Friday, March 30, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Mayflies are copulating en masse on my porch.

And do you ever get the feeling that you're on hiatus? That you're just kind of waiting for something to happen? That things...that your life is stuck in transit?

The next thing. That's all I'm asking for.

I know exactly what it is, though, so I know it's only temporary. I am waiting. I'm waiting for it to be time to proclaim the book edited enough to send it out. It's hard, I tell you. Writers must, by nature, be spontaneous, and my spontaneity is screaming at me that it surely couldn't hurt to send the manuscript out on a little test run.

But it could. It definitely could hurt.

So, I'm ruthlessly quashing that voice. I'm letting a few people read and comment. I'm letting it simmer while doing a relatively shallow edit. Ironically, I'm cutting instead of adding, like I'm supposed to. I got so used to vicious pruning when I had elephantus librus that it's hard not to trim the fat now.

But I've also identified a few places that do need more narrative. I tend to let my dialogue do the talking, if you'll pardon the pun, and I could really stand to throw in some description or setting or even just character movement during some of those conversations.

So, it's going well. I'm just impatient. Heh. Never could stand in line without fidgeting, you know.

And about the mayflies? No, I'm not exaggerating. I just got back from errand-running and had to walk through a veritable cloud of them, all paired off and stuck together at the butt. I think I was blushing, but I can't be sure.

Gah.

Anyway, while I was out, I picked up a couple of books to read. I love to read. I'm pretty sure I've said that before. Like a hundred times. But I stopped by Changing Hands, my favorite used book store, and spent a good half-hour in there.

If you know me and my loathing of shopping, you'd know that's damn near a record. Heh. But I console me that it's a book store and one of only three places I'd rather be.

So, I plan to kinda veg out this afternoon. My work schedule has changed so I should usually have Fridays off, thanks to working all the late nights earlier in the week, and I'm trying to take advantage of that to get "official" stuff done that I can't do on weekends. It's hard, because all I wanna do by the time Friday rolls around is sleep!

Anyway, now that I'm inside and out of view of the smut-fest on my porch, I think I'll stay here. Maybe invite Pesh over for a movie night if she still has The Prestige. Woot!

Hopefully, the orgy on the porch will be over by then.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Funny Sidebar:

Apparently, Iran is upset about the movie 300. You know, the one I just drooled over in my last blog entry. The links above are only two of about a bazillion, give or take. Worse, people are even quibbling about how historically inaccurate the flick is and irritated at the liberties the filmmakers took in "rewriting" history.

Thus, it is important to keep one thing in mind, folks: this is a film loosely adapted from a graphic novel loosely adapted from history of a legendary battle.

Sheesh.

So, in the interest of sheer amusement, let's look at everything that could possibly be wrong or morally insulting about the flick. Just for shits and giggles. If I miss anything, feel free to add 'em in the comments!

Well, the whole first act of the flick absolutely must go because it's child abuse and neglect. Imagine! Tossing a baby off a cliff because it's not perfect. Beating the chosen few and forcing them to fight from an early age. Hurting them until they're immune to pain. Stealing them from their mothers at a tender age and beating/starving/hurting them worse. Throwing them out into the elements with nothing but a loincloth and a spear.

The Department of Family Services would have a field day!

Then, there's Leonides himself. How dare he slaughter a helpless wolf by wedging it between a rock and stabbing it through the head! That's cruel and unusual punishment. God save us.

And in the same vein, very little is actually known about Leonides. They just made stuff up. What were they thinking? What is this...entertainment? And what was he thinking to kill a lowly messenger? Doesn't he know that that's just plain impolite, no matter how rude and encroaching that messenger may be?

Ah, but that messenger was Persian, so it's racism. Even worse. Egad.

Don't forget the Spartan disdain for its fellow Grecians. The Arcadians were basically a clean-up crew and disdained for being blacksmiths and potters and sculptors instead of soldiers. And the Athenians? Dismissed with a sneer as "boy lovers". Shameful.

