Monday, April 30, 2012

Zip It



Woo Hoo! It's here, it's here! The end of the A to Z Challenge and I made it. I feel like that person in cartoons and/or sitcoms who tries to run a big race and ends up literally dragging herself over that finish line three hours after everyone else has already gone home. It's been a great (if exhausting) challenge. I've found a lot of great new blogs to follow and have gained quite a few new followers of my own. I hope I don't disappoint...

That said, I'm cheating a little bit on this post as I am very far behind on— well, everything, really, and need to take a stab at getting caught up. So for your viewing pleasure, I'm posting what is quite possibly the greatest fifty three seconds in cinematic history (and yeah, that's a joke. I mean, I think this is a hysterical scene but it ain't no River Tam bar fight, if you know what I mean). Enjoy...



Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y? Because We Like You...

Well, here we are. The Penultimate Entry in the 2012 A to Z Challenge. I'm a little surprised I made it this far this year. Surprised, but happy. I was writing this big whole long rambling thing that didn't really make any sense (which could be true for this entire blog, huh?) so I decided to eighty-six it and post some Y music instead. Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and I'll see y'all on Monday for the final installment of the challenge. Oh, and once again, I apologize for any funky formatting. I'm trying to figure this out, I promise.

  Ani DiFranco- You Had Time (from the album "Out of Range")



Weird Al Yankovic- White And Nerdy (from the album "Straight Outta Lynwood")


And because I couldn't decide between the two... Weird Al Yankovic- Don't Download This Song
(from the album "Straight Outta Lynwood")


Yeahs Yeahs Yeahs- Shame And Fortune (from the album "It's Blitz!")


And last, but certainly not least, here's one in honor of The Man:
Rush- YYZ (from the album "Exit... Stage Left")

Friday, April 27, 2012

X Factor




Today's post is devoted to those favorite things of mine that I wanted to mention earlier this month but didn't because either other things popped into my head at the last minute or Joss Whedon trumps all. I'm calling it "X Factor" because (a) it's X Day and (b) because these things (All right, well one's a person) have completely captured my attention/imagination in a way that's usually only reserved for the Whedonverse.

Books

I first read the novels of Ellen Emerson White when I was in the seventh grade and both my mother and my English teacher were desperate to get me to read something— anything— that didn't feature a pair of beautiful blond twins. So, one day, when I was wandering around the library searching for said anything, I came across The President's Daughter. It's the story of Meg Powers (one of my all time favorite characters) , a sixteen year old girl whose mother runs for (and wins) the Presidency of the United States.

I don't remember why exactly I picked it up but I'm super glad I did because it was the start of a beautiful love affair— all right, maybe a little one sided love affair— that has lasted until this day. And just so you understand how long I've been in love with this book/series, it's been quite a while since I was in the seventh grade. Like, more than one decade. And then some.

Ellen Emerson White taught me so much about writing a story. She taught me so much about creating a character with layers. She taught me so much about character voice. My writing changed forever after reading these series of books. And if you like YA, you should most definitely read this series.

Here's the series list in order:
1. The President's Daughter (which is currently a paperback bargain at Amazon— $4!!)
2. White House Autumn
3. Long Live The Queen
4. Long May She Reign

I also love White's other novels The Road Home, Life Without Friends, and In Case of Emergency, Ring Super. These three titles are out of print and therefore, harder to come by but they're fantastic novels all.

Television

Sherlock is a British series that offers a contemporary spin on the Sherlock Holmes stories. I started watching it this year (just a couple months ago) and was addicted probably within the first ten minutes because it's that awesome. I was very disappointed to find out there were only three episodes though. Fortunately, the next series starts up in the States on May 6th. And BOY am I excited.

Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Martin Freeman (Watson) are terrific. The writing rocks and the mysteries are good ones. (Even if, between A Study In Pink and a certain episode of the British series Luther, I am now afraid of London cab drivers...) Here are some of my favorite lines from the first series:

Mycroft: You don't seem very afraid.
Watson: You don't seem very frightening.

Sherlock: Anderson, don't talk out loud. You lower the IQ of the entire street.

Sherlock: I'm not a psychopath, Anderson. I'm a high functioning sociopath. Do your research.

Sherlock: Look at you lot. You're all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing.

Watson: (shouting while pissed at Sherlock) I'm Sherlock Holmes and I always work alone because no-one can compete with my massive intellect!

Comics

And just for something different and for something that actually starts with X, I'd like to make mention of XKCD, a comic strip featuring stick figures and geek humor (I guess, lacking a better way to describe it). A lot of the strips, I don't understand because a lot of it is science centered and my level of science understands tops out at Mr. Wizard (or Bill Nye the Science Guy for those of you too young to know who Mr. Wizard is). Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels this way because there's a site called Explain XKCD that does just day: explains the comic to the rest of us. But my favorite comic from them is one featuring River Tam. I tried to post it here but it didn't work. I don't know why. But you can follow this link to see it. 

Sorry about that. Blogger ruined my big finish. Oh well. That's gonna do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see y'all tomorrow.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Whedon. Joss Whedon.




You may have picked up on this by now but I am completely slightly— very, very slightly— obsessed with Joss Whedon. I wrote about him on W day last year too and about a million times since. Well, all right, not a million in the strictest sense of the word but a lot. I wrote about him a lot. I write about him a lot.

But only because he's awesome.

A lot of this is going to sound exactly what I wrote last year but I can't help it. I love what this man does with story. I love how in a single 42 minute episode of something, he can make you laugh and then pull the rug out from under you and make you sob. I love that his writing is fearless and even though you might hate him for it, he'll kill not only his darlings but yours as well (RIP, Wash...). I love that he's written so many kick ass female characters. I love that he wrote a musical episode of Buffy. I love that he wrote a near silent episode of Buffy (for which he won an Emmy). I love that the Buffy season five episode, The Body, makes me cry every damn time I watch it. I love that he created freaking Firefly, for crying out loud. And I love that during the writers' strike, he created Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog (available for instant viewing on Netflix...). And then for the DVD release of Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, he wrote a musical commentary to go along with it. How freaking awesome is that?

