Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Amusing (Long-Awaited?) Sidebar:

Okay, I think I'm finally ready to rhapsodize about Sherlock Holmes.

Upon multiple viewings, I've hit upon an unexpected surmise: I think there might be a subtle social commentary in this flick. You see, it's Reardon, the ginger midget (not dwarf; there's a difference), who is the real genius in the flick, but it's Lord Blackwood -- a paragon of money and power and stature -- who causes all the fuss.

Sure, it could be said that since it was all Blackwood's idea, it was all his genius. But all Blackwood did was present a series of problems to Reardon, then sit back and reap the rewards (until he overreached, or course). It was the foreshortened person -- more likely considered a circus freak than a scientist -- who made the real magic.

But, of course, in the location and time period of the story, Reardon wouldn't have been able to so much as pull a rabbit out of his hat in front of the privileged world Blackwood wanted to run. Because Blackwood had birth (shadowed though it may be) and a title and wealth, Blackwood was able to stand on the ginger midget's meager shoulders and proclaim himself not only returned from the dead, but supreme lord of all humanity.

But enough with social commentary.

I know a lot of Holmes afficionados will brangle that this film is just a stylized, action-stuffed, bloated, smelly fishbelly of a flop. They couldn't be more wrong.

I grew up reading Sherlock Holmes stories. Of course, I also soaked up more than my fair share of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, but hey. I'm from a small town. We did well to have as diverse a library as we had.

At any rate, I saw nothing in this movie that rang false to me. In the original stories, both Holmes and Watson were in their respective primes. Their shenanigans involved a certain amount of derring-do, and, yes, Holmes was something of a martial artist. Also, in several stories -- I'm particularly thinking of the Hound of the Baskervilles -- their cases involved debunking superstition as well as defeating disbelief on the part of authorities. And I can't tell you how many locked-door murders Holmes and Watson have solved.

In fact, my first thought as I strolled out of the theater (even that first time when I didn't get to see all of it because I had to go to work early) was that this flick had rekindled the sporting spirit I remembered from my youth.

You know, before Holmes wore a deerstalker and Watson was a portly old fussbudget who spent more time being confused than actually helping to solve anything.

This is a return to the roots, and I bless Guy Ritchie (and Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law and the fabulous Mark Strong, of course) for bringing back the intrepid heroes of my youth. Sure, mysteries are fascinating.

But be honest. Aren't mysteries set against gigantic or shrunken foes and unfettered half-ships on the roll and hidey-gun-toting professors and fancy-togged, magic-weilding nobs more fun?

Do I even have to ask?

Anyway....

In addition to being fun to watch, this flick is beautifully shot. The scenes showing old London are full of both the grime of the times and a certain wistfulness for how grand a city London has always been. Yeah, they're CGI renderings, but someone with a lot of love obviously put a lot of work into them.

Plus, the analyzation scenes where Holmes internally plots his every move to disable an opponent? Pure gold. I'm seriously. Not only in their step-by-step slo-mo but in their real-time follow-through. Beautiful stuff.

And poor Holmes. Both a beneficiary and a victim of his great intellect. It makes him a valuable asset to his kingdom but the very devil in a social situation. Gives him miles of foresight, but leaves him wallowing in friendship muck when it becomes clear he's losing his grasp on the one person he upon whom he can depend.

Downey plays him superbly. Hate to resort to an adverb, there, but seriously. Heheh.

But I think the biggest payoff is Jude Law's Dr. Watson. By returning to a Watson freshly home from the wars, a Watson in his prime both in health and in practice, Law opened the door for a stellar performance that showed just how important Watson has always been to Holmes, both as a friend and as a partner.

Okay, maybe the biggest payoff was Dredger. BIG. But not the slow, lumbering, stupid big that would have been outmatched by this Watson and Holmes any day of the week. Naw, that'd be too easy. Ol' Dredger was huge, yes, but quick on both his mental and his physical feet. Definitely a worthy adversary.

Even if he's French.

Sorry! I had to do it! I had to bring social commentary back into it!

Heh, you gotta admit that Blackwood chose his cronies to be genetic lottery winners. A speedy giant and a brilliant midget.

Or maybe that's why they agreed to serve him. On their own merits in this day and age, either could make a fine living for themselves. In fact, considering that they're both in a movie, you could argue that they have. Ha.

But in 1890s London? Not so. If they hadn't stumbled into Blackwood's sphere of influence, their various talents would have been completely wasted. Reardon, for certain, would have been far better off in a raree show than as a midget genius. And Dredger? Well, he might have found work as a laborer -- perhaps in the ship factory where he and Holmes threw down -- thanks to his very great strength, but he would never have even come close to position in society.

