Thursday, December 31, 2009
There has been talk of bests of the decade and worsts of the decade and no one is talking resolutions yet so lets have it. What are your goals and resolutions for 2010?
I will run a 1/2 marathon. And write another novel.
Share!! And have a safe and happy New Year's Eve.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
As I write this my husband is making me laugh so hard it is difficult
to type. He is an original. I can't say what he was saying, but he
makes me laugh regularly.
We are having a quiet day (its snowing buckets out there) of seeing
two or three movies today at my favorite movie theatre, The District.
Per a fellow Inker's advice, we will see Avatar and then we will see
another movie, New Moon. I've already seen it with Deb and Donna on
Opening Day, but now its Dear Husband's turn. He read the books so he
could have something to talk to me about. (He's so funny).
Our children are at grandmother's house for 30 hours. :)
We were originally thinking of going to Moab to camp in our car, but
this snow storm helped us change our minds. I received a promise to
take the Moab trip in March. Just him and I and red rock. Aaaah.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
At year's end, many lists come out citing the "best" of the year -everything from books and movies to dry cleaners. The end of 2009 has brought alternate lists, detailing the best of the past decade.
I like these lists, especially how they bring about much debate and discussion. So, I'd like to present a very random list of some of my favorite writing of the past decade.
The Harry Potter Series Conclusion (a world I'd love to visit, with characters I care about - including that naughty Tom Riddle)
Juno (a unique voice, in a funny and touching tale)
Lost (great premise, interesting characters, and although they got off track here and there, I'm dying to know how it ends)
The Office/30 Rock (my favorite TV combo, many laughs, but even better are the cringe-worthy moments)
The Dark Knight (worthy for the Joker character alone)
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (great adaptation and epic filmmaking)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Dan Wells gave a great tribute on his blog. I totally agree, the writing is stellar.)
Boulevard of Broken Dreams (This Green Day song still pops into my head unexpectedly.)
The Princess Academy (I never thought I'd like a book with the word princess in the title, but I loved the strong female lead character as a model for young girls.)
Twilight (It should have ended with book one, or ended better. But, because of the Cullens, it belongs here.)
I know there are many more, but my brain is in a Christmas coma and these are the first that come to mind. Feel free to chime in with your own.
Friday, December 25, 2009
(This is a spoiler-free review)
So I went to see Avatar in 3D last night at the late showing. I went in with very low expectations, mostly because of the tall Smurfs from the trailer. Let's just say James Cameron does shock and awe as well as George W. did.
The story has been done before. My initial thoughts as the show began were Fern Gully meets Starship Troopers. (And I've seen it compared to Pocahontas and other similar films.) That didn't bother me so much, because really a film is all about doing it first or best, and Cameron certainly executed this story better than it's ever been done before. I was pleased that he took full use of his extensive budget to make it a three-hour movie. I doubt he could have told as compelling a story without a second less.
While the 3D aspect of the show (the entire show is 3D, even the preceding movie trailers!) was fantastic, the most impressive achievement of this film is how REAL the CGI characters feel. There wasn't a moment throughout the whole movie that the CGI characters came off as wooden or stodgy--their facial expressions, voice-lip syncing, motor skills, and skin/hair/eye tones all testified to bona-fide characters. The verisimilitude didn't stop with the physical aspects of the characters. Their personalities shone through despite the fact that they were CGI. This, for example, is one thing that Lucas missed with the new Star Wars shows, and why everyone wishes they could erase Jar Jar Bincks from our collective racial memory. Cameron's animators and team pulled the CGI off brilliantly.
I would have liked to see more of Sigourney Weaver; she took a limited minor role only. The other characters in the show, though, were interesting if archetypal. The archetypes worked well for this allegorical story, anyway, and strengthend its overall effect. For example, the head of security for the humans, while extremely archetypal zealous military, came across as an interesting character.
The romance in the story is good to a point--the endgame romance isn't so great, but the buildup is subtle and superb.
The colors and jungle wildlife are amazing! Creative CGI but also brilliant set and artistic design.
This movie appears to be Hollywood fluff at first glance, and many people have reviewed it as such already, but no matter what your interests or take on the film, it is a thinking movie. It takes a while to sort out thoughts about each aspect of it, and for that reason I enjoyed it.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
It's Christmas Eve and tonight the reindeer will be flying around the world and all the little kiddies will hopefully be snug in their beds.
