Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling

Tropes are akin to stereotypes, except they are in reference to literature. As the book explains in its additional content, the rhetoric of some stories makes one feel as if we have already read it, even if we haven’t before. Damsel in distress, hero on a quest, magical characters that help you on your journey, and even the roles of characters in a fantasy world have been so overused that you already know where everything is going to end. Not original, and not cool.

This book aims to explore tropes to turn them upside down or actually give them a better perspective. The staff that curated the book even lists the stories and their tropes to help the reader understand every aspect of the narrative. The editors included pieces of poetry, sci-fi, fantasy and horror, not focusing on just one storytelling genre nor confining tropes to only one type of fiction. It is very entertaining to read the pages of non sequitur stories. Not one is alike another.

Take a look at the content pages and let me know what you think! I was very impressed with the quality of the writing and the twists and turns the stories took to represent global diversity and inclusion of all types of genders, age groups and races. That is the magic of writing to combat tropes, you have to use everything in your arsenal to build a complete and meaningful picture of the characters and events. There is something for everyone in its pages. A nice change of pace for avid readers, who like me, are tired of the same types of developments and endings.


7 Things To Consider When Watching Game of Thrones (HBO)

The world of Westeros and the fourteen seas is unique in nature. Whatever occurs in that world is guided by a few misunderstood or overlooked principles. To be able to introduce magic, dragons and the undead, George R.R. Martin had to forgo traditional concepts, which was easier to do by using a medieval setting for his fantasy horror story. Such as:

1. The physics of A Song of Ice and Fire are unlike our own.

For winter to come and stay so long, the planet’s path around their sun is nearly impossible to calculate and ponder. When only half of the world is under snow, and in the reach of the white walkers, you have to realize it is only convenient for the storytelling. Therefore…

2. Magic exists in Westeros and Essos, and beyond its borders.

The Lord of Light being just one example of how faith and it can intersect to form powerful religions and rebellion. Traditional norms become a hindrance for the populace. Even those in chains now have a chance to be free. Which makes sense because…

3. The rulers of Westeros are men, thus patriarchal in nature.

The rise of Daenerys and Cersei as ruling Queens, and the presence of Oleanna, Margery, Arya and Ellaria as strong strategists and warriors, challenges the status quo. In a wat, George decided to bring the patriarchy down by employing women in power as the antidote to the quarrels of men. Ruthless and cruel, their methods surpass those of their male counterparts and inspire fear and respect in ways never considered for the women of that world. Even Gilly has surprised viewers with her awareness of the situation, leading Sam down the right path. Which reminds me…

4. Because there is magic, unexplained, the medical progress and technology are still behind the times.

Salves, prayers, forbidden books. Medicine in Westeros is not existent. Short of Maesters experimenting with techniques, there is no cooperative effort to further healing or treatments of ailments with magic or science. Education is left to the men and elite only, which is why it takes such a long time to come up with saving graces. Sam’s initiative may have saved a Lord, but so many more could have been saved if the people of the Seven Kingdoms were better acquainted with the science of their world.

5. Dragons can be commanded by more than one person.

Assuming Drogon stays loyal to Dany, Viserion or Rhaegal can abdicate and join forces with another dragon rider. It was common in the olden days to have both male and female riders, and depending on the training, the dragons could be used in battle to coordinate tactical attacks. There is a chance that there could be a dragon with the Night King’s army but so far, that is only a fan theory.

6. Don’t forget that George promised death and destruction as the end of the series.

For years, George has declared that in the end everyone dies, which either results in all folks becoming white walkers, or a few people escaping to Essos if winter doesn’t extend over there. Expect the death and gore to escalate, until we are more horrified than content with the subject matter.

7. The prophesy of the Prince was ammended to keep the ending open to any possibilities.

In the books there is talk about one of Rhaegon’s children being left alive. The story arc there was to marry the surviving nephew with Daenerys, way before it was revealed that Jon Snow was a Targaryen. The problem here is that Jon is very much a bastard either way, so he has no claim to any throne. Most likely Sansa will have to assume the role of Warden of the North, while the rest of the women fight to rule without a king by their side. The ultimate feminist dream. A world ruled by women.

Note: With no wildfire or care for the White Walkers, Cersei will play a role in getting everyone distracted from the real issues. It will be interesting to see if women are the cure for the strife in Westeros and beyond or if under their thumb it will burn and consume itself.


