Good evening! I'm glad you guys are still taking an interest in my work. Last week, I took a road trip to Vacaville in Northern California. I was given an invitation to host a steampunk workshop at the Vacaville Town Square Library. It was a great opportunity and I really enjoyed it. The trip was largely for business purposes, but it was also a nice break from my day job. Are any of you guys planning a trip to NorCal soon? Truthfully, Vacaville is a good hub if you want to take an extensive trip. The city has more than one shopping complex, two libraries, many places to eat, and more than one hotel option. If you hop on the freeways, several cities are probably 30 minutes away or less. Sacramento is east of Vacaville and San Francisco is located on the west. Down south is both Napa and San Jose. It's something to keep in mind. Most of the stores at the outlets were identical to everything at home, but I took advantage of the Puma store. That's my favorite brand of tennis shoes. Most of their shoes were reasonably priced. I lucked out because we could buy a second pair of shoes for 50% off. I bought four pairs of sneakers for around $120 and that's quite a steal.
Regarding my steampunk workshop and presentation, it went very well. My sister helped organize the tables and my collection of books. The librarian, Delilah Wilson, was a delightful and professional woman who took a great deal of interest in my work. It's always nice to see an open mind for the steampunk genre. She had a cool steampunk background for photos too.
The workshop was a really good test run for me. It was my first major steampunk speaking opportunity. Actually, I enjoyed the experience. I created a PowerPoint presentation that incorporated the origins of steampunk, stylistic elements, some 19th century history, precursors to the genre, modern steampunk literature, steampunk in various forms of entertainment, and how the genre changed throughout the years. Many of my friends and colleagues in the steampunk community contributed photos for the cosplay section of my presentation. Thanks a lot for the help! The pics were a great way to show a visual element for steampunk clothing. I had a small yet dedicated audience. They seemed very intrigued with the slide show. I'm happy about that part because a lot of presentations are boring. It was good that my viewers weren't falling asleep or feeling confused. Some of the audience members were in the steampunk spirit. A couple of kids sported steampunk gear. In fact, the boy had a gas mask. It was pretty awesome. After the slide show was done, I answered several questions from the audience. Overall, we had a really interesting discussion. I think it was a learning experience for all of us. It might be a good idea for me add a little more information for future presentations. I will try to find more costume pictures, books, and films. Maybe some of my acquaintances will have photos of DIY projects. I'll explore some options. But it was still a successful experience. The audience learned a lot of information and was quite curious. The librarian seemed thrilled about my workshop. Plus, many of the audience members bought my books. Book sales are always a perk!
Among other things, the Courtyard Marriott hotel was very nice. Some places are cheaper, but it was worth the money. The room was comfortable, clean, and classy. They have good concierges, free Wi-fi, a public pool, and a little shop where you can purchase drinks or other items. If you're staying there, find food outside of the hotel. Their Bistro has good food, but the guy running the place isn't very attentive at all. We actually had plenty of options for food throughout the city. My sister and I ate at the Olive Garden and BJ's. There's a 50s style restaurant called Mel's Original Diner and it's a hidden gem. We got hooked! Mel's has a really good breakfast with quite a few options. You can order traditional favorites like ham and eggs, pancakes, waffles, etc. But they also serve southwestern meals, omelets, chicken fried steak, skillets, eggs benedict, and more. The ambiance is adorable and nostalgic with the traditional 50s theme from American Graffiti. They have a lunch and dinner menu too, but we only went for breakfast. Think about stopping at Mel's Original Diner if you're traveling to NorCal. You won't be disappointed.
That covers my trip to Vacaville. Thank you very much for the continued support. Leave a comment if you want to say anything about my trip or steampunk workshop. Stay tuned for next week's post and try to stay cool from the summer heat. See you later!
Wonder Woman Review
Thanks for visiting! I just returned from my trip to Vacaville. Next week, I'm going to post some details about my trip and steampunk workshop, including photos. At the moment, I'm writing a movie review for Wonder Woman. This film was under a microscope by critics and fans alike. I'm sure many of you have already seen the movie, but this review will give my point of view. Some of you probably didn't have a chance to see it yet. There's still time. I'm sure Wonder Woman will play for a while because it was insanely popular. We're going cover the strengths and weaknesses of the film. Sit back and have some popcorn. This should be an interesting read.
