Category Archives: GuestPosts

Guest Epic Fantasy Haiku: The Hobbit – Battle

Elves, dwarves and men fight
a battle of five armies.
Where is the hobbit?

As a special treat we have a guest Hobbit Haiku by Cimmy provided in the comments on “Treasure”, part of the Epic Fantasy Genre Haiku Challenge.

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Guest Post: Movie Memories #9

Sorry for the delay on this.

A few weeks ago (just before my little holiday blogging break) my guest post for Dan Absalonson’s Movie Memories blog series went live, it is #9 in the series.

My wonderful wife Sally also submitted a post for the series. You can find her excellent post here.

Movie Memories is the third of the “Memories” guest blog series which I’ve participated in, they have all been a lot of fun.

Dan is an excellent writer and highly creative individual, head over and check out his other stuff.

As always you can find links to my other content on my Other Works page.

Adoptors Assemble? [Guest Post] by Vince Preston

Laith has graciously offered to let me borrow his soapbox for a little while. I’d like to thank him for this opportunity.  The following is a response to the comments I’ve read about a petition asking Disney to issue an apology to adoptees for a derogatory comment about adoption in their recent movie: The Avengers. The original article I reference and related comments can be found at Slice of Sci-Fi.

In the interest of full disclosure I’m going to state the following right at the beginning:  I have not seen The Avengers yet.  I am a huge fan of sci-fi/fantasy, the Marvel universe and Joss Wheadon.  I am also a father through adoption.

After seeing this story on my feed reader, I’ve read a number of opinions on the topic and I wanted to share the opinion of someone within the adoption community.  To clarify, the phrase “adoption community” could be viewed akin to “geek culture”.  There are many flavors of adoption just as there are many flavors of geek, but just as in the geek culture there is an overarching commonality of those who are in the adoption community, being touched by adoption.  I hope to provide a little bit of insight into why other members of this community are calling for an apology.  I will also note, that I don’t think that a formal apology is necessary, but I am deeply disappointed by this line of dialog.  Disappointed in Joss.  Disappointed in Marvel.  Disappointed in Disney.

Adoption, unlike creating a family through biological means, creates a whole secondary set of needs and concerns in the upbringing of your child.  This especially becomes a potential issue during adolescence, when a child is most forming their sense of identity.  Aside from the usual tumult of these years, there are added questions about their identity as an adopted person. These questions can have a profound impact on the child as they explore what it means to be adopted, try come to terms with the loss of their birth-family and understand why there were adopted and who they are.  

I’ve hunted down a larger section of the dialog from the scene in question to help me put it into better context.

Bruce Banner: I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.
Thor: I care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother.
Natasha Romanoff: He killed eighty people in two days.
Thor: He’s adopted.

As an adoptive parent, I think that having more context makes it worse for me.  Thor goes from defending Loki as his brother to distancing himself.  If Thor truly viewed Loki as a brother the fact that they are not birth-siblings shouldn’t have anything to do with his attitude to Loki’s actions.  What Thor is saying by using this deflection to distance himself from his bother is left unsaid, but it is very clear to me.  What Thor is saying is “He’s adopted… what do you expect? Loki is not ‘of us’”.  Loki was born to the Ice Giant’s, an admittedly very evil race in the Marvel universe.  That is the reason that he is evil, not because he is adopted. But how do you explain that to an adopted child watching the movie, who is struggling to form their understanding of themselves? Of what it means to be adopted? The Mighty Thor just said that Loki killed those people because he was adopted.  As an adult, I know and understand the intent behind this line, but a child would not understand the difference between what is said and what is meant.

Adoption creates a case study in Nature vs. Nurture.  In the case of Loki, his nature clearly won, but that is typically not the case in the ‘real world’.  In real world adoptions, the child grows up with a blend of nature and nurture.  Every adopted child is a blend of the birth family (nature) with their genetics and natural abilities and the adoptive family (nurture) with their ethics, personalities, etc.  It is the seemingly black and white attitude that Thor presents in the movie is what has some members of the adoption community upset.

Vince and SonAre there more important things to worry about?  Yes.  But as a fan of the genre, this gives me pause.  As my son grows up, I will want to share my love of this genre with him. But how can I, in good conscience, expose him to this type of an attitude?  I will reserve full judgment until I have seen the movie, but based on that one line, a throw away joke for cheap laughs, I don’t know that I’ll be including The Avengers in the curriculum as I grow my little geek.

– Vince Preston

Of Mice And Men: Banned Books Week [Guest Post]

For today’s Banned Books Week entry I present to you another guest post. This time it is by my friend Dan Absalonson (@DanDanTheAtMan on twitter). Those who follow my blog will probably recognize his name as I did a guest post for his Video Game Memories series a few weeks back. So I give you Dan’s thoughts.

