Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Three Moons!

This poem is now up and readable at The Fifth Di... !

Paste or click to:

State of Myself

I am currently sprawled on the floor with my laptop because I put my shoulder out Saturday evening and trying to sit up creates a series of subsidiary pains in my back and hip. I feel like a very old woman now.

I am hopeful about my very first submission to flash-and-poetry market Raven Electrick; I have currently received two encouraging rejections for the story I sent there, Instructions For An Initiate. One market stated they had it longer than usual because it went high up their editing process; another sent me a rejection letter with "please try us again," hand-emphasized and a written note indicating that it wasn't the story quality, it was the fact that flash was a hard sell for them.

I am once again tempted to start a pantoum with the lines:

Change is inevitable
Except from vending machines

Sunday, February 25, 2007


And now, like everyone else, I will venture my generally biased and uneducated opinion on the Oscars tonight. You have been warned. Sidebar - I love, love movies. However, since I dislike sitting in theatres, I generally only see them once they hit video. I reserve my theatre-going for special effects blast-outs where screen-size has an effect - King Kong, PotC (1 & 2), etc.

Best Picture: I've seen two of these films - Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed - and from all descriptions, Babel seems to be an unnecessarily depressing, unnecessarily complicated film ... in other words, the kind of movie everyone likes because they're supposed to. Though The Departed was an awesome ride, I have to put my personal hopes on Little Miss Sunshine, because a feel-good comedy - even a black feel-good comedy, if anyone who hasn't seen the movie can imagine that - always deserves some attention. Also, The Departed loses some points with me for the meat-headed casting of Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in roles where it is very important to be able to tell them apart and it is inordinately HARD TO DO SO at times.

Best Performance / Actor Lead: Uh, dunno. I haven't seen any of these movies. I have a lot of respect for Will Smith, though.

Best Performance / Actress Lead: I've seen only one of these movies - The Devil Wears Prada - and heard some flap about the fact that Meryl Streep shouldn't have been nominated because her character is a supporting role, not a lead. I have to say the opposite. Miranda Priestly is more than a lead character, she is scenery, theme and mood, and her presence while she is on-screen had to be imposing enough to carry into everything that happens off-screen. And again, see my love of comedies. (I am somewhat anti Dench and Winslet here because both their characters are people I could never sympathize with / admire. I recognize pulling this off takes talent, so this is purely a personal preference.)

(And why are there two categories here anyhow? Is it because they wanted to give out two awards and gender was the most convenient division?)

Best Performance / Actor Supporting: I'm kinda stunned Mark Wahlberg was nominated for this with the reams of high-profile actors in The Departed. Then I thought back to the sheer amount of venomous hatred his character generates throughout the film, never letting up. Despite being a good guy, his is the character you most actively hate, and it's due to the portrayal. Yeah, my vote's with Mark.

Best Performance / Actress Supporting: No opinion here. I think Abigail Breslin certainly deserves the nomination - like Streep, she is more than a character, she is the heart of the movie, its tone and soul. But where does a ten year old kid go from an Oscar win?

Best Writing / Original Screenplay: It is possibly a duhism here that my vote is with Little Miss Sunshine. But I was blown away by that movie while still laughing throughout. It really is the best of both words.

Makeup: ... yanno, actually, the consistent aging effects in Click were pretty impressive. (And before anyone ribs me about seeing this movie, it was not the crude comedy I was expecting. It was far more serious - and far deeper - than the desperately miscast previews.)

Cinematography: I am only commenting here because I find it difficult to believe anything could surpass The Illusionist, but I'm watching The Prestige tonight so I may change my mind.

Costume Design: I watched the entirety of Marie Antoinette just to enjoy the costumes. Nuff said.

Visual Effects: I haven't seen the new Poisedon, but I can't picture anything blowing Dead Man's Chest out of the water. *flees from groans*

That's all, folks.

It's Common Sense

"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. " -- Thomas Paine

"An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot." -- Thomas Paine

(I confess that I don't know if either of these are from Common Sense, but they struck me.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Good Riddance

Last mix, and last post ... this is my "Good Riddance" mix, filled with goodbye-and-I'm-not-sorry songs.