“A Girl Can Do That…”

Opens today!!! #AtomicBlonde

Mrs. Enginerd - Nerd Whisperer

Atomic Blonde was a labor of love for Charlize Theron, who had to produce a female lead action movie at 40 because not one single worthy project had fallen in her lap. As a producer, she grabbed the opportunity to search for the hero she wanted to portray as an actor and she found it in Lorraine, a true Atomic Blonde.

During the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, Charlize addressed her journey to become this iconic bad ass character and bring her to the silver screen. Her 4+ hour work outs made her so confident, the movie was recorreographed to be more physical. She was so good at picking up the martial arts and action sequences that she didn’t even need a stunt double for most scenes. Her presence as an actor makes her actions grand and flawless. You believe she is an MI6 agent, one as excellent or better…

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Goodbye, My Friend…

It’s hard to acknowledge you are gone. Another car accident claims the life of a good friend. Receiving the call about your precarious condition at the hospital had the medical engineer in me terrified because most people don’t come back from DAI trauma. You were most likely unaware of what was happening in your induced coma state. Such a waste! Such a shame. I’m sure the self proclaimed voices in your head were not thrilled to be silenced so early in the game.

It was heartbreaking to deliver the news to unsuspecting peeps. Everyone thought this was a routine accident. It wasn’t even covered by the news teams because it felt innocuous. So weird. I had hopes that as one of the younger members of the crew you would outlive us all.  😭😭😭 “La hierba mala nunca muere.” Guess you weren’t that bad after all. 🤔🤔🤔

We joked we would meet up at the VIP section of the underworld, the Machiavelli in all of us making fun at the next life proposals, and I guess now only time will tell. We lived fully, with no regrets and no false love for the gods. Warriors waiting to be taken to Valhalla after watching the world bow to our mercy. I promise I will keep up the good fight for as long as you act as my devilish guardian shoulder angel. You are one of my brain voices now…

Ufff! Five pictures on my walls. Five. Out of a hundred pictures in frames that stop time and make us eternally fierce, and young too. I had to count them after my husband, another pal, said there were only 4. He missed Captain PhD’s wedding shot. Hehehe So many memories! It didn’t surprise me because you have been there for the better and worse parts of all our lives. Sometimes we make others up to be the best, the closest, the most important, but we fail to acknowledge the ones that have always been available, the ones that really cared. That was you. The one that knew when to call out of the blue even if the introvert in us was afraid it was bad news. It was never bad news. Not from you and your nerdy ways. A book, a recommendation, a chance to unleash our demons to one another. Never a doubt that we would meet again.

I can’t really think of moments when I passed up the opportunity to share my thoughts with you or to listen to your stories. The narratives of our lives intersected in many points; we always found the perfect excuse to see each other whenever afforded in some cool destination town. A testament to how well you loved us. Culebra. Barcelona. Universal Studios. Seattle. South Carolina. The destinations proof that we didn’t let distance get in the way of our friendship. Only seven months into 2017 I had already seen you twice, once in Orlando and once in South Carolina for my Man of Honor’s wedding. He had made you his best man too. 😎🤔😁 Wonder if you had to hold his hair as he puked during his bachelor party, as you did with me during mine.

Speaking of which, what we remembered most about the SC wedding was you escorting one of the young drunk ladies – who had been left in the 4th floor foyer to fend for herself – to her room. We watched your son while you talked to the hotel staff to get her a spare key and the room number to deliver her to safety. While other guys made fun of her predicament, you came to her rescue. That was so you. Although to be fair, if it had been any of us, you’d be egging us to perform a happy dance first, laughing hard at our inept moves. Mischief managed with a little of The North Remembers. 100% raw and real.

If I had to place a bet, I would have never bet you’d leave us so soon. Words fail to describe the grief we all feel; the love that is lost and left unspoken as we type our social media farewells. The parade of pix in your wall showing the world that you were adored. I recall hearing you cry when we lost K+J to the murderous fire of his uncle’s greed, and here we are 6.5 years later wishing we could hear you shed a tear one more time. Life has this cruel desire to take from our lives what is good, kind and lovely. The anger and the pain of knowing this burning brightly, fueling the passion within me.

I toast to your name and smoke a cigar to reminisce…

Forever in our hearts, cheers!

One last thing: MrEnginerd misses you dearly. Every cigar and booze run reminds us we won’t be able to share any of our new adventures with your physical form. I wonder how you would have wanted us to remember you. Party? Scholarship fund for your son? So many unanswered questions of the adulting kind. Love you. Hugs!!!

