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The Book of Henry – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  June 16, 2017  
Rating:  PG-13  
Run Time:  1 hour 45 minutes  
After Credit Scene:  NO  
IMAX Viewing:  NO  
3D Viewing:  NO  
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers  
The Dope Sheet Score:  6.5 out of 10

A Non-Spoiler Review

Henry, a childhood genius, lives with his mother and younger brother.   Using the notebook Henry has written, together they try to save their neighbor from her abusive stepfather.

What works:    The acting is quite good as both Naomi Watts (Susan) and Jaeden Lieberher (Henry) give solid performances.  Sarah Silverman (Sheila) does a good job in a serious role as does veteran small screen actor Dean Norris (Glenn Sickleman).  This is a good story, not a great story, but a good story that will tug at your heart strings and repulse you with sensitive topics.  The film does an outstanding job during a few scenes of leaving your mind to fill in the blanks.  By doing so, the film guides the viewers imagination to determine the characters actions.  Very powerful.

What doesn’t work:  Young actress Maddie Ziegler needs a few more acting classes.  You may recognize her from the reality tv show, “Dance Moms.”  It wasn’t until her dance scene that I was able to put my finger on why she looked familiar.  Not a poor performance, but one that stood out that she needs some polishing.  Through the first half of the movie you get the feeling you are watching an after-school special, but as the plot develops the movie gets darker and more twisted.  It is at this point in the film it loses some of the audience because the story switches from a drama to a thriller.  Looking at the poster for the film, you may be misguided as to the type of film you are going to watch.  If you have watched the trailer for this movie, the story becomes a bit predictable.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie and the story, but this isn’t the movie you take your preteen to see on a rainy summer day.  Due to the sensitive/adult situations that the movie dives into, I don’t feel this movie is going to get its credit as a good story and may not last long at the box office.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give The Book of Henry a 6.5.  It is worth a matinee ticket, but only if you have nothing to do on a rainy day.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

book henry poster

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A View From Above: Where to Spot Good Writing

As a student of writing, I’m constantly on the lookout for good quality work. Most of the time when we think of good quality writing we think of the classics like Shakespeare, Chaucer, or Milton. Similarly we also think good writing comes from novels and/or plays; forms that are generally thought of as a little highbrow and difficult to connect with. However, good writing can also come from film, television and even comic books.

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I’ve read a lot of classics from Homer’s The Iliad to Beowulf to Paradise Lost. From Edgar Allen Poe to Bram Stoker. They’re all great if you want to learn story structure and expand your vocabulary and I highly recommend you start at the beginning. On the other hand, I’ve also read and watched things that were recommended to me with the thought that I’d like them, but alas poor Yorick I did not. They just didn’t do it for me. Breaking Bad, for example, which is consistently rated as one of the best television series’ of all time. I couldn’t get through the second episode. Don’t get me wrong, it was an interesting premise, but just not my thing. Just the other day I got caught up in a twitter debate about how “great” The Expanse is. Is it? I found the characters boring, and the dialogue weak. I muddled my way through the first season and don’t plan on continuing. How it got renewed for a third season is beyond me. I simply cannot watch anything produced by the SyFy channel. Can anyone tell me why everything looks blue on that show? Ender’s Game was another recommendation. This was one experience where I rather enjoyed the movie more than the book. No. Just no.

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The theory is that I like science fiction. Everyone knows my love of Star Wars. The thing is Star Wars isn’t science fiction. I’m not a fan of any specific genre. I like what’s written well. Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Preacher (the comic not the show, please…not the show), are all very different. This is how I can tell if I really like something; I cannot physically put it down or turn it off. It’s impossible And if I can remember what I’m reading, that’s a sign. The best part of good writing for me is the dialogue. Which any writer, no matter their skill level, will tell you is the most difficult to get right. Garth Ennis, the writer for Preacher gets the dialogue down so perfectly, with speech inflection and all like nobody’s business. Yes, it may take a couple readings to get through a speech bubble, but it pays off later on when you realize it becomes part of the character and their development.

Game_of_Thrones_title_card

What I like about GoT and HoC is not only the dialogue, but the delivery of it by the actors. It’s quick, yet forceful. It’s serious but not overly dramatic. The multilayered storylines give both shows an extra level of intrigue. This made me realize my own novel is way too simple (editors note:  Eric is in the process of writing his first book).