I went to see The Cabin in the Woods opening weekend because of Joss's involvement and I hate horror movies. Granted, I spent a fair amount of time with my eyes closed and my hands covering my face but I still appreciated the hell out of the writing. I'm planning to see The Avengers (along with the rest of the world) come May 4th because Joss Whedon directed it (and also because Chris Hemsworth is kinda hot).

Joss Is Boss. And if you looked at my Facebook profile, you'd see that my religion is listed as W.W.J.W.D?

Here are some of my favorite Joss quotes:

"Always remember to be yourself. Unless you suck."

"Humor keeps us alive. Humor and food. Don't forget food. You can go a week without laughing."

“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of."

To leave you with today, I'm going to post a couple of videos. The first is an excerpt from the aforementioned Commentary! The Musical from the Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog commentary track. It's Joss's song, "Heart, Broken":





And finally, I'm going to share this gem I stumbled across on YouTube. It's a parody of the Ballad of Jayne (The Hero of Canton) done by The Bedlam Bards, a group who perhaps worships Joss Whedon and the Firefly universe even more than I do. They have a couple of Firefly inspired albums out. The first is called "On the Drift" and the other "Firefly Drinking Songs." The video below is the first selection on the "On The Drift" album. Enjoy...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vinnie Meets Ellie

I don't know if you know this about me but I like to write dialogue.  In fact, I love to write dialogue.  And I love to write tough talking wildly sarcastic women to deliver that dialogue.  Vinnie, more formally known as Lavinia Price, is one such example.

She's the main character of Vinnie and Ellie— one of my many non-fantasy WIPs (I really hate the title by the way. I just can't think of anything else to call it).  It was the result of my first foray into the world of NaNoWriMo back in 2009. I set out wanting to write a chick lit novel, just to see if I could do it. And I guess since the story's still unfinished (you're shocked, I know), whether I can do it remains to be seen.

Anyway, Vinnie and Ellie is the story of Lavinia (who calls herself Nia but is called Vinnie by her friends) and the drop dead gorgeous Llewelyn (who calls himself Lew and is called Ellie by friends). They meet, they fall in love, complications arise but, at the end of the story, when it's all said and done, these two will have a happy ending. It's not quite written yet but I know that's where it'll end.

The scene I'm going to post below is their very first dialogue heavy meeting. (Or part of it anyway. As it often seems to be the case with me, the entire scene is much too long for this post.)  They meet in a bar where Vinnie is celebrating her unexpected unemployed status with a fifth of whiskey. Enter Lew, a guy just looking for a beer and place to sit.


“This seat taken?” a man’s voice asks.

I don’t look up.  “Does it look like it’s taken?”

“No, but I didn’t know if maybe you had a boyfriend—“

“No.”

“Or girlfriend—“

“Oh, how very progressive of you.”

“Maybe using the facilities or something,” the man finishes.

“No,” I say, looking up finally.  “That seat’s not taken.”

The man to whom the voice belongs appears to be the textbook definition of ‘tall, dark and handsome.’  His eyes are blue and his dark hair is cropped close to his head.  He has some stubble on his face but it only adds to his rugged good looks.  He’s wearing a tee shirt and jeans, both of which do a lot to promote his athletic build.  He smiles at me as he slides onto the stool, revealing his very white and very straight teeth.

“So you’re here on your own then?” he asks as he signals to Frank.

“Just me and my friend, Jack.”

Frank comes over and my newfound, yet entirely unwanted, companion asks for a beer.  Whatever’s on tap.  He’s not picky.  Frank pours Sam Adams.  When the new arrival receives his pint, he throws some money down on the bar and takes a swig of the beer.  Frank looks at me as he gathers the money.  It’s a look I’ve seen before.  Is this man bothering you, Nia? I shake my head slightly.  Nothing I can’t handle.  Frank nods and turns to the register.

“Jack?” the tall dark stranger asks as he sets his beer down.

Not too bright, this one.  Probably gets by on his looks.  He probably makes women everywhere crazy with those well muscled arms of his.  He then dazzles them with his baby blue eyes and easy grin and washboard abs so they don’t notice his total lack of wit.  Too bad for him I’m immune to such manipulation.

Probably immune to such manipulation.

I indicate my glass.  “Jack.  As in ‘Daniels’?”

“You want another?” Frank asks me.

I nod and Frank pours me another whiskey.  I do not throw any money on the bar and Frank walks away to tend to some other patrons.

“Come here often?” the man asks.

“Wanna know my sign next?” I ask.  “Look, if you’re trying to pick me up, I’m not interested.  Save us both some time and hassle, you know?”

“Who said I was trying to pick you up?”

“You certainly seem like you’re trying to pick me up.”

“Just making conversation.”

“Just checking.”

“I think I may have stumbled on to why you’re here alone,” he says.

“I’m sitting here at this bar alone,” I say.  “But I am not alone in this building.  I have a friend—“

“Besides Jack?”

“Who dances,” I say and point over my shoulder in the general direction of the dance floor.  “She’s over there.”

He looks over his shoulder.  “You don’t dance?”

“Haven’t had enough to drink yet to consider it.”

“So you’re one of those.”

“Whatever that means.”

“So touchy,” he says.  “You always like this?”

“Drunk?”

“Charming.”

“What do you care?”

“Are you new to the concept of conversation?”

“I didn’t ask you to sit here.”

“True.”

“Nor did I ask you to converse with me,” I say.  “In fact, I think I’ve done quite a lot to discourage conversation.”

“Also true.”

“And yet,” I say.

He grins.  “Here I am.”

“Yes, here you are.  So, what are you?  A glutton for punishment?”

“Not especially.”

