Monthly Archives: February 2011
I guess I failed to announce my unintentional hiatus this past week, so here’s an apology instead. This week has been insane, for the most part – I’ve clearly been playing the part of a working girl. Right now I’m not going to go in-depth into any of the particular daily themes that I had for each day’s post; instead I’m going to throw some quick updates on here about what’s been going on.
I pretty much haven’t written a damn thing in this for the past week. My plot is finally set, but I’m writing quite a bit from scratch, which honestly I haven’t done for a while. While at the same time a bit stressful, I love the feeling of new words flowing out of me.
What I’m reading
I haven’t gotten much further in Eye of the World than the first chapter; I just haven’t had the time. I have been reading a couple pages of Steve Harvey‘s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, though, and for the most part I would recommend it to every chick I know, whether they’re single or attached to somebody.
I’ve also written a few articles for the Indiana Statesman; the link to that page is in the sidebar to the right. Mostly I’ve been doing quite a bit about the protests and the unrest in the Middle East. In a way I’ve become particularly emotionally connected to the issues. Reading Nicholas D. Kristof‘s editorial on Bahrain in the New York Times yesterday brought tears to my eyes, and halfway through writing my article I had step away and give myself a breather. Even though what I write is unbiased and news-oriented, it is difficult to write even in an objective manner and not have an emotional reaction to all the crap that’s going on over there.
Tonight is an ISU Role Players’ Guild meeting. Probably I ought to go type up an agenda for the business portion, and ready myself for some Pathfinder tonight.
Look for game notes tonight/tomorrow morning, and possibly a new short story posted on my Ficpress page in the near future.
It’s not secret – I am not a fan of DC.
I categorize comic fans into three camps: Marvel, DC, and Batman. I’ve met a lot of people who are fans of both Marvel and Batman, some people who are into DC and Batman, and a lot of people who only like one of the three. I know only one human being alive who is a fan of all things Marvel, DC, and Batman.
Although I’m wholeheartedly a Marvel girl, foraying into DC territory only with Vertigo label comics like Sandman and Fables, I will point out that wherever Marvel lacks, DC flourishes, or at least doesn’t do half-bad, and that’s especially true when it comes to my one huge complaint about Marvel: animated films.
I’ve seen a lot of Marvel’s animated stuff, and while it wasn’t necessarily bad, it was clearly meant for kids. Which is fine, I understand, but there’s a lot of adults who watch cartoons and animated stuff, too, especially in the last decade or two. I’m not quite sure where Marvel’s logic is on this one, but they’ve made it pretty clear that their animated productions will always be geared toward kids; there will be no adult-oriented animated films.
Then you’ve got DC, who produces cartoons like Batman: Brave and the Bold, a personal favorite (despite my muse’s nay-saying), Teen Titans, and Batman Beyond, which are all kid-appropriate and meant for kids, but have that edge to them that make them rewarding for adults as well (something you just cannot get from, say, Doctor Strange or the animated Iron Man or Super Hero Squad). And then you get things like Batman: Under the Red Hood, which more or less kind of blew my mind. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I’ve watched the damn thing at least a dozen times since it was released last summer, and I still get the same thrill from it that I did the first time.
So I’m thinking, DC knows what they’re doing with their animated stuff – at least with Batman. I guess that last bit should have been a warning to me when I told Netflix to send me Green Lantern: First Flight, but somehow, my brain is still (six months later) reveling in post Red Hood euphoria.
Simply put, this is a crap film.
There is zero exposition, the characters (read: Hal Jordan) play like cardboard cutouts, and there’s too many freaking aliens. I realize that that’s the whole basis of Green Lantern (I think), but I submit to you that I was raised on Star Trek and that I do actually enjoy Star Wars, so aliens don’t usually bother me. In this case, I thought they were just overdone.
(And yes, I do know that every member of the Green Lanter Corps in this film is canon from the comics, which is why I’m going to bitch about the comic here for a minute and ask DC WHY the FUCK is there a fucking SQUIRREL serving in the BADASS SPACE POLICE. I MEAN SERIOUSLY.)
And, while there were a couple of moments that made me think, “Okay, yeah, I would not let my brothers watch this”, for the most part the entire thing was completely asinine. And the weirdo alien chick in the cantina snuggling up to Sinestro and purring a complaint about how Green Lantern uniforms had no zippers made me throw up in my mouth a little. Oh God.
Also, dear DC, please stop with the 3D on 2D animation, it just looks dumb and you’re not impressing anybody.