Of Mice and Men
Image via Wikipedia

Banning books. I can see where it has its place, at least in school libraries. In some cases the content in a book might be inappropriate for kids in school. A school library should be diligent about what it puts on its shelves. When it comes to the book Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck I do not think it should be banned; at least not from high schools. It is one of the books that I had to read in high school, and I remember it being one of the few that I enjoyed.

I love reading. Most people I meet hate reading, and it’s because they had to read such boring books in school. I read a lot in my free time in high school. I have always loved reading and books, but I have to admit that most of the books we had to read were really boring. I didn’t think Of Mice and Men was boring. It was a touching story. Yes it had swearing and crude language, but that’s nothing new for a school. Just go and listen to students talking at lunch sometime. The language made the characters authentic. Stienbeck had great naturally flowing dialog.

I think one of the main reasons I enjoy Of Mice and Men so much is the great characters, and a lot of them are easy to relate to for high schoolers. You’ve got the bully with Curley, and the flirtatious cheerleader type with his wife. George is your average joe everyman character. Lennie’s character has more reach. He’s the one who never fits in, the big dumb jock, or kids with disabilities. I think a story that revolves around a couple of characters does a better job of carrying a student through a story than an epic Victorian novel can. Since high school I have gone back and read the book that my friends and I remember being the worst: Wuthering Heights. To my surprise, even though I found the characters deplorable, I enjoyed rereading it. In high school however, it was my least favorite and I hated reading through it. One running joke my friend and I had when we went to find cheap books at the thrift store was to be the first to find a copy of Wuthering Heights and put it on the other guys stack of books. It was like it was tainted with evil or something, and we’d pass it off like it was a hot potato. It was really hard for me to relate to the characters in that book by Emily Brontë. Of Mice and Men tells a fairly simple yet very compelling story that sticks with you after you finish the book.

We are sympathetic towards the character of Lenny because he tries to always do the right thing, but ends up getting himself in trouble. We feel for George because he sacrifices to keep Lennie in work and out of trouble. He puts up with a lot for Lennie, and he’s the kind of guy we would want as a friend even if he’s a little tough on the outside. The way the story ends is so powerful and thought provoking that I can see a teacher easily coming up with questions for students, or taking up an entire class period by simply asking students to share what they thought of the ending. Of Mice and Men is one of those books that I’ll go back and reread every few years, and I hope that my children will get to read it in school so that we can talk about the powerful ending. I’m really excited to read what my kids are reading for class when they get older so I can have discussions about the books with them and help them understand the stories. You got me, I’m a book nerd. I hope that school hasn’t ruined reading for you. Why don’t you go and pick up a banned book and give it a try. I’m sure it’s got some stuff to get your wheels turning if it has been banned, and maybe it will become a book that you go back and reread every few years.

DanDanArtManDan first started writing stories in elementary school, where he and a friend would skip lunch and recess once a month to eat in the library while hearing all about the new books on the shelves. His love for reading, as with visual art and music, has now extending into creating his own fiction. He is also a huge fan of podcasting, and all of his stories are available for free in audio. He works as a digital artist and lives in Washington state with his beautiful family of five. You can find his work at www.writingsofdan.blogspot.com.

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And Tango Makes Three: Banned Books Week [Guest Post]

For today’s Banned Books Week post I am proud to present a guest post from my brother Vince Preston. So here it is, his thoughts for Banned Book Week

Cover of "And Tango Makes Three"
Cover of And Tango Makes Three

In honor of Banned Books Week, I’d like to talk to you about one of the more recently challenged books, making the Top 10 list every year since is was published in 2005. The book I’m referring to is And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Tango is a children’s book that focuses on the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo, who raised a chick together as co-parents. The argument made by those who challenge the book goes something along the lines that it isn’t appropriate to talk about same-sex couples with children.

I’d like to put a small frame around my argument against these types of challenges. My wife and I recently adopted our son from Korea, making us a trans-racial family. In the years leading up to our adoption, we went to many adoption and parenting classes and were told by our social workers that this would change everything. We did not realize how true this was until we finally brought Little Man home a few months ago. Our family looks different. This is a fact that I can’t change and wouldn’t change. But because of this, my wife and I notice the looks we get from time to time when we are out in public. Nothing outright racist or anything but its clear they are trying to figure our family out, and it gets uncomfortable.

Eventually, Little Man is going to start noticing these looks. Even worse, his peers, lacking tact the way children so often do, will eventually talk about how he doesn’t look like his parents and how his family looks different when compared to so many others here in Iowa. Because of this, its so very important to have books that talk about how families can look different but still be a family. In a society where families can take every shape and size, it is not only appropriate for children to learn this but it should be encouraged. Tango does exactly that. The book does not encourage a same sex lifestyle, but instead is a story about accepting different types of families. To quote one of the authors, “We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families. It’s no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks.”

Vince and SonVince Preston spends his time with his wife and their adopted son in Waukee, Ia. When he isn’t off doing fun things with them he can often be found hanging out with my family, frequently geeking out with me to Eureka or MythBusters.

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