“Lose a bet?”

“Not that I recall.”

“Someone put you up to this?” I ask, looking over my shoulder to see if Susannah is having a good laugh at my expense.  She isn’t.  She’s thrown herself into a very energetic, if slightly intoxicated, version of the Robot.

He laughs.  “You know, I don’t know why but I kind of like you.”

“I don’t know why either.”

“Can I ask your name?”

“If you’re asking if you’re capable of forming the words which will form a sentence inquiring after my name, I think the answer is ‘yes.’  I don’t know you very well but I have faith you could handle it.”

“If I asked you your name,” he says then, “would you tell me?”

“Ah,” I say.  “Now there’s a valid question.”

“And the answer?”

I look him over and have a sip of my drink.  “Nia,” I say.  “My name is Nia.”

“Nia,” he says.  “That’s nice.”

“I’ve always thought so,” I say.  “What’s your name?”

“Lew.”

“Like short for Lewis?”

“Like that, yeah,” he says.

He looks over his shoulder again.

“Am I keeping you from something?  Someone?” I ask.  “Wife?  Girlfriend?  Boyfriend?  Your mother?”

He shakes his head and looks back at me.  “I’m flying solo tonight.”

“Left your entourage at home, did you?”

“I don’t really know how much of an entourage it is,” he says.  “No wife, no girlfriend.”

“Boyfriend then.”

“No boyfriend,” he says.  “Although that’s very progressive of you.”

“I do try to keep an open mind.”

He snorts into his beer.  “I do have a couple of friends but they’re spending the evening with their wives and girlfriends.”

“Wives and girlfriends?”

He shrugs.  “They like to keep an open mind.”

“An example for us all,” I say.  “So, what’s wrong with you?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re good looking, kind of nice, entirely single and apparently free of any emotional baggage and yet here you are, sitting alone talking to an overly hostile woman in some smoky dive on a Friday night.  So what’s wrong with you?”

“Only kind of nice?” he asks.

I shrug.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asks.

“What makes you think something’s wrong with me?”

“You’re good looking, kind of nice—“

“Kind of nice?” I interrupt.  “That’s one hell of a curve you’re grading on.”

“Entirely single but unfortunately broke from excess emotional baggage fees,” Lew finishes.

“And you still have to wonder what’s wrong,” I say.

“Maybe I’m just trying to be polite.”

“This is you trying to be polite?”

“Is this you trying to be polite?” he asks.

“Who says I’m trying to be polite?”

He smiles again and even laughs.  “No one within earshot,” he says.  “Another round?”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Undead and Lovin' It


Today we're talking about vampires. And by 'vampires', I mean the real kind. The kind that doesn't sparkle. (Although a certain sparkly vampire will make an appearance at the end of this post.) In the interests of time, this will only be a partial list. If I leave out your favorites, please mention them below. 



1.  Nosferatu
Holy crap, this is one creepy dude.  He’s the title character of a 1922 German silent movie with a pretty jazzy soundtrack.  In the film, Count Orlok (aka Nosferatu) terrorizes Transylvania until that gets boring and then ships himself in a coffin over to the fictitious German city of Wisborg where the resumes his habit of eating people.  He also watches from a window as his pure of heart next door neighbor, Ellen, sleeps.

See, Edward. It’s creepy.

Ellen reads a book all about vampires that her husband brought home from oversea travels to Transylvania and learns the way to kill a vampire is for a pure of heart woman to distract the vampire with her beauty all night long so he forgets to return to his hideaway when the dawn comes. So Ellen does as the book describes. Orlok comes through her window, drinks her blood and stays there all night long. He forgets about dawn and vanishes in a puff of smoke.  Ellen lives just long enough for one last loving embrace with her husband.  And Nosferatu is never heard from again… or is he?



2.  Eric Northman from True Blood
I can never decide if I love this show or hate this show but since I can’t stop watching it (no matter now disgusting it gets… and it gets pretty damn disgusting), I guess it doesn’t matter.  At any rate, Eric Northman is pretty damn easy on the eyes.



3.  The Salvatore Brothers from The Vampire Diaries

I should probably be embarrassed by how frakking obsessed with this show I am but then Damn takes his shirt off and I completely forget.  My favorite line comes from Damon when he says, “I do believe in killing the messenger. You know why? Because it sends a message.”  The vampires on this show can walk in the sun but they only think they sparkle with is genius. Very few shows can pack as much action and angst into each and every episode.



4.  The Vamps from the Whedonverse

I saved this group for last because (a) there are so many of them and (b) they rock.  There’s Angel and Angelus, Spike and Drusilla, Darla, even Harmony and let’s not forget Vampire Willow and Vampire Xander.  They’re good, they’re bad, they’re human, they’re soulless, they’re soulful (?), they’ve been sent to hell and they’ve come back…where they stop, nobody knows!



Well, that’s gonna to do it for me today. I have a line of post-it notes requiring my attention. But before I disappear, here’s that Edward Cullen cameo I teased in the opening paragraph:




Monday, April 23, 2012

Tagged

Cortney Pearson over at Writer By Day was kind enough to tag me in the Lucky Seven meme that's sweeping the blogosphere.  In the process, she provided me with a perfect topic for today's post.  Thanks, Cortney!

If you're unfamiliar with this meme, the idea is for the readers of your blog to get a teeny tiny peek at your Work In Progress. I've enjoyed this meme.  It's awesome how many people have such exciting snippets to share.

Here are the rules:

1.  Go to page 77 of your current WIP

2.  Go to line 7.

3.  Copy the next 7 lines/paragraphs and post them as they're written.
4.  Tag 7 other authors.

I was tagged last month and shared seven lines on page 77 of Effigy so this time time around, I'm going to share the seven lines from page 77 of Second Nature which is Effigy's sequel.  This bit of a scene finds us smack in the middle of an argument between the main character, Cate and another character, Aaron.