And they cheered when the Persian boats crashed upon the rocks and were capsized by the raging sea. How rude! They should have been jumping in to rescue those poor souls!

Move on to the ruthless and heartless murder of those marauding innocents attacking in square-mile-spanning droves. The sinfully effecient strategy of forcing them to bottleneck proved far too effective. How many died? Barbaric, I tell you!

Geez, another slaughter of an innocent messenger. Deliberate insults to the opposing leader himself! As if kneeling were so darn hard. Anyone can do it. All it takes is broken knees.

And don't get me started on the merciless slaughter of animals. No less than two -- or was it three? -- elephants. A rhino. Who knows how many else?

Oh! And I forgot! The callous discarding of the "imperfect" warrior, simply because he couldn't lift his shield. Shameful! The entire rest of the group should have changed their tactics so this one hopeful could join their ranks. The poor man was so distraught that he wailed to the heavens. His subsequent defection is perfectly justifiable in light of this heinous treatment at the hands of his kinsmen.

The dastardly deception of the false submission. The continual racial slurs against the millions of opposing troops, including sneering of the well-earned term "the Immortals". The daring to avenge the few deaths by slaughtering the many.

Oh! I forgot again! The nudity! The adultry! The use of mind-altering drugs! Bribery! Disdain for the established procedures of government!

Anarchy, I tell you! It's unacceptable!

*falls over laughing*

And then we remember that it's just a movie and allow ourselves to admit that it kicks ever so much ass. We relax. We point and laugh at people who take everything too seriously.

Chill out, guys. It's entertainment. If it doesn't entertain you...don't watch it.

Leave the rest of us heathens to our grisly -- and imminently more enjoyable -- fates!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Well, I finally got out to see 300, and all I can say is...wow.

Okay, that's not all I can say, or this would be a really short post. And by the time I'm done, you'll probably be wishing it was. Heh. Here's what someone I happen to agree with says about the flick:

300 is about as subtle as a spear through the head. But it's also shamelessly entertaining, and not a bad way to make time move a little faster.

Shamelessly entertaining. I'll second that. I loved every minute of this movie, which may surprise some of you after my rhapsodizing on Jane Eyre a day or so ago. That movie is all plot. This movie is all action.

But oh...the action....

If nothing else, the flick is visually stunning. I could probably watch it without sound and still be enthralled. For that's what I was as I watched -- enthralled. I'm fairly certain I looked mildly retarded to anyone crazy enough to pull their eyes from the screen and look around. But since I'm pretty sure everyone else was as riveted as I was, I guess it's okay.

I just couldn't get over how...mythically real they made this. Sure, you know it's CGI and blue screen and movie tricks, but...who cares? It looks frickin great.

The battles...oh, the stylized battles. Blood and bone and spears and swords. Death cries and killing roars. The clash of metal, the snap of broken bodies. Oh, and "immortal" is no longer a technical term. It's more a...guideline. Like the Pirate Code.

And then, there are the Spartans themselves. Trained from the cradle to be warriors, their bodies are implements of death. Take away their weapons, and they just have to find more creative ways to kill you. Take away their creative ways to kill you, and they'll simply beat your head against a rock until you die from it. Take away the rocks, and...well, you get the idea. They are killing machines, and they are oiled to perfection.

And some of them are quite pretty to look at. What? I have eyes, ya know!

But there also exists honor in this film. A fight for freedom. Refusal to kneel, to submit, to give in. Understanding of the difference between glory in shackles and glory in battle. Honor. Dignity. Courage. Glory.

Brutal, bloody glory.

Yes, my heart was pumping as I walked out of the theater. No, I couldn't stop quoting lines and describing battle scenes and mimicking battle poses. Yes, I will watch it again -- perhaps even on the big screen, though even the matinee prices have gone up. No, I won't not rearrange my movie shelves to make room for this one.

Shamelessly entertaining. Indeed. I feel no shame in admitting that I enjoyed 300 immensely. And if I could draw, I would so be sketching Stelios in flight, spear poised for the killing strike, cloak flying out behind him, maniacal smile on his mouth.

