31 January, 2013

Is Social Media Turning Us Into Narcissists?

I was researching narcissism for a school essay recently and came across several articles about the so-called rise of narcissism due to social media.

I can see why it would be true. Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines, blog posts are all created with the expectation someone out there is going to read them and be interested in what that person has to say; that someone is going to like their photograph or want to know about their personal life. There are billions of voices on the web by now, and most of them feel entitled to some kind of attention. Narcissism is something everyone carries around with them in real life too, of course (you have to have some level of self-esteem and self-interest), but the internet allows for it in different, possibly more insidious ways.

The place where I notice the promotional kind of attention-seeking the most is in book promotions, probably because I follow so many blogs of authors. It's not exclusive to writers, but you can't move around in the blogosphere without bumping into a blog tour or book or cover release. Essentially, a lot of people are calling out "I am awesome!" or "I have something great to sell!". I don't think this is bad, particularly if someone's self-publishing or with a small press, as s/he has to contribute a significant amount of marketing.

That kind of thing does, however, raise some questions: How many promotional profiles built for the sole purpose of selling a product are actually tapping into an individual's narcissism and how many are normal people who just have something they want to share? How many people become more narcissistic over time because of social media? How many people are really all "Me, me, me!" and how many really care about the people they follow and interact with online?

Personally, I'd like to say I'm not more of a narcissist since I started blogging. I'd like to say my almost-three-years of blog posts haven't gone to my head, or that I'm unaffected by the fact people actually read the stuff I throw onto the web, or that I am still surprised when someone leaves a comment.

But I can't say I'm surprised when I receive comments anymore (though I'm still very thankful for them) because I know I have readers, and when real life conversation turns to the web and what people are doing on it, sometimes I feel like pointing out that hey, I have a site with more than 1000 followers and am kind of "established" in this corner of the web (though I never actually have said that). In short, I am proud of this blog. I like posting. I enjoy focusing on my own opinions, which is the whole reason I started The Eagle's Aerial Perspective.


What do you think? Do you believe narcissism is going up because of the internet? Do you see narcissistic traits in social media? Do you think the focused way social networking sites like Facebook and blogs promote the individual is a good or a bad thing?


-----The Golden Eagle

29 January, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (106)

Teaser Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. It happens every week, and anyone can join in.

Rules for participating:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week my teaser is from Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec. It's an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories set in paranormal worlds. Normally I'd reject the idea of the deductive, logical Holmes in a setting devoid of more rigorous sciences, but I do love a good pastiche/parody/adaptation (as you can probably tell from the fact I've read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and Android Karenina).


"My dear friend," said Holmes, deep concern written upon his features, "please forgive me, but I could turn to no other for such a test. You have a heart that is genuinely good. Fair weather or foul, you are constant in your friendship, and so you have become a barometer by which I am able to gauge all that is noble in men."
   "I wanted to kill you! And I would have, had--"

-p. 66, "The Deadly Sin of Sherlock Holmes" by Tom English


Do you like parodies or pastiches? What are you reading now?


-----The Golden Eagle

22 January, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (105)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly, book-based meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules for participating:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser is from Plugged by Eoin Colfer. I'm a huge fan of Colfer's MG/YA Artemis Fowl series as well as his sequel to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy so I was quite excited to get my hands on this book.

All I can say is . . . it's odd. It's one of those books that seems to go by really fast but at the same time rather slowly; things are happening, yes, but 82 pages in I keep expecting something even bigger to occur, not just because of the blurb, and despite two people having died already. I don't know. I'm definitely going to finish the book, at any rate.


My bag is where it should be, and I quickly locate the toiletries that were strewn around the floor by whoever trashed the place but are now lined neatly along the green plastic sink top.
   I stuff them into the bag and collect one last essential. I keep ten years of savings, almost fifty thousand dollars, stashed in the sink drain for emergencies, and if this isn't an emergency, it's doing a good impersonation.
-p. 97


What are you reading right now?


-----The Golden Eagle

21 January, 2013

My Favorite Martian Bloghop

Co-hosted by The Geek Twins, Just a Dash of Geek, L.K. Hill, and Comic Book and Movie Reviews, this blogfest is all about Science Fiction.


