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The Female Perspective: #AskELJames Is Internet Bullying and Here’s Why

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


Author E.L. James
Author E.L. James

Awhile back I talked a bit about the Fifty Shades of Grey controversy that says that the book and the movie promote domestic violence, rape and abuse. If you haven’t read that blog, feel free to check it out here. If you have read it then you know that I disagree with this point of view. The fact is BDSM is not about abuse (for most), it is about exploring pain, pleasure and your own power. It is a lifestyle CHOICE and I do not believe that Fifty Shades of Grey glorifies it in any way.

That being said, I will say that both the book and the movie are boring, mindless and poorly written. All of this is my personal opinion and I don’t dislike author E.L. James for giving us this mindless drivel, she got extremely lucky and made a great career for herself, one that I am totally jealous of. She has the success every writer dreams of having and it’s made an even more amazing story by the fact that she really isn’t a very good writer.

#AskELJames = Failure
#AskELJames = Failure

Recently, to help promote her new book, Fifty Shades of Grey from Christian Grey’s perspective (that’s not the title I know but it really should be) her publicity team decided to host a live Twitter chat with the hashtag, #AskELJames.

This backfired horribly.

Below is a sample of some of the tweets sent over to #AskELJames, they start out funny enough:

What’s your favourite shade out of the 50? Is there a chance that more shades will be added?

How on earth did Ana manage to graduate from university in the 21st century without an email address or a laptop?

Then things started to go a bit wrong…

Do you ever feel guilty that you made so much money from romanticizing sexual abuse and selling it as “erotica romance”?

Is it only ok for Christian to stalk, coerce, threaten & manipulate Ana because he’s hot, or is it also ok because he’s rich?

after the success of “Grey,” have you considered re-telling the story from the perspective of someone who can write?

And things just kept going wrong after that…

Will you be rewriting the book from Stephenie Meyer’s point of view next time?

Are you going to answer any of these questions, or do you need Stephenie Meyer to do a Twitter chat first?

Do all these negative tweets sent to you seem abusive to you? I think it’s romantic enough to be turned into a novel!

Are you getting tendinitis from having to hit “block” so often? 🙁

What gets me is the way in which people are choosing to take something as innocuous as a Twitter forum, meant to engage James’ readers with their fave author, and turn it into a giant bullying fest.

This is wrong. This is so much wrong. No matter how much I dislike the books and bemoan the fact that someone like E.L. James is famous when she can barely even write, I would never say that to her face in such an unkind manner, maybe that makes my a hypocrite but the things that people were saying to her were cruel and unnecessary.

Personally, I wouldn’t take to a Twitter group and decide it was the perfect time to bash and abuse her. Yeah, she’s not one of my favorite. Yes, I have said that time and time again during any discussions of her books. Yes, I feel guilty about it because she is a fellow writer and I should support her 100% because of that fact alone. But I am not a perfect person and I admit that. There’s something about this “attack” that really made me feel icky inside. It’s one more example of the internet world being a cruel place and I am really tired of it.

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What these folks did, and what they continue to do on various open mic forums on Twitter (why celebrities keep doing these, I just don’t know. Robin Thicke experienced a similar situation when he did the same as James) is take time meant to connect a fan with a favorite artist and turn it into something ugly. They take that time meant for others and choose to insult celebrities that they think are less than worth their time. This is a perfect example of why the internet can be a horrible place. Bullies thrive in the online space of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. They can say what they want, whenever they want with virtually no repercussions. I’ve been the victim of bullying on this blog and it takes some serious getting used to! The fact is, if you, as an artist, manage to stir up the masses to such passion (whether it’s good or bad) than you are clearly doing something right.

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The fact is, being a celebrity of any kind requires a thick skin. E.L. James and her team learned this lesson with great clarity last night and no matter what kind of person James is (I have heard some various stories that she’s not the nicest woman but I don’t know if that’s truth or not so we’ll just assume she’s a nice person) she doesn’t deserve to be bullied online. Yes, her writing is a mess. Yes, it is a well known fact that Fifty Shades began it’s book life as Twilight fan fiction and yes, it often toes the line between abuse and erotica (sort of, it’s not all that erotic if you ask me), but no matter what you think of James’ writing, there is no need to go online just to bash her when she was honestly trying to connect with her fans, not her detractors. I have better things to do with my time than to be an online troll.

What do you think? Do you think #AskELJames is bullying? Trolling? Did she deserve it or not? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Female Dinosaur Toys? Dear God NO!!!!!

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


How many of you have seen the Jurassic Park movies? Okay, that’s like a bazillion-trillion of you, good. Now, how many of you recall that all the dinosaurs on the island are female? No? Watch this for a quick refresher.

Okay, now that we are all on the same page let’s take a moment and check out these wonderful new Jurassic World toys! Oh boy, dinosaurs and raptors to play with, what fun! Wait…huh? These dino’s are described as being boys. Well that’s quite odd…

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Oh wait, it’s not all that odd because girls can’t have toys unless they are gender approved. God forbid your son gets a GIRL dinosaur to play with. I am sure that will instantly make him like…what exactly? Girl dinosaurs? Will it make him gay? Can we please just call this for what it actually is? Sexism. The fact is, we see it over and over again, does anyone have any Black Widow toys? Not really right? Because they are so against selling women figures or female toys that they will actually go to the lengths of actually erasing a woman off her own toy or changing the entire mythos of the story by making the dino’s boys instead of girls.