No, in old London, like in so much of the world, position makes might. And, if you can get away with it (unlike Blackwood), might makes right.

Oi. Anyway.

As you can tell, I've thought entirely too much about this movie, so I'm stopping now. Heheh. It's an excellent blick, and I plan to use the soundtrack as background music while writing my steampunk novel. No, Sherlock Holmes isn't quite steampunk, but it does have that feel to it, thanks to all the nifty methods Blackwood and his minions employed to recreate magic.

Plus, I just love that broken piano and the ragged violin sawing. It should sound irritating, like a cat shrieking while kids bang on a wrecked xylophone or something, but it doesn't. It's perfect.

Of course, Lorekeeper is first, but hey. A girl can plan ahead.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Charlie:

Good grief, it's been a busy week.

1. Joined my beloved sister's MayNoWriMo event with the goal -- what was I thinking?? -- of finishing Lorekeeper, an urban fantasy that sits at about 27K as yet and should finish up at 80K, more or less. Good God.

2.....

Okay, this list was a lot longer in my head. I've been writing in snips and snatches to narrow the gap between what's done and what needs to be done on Lorekeeper before May 1, but that doesn't really seem like that much. I swear I had a list of like four things that's been happening this week, but now that I've sat down to write them in, I can't remember any but the one.

Sheesh. Brain fart much?

....

I know I did other stuff. I just can't think of any of it right now. Darn it. Who me? Lame? Naw.

I...um...mowed half the lawn? Watered the annuals I planted in the flower bed around the porch? Showed the house? Watched the little herb seeds in my indoor kit sprout? Did some dishes? Cooked some stuff?

Geez. This is pathetic. There really was more. I promise.

I can only venture that, in my excitement at showing up for work tonight only to find I wasn't on the schedule because my boss was being nice and forgot to tell me, all rational thought has flown. Oh, well.

Less time blogging means more time writing, right?

Shyeah. Right. Heheh.

I will say that I'm pretty stoked about my book coming out on May 11. You can catch a snippet here or get a look at the details and smashing cover art here.

I'll also be guest blogging at Sis's site for either the book release or for MayNoWriMo. Not sure what my topic will be, though, so suggestions are welcome.

Oi! I know what #2 was, at least! I did a disk cleanup and defragmented.

...

Yeah. That's all I got. Can't remember all the other stuff. That's really gonna bother me.

Meh.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Amusing Sidebar:

I know! Two posts in two days!

Anyway, so I was sitting in line at the Chik-fil-a drive thru, right? It's lunchtime, so there were several cars in line. I pulled out a book -- my beloved sister's Dear Sir, I'm Yours, which is a superb read in either snippets or in one big swallow -- and read a few paragraphs, scooted forward, read a few more paragraphs, scooted forward, etc.

I finally get up to the window and hold out my debit card, only to have the guy there smile and say, "Your lunch is already paid for. Have a nice day!"

Here's me. Looking stymied.

"My what?" Yeah. I'm brilliant when I'm surprised. Dy-no-mite.

"The lady before you paid for it. Wasn't that nice?"

I blink. "Yes, it was, but I didn't even see who it was! Holy cow, how am I going to thank her if I don't know who it was?"

Kid just grins. "Dunno. Enjoy your lunch!"

All I could say as I searched the parking lot for a vehicle that had already pulled onto the main drag and blended away was, "How could I not? It's free!"

Anyway, I have my suspicions who it was, but unless they 'fess up, I may never know for sure, so I'll just say it here: Thank you so much for my lunch! What a nice (and welcome) surprise!

So I guess next time, it's my turn to pay for someone behind me's lunch, eh? Whee!

Dear Charlie:

You know, it's funny what your mind does to you when you write.

I've been stalled on this particular story for months now. I started three separate projects in the intervening time which are also in various states of nonfinished, but this one's always been back there.

Then, I committed to my beloved sister's MayNoWriMo and stated my goal as finishing it. As it sits, the current word count is about 27.5K, and I'd like to have that up to 30K before May 1 so I'm not committing to more than 50K while shooting for a finished novel of about 80K. Thus, I pulled it out last week and read up to date and started the drudge of picking up where I left off.

Usually, once I get past that initial speedbump phase of chugging drearily along until it sparks again, I write like the wind. Not so, this time, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. The story is there. It's a good story. Maybe a great one.

So why had it turned its back on me just two chapters before the candy bar scene I'm writing the whole damn thing for??

Joely, my beloved and insanely talented sister, always has a soundtrack for each story. She can play those songs and almost instantly be right back in the world she's created. It's amazing, and I'm always fascinated by the music she picks because it's not always what you'd expect.