Another show I respect, but am not completely enthralled with is Avatar: The Last Airbender, and The Legend of Korra to an even lesser extent. I know it’s blasphemy to not love these shows. I really like them, and love how the story and characters develop. I think it’s because it’s animated, which doesn’t make sense at all because I love Star Wars Clone Wars and Rebels.

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I had just caught up with Saga, the comic series written by award winning comic writer Brian K. Vaughan. I’ll say this; it’s definitely original, which is a big plus in my book. It’s well written, but didn’t pull me in as much as Preacher did. I’m also reading his other series, Paper Girls which is also very original. Y: The Last Man, from what I read is really good too! I’ll stay with both for now. A few more examples of good writing came from a recommended comic called Wytches by Scott Snyder. Wow! If you like creepy comics, in the vein of Stephen King, I cannot recommend this one enough. I read the entire trade in one sitting, something I never do. Lastly, Transmetroplitan and Planetary also came recommended, both written by Warren Ellis. I’m excited to dive into those!

I’m all ears for more recommendations. I can’t guarantee I’ll like it, but I’m willing to try. Movies, books, or comics!

Eric Onkenhout

@EricOnkenhout or @WritingEric

Facebook.com/eric.onkenhout

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Trailer Snark (March 10, 2017 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!

Kong: Skull Island (Warner Bros) – Adventure/Fantasy
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language.
Tag Line: Awaken the King.
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson
Plot: A team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites to explore an uncharted island in the Pacific. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong. As their mission becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden.
Running Time: 120 minutes

Jessica: It’s ALL about King Kong for me this week so I can’t even deal with any of these other silly films. 😉
Jim: JL, I wholeheartedly share your enthusiasm. The original ’33 King, to me, is still the greatest adventure film of all time (I even like Son of Kong and the original Mighty Joe Young) and Peter Jackson’s remake was pretty awesome.  The original just gets better every time I see it.  Seeing this one on Wednesday, can’t wait! Great cast, good trailer (although shows a bit too much). The other movies just don’t have a chance.
Chris: I’d love to play Devil’s Advocate here, but the moment I saw this trailer I knew I needed to make it a priority to witness it in all of it’s Big Screen glory!

Raw (Focus World) – Drama/Horror
Rated R for aberrant behavior, bloody and grisly images, strong sexuality, nudity, language and drug use/partying
Tag Line: What are you hungry for?
Starring: Garance Marrilier, Ella Rumpf
Plot: When a young vegetarian undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school, an unbidden taste for meat begins to grow in her.
Running Time: 99 minutes

Chris:  Hold the bath salts, thank you.  <Puke>
Jessica: No giant apes?  No Loki?  Pass.
Jim: This looks scarier than Kong.

The Ottoman Lieutenant (Paladin) – Drama/War
Rated R for some war violence
Tag Line: In a land on the brink of war the most dangerous place to be is in love.
Starring: Michiel Huisman, Ben Kingsley, Josh Hartnett
Plot: The Ottoman Lieutenant is a love story between an idealistic American nurse and a Turkish officer in World War I.
Running Time: 106 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ9TZlyQSJM
Jim: ZZZZZZ
Chris: Certainly looks better than the Ben Kingsley film we looked at here two weeks ago, but not good enough to drag me to the theater.
Jessica: Nope, not KK.

Personal Shopper (IFC Films) – Mystery/Drama/Thriller
Rated R for some language, sexuality, nudity and a bloody violent image
Tag Line: None
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Lars Edlinger
Plot: Revolves around a ghost story that takes place in the fashion underworld of Paris.
Running Time: 105 minutes

Jessica: Unless they’re buying GIANT shoes for Kingy Kongy, I’ll pass!
Jim: I liked Clouds of Sils Maria, looks interesting (I’m waiting for Kristen Stewart jokes from SOMEbody).
Chris: I suggest a cross-over film where King Kong visit Paris and eats Kristen Stewart, downing her with a glass of wine, while the Ottoman Empire rises and invades Western Europe. I think that covers a combination of all this week’s previous trailers and delivers Jim from disappointment.