Beauty in that savagery, I tell you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Well, I finally received my copy of Jane Eyre, and I can only say that it is far better the second time around. And I hadn't thought that possible.

Part of that opinion is based on the interruption of my three niece-monsters running around, hollering, playing, and generally being children while I was trying to watch a very serious, relatively quiet, British film the first time through. The two cancel each other out, surely. But part is based on having read the book between times and found that, surprisingly enough, the two are each works of art in their own way.

Admittedly, the movie doesn't go into as much detail on the crushing, grinding wretchedness of Jane Eyre's childhood. The poor child was at her happiest when she was most neglected. For her, attention from others almost invariably meant torment. When children were dying in droves at Lowood, the powers that be finally let those not dying alone to do as they wished. In the midst of all of that death, Jane Eyre began to enjoy life.

This is the irony of her existence.

But other than that -- and please don't mistake me; I don't mean that as a criticism, as I could tell well enough from the movie that her childhood was wretched -- the movie has its own magic that more than echoes that of the book. It clarifies it. Makes it easier to grasp, to hold in your hand. When Jane Eyre smiles, you can't help but smile back, but when she weeps....

And as for Mr. Rochester....

Well, all I can say may not be terribly complimentary, but I mean it in the best possible way. If they ever make a Vampire Hunter D live-action flick, they'd damn well better cast either Hugh Jackman à la Van Helsing or Toby Stephens à la Edward Rochester as the title character. Otherwise, I will refuse to watch it on general principles.

And I think I'd like Mr. Stephens better. He has that brooding quality, that quiet nobility of the soul. And yet, when he is impassioned -- either raging or pouring out his love -- he is all that is fire, all that burns. Excellent portrayal.

This is perhaps one of the best movies I've ever seen. All 228 minutes of it. And please, do not get me started on the scenery. I'll bore you to tears!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Is it bad that I already miss football so much that I've gone through my entire stock of football movies in less than two days?

*sigh*

If I'm not careful, I'll have to run out and buy Invincible, and since that would require much rearrangement of my DVD shelves to keep everything in alphabetical order, I don't think I could take it. I'd just have to move.

But I really do miss football. Yes, I know that March Madness is coming up. Yes, I'm participating in the office pool. But I really don't like basketball, and I'm not overly fond of college sports at the best of times.

Mind you, I did watch college sports when I was in college. In fact, several of the students I tutored were on the basketball and football teams, so I was always invited to their games. I even went to a few. It's okay when you're there, when you're actually at the game, but watching it on TV?

Not so much.

But there is where professional football differs to me. I love watching football, either live or on TV. I even put up with commercials to watch it. Love the sport. Love the players -- even the odious or criminal ones. Love the crunch of breaking plastic, the flying turf, the grunt of 22 men fighting over one little pigskin. Good times.

And they'll be back again. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. And watching The Replacements and The Longest Yard and such. Heh.

Maybe I should switch over to Major League to keep my mind off of it, ne?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Okay, so....

Many moons ago, I set about ordering Jane Eyre, the movie I fell head over heels for at my beloved sister's house when I went there to watch the ProBowl. I tried Amazon first, but though the movie was released Feb. 20, the shipping estimate wasn't until March 22. No thank you. So I bided (bode?) my time until Feb. 19, at which point I called every new-movie store in town and asked if they'd be getting a copy.

No dice. Apparently, my little city is a cultural wasteland. If it's anime or BBC, we ain't gettin it.

So, I checked Best Buy. Ah! The shipping estimate was Feb. 21, and I was pleased. But the price was $4 more, and though I'd swear that Best Buy doesn't add shipping charges, there was another $2+ in shipping and handling to pay. Surely that was a small price to pay for getting it this century, though, so I ordered.

The next day, I went back to Amazon and ordered one for my beloved sister. Yes, she has the movie on her DVR, but That Man isn't particularly a fan, so I figured he might "accidentally" delete it. Thus, I wanted her to have the DVD but wasn't in a hurry to get it to her. Surprise, but the shipping estimate had moved up to Feb. 28, which made me quite happy. I ordered.