For this one, I always turn to Stone Sour's "Made of Scars". It has deep meaning for one of the characters, and even the opening guitar chops get me all in the mood to pump out some assassiny violent good fun.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been working. Well, it has, but only hit-or-miss, and that's not good for serious forward progress.

So, because I'm an oddball, I got to flipping through my country music files. Yes, I have country music files. Old country, thank you very much -- George Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Charlie Pride, Johnny Cash, Randy Travis, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Kenny Rogers, etc. -- with a sprinkling of the good throw-back country from newer artists like Garth Brooks, Chris Cagle, George Strait, and such.

No. There's no Shania Twain. Geez.

Anyway, for some reason, I started writing faster. None of the stuff I was playing had anything to do with the story. It's basically an urban fantasy at its heart, and more about books than boots. In fact, I don't think there's a single Stetson on the page. A couple of magic-slinging gangstas, maybe, but definitely no pearl-handled lead-pushers held by bespurred cattle rustlers in chaps.

And then I realized what I was writing, what I was so stuck on. The scene I just couldn't get out was the heroine remembering something horrible from her childhood that she's hidden from her whole life. It's why she believes in magic, but also why she fears and reviles it so. It's one of those traumatic, life-changing events that completely detoured the course of her entire life, and she's done everything she could to avoid it. So, of course, I made her face it.

Because I'm an author. We do mean stuff like that.

Now, I was raised in the country. We didn't have a car with FM radio until I was in junior high. I grew up with Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. In fact, Dolly's "Coat of Many Colors" makes me puddle up to this day because my mom used to make some of our clothes. We weren't quite as dirt poor as Dolly, but we were poor enough that Mom being able to sew helped out more often than not. And she was damn good at it, too.

It finally hit me just a half hour or so ago that this music is my childhood. Even the newer stuff reminds me of riding horses down old gravel roads, of climbing trees and eating persimmons right off the branch and picking wild strawberries, of summers spent wading in the creek (but never shoeless because of all the snakes) and fishing in the pond and weeding the garden and drinking icy cold water from the well pump.

These aren't horrible memories, mind you. They are, by and large, happy and carefree memories, completely opposite from the ones my heroine has to suffer through. However, I think it's helped to remember being a child myself. And, true enough, not all my childhood memories are so Pollyanna, and I think the shadow of those darker recollections hovering around the bright and sunny ones also helps.

And all because of a bunch of Charlie Daniels Band ballads. And some poor ol' Kawliga. And "He Stopped Lovin Her Today". And an angel flyin too close to the ground. How far is Heaven?

And gimme two pina coladas, because I'm burying my troubles in the sand to better drag my heroine's up to the surface. Mwahah.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Amusing Sidebar:

Heh, hilarious mixed-messed-up-metaphor conversation between me and Pesh through texting. As always, Pesh is bold. Heh.


I think I'll be a ghost, rather than a zombie. Then, I could be a ghost writer.

I prefer paperback writers. They have a catchier tune.

Heh, you obviously haven't heard "Ghost Writers in the Sky". *snickersnort*

That's cheating.

Yeah, and?

Cheater.

I guess I really must be, because cheetahs never prosper.

Yes, but being a sloth is a sin. Or something like that....

And an elephant never forgives!

Of course not, they never forget. Besides, forgiveness is in the vines.

And a bird in the hand is worth two pennies in a basket.

But only if it doesn't bury the pennies with eggs.

That's egg on your mustache.

Better than a boogie.

But disco never cries.


Heh, that's it for now. I may add to it later if she obliges. Whee!

Ho-hum Sidebar:

Time keeps getting away from me. Did you know it's already April? That April is already over a week gone?

Part of it, I suppose, is the uncomfortable sensation of not quite managing to live paycheck to paycheck, so I half-wish the time away until that next paycheck to eke out just a little longer. Part of it is just being so darn busy. I'm not even getting 40 hours a week, but it feels like so many more because they all come so late in the day and I've been getting up earlier and staying up later. Part of it is having three writing projects jostling for position after everything being silent in my head for far too long. Not fair, guys. Wait your turn.

But none of that is all of it, because everyone I've talked to says, "Geez, this year is already getting away from me!" See? It's going fast for everyone. It's not just me.

So... is time really speeding up? Or is the economy just so bad that everyone's hurting? Actually, I know that everyone is hurting, but you know what I mean. And if it's this bad everywhere... how can the government keep denying that we're in not just a recession but a depression?

Oi. Didn't mean to get serious on you, but this stuff has been clamouring loudly in my head the past months and kinda wants out. I'm trying to channel part of it into one of the writing projects, but the rest of it wants out, too.

But now... dude, seriously. I have to get some sleep. As Scarlett says, "Tomorrah is anothah day!"

I don't want to blink and miss it.