Does this make me angry? A little bit, yes because the whole thing about Jurassic Park is that they manufacture the dinosaur’s to be all female all the time so that they don’t breed (but, as we all know, that fails in spectacular fashion). So why make the change? Why decide to write-up the dino’s as male instead of female? What’s the thought process on this? I am actually curious to know because I cannot think of one, single reason why you would take characters that are very much female and decide that they’re male because maybe the powers that be that make those kinds of decisions think that boy dino’s will sell better than girl dino’s? Newsflash, whoever you are decision making guy, you should get fired for being so dumb it actually hurts me. Why give the dino’s a sex at all? If you are so offended by the idea that they are female in ALL OF THE MOVIES why bother with a he or she pronoun? Oh that’s right, sexism.

All girls, all the time.
All girls, all the time.

It’s a tough world out there folks and while I realize that dinosaur toys as a movie tie-in is the smallest nugget of annoyance there can possibly be, it’s still frustrating that female’s get so little respect that there can’t even be a proper toy that represents them. Don’t even get me started on the Furiosa comic book that completely negates the beauty of Mad Max: Fury Road. 

Come on, sing it with me! "Girls, girls, girls!"
Come on, sing it with me! “Girls, girls, girls!”

It’s these “little” things that make up the bigger whole. It’s these things that remind me (and so many others) that feminism is important, that it is necessary. Equality will never be a thing of the real world until we are all actually equal and no one decides that a female dinosaur has to be male because it won’t sell otherwise. I can PROMISE you, even if you put a pink frilly hat on ole’ Blue up there, it would still sell because Jurassic World is a HUGE hit.

Come on decision makers, stop screwing us ladies over in the toy department, we like toys too and not just Barbie dolls.

What do YOU think? Sound off in the comments!

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Trailer Snark (June 26th 2015 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Ted 2 (Universal) – Comedy
Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use
Tag Line:  Ted is coming, again.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, and Morgan Freeman
Plot: Newlywed couple Ted and Tami-Lynn want to have a baby, but in order to qualify to be a parent, Ted will have to prove he’s a person in a court of law.
Running Time:  115 minutes

Ken: We get it Seth McFarlane, you’re a funny guy and I’ll check out your latest Ted movie when it inevitably hits Comedy Central . While I’ll admit to a few chuckles during the trailer, even a Tom Brady cameo isn’t enough to get me to the theater for this one.
Rob: Crude and hilarious…to a point.  Not the kind of flick I would drop my hard earned money on to see on the big screen, but I’ll catch it down the road on Blu-Ray.
Chris: I know these movies have a tendency to be a bit over the lines of good taste, but I could not help laughing through the trailer.  This one has potential, and Tom Brady.
Jessica: Looks hilarious, can’t wait!
Jim: Looks just as funny as the first one. Will definitely see this, as will many others.

Max (MGM) – Drama/Family
Rated PG for action violence, peril, brief language and some thematic elements
Tag Line: Best Friend. Hero.  Marine.
Starring: Thomas Hayden Church, Jay Hernandez, and Josh Wiggins.
Plot: A dog that helped US Marines in Afghanistan returns to the U.S. and is adopted by his handler’s family after suffering a traumatic experience.
Running Time: 111 minutes

Jessica: The trailer made me get a little weepy when I saw it before ‘Jurassic World’- I’ll probably never watch it but it looks halfway decent.
Chris: Looks like a tremendous affair of the heart.  Dog owners and military families get their due.
Jim: Sorry, looks too sad. Can’t deal with sad right now. Rob: Looks like a great flick that will tug the heartstrings for sure.  No doubt that dogs are man’s best friend.
Ken: Sappy. If you love dogs and love Murca then you’ll probably love this movie.
Rob: Looks like a great flick that will tug the heartstrings for sure.  No doubt that dogs are man’s best friend.

Escobar: Paradise Lost (RADiUS TWC) – Romance/Thriller
Rated R for violence including grisly images
Tag Line: Welcome to the family.
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson, Claudia Traisac, and Carlos Bardem
Plot: In Colombia, a young surfer meets the woman of his dreams – and then he meets her uncle, Pablo Escobar.
Running Time: 120 minutes

Jim: No thanks, think I’ll just watch Scarface again.
Jessica: Eh. I enjoy Del Toro but I can take or leave Hutcherson and the story looks a bit syrupy to me.
Chris: Benicio Del Toro is one of the better actors in Hollywood, but I am a bit concerned that the filmmakers are attempting to humanize a monster in my eyes.  Maybe I am wrong?  I’ll check it out when it hits home markets.
Rob: Medllin?!?!  Where’s Vince?  Yeah, that’s right I’m catching up on my Entourage.  Wonder if that had anything to do with the development of this film…. it looks really good, just not sure I want to spend my dough seeing a film that glorifies “The King of Cocaine.”
Ken: Too much romance, not enough Pablo. Say hello to the bad guy…’s nephew in law.

Big Game (EuropaCorp USA) – Action/Adventure
Rated PG – 13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some language
Tag Line: Big Action. Big Adventure.
Starring:  Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Stevenson, Ted Levine, and Onni Tommila
Plot: A young teenager camping in the woods helps rescue the President of the United States when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite.
Running Time: 110 minutes

Rob: I love Samuel Jackson but this looks like such a lame ass generic action flick it hurt to watch the trailer.  Are we sure this isn’t going straight to DVD?
Chris: As much as it pains me to agree with Rob , I am forced to agree that this trailer was absolutely wretched. Prepare for one week in theaters and then don’t see it on DVD/Netlfix in two months.
Jessica: ARE YOU SERIOUS? Seriously. ARE YOU SERIOUS??? I am SOOOOOO all over this. It made me laugh and SLJ as the Prez? I AM SO IN I AM IN IT LIKE SUPER IN. Love these kinds of fun flicks.
Ken: This looks so terrible that it might be ironically funny. If  anyone else besides Sam L Jackson was cast as the president, no way this movie gets made.
Jim: Did the people that made this trailer really mean to make it look this ridiculous? 25 years ago, I could see Leslie Nielsen playing Sam Jackson’s part.