And the answer is: I have no idea. I thought maybe the problem was with the source material – but I downloaded a bunch of Green Lantern comics and found, no, the exposition and back story and best of all a fucking personality are right there, in Emerald Dawn. I could have done with ten minutes less crazy alien space-chases, fighting, and tentacles and maybe have traded it in for some backstory into why Jordan comes across as such a dick, and maybe what makes him so special that he gets to be a Green Lantern. I mean, he’s got to have that extra something, even if it’s not obvious. He can’t just be this average joe, because that’s boring.
But no. Everything about his dad dying, his troubled childhood since then, his struggles with becoming a pilot – that’s all left out. There’s a brief complaint about “I wanna fly real planesssss”, but they just shrug him off. It’s like every character in the first three minutes of the film know that they’re not going to show up again in the rest of it, and they’re just providing a warm body for the scene so they can get paid and go buy more cigarettes as soon as they’re possibly able to get the heck out of there.
So, yeah. Crap film.
Whenever someone asks me for a recommendation of what to read, I always recommend one of the same ten books. I really connect to novels, hold onto them, and a lot of times people love what I suggest. Here’s my top ten favorite novels – in no particular order, because I love them so much I can’t rank one over the other.
My first Gaiman book was actually Good Omens, a satire on the apocalypse that he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, an author I’d been reading since my sophomore year of high school (way back in 2003). My senior year, we took a three-day retreat to a convent (I went to a private Catholic college prep school). We were not allowed to take phones, laptops, and (I believe) iPods. I picked up a couple of novels to take with me, since we were supposedly going to have a lot of downtime, and one of those novels was American Gods.
I started out reading it with the thought, “Oh God, this is a total mind-f***.” And it is. It is definitely not for people who can’t handle a little screwing around with their brain.
2. Night Watch Terry Pratchett
Since I’ve already mentioned Terry Pratchett, it seems a good way to lead in to another one of my absolute favorite novels ever: Night Watch. The Discworld novels are all very brilliant and clever, and in most cases, light-hearted. The Sam Vimes novels are a bit more sinister, definitely darker, although there’s still those moments that will make you laugh out loud. Night Watch was the first Pratchett novel I read after Good Omens, and I’ve re-read it several times since. This is a big deal for me – it is very rare for me to read a book all the way through more than once.
It’s very noir, very hard-boiled, and was one of the inspirations, I think for deAngelis, along with American Gods. Vimes is the kind of policeman that Jenna wants to be as a steward, and if she were a little less sociopathic and a little more mentally/emotionally stable, I think she would be a lot like Vimes.
I read this book for the first time in second or first grade and, while I was aware that I loved it, I definitely didn’t understand it — it was a little beyond my reading comprehension at the time, although later in second grade I tested as reading at a high school level or higher. I spent three years looking for this book, trying to find it again – we moved two or three times in that timespan, so I had new school libraries to navigate – and finally, in my sophomore year of high school, I tracked it down again and reread it. To this day, it remains one of my favorite books in the world – one directly from my childhood – and actually launched my interest in the bedouin culture. I think this novel in particular was a major influence on my starting to write, and as a young girl whose parents had just undergone a vicious, messy divorce, I needed a female role model who could be strong and reliable, and although I didn’t particularly follow the story at the age of seven, I did latch on to Harry. Robin McKinley, with her retellings of classic fairy tales, continues to be one of my favorite authors, and I follow her blog religiously (as I do Gaiman’s). I have loved every single one of the novels she’s published, and I suggest her to anyone who will listen.
Speaking of mindf***s, here’s a really good one. The story of how I got into Murakami is kind of strange. In high school, my best friend was (and still is) a major otaku. In fact, he first started speaking to me because I apparently looked just like Reki from his favorite anime, Haibane Renmei. That anime, which he had me watch, was partially inspired by a novel written by Murakami, titled Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I read it, and loved it, and started devouring his other novels. My favorite so far is Kafka on the Shore. It definitely messes with you, and, like all of Murakami’s novels, it’s one of those things that you just have to read without worrying too much what the story is about. You’ll figure it out by the time you get to the end. I would probably call his writing magical realism, or something close to it. It’s all a bit bizzare, but easy enough to deal with.
Murakami is a master of the Japanese language, I understand it – he can truly manipulate it – and the translations of his work into English seem to convey that same mastery.
By the time I hit seventh grade, people had stopped giving me books because, honestly, I blew threw them so fast, and they could never quite figure out exactly what my reading comprehension level was. It was certainly very high by then, but they couldn’t see to find any novels for my mental capability that they also thought where, ah, age appropriate.