First, I'm going to talk about the film's better elements. By the way, I have a lot of great things to say about Wonder Woman. I was downright shocked. The movie was brilliant! It's a combination of terrific directing, writing, casting choices, and action. The film was really well made. I'm surprised because most of the DC films were disappointing. I guess DC and Warner Brothers learned some lessons along the way. Let's start with the story. It was written by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg, and Jason Fuchs. The plot has a lot of substance. It's a very mature plot and carefully thought out. Basically, it's an origin story for the titular character. However, it doesn't drag along. The story moves along quickly from one point to another and everything makes sense. Surprisingly, Wonder Woman is also a very good war story. Much of the film takes place during World War I. A lot of thematic material was quite realistic, which is unusual for a superhero movie. It showed how difficult and terrible WWI was for mankind. The beginning focuses on a war between the Greek Gods of Olympus. Ares is jealous of the humans and wants to destroy them. Zeus vanquishes his son and then the story cuts to the Amazons on Themyscira. Time passes and Princess Diana (aka Wonder Woman) is being trained as a soldier. She encounters a stranded soldier named Steve Trevor who washes up on the island. Unfortunately, German soldiers are in hot pursuit. There's a short battle between the Amazon and Germans. Diana believes the missing Ares must be responsible for the world's violence. After all, he's the God of War. Diana leaves the island with Steve Trevor and tries to hunt down Ares. From that point on, it basically becomes a film about WWI with a superhero twist. That might sound weird to you, but it works really well.
I thought Gal Gadot was an excellent choice for Wonder Woman. She looks totally appropriate for the part. Okay, Lynda Carter fans. I realize Gal Gadot wasn't made in her predecessor's image. Regardless, she looks amazing in the Amazonian garb. Her acting is believable with a lot of compassion and power. They can do incredible things with fight scenes nowadays. Wonder Woman kicks butt to the millionth degree. I would say the directing and writing helped push Gadot's performance a little further. Many people view the new Wonder Woman as a feminist figure. I suppose that's true. She's very strong, independent, and passionate. But she's also a good friend and ally who genuinely cares about people. Wonder Woman has a heart made of gold and some character flaws as well. I believe she's a very positive fictional role model.
The movie was really well rounded. It was packed with plenty of intense action. Truthfully, I was in awe of certain action sequences. Even the action scenes had a lot of substance. It was very creative. There were also plenty of quiet and reflective scenes that brought out details in the plot. Some of the scenes with lengthier dialogue were also good excuses to add character development. There was a lot of humor in Wonder Woman. It was a great way break up some of the serious elements. Keep in mind, the humor was genuinely funny. It wasn't lame at all.
I want to mention a couple more strong performances. Steve Trevor is Wonder Woman's partner and love interest. He's a spy and soldier who's fighting the Germans. At first, I was skeptical about Chris Pine. However, I quickly learned that he played a very strong, brave, and strategic character. He's an exceptional leading man who can stand as Wonder Woman's equal. Steve Trevor is a great fighter and helps contribute to the humor. Do we see Ares in this film? Yes we do and it's really interesting. I'm not going to give away the actor's name because the character's identity was kept a secret until the final act. Ares is a sinister villain with one heck of a master plan. The final battle between Wonder Woman and Ares is incredible. I have to give the visual effects department a lot of credit.
Also, I enjoyed their portrayal of the Amazons. Many of you probably know the Amazon culture is entirely female. Themyscira is a complete society with merchants, artisans, doctors, handmaidens, farmers, and more. The soldiers are a particular group of Amazons. It's not the stereotype where every Amazon is a great warrior. I thought it was a more interesting and realistic view of the Amazon culture.
Let's move onto my critical section of the review. I don't have many complaints about this film. One of my problems lies with DC and Warner Brothers. They solidly want the DC movies to be adult movies. For some reason, they don't care if the films are kid friendly. I'm sorry, but Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and everybody else in the Justice League should not be alienated from kids. It just doesn't work. Lucky for DC and Warners Brothers, the writing and directing was brilliant enough to make Wonder Woman work in an adult setting. That trend won't work for most of their movies.
Wonder Woman has some red herrings that are pretty obvious. I won't spoil the details, but they want to distract you from certain plot points. It's not very effective, but I won't be overly critical about that part. There's one thing I find confusing about Steve Trevor. Is he British or American? He definitely works for the British government. However, he has an American accent. I still think Steve Trevor is great, but that part is a bit perplexing. I was less impressed with the film's secondary villains. General Ludendorff and Doctor Poison aren't special by any means. They lack character development and anything that seems interesting. I wish there was a backstory for Doctor Poison. You probably noticed in the trailers that she has a disfigured face. Did something happen in her laboratory? Was she wounded in a surprise attack? They never give us the answer.
The film is missing another thing. A cameo by Lynda Carter. There's nothing wrong with Connie Nielson's performance as Wonder Woman's mother. But I would have been thrilled if Lynda Carter played the role. She's worthy of a significant part instead of a tiny cameo in one scene. A part for Lynda Carter wasn't necessary for the film's success, but it would have been a nice cherry on the top.
Apparently, I had a lot to say about Wonder Woman. I know several of you guys already saw the movie. Leave a comment to let me know what you thought. I'm going to spend the week working on a blog post about my trip to Vacaville. My steampunk workshop was fun and quite successful. You guys can read about my experience next weekend. Go see Wonder Woman if you haven't already. I'm sure you'll be impressed. Be safe and enjoy your night at the movies. Chow!
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