Why are the Classics so Long?

Tonight I am going to see the classic film Gone with the Wind. Megaplex theaters here in Utah are doing a Silver Screen Series of 10 classic films for only $10. This gives us the chance to see classic films on the big screen!  Here is the series:

This is an awesome opportunity but also a lot of fun because I am podcasting about them with my friend Christine. We have already talked about Lawrence of Arabia, which we both loved. You can listen to that analysis here.

I must be honest though a side of me doesn’t really want to see Gone with the Wind tonight. It’s just so long and so full of melodrama. Plus, there are the racially insensitive moments and all that Magnolia rosy versions of the Slavery South. But mostly it’s just hard for me to get super excited for a 4 hour movie…

It got me thinking 6 of the 10 selections are 3 hours or more. Occasionally you will see a 3 hour movie these days with Lord of the Rings but most are under 3 hours. In fact, films like Batman v Superman will be hacked up to keep it under the 3 hours. I know why this happens because over 3 hours limits screening times which then limits income for the studio.  The 3 hour version is saved for the bluray these days.

But economics aside I think there is something more to this. I mean there is no way a movie like My Fair Lady or Sound of Music would ever be 3 hours these days no matter how many screenings they could fit in. It makes me wonder why?

classics1We can look at the same phenomenon with literature. Classic novels like David Copperfield are so long they took multiple parts to print. Books like Count of Monte Cristo, Nicholas Nichleby, Don Quixote, Moby Dick are well over 1000 pages. Occasionally you will find such a book these days but I think it is the exception rather than the rule.

Just like with movies there was an economic reason for the length of these novels. Authors at the time were paid by the word so the longer they could make the story the better. I love classic novels but some even try my patience including Les Miserables which despite my love for the musical I have never been able to get through.

But just like with movies I think there is more than economics to explain these changes.  Sure occasionally we get a novel that feels like a classic in length but it is definitely the exception to the rule (I haven’t read but been told Infinite Jest is such a book).

It makes me wonder what has changed in our collective storytelling patience in the last 50 years or so? Is it the prevalence of television and it’s 30 minute storytelling platform that made the difference? Is it the amount of material to read and view that makes us anxious for the next item? Perhaps if we only got 2 or 3 major books a year we wouldn’t mind the ones we got being long and drawn out?

Again, I love the classics but I’m not always in the mood for them. Sometimes I am in the mood for a more succinct modern story. Maybe it is just the longer novels/films which have persevered as classics while the shorter ones were digested and forgotten?

What do you think? Why do you think there is this difference in modern and classic books and movies?

What do you prefer? Do you like modern tight storytelling or the more leisurely paced classic?

Throw Away Your Vote

voting-twainThis post may seem somewhat cynical but it’s really not. If anything it should be empowering. I have decided to vote third party this election and have heard the outcry of ‘you are throwing your vote away’.  Well, the truth is that my individual vote  doesn’t really matter to begin with. What does matter is the act of voting. This is especially true in the presidential election.

What! I can hear you saying. How can Rachel the patriot be saying that a vote doesn’t matter? Let me state again- VOTING MATTERS, A VOTE DOES NOT.

Statistically speaking voting is not a utility maximizing activity.  Almost any activity you can do has more of an impact than voting. In just the state of Utah there are 2 million people of eligible voting age. Of those people about a 1/3rd actually vote (which is a crime). So, around 700,000 people vote in a Utah presidential election. Just think about it. My vote in Utah has a 1/700,000 chance of impacting the race in just my state. This means it is statistically nearly worthless.  You’d have better chances of entering some lotteries or playing poker in Vegas.

These statistics are made even worse in a presidential election where the popular vote may not even matter at all. United States citizens do not actually elect the president of the United States. The electoral college gives states power over popular consensus by awarding delegates based on their representation in Congress. In theory the delegates are supposed to vote with their states electorate will but they are not required to do so. Typically the votes go on a win-all basis so if Utah goes Republican than the electoral college will give 6 Republican votes. Maine and Nebraska are exceptions to this rule. 

You can debate the value of the electoral college but for the moment it is here and it can have an impact on the election. For example, in 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral college to George W Bush. If you are one of these 538 electoral delegates than your vote does matter but statistically speaking for the rest of us it really doesn’t.

