, “every time you lie you get a scar on your skin,” and the person that this was prompted to wrote a rather depressing story of a military man with not a single visible scar on his skin. The guy took off his shirt and there was a huge gnarly scar on his back, the length of his entire spine. I’ll let you read the story on your own, if I find an actual link to the tumblr post and not just a screenshot. I was on the bus when I first read the story and I had a bit of an existential crisis right on that bus, but then I thought about how far this prompt could go. My first thought was, “what if someone is lying to themselves.” I didn’t really think about this much afterwards but then I got to my audio production class. We always have these projects and I always say to myself, “I’m not a producer, I’m more of a writer,” and then I would laugh at myself because I haven’t written anything substantial since junior year of high school.

I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be a writer that writes. I keep reading and hearing that the best way to become a writer is to practice writing but I just put that in a checklist in the back of my mind. I want to write and I’ll start with that prompt because it really caught my attention and I want to start a habit of picking up writing prompts. The next thing I’ll write is the pilot for my series, and then the first episode then the second and so on and so forth. I feel like I’ve been planning this for a really long time, when really it hasn’t been that long. That’s probably because I’ve developed so much but I have nothing to show for it.

So, I guess I should feel bad for not having uploaded in about exactly 3 months, but I really don’t. That break started out of a depressing state, I had written about 3 different drafts but published none of them. I wasn’t really feeling what I was writing and it was a bad feeling. This is where I promise to an empty auditorium that I’ll publish more often and that I’ll write more things that I’m interested in more often but really I can’t promise that. Not even to myself. Because life is about change. And the promises I make now may seem utterly pointless in the future.

Hopefully, I upload that prompt tomorrow, and hopefully, soon after that, I’ll start writing my pilot. Till next time, whenever that may be.

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Rick and Morty and character development

I just watched season 3 episode 3 of Rick and Morty, and damn that was cathartic. I was packed with little details that signal the progression of characters in the series, and I loved it. One thing that stands out to me the most is Rick’s alignment shift since season 1. I think we can all agree that Rick in Season 1 is chaotic evil, he has no regard for authority and prioritizes himself over his family. Take Lawnmower Dog, for example, what is Rick’s motivation for getting Morty’s math teacher to give him good grades in math? It’s so Morty can go on more adventures with Rick, and when Morty asks, couldn’t you just help me with my homework, Rick replies with something and then changes the subject to talk about how it’s like Inception, Morty. I haven’t seen the episode in a while, but the general vibe is that Rick doesn’t want to spend that much time helping, and generally bonding with Morty, so instead he chooses to bring Morty along as a little helper boy on what we can assume he considers an errand. So, to summarize Lawnmower Dog, Rick want Morty to get better grades so he can go on more adventures with him, but he doesn’t actually want to help Morty get better grades, you feel?

Now compare that to this latest episode, Pickle Rick, where he has become chaotic neutral, still with no regards towards authority, but not so evil or selfish as before. While turning himself into a pickle was a completely selfish move on his part, helping Jaguar out wasn’t so selfish. I love how that scene in the security room where every camera goes black makes it seem as though Rick got Jaguar, but about two minutes later we see Jaguar piloting that escape ‘copter and we realize that Rick spares him, and even agrees they help each other. Hell, it may have been Rick’s own idea that they help each other. He saves Jaguar’s life, possibly because in the course of the past two season he has come to realize he value of life, but he doesn’t care about Jaguar enough to help him find one of the infinite versions of his, now dead, daughter.

Another detail to notice is Rick’s openness. When we hear Jaguar and Rick talk about their daughters, Jaguar has a clear love and admiration for his daughter, while rick isn’t so clear about his love for Beth. He says something along the lines of I don’t have to tell her I love her, she knows… we don’t really talk about that. Which is exactly what the therapist is discussing with Beth, the lack of display of emotion. In this scene, Rick even over shares with Jaguar saying he abandoned one of the versions of his daughter in a world full of mutants. Compare to the first episode of the first season, where Rick tells Morty he has some issues with the Galactic Government, and that’s all he says about that. Even with these giant shifts in character from Rick,  Jaguar jumps off the helicopter and Rick ends the scene with “yeesh,” showing he doesn’t realize that he just displayed a similar level of emotion as this guy he probably thinks is a total wuss.