Batkid Begins (Warner Bros) –  Documentary/Biography
Rated PG for some mild thematic material
Tag Line: None
Starring: A bunch of very real people!
Plot:  On one day, in one city, the world comes together to grant one 5 year old cancer patient his wish. Batkid Begins looks at the ‘why’ of this flash phenomenon.
Running Time: 87 minutes

Jessica: Adorable. I followed this story when it was actually happening. I will totally watch this.
Rob: The best of humanity.  In the face of his deadly battle against leukemia, one kid’s wish becomes a reality. …and it’s a doozy!
Jim: Again, sad— but it also looks inspiring. Might be worth a look.
Ken: Wish well spent. So relieved when Jess pointed out that Batkid is currently in remission. Inhospitable proof that there are few things in this world more powerful than a child’s belief in super heroes.
Chris: This is one of those rare feelgood true stories that don’t get enough attention from media and Hollywood alike.  The type of documentary that just might restore your faith in humanity as a whole.

Glass Chin (Phase 4 Films) – Drama/Thriller
Rating N/A
Tag Line:  Murder is an art.Starring: Billy Cudrup, Katherine Waterson, Corey Stoll, and Elizabeth Rodriguez
Plot: A down-on-his-luck former boxing champ is forced to make a choice between friendship and ambition when he is framed for murder.
Running Time: 87 minutes

Jim: Looks boring and cliched.  Pass.
Jessica: Mmmm…I’d probably watch this at home. I like Corey Stoll and Billy Crudup.
Ken: Pulp crime and boxing, a winning one-two combination. Is that gym located next door to Paddy’s Pub?
Rob: Looks decent.  Has potential.
Chris: Crime thriller on a shoe string budget.  But that is just fine!  Color me intrigued.

Tickets Purchased:  2 tickets for Batkid Begins (Ken, Rob), 1 ticket for Big Game (Jessica), 1 ticket for Max (Chris), and 1 ticket for Ted 2 (Jim).

Best of the Brave, and in Remission!
Best of the Brave, and in Remission!
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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 6/23

Howdy ho comic book fans and welcome back for this 18th installment of the Crank File. What a week for Spiderman fans. Marvel announced that they had cast baby faced Tom Holland as the new Peter Parker in the upcoming Spiderman movie. And while it seems that Marvel’s official stance on Peter Parker is that he has to be Caucasian male, Spiderman is a different story. Miles Morales, who up til now has been relegated to being the Ultimate Spiderman, will be joining Marvel’s main continuity with his own Spider-man title, launching at the end of Secret Wars. No confirmation as to whether Miles is replacing Peter Parker or just supplanting the legacy wall crawler, but now’s the time to start looking for copies Ultimate Fallout #4.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Fight Club #2 Dark Horse 

Fight_Club_2_2

As an impressionable high schooler, 1996’s Fight Club movie turned my juvenile worldview upside down. “You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your f*c

The Mainstream One: We Are Robin #1 DC

WAR1

Spinning out of the pages of Detective Comics: Endgame, We Are Robins #1 will reveal the origins of The Robins, a group of teenagers who presumably fight crime in Gotham city. There’s a review of We Are Robins #1 online. Art by Jorge Corona, Rob Haynes and Khary Randolph. Words and covers by Lee Bermejo. All of the above look exceptional. Check it out here.

The Indie One: Ninjak #4 Valiant

Ninjak 4

Valiant’s been putting out some high-quality books lately, and Matt Kindt’s run on Ninjak has been no exception. Ninjak’s newest nemesis Roku is a world class assassin and all around bad ass; with a look that is sure to be a hit within cosplay circles. Issue #4 reveals her origin story and has one of the prettiest covers on the stands this week. Don’t miss it.

The #1 One: X-Men ’92 Marvel

XMEN-92-1

The 90’s X-Men cartoon was my first introduction into the world of the X-Men. With it’s diverse team construction and  heavy metal theme music, Fox’s The X-Men became the highlight of my Saturday mornings as a child and the start of a lifelong love affair with comic books. I am definitely looking forward to picking up this #1, though mildly concerned that OGs Beast and Jean Grey are missing from the cover. Let’s hope that their omission is only temporary.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover:Howard the Duck #4 Latour Gwen the Duck Variant Marvel

Gewn the duck 

Jason Latour lit the fire under the current Gwen frenzy (the Gwenzy?) with the introduction of Spider-Gwen. An instant fan favorite, Spider-Gwen has become something of a pop-culture phenomena. Latour pays homage to the origins of his creation with this swipe of Robbie Rodriguez’s iconic cover to Spider-Gwen’s first appearance in Edge of Spider-verse #2. I’ve been restraining myself from picking up any of the Gwen variants but this EoSV cover swipe is just too good to leave on the shelf.

The Speculation One: G.I.Joe #215 Atkins Action Figure Variant IDW

Snake_Eyes_cover_frontSnake_Eyes_back_cover

Part 4 of the Death of Snake Eyes story arc. A new hero will rise and assume the mantle and rumors are that the new Snake Eyes could be *spoiler* a woman. Kudos to Robert Atkins and Hall of Comics in Southborough, MA who absolutely killed it with their exclusive action figure variant. Marvel’s been pushing their Secret Wars action figure variants hard and this fad was beginning to feel like it has run its course. But one look at that back cover and I was a 10 year old kid in the toy store again.