1. Big Boy On A Saturday Night -- Kirsty MaColl
2. Breathing -- Emma Bunton
3. I Will Survive -- Gloria Gaynor
4. Go Away -- Gloria Estefan
5. Misled -- Celine Dion
6. He Never Mentioned Love -- Kirsty MacColl (the obligatory "irony" entry here)
7. Life Goes On -- LeAnn Rimes
8. Strong Enough -- Cher
9. Who The Hell Are You -- Emma Bunton
10. Coulda Been -- Kimberley Locke
11. Prisoner -- Mariah Carey
12. Don't Think of Me -- Dido
13. Bye Bye -- Alana Davis
14. These Boots Are Made For Walking -- Nancy Sinatra
15. Wrong -- Kimberley Locke
16. Nah! -- Shania Twain
17. Get Over You -- Sophie Ellis-Bextor
(and for a sweet ending to a rather snarly collection:)
18. I Wish You -- Gloria Estefan ("Deceive me, hurt and mislead me: all that I wish you is love ...")

Bad Girls

A second CD mix - I haven't ripped it yet, but for amusement purposes, here's to ladies feisty, scheming and just misunderstood:

1. My Affair -- Kirsty MacColl
2. Some Girls -- Sarah Brightman
3. I Hate Men -- Kiss Me Kate soundtrack
4. No Angel -- Dido
5. I'm Going Out With An Eighty Year Old Millionaire -- Kirsty MacColl
6. I'm Not In The Mood (To Say No) -- Shania Twain
7. The Simple Joys of Maidenhood -- Camelot soundtrack
8. Baby, I'm A Star -- Helen Reddy
9. Hunter -- Dido
10. Julia -- Chantal Kreviazuk
11. Roxie -- Chicago soundtrack
12. Angie Baby -- Helen Reddy
13. In These Shoes? -- Kirsty MacColl
14. Wound Up -- LeAnn Rimes
15. Play The Field -- Debbie Gibson
16. White Flag -- Dido
17. Not That Kind of Girl -- Paulina Rubio
18. Bad -- Kirsty MacColl

Monday, February 19, 2007

Dance Music

I just made myself a CD for listening in the car where all the songs in some way involve dance - in a couple cases the connection is fairly tenuous, but I enjoy the songs. In order:

1. I Wanna (Shall We Dance) -- Gizelle D'Cole / Pilar Montenegro (Shall We Dance? soundtrack)
2. Dr. Beat -- Miami Sound Machine
3. Remember How We Danced - Dian Diaz
4. Overture / All That Jazz -- Catherine Zeta-Jones / Renee Zellweger / Taye Diggs (Chicago soundtrack)
5. Sway -- Pussycat Dolls (Shall We Dance? soundtrack)
6. Dark Waltz -- Haley Westenra
7. Anyone Can Do The Heartbreak -- Anne Murray
8. Cell Block Tango -- A Whole Mess of People (Chicago soundtrack)
9. Murder On The Dancefloor -- Sophie Ellis-Bextor
10. Refuse To Dance -- Celine Dion
11. Casanova -- Paulina Rubio
12. Breakout -- Ronan Hardiman (Lord of the Dance)
13. All I Ever Wanted -- Kirsty MacColl
14. Rhythm Is Gonna Get You -- Gloria Estefan
15. Nowadays / Hot Honey Rag -- Catherine Zeta-Jones / Renee Zellweger / Taye Diggs (Chicago again)
16. I Want You -- Alana Davis
17. A Whiter Shade of Pale -- Sarah Brightman vs

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Judgemental Update

The Divine Jury officially placed second in the Fantastical Visions 5 anthology contest. So it was the second-best story they received. Hey, I'll take it. ;-)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Quote of Note

"A lawyer is never entirely comfortable with a friendly divorce, any more than a good mortician wants to finish his job and then have the patient sit up on the table." -- Jean Kerr

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What's in a ...

This is an excerpt from a course essay I wrote about Frankenstein, the creature, and the use of names. It applies specifically to the book, but speaks sidelong to the importance of names:

The most famous character in Frankenstein, the creature himself, has no name at all. This is highlighted by the number of other names used throughout the story. Even the brother-in-law of a trial witness is given a name (Daniel Nugent on page 179). In many ways, the temperment of the creature is similar to that of the previous three narrators. He is self-educated, prone to fits of temper, and finds succor in the sublime world of nature, though for different reasons than the other two. But whereas for other characters we are given names that hint towards their nature or purpose in the story, the creature has none. The narrative omits this indicator of character and allows the reader more freedom to decide whether the creature is constructed of the same stuff, metaphysically, as Frankenstein, or whether he is a departure from his creator.