And after all the effort he probably went through to turn himself into a pickle to avoid therapy, he still goes to meet his family at therapy after this whole pickle ordeal. He even spills his thoughts out to this therapist when prompted with a simple question that could’ve been answered in one sentence. Her response to him is genius. I mean, I’ve read a lot of fan theories about Rick’s mind and why he is like he is, and to hear almost those exact words in the show makes this scene unbelievable. What stood out most to me most about her monologue is when she says this family uses intelligence to justify (mental) illness. It is true that Beth has some deep rooted abandonment issues that she justifies with “he’s a genius” and Rick has detachment issues that he justifies with “literally none of this matters” and while both those things are true, they detract from the real issue. So, yeah, I guess those things can be due to some kind of mental illness, and honestly, I never thought about it that way. After this reveal, the therapist says it takes work to fix these issues just like it takes work to do anything else and Rick may be bored out his mind, but it’s a necessary part of healing. Conveniently enough, we don’t see Rick’s reaction to these statements and are left to wonder what he genuinely thinks of this.

In the car ride home, Rick and Beth share a genuine moment of bonding where Beth even stands her ground telling Rick he shouldn’t lie to her anymore. Rick agrees with her, and we see the kids in the backseat looking on with the blankest of expressions they have shown in the series. Summer asks if they will return to therapy and Morty says he liked her (the therapist), possibly because they see the positive response the two other generations had to this session. They want to return to therapy and they know it can help, but they don’t want to outright say it and risk a defensive response from Rick or more likely Beth.

All in all this was a great episode and one of my favorite moments of  it was in the opening scene, where Morty asks “is everything a camera?” Lol. You’re breaking the fourth wall there kiddo, ha, like grandfather like grandson amirite. Though, I do want to mention something that bugs me a little about this third season so far, and that is that some of these episodes feel more contrived than the previous two season. I may be biased towards the world-building, introductory feel of the first season and this more established, familiar tone just feels like it’s falling short of the first season and it’s wonder. However, I did feel this way towards season 2 as it was coming out, since season 2 is so unhinged compared to season 1, and now some of my favorite episodes are from season 2. Just a creeping thought, though.

Please remember to support the official release of all your favorite shows, if you’re like me and don’t have cable services, you can watch the new Rick and Morty episodes on adultswim.com up to one week after they’ve premiered on air! It’s important to always support good content, from talented creators *cough*theemojimovie*cough* but that’s a topic for another discussion.

Opal, Out

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Got some hectic times ahead of us

It’s been a long week. And by week, I mean two days, since it’s only Wednesday. But the longest two days of my life they have been. I feel as though the rest of the week will be just as anxiety inducing as these past few days, and I know I won’t have the TLC to write an article or ponder on my life choices. Still, I wanted to write a life update because I want writing this blog to become a habit, even if all I write is wow, I love this thing. But, that’s not all I’ll be writing today.

Monday started out as any other Monday, waking up home alone, checking my dragon park, doing some research, eating a breakfast torta. In retrospect, I should’ve checked what assignments I had to do this week so I could’ve at least had them in my mental checklist. But I didn’t and here we are! That afternoon, my dog tried jumping onto my parents’ bed, which is at least three feet off the ground, and she fell on her back, the poor baby. Now, usually when this happens she’ll just get up, wag her little tail and try again. This time, however, she stayed on her back and froze there for a second, then got up, tail not wagging, and just looked at me. I didn’t think much of it, since she does fall a lot, so I picked her up and put her on the bed myself. I kind of just let it go until later that night when she wouldn’t move off her side and yelped when I tried to pick her up. We let her rest that night, but the next day she had a fever and I was freaking out.

I texted my mom and she said to give her a bath, which I did, and when my mom got home we took her to the vet. Now, I thought she had dislocated her equivalent of a shoulder and that she would need x-rays and a bunch of other shit. Fortunately, that was not the case. She had some pains in her shoulder, the vet said, and an infection in her teeth and her nails? claws? were too long. He clipped her claws, said he’d need to clean her teeth as soon as possible, and gave us a four-day antibiotic/pain relief treatment for her. In the end, he only charged us 250 pesos, which is equivalent to roughly $15. We got home, and I knocked out. Slept for 2 hours, I did. My mom was supposed to go to her Conversational English class too, but she didn’t because we were both just so tired and sunned out. I hardly slept that night, but I woke up at 8 so I guess I’m going back to not needing as much sleep, which is good since my fall semester starts in a month.