So why participate in this waste of time called voting? Because what is actually statistically important is the act of voting. While my vote in Utah may be 1/700,000, my act of voting may encourage 3 or 4 other people to vote. All of the sudden that is a significant impact. Those 3 people encourage 3 other people and the ripple effect is real. Plus, there are smaller races, which while still statistically not utility maximizing, the impact is more like 1/20,000

Another reason to vote is simply because it is the right thing to do. There are lots of things we do which we draw mainly moral inspiration and fortitude from. An article I read in the Harvard Political Review put it well:

“There are many actions we consider morally valuable, even when they have little or no consequence. Such actions are intrinsically valuable, or their goodness consists in their being suitably related to a deeper moral ideal or principle we find compelling. Suppose I make a promise to my grandmother that I will visit her grave once every year. It seems that honoring this promise is morally valuable, irrespective of the positive consequences doing so may bring about. It is valuable because promises are simply the sort of thing that it is right to honor”

If we are voting out of a moral imperative than doesn’t that make voting for someone you don’t believe in even more nonsensical? If voting is the right thing to do than voting for the right person logically must go along with it.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter who you vote for. It just matters that you vote. People can say you are throwing away your vote but statistically that’s just not true. Vote for whomever you want and then encourage other people to do the same. That’s how you really make a difference.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

ps. I will be so happy when this election is over!

One Lovely Blog Award

meMy friend Kyle nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. He’s an awesome fellow animation addict and you guys should totally check out his blog.

This is a fun blog tag where you get to talk about 7 Things About Yourself. Now after blogging for 8 years there isn’t much you guys don’t know about me but hopefully I can remind you of those fun things.

  1. I write for Rotoscopers.com- I don’t get to talk about it often on this blog but I write fairly regularly for rotoscopers.com which is an animation website. It’s a lot of fun and my writing has improved as I’ve had to write for a professional site. I brought up the idea of doing a Disney Canon Countdown with the other writers and they have embraced it. My last canon post was on The Little Mermaid, which I love so much. I’d love for you to read it. http://www.rotoscopers.com/2016/08/19/disney-canon-countdown-28-the-little-mermaid/I also got the chance to be on the rotoscopers podcast which was amazing!
  2. I am not voting for Trump- Frequent fans of this blog know I am a strong conservative. I have decided to vote for Evan McMullin an independent candidate. Some say I’m throwing my vote away but I just couldn’t vote for someone like Trump. I thought back on the early history of my faith and when the Saints had nobody they could vote for Joseph Smith ran for President. I figure if it is good enough for them to go third party it is good enough for me! Here’s a little bit more about Evan.
  3. I recently became a Star Trek fan! Starting in May my friend Tom and I started podcasting about all the Star Trek movies. There are definitely misses in the films (14 including Galaxy Quest) but at its best Star Trek is an engaging and smart series with good sci-fi writing and charismatic performances. I have just started on the TV shows but the movies were a ton of fun to watch.
  4. I love to swim. This year I finished my 11th open water race. I really need to get back in the pool more than I do but I really do love it. deer creek
  5. I went to Spain this year! I hadn’t been out of the country since 2008 and that was just Mexico. The last time I used my passport was 2005 to Japan, so it was quite the adventure. I went to the beach 13 times! It was a dream for me. alicante3
  6. I work from home as a digital marketing coordinator. Unfortunately I am not full time employed but with my basement apartment rented out I am able to make it all work. In a way it is nice because I have more time to work on my youtube channel and other writing.
  7. I collect Funko Pop dolls. This is a fairly new collection but I’m having a blast doing it. I currently have 40 in my collection. I’ve gotten 5 since doing this video but it is pretty accurate.  What’s fun about the funko pops is the attention to detail and their relatively low cost (under $10).

    So now is the point where I am supposed to nominate other people to participate. I nominate Jeremy and Abby, Richard, and my friend over at The Love Pirate.  They are all awesome bloggers so check out their blogs.

  1. Write a blog post accepting your nomination.
  2. Show the blogger who nominated you how much you love them by thanking them in the post and linking to their blog.
  3. Tell us seven things about yourself.
  4. Nominate other blogs that you think are totally rad.
  5. Let the bloggers you’ve nominated know about they’ve received an award.
  6. Post the rules again to let those bloggers know how it works.

Thoughts on SJWs

sjwRecently I became aware of a new acronym in the internet nomenclature- SJW. This stands for Social Justice Warrior, which is officially defined by Urban Dictionary as “a pejorative term for an individual promoting socially progressive views; including feminism and civil rights”.  When the term is used correctly it is basically a way to describe an intellectual troll. So these aren’t the people who are just saying someone is a moron or an idiot for liking a movie or book.

No, these are the people who won’t let others have an opinion because their views are ethically and intellectually better. If you have been involved with the internet world you have met someone like this. For example, I’ve heard people claim as if it is a fact that the Little Mermaid is sexist and that Ariel is a bad role model. I happen to see the character and movie differently. A normal person would let me have my view, an SJW will never let it down.