From The Geek Twins:
On January 21st, 2013, share your all-time favorite alien individual (Martian or not) and why you love them. Find like minded blogs, get new visitors and make new friends!


I wasn't sure what alien to choose for this blogfest at first, but then I realized it wasn't a very hard choice. I'm absolutely going with whatever caused the circumstances of 2001: A Space Odyssey, because it's my favorite portrayal of "aliens": Strange, incomprehensible, confusing, and non-human, as I would be willing to bet real aliens would be. Sure, it's fun when aliens are humanoid and speak our languages and resemble human society (I'm lookin' at you, Star Trek) but it's very unlikely to happen if we did encounter anything from a place other than Earth. At least, that's the way it seems to me.

What's your favorite alien?


-----The Golden Eagle

17 January, 2013

Sherlock Holmes 2: In Which I Talk About More Adaptations Of Doyle's Stories

Back in September, I posted about Sherlock Holmes and the two adaptations I'd watched: The BBC's TV series Sherlock: Season One with Benedict Cumberbatch and the film Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey, Jr.

Having read over your recommendations, I have since watched Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett and a couple other random incarnations (Christopher Lee and Arthur Wontner), in addition to the sequels to the modern adaptations I talked about before. Also, I've watched all the episodes of the new CBS show Elementary.

Since I said I'd write a follow-up post, here it is! And I swear--cross my heart and hope to die (ow), stick a needle in my eye (OUCH)--that there are no spoilers in the following post.

Another note: This post is, as with my last Sherlock Holmes article, over 1000 words long. If this is too long for you and you feel like skipping to the end with a TL;DR, then no hard feelings.

On with the post!


The Earliest Adaptations


Basil Rathbone
Let's start with Basil Rathbone, since he came first movie-wise of the ones I've seen. Well, Arthur Wontner actually came first--but he didn't really stick in my memory. I have to admit, all the black-and-white films and episodes kind of blend into each other after a while, especially since everyone looks the same in grainy grayscale.

Rathbone was one of the most recommended actor in the comments, and if one is looking for classic Sherlock Holmes, he's definitely the way to go. He's calm, collected, and a very good representation of the deductive powers of the famous detective; Nigel Bruce, also, was exactly like the Dr. Watson of the stories, in his bumbling, hasty demeanor and general misunderstanding of what Holmes was doing. I really liked the films I watched and would highly recommend the 1939 series.


Jeremy Brett
Next, Jeremy Brett. Granted, I only watched one film with this actor ("The Adventure of the Priory School"), and while I should probably see more, I can't say I was absolutely crazy about his portrayal. It was, of course, a perfectly fine adaptation of Doyle's stories, but he struck me as too . . .  inaccessible. A little dark for my taste, though Sherlock Holmes is fairly dark character even in the literature. Still, I would recommend the multiple series and I'll probably get around to watching more of the episodes myself (the fact Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss have cited Brett as an influence on Sherlock is also a motivator).


Christopher Lee
I also think Christopher Lee should get a mention here. He was in only one Sherlock Holmes film as Holmes himself, but I thought Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace was cool. It isn't a strict adaptation of any of the stories, but it draws elements from them (as all adaptations do, I think) and Lee presents the image of the classic Sherlock Holmes in attitude--not to mention the plaid clothes and deerstalker.


The Latest Adaptations
And now we get into the more recent portrayals. And by recent, I mean done since 2000. Those versions would be Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and Elementary.


Elementary
Elementary is the new series with Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson. I was worried what would happen with a female Watson and a male Holmes, but so far it seems to be working out rather well and there's no odd romance between the two. It's not Sherlock, something I think a lot of people are comparing it to, which in my opinion that doesn't really work since Elementary is more in the vein of standard police procedural.

It barely manages to be a Holmes adaptation, but I think it's a decent show. I've been keeping up with the episodes, anyway, and looking forward to them. (I'm also impressed that they made Watson female--and Asian. Hooray for women and under-represented Asians!) I recommend the series, though not strictly as Holmes adaptation and more as a good crime show with interesting leads.


