Embracing Silly: Unpacking the Magic of the Barbie Movie

Embracing Silly: Unpacking the Magic of the Barbie Movie

I saw the Barbie movie a couple of weeks ago and was completely enchanted. I have never seen a movie that is so silly and so clever at the same time. (No spoilers ahead.)

The movie simultaneously embraced what people love about Barbie and what they hate about her. Barbie’s story is emotional. The stakes felt huge. They threw in emotional stories about mothers and daughters, finding your place in the world, and only having your identity through someone else’s love. There were dance numbers, beautiful clothes, and a CEO, who surprisingly, wasn’t evil. There was even a ghost! Everything but the kitchen sink was in this movie. But they made it work!

Here are some story takeaways from the Barbie movie.

1. If you’re going to be silly, be really silly. Be creatively silly without limits.

2. If you’re creating magical worlds, have very clear rules about how they work and stick to them. For example, there was one way in and out of Barbieland.

3. Silly can be emotional. There are lots of emotional stories that made you care about all the characters. I never thought the Barbie movie would make me cry.

4. If you’re going to have a message in your movie, instead of making it feel like homework, make it entertaining. Besides all the emotional stories, this movie was about what it means to be a woman in the modern world. A heavy topic that could have felt overly political and strident. Instead, the filmmakers got their point across while being entertaining, sweet, and funny.

5. Don’t let your storytelling stop at the page or in the theater. The marketers of the Barbie movie did some genius things that continued the story out in the real world. One, at every premier Margot Robbie wore a real outfit from Barbie’s wardrobe. (If Mattel needed another income stream, they would be selling those dresses.) Two, they have life-sized Barbie boxes in all the theaters, ready-made for selfies.

Let the Barbie movie inspire you to embrace the silly! What crazy thing can you build your next story around?

P.S. If you want to know more about Barbie’s history, the Netflix documentary The Toys That Made Us has a wonderful episode about the blonde bombshell.


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Unleash Your Creative Superpower: The Magic of Enthusiasm

Unleash Your Creative Superpower: The Magic of Enthusiasm

As a creative, your enthusiasm will shines in your latest project. Enthusiasm makes you magnetic and charismatic, no matter what you’re talking about or who you are talking to. Be unapologetically excited about what you’re creating, exuberantly share it with the world. Enthusiasm is a superpower that gives you super results.

Enthusiasm is a Superpower

This week I went to a talk at my local murder mystery bookstore, by the writer-director of a debut play of Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I was interested to hear how he approached adapting this classic book.

It was a fascinating talk, and he was an entertaining speaker. He reminded me of the importance of enthusiasm in creating and sharing your projects. Not only is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd his favorite book, Mark Shanahan is an Agatha Christie aficionado. His love for her work was invigorating.

Here are my ahas from his talk:

  • Everyone has their thing they are into, whether it’s Agatha Christie or Barbie or bird watching. There are ways to use the thing you love to geek out about in your projects and career.
  • When you write about what you love, your joy shines through and the project is stronger.
  • Speak with enthusiasm and people will remember what you said.
  • When you are a storyteller, the joy of your audience is fuel to keep you going. He talked about a point in the play where the audience gasps and how every night it gave him chills. And every night the cast that wasn’t on stage and the crew all gathered in the wings to watch that scene.
  • Enthusiasm is infectious. Be excited to talk about what you’re working on. Be excited to share your passions with other people; and they will enjoy your joy.

Enthusiasm Feeds Your Creativity

  • What is the thing that you love?
  • What is your interest that fires you up?
  • How can it inspire a project?
  • How can you share it with the world?

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Embrace Your Genre: Lessons from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Embrace Your Genre: Lessons from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Over the weekend, I saw Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. I went in with low expectations because the Indiana Jones movies have been, to put it politely, erratic in quality. It was amazing! A solid, entertaining, old-fashioned in a good way movie.

What made me so excited and nostalgic about The Dial of Destiny was the writers and director let Indy do what he does best, fight Nazis for a powerful historical artifact while he’s grappling with his own emotional journey. It’s full of callbacks to Raiders and The Last Crusade and yet stands on its own for viewers who have never seen those films. I left the theater jazzed and hopeful. Maybe the movie industry can recover. Maybe the old traditions that made movies so great are finally back. Go Indy!

No matter what genre you are working in, The Dial of Destiny is a great reminder to keep in mind your audience’s expectations. Give them what they want in an entertaining way. Hit your tropes. Give your protagonist a juicy emotional ark. And keep the pace humming and the cliff hangers coming. 

Take a look at your story. Are you hitting all the right beats? Are you using your genre to give the audience what they want? What classic films should you watch for inspiration?