The Sense of an Ending (CBS Films) – Drama
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, a violent image, sexuality and brief strong language
Tag Line: Unravel the truth.
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter
Plot: A man becomes haunted by his past and is presented with a mysterious legacy that causes him to re-think his current situation in life.
Running Time: 108 minutes

Chris: This one actually caught me by surprise.  Refreshingly understated reflective mystery.
Jessica: I sense an ending with a GIANT APE.
Jim: Maybe worth a rental ’cause of the premise.

The Other Half (Brainstorm Media) – Dram/Romance
Not Rated
Tag Line: None
Starring: Tatiana Maslany, Tom Cullen
Plot: A bipolar woman and a grief-stricken man struggle to forge a simple life.
Running Time: 103 minutes

Jim: ZZZZZZ part two.
Chris:  Two minutes…..all it took to put me to sleep.  Probably the darkest (literally) trailer I have ever seen.
Jessica: If the other half of the other half isn’t Kong, I’ll pass.

The Dark Below (Parade Deck Films) – Thriller
Not Rated
Tag Line: Silence is the most powerful scream.
Starring: Lauren Mae Shafer, Veronica Cartwright
Plot: A woman struggles for survival beneath a frozen lake while a serial killer stalks her from the surface.

Jessica: I came up with lots of jokes that are not printable so I’ll just say, not Kong, not for me!
Jim: Looks pretty intense, whatever it is. Veronica Cartwright, wow!
Chris: Love the concept. Cat and very wet mouse.

Tickets Purchased:  Three for Kong!

 

What are Samuel Jackson's Vegas odds on survival in this film?
What are Samuel Jackson’s Vegas odds on survival in this film?
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Trailer Snark (March 3, 2017 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!

Logan (Twentieth Century Fox) – Action/Drama/Sci-Fi
Rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity
Tag Line: None
Starring:  Hugh Jackman, Patrick Steward, Dafne Keen
Plot: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
Running Time: 137 minutes

Jessica: The Apocalypse XMen movie lost me, but this looks really good. I love the idea of an old Logan and it looks dark and gritty, my two least favorite superhero adjectives, but it’s appealing to me, I cannot lie!
Chris: The advanced buzz on this movie has been crazy good, and the trailer kicked me in the rear and got my attention.  I am certain High Jackman will be leaving the role that he has made his own on a very high note.

Before I Fall (Open Road Films) – Drama/Mystery
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content involving drinking, sexuality, bullying, some violent images, and language-all involving teens.
Tag Line: What if today was the only day for the rest of your life?
Starring: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Jennifer Beals
Plot: February 12 is just another day in Sam’s charmed life until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over one inexplicable week, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s in danger of losing.
Running Time: 99 minutes

Jessica: Interesting idea. Like a morbid teenage angsty Groundhog Day. Hmmm.
Chris:  Darnit Jess….you stole my Groundhog Day comparison.  Tweens will be all over this.  All that is missing is some 90’s era “I hate my life grunge music.”

Table 19 (Fox Searchlight) – Drama/Comedy
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, drug use, language and some brief nudity
Tag Line: You are invited to the wedding of the season.
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, Lisa Kudrow
Plot: Ex-maid of honor Eloise, having been relieved of her duties after being unceremoniously dumped by the best man via text, decides to attend the wedding anyway only to find herself seated with 5 “random” guests at the dreaded Table 19.
Running Time: 87 minutes

Chris: I like the concept of this one.  Anyone who has planned a wedding can certainly see the humor.  Will catch it at RedBox in a few months.
Jessica: I really enjoy Anna K. and the rest of the cast are pretty solid low-key comedy talents, looks funny, watch at home fare.

The Shack (Summit Entertainment) – Drama/Fantasy
Rated PG-13 for thematic material including some violence
Tag Line: You’re never as alone as you think.
Starring: Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Tim McGraw, Radha Mitchell
Plot: A grieving man receives a mysterious, personal invitation to meet with God at a place called “The Shack.”
Running Time: 132 minutes

Chris: I read this book a few years back, and enjoyed it.  Harmed children is always tough material to digest.  Pretty good cast in this one though, and worth a look down the road.
Jessica:  *crickets*

The Last Word (Bleecker Street Media) – Drama/Comedy
Rated R for language.
Tag Line: An unexpected friendship that begins at the end
Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried
Plot: Harriet is a retired businesswoman who tries to control everything around her. When she decides to write her own obituary, a young journalist takes up the task of finding out the truth resulting in a life-altering friendship.
Running Time: 108 minutes