Last Week’s Leftover: Southern Bastard’s #1 Image 

SB1

FX recently optioned Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s Southern Bastards for television. Being optioned doesn’t actually mean anything, but this series would be perfect for television. Southern Bastards #1 was a hot commodity for a little while after its release but has since cooled down considerably. While technically #1 didn’t come out last week but I recently found a stack of them bagged and boarded for cover price at my local shop. With television rumors helping push speculation on this book and copies selling for $10-$15 online, Southern Bastards #1 is worth a poke through the back-issue bins.

Carpe Comics!

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The Female Perspective: A Little Bit Of This & A Little Bit Of That

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


I’ll be honest dear readers, I am hot and tired from a long day of working and some uncomfortable back pain. Today I want to issue a blog post that’s a bit of a mishmash of various bits and pieces I have found but haven’t had the time to write up into a full-length blog. Let’s chat about a few things.

John Oliver and His Thoughts On The Internet

This past Sunday, John Oliver issued a beautifully worded and true commentary on how women are treated on the internet. Check it out below and be advised, this is Not Safe For Work or children.

I did a piece on Gamergate awhile back and felt the same way, these poor women were harassed to the point of needed police protect and safe houses…over a VIDEO GAME. Does that seem right to anyone? I sure hope not because that is bat-poop crazy sauce. America has free speech and to me that extends to the internet. The problem is, some people simply didn’t get the memo, they decided that free speech only means what they believe and if you disagree…well, better be prepared for some pretty vile comments about your anatomy and possible revenge porn.

Batgirl Has Been Fighting For Equal Pay For a Loooooong Time

Sure, this is funny but it’s also right on point, Batgirl doesn’t have it any easier than Robin, so why isn’t she being paid the same amount? Oh, that’s right, she’s a woman. Come on Batman, get it together and compensate your workers fairly and equally!

Batgirl Wants Equal Pay!

The World Right Now and The World Long Ago

I’ll tell you, the world right now is a crazy place and has been for a while. I see the events that go down in places like Baltimore and South Carolina and remember names like Freddie Gray and Michael Brown and my heart aches for all that is happening and all that has happened. As many regular readers of this blog know, I have a special place in my heart for Feminism and it makes me very angry when young women decide they don’t “need” feminism. Coming soon is a movie that I hope will remind those young women all that suffrage did for us, all that feminism has done and IS doing for us. It is a movie that touches my soul just watching the preview and I hope that everyone goes and see’s it because if you think you don’t “need” feminism? Take a look at this and tell me that feminism didn’t do anything for us.

We need people who are willing to take a stand against injustice and inequality. We need people to stand up and proclaim that love is greater than hate and we need people to wake up and realize that these people who have fought and died for the various causes they have represented deserve respect. If you feel as though feminism isn’t something you “need” that’s your choice, of course it is, but please, educate yourself on what feminism has done and don’t assume that all feminists are crazy because a few extremists have spoiled it for the whole movement.

That’s my blog for today, tell me YOUR thoughts on any of the items I’ve posted here or tell me what’s on your mind about any current events. I want to hear YOUR voice!

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Trailer Snark (June 19th 2015 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Dope (Open Road Films) – Comedy/Drama
Rated R for language, drug content, sexuality/nudity, and some violence-all involving teens
Tag Line:  It’s hard out here for a geek.
Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons
Plot: Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who’s surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure.
Running Time: 103 minutes

Rob: I’m down with OPP, but what the hell is this movie even about.  Complete trailer failure.  Looks like there’s a second trailer but I can’t bring myself to bother clicking on it.
Chris: Shameik Moore sounds exactly like Don Cheadle.  I am liking the off-beat and not so typical characters that have been written into this script.  Could be a fun go at the theater!
Jessica: I’ve seen this trailer a few times now in the theater and I was unimpressed because it gave no sense of a story. I’ve seen the longer trailer now and it seems…interesting but overall I’ll forget about it after I write this.
Jim: Looks funny and intelligent. Very refreshing for a mainstream comedy these days.

Inside Out (Disney/Pixar) – Family
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Tag Line: Meet the little voices inside your head.
Starring: The vocal talents of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Diane Lane
Plot: After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.
Running Time: 94 minutes

Jim: Pixar movies are almost always worth seeing. This looks like a good one. Funny that my 12 year old doesn’t have any interest in it, and maybe this is one time that the adult will have to drag the kid to see the kid’s movie.
Jessica: I don’t have any interest. In fact, once I realized which movie this was I said, “Ugh. I don’t want to see this trailer again,” that’s how much I don’t want to see this movie. It looks boring.
Rob: So that’s what all those voices in my head are…….  I had been wondering about that….until they told me not to. Disney and Pixar rarely disappoint.  Especially if you’re a fan of animation and quality storytelling.  This one’s clearly a winner, and I don’t need to watch any other trailers before telling you which one movie I would see this week.
Chris: The wife would be all over this one, and I would too if the kids were younger.  Guaranteed to be in our Blu-Ray library upon release.  