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Roadtripping for Inspiration

Roadtripping for Inspiration

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Ferris Bueller

When it comes to growing your career, reaching your goals, and achieving your dreams, every book, article and thought leader will at some point talk about getting out of your comfort zone. This advice is abstract and unhelpful.

There is a fun way of getting out of your comfort zone – physically going to a new place. When my clients are stuck, the number one thing I recommend is to get up from your desk and walk around the block. My daily walks are some of the most productive and creative parts of my day. I mull over things I’m currently writing and come up with new ideas.

A Change of Scenery

In the first two weeks of May, I went on a road trip with my dad and stepmom throughout the southeast. My family has a long tradition of road trips and they are always full of adventure. We drove over the third longest bridge in the United States in the Atchafalaya Basin, saw beautiful green rolling hills, explored quaint small town downtowns, toured a cypress tree-filled lake by boat, and stayed in the oldest hotel in Texas.

My stepmom wanted to find a giant ball of string or some other equally enormous tourist trap. Instead, we found a mini Stonehenge and a bar straight out of Captain Hook’s pirate ship.

All the crazy things we saw and did, the places we stayed, and food we ate fueled my creativity. I encourage you to go somewhere new or revisit a favorite place. If you can’t afford to travel or you don’t have time, go exploring in your city. Go to a part of town you’ve never been to. Find a new cool park or try that weird restaurant you’ve been meaning to go to.

Seek new experiences to get out of your comfort zone, change your perspective, and get new ideas. And have some fun. We live in stressful times; goofing off is important.

Here are some road trip inspired writing prompts:

  • What is your favorite place?
  • Where is the most unusual place you have stayed?
  • Pick a painting in a museum and write the story behind it.

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The Sherlock Spark: How the World’s Greatest Detective’s Habits Can Fuel Your Creativity

The Sherlock Spark: How the World’s Greatest Detective’s Habits Can Fuel Your Creativity

Monday was the creator of Sherlock Holmes,  Arthur Conan Doyle’s  birthday, which got me thinking about Sherlock, one of my favorite literary characters. When you hear the name Sherlock Holmes, what comes to mind? The pipe, the deerstalker hat, and the exhilarating chases through Victorian-era London? Or maybe it’s Sherlock’s uncanny ability to uncover truth from the tiniest scraps of evidence?

My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

The traits that make this legendary detective so fascinating are also secret ingredients you can use to boost your creativity.

1. Sharp observation. When Holmes steps into a crime scene, nothing goes unnoticed. From a speck of ash to a half-erased footprint, every detail matters. Sherlock sees beyond the obvious. To feed your creativity, practice observation. The world around you is teeming with inspiration, waiting to be seen.

You see, but you do not observe.

A Scandal in Bohemia

Seeing is passive, requiring no action. On the other hand, observing needs an active mind, constantly questioning and noticing. It’s about looking beyond what’s visible and finding connections that others miss. This kind of keen observation fuels groundbreaking creative ideas.

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.

The Boscombe Valley Mystery

2. Sherlock makes connections between seemingly unrelated details. He doesn’t merely observe; he interprets, deduces, and connects. Developing a habit of making connections can help you find new angles, perspectives, and ideas.

When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

The Blanched Soldier

3. Think outside the box. Sherlock Holmes is open-minded, with a remarkable capacity for unconventional thinking. He entertains the wildest hypotheses if they explain the facts. His methods, although often perplexing to onlookers, always have a profound logic to them. And isn’t creativity about breaking from convention? By challenging the status quo and daring to think differently, you can find the most amazing, unique ideas that resonate and inspire.

The game is afoot.

The Adventure of the Abbey Grange

4. Sherlock isn’t just brainy; he’s also passionate about his craft. His love for his work shows in his enthusiasm when he embarks on a new case, and his unwavering dedication to solve each mystery. When you’re truly passionate about what you do, every challenge becomes a game, every setback a puzzle to be solved.

5. Sherlock practices resilience. The detective frequently faces dead ends, red herrings, and misinformation, yet he persists in his pursuit of the truth. Similarly, as creatives, we encounter obstacles – writer’s block, lack of inspiration, failure, and criticism. Like Holmes, they should not deter us. Instead, try viewing setbacks as opportunities to adapt and grow, uncovering new ideas.

6. Sherlock practices the art of  creative procrastination  – letting the subconscious mind work on the problem while the conscious mind rests. Remember the languid afternoons he spends playing his violin?