My father finally handed me a stack of novels from his personal stash of sci-fi, books I hadn’t even known he had. Most of them were by Asimov: the Foundation series, the Robot series, Nemesis, etc. The first one I picked up was Caves of Steel, and holy crap did it blow my mind. Sci-fi has always been difficult for me to digest, but obviously Asimov is among the best, if not THE best.
It’s so difficult to pick a favorite from The Dresden Files series, but I’m still digesting the events of Changes and a little peeved that the release date for Ghost Story has been pushed back, so I’m going to pick this one. I think that Lara Raith is a lot of the inspiration behind the villain of deAngelis: Resurrection; that is to say, Asmodeus. Honestly, I freaking love everything after Blood Rites, mainly because things start to get really dark and very noir, and Harry really has to grow up. Also, Thomas. ’nuff said.
Dresden Files is definitely one of the biggest influences on me sitting down to write deAngelis. I discovered the series in one of the strangest ways – Livejournal profile pics. I used to make them, hoard them, save them to my hard drive, look up ones I thought would be “appropriate” for my characters I was supposed to be writing… and I came across some that had quotes from Storm Front and Full Moon. I remember thinking, “Huh! Those are funny.” And then I moved on and forgot about them for a year. Finally, with nothing better to do, I spent four hours tracking down the pics in question, and looked up what book they were from, and it was a match made in Heaven.
This was required reading for my multicultural lit class, which is a requirement for English teaching majors at Indiana State. It was the only book assigned out of five that I actually read a word of (oddly enough, I got an A in the class), and it was the only book out of the five that I was actually interested in. Sometimes the fact-telling got to be a little too much, but the way that the story was told drew me in and held me in, and I finished the whole thing during my week of spring break last year. It was truly a gorgeous book.
Everyone else in my class hated it, and complained that they disliked it so much that they couldn’t finish it. What a bunch of weirdos.
How could I forget this gem? I read this several years before the film came out, and while I can say that I really did enjoy the movie, it just did not do the book justice. It’s one of those things that just can’t translate well, I think.
While this is, first and foremost, a love story, Niffenegger really has such a gift for point of view and voice and style, and for knowing what it is that really makes a human being tick. Henry matures as the book progresses – you can tell by the writing style – and Niffenegger handles the temporal and POV and age shifts incredibly well. This is another one of those books that I’ve read more than once (although not nearly as many times as I’ve read Night Watch).
Yeah, you read that right: Wesley Crusher wrote a book. And not just any book – it’s an awesome book. It reads, more or less, like a memoir – about getting back on his feet after Star Trek: The Next Generation. Most people only remember Wil as that one guy from ST:TNG that everyone hated, and he addresses that. I picked this up at the library my first week home on summer vacation in 2010, mainly because it had the word “geek” on it and because I vaguely remembered hearing that Wil played D&D every so often or something. Then I walked from the library to the nearest Bub’s burger joint, found my way (okay, fought my way) to a seat in the corner, order a beer and a cheeseburger, and got hooked.
There’s something about Wil that made me feel for him, and he’s made it onto my list of Top Ten People I Want to Chill With For An Afternoon. He was only sixteen or so when I was born, something that makes me feel that, in a way, he might possibly be that long lost older brother I hoped and prayed for every waking moment until I was seven years old, who would come save me from the fighting I could hear down the hall from my parents’ bedroom and the kids who made fun of me at school and said I was lying when I told them that I could read. Wil Wheaton is one of the faces that I remember from my childhood, and following his blog and his Twitter has made me feel like I want to really know him. So that’s on my life of Things To Do When I’m Famous: get to know Wil. Also, make other people read his book.
This is one of those books that I’ve only read once but have always intended to read again. If I were to write a period novel, this is definitely the book that I would write. It just barely manages to be considered Victorian lit (if it does at all, which it might not… I’m not sure). There’s the dude who goes into hiding to prepare himself to avenge his best friend’s murder, while the guy he’s planning to kill is trying to woo the woman he’s in love with but can’t bring himself to ask out, and there’s wittiness and royalty being beheaded and Sabatini being awesome. Also people where a lot of ridiculous clothing and have a lot of sword fights and I think there’s an orphan in there somewhere, too.
Other Things I Wish I had Room for on This List:
- Sherlock Holmes canon. I might be a junkie. Seriously.
- Queen of Glass, a novel by S. J. Maas coming out sometime this year? next year? I’ve only read part of it, and that was on Fictionpress, but when I heard that she finally got it sold I think I did the most epic Kermit-flail on the face of the planet, outdone only by the actual Kermit himself.
- Anything written by Samuel T. Franklin, a guy who’s been in fiction workshop classes with me at ISU and who absolutely blows my mind. I don’t think he’s published yet, but trust me, when he is, I will flip right the fuck out.