"Oh, you are in for a world of hurt, John Boy," she said.  "The second you put me down— the very second my feet touch the ground— I'm gonna make you bleed."


That made Aaron laugh. Cate didn't appreciate it.

"You don't think I can take you?" she asked. "Because I can.  And I will."

He laughed more.  "Mostly I think I don't fight girls."

"That makes two of us," Cate said. "But in your case, I'd be willing to make an exception."

"Are you calling me a girl?"

"It's an insult to girls everywhere, I know," Cate said.  "I'll make it up to them after I've finished making you cry, you pain in the ass emo freak."


Now this is the part where I'm supposed to tag seven other authors and this is the part I always skip.  But, as I said last time, if you're a writer who's curious about what may lurk on page 77 of your own manuscript and want to share it with the world, please consider yourselves tagged.
Hope everyone has a terrific Monday. See y'all tomorrow.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Storyboard Snippets




This past Tuesday, I posted a picture of my big-ass storyboard as part of a tour of my office space.  A few of my wonderful commenters expressed interest in knowing more about how exactly my storyboard is set up.  So this post will be devoted to answering this question. Below you'll find close-up pictures and descriptions of my process.  It's probably the craziest process out there (and, judging by my slower than molasses rate of production, perhaps not the smartest) but I like it and I hope that maybe you find it interesting.  At the very least, it could be a tutorial in what not to do.  At any rate, I'd like to warn anyone who maybe hopes to one day read my novel to not look too closely at these pictures because they will contain spoilers.



If you don't already know, I'm writing an epic fantasy series.  The first two novels are over 600 pages each thus far, which is not quite as long as A Song of Ice and Fire but still, a respectable length, I think.  Part of the problem I had in early drafts was keeping track of the wheres and the whens because, as is generally the case with epic fantasy, there are a lot of characters doing a lot of things at a lot of different times in a lot of different places, and I kept screwing up the timeline.

The story also takes place in four separate countries.  None of these settings are equipped with wi-fi or telephones or a pair of cans connected by a string.  None of them have any sort of mail delivery service that doesn't require the use of a horse or ship or some combination of the two.  All of this time needs to be accounted for.  All of these places need to have names, and I need to remember that when, in chapter one, the capital city of Eluned is located in the northeast quadrant, it had better be in the same place come chapter twenty.

But because I am stupid a visual learner, I had a hard time keeping all this straight just in my head and confusingly-scribbled notes in my notebooks.  I needed to see it laid out before me.  And thus, the storyboard was born.  I've had it for a little over a year now, and I think it's made a huge difference.  The first thing I put on it was the calendar:








This calendar covers the timeline for book one and about a third of book two.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I get to book three.  Or even the second half of book two.  But that's a problem for another time.  The months and years at the top of each page were chosen almost completely at random (one sentence early in book two makes it not random).  I just needed them to help give my timeline shape. On each page is written the major events in the novel, who does what when.  I've planned the series to be at least five books long (I'd really like there to be six because I like the symmetry, but I haven't thought that far ahead yet)  and because there is some back and forth happening, each novel gets its own color of ink. This way I know at a glance which notes corresponds to which novel.  The blue and pink post-it notes indicate scenes that need to be fixed and are placed on the calendar near to the scene in question.





The yellow post-it notes are those which still require my attention.  They've been moved from the storyboard to the bottom of my monitor so that when I start wasting away my time on Facebook or Twitter or Minesweeper or whatever (not that I ever do that), I'll see them and guiltily stop what I am doing and go back to what I should be doing.  Sometimes it works.





This map was the second thing to be put on the big-ass storyboard.  Yes, it's a map of England, Wales and Scotland.  No, my story doesn't take place in any of these countries, but like the months and the years of my calendar, I'm using it to help me keep track of where everything is because in earlier drafts, I did lose a couple of villages and one managed to move from the west to the south and back again.  Oops.  And because I can't draw, I used a map already in existence.  Each little pink slip is the name of a village/city in my book.




This is a series of emails I received from my last beta reader.  These are the notes she gave me.  The highlighted portions are the notes I wanted to make sure I really paid attention to. Hmmm. That makes it sound like I didn't care about the rest. Which isn't true. I am, as always, grateful for any and all feedback I receive.  I give it all very careful consideration.



This is a titles list for the entire planned series.  Five books, each written in three parts.  And don't you just love that font?  I do.  It's really the only reason I took the time to print out a copy of it.




This picture contains the BIGGEST DAMN SPOILERS of all, so please just kind of squint when you look at it.  This is obviously a family tree  (created for free at  Family Echo).  I created it to help me keep track of characters.  Plus, it just kind of looks cool.  But because I couldn't figure out how to get it to print everything (I am not known for my technical know how), I had to write in the rest.  It really worked out better this way because I don't have the storyboard space for a multi-paged family tree.



This is the most embarrassing thing on the big-ass storyboard, so much so that I'm a little surprised I posted it here.  Oh well.  This, in case it's unclear, is the prototype for my book cover.  I know.  I'm such an amazing artist you don't know why I'm wasting my talent writing books.  Please don't injury yourselves laughing.  Seriously though, don't hurt yourselves. 

One afternoon last year, I got the idea to make a mock-up of something I thought would be cool, but I have absolutely no artistic talent (which should be painfully obvious to you now) and I have no idea how to use Photoshop or Gimp or any of those types of programs.  So I decided to print out a couple of pictures (I don't even have a color printer) that I liked (even if the woman is missing the top of her head and the guy would ideally be facing the other direction and not have a quiver of arrows on his back) and sketch in the rest.  The cross is supposed to be a dagger and the empty circle behind it is supposed to be something cool, like a stained glass window, but I didn't even know how to go about sketching that so it's just a circle.