7. Collaboration. Dr. Watson, Sherlock’s faithful friend and collaborator, gives him an advantage in solving strange mysteries. The interchange of ideas, the melding of different perspectives, and the challenge of debate sparks creativity. Seeking feedback, embracing collaboration, and being open to new ideas – all these Watson-inspired habits can significantly enhance your creative projects.

To wrap up, Sherlock Holmes is not just an icon of detective fiction; he’s also a powerful muse for creatives. With a Sherlock-inspired mindset, who knows what improbable, brilliant truths you’ll uncover in your creative journey?

Until next time, keep sleuthing, and keep creating!


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Star Trek’s Enduring Popularity

Star Trek’s Enduring Popularity

Happy First Contact Day! In the Star Trek story universe, on April 5, 2063, Vulcans and humans made first contact near the town of Bozeman, Montana, following the successful test of Earth scientist Zefram Cochrane’s first warp-capable starship.

I wonder if they’ll still be watching Star Trek movies and TV shows in 2063? That question isn’t as crazy as it sounds. The Star Trek franchise is 57 years old, spans 2 centuries and includes 12 TV shows and 13 movies with more to come.

We talk a lot about  why stories matter . As creators we all aspire  to create something that resonates  so deeply with audiences that it becomes not just part of pop culture, but part of culture.

Star Trek has boldly gone where no franchise has gone before, inspiring generations of fans and leaving an indelible mark on society and culture. Star Trek is not just a science-fiction franchise; it is a cultural phenomenon. From the iconic phrase “Live long and prosper” to the optimistic vision of a future where humanity has overcome its differences and is exploring the stars, Star Trek continues to inspire and entertain.

What makes Star Trek so special and why has it managed to endure for so long?

Optimism is Powerful

Star Trek’s message of hope and optimism for the future resonates with audiences.  The show portrays a future where humanity has overcome poverty, war, and disease. In a world where the future can often seem uncertain, Star Trek offers a vision of hope and optimism, reminding us of the potential of humanity.

A Place for Everyone

The original Star Trek series, which aired from 1966 to 1969, made history with its cast, featuring both a black woman, Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), and an Asian American, Lieutenant Sulu (George Takai). Since then, diversity has remained a cornerstone of the franchise, with each subsequent starship crew featuring a multicultural cast. Additionally, the portrayal of women in the Star Trek universe is notable for the powerful roles they play, from starship captains to security officers and scientists.

the cast of the original Star Trek on the bridge of the Enterprise
the cast of the original Star Trek on the bridge of the Enterprise

Strong Stories & Themes

Star Trek is known for exploring complex ethical and philosophical themes. The show often raises difficult questions about the nature of humanity, the role of technology in our lives, and the limits of our knowledge. The complex ethical and philosophical themes in Star Trek provide a rich backdrop for compelling storylines and well-developed characters.

Additionally, Star Trek has tackled important social and political issues throughout its history, often through allegory and metaphor. From the portrayal of the Cold War in the original series to the exploration of terrorism and torture in Deep Space Nine, Star Trek has never shied away from tackling difficult issues.

The cast of Star Trek: Next Generation
The cast of Star Trek: Next Generation

Scientists & Star Trek

Star Trek’s emphasis on science and exploration has helped to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers. From the communicators that inspired the invention of the mobile phone to the tricorders that inspired the development of medical diagnostic tools, Star Trek has been a catalyst for real-world innovations. Even NASA has been influenced by the franchise, with many astronauts and engineers admitting that Star Trek got them interested in space travel.  The documentary How William Shatner Changed the World features scientists and astronauts directly attributing their careers to the show. 

Star Trek in Pop Culture

Star Trek has also influenced popular culture, with references and homages appearing in everything from movies and TV shows to and books.  Here are a few examples of Star Trek in pop culture.

Movies:

In Galaxy Quest (1999), a group of actors who starred on a Star Trek-like TV show are mistaken for real space adventurers and recruited by aliens to help fight an evil villain.

Galaxy Quest

TV:

The Orville – The show is a homage to Star Trek with a comedy twist.

Futurama – In one episode, the Planet Express crew travels to a forbidden planet inhabited by the original Star Trek cast.

The Big Bang Theory – The entire show is an homage to geek culture, with frequent references to Star Trek throughout its run. One episode features the gang dressing up as Star Trek characters for a convention.

Books:

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Is a love letter to pop culture, including multiple references to Star Trek.
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi – Parodies the Star Trek trope of security officers always being the first to die on away missions.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, Star Trek has endured for over 57 years because it has always been more than just a sci-fi show, inspiring generations of fans and influencing our culture. As the franchise continues to evolve and inspire new fans, it remains a shining example of the power of storytelling to shape our world. Live long and prosper!