The Problem with Grief

Life plays out like a tragedy. In the end, we all die. The journey plays out like a novel, written by the hand of the indelible gods; the entropy of our lives resolved by eternal slumber. Those who remain alive, left behind by those they loved and have risen to the heavens, have to deal with the aftermath of their sudden departure. Even when you know they have prepared to pay Charon for a ride across the river Styx, you will never be truly ready to see them leave. The baggage they carry is much lighter than the one still in your care.

Putting an emotional facade can become a challenge if you are not feeling regret or sorrow. When you work as hard as I do to keep in touch with friends and family to be apprised of their lives, you don’t tend to miss them until months or years after they are gone. That’s why a funeral can be both a curse and a blessing. You are not ready to say goodbye forever so quickly after their journey ended. As long as you keep them alive in your thoughts and memories there will be no need to mourn. Eternal they become until the day death comes for you too.

We all grieve in different ways. No way is more important or deeper, or more heart breaking. A loss is devastating for good reason, because it creates a void that stays latent until the day you die. Nothing can fill it, only assuage it, and we aren’t taught to understand the difference; we must learn it. All the unknowns remain unknown, and the secrets are taken to the grave. The person you knew is everything and nothing at the same tame. The many version of themselves colliding into one clear person, defined by death, and buried with honors. Everyone is good and loved the day they are summoned to the great beyond.

No one’s way to grieve is erroneous. Reconciling styles between friends and family can result in a powder keg of raw emotion and instability. How much time is enough time to mourn? I dare not say. For there is no need to rush catharsis, not one event that will help you pull the pieces of your broken heart together. You just wait, and stew and brood, until the heavens see fit to remove the burden, to impart the lesson that will make the loss seem like a blessing. We give meaning to the things that have no meaning, and we struggle to determine if the lesson was good enough to merit the formalities of saying goodbye forever.

We bury the living, we keep alive the dead. The irony as inescapable as the weight on our shoulders. Love more. Judge less harshly. Make sure that you balance the work and life equation to your advantage. We only get what chance at life, make the most of it. Don’t let others tell you what to feel, or how to act. Only you know the proper way to heal your wounds and surrender to the grace of the gods.

See you all in Valhalla, my beloved warriors.

Voices (A Poem)

They tell me what to do and I listen,
Taking turns to impart their wisdom.
Calculating, methodical, completely anachronical,
Pushing me to color outside the lines,
To embrace anarchy and rebel.

Walking the halls of memory,
I can hear them all clearly,
The voices of those whom I lost,
Jimminy Crickets,
In my head,
Pulling me through a life without them.

Guessing only what they’d tell me if they were still here,
I set on a hero’s quest to keep alive their legacy,
My steps confident and unwavering,
Unyielding and reliable,
Ensuring they would be proud of me.

I thank the stars for welcoming them into their brood,
For the light they shine brightly upon me guides me home.
Words cannot express how much I miss them,
How important it is to keep them alive in me.

The sorrow envelops me like a shadow,
Keeps me warm, comfortable;
A second skin that makes me impervious to further loses.
The grief fuels me, inspires me,
No longer a crushing weight,
And prepares me for the departures that linger,

Someday I will transform all this energy into something beautiful.
Someday I will not hear them anymore.
They will die with me.
The silence deafening,
Their love spent well.

“We all made it to Hall H”

Comic Con International at San Diego is the stuff legends are made out of; people line up by the thousands to earn a spot at the coveted panels, signings and celebrity appearances. Marvel and DC shell out big bucks to let everyone know they are the biggest games in town on paper and film, backed up by the Disney and Warner Bros studios posses, respectively.

Because the SDCC is full of marketing and exclusive news and previews about everything comic and book related, attendees go through great lengths to maximize their experience. “We all made it to Hall H” is the mantra chanted by all, attendees, writers, producers, directors, cast and crew, all alike, all as proud to be there. Everyone at the Con does their best to make the journey memorable since we are all in!

There are a few hacks and tricks you can use to ensure a spot at the coveted line, especially for Friday and Saturday. These are the days were most bombs are dropped and the fans are treated to never seen before antics, trailers, previews, and announcements. It’s not easy but with some effort and cunning, you can make this dream come true.