Jessica:  I do love Shirley McClaine so I’d watch this at home, though it looks a bit like “chick flick” fare.
Chris: Came in expecting to not like it, but actually found it to be a bit charming.  I mean, not get me to the theater charming, but I could see myself watching it with the wife, and joking with her that this could be a vision of her future.  😉

Donald Cried (The Orchard) – Comedy/Drama
Not Rated
Tag Line: Some people can take a hint. And some people are Donald.
Starring: Jesse Wakeman, Louisa Krause
Plot: With sudden passing of his grandmother, Peter Latang returns to his hometown and encounters his long lost, childhood friend, Donald Treebeck. What begins as a simple favor, turns into a long day’s journey into the past.
Running Time: 85 minutes

Chris: Talk about trainwreck friendships!  LOL.  Cringeworthy pathos was a phrase within the trailer, and it fits perfectly. 
Jessica: Um, what the heck? Not sure about this one, looks funny and scary.

Wolves (IFC Films) – Drama
Not Rated
Tag Line: You ready to rise up?
Starring: Michael Shannon, Taylor John Smith
Plot: An 18-year-old basketball star who is being recruited by Cornell University seems to have it all figured out: captain of his team, a good student, has a longtime girlfriend and some good friends. But at home he’s struggling with his troubled father who has a gambling addiction. His mother tries to keep the family afloat but does so with great emotional and financial sacrifice.
Running Time: 109 minutes

Jessica: I adore Michael Shannon, he’s so solid so I’d watch this on the power of his name alone, but the rest of the story looks pretty compelling as well. Another watch at home film though.
Chris: I agree with Jess that Michael Shannon is a fine actor, and this could be an understated gem.  It just won’t find its audience on the big screen, I am almost certain.

Tickets Purchased:  Two for Logan

Farewell Hugh. You were a better Logan than the movies you starred in.
Farewell Hugh. You were a better Logan than the movies you starred in.
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Trailer Snark (February 24, 2017 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!

Get Out (Universal) – Horror/Mystery
Rated R for violence, bloody images, and language including sexual references
Tag Line: None
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams
Plot: A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.
Running time: 103 minutes

Jim: How I have come to hate horror movie trailers (as much as I love good horror movies). They’re boring, cliched, and so “Oooh, look what we’re gonna scare you with now! Isn’t this scary??” That said, the plot of this had me intrigued. A creepy movie might be lurking under this ho-hum trailer.
Chris:  I was honestly waiting for the punchline to reveal this to be some kind of spoof movie.  Pretty underwhelming.

Collide (Open Road Films) –  Action/Thriller
Rated PG-13 for violence, frenetic action, some sexuality, language, and drug material
Tag Line: How far would you go for love?
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley
Plot: An American backpacker gets involved with a ring of drug smugglers as their driver, though he winds up on the run from his employers across Cologne high-speed Autobahn.
Running Time: 99 minutes

Chris: I think Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley lost a bet to Nicholas Cage and Bruce Willis to star in this movie.
Jim: <Yawn> Looks like The Firm with cars.

Rock Dog (Summit Entertainment) – Animated/Family
Rated PG for action and language
Tag Line: A new breed of rock star.
Starring: Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard
Plot: When a radio falls from the sky into the hands of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff, he leaves home to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician, setting into motion a series of completely unexpected events.
Running Time: 80 minutes

Jim: Has kind of a secondhand look to it. Second-tier animation with been-there done-that gags. Pass.
Chris:  Does this dog know how to rock and roll over?  Was that a weak pun?  Yeah.  About as weak as that trailer.

Bitter Harvest (Roadside Attractions) – Drama/Romance/War
Rated R for violence and disturbing images
Tag Line: Soviet Union. 1933. Stalin’s tyranny could destroy their country. But not their love.
Starring: Max Irons, Samantha Barks, Barry Pepper
Plot: Set in 1930s Ukraine, as Stalin advances the ambitions of communists in the Kremlin, young artist Yuri battles to save his lover Natalka from the Holodomor, the death-by-starvation program that ultimately killed millions of Ukrainians.
Running Time: 103 minutes

Chris:  A pre-WWII era of history that has not received enough attention in film.  Historical set pieces are a favorite of mine.  Looks solid!
Jim: Reeks of a movie that’s “good for you.”