Burying the Ex (Image Entertainment) – Horror/Comedy
Rated R for sexual content, partial nudity, some horror violence, and language
Tag Line: Some relationships just won’t die.
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, and Alexandra Daddario
Plot: A guy’s regrets over moving in with his girlfriend are compounded when she dies and comes back as a zombie.
Running Time: 89 minutes

Chris: The bad relationship that just won’t die….literally.  Looks like a fun low budget affair.  And my man Anton Yelchin deserves a shout-out after his criminally overlooked turn as Dean Koontz hero Odd Thomas.
Jim: Wow. The trailer doesn’t make it look that great, but seeing Joe Dante’s name on it gives me hope. Maybe worth a rental.
Jessica: Looks okay. I like the lead kid there, can’t remember his name, but it’s not a theater pick, MAYBE a rental or maybe a Netflix pick.
Rob: Mildly amusing.  Zombie Ex.  This one has DVD at best written all over it.

The Overnight (The Orchard) – Comedy
Rated R for strong sexuality, graphic nudity, language and drug use
Tag Line: Pucker up
Starring: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, and R.J. Hermes
Plot: Alex, Emily, and their son, RJ, are new to Los Angeles. A chance meeting at the park introduces them to the mysterious Kurt, Charlotte, and Max. A family “playdate” becomes increasingly interesting as the night goes on.
Running Time: 79 minutes

Jessica: I enjoy Adam Scott and Schwartzman so I would give this a watch, but not in the theater and who doesn’t enjoy a good sex comedy once in awhile?
Rob: Looks somewhat funny and the cast has talent.  Could be a complete trainwreck though…
Jim: Have to admit, the trailer makes it look interesting. Could be good, could be terrible.
Chris: I’d rather watch the undead girlfriend eat her man than these weirdo neighbors. Mercifully short at 79 minutes, so that is a plus.

Manglehorn (IFC Films) – Drama
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some sexual content and language, and for accident and surgery images
Tag Line: N/A
Starring: Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, and Chris Messina
Plot: Left heartbroken by the woman he loved and lost many years ago, Manglehorn, an eccentric small-town locksmith, tries to start his life over again with the help of a new friend.
Running Time: 97 minutes

Chris: Al Pacino seems to be on a comeback (between this and Danny Collins, released earlier this year).  Not sure it would be my pick for the cineplex, but the trailer cut makes it worth a look!  
Jim: Interesting title. Al Pacino has been coasting for awhile, but this great actor is always worth watching. Still, this trailer doesn’t pique my interest all that much.
Jessica: Looks interesting and with talent like Pacino it deserves a watch I think.
Rob: Mime in trailer.  Alert.  Alert.  Mime alert.  You have been warned.  Pacino is looking venerable, but still shows his skills.  This one’s too melancholy for me though.

Infinitely Polar Bear (Sony Picture Classics) – Comedy/Drama
Rated R for language
Tag Line: N/A
Starring: Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana
Plot: A manic-depressive mess of a father tries to win back his wife by attempting to take full responsibility of their two young, spirited daughters, who don’t make the overwhelming task any easier.
Running Time: 90 minutes

Jessica: I already love this movie because Mark Ruffalo is in it.
Rob: Mark Ruffalo in a green polo and all I want to hear is HULK SMASH!  At any rate, this one looks good and how could it not with Zoe Saldana starring?  It looks to be a heartfelt story of an imperfect family tackling the world.  Something so many of us can easily relate to.
Chris: Mark Ruffalo as a bi-polar outcast forced into a heroic role…this time he is not big and green though.
Jim: It’s got Mark Ruffalo in it. Worth seeing, ’nuff said.

Gabriel (Oscilloscope Pictures) – Drama/Thriller
Not Rated
Tag Line: N/A
Starring:  Rory Culkin, Emily Meade, and Lynn Cohen
Plot: A troubled young man searches obsessively for his first love, risking everything in an increasingly desperate pursuit.
Running Time: 85 minutes

Rob: Looks like some strong acting by Culkin and I’m somewhat intrigued.  Possible Redbox pick down the road.
Jim: No thanks.
Chris: Rory Culkin stars in this moody thriller about a disturbed young man who seeks first love.   Could be one of those diamonds in the independent film rough.  
Jessica: I’m left feeling very “eh” about this. I’m sure I’ll check it out when it’s out of theaters but I have low tolerance for “moody, haunting, blah, blah, blah” movies.

Tickets Purchased: 2 tickets for Inside Out (Jim, Rob), 1 ticket for Burying the Ex (Chris), and 1 ticket for Infinitely Polar Bear (Jessica)…..Ken sleeping off the jet lag.  😉

Mood Swings Ahead!
                 Mood Swings Ahead!

What will you be watching this week?
-The Great Stories Team

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 6/17

Greetings comic book fans to issue #17 of the Crank File. We’re back with another installment of the Crank File. Sorry for the long layoff between posts. I was in Taiwan last week on business and only recently re acclimated to living on the Western hemisphere. I’m just getting over the jet lag, and getting over the events of Game of Thrones. More importantly I’m getting to the bottom of a three week stack of books. Thanks to Tania over at Friendly Neighborhood Comics I didn’t miss an issue. Asia is always fun but it’s comforting being back home in the good ole you ess of eh. For you one thing, you don’t have vendors selling stinky tofu in the streets over here. God bless you America.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Alex + Ada #15 Image

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Nobody told me last month that #14 was the penultimate issue. I wasn’t ready for it. And I sure don’t think I’m ready for the series finale either. I am fairly certain that Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn’s Alex + Ada is going to wind up somewhere on my “Best of..” end of the year list. Their tale of love and sentience slowly won me over with a thought provoking story set in neo-futuristic suburbia and I’m sad to see it come to an end. Not the issue to be jumping in on the series with but don’t you miss it. Issues #1 – 10 are available now in two trade paper backs. Issues #11 – 15 will be collected in volume 3, out August 12.