This blog is not about reindeer, really. It's about a cousin of the reindeer called the antelope. (We see alot more of them around here than we do those north fliers who live with Santa.)
This is a true story-
Recently on a sunny winter afternoon, I was driving with my two youngest children and at a stop sign my daughter looked out the side window and exclaimed, “Look! What are those things.”
She’s 6 so that’s not an unusual question from her. I glanced over and saw 40 antelope standing in a field just to the east of the four way stop.
I happened to be talking on my cell phone, also not unusual, and I explained to my friend and my children that we were seeing a huge group of antelope beside the road.
The graceful creatures then decided to cross the road en masse in a brilliant display of herd mentality. The humans yielded right of way and no antelope were injured.
“How fun! They look like reindeer,” I told my friend with Christmas in mind.
After the animals had all passed we drove on to our destination and I went on with my busy day.
That night at dinner, my daughter was complaining about not having any juice and I was answering another question from my oldest son when she waved her hand and said, “What are those things called, mom? You know is it cantaloupe?”
Thinking she was asking for fruit, I replied that yes indeed we could get some cantaloupe and she ran off.
A few seconds later I walked into my bedroom to find her explaining to my husband that we had seen a ‘flock of cantaloupe’ on the road.
“Were they rolling down the street,” he asked, adequately perplexed and turned to me for explanation. I was laughing too hard to answer right away.
“You mean a herd of antelope, dear,” I clarified.
After some persuasion and a little explaining of the difference between fruits and grazing animals and an interruption by my 4 year old claiming ‘no they’re reindeer, mommy said so’, we all had a little chuckle and went about our evening.
Then Grandma called.
The story was retold by my daughter over the phone and grandma responded appropriately with loads of giggles.
Grandma then pointed out that it was an easy mistake to make because cantaloupe and antelope rhyme.
To which my adorable little scholar said very seriously, “Yes, because they both end in antelope.”
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
All I want for Christmas is a day of sleep,
A day of sleep
Yes, a day of sleep.
Gee if I Could only get a day of sleep,
Then I could wish you Merry Christmas!!
It seems so long since I could say
"I feel so awake and so well rested"
Gosh oh Gee, How Happy I'd be
If I could only sleep --snore
All I want for Christmas is a day of Sleep
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
I hate watching the news. It makes me feel icky inside, like I've just kicked a puppy or something. There are two local happenings that I have caught on the news this month. One is a missing woman (with a very suspicious husband) and the other is a man who killed his wife, kids, and himself. Merry Christmas, huh?
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I was out Christmas shopping (only six shopping days left!) at our local large, discount department store and decided to pick up a couple of books for some folks. As I perused the book aisle, I saw there were two entire sections of shelves devoted to vampire romances. I had noticed this before in passing, but this time it irritated me.
Although I have a good understanding of marketing, and realize this is a result of the phenomenal success of Twilight, from a creative standpoint, I wanted to smack each of those blatant knock-off authors in the mouth (not a very Christian attitude while Christmas shopping). It reminded me of when Harry Potter became so successful and one author had the nerve to publish a book featuring a character called Larry Potter, a dark haired boy with round glasses.
Granted, there are really no original stories. I believe it has been written there are only 36 basic plots. But, come on people, at least try a little harder if you're going to follow a trend. To me, Twilight was interesting because it put a different spin on the typical teen romance. Why would we want to read 20 other books with the same premise?
Am I being too harsh here? If you know of some books that have followed a trend, which you would highly recommend, please share. I'd like to feel only love in my heart at Christmas time.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuckerization is the act of using a person's name in an original story as an in-joke. The term is derived from Wilson Tucker, a pioneering American science fiction writer and fanzine editor, who made a practice of using his friends' names for minor characters in his stories. For example, Harry Harrison's To the Stars character: "Old Lundwall, who commands the Sverige, should have retired a decade ago, but he is still the best there is." Sam J Lundwall is a well-known Swedish science fiction publisher and writer, as well as the godfather of Harrison's daughter. A tuckerization can also be the use of a person's character or personal attributes with a new name as an in-joke, such as Ian Arnstein in S.M. Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time trilogy, clearly modeled on his good friend Harry Turtledove, albeit an alternate history Turtledove.
