Category: Uncategorized

Friday Fuel

Uncategorized November 26, 2010

In honor of Thanksgiving…

1. You unwrap your turkey, remove the giblets and discover a HELP ME note inside the bird.

2. Your sister brings the newest love of her life to your Thanksgiving celebration and he brings KFC.

3. You see your own twin on TV during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, except you’re an only child.

4. Three of your neighbors show up for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner but you’re trying to plan a romantic meal for you and your spouse.

5. Aunt Hilda’s green bean casserole is unusually heinous this year and she expects everyone to eat a second helping.

Gobble gobble!

Brightest blessings!

Uncategorized November 25, 2010

Today is Thanksgiving in the US. From the outside, this looks like a day of gluttony– thousands of turkeys give up their lives for us to chow down, pumpkins everywhere are bazooka’ed into pies, and millions of green beans are sacrificed for green bean casserole. We eat until we’re ready to burst, loosen our belts, and watch parades and football.

And to some extent it is, but most Americans I know are genuinely considering their blessings. I have much to be grateful for. A soulmate to share my life, two beautiful, healthy sons, furry four-legged family members. My eccentric and loving extended family. A circle of friends who have been with my for years. A group of fellow writers who feel more like an extension of my family. A mentor who has raised my confidence and given me the opportunity to look in other directions.

Seriously, when I take an overview of what I have in my life, I am overwhelmed.

I wish you all the same feeling. May you be blessed on this day and everyday, may the energies of the universe surround you and hold you. May you know love and happiness, not intolerance and strife. So mote it be.

Movie Review: The Thing, John Carpenter, 1982 theatrical release

Uncategorized November 22, 2010

The Thing… Excellent movie. I must be a jaded old fart, because I wasn’t scared at all, in fact I cheered at some points just because of how great they were. I watched this movie twice yesterday and listened to part of the commentary. Oh, and the sprog asked us to turn it down last evening because he could hear it. He actually pounded on the floor above the family room because he didn’t want to risk coming down and seeing any of it. Heehee…

Okay, brief synopsis: Ping pong, alcohol, and chess. Geek’s dream place. Norwegian helicopter chases down dog, American outpost 31 employees save dog. Bad choice. Dog is actually housing a dethawed alien that splits said dog’s head like a pumpkin (shocker number 1 here, I don’t usually do well with animals in bad situations and avoid movies using animals, but this one didn’t bother me, maybe because it was at the beginning and I didn’t have time to get attached to the dogs and because it seemed so completely unreal). Flamethrower is applied to alien-thing, but alas, bits of it get away. A group goes to the Norwegian camp to see WTF happened and finds that those pesky Norwegians have been digging. Alien-Thing has its way with base occupants and Blair has a breakdown (more about this later). Really fricking fantastic scene when Norris has the heart attack and then his chest eats Copper’s arms. I did have a moment of questioning here, because it looked to me like MacReady saw the head-spider scuttle away. I thought he was letting it go because he was really a Thing. Much paranoia and gory death occurs. MacReady decides to test the other base inhabitants blood to see who the Thing is. More goriness and blood, lots of paranoia, and they blow the base to smithereens. MacReady and Childs end the film with a bit of firewater before they freeze, thereby saving the rest of mankind.

The bad (from specific to more general):

Some of the FX. Apparently I am either spoiled by the FX we get today or just really picky, because some of the blood looked really, really fake. I was willing to go along with the look of the Thing, because how would I know what this Thing looked like? (I was, however, a bit put off by the resemblance of the Thing to the chimeric head from Big Trouble in Little China. I think this was the scene when Childs was first going to burn it and you see the multiple eyes rolling around… looks just like the many-eyed balled head thing that wonders around the palace in that OTHER Kurt Russell/John carpenter movie/not Escape from LA.) But the bright red, almost transclucent blood? Doesn’t happen. That would have been an easy fix.

Blair’s breakdown. Maybe it’s more a problem with Wilford Brimley’s acting. He just didn’t seem like a man on the edge. I nearly peed myself laughing when he threw the gun. Totally unconvincing. And maybe too soon.

The complete lack of characterization. I can’t tell if this is a problem with the horror genre in general, but for me to relate to a character, to care for the character, and therefore feel emotion when they are in danger, I have to know that character just a bit. These folks were all two-dimensional.

It seemed like these characters existed in an emotional vacuum. How in a horror movie does a writer deal with characters who show very little emotion? Was this because they were men in a manly world and couldn’t show a lot? Was it a sign of 1982? If I were standing with a flamethrower, watching the Thing transform, not only would I not hesitate to burn the fucker, I would probably wet my pants. They’re all very matter of fact. I list this problem separate from the problem with characterization, because I think you can develop a character without a ton of emotion and vice versa.