This is what I do when I have to work out problems in chapters, more specifically the ordering of scenes.  I wrote about it in detail back in January, but here's a recap:  each slip of paper has written on it a one line description of the scene.  Blank slips of paper represent scenes that need to exist but don't because I don't know what they are yet.  In this format, I can easily shuffle them around until I nail down the order I want them to be in.  Transitions and flow between scenes are very important to me and this helps me make the most of it.  Most of the time.  When my dining room table isn't available for this exercise (read: when I'm too lazy to clean it off...), I use post-it notes and my Serenity movie poster.

So there you have it.  Those are the contents of my big-ass storyboard (and my dining room table).  Not traditional in any sense, but when have I ever done anything traditional?  I apologize for the length of this post—I hope you don't regret your interest in the big-ass storyboard and that you didn't fall asleep at your computer while reading it.  And if you did, I hope you didn't drool all over the keyboard.  Talk about your messy clean up.

Have a great weekend, all.  See you Monday.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Robin Hood

Before I start with today's actual post, I just have to say that this new Blogger format thing is FREAKING ME THE HELL OUT.  We now return to our regularly scheduled blog post.

What can I say?  I'm a fan.  I always have been.  The story of Robin Hood was one of my first inspirations.  When I was a kid, I always wanted to run around the yard with my homemade bow (a slightly curved stick with a piece of kite string tied to either end) and play the rebel, the outlaw.  All right, fine.  Sometimes I still do that.  The only difference is I can now afford slightly better weaponry.  Not that anything has met its demise at my hands.  Except that one lamp.  And the corner of my desk.  And that one spot on the wall in The Man's office.  But other than that, I have done no harm.


Yet.

So I thought today would be a perfect day (being 'R' day and all) to feature all things Robin Hood, more specifically books, television and movies.  And I'm not going to talk about all of them.  There's too much so this will be a limited (although it made not feel like it right now) list.  As always, if I don't talk about your favorites (sorry, Errol Flynn but that picture's all you're gonna get), please feel free to admonish me in the comments.

Let's get started, shall we?

Books


The King Raven Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead.  This series includes the titles Hood, Scarlet, and Tuck. Scarlet is my personal favorite of the three and is told through the POV of Will Scarlet.  In this series, Robin Hood is Bran ap Brychan, a Welshman hunted by the Normans who takes to the woods to save his life.  This series is deep and dark and so gorgeously written. Hood was the first novel by Stephen Lawhead I'd ever read and it was good enough to turn me into a lifelong fan.

The Outlaw Chronicles by Angus Donald.  Told through the POV of Alan a Dale.  If Stephen Lawhead's series is dark then this series is just plain brutal.  This is not a happy sing-song Robin Hood here.  This is a man who, if crossed, will cut out your tongue before he cuts off your extremities.  Angus Donald doesn't pull any punches in this series and it's awesome.  It includes Outlaw, Holy Warrior, King's Man (which I am reading now) and the soon to be released Warlord.  I liked these books so much that I was willing to order my copy of King's Man from England when I couldn't get a copy here in the good ole USA.

Lady of the Forest
and Lady of Sherwood by Jennifer Roberson.  I'm not going to write tons about these two novels but I just wanted to mention it because it's written by a woman and tells the Robin Hood legend from the POV of Maid Marion.  The new cover makes it look like a real bodice ripping romance and it isn't.  Both books are a good read.

Television


In 2006, the BBC released this AWESOME reboot of the Robin Hood legend.  Jonas Armstrong starred as the titular character.  It lasted for three seasons.  Fun fact: I wasn't sure I'd make it through the first episode because it's a little cheesy.  And by 'a little', I mean a lot.  But once you just embrace that fact, this show is just plain fun. Speaking of fun, I think Keith Allen (who played the Sheriff of Nottingham) had entirely too much playing his role.  I always love it when he shows up on screen (yes, this show has made it into my repeated viewings rotation along with Firefly, Buffy and Veronica Mars.)  And while the first season is a variable cornucopia of physic defying stunts and improbable escapes and plot lines, the second season took all that and added some drama.  There's a big shocking death at the end of it that ensured that Season Two would remain ever my favorite.  This series is available for instant viewing through Netflix.

Movies


Disney's Robin Hood.  Released in 1973.  Fun fact: this script had eight writers and if you have (or can get your hands on) the Most Wanted DVD edition of this movie, you can see the alternate ending where a wounded Robin Hood is about to be stabbed by Prince John when King Richard, home from the crusades, interrupts in the nick of time.  It was deemed too dark and was hence changed.
Another Fun Fact:  I've probably watched this movie at least 800 times.  Maybe 8,000.  It was a big, big hit in my family. I can still sing the songs.  And sometimes do, much to the delight of everyone surrounding me at the time.  I do apologize to the people on that airplane that time I flew over Nottingham.  It's just... I was so excited to be that close.  You understand, I'm sure.

Robin Hood: Men In Tights.  Released in 1993.  Directed by Mel Brooks and, according to IMDB, written by five people.  I'm laughing just thinking about this movie.  Cary Elwes (whom I adore in everything he does... and hey, he's guest starred on Psych too!) is a perfect Robin Hood in this most excellent spoof.  Richard Lewis plays Prince John and you know what?  The entire cast is perfect and I can't list them all.  If you haven't seen this film, you really should.  You'll love it. Unless you hate things that are funny. Then I can't help you.

My favorite line in all too quotable movie comes after Prince John asks why people should listen to Robin Hood and Robin answers, "Because, unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent."  (Kevin Costner, I'm looking at you.)

And to leave with you today, here's my favorite scene:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Queens (the evil kind)

Today we're talking about Evil Queens. Yes, I know. This is the second post this month I've devoted to the awesomeness of evil characters and you're concerned for me and my seeming lack of moral fiber. That, or you've read this blog long enough to know that in place of moral fiber I was just given an extra snark gene. Or twenty.