Fast forward to Feb. 25 -- a Sunday. I get e-mails from both Best Buy and Amazon telling me that both orders had shipped (which meant they would actually ship on Monday). I was thrilled for Sis, but I was a little irritated that Best Buy hadn't shipped by their own estimate. No bother. I'd surely have the movie in hand in about 5 days.

I should take this opportunity to remind everyone that I live in the Nexus of No Mail.

Fast forward again to Saturday, March 3. Sis e-mails me, excited because she just got my so-thoughtful gift. I'm still high and dry, but I'm happy for her. At least That Man can stop complaining now [admittedly, I dunno that he did complain, but ya know].

Monday comes around, and I finally look up the tracking information to see where the heck my package is stuck. The tracking number supplied in the confirmation e-mail from Best Buy was for UPS. UPS tracked the shipment from Illinois to Missouri (my state) to...Kansas? At any rate, the package became the USPS's problem on Feb. 28 in Kansas City, Kansas.

USPS can't track it any further than that -- at least, not on the tracking web site. I get tired of waiting and call my local post office over my lunch hour. Give him the tracking number. Get an earful about how stupid it is to use UPS. Find out that instead of shipping to Missouri, they sent it on to ZIP code 03306.

That's in New Hampshire. Yeah.

So, I call the Best Buy website's toll free number and ask what the heck. They can't even track it as far as Kansas City. They have no clue what's going on. The conversation goes a little something like this.

Best Buy Lady: Can I have your Best Buy order number please?

Me: *complies*

BBL: Hm. We have that it shipped on March 25. Did it come from...uhhh...Minnesota?

Me: *blank look* Um, the UPS site said it originated in Illinois.

BBL: Oh. Well, my program says it's untrackable. That's strange.

Me: *getting irritated* That's what the USPS site told me, too, but I called my local post office and he tracked it a little further and found out that it's in New Hampshire.

BBL: Why is that a problem?

Me: I live in Missouri.

BBL: Oh. *long pause to cogitate* If you don't get it by the 9th, you can call us back--

Me: *interrupts - an unusual event* Um, that's the day after tomorrow. I don't think it's coming back from New Hampshire by day after tomorrow.

BBL: *longer pause to cogitate* Um, all I can say is if you call back after the 9th, we can send you another.

Me: How can I be sure it won't go to New Hampshire again?

BBL: *looooong pause to cogitate* Um....

Yeah. You can imagine the rest. I used a joking tone with her, but I was pretty irritated and I'm pretty sure she knew it.

However, this does clarify something that has been a murky issue for me for a long time. I've always wondered why my mail is hit-or-miss, why I once got a birthday card in June that was postmarked from February (which is my birthday month and when the friend sent it), why I sometimes don't receive invoices or bills at all. See, I've finally discovered that all of my iffy mail goes to New Hampshire.

This. Explains. Everything.

So, I just need to move to New Hampshire so I can get my mail like everyone else.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

My Dearest Charles:

After months of not being able to finish this damn novel, I got so pissed off at both work and at my bank that I sat down and cranked out 17,000 words in one day to finish the bastard! Woot!

*dances*

I'm so excited! I think I really got it right this time! Um...that's this time as opposed to the other dozen times I got almost to the end only to realize that I'd completely lost my tone or gone in the wrong direction or just wrote in a mass murder. Yes, I really did that once. I was a little cranky at the moment.

But it's done now! It's a little short at 78K -- I was hoping for 80K -- but this is just a first draft. I'll definitely add another scene somewhere or expand on a current scene. It's not as hard to add as it is to cut, so I'm kinda proud that I rid myself of that elephantus librus with which I am sadly afflicted. That's "big book syndrom" to the non-literary folks at home.

I'm babbling. Sorry! I'm just excited!

Anyway, now to let it sit for a while before I begin the deep edits and additions. Then, if I don't hate it, I'll query it around. Maybe it'll catch the right eye at the right time.

And even if it doesn't, it's DONE! Woo-hoo!!