Verisimilitude

Definition: the illusion of being real

A big SAT word. I’m not much a big word guy, but I love this word. Why? Probably because I love the magic behind movies, especially sci-fi and fantasy movies which at face value are completely unrealistic. Spacefighters flying through space with ease, dragons flying around the world, laser guns, magic… none of these things are real, but the world the stories take place are built in a way that we believe them.

I am willing to bet that 90% of the time when someone likes or enjoys a book or movie because of its realism, more than likely it is because of the verisimilitude it provides instead. They believe the world is real and the characters act in a way that is believable. But transforming robots aren’t real, you don’t know how you would act if big giant robots started fighting in downtown so how do you know it’s realistic? People with superpowers aren’t real, so how do you know how people would react to someone like Superman existing? It’s not the realism, it’s the fact we believe it’s realistic.

I’ll give you an example: The movie Cloverfield is what I feel a perfect example of a movie being not realistic at all but giving you verisimilitude, and even at a point, breaking the verisimilitude.

People who liked the movie talked about how realistic it was and I am over here thinking “Realistic? A giant monster is attacking New York! What is realistic about that!” What they really like is how the movie was presented in such a way they believe it is real. They believe in the verisimilitude of the movie, the ILLUSION that is real.

For me at least there was a part where they broke the verisimilitude. The main character, Rob, is trying to rescue Beth, a girl he likes, from a building that is about to collapse. A piece of rebar has impaled her shoulder, this is a major injury, yet after they rescue her she runs around like nothing had happened.

Now, not much about the premise of this movie is “realistic” but they told the story in such a way that I believe in the verisimilitude. But that rescue was just too unbelievable, too implausible for me believe in the illusion anymore.

Giant monster ravaging New York City? Sure why not. Young woman being impaled by a thick rod of rebar and running around like it never happened? Sorry, you lost me.

So as a writer or filmmaker, remember you are not trying to be realistic, you are trying to maintain verisimilitude. When you are trying to maintain that, it doesn’t matter how fantastical or futuristic you setting is, there are still rules you have to follow or else you will lose the illusion you need for people to enjoy your story.

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You are Special

Mr. Rogers was right… You are special.

But that doesn’t mean you are better than anyone else. It also doesn’t mean you are entitled to anything. You may have to work hard for others to see that value.

In this time, many young people are branded “snowflakes.” It is used as an insult and attacking how young people grow up thinking they are special because of the programming they watched and participation trophies for everything they do.

But, I believe that nothing is wrong with believing you are special. There is nothing wrong with believing everyone offers the world something that no other person can. Not only is nothing wrong with this, but this is a good thing.

I will agree with some of the sentiment in the “snowflake” branding. Just because you are special doesn’t mean you are entitled to whatever you want, or that anything should be handed to you because you “deserve it.”

That IS a toxic mindset. That is not what Mr. Rogers meant when he called his young viewers special. That is not Mr. Rogers wanted to instill in those children.

You are special. But you don’t deserve anything just because you are special. What Mr. Rogers wanted to teach when he said you were special was that you were worth something, that you can (through hard work and perseverance) accomplish whatever you want, and that you can make the world a better place.

I am thankful for men like Mr. Rogers who faithfully and unselfishly served and lifted up his viewers. We need more people like him. We need more people to teach us what it truly means to be special. Because we are special, and the sooner we learn what that means, the world can change.

Olympics Musing #1

At what point do reach the pinnacle of human performance?

Every Olympics we see people break Olympic and World Records. This has been happening for years now, in several events every Olympics. Sometimes by not much, sometimes by a ton.

But when do reach the point that we saw the fast, strongest, BEST to ever compete in a particular event? When do we reach the point that in certain events do we do not break records anymore.

Sprinters can’t run faster, lifters can’t lift anymore, boarders can’t do any more flips or revolutions. Even with advances in equipment, advances in training methods and even with doping, surely we will reach a point that we can’t do any better.

Maybe that will never happen. But logically, you’d think it would have to happen. Physically as humans we can’t run 100m in 2 seconds, or lift tons over our head

Just a something I’m thinking about during these Olympics. We watch the Olympics because of the amazing feats that happen, and we can see the top of human performance, but when do we finally reach that peak?

Rey’s Parents

Okay… Warning… Spoilers for The Last Jedi ahead…

and Attack of the Clones.
and Empire Strikes Back.


One of the controversial reveals in lastest installment of Star Wars, is when Kylo Ren exposed to Rey that her parents were nobodies. From no where.

Some people loved this, others despise it.

Personally, I think there is more than meets the eye. I believe that Kylo is not telling the whole truth, maybe even outright lying.

In the second act of all three Star Wars movies, the “second” of the Dark Jedi have tried to turn someone strong in the force to their side.

In Last Jedi, Kylo Ren tried to manipulate Rey into thinking that she was nobody, from nowhere, worth nothing to everybody… except to him. To him, she was a way to solidify his position as the new Supreme Leader with a disciple with great power.