But it doesn't change the fact that we're talking about evil queens. Good queens are well and... well, good (yes, folks! Marvel at my command of the English language!) but the evil queens get to have all the fun and all the good lines and they often times make a fantasy story that much more interesting. Not to mention they're often times rather integral to the plot. Not every good fantasy story has an evil queen but some of the very best do and this post will be dedicated to four of them (listed in no particular order). If I leave out your favorites, please mention them in the comments.

1. The Queen of Hearts from Alice In Wonderland.

First of all, give yourself bonus points (no cash value) if you now have a certain Juice Newton song stuck in your head. (If you don't have a certain Juice Newton song stuck in your head, it's possible you're too young to read this blog. That, or I'm in desperate need of a life.)

Second of all, the Queen of Hearts is noted for being a short tempered, foul tempered croquet enthusiast. She is NOT the Red Queen from Alice In Wonderland's sequel, Through The Looking Glass. And then there's this (courtesy of Lewis Carroll):

The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said, without even looking round.

2. The Wicked Queen (AKA the Evil Queen) from Snow White.

Interesting fun fact: In the first edition of the Snow White tale, the wicked queen was Snow White's biological mother. Not her stepmother. Also, Snow White's name in the first edition was actually Snowdrop

Another interesting fun fact: The Disney version of this character ranks #10 on the American Film Institute list of the 100 Best Villains of All Time

Famous line: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?

3. The White Witch from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Jadis is her name and freezing Narnia is her game. When The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe begins, this winter has lasted for 100 years and her castle is filled with petrified ( as in 'turned to stone') Narnians. Yikes.

She's also the reason we have a "don't take candy from strangers" policy for our children as she lures Edmund Pevensie into her sleigh with Turkish Delight.

4. Queen Bavmorda from Willow

All right, so just how awesome was this movie?

This is a character from the 1988 film directed by Ron Howard. It also starred Val Kilmer (Madmartigan) and Warwick Davis as the titular character. Queen Bavmorda hears a prophecy stating that a newborn baby girl will bring about her downfall so naturally, she imprisons all pregnant women in her stronghold until the child in question is born. Of course, a midwife takes the child and escapes and all hell breaks loose. Bavmorda sends out the troops to track the child down. While she waits for the infant to be returned to her, she turns people into possums, other people into ice, and some into pigs. At least she has variety, right?

Right.

And now... It's Shameless Plug Time!

My own fantasy series, The Coileáin Chronicles, has an evil queen of its own, Zaide Romanza Brollachan. I thought about posting the scene from Effigy where she ascends the throne but it's way too long for an A to Z Challenge post. If you're interested in reading it, you can do so HERE.

Thanks for stopping by... see y'all tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Procrastination, Psych, and Palpatine. Oh My!


I find I'm rather distracted this morning (I might tell you why tomorrow). As a result, I've been looking at a blank screen and a blinking cursor for a while now so I think I'm going to start today's post with a very apt (and possibly fake) motivational poster:


Next up is the little psychic detective series that could... Psych. It premiered on the USA network in 2006 and has lasted six seasons thus far, with a seventh on the way. If you're unfamiliar with the premise, it's about a guy named Shawn Spenser who pretends to be a psych and helps the local police department (and occasionally other law enforcement types) solve crimes. His sidekick is his best friend, Gus. The friendship between Shawn and Gus is something to which we should all aspire. This show never fails to make me laugh and I find that's important in a show. Occasionally, the show takes a more serious turn (as per example the recent season finale. All I have to say is... WTF! I need the next season NOW!) and they still manage to make that work.

They also have managed to snag some pretty awesome guest stars including William Shatner as Juliet's father and Gary Cole who appeared as a hostage negotiator . Then there was the episode "Dual Spires" which featured much of the cast of "Twin Peaks" in a "Twin Peaks" parody.

But as awesome as all that is (and it really is quite awesome), my favorite part of each episode is finding out how Shawn will introduce Gus. Below is a montage video of said introductions (thank you, You Tube!) but my favorite one isn't in there so I'm writing it out for you instead.

Shawn: "This is my partner Jhon Shmit. His middle names are Jacob Jingle Hiemer. "
Random Guy: "You are saying his name is Jhon Jacob Jingle Hiemer Shmit?"
Shawn: "Yes. It was my name too, but I changed it... because of all the people shouting when I went out."




And last but not least... Palpatine

I am not a Star Wars fan. It doesn't really do anything for me. I've seen all the films and I thought "The Empire Strikes Back" was a pretty decent movie but that's really about it. So it surprises me that I enjoy Star Wars parodies as much as I do. Now, I'm also not a Robot Chicken fan. That show is really hit or miss (and more miss) so I've actually stopped watching it. Unless I hear they're doing another of their Star Wars themed episodes. Then I tune in because those crack me up, especially the clips involving Palpatine. I'm posting a couple of them below. Please note that they're Robot Chicken clips which inherently means they feature lots of strategic bleeping (and depending upon certain factors may not be suitable for work. Or for family viewing). But they are hilarious. At least I think so. Enjoy the videos. I'll see y'all tomorrow.







Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Office Space

Hey, raise your hands if you thought I'd be blogging about the movie! Although I really do love that movie and invite you to tell me your favorite quotes and/or scenes from that movie, this post is about my own personal office space. That's right. I'm fortunate enough to have not just a corner but an entire room in which to write so I'm posting pictures of where the magic occasionally happens. Be still your beating hearts, right? Right.

Let's start the tour, shall we?


To answer your question (provided you were thinking it), yes. My desk is normally this neat. A while back when I was trying to solve the problem of one particular character and was adding and deleting scenes like they were going out of fashion, the desk was much messier as it was covered in paper copies of each and every one of those scenes as I attempted to Frankenstein the right scene out of them. I figured it out eventually and the desk has since been restored to its normal sense of order. In the lower left hand corner, you can see the copies of my book, Effigy, made exclusively for me as a gift from my brother and sister-in-law. This will probably sound egotistical and definitely weird but I just like to touch them and thinking about the day when I might get to see them on a shelf in a bookstore somewhere. Some days I actually write the book. Some days.


