Notes on Reactions to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Adaptations

I write fantasy. I read fantasy. I love Tolkien and I loved Jackson’s representation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The reaction to An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug has been interesting to me because, for all intents and purposes, Jackson actually made fewer character changes in The Hobbit series—and none that damaged the integrity of the original story—than he did in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the former is being called fan fiction and the latter is hailed as genius by Tolkien fans everywhere.

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My 5 Favorite Films of 2013 (and a note on the biggest film triumph of the year)

Okay, lame title for a blog post, but these aren’t exactly reviews, and I didn’t want to mislead anyone. I’m running shy of time on winter break, after all, and I have to limit my frivolous commentary. I also wanted to do some self-reflection, though, and keep a bit of a record of things that inspired, moved, or entertained me in 2013. In include both rentals and theater releases. Tomorrow will be books. New Year’s Eve will be news stories. In short, my next three blog posts will be for me, and not so much for you the reader, but thanks for reading anyway!

Movies discussed: Cloud Atlas, Django Unchained, Warm Bodies, The World’s End, Stand Up Guys, and Ender’s Game.

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In Answer to Your Questions about Inspiration

So, it’s been a while since I posted. I’d make excuses, but I don’t have any. This morning, I read an email from a high school student working on a project about inspiration and asking if I would be willing to answer some questions to help them out. I asked my artist friends on Facebook to offer a comment about the one thing they would want someone to know about inspiration, went to work, and mulled over my answers most of the day. I think I might have this all wrong, but the answers seemed worth sharing, and it had been, you know, a really long time since I posted anything over here. So double thank you to the high school student–once for making think this through and then again for giving me a blog post. Here goes:

What is inspiration to you? And where does your inspiration come from?


Inspiration is not a thing. It is a moment. I can’t predict what is going to inspire me, but I leave myself open to it at all times. Sometimes, it’s a particular shade of a particular color in a sunrise or sunset or a woman’s dress or a man’s eyes. Sometimes, it is deep internal reflection about something. Sometimes, it’s a chord in a song or a series of words in something I’m reading or a poignant news story or the tears of a friend. Sometimes it comes from my students: their stories, their triumphs, their epiphanies, their relationships with one another and with me. Often, it is loss. That can be a personal loss–a loved one, a change in major plans, a rejection of some kind–or something I perceive as a societal loss–the failure of a bill that would help people in poverty or people with disabilities, for example, two subjects that I care about deeply. For me, the only way to combat grief and loss is to make it worth something, to bring something out of it that is worth sharing.

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December Guest Blogger Submission Open

December’s theme is: The Impossible Holiday;  Deadline: December 7, 2012

As you know, I tried a Guest Blogger feature back in October. I had only one submission for a three-month term and I needed to think about how to make this feature work both for my readers and for myself. So here’s what I came up with: I’ll announce a theme and accept submissions from potential guest bloggers through the first seven days of each month. I will post the top five submissions at varying times through the month. Selected contributors will be able to have a brief bio and a link on a static page on S & I. You need not be a professional writer to participate! My goal is to highlight different perspectives and to provide a small forum for creative thought. Interested? Read the guidelines:

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Well said, Mr. Stephens!

The World of Special Olympics

The following is a guest post in the form of an open letter from Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens to Ann Coulter after this tweet during last night’s Presidential debate.

Dear Ann Coulter,

Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow.  So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?

I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow.  I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you.  In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.

I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child…

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