The good:

Aside from the points I mentioned above (Norris’ death, the moment of questioning), I loved the Thing. We never knew what it really looked like. It was like one of those wonderful Russian dolls, one form on top of another form, until you just don’t know what you’ve got. I loved that it demonstrated all the different forms, for instance, the dog’s head looked like a flower blossoming. When Blair did the necropsy, you saw many different things that it must have assimilated over so many years and worlds. Nice touch.

The tension in the movie was driven by paranoia. This was particularly effective. I loved the scene where they’re testing the blood. All those guys are tied to the bench and one of them is a Thing. Tied. to. the. bench. with. it. Lovely. The paranoia was handled very well, except, I think, for Blair’s breakdown.

This movie, despite what others said, did not feel at all “spaceshippy” to me. It did not feel metallic or claustrophobic, in fact I loved the scenes from the helicopter and the beautiful snow. I loved the dogs. (Bless them, and listen to the commentary if you can. Those dogs are amazing.)

Overall, this movie will probably enter into my rotation of favorites.

NaNoWriMo

Uncategorized November 17, 2010

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a NaNo loser.

There’s just no way I’m going to be able to hit 50K words. I did really well for the first week, then life just took over. Schoolwork, recovering husband, recovering dog, kids homework, housework, guests…. it all just piled up and not only am I having trouble finding the time to write at the frenetic pace required for NaNo, I’m having a hard time justifying ignoring the other things in life to get it done.

I don’t really see my life slowing at all until… until…. maybe until my kids leave home? I don’t know. I thought things would slow down once they were in school and that certainly hasn’t happened, so I’m not betting on anything. Watch, my kids will leave home and my husband will take an early retirement and he’ll hang around the house, annoying me and I won’t get anything done then, either.

So should I allow myself to feel guilty for basically dropping out of NaNoWriMo? A most emphatic NO. I’m still writing, albeit not as frantically as I was two weeks ago, but any word count per day is a triumph for me. In fact, I think every writer should feel good about every word they manage to get on paper. Except during those exceptional moments of inspiration, face it folks, writing is slogging. It’s slogging to dredge up the story, the plot, pushing and shoving at your characters, just writing and writing until something happens.

So I’ll continue my slogging, at my slower pace and be satisfied with it for now. I’ll NaNo when I’m dead.

Real life rears its ugly head

Uncategorized September 30, 2010

Well. I started this blog with the best of intentions. Really. I wanted to post on the blog everyday…. every single day. Then *BLAM* real life smacked me in the face. Backed up sewage pipes (yeah, lovely image… picture my basement covered in several inches of excrement), sprog problems (“no, he’s not planning to blow up the school, he’s writing a comic book”), family visits (nothing witty here, I can’t be witty about certain things), husbands with gall bladder problems (ER visit anyone?), missed writers’ workshops (gall bladder and family combined) and the resultant stress from all of the above pretty much put the smackdown on my blogging ambitions.

But I’m picking up the pieces and coming right back. I’ve got some homework to finish today, but expect another edition of Friday Fuel tomorrow.

Friday Fuel

Uncategorized September 24, 2010

1. You walk into the bathroom you share with your significant other and find a huge pile of long hair in the sink.

2. Seven people are camped on the front lawn of your apartment complex and you find out your landlord is charging them rent.

3. You notice the tree outside your office break room window is closer than it was last week.

4. A black dog suddenly starts appearing everywhere you go. You don’t own a dog.

5. You watch a woman you don’t know drive up and leave a bag of garbage on your front step. Is it garbage?

Favorite authors by genre

Uncategorized September 22, 2010

It’s a new school year! I love the beginning of the school year. I have a weakness for office supplies– notebooks, pens, pencils, stacks of blank paper, erasers… Set me loose in an Office Depot or Staplers and I can go crazy.

Of course the beginning of the school means something different to me since I’m not in a traditional educational setting. My school goes year round and I don’t sit in the classroom except for two weeks out of the year. Alas, I don’t need to buy a new bookbag and fill it with goodies. BUT I have two kids! Voila!

They’re in second and fifth grades. It’s a really cool experience, watching them learn and fostering a love of books. My older son has the love. He gets through novels- not tiny ones, but ones like Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief or Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, in a day or two. He loves reading. My younger son hasn’t been bitten quite so hard yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I love seeing them read.

So what’s your favorite child’s book? I liked The Big Tidy Up Book by Norah Smaridge as a kid. I also had a book I loved dearly, and would love to find again, but can’t remember the title. There was a poem in the book that I can recite even now:

Jean saw a horse beneath a tree. She thought he’d like a pat. But all that old horse wanted was a bite of Jean’s new hat.

My tastes changed as I got older and one my favorite YA series is the Books of Great Alta by Jane Yolen.

I loved to read to my sons, too. We liked Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton and The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.

What are your favorite kids’ books? And can anyone else remember that poem about the horse?