Now that you've seen where the magic happens, I can show you how the magic happens. The goblets were made for me by my sister, B. This probably wasn't the use for them she had envisioned but I seldom do what others envision. Except for all those times when I do just that. Eeek! Conformity!


This is the room's closet which is filled with books, obviously, but they're all writing themed books and literature textbooks (I used to teach high school English— fear that.) and magazines. All my old notebooks are in here as well as my sword and dagger collection. It looks less organized than it really is. But just barely.



This is the big ass storyboard being watched over by the big ass (and not at all lazy) German shepherd. I posted this picture on this blog a little while ago when I was lamenting how far behind I am in my edits and rewrites. The little yellow and pink post-it notes were all corrections that needed to be made. I am pleased to report that there is only one of these notes remaining on the big ass storyboard. The rest of them are now taped to my monitor. And there are only five of them. And two of them are recent additions that didn't make the storyboard picture. I'm not sure where to place that in the 'progress' continuum.

Well, right now I have to progress out of here. I have an early shift at The Store today and rumor has it that I get to refold both the men's and women's jean walls. Now be still my beating heart.

God, I gotta finish this book (and sell a million copies) so I can quit that job.

See you all tomorrow.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Novels, New Girl and Noooooooo!

It's going to be 80 degrees today in the Mount Washington valley and my hammock is calling my name so let's get right to it, shall we?

Novels

Night Sky by Jolene Perry

Jolene is probably the most prolific writer I know (makes me look like a sloth. Of course, George R.R. Martin also makes me look like a sloth. A really slow sloth. One so slow that other sloths are all, "WTF, sloth girl? Why so slow?") and Night Sky is her second novel (the third I believe is coming out next month). I read this book in March but as the A to Z Challenge kind of shoved my March book review out of the blog line up, I wanted to make sure I mentioned this book. I read a lot of bad books in March but this wasn't one of them and deserves some special attention. Here's what I had to say about it:

Jameson is a great character and I thoroughly enjoyed his narrative. And while I knew how the Sarah corner of the triangle was going to resolve itself, I didn’t know that about Sky’s corner and I liked that I couldn’t see it coming. I also liked how when it came down to a choice between reading the next chapter of this book or watching the next episode of Game of Thrones, I picked the book. Pause for shock and awe. It also made me want to pay Las Vegas another visit, something for which The Man will be forever grateful.

Nether Bound by Bonnie Rae Louwerens

This is Bonnie Rae's first book and was released last week. It's YA paranormal novel with a pretty kick ass novel and premise. I haven't read it yet but you can buy it for your Kindle on Amazon. For more information, including a synopsis of the novel, you can head out to Bonnie Rae's blog or her webpage. Congratulations, Bonnie Rae!

New Girl

I'm referring to the Fox sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel (you know, in case the picture on the left didn't make that perfectly clear.). I didn't like it when it first started. I watched the pilot episode and thought, "really?" And then, I didn't watch after that. Until the Thanksgiving episode aired. Now, please don't ask me why we tuned in to the Thanksgiving episode. I probably couldn't find the remote or whatever but I am so very glad I did tune in because it was truly a hysterical experience. The part that really got me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe was the moment where Jess pulled Nick into the hallway to tell him to be nice to her date, Paul (guest star Justin Long) because she really, really liked him and yes, wanted to have sex with him. Here's her monologue from that scene:

"I do! I want to, I want to have sex with him big time! I want to take him down to Chinatown and slice him off a piece of this pumpkin pie, OK? I want to do all the things you do in a bedroom with him, OK? I want to do it standing up and sitting down and half-up and half-down and the wiggly one and the bear attack and the claws in the head and the one the figure skaters do and the What’s For Lunch and the Give Me That Hat. Let’s just say, I’m good. I’m really really good and I don’t care what you think!"

It's made all the more hilarious when you learn that everyone (including Paul) can hear them through the door. It probably is less funny just reading about it in this blog. I looked for a clip but couldn't find one. Sorry. Oh, and the latest episodes, Fancyman (parts 1 and 2) made me laugh so long and loud, we actually had to rewind the episode to watch again because The Man couldn't hear over my hysteria.

I'm running out of time so let's just move on to today's final item entitled

Nooooooooooo!

As you know, I am a devoted Red Sox fan and within that team, I am a devoted worshiper of Jacoby Ellsbury because he is so damn adorable an amazing ball player. Well, during the Sox's season home opener, my boy injured his shoulder while sliding into second base. He's been since moved to the DL with a shoulder injury.

This makes me very, very sad.

Let the water works begin.

But, if there is a bright side to be found, at least we've won three games against the Tampa Bay Rays. This makes us tied with the Rays. For last place in the AL East. Still, at least we're not losing anymore, right?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Movie Magic

Well, we all know by now that I am television obsessed but as it turns out, I am also film obsessed (oh wait...you knew that too? Well, just act surprised, all right?). So today we're making this post short and sweet (well, maybe not so short) by revealing my current list of all time favorite movies. I have to say 'current' because I have not yet seen every movie ever made and so the list is an ever evolving entity.


1. Serenity (2005, Written and Directed by Joss Whedon)- C'mon. Did you really think the Big Damn Movie wouldn't be #1? Favorite scene: River's bar fight. Favorite line: Mal: "I aim to misbehave."

2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994, Written and Directed by Frank Darabont, based on the short story by Stephen King)- Just really gorgeous storytelling from beginning to end. Favorite scene: Red plays the harmonica (the symbolism that can be found in that tiny snippet just makes my head explode with giddyness). Favorite line(s): Red: "I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope."