That said, the problem with this grouping is that it has now become an easy accusation for anyone who makes an intellectual argument against something. Let’s take the movie Birdman. I personally found that movie to be misogynistic in troubling ways. Some people would call me an SJW for having this feminist view. However, I don’t think I am an SJW because I allow other people to interpret the film differently. I was a bit frustrated when it won tons of awards but for the most part I don’t care if other people love it. More power to them.  The world would be boring if we all liked the same things, for the same reasons.

I have no problem with people bringing feminist or diversity concerns into a discussion of art, movies or books. This is a good thing we should be discussing. The arts and literature are important catalysts for change in our society. Sometimes reading or seeing a problem is the only way we make things better. It’s not being an SJW to say ‘I wish there were more Asian actresses in movies” or “I wish a woman was allowed to lead a superhero film”.  That is a good discussion to have and creators need to know we want those things.

Like I said, where it crosses the line into the SJW is when you shame others or harass them because they see it differently.  That’s being the reverse of a warrior in my book. It’s being a social justice tyrant! You have to remember that change takes time and rarely is something so misogynistic or hateful that there isn’t a reason someone might like it. Try to see it from others points of view and then explain your own view as succinctly as you can (I know this is a lot to ask for the internet!).

And if you know it is a hot button issue for you than maybe step back a bit and make sure you won’t post something you will regret.  It’s as simple as that. Give people their space to have different opinions, explain yourself as best as you can and then be patient.

On the other side, internet world- try to listen to people’s concerns instead of immediately branding them an SJW. They may actually have something important to share.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What do you think about SJW’s and these types of discussions?

Teaser Tuesday: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children


This week for Teaser Tuesday I am sharing my thoughts on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (what a peculiar name!). This novel became on my radar because of the Tim Burton film that is coming out this week. I have been off the Tim Burton train for some time but this story caught my interest. I will watch the movie this weekend and post my review on my movie blog at http://54disneyreviews.com so keep an eye out for it!

The premise of this book reminded me of Tim Burton matched with the X-Men. I’m a huge X-Men fan if you didn’t know. At their heart they aren’t just superhero movies but are something better. They are a metaphor of class, racism and how we treat people who are different. I really didn’t like the latest X-Men Apocalypse because I felt they lost this metaphor in return for a generic, boring superhero movie. It really bummed me out.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about a boy named Jacob who stumbles upon an orphanage for children with special powers or gifts much like Xavier’s school in X-Men. It takes a while to get going but it was an okay read.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page (or I like to do the page I’m currently reading)
• 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 participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

This week my sentence is on 3 hr 55 min  of the audiobook:

“These days fewer and fewer people believe in those things. Fairies and goblins and all such nonsense and thus common folks no longer make the attempt to seek us out. Ghosts stories and scary old houses have served us well too. Though not apparently in your case. Lion heartedness must run in your family….”

It’s a quick read and I think if you like YA novels you will enjoy this one. I hope Tim Burton does a good job with it and the movie. It feels a little forgettable but a decent read. I don’t know how involved I was with Jacob or any of the other peculiar children but it’s creative enough to entertain.

A Few Thoughts on Diversity


So in the last few days youtube has erupted with controversy over the topic of diversity in literature. A youtuber who I do not follow or particularly care for posted a 22 minute video about how diversity was not needed and that all that mattered is good books not the diversity of the characters in said books. I honestly thought her video was kind of insane so I will refrain from posting it here and giving her more views but it is easy to find if you want to.

Anyway, I thought I would bring up a quick point that I think often makes these discussions very messy.

It’s a question of MACRO vs MICRO

Here’s what I mean by that-

In the world of economics there is microeconomics, which is the study of an individual, group or company. This gets you into the nitty gritty of one person’s spending habits or the sales forecasts of a particular business.

Then we have macroeconmics, which is the study of a national economy as a whole. This is where we talk about GDP, trade numbers, national unemployment rates and federal interest rate changes. These are broader, longer trends.

So how does this relate to books and diversity?

Well, it is important to talk about diversity on a macro level.  To look at trends and statistics so that hopefully we can implement small changes to make things better.

I don’t know anyone that thinks having more diverse characters is a bad idea. For example, I’ve always been a defender of faith-based films because I think it is good for that audience to have films that they relate to. It feels good to read a book or view a movie and find characters that feel and look like us. Is not part of the reason we go to the cinemas is to occasionally have someone like us staring back at us? To see our world in new and interesting ways through storytelling?

Just this year I really enjoyed Ghostbusters and for me it was cool to see a woman like Melissa McCarthy in kind of a superhero role. She looks a little like me, and I’ve never seen anyone who looked remotely like me in a superhero movie. That was cool. I can only imagine how much more important that is for someone of a minority race or sexuality.