The Guy Ritchie Films
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, with Robert Downey, Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson was a pretty good movie, though Downey, Jr. is definitely more flamboyant than the original Holmes and the character of Watson is smarter than he is in the stories (which I think is a good thing, actually)--and there's much more humor. I liked it better than the first movie, though the plot for A Game of Shadows basically shreds up the original works by Doyle and tacks on the ending to "The Final Problem". Am I looking forward to the sequel/third movie? Kind of. I'll definitely watch it, just to see what they do with the characters. I would recommend the newer films if you don't mind a very different personality (Downey, Jr.) taking on Sherlock Holmes.


Sherlock
And now, Sherlock: Season Two. This is the one I was most dying to see, since I loved Season One and became a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Season Two was just as good, in my view--not necessarily better, but it held up to the high quality of the first three episodes.

Since this series presents a Sherlock Holmes significantly younger than the one in the stories (though the episodes are strongly linked to the stories and occasionally outright based on them, another point in its favor) it's fascinating to see what they do with his character growth. Season Two is generally viewed as Holmes facing love, fear, and death (the writers said as much, I believe) and I think it's very effectively pulled off. I had faith it would be--though I was worried about Irene Adler before I saw "A Scandal in Belgravia". Having watched the episode, I think she's a strong character and full of personality, as well as being more than a match for Holmes.

(As to the ending of "A Scandal in Belgravia", which a lot of people have grumbled about (and which I shall not spoil for those who haven't seen the episode), I don't have a big problem with it, and I don't see the level of sexism other people seem to. It's not perfect, no, but based on her performance I have plenty of faith that Irene Adler would be able to fend for herself and do pretty darn well.)

Sherlock is the Sherlock Holmes adaptation I would urge anyone to see, if they were to express interest in the detective--and also probably if they didn't. Let me rephrase: If you're interested in really good television shows (and who isn't?) go check out Sherlock. I'd also recommend starting with the first season; the evolution of the character and his relationship with John Watson (Martin Freeman is excellent in the role) carries through both seasons and it's much more interesting to watch in chronological order.

(And now I'm doing the whole obsessed-with-Sherlock thing, scrutinizing the three words "rat, wedding, bow", the words that are supposed to be the basis for the episodes of Season Three--which they haven't even starting filming yet--in addition to grinding my teeth over the potential year-long wait until the new series is aired. At least there's The Hobbit and Star Trek Into Darkness to look forward to, with Freeman/Cumberbatch and Cumberbatch, respectively.)

**********

If you have reached the end of this post, I congratulate you and give you Awesome Points and throw confetti (which I even vacuum up afterwards). Also, did I mention that your hair looks great today?

Have you watched any of the adaptations I mentioned and if so, do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? Seen any adaptation I didn't mention? What's your favorite screen version of Sherlock Holmes?


-----The Golden Eagle

15 January, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (104)

Teaser Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted, every week, by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules for participating:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week my teaser is from Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku. I'm thrilled to finally be reading one of his works; I'd heard of him and noticed his books (and even wrote a blog post about the guy) but I'd never gotten around to actually reading any of them. Physics of the Impossible is quite interesting: He explores when and how society might achieve certain technological capabilities (most of them from pop culture, which makes my nerdy side do the happy dance) such as invisibility, teleportation, telekinesis, time travel, etc., etc.


Given that the number of moons probably greatly outnumbers the number of planets in a solar system, and given that there could be millions of wandering planets in the galaxy, the number of astronomical bodies with life-forms in the universe might be much larger than previously believed.
   On the other hand, other astronomers have concluded, for a variety of reasons, that the chances for life on planets within the Goldilocks zone are probably much lower than originally estimated by Drake.
-p. 134

**********

Are there any books/authors you've heard about and want to read but haven't gotten around to yet? If so, which ones?

Got any teasers to share?


-----The Golden Eagle

08 January, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (103)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser is from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (or Dostoyevsky or Dostoevskii or however you like to spell it) translated by Constance Garnett. I recently read Notes from Underground for school and became interested in reading another work of his. Like all the Russian books that I've read, Crime and Punishment rambles on with long sentences, various tangents, extensive description, and lots of internal monologue, but the characters are interesting.