The Mainstream One: Old Man Logan #2 Marvel

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Secret Wars brings back the classic Mark Millar and Steve McNivens creation, Old Man Logan.  Written by the prolific Brian Michael Bendis, Old Man Logan is like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, only with snikters and an adamantium laced skeleton. The pseudo-western plot is rendered in stunning beauty through Sorrentino’s dramatic artwork. Marvel’s summer event has continued to sizzle with consistently fresh and quality stories and in Old Man Logan I have found my favorite Secret Wars series.

The Indie One: Low #7 Image

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Issue #7 opens up a brand new arc for my favorite aquatic sci-fi fantasy. In a future where our sun has gone red giant, mankind has been forced into the depths of the ocean. With resources in these sub-oceanic colonies running out, one family sets out on a mission to save humanity at any cost. Low is certainly a haunting story, which should be expected from a Remender series, but the protagonist remains unapologetically optimistic in the face of tragedy, a ray of hope piercing a dark sea of despair.

The #1 One: Justice League of America #1 DC

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There’s a 7-page preview available, and the art in issue #1 looks stunning. I don’t love the $5.99 cover price and I don’t love that it’s being released with 9 variant covers, but at least we’re getting a double-sized premiere issue here. DC tapped superstar comic book artist Bryan Hitch to helm the relaunch of JLA, and handed him the reins to both drawing and writing duties. That’s a huge vote of confidence for a creator who is notorious for not working well on a deadline. http://www.comicbookresources.com/

The Speculation One: Wonder Woman #41 DC

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It’s a brand-new Wonder Woman, folks. New direction, new outfit, and most importantly a new villain. Could be a long term hold.

Last Week’s Leftovers: We can Never Go Home #3 Black Mask

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Black Mask has scored a string of hits recently with Space Riders and May Day, but WCNGH may be the best of the bunch. This series has the makings of an indie darling. Copies of issue #3 were absolutely on fire in the secondary market after several reviews sent speculators on a raid of the bay. With BIN auctions selling regularly for $15, We Can Never Go Home #3 is a book to look out for when you go pick up your regular pulls.

Carpe Comics!

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The Female Perspective: Dinosaurs and Feminism: Can The Two Exist?

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


Jurassic World = Awesome
Jurassic World = Awesome

Last week I went to see Jurassic World (with a few million other people it seems) and I want to state up front two things.

1. I am a HUGE Jurassic Park fan though the sequels left me pretty cold, I won’t lie about that. None of them had the magic of the first one. That first sight of those dang dinosaurs blew my teenage mind 20+ years ago. It was a feat of movie making that made me feel excited and joyful at what I was seeing. It was an adventure story and it was about dinosaurs! Not to mention, I loved the book as well.

2. I loved Jurassic World, it evoked the feelings of the first movie and it managed to stay true to the roots of its source while also being its own fun romp through dino-land. I had a great time watching this movie.

That being said let’s delve into something I read after seeing the movie that made me roll my eyes a bit because it seems that every movie these days is being searched throughly for its feminist identity.

!!!IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE STOP HERE!!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED

Claire Dearing played by Bryce Dallas Howard.
Claire Dearing played by Bryce Dallas Howard.

I read an article about how the main female character, Claire Dearing, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, wears her high heels throughout the entire film and how that, along with her perfect ensemble, make her less than feminist.

Seriously? Do you hear yourself? We’re judging a fictional character on her outfit and saying that she is left wanting.

Claire’s outfit isn’t a sign of fierceness; it’s a crime of lazy filmmaking — a patronizing shorthand for her cluelessness and stubborn need for control. See how out-of-touch she is with her environment? Silly girl!

~Vulture.com

I see, okay, well that’s one opinion. My thoughts as I watched the film is that Claire doesn’t have the time to run off and change her clothing into something more “acceptable” and it’s more than reasonable for a professional working in a professional environment (even a dinosaur park) to dress the part. It’s quickly clear that Claire is rigid in her thinking and is a workaholic. In a funny exchange with ex-Navy, Raptor Wrangler Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt) we learn that Claire is the type of woman who prints out an itinerary for her dates. Sure, there are people like that, good on them. Makes sense for that type of personality to be in charge of a potential death park.

The one part of Jurassic World that stuck out for me as annoying? Not Claire’s outfit or her high heels (I’ll get to the heels in a moment) it was when she was talking to her sister and the conversation falls to the boring idea that one day Claire will understand how her sister feels because you have to be a mother to understand kids…or some such bull-crap. It was an annoying and trite line spoken in a way that rang untrue to me. Perhaps it’s because I’m tired of the stereotypical mother types or maybe it’s because it’s a quick and stupid way to pigeon-hole women into their “proper” roles. To me, that was a lazy bit of writing that the movie could have easily done without.

Howard and Pratt as they begin their Jurassic World adventures.
Howard and Pratt as they begin their Jurassic World adventures.

Moving on…

As many know, all hell breaks loose in the park as the new, genetically engineered dino, the Indominous-Rex, gets free of its enclosure and begins to destroy its way through the park. During that time Claire’s two young nephews get lost in the shuffle and she enlists Owen to help her find them. To do this they must venture into the park and Claire jumps right in, high heels and white suit be damned. I actually kind of loved her for this. She didn’t run off to change (she frankly didn’t have the time) and she didn’t kick off her shoes, instead, she RAN in her heels and let me tell you, she ran like the wind. It was actually impressive enough that I noticed it at one point. I later read that Howard actually trained for her heel running like it was an Olympic competition and she never switched her heels to flats or special wedges, she did all that running herself.