As You Are (Votiv Films) – Drama/Mystery
Not Rated
Tag Line: None
Starring: Owen Campbell, Charlie Heaton, Amanda Stenberg
Plot: Set in the early 1990’s, “As You Are” is the telling and retelling of a relationship between three teenagers as it traces the course of their friendship through a construction of disparate memories prompted by a police investigation.
Running Time: 110 minutes

Jim: Now THIS is the way to make a trailer. Hope the movie is as good.
Chris: Definitely made me want to see what the heck happened to the characters in the story.  I agree with Jim that this is the way you cut a trailer and get some attention.  Cheers!

Punching Henry (Well Go USA) – Comedy
Not Rated
Tag Line: None
Starring: Henry Phillips, J.K. Simmons, Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro
Plot: Hapless satirical songwriter Henry Phillips is lured to LA when a veteran TV producer decides to make a show about the life of a loser.
Running Time: 95 minutes

Chris: This looks like a whole lot of I don’t give a crap.
Jim: What is it about this trailer? Didn’t it seem like it was bored with itself? If it weren’t for JK Simmons, I think I would have nodded off halfway through.

Tickets Purchased:  One for As You Are (Jim) and one for Bitter Harvest (Chris)

Get Out would probably be more successful if the Wayans Brothers wrote it.
Get Out would probably be more successful if the Wayans Brothers wrote it.
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The Female Perspective: Holy Hera! Wonder Woman Figures!

Welcome! This is a 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! Or find me on Facebook at @JLMetcalfAuthorArtisan!

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


It’s been awhile since I’ve written about the delightful Wonder Woman and I feel that it is time to mention her again, mostly because of the FIGURES!!!

Holy Hera, have you seen these!?!?!?!

First off, the fact that a major toy company is making FEMALE action figures is always a wonderfully satisfying thing, but then you look at these exquisite beauties and seriously: I WANT THEM ALL. It’s great to see that the toys are well done and that they are actually coming out with the movie. Maybe it’s a sign that companies are learning that little girls will indeed want to have toys like this to play with. Whatever the reason, it’s great to see these beauties!

Photographer Dennis DiLaura Stylist Mary Jordan
Photographer Dennis DiLaura
Stylist Mary Jordan

The dolls were revealed in a recent Entertainment Weekly ahead of the New York Toy Fair. What really shocks me is how relatively inexpensive these dolls are. They seem to range in price from $15 to $30 depending on what one you choose. I may have to pick me up one or two because gosh dang it, girl toys ROCK!

More Info: http://ew.com/movies/wonder-woman-mattel-toys/photographer-dennis-dilaurastylist-mary-jordan/
More Info: Entertainment Weekly

Also, I am very excited about the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, even with the less than stellar track record of DC Comics and Warner Brothers in the superhero genre. I  mean come on now, what the heck was happening in Suicide Squad exactly? I have enjoyed the Zack Snyder Superman movies though (she ducks to avoid people spitting water at her) and I have the hope that Gal Gadot, who did a solid job as Wonder Woman in Batman v. Superman can really knock it out of the park, proving that a female-centric superhero film can make money. She certainly look like Wonder Woman, let’s hope she can act like her too. Fingers crossed.

As we await the arrival of Wonder Woman this summer, we can enjoy the trailer and soon enough, these wonderful toys which will be released around the movie’s release.

Wonder Woman Trailer!

Are you excited??? Tell me your Wonder Woman stories!

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The Female Perspective: Why Social Media Is Stressful

Welcome! This is a 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! Or find me on Facebook at @JLMetcalfAuthorArtisan!

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


 These days social media is a challenging place for myself and many of my friends to be. A lot of my Facebook friends have bowed out of that particular site because it’s simply too negative, too political, too, whatever other word you want to use there. A part of me agree’s.

social-media-mobile-icons-snapchat-facebook-instagram-ss-800x450-3-800x450

Before I get too far into this, I want to say two things:

  1. I am on Facebook – though my presence is less and I took the FB app off my phone so I can’t check it constantly.
  2. This is in no way a condemnation or judgement of others on social media. I love social media. It’s a great way to connect with people all over the world.