Star Trek Canon

TV Shows

Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969) – This is the original Star Trek series that introduced us to Captain James T. Kirk and his crew as they explored the galaxy on board the USS Enterprise.

Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1974) – This animated series followed the adventures of the original USS Enterprise crew, but with shorter episode lengths and a more family-friendly tone. (Captain James Kirk)

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) – Set 100 years after the original series, this show followed Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew aboard the USS Enterprise-D as they explored the galaxy and encountered new alien races.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) – This show took place on a space station called Deep Space Nine, which was located near a stable wormhole that provided a gateway to the distant Gamma Quadrant. Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks)

Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001) – This series followed the crew of the USS Voyager, who were stranded in the Delta Quadrant of the galaxy after being transported there by a powerful alien. Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew)

Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005) – This series was a prequel to the original series, taking place a century before Kirk’s time and following the crew of the first starship Enterprise as they explored space and encountered new alien races. Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula)

Star Trek: Discovery (2017-present) – This series is set 10 years before the original series and follows the crew of the USS Discovery as they explore the galaxy and encounter new threats.  Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), Captain Saru (Doug Jones)

Star Trek: Picard (2020-present) – This series follows the retired Admiral Jean-Luc Picard as he embarks on a new mission that leads him back to some familiar faces from his past.

Star Trek: Lower Decks (2020-present) – This animated series takes a comedic look at the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, the USS Cerritos.  Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis)

Star Trek: Short Treks (2018-present) – These are a series of short standalone episodes that explore different aspects of the Star Trek universe, including new characters and fan-favorite ones.

Star Trek: Prodigy (2021-present) – This animated series follows a group of teenagers who steal a starship and embark on a thrilling adventure across the galaxy, aimed at a younger audience.  Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew)

Star Trek:  Strange New Worlds (2022-present) – Set 10 years before the original series it follows Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and his crew on the U.S.S. Enterprise. 

Movies: Original Cast

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) – When an alien cloud of immense size and power threatens Earth, the crew of the USS Enterprise must intercept it before it reaches the planet.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) – Captain Kirk and his crew face off against a genetically enhanced villain named Khan, who seeks revenge for an old grudge.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) – After the death of Spock in the previous film, the Enterprise crew sets out on a quest to bring him back to life.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) – The Enterprise crew travels back in time to 1980s San Francisco to save humpback whales, which are the only beings who can communicate with an alien probe that threatens Earth.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) – Captain Kirk and his crew embark on a dangerous mission to find a mythical planet that is said to be the gateway to the center of the galaxy.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) – The crew of the Enterprise is sent to negotiate peace with the Klingon Empire, but they become embroiled in a conspiracy to sabotage the peace process.

Movies: Next Generation Cast

Star Trek: Generations (1994) – Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D team up with Captain Kirk to stop a madman from destroying an entire star system.

Star Trek: First Contact (1996) – The crew of the Enterprise-E travels back in time to prevent the Borg from interfering with humanity’s first contact with an alien race.

Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) – Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-E discover a conspiracy by a group of alien colonists who are using a powerful technology to prolong their lives

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) – Captain Picard and the Enterprise-E crew encounter a clone of Picard, who has been raised by the Romulans and is determined to destroy the Federation.

Movies: Reboot

Star Trek (2009) – The movie is a reboot of the original Star Trek franchise and features a new cast portraying the original characters. The movie follows James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew as they embark on their first mission aboard the USS Enterprise.

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) – Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are tasked with stopping a terrorist named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is a former Starfleet officer with a personal vendetta against the Federation.

Star Trek Beyond (2016) – The Enterprise crew is stranded on a hostile planet after their ship is destroyed by a ruthless alien named Krall.

Documentaries:

Trekkies (1997) – Explores the Star Trek fan culture, featuring interviews with passionate fans who dress up in costumes, attend conventions, and live their lives inspired by the Star Trek universe.

Trekkies 2 (2004) – Takes a deeper look into the Star Trek fandom, exploring new aspects of the culture and featuring interviews with celebrities who are also fans of the franchise.

How William Shatner Changed the World (2005) – Explores the impact of Star Trek on science and technology, featuring interviews with scientists and inventors who were inspired by the show.

The Captains (2011) – Directed by William Shatner interviewing all of the Star Trek captains.

For the Love of Spock (2016) – Directed by Adam Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy’s son, this documentary explores the life and legacy of the beloved Star Trek character, featuring interviews with cast members and fans.  In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon was interviewed. 

The Toys That Made Us (2018) – Netflix documentary about the history of iconic toys has an episode about Star Trek toys.  


If I left anything out, please comment below!


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