By the way, for those of you who think that a woman can’t run in heels like that I can tell you with 100% certainty that they can. Not from my personal experience but I have a good friend who can run in heels so it does happen folks. Believe it! For me, I didn’t think Claire’s outfit signaled lazy filmmaking, her running in heels didn’t seem ludicrous, it’s what happens when all hell breaks loose and you are trying to keep yourself safe and your loved ones safe. You don’t have the time to think about what you’re wearing, you don’t have the time to care, all you have the time for is surviving. To me, in a movie like Jurassic World it rang true and I didn’t even stop to ponder that it might be a sign of anti-feminism.

To say that the characters are all “types” would be a truth and it’s not a slight against the movie. It’s the kind of movie that doesn’t have the time to spend developing deep and subtle characters. Character development has to be quick and it has to be easy. Dressing Claire in head to toe white with beige heels and perfect hair is a great way to show the audience right away who she is. Dressing Owen in a leather vest and tight jeans is the best way to show us who he is. Clothes do make a difference a film and in this case, they do it very effectively.

As for feminism in a dinosaur movie? Yeah, it’s there, it’s quiet but it’s there. It’s when Claire saves Owen, even though her nephews then prefer the supposed safety of Owen’s company to hers. It’s when she doesn’t hesitate to release the T-Rex and have it chase her to save her loved ones. It’s there when she protects them from danger and it’s there when she goes after her nephews. One of my favorite small scenes is when Claire and Owen are running from the I-Rex and he stops to give her a hand, she buzzes right past him, a quick little f-you to being a gentlemen during a fight or flight scenario. She was going to keep going, chivalry be damned!

Remember how badass Laura Dern was in that movie? She played world-renowned paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler, the intellectual equal to her partner, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and a tough, resourceful heroine in the mold of Alien‘s Ellen Ripley or Terminator‘s Sarah Connor. She was able to identify extinct poisonous plants on sight, went toe-to-toe with Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm on chaos theory (with that great line: “Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the Earth”), and got elbow-deep in a mountain of dung to diagnose an ailing triceratops. When it came time for her to fight off a velociraptor while taking the initiative to restart a power grid, we had faith she would prevail. In fact, the entire movie was quietly feminist in the way it depicted the downfall of male hubris, from Wayne Knight’s botched attempt to steal dino embryos to the exile of man from the island by an entirely female dinosaur population. Women did inherit the Earth after all. -Vulture.com

Laura Dern's Ellie Sattler was pretty darn bad-ass.
Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler was pretty darn bad-ass.

To compare Claire to Sattler is ridiculous in my opinion because while they aren’t the same woman, they share similar qualities, namely in terms of being able to battle dinosaurs when called upon. Sattler and Grant were equals, yes, and she was a bad-ass character in a lot of ways but so is Claire. I think to simply dismiss Claire’s strength because of her outfit and frigid behavior is to not give her credit for who she is. Simply put, it’s judging a book by its cover. Claire does a lot in this movie and to me, she is resourceful, smart and brave and she should be given credit for being so instead of put down because her outfit and hair are “impeccable” (which isn’t even true, she’s a hot mess by the end of the movie). I think articles like the Vulture.com one is part of the problem with people trying to “defend” feminism everywhere they go. The fact is, not every movie is going to be full of feminist fun like Mad Max: Fury Road was but I feel like when we get a character like Claire, who can be both feminine AND strong it’s a win-win situation. People need to reframe their perceptions of what feminism should look like and realize that it can take all shapes and sizes. From a tough, post-apocalyptic bad-ass to a modern, professional woman in heels. Let’s all open our minds and broaden our feminist horizons.

But then again, so was Claire...I mean, she lured the T-Rex to the I-Rex...not something for the faint of heart.
But then again, so was Claire…I mean, she lured the T-Rex to the I-Rex…not something for the faint of heart.

What do YOU think? Did you see Jurassic World? Did you love it, hate it?

What did you think of Claire and her heels?

Sound off in the comments!

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The Front Row View: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro.  He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man.

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An addition to my list of Great Summer Movies is one that I’ve seen far too many times for my own good: John Hughes’ 1986 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Who but Matthew Broderick could have made a potentially smarmy and unlikable character into the funny charmer that he is here? Which of has never wanted to BE Ferris Bueller. To be able to get the better of all of the obstacles thrown in front of us in life through the use of our deft brains and quick wit (as well as the ability to hurtle ourselves through houses and backyards in order to get home before our parents). To be a modern day Huck Finn, joyriding into Chicago to luncheon at fancy restaurants and boogie and lip-synch to the Beatles while standing on a float in a humongous parade. Ah, youth. Show it to your kids when they’re teenagers (although be prepared to squirm at some of the language). They’ll either cringe at the dated ’80s fashions and pop culture references….or, like at least a few of us, think it’s one of the greatest movies ever made. Bueller….Bueller….Bueller…

-Jim

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The Female Perspective: Banning Books and Why It’s Dumb

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


A Look At Banned Books By Printerinks

Banning books (or trying to) is nothing new in America. Parents become outraged and want books of “questionable” material removed from libraries and, so they think, the hands of their innocent children. First, allow me a moment to snicker at the idea of children these days being innocent over the age of 10 (and I’m being generous with that). Okay, I’ve gotten my snicker out of the way and now it’s on to more serious business.