So let’s move along, shall we?

My point in writing this blog is to chat about social media and how it can have such an impact on us emotionally, which seems like a strange thing because in essence, it’s an online forum. It’s not communicating with actual people face-to-face, it’s communicating via electronic means. So why then does it upset some people, anger others, and reassure still another group of people? What is it about social media that keeps us all so engaged, so active in it? According to one survey, in 2016, 78% of the US population was using social media.

Donuts-02-1-1024x512

In 2012, Brand Dignity wrote an article asking why social media was so popular and listed some of the basic reasons why people use it, things such as social media is free to use, it’s a way for people to network and promote their businesses, it’s a way to meet new people, and social media sites are extremely user-friendly and easy to use. All these reasons are extremely valid, but leave out the cons of social media, stuff like bullying, trolling, stalking, and just people being able to say whatever they want behind the safety of a computer screen. Not to mention, it leaves the door open for a lack of social etiquette or person-to-person connection.

It’s a funny thing for those of us who grew up before social media and before computers. I thank the good Lord on a regular basis that we didn’t have smartphones or Twitter when I was a kid. No one could document my day-to-day stupidity and the bully’s couldn’t follow me home and harass me online. Kids today have it rough in a way I never did. But at the same time, are they also learning that because you’re “safe” behind a computer screen you can say whatever you want without any real consequences? Is kindness and proper grammar going out the window? Are we living in a world where you just abbreviate everything and it’s all about selfie’s and getting the most likes?

Social_media_fear

These aren’t questions that I can even possibly answer on my own. I just know that seeing the things I see recently, what with the 2016 election, everything Trump does every, single day that horrifies most people I know, and the general negativity and shaming that goes on –I mean jeez, Lady Gaga got body shamed for her Superbowl performance – really? Because just anyone can flip over on wires and dance AND sing well in front of MILLIONS, but please, by all means, let’s mock her for her body. The world of social media is a strange place and I for one am taking a small break. I still check in once or twice a day, and I still post my blog there and when my new book comes out, I’ll post stuff then, but I can’t look at the fear-mongering posts, the angry posts, or even the happy posts all the time anymore. It’s just too much and I’d rather have human-to-human contact than the coldness of a computer screen.

What about you folks? Does social media ever stress you out? Does it effect you in any way? Why or why not? And if it doesn’t, how do you manage to say unattached? Share your tips, your tricks and your thoughts below!

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Trailer Snark (December 23, 2016 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!

The Trailer Snark team is taking a break for Christmas, so this week’s edition will be without commentary.  Happy Holidays!

Passengers (Columbia) – Sci-Fi/Drama/Adventure
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, nudity and action/peril
Tag Line:  Every moment counts.
Starring:  Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt
Plot: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.
Running Time: 116 minutes

Sing (Universal) – Animation/Family
Rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril
Tag Line: Auditions begin 2016.
Starring:  Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth McFarlane
Plot: A koala named Buster Moon has one final chance to restore his theater to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.
Running Time: 108 minutes

A Monster Calls (Focus Features) – Drama/Fantasy
Rated PG-13 for thematic content and some scary images
Tag Line: Stories are wild creatures.
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Lewis MacDougall
Plot: A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mom’s terminal illness.
Running Time: 108 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvZrnt9b7vU

Fences (Paramount) – Drama
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language and some suggestive references
Tag Line: None
Starring:  Denzell Washington, Viola Davis
Plot: An African-American father struggles with race relations in the United States while trying to raise his family in the 1950s and coming to terms with the events of his life.
Running Time: 138 minutes

Silence (Paramount) – Drama/History
Rated R for some disturbing violent content
Tag Line: Sometimes silence is the deadliest sound.
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson
Plot: In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit priests face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and propagate Catholicism.
Running Time: 161 minutes

Assassin’s Creed (Twentieth Century Fox) – Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, thematic elements and brief strong language
Tag Line: Your destiny is in your blood.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons
Plot: When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.
Running Time: 115 minutes

Why Him? (Twentieth Century Fox) – Comedy
Rated R for strong language and sexual material throughout
Tag Line:  Of all the guys his daughter could have chosen….
Starring:  Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Zoey Deutch
Plot: A holiday gathering threatens to go off the rails when Ned Fleming realizes that his daughter’s Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend is about to pop the question.
Running Time: 111 minutes

Patriots Day (Lionsgate) – Drama/History/Thriller
Rated R for violence, realistically graphic injury images, language throughout and some drug use
Tag Line: The inside story of the world’s greatest manhunt.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monoghan, John Goodman, J.K. Simmons
Plot: An account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis’s actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it.
Running Time: 133 minutes

Merry Christmas from the Trailer Snark Team!
Merry Christmas from the Trailer Snark Team!
Posted on

The Female Perspective: Some Of My Favorite Things

Welcome! This is a 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! Or find me on Facebook at @JLMetcalfAuthorArtisan!