3. Shakespeare In Love (1998, Written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, Directed by John Madden)- William Shakespeare meets his muse and writes Romeo & Juliet. Delightfully witty and besides, it stars Joseph Fiennes. Need I say more? Favorite scene: There's a scene where an inspired Will writes pages and pages and pages and, as a writer, I love it, but I'm going with the moment he convinced Ned Allyn to perform the part of Mercutio by telling him that the play is actually called "Mercutio." Favorite line: Henslow: "No, no, we haven't the time. Talk prose."

4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003, Written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, based on the novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Directed by Peter Jackson)- Yeah, I know. I'm totally cheating by including all three of these films into one spot on this list but it's damn near impossible to watch one without watching the other two so I'm doing it. Favorite scene: I gotta go with the scene at the end of the trilogy where everyone in Gondor where Aragorn's all, "My friends, you bow to no man" and everyone bows down to the hobbits. Favorite line: Pippin: "Where are we going?"

As a bonus, I'm going to include this clip of Gollum accepting an MTV movie award for Best Virtual Performance. It's hysterical.



5. Amadeus (1984, Written by Peter Shaffer. Directed by Milos Forman)- This movie tells the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart through the eyes of his jealous rival, court composer Salierai. It's frakking amazing. Favorite Scene: Toward the end, when Salierai helps a dying Mozart write the La Crimosa. It's a perfect example of how music can take a scene to a completely new level. Favorite line: Every time Tom Hulce (who played Mozart) giggles and/or laughs. If you've seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about.

6. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, written by the Monty Python guys. Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones)- King Arthur and the knights of the round table go on a quest to find the holy grail. Hilarity ensues. I created a lesson plan with the sole purpose of showing this movie in my class. It was a good lesson plan too. Favorite scene: Damn it, I can't pick a favorite scene. Maybe the part with the Black Knight. Favorite line: Black Knight: "It's only a flesh wound!"

7. Dead Poets Society (1989, Written by Tom Schulman. Directed by Peter Weir)- An English teacher inspires his students to love literature and to think for themselves and challenge society. It all goes horribly wrong but, of course, but it's a damn impressive film. I liked showing this one in school too. Favorite scene: The O Captain My Captain part at the end where Ethan Hawke stands on his desk. Frakking Awe. Some. Favorite line: Keating: "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world."

8. Moulin Rouge! (2001, Written by Baz Lurhman and Craig Pearce. Directed by Baz Lurhman)- My love for the movie really kicked in at about the forty five minute mark. Before that, it was this strange spectacle I didn't know quite what to make of, but after that mark (shortly following the bizarre rendition of "Like A Virgin"), I fell in love with this movie. Favorite Scene: The Roxanne number. Favorite line: Another movie where I don't really have a favorite line.

9. Singing In The Rain (1952, Written by Adolph Green and Betty Comden. Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly)- Hilarious and awesome. Filled with one liner after another. Plus, there's all that iconic singing and dancing. I was going to post a clip of some of this iconic singing and dancing (specifically Donald O'Conner performing "Make 'Em Laugh") but I'm having a hell of a time finding a YouTube video that offers embedding. If you're at all interested in movie musicals, you should definitely check this one out. But if you're into movie musicals, there's a good chance you already have.

10. The Lion King (1994, Apparently written by 29 people whose name I'm not going to list here and directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff)- I love Disney movies. Well, most Disney movies but The Lion King has got to be at the top of that list. It makes you sing, it makes you laugh and then it makes you freaking cry. It just so happens that I like that in a movie. Favorite scene: Sure, the immediate aftermath makes you cry but that wildebeest stampede is pretty frickin' awesome animation. Favorite line: The hyenas: "No king, no king! Lalalalalala!" (It's the delivery.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Leapin' Lizards!

It's time for another hodgepodge post on My Pet Blog. Today's post is brought to you by the letter L and will have absolutely nothing to do with lizards, leaping or otherwise. I just love alliteration.

Let's get started, shall we?

Logan Echolls

Show: Veronica Mars

Portrayed by: Jason Dohring

So, yesterday I was having one of those confidence free days where I didn't know why I was bothering to write a book at all (I think we call it "Thursday") so I decided to knock off early and partake in a Veronica Mars marathon. If you're unfamiliar with this show, I highly recommend it but be sure to tune in on April 25th when this special, completely awesome show gets its first very own post. Anyway, I'm digressing. Partway through the pilot episode, I decided I had to make mention of one of my very favorite characters ever, Logan Echolls. When we first meet him, Veronica says, "every school has an obligatory psychotic jackass— he's ours." And he certainly starts out that way but through the three too short seasons of the show, he evolves into quite an interesting, complicated character.

Best lines: "Annoy tiny blond one. Annoy like the wind." (Season One, Echolls Family Christmas)

and

"My day is complete. Veronica Mars has accused me of evil doing." (Season Two, Green Eyed Monster)

Lorelai Gilmore

Show: Gilmore Girls

Portrayed by: Lauren Graham

Lorelai Gilmore is quite possibly the coolest mom in television history. I love writing dialogue and I love a show that has well written dialogue. And this is one such show (all right, so the last two seasons weren't all that great. But there were still occasionally funny moments). One of the taglines for this show was "Life's short. Talk fast" and no one embodied this philosophy more than Lorelai. It was probably that coffee addiction. But whatever it was, she was always ready with a clever quip which makes it so much harder to pick favorite lines for her. Really, you could pick any episode and there would be some awesome Lorelai moment. So I'm just going to post this video of one of my favorite conversations between Lorelai and her daughter, Rory. The video's about three minutes long. It's not the one I wanted to post because the shorter version had the embedding disabled. Uncool, YouTube people. Uncool.




And now for something completely different...

Because I do recognize the fact that some of you (most of you) out there are not as television obsessed as I am.

Live (the rock band...not as "Live! With Regis and Kelly!") 's first album was Mental Jewelry in 1991. They achieved their biggest success with their 1994 album Throwing Copper. The following video (one of my favorites) is from that album.