Anyway, I woke up today and oh shit, I still have two weeks of online classes left. I fed my pup her medicine, fed me a quesadilla, and scrambled onto my computer to learn that I have an assignment due Saturday, a quiz on Friday, and a final presentation due next Wednesday. Which, really isn’t much now that I think about it. It’s about the same amount of work as usual for this semester. What worries me most is the assignment due for Saturday. It’s a 5-6 page essay on the Stephen King film, “The Shining.” Firstly, I’m not too excited to watch it, and secondly it’s a long ass essay compared to other film journal, which were 750 words, which is a page. Not to mention I’m going to Wet n’ Wild Water World, against my will I might add. How is it against your will, WELL I don’t go out much, at all and so I’m being forced to have fun by my mother. I’m going Friday, so let’s hope I finish my quiz before they come pick me up and take me to Styx to lead me into a watery hell. Let’s hope I don’t fucking drown since I can’t swim, lol.

So what I’m saying is, I’ve been busy and I will be busy. Next week, expect an entire entry about swimsuit culture. Just, what the fuck are bikinis, and some body shaming discussions for at least 500 words! I’m not saying that’s all I’ll post, but it might be all I post. Oh! Actually, I wanted to talk about Matt Groening’s new Netflix cartoon so expect that sometime in the future too. Maybe next week, or maybe not. xoxo

-Opal

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Let’s talk about Animation

It’s been at least a week since I posted my first entry, and I’ve been scanning my brain for what to write. I do realize I can write anything I want, but I want to transition into it, and find my voice. It’s a process for me, and I want to be as fluid in these posts as possible. I want to provide context for my writing and I want one entry to precede the next. For this reason, I came to realize I wanted to expand on my goals and write my perspective of animation and television/film in general, along with why I want to study these things specifically.

Many of the topics in my Intro to Film textbook were things I already knew as a fan of cinematic production. I quite enjoyed picking out symbolism, themes, and narratives in films, though my analyses were always sub-par and mildly immature. I eventually found my way to the communities of reviewers on YouTube. I felt at home, and I felt I finally found my niche, these YouTubers enlightened me with their perspectives and helped me grow as an analyzer. I learned to put things into different contexts, and though I’m still learning, I can say I’ve improved much since my first thoughts on The Nightmare Before Christmas.

It’s important to note that the animation industry has also improved a lot since The Nightmare Before Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, it was and still is a great film capable of enthralling audiences of all ages. Progress doesn’t always mean going from bad to good, sometimes it can mean going from good to great and sometimes it even means going two steps forward but one step back. In the history of animation, I feel as though it experiences the latter of the three.

Take Cartoon Network, for example because it’s the only one I have knowledge of. Cartoon Network was a hit, right off the bat. Debuting in the early 1990s as the very first all animation all the time channel was thought as a risky move, but became a success nonetheless. In their early days, CN only broadcast cartoons produced by other studios such as Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera (since they didn’t have their own studio just yet) and relied more heavily on the ownership of rights to these other cartoons. By the end of 1994, CN had become the 5th most popular cable channel in the United States. That same year, Hanna-Barbera’s new division, Cartoon Network Studios, was founded. Beloved Cartoon Network series came to fruition at the time as the network tried to keep its spot as a nationwide channel. Eventually, CN started uhh experimenting with different blocks on their channel. Most of these things failed or were cancelled or even ended prematurely. By the late 2000s, the cartoon network wasn’t making many cartoons. “CN Real” soon dominated the channel, abandoning their all animation all the time personality, dooming its entire existence in the process. By the early 2010s, CN saw its mistake and abandoned most of it’s live action shows. Luckily, the bright new star that was Adventure Time shone for the first time on April 5, 2010. If I sound biased toward AT, it’s because I am. I, and many other viewers, were instantly captivated by this fun, new series. While there were some great cartoons at the time of Adventure Time’s premiere, like the Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and Chowder, which were unappreciated in their time, they weren’t quite as successful as Adventure Time. The advent of this fun, new series kick started the Cartoon Network renaissance and cartoon creators rediscovered what cartoons were all about.