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 thought for a bit about what I wanted to write about this week, I’ll admit to being still a bit heartsick over the election results and I’m not ashamed to admit it. While this is not a political blog and I do not want to get political, I also can’t pretend to be business as usual. So I decided to do another post about some things that make me happy in the hopes that it will cheer others or even inspire them to share what makes them happy as well!

Also, it’s a bit of a gift guide too since it’s that time of year again folks!

Christmas is my favorite time of year. It’s a time that has always felt hopeful. One year is nearing its end, while another looms before us, full of hope and opportunity. I admit that I am a bit frightened as to what is coming for us in 2017 and beyond, but I will not allow my fear to drive me, I will keep hoping for better things on the horizon.

I won’t give up and neither should you.

And now, onto some of my favorite things!

#1. SOCKS! 

I admit to having a crazy obsession with socks. I’ve managed to temper it as the years have gone on mostly because I have such a massive collection I really cannot buy any new ones. That does not, however, stop others from indulging me in my obsession and I often get fun new socks for my birthday and/or Christmas. One of my favorite places to shop for socks is a Portland, Oregon shop called Sock Dreams. They seriously have a HUGE selection of the coolest socks. My favorites from there are by far what they call the “extraordinary tie dyed thigh high“. I LOOOOVE them so much I fear for the day they die and therefore only wear them sparingly! I really need to get a new pair one of these days.

SOCKS!
SOCKS!

What I love about them is that they have a wide range of prices and styles and their customer service is nothing short of spectacular. I have ordered socks from them to have them come, regular USPS shipping, in less than a week. It’s fantastic!

#2. Geeky Things from Think Geek

They have some of the funnest stuff around, from SHIELD logo yoga pants, to solar system glassware and more. It’s truly a plethora of geeky goodness. I can browse for hours when I am avoiding my real work and still not get through everything they have to offer.

Also, a Book of Spells Wallet!?!?! Are you kidding me??? So cool.

#3. Stuff on Etsy.

Who doesn’t love Etsy? It really is a wonderfully diverse and fun black hole of shopping exploration. With finds like a Narwhal Cardigan and or awesome prints of parody art by Dave Pollock, you cannot go wrong in terms of gift giving this year!

Photo By JL Metcalf
Photo By JL Metcalf

FYI, I have a nifty little shop on Etsy called Juicey Creative Works and it includes photographs, signed copies of my books and art by none other than Frankie B. Washington!

#4. Neighborhood Love Notes on social media

Inspired to create a love bubble around the world, I came across this just a day or so after the election. I thought it was such  beautiful and simple idea. Simple get some sidewalk chalk and write love notes to the world, to your neighbors on your sidewalk.

Let’s spread love and support for all people who may live in fear of the current events. While hateful groups feel emboldened to spread their bigotry via vandalism, let’s counter with colorful reminders that we are not alone in our fight against intolerance and our commitment to solidarity.

NOTE: You can do this anywhere, anytime, and anyplace! Modify, change, get creative. Just grab your crew and go.

Initially imagined by Ashley Horan, here are her own words from her Facebook page –

“A testimonial, and an invitation:

I was terribly unproductive today. I realized I needed to make something, rather than think about anything. Thinking about my queer and trans and Muslim and undocumented and poor neighbors, I realized that I needed to tell them – before doing anything else – that I see them and I love them. So I bought sidewalk chalk, and wrote love notes to my neighborhood.

As I was working, at least seven or eight kids in my neighborhood–none of them ones that I had known before –stopped and talked with me on their way home from school. They told me about their fears, their hopes, their dreams. One of them took the time to stop and create a square of his own.