In most cases, tuckerization is used for bit parts, an opportunity for the author to create an homage to a friend or respected colleague. But sometimes an author will attach a friend's name, description, or identifiable characteristics to a major character, and in some novels nearly all the characters represent friends, colleagues, or prominent persons the author knows. When this happens, tuckerization can rise to the level of a Roman à clef. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have done this at least twice:
- Inferno, in which about half the people the main character meets are famous people.
- Fallen Angels, nearly everybody who assists the effort to return the "angels" (astronauts) to orbit is either a well-known fan (Jenny Trout = filksinger, author, and political activist Leslie Fish), a friend of Niven & Pournelle (Dan Forrester = Dan Alderson), or somebody who paid (through donation to a fan charity) for the privilege of appearing in the book. In this case, it can be argued that the first and second categories are not true tuckerizations, since the individual's real names are not used (however recognizable many of them may be).
A similar effect is seen in Niven's collaboration with David Gerrold, The Flying Sorcerers; all the gods are well known science fiction or media personalities (Ouells = H. G. Wells, Rotn'bair = Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry), etc.
One of the earliest tuckerizations was between Robert Bloch and his mentor H. P. Lovecraft: Bloch's story "The Shambler From The Stars" (1935) featured a Lovecraft-inspired character, who was gruesomely killed off. Lovecraft replied in kind with "The Haunter of the Dark" (1936), whose characters included one Robert Harrison Blake (who had the same address as Bloch), whom Lovecraft killed off in an equally horrible fashion. After Lovecraft's death, Bloch wrote a third segment, "The Shadow From the Steeple" (1950), in which the events of the first two stories are further explored. In the early 1930s, before Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the comic-book superhero Superman, they wrote and illustrated a fanzine story, "The Reign of the Superman," featuring a super-powered villain. This story includes one of the very first tuckerizations: a character named after Forrest J Ackerman. More recent examples include the many science fiction and military novelists whose names are borrowed in the Axis of Time by John Birmingham, and the Lachlan Fox thriller series by James Clancy Phelan (eg Birmingham gets it in FOX HUNT).
Related to it is redshirting, where the character named after the real person is killed in some way. Many authors consider tuckerization and redshirting interchangeable; 'redshirted' characters do not necessarily die.
Tuckerization should not be confused with the inclusion of living or deceased real persons in fiction, either as major or minor characters (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro in Warday, Forrest J Ackerman in various novels, etc.).
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This year the shots over the bow have already begun.
Hubby says, "Okay, we'll spend our last dime on a dumb tree, if you insist, but no tinsel."
My response, "Hmm...well...I guess I could try ribbon this year instead of tinsel, BUT if it doesn't FEEL like Christmas, then I'll have to put some tinsel on the tree."
There. I have clearly drawn my battle line, including a compromise. Enough said right? NO.
Dear Hubby says, "I just hate picking the tinsel out of the grass all summer. (Note: we drag the tree to the street for pick up after christmas and the tinsel has been known to fall off in the transport, BUT he's exaggerating, obviously.)
It clogs the mower."
My response, "No it doesn't."
DH: "Yes, it does and the vacuum cleaner too. I hate that."
Me: "But there has always been tinsel on the tree, every Christmas forever."
DH: "It's still Christmas without the messy tinsel."
Me (to myself in my head): "Bring it on, Scrooge."
Could I live without the tinsel? Probably, if forced to by flood, fire, or allergy. BUT I don't have to and I don't want to. Did I mention that I still sleep beside the glittery Christmas tree on Christmas eve, like I did when I was 6, because I love looking at it that much?
What do you love about Christmas?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
because I was caught up in theatre production overload.) We met and
learned some good things about our senses.
Donna led the discussion on noticing what's around you and using at
least three of your five senses.
So, right now I want to hear/read what you are sensing right now. Here's mine:
Smelling the sweetness of a little one's breath as she asks to be
tucked in and feeling the silky-smoothness of her blonde hair as I
kiss her goodnight. After I kiss her I get a razzberry on my arm and
the vibrations linger long after her zurburt.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Bah and Humbug to rewrites, frozen fingers, chocolate cookies, free lunches, and good advice.