In my opinion, Adventure Time was a huge turning point for all of animation, not just Cartoon Network. Later that year, Regular Show aired and three years later so did Steven Universe. These shows had something different about them. They didn’t assume the audience was immature, nor unintelligent. No. These cartoons relied more heavily on serialization, continuity, as opposed to episodic, one-off cartoons, which is what most cartoons (and let’s be honest, all children’s programing) at the time were. I strongly believe Adventure Time paved the way for animation to up its demographics. Cartoons were for children, they just didn’t have the appeal to an older or even a teen audience. After watching something like Johnny Test, which wasn’t as bad as others, my young fourteen year old self felt patronized, I felt belittled. While it wasn’t all bad, most animation was cartoons aimed at young children. Even major movie productions had that demeaning, “whimsical” tone.

Eventually, Bob’s Burgers and Rick and Morty graced the world with their presence, to further open the floodgates to teen and adult oriented animation. Just today, I think, J.G. Quintel dropped a trailer at SDCC for his new TBS cartoon Close Enough, a slice of life cartoon that follows a young married couple and their transition from their 20s to their 30s. Immediately after it was announced, which was actually at least a couple months ago, fans of Regular Show (also a show by J.G. Quintel) called it the adult Regular Show, because it wouldn’t have to be as censored or restricted as RS was due to it being on CN.

In the future, I hope animated story telling will find its way into every genre, as opposed to it being its own genre. I think making animation its own genre really detracts its potential. A cartoon can be a one person job, albeit it may take a lifetime for one person to accomplish everything needed to be done. And anything a person can imagine can be drawn and brought to life without restrictions placed by CGI or actors’ capabilities or even restrictions of the location. This is why I want to tell my stories in drawing. It feels as though so many more things can be done with this medium than it is given credit for, and I want to prove it.

– Opal

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Who am I? Why am I here?

Fire Opal is a stone of hope. In times of turmoil, injustice or mistreatment, it can support and aid in change and progress. Fire Opal is a protector against danger, awakening the inner fire and enhancing personal growth.

See, originally, I was planning on naming my blog Fire Opal but alas, the domain was taken even though it has been inactive since its inception in 2007. The domain for Water Opal, a stone which teaches that the body is merely a vessel for the soul, was also taken by another completely EMPTY page. My third choice, Ice Opal, a stone that I haven’t found much lore on, was luckily available.

I originally chose Fire Opal because I hopped on that Steven Universe train and wanted my pseudonym to be a gemstone. I looked through lists of stones but I didn’t quite identify with any of them, until I googled, “gemstones found in Mexico,” because I, too, can sometimes be found in Mexico. One of the first results, if not the first, was Mexican Fire Opal, and I was instantly captivated by the name, it felt regal and commanding. I quickly made a color palette based on the stone and when I registered for my WordPress blog, I was stricken by the domains’ nonavailability. Not only did I have to come up with a new name on the spot, I also had to figure out a new color palette. Nonetheless, I rose above these inconveniences and started my blog, with the salty tag line Cooler than Fire.

I’ll mostly be keeping this as a personal blog cataloging my adventures as a higher education student, though eventually, I’d like to make it more content oriented. As you may not know, since I haven’t really told anyone, I’ve changed my major once again, but this time to communications. One of my favorite things about it is how much it sounds like “journalism.” It’s not just journalism. Communications majors range between broadcast (such as radio and television production), advertising, public relations, social media management, politics and political rhetoric, and language interpretation; literally any field that involves the idea of communicating ideas is the field of communications. So, with that out in the open, I’m actually concentrating in cinematic production. Yeah, I’m goin’ to make movies! Well actually, I want to work for Cartoon Network… possibly as a storyboard artist… and hopefully, eventually make my own cartoon. For now, I’m merely attending community college, in the future I’m hoping to transfer somewhere bigger, and better for my artistry. I’m hoping CalArts, but realistically I’m just hoping anywhere that gets me out of this town and closer to Cartoon Network Studios. A few days ago, I had the best idea for a story. I won’t say much about it because I feel it has a huge shock factor, but I really want to develop and share this story. So when I say “content oriented” I mean my attempts at writing and possibly drawing.

For now, this’ll be a personal blog, where I develop my writing skills. I also want to use it to say the things that have to be said, like the most pressing matter of the day, net neutrality. If I am going to work on my voice, I may as well use it to speak out, and I have many things to speak out about.

– Opal

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