Tomorrow, I am going to go to other places in the city where I know people are hurting and tell them in this way that I love them, too.

My unsolicited advice: go buy some sidewalk chalk, and meditate about who you love – rather than who you fear – for a little while. This will certainly not change the world. There is so much other work to do. But it saved my heart today.

Those of you who are part of congregations, religious communities, or other communal spaces where you will be gathering this week, an idea: one of my colleagues had the idea to do a “reverse offering” at her church this weekend, where she will pass out chalk to the congregation and charge people to go out and write notes to folks in their communities wherever they see the need. This is brilliant.

Please, if you do this in a communal OR an individual way, will you take photos and post them with the hashtag #NeighborhoodLoveNotes? Let’s spread the love!”

Ashley Horan
Ashley Horan

What could be better than that this time of year?

#5. You, Dear Readers

Yep, it’s true. For all those that read my blog, even if you never leave a comment, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I do this for fun and I do this in the hope that something I say inspires someone else to write their own blog, or to watch a movie I might suggest, or just to laugh a little when they feel sad. I take blogging seriously, even when it is a lighthearted blog like today’s. It’s important that we all feel heard and we all feel loved and I know for the last two years, it’s been a tough go for some/all of us. Let’s do our best to #SendLove to one another, to #BeLove to one another and to remember, we are all in this together. No matter who you voted for, we are all human beings deserving of love, respect and kindness. As I’ve seen online so many times (and apologies for the swears if it offends);

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As always, thank you for reading! See you next week!!!

And, please, share what makes YOU happy!

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The Female Perspective: The Women of the Marvel Netflix Universe

Welcome! This is a 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


It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for superhero films and TV shows. I, like so many others, have been enjoying everything Marvel, including their foray into the world of binge watching on Netflix. Recently my boyfriend and I sat down and watched Luke Cage and I have to say, it was phenomenal. It also got me thinking, how come Marvel, and by extension, Netflix, can get this stuff so right and so many others get it so, so wrong?

The awesome women on "Luke Cage" on Netflix now!
The awesome women on “Luke Cage” on Netflix now!

What am I talking about? Not the content necessarily, though they nail that, but more specifically I’m talking about the women. The female characters are well thought out, they’re developed in fascinating and engaging ways and they walk around fully clothed and act like the grown ups they are.  It particularly struck me during Luke Cage as something that is a pleasure to see. Women who are powerful and smart, not just sex objects.

Take Rosario Dawson’s character for example, Claire, she its he connecting character between Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and in all the shows she’s tough, she’s no-nonsense and she’s brave as all get out, especially when surrounded by larger than life enhanced people. She doesn’t wuss out when things get tough, she grabs the closest weapon she can find and she fights, or she used her words, which she’s more than capable of stringing into full sentences and fights that way. The women of the Netflix Marvel Universe are so much more than just women, they’re partners to the crime fighters they stand by. They’re equals. 

"Jessica Jones" on Netflix.
“Jessica Jones” on Netflix.

Of course, it’s not just in the Netflix programming either, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is equally as impressive in its female roles. No quiet wallflowers here, they’re all out to protect those that they love, keep themselves safe and fight toe-to-toe with some of Earth’s greatest hero’s. It’s something that strikes me as at odds in today’s world of angry anti-feminist rhetoric. It’s amazing when you look at the toy lines and the fight that it’s been to get the female characters represented alongside the male characters. How can Marvel and the studios get it so right on the screen, but so wrong in other places?

Now I can’t pretend to be knowledgeable about comic books since I haven’t read most of the ones that are the basis of these shows, but the comics I have read have struggled with representing women as equals to their male counterparts. I will never, ever understand why someone thinks it makes sense to draw a woman who is in a life or death fight as wearing a strapless top and a skirt. I know comics aren’t meant to be realistic and I love being sunk into  fantasy world of super hero’s and super villains, but still, I want my super ladies to wear pants, is that so much of a stretch? And shirts with sleeves and stuff would be good too, but one thing at at time. Pants would be great.

Elektra stands on her own (and apart) from her male counterparts in "Daredevil" season 2.
Elektra stands on her own (and apart) from her male counterparts in “Daredevil” season 2.

Anyway … What do you think? Have you watched any of these shows? What do you think about the portrayal of women in the Marvel universe? Sound off in the comments! Tell me what you think!