(This is not the edition I have. But since the edition I took out from the library is a falling-apart, yellowed, Modern Library version published in 1950, I couldn't exactly find the cover via image search.)

Pyotr Petrovitch belonged to that class of persons, on the surface very polite in society, who make a great point of punctiliousness, but who, directly they are crossed in anything, are completely disconcerted, and become more like sacks of flour than elegant and lively men of society. Again all was silent; Raskolnikov was obstinately mute, Avdotya Romanovna was unwilling to open the conversation too soon.
-p. 291


Have you ever read a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky? What are your favorite "classic" books, Russian or otherwise?


-----The Golden Eagle

04 January, 2013

Cover Reveal: From the Ashes by Jessica K. McKendry

Jessica K. McKendry has revealed the cover and blurb of her debut, From the Ashes! I'm excited to be part of the reveal, since it sounds like a really good book (and the cover is fantastic):


Blurb:
I'm not sure how it all went wrong.
The concept was simple.
The Trials were made to test us. They were made to challenge our strengths; our bravery.
We were supposed to come out better.
Winning the Trials would make us Superior citizens.
It would bring us honor and demonstrate our loyalty to the Imperial Alliance. I knew exactly what I wanted.
Until I met him.
There was something about him. Something dark. If only I had known the danger it would put us in.
I thought I knew the risks.
But I never imagined the price we'd pay.

**********

Sound like a book you'd check out? What's an upcoming debut that's caught your eye?


-----The Golden Eagle

02 January, 2013

Writing The Human Stories: An IWSG Post

The IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted this month by Alex, Tyrean Martinson, and Jamie Gibbs.

About:
It's time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic.


I'll tell you right now, I'm not that good at characterization; my strength, I think, lies in plot while setting falls somewhere in between. Whenever I consider something I've written I usually think "Gosh, those characters are melodramatic drama queens", or "Gee whiz, they're robots for people", or "Heck, is that main character supposed to be bipolar?", or "Dagnabbit, I didn't mean for the poor sod to be that simplistic."

And so on. Granted, a writer can do very well on plot alone, so long as the characters have the right motivations and the main character isn't going "Huzzah!" when, say, the love interest falls into the Pit of Doom and Despair--but I really think it's a demonstration of a writer's skill when there's great emotional conflict and the battlefield involves making decisions that can change or hurt or improve people's lives, not just the fate of a galactic empire or something (though I love high-stakes stories).

I have trouble pulling off the human element. Making sure my characters are realistic human beings with believable thoughts is one of the things I have to work on; making sure they react to and behave as though things are actually happening with them, not only to them.

I guess I've got a goal for 2013!

Do you have trouble with human stories? What's your writing strong point: Characterization, plot, setting, something else? What's your weak point and how do you try making it stronger?


-----The Golden Eagle

01 January, 2013

2013: Let's Get This Show On The Road

Hope you all have a fabulous 2013! 

2012 is over and 2013 has begun, believe it or not. Oddly enough, I'm having no trouble accepting that I have to end my dates with "13" instead of "12"; I'm looking forward to the new year, if only because it's a good opportunity for a reboot.

Starting with The Eagle's Aerial Perspective. I've been neglecting blogging since November and NaNoWriMo and didn't really make the effort I could have in December, either. Nothing very drastic is going to happen on this blog other than a few more posts per month (including book reviews, which is something I'd said I'd get back into last year yet did not . . . *cough*). Furthermore, I am going to try commenting on your blogs more often and stop calling return visits to your comments as much as I can do in one day.

As for other goals, I'm still formulating my list of things to get done this year (because I procrastinated at the end of December). I'm going to continue writing, certainly, and probably start working on another project like the Eagle Directory within the next few months--and then there's schoolwork and dance, and also my perennial resolution to finish teaching myself how to juggle. I hope I don't end up accomplishing the least important of the life skills the fastest, but I probably will. LOL.

Got any plans/goals/resolutions for the new year? Anything exciting ahead for you in 2013? Are you finding it hard to let go of 2012, or is it easy?


-----The Golden Eagle