1. Procure a badge at all cost.

If you haven’t qualified through the lottery system, see Badge FAQ for details, there are people who will sell them to you online and on-site. Fair warning, the badges are non transferable and someone who sells them must provide you with the paper ticket and RFID badge to gain entry. If for some reason you get asked for your ID and it doesn’t match the name, the staff can remove/ban you and ban the person who is named on the badge. Some guests resort to sharing the same badge with family members and friends so they can go in and out the main hall during the day. Be careful and don’t draw attention to yourself if you are going to do so, and remember that only those with a badge can get wrist bands to reserve their spot in line for Hall H.

2. Share the responsibility of standing in line with a group of people.

Since you need a badge to get the wristband, people in line have to ensure they save the spot in line continuously for up to 24 hrs before the doors open. However, you are in luck! Comic Con is notorious for altruistic gestures and people are willing to cooperate to secure a seat in the coveted Hall H. If you have a small entourage, or are on your own, tweet, send FB posts, and attempt to gather allies via social media to take shifts. One human can save the place in line for up to 5 humans total, so there is no need to be there at all times. Just make sure no one leaves the site unattended, and that you are all present by 7:30pm the night before the event to get the band. Everyone must be in line again by 7:30am to be let in during the first seating. Miss this deadline and you will need to…

3. Have a good cover story to be able to rejoin the line or reenter the Hall H line and area if you missed the queue and have the band.

I admit my friends and I had to step away from the line and Hall for different reasons, and we all got back in through different methods. Ask a supervisor if you missed your group in line and they will help you only if you have a band. If you don’t and got into the hall anyway, make sure you get a pass to leave the area and return or they will not grant you access. Hall H is so popular people line up after it has filled up with the hope of filling up the spots of those who vacate the premises. Some people leave and trade the badge, with the exit pass, so someone else can enjoy a panel. This is done as a thank you for helping with the line or just cause. If they catch you though, the consequences will be dire for all involved. Proceed with caution.

4. Bring cash or food. It is a long haul.

Because you cannot easily procure food in Hall H or go outside and come back with sustenance, you will need to either suck it up or bring your own food into the place. If you have kids, make sure you equip yourself with whatever you need to survive, and drop off minors under 12 at the daycare. You can get a pass to tend to your kids amid breaks. It’s doable but you need to keep track of time or they will not let you back inside.

5. If all else fails, volunteer or get a job running security.

You may not get assigned to Hall H on your first run but if you network and prove your worth, you may get a shot. Check which company the convention center has hired for security and join the staff. There’s not a lot of other options past this other than…

6. Getting a pro or press pass.

If all else fails, become a bona fide member of the press or star in/create content that becomes popular and gains you notoriety worthy of a pass. Blogs, articles and freelance writers can request passes to the event, or they can apply for a table at artists ally or the exhibitor hall. You will need to prove your worth so plan accordingly. If you are there with the power players chances are you will score reserved seating.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

“A Girl Can Do That…”

Atomic Blonde was a labor of love for Charlize Theron, who had to produce a female lead action movie at 40 because not one single worthy project had fallen in her lap. As a producer, she grabbed the opportunity to search for the hero she wanted to portray as an actor and she found it in Lorraine, a true Atomic Blonde.

During the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, Charlize addressed her journey to become this iconic bad ass character and bring her to the silver screen. Her 4+ hour work outs made her so confident, the movie was recorreographed to be more physical. She was so good at picking up the martial arts and action sequences that she didn’t even need a stunt double for most scenes. Her presence as an actor makes her actions grand and flawless. You believe she is an MI6 agent, one as excellent or better than the best 00s. Her past is as mysterious as her motives, playing by the same rules as men.


EW sponsored the Womem Who Kick Ass Icon panel and Charlize delivered, even demanding  Women can rock the world and don’t need some tragic origin story to do so. Lorraine, like Charlize, doesn’t need an excuse to be a bad ass. They are both fearless and unstoppable. About time humans realized how amazing and awesome women can be when given free rein to color and exist outside of the lines. Go watch Atomic Blonde and support all female written, directed and led by women actors. The myth that women can’t command the box office ended as Wonder Woman being the most grossing film of the 2017 summer has put it to rest!

Atomic Blonde opens July 27th.

Oh, and next time: SDCC volunteers and staff, make sure the questions in a panel for women are asked by women. Charlize’s demand of “We cannot end without a female question” was proof that she means business. GIRL POWER!!!

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