Of course, he is deceiving her. It’s the way of the Sith. Deception, misdirection, manipulation. They will do anything to fulfill their selfish desires for power.

BUT… there is a strong argument for the other side of this debate. That Kylo was 100% telling the truth and she has no special parentage.

In Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader uttered a line that changed cinema forever, “I am your father!” The plot twist of all plot twists. Nothing as crazy had really ever been revealed in film before. He tried to use the fact that Obi Wan had lied to Luke and that Luke’s search for a father figure and trusting mentor was over.

“You can destroy the Emperor… Join me and we can rule the galaxy as father and son!”

This was such an unbelievable revelation that Lucas and the director had to have Yoda confirm this claim in Return of the Jedi because according to their screen testing, people still didn’t believe Vader was truthful.

In Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku captured Obi Wan Kenobi, who was investigating for the Jedi Council and had found what he thought was the spider at the center of the web. While in captivity, Dooku tried to shift Obi Wan’s allegiance. Dooku told an unbelievable story about how a Sith Lord was running the Senate and if he would be allowed to continue to run free he would rule the galaxy before long.

Obi Wan scoffed at this proclamation. A Sith Lord running the Senate? Absolutely not! The Jedi would know! But in the end, Dooku was right. He told the 100% truth in his attempt to seduce Obi Wan to the dark side.

In both previous cases, Vader and Dooku told the TRUTH! 100% No lies, a little deception, maybe, but you can still deceive and still tell the truth.

So when we look at Kylo Ren’s attempt to have Rey join his side, the only other times we’ve seen a Dark Jedi try and seduce someone to the Dark Side, they told the truth. Maybe that means Kylo Ren IS telling the truth and Rey’s parents are nobody.

Either way, The Last Jedi is not the last we’ve heard of Ray’s parents. Even if it’s just a throw away line that serves to only inform the audience that yes, Kylo Ren is telling the truth.

What do you think? Is Kylo Ren lying? Are Rey’s parents someone special? Or is Kylo right, and she’s nobody from nowhere?

If she is nobody, does it bother you? Or do you love it?

Nanowrimo

Today is November.

Not only is it the month of Thanksgiving, which is (in my opinion) one of the most overlooked holidays of the year, but it is the month hundreds, maybe thousands, of people decide they just want to buckle down and write a book.

Known as Nanorimo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month, lots of people take this time to write regularly for one month so they can complete their dream of writing a book.

This is something that I have always wanted to do, in fact it is #61 on my bucket list. So I decided, what better time than now?! This November I’m going to write a book I’ve had rattling around in my head for a few years now.

Usually, Nanowrimo is for fiction novels, but this book I want to write is non-fiction. Even though I’m not sure if I get that special badge that many get for completing the number of words for their novel, but I’m more concerned about writing this book than getting that badge.

And who knows, if I finally write this, I might try to get it published… or at least self-published. Then I can knock out #61 AND #5 on my bucket list.

A fly on the wall

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall?

A strange fascination of mine is how things work. Not in the way like the How it’s Made TV show shows us how we make things.

What I am talking about when I say how things work, I specifically mean how do organizations work. How decisions are made. What considerations are made when coming to a decision. What I would give to just see how that works. I would just want to be a fly on the wall. I wouldn’t need to say anything or interact with anyone in any way. I just want to sit there and observe.

For example, I would love to know how does a board for a giant corporation work? What types of things do they discuss when making decisions to buy out other companies or launching a new product.

In the entertainment industry, how to they come to the decision to greenlight one movie instead of another. Or the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of beautiful people with great singing voices and can write music and/or play an instrument. How do they decide no to them, but yes to Taylor Swift, Adele, or Ariana Grande.

In Politics, I would love to sit in on conversations a party Whip has with a congressman. Or in the Roosevelt Room when important meetings between West Wing staff and congressional caucus compromising on a bill.

I feel like I would learn more in one meeting about leadership and management and overall how the world work then I could ever learn on my own or in a class.

Where is someplace you would like to be a fly on the wall?

Half-formed ideas

Have you ever had a half-formed idea? You know what I’m talking about. An idea that isn’t fully developed and probably requires time for a good think to finish creating this concept in your head.

The problem with having an active mind AND wanting to write regular blog posts is having too many half-formed ideas.

I have plenty of thoughts, but they aren’t collected or organized. But the hard part is taking these half-formed ideas and making them in to fully realized ideas that I can coherently talk or write about.

But that would require that I stop having the TV on all time, or stop paying attention to my phone. It would require that I be alone… in my thoughts… and think deeply.

*shutters*

While I am only half joking, this is a real problem for many (and sometimes myself). We as a culture have sometimes become so non-confrontational that we don’t even want to sit alone in quiet because of what we might have to confront ourselves.

How else are we supposed to grow though? How else are supposed to be creative? Do we really want to go through life, just ignoring ourselves, or think a year later, I had a great idea once I never followed through with.

No.

The quiet is not our enemy. Take some time and fully form ideas and thoughts. Take some to turn everything off around you so you can confront yourself and grow.

You’ll thank yourself for it later.