There are a few terms that might confuse someone if they aren’t familiar with them, because I love books, ALL books, even the bad ones (I’m looking at you Fifty Shades of Grey) and I detest the idea of one person trying to choose what another person reads or is able to read. Reading is a privilege, a right and a joy! I would not be the writer/person/weirdo I am today if I hadn’t been able to read whatever I wanted to read when I was a kid. My parents never restricted my reading and I can remember reading Stephen King at 11 or 12, Jackie Collins around 13 and tons of stuff that the folks who want to ban books would be horrified about.  Gosh, I read Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying when I was 14 I think and I remember be scandalized at some of her ideas…but also inspired.

What Does It Mean To Ban or Challenge A Book?

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There are two things that a person intent on interfering with the right to free speech can do. They can challenge a book or ask for a book to be banned. What’s the difference? Is a challenge where the person against the book and the book itself face off in a duel of wits? If so, my money’s on the book honestly.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.  Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

American Library Association

This is heartening to read for a book lover/nerd/geek like me because librarians are the stewards of a lot of our school libraries and other collections. They supposedly became a librarian because they had a love of book that made them want to be around them all the time. I have mad respect for librarians and I enjoy libraries, they’re such peaceful, beautiful places that simply smell…well, if you go to the library, you know the smell of delicious old books!

Banning Books and Concerned Parents/Parental Groups

Every year there is a celebration of all banned books, September 2015 is your chance to take part!
Every year there is a celebration of all banned books, September 2015 is your chance to take part!

The fact is, parents and other “concerned” groups challenge books pretty much all the time. I came across a story about a group of concerned parents who wanted to ban Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye because it contained material unsuitable for children under the age of 18. By whose standards exactly? As I said above, I was reading stuff that according to these parents, would have been unsuitable for my delicate eyes.

One of the books being questioned is called ‘The Bluest Eye’ by award-winning author Toni Morrison – about a young African-American girl after the Great Depression – and deals with issues including racism, incest and child molestation. – NBC-2.com

The fact is, The Bluest Eye does contain explicit and potentially upsetting material. That’s kind of the point of the book. It’s also meant to portray a life that many will (luckily) never know but that’s the thing about books, they transport you, for good or bad, into the shoes of another person. They teach you stuff. Sometimes the stuff is really great (like in books like The Wizard of Oz or The Hobbit) and you are transported to a wonderful place that you wish with all your heart was real. Sometimes the books take you to a horrible place you never want to visit (like The Stand or Fifty Shades of Grey or The Road by Cormac McCarthy). Even the books that horrify you are teaching you something. They’re teaching you about your own likes and dislikes, they’re teaching you about who you are.

Does this mean that I want a 5-year-old reading about sex and violence? No. Would I ban the book to keep them away from it? No. I would be a concerned and involved parent and I would KNOW what my 5-year old was reading (wait, do 5-year olds read?)…same goes for an 8-year-old or older. I think banning books is toeing the line to burning them and we cannot allow that happen. I mean heck, I don’t ever throw books away, they are always donated or sold if I no longer want them- which is not really something that happens. My books are my friends and I treasure them, they comfort me and sometimes they overwhelm me, especially when my “To Be Read” pile is a huge stack taller than I am!

FYI, The Bible was banned in the USSR from 1926 – 1956. The BIBLE for pete’s sake! Add to that the fact that Dr. Seuss’ beloved classic (yes, I said DR. SEUSS), Green Eggs and Ham was banned in China from 1965 – 1991 for its portrayal of Marxism (click here for more crazy book banning facts). You can tell that anything can get banned for a period of time if it is deemed “offensive” by parties in power. That’s what makes it so scary, I mean, there are kids in China who didn’t get to learn about green eggs and ham!  Seriously though, it seems arbitrary what books get banned and it’s offensive to me in a lot of ways. Not to mention, it is all about perceived opinions, not fact.

The First Amendment

The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees our right to free speech, which includes the right to read and write books that might be considered by some to be too violent, hateful, or offensive. Because this freedom is one of our fundamental rights as Americans, some people feel that any form of censorship is wrong. Most people fall somewhere in the middle, believing that people should be free to read whatever they choose, but that in some rare instances censorship is acceptable.

According to the ALA President Carol Brey-Casiano, “Not every book is right for every person, but providing a wide range of reading choices is vital for learning, exploration, and imagination. The abilities to read, speak, think, and express ourselves freely are core American values.”

Some people feel that schools, libraries, and governments should be the judge of what books are good for kids. Others believe that kids or their parents should have the freedom to decide for themselves, and shouldn’t have others’ viewpoints imposed on them. –Infoplease.com

That last point is what really speaks to me, it shouldn’t be up to the government, the library or even schools to decide what is right or wrong for someone to read. It should be up to the kids parents, plain and simple. A parent’s job is to look out for the welfare of their children, this means keeping an eye on their internet usage, their Smartphone usage and what they read. It’s about being involved in their life.

That being said, just because a parent doesn’t like a book for their kid, does not mean it should be banned from a library. What one kid shouldn’t read, another probably should. Book banning is a symptom of a much larger disease, a much larger sickness in the culture, where a few try to decide the rights of everyone and that, dear readers, is not okay.

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Fight For Your Books!

Book banning has been with the world for as long as any other oppressive force. It doesn’t appear to be going away but what stops it from becoming truly insidious is that people stand up for the books, they stand up for free speech and that even if a book gets banned, it still finds a way to get to the people who need it most and that’s what really matters.

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What do YOU think? Is book banning done with good intentions? Are the parents crazy to even bother? Should they simply become more involved? Tell me what you think in the comments!