Yeah, its been one of those days.
On a completely different topic...DJ's work with Mr. Scrooge in the play she is directing this week paid off, and he did a great job. Congratulations and 'break a leg' tomorrow. Don't know why they think its a jinx to say good luck in the theater.
I love Christmas!!
(The raving ramblings of a overtaxed mind. Welcome to my world.)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Jack McDevitt delivers again.
The Devil's Eye starts off with Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath receiving an enigmatic message from an interplanetary bestselling horror novelist. Author Vicki Greene tells them that she's gotten in too deep, talking about all the people who were dead. By the time Alex and Chase get back to their home planet, Rimway, Vicki has already had a memory wipe performed on her: an invasive procedure that completely wipes a person's personality and memories away, leaving them free to start a new life without hinderment from the past (usually only performed on repeat-offender criminals).
But before Vicki deep-sixes herself, she deposits two million dollars into Alex and Chase's account (which thousands of years in the future is still about what it's worth now; apparently in the future they find a way to stabilize inflation for good). Vicki wants them to discover what she did--what was so disturbing that she decided she couldn't live with the memory.
The last place Vicki had visited before sending Alex and Chase the message was Salud Afar, a borderland planet known for horrific legends and home to a recently overthrown dynasty of dictatorship and ruthless cruelty--the perfect place to research her next novel.
And off Alex and Chase go to unravel a deeply disturbing mystery on the edge of the Milky Way.
I thoroughly enjoyed Seeker, McDevitt's Nebula Award-winning novel preceding The Devil's Eye, so this novel had a tall order to fill. The mystery element was as strong as in Seeker, with the mystery almost as heavy as the sci-fi elements. As with Seeker, McDevitt uses the tools of science--astronomy and astrophysics especially--to unravel and solve the mystery.
Chase and Alex's characters developed more of an spark in this novel than in Seeker, giving the reader a sense of possibility while they still explore other options. McDevitt tries to make in Chase a female cavalier; she's her own woman and is tied down to no man. This role fits her as the pilot of the archaeology operation, but sometimes you just want to see her find love--the stuff which you're not sure will ever grow between her and Alex. Alex tends to come across as a rich collector who doesn't truly have an interest in people as he does in relics from a long-dead age. This hampers their three-dimensionality as characters, but ultimately they are enjoyable characters--Chase more so than Alex.
The Devil's Eye throws some twists into the story that I didn't see coming and that at first I was disappointed about because I was expecting something else. The twists were well-executed, though, and finally created a better ending that I predicted would happen. He did this with Seeker in a much better way, but it still works for TDE.
The Alex Benedict series is very standalone in the truest sense. I started on book three in the series, Seeker, and missed nothing. He's good at bringing you up to speed and only makes a handful of minor allusions to the previous books. For anyone who hasn't tried the sci-fi mystery genre yet, I'd strongly recommend McDevitt as a starting point.
The Devil's Eye, by Jack McDevitt. Ace Books. 2008. 368 pp. $7.99 (PB).
P.S. DJ, it's not too scary for you. :)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Lately, we have been planning the conferences we all plan to attend next year. We are looking forward to getting together with friends and other people who understand the rollercoaster ride of being a writer.
We have discussed "Life, the Universe, & Everything' at BYU in February. That is coming sooo soon! YAY. Writing for Young Readers is on the agenda this year as well.
What conferences are on your agenda and what are you most looking forward too? Spill it we're making travel plans right now!!!
By next week I may be saying, "God Bless Us, Everyone." But today was
the first dress rehearsal for A Christmas Carol and it was a disaster!
There are still costumes to be made (by me), set pieces to be
acquired (by me), photography items to be arranged (by me), you get
So, right now, I am feeling rather Scrooge-ish. This is the third
year of production and I should know by now that it always comes off
great . . . but I still lose sleep.
For any who are local and interested, Charles Dickens' A Christmas
Carol will be performed at Eagle Valley Elementary School on Dec 9th &
10th at 7pm. Tickets are on sale in the office.
Mr. Chops, you should come so Debbie can introduce you to that
teacher. It is all Bah and Humbug!