All of these issues are good to discuss so we can support those books and films that do showcase diversity. Now they still have to be good movies/books. Don’t get me wrong. Niche audiences should not be placated too, but we also should seek out those books and movies that do it right.

Where we get into problems is when we start mixing in a micro level perspective in this discussion. For example, talking about the lack of representation at the Oscars is a good thing because it is looking at movies as a whole and how we can do better.  However, when a particular movie is focused on and declared as racist because it is not diverse that’s taking a macro discussion and making it micro. Certainly racist movies and books exist and should be called out but just because an individual movie does not have a diverse cast does not make it racist.

I also think that authors and directors should be free to write about any culture or race that they want but they should do the job well. I hated Me Before You for a lot of reasons but one was how obvious it was the author had never met a person with quadriplegia before writing her novel about one. That’s irresponsible in my book. If she had done a good job than more power to her. Harper Lee was a white woman from the south and wrote one of the most stirring Civil Rights novels ever. But again we are talking about individual books, which is a micro-level discussion not the macro that is really effective.

It also should be noted that many times those of different ethnicities or races require no real adaptation to include in a book or movie. I mean when I loved Clueless growing up I never thought about Dion being black and Cher being white. They were just 2 girls in a funny movie I liked. 

I do think the macro discussions are making a difference. I don’t know much about the publishing world so can’t speak for that but in movies I am seeing changes. Look at Marvel for example. We are getting Black Panther with a black cast and Captain Marvel with their first female superhero led movie. That’s great!

Next year we get Wonder Woman and I pray that will be handled well. We have Oceans 8 coming out with an all female cast. That has potential to be great. Star Wars has been outstanding in featuring women and a diverse cast in both Force Awakens and Rogue One. Disney has recently had success with Elena of Avalor- their first Latina princess and Moana is going to be an islander with a more natural size and shape to her body. That’s a good thing!

We still have a long way to go but I don’t think we get anywhere when we focus on the micro instead of the macro.

ps. I also want diversity for purely selfish reasons. I get tired of reading the same types of characters with the same backgrounds. Same holds true for the movies. Shake it up!

So that’s what I have to say about that!

What do you think about what I have said? Do you see the difference between a micro and macro discussion? And how do you think we can improve diversity in both movies and books?

Sadducees and Pharisees

saducees-and-phariseesDuring the time of Christ there was a group of leaders called the Sadducees and Pharisees. These were Jewish leaders that believed in following the letter of the law. Repeatedly these leaders would accuse Jesus of blaspheme for breaking laws such as healing on the Sabbath. In Mark 3:1-6 they even use it as motivation to plot the death of Jesus:

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.

And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.

And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

I think it is sometimes easy to look at these people in the scriptures and think we are so much better but are we really? I recently had an experience where I was judged harshly for my interpretation of my faith. It’s a long story but just trust me it was extremely hurtful. I was told I was unworthy, sullied with filthy content,  and a bad example to youth. I felt upset, angry, devastated, frustrated and confused.

But I never for a second doubted my choices and how I live my faith. I know I am temple worthy and that God is happy with my life. If I didn’t feel that way I would change because nothing is more important to me than that. However, this person was making me feel ashamed for my choices and reducing my carefully nuanced positions into the harshest of extremes.

Then I thought about the Sadducees and Pharisees. They not only lived by the letter of the law but they created their own rules and then enforced them as if they are God’s law. Sometimes that happens in our modern church and it definitely happened in my situation. Jesus taught certain covenants needed following with exactness such as baptism, but he also taught the spirit of the law.

In Mathew 7:21 he said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

What is the will of the Father? That’s a tough question we each must answer for ourselves, but at the very least shouldn’t we be open to other people’s reasonable interpretations? Sure we have those core doctrines and principles but many life choices are up to the individual to lay out in the best way they know how. I learn from how other people interpret the faith and find truths I can often embrace. I think that’s what the spirit of the law is all about.

In 2 Cor 3:6 we are told to become ministers “not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but THE SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE”

What was Jesus’ response to the Sadducees and Pharisees? He kept on doing what He was doing and “they held their peace”. He did feel anger maybe a tiny bit like I did, but He also felt grieved, and continued doing His work of healing.

As is always my desire in life, I seek to follow Christ, and I know that my life choices while not perfect, are acceptable before the Lord. And I am going to shut out the Sadducees and Pharisees and continue to do the work of watching and reviewing movies, blogging, swimming and everything else I attempt in my life. This is what gives me life and it is my spot that the Lord needs me to work in.

And that may involve a carefully selected R rated movie on occasion, and you know what God is ok with that!