The lack of name can create other effects. With the human emphasis on labels and the use of names to establish identity, the lack of a name can indicate that someone is less than human. One of the rules of thumb for a writer to avoid drawing attention to spear-carriers and other bit players is to not give them a name. The lack of a name can distance and even disinterest a reader in a character. This issue does not stand out as readily when the nameless character is the narrator. In Frankenstein, this sets up a contrast between creature-as-animal and creature-as-narrator, between the parts of the story when the creature is less than human and the parts of the story where the creature is the center of his own universe. This contrast draws more attention to one of the story’s central questions, the humanity of the creature.

To be honest - back into blogger mode, rather than essay mode - I didn't really care for Frankenstein, but predominantly because I found the main character to be self-absorbed, selfish and arrogant. I felt sorry for the creature and wanted creator and creation to reconcile, an attitude which became hard to maintain as the story continued, but I didn't develop commensurate sympathy for the good doctor. So, of course, when one of the second essay options (two per lesson) was to discuss whether or not Frankenstein or his creation was more monstrous, I jumped at it ...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

So Much For That ...

Update on the pirate story - written, edited, polished, submitted with head high ... and rejected in a shockingly short amount of time, though I do appreciate that the editors had somewhere else to recommend. Guess it wasn't meant to be. The story's moved on to other pastures; we'll see what happens from there.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Glimpse of Pelindar

My last "tour" of this city for a while - yet another exercise, a desc of the cityscape at day and one at night ...

During the day, Pelindar navigated through the world like its citizens mobbed the streets; impatient, impulsive, swirling silks and exotic perfumes elbow to elbow with the unwashed and everyone too busy to protest the cattle-crush of the herd. The scent of the ocean seemed to take on physical form, a subtle spirit winding over terracotta roofs and insinuating itself on the sidelines of families.

Market Row was a jumble of dueling shops, their banners thrust forth like blades, a wreckage of carts and stalls fighting to find place where they could – and all of it at the top of the city’s salt-starched lungs. It was a place blind higher than the canopies, oblivious to the sprawling mansions of the High Quarter and the towers of the sorcerer-wardens. Even when the church bells sounded, they stared dumbly – and deafly – at the same garish displays, drawn into the flatness of frenetic trade.

One line of darkness cut through the Row, where three story buildings butted into each other and fell across any possible angle of light. Some people said Midnight Avenue was more than that, that even if you demolished every warehouse and multi-tiered salon of sundries, the endless night would endure, its own supernatural shroud over the businesses there. It was understood, in these enlightened times, that there was nothing inherently peculiar about the street itself, but there was no denying that the people who had chosen to put out their moodily-lit shingles there were more than a little … odd.


Pelindar, night – subtle, shadowy, all the colors blurred together into an indistinct shelter of grey. Sometimes the damp in the air stung, but it always seemed to hang heavier after sunset, dank and leisurely. Shadows strung out over homes; homes strung out over streets, gangly and sprawling; and streets strung out underneath people, wandering with drunken unpredictability wherever fancy took them.

Market Row lay like the treacherous rocks of a reef, dotted with bad bargains and tiny, painful points of light, places that did their best business after-hours or simply believed that never sleeping was preferrable to missing a customer. There were surprisingly few taverns – it wasn’t a business of trade. The sky opened above the Row in an errant cascade of brooding silhouette, its fine buildings reduced to dark lines and massive elephants perched over their private watering holes.

Midnight Avenue remained unchanged, not a whisper darker or even lighter than it had been. Sunset did not even register among the gnarled lanes. People moved through its timeless streets with more ease now as the rest of the world matched up with the interior – able to forget, if only briefly, the strangeness that usually permeated here. Yet the shops were the same, the proprietors of the same inclinations they had been before; perception merely changed it half the time, leaving a place made ordinary by acclaim.

Down to the sea, where the waters ran green and black, the hulking ships a quiescent blur as they waited for their next destination. Out across the waves, a moon larger than imagination, captured in fog.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Divine Jury

Sold to Fantasist Enterprises - their Fantastical Visions V anthology! It's a contest and they haven't chosen their placements, but I just received an email informing me that they definitely want this story. This is actually the second work I've written set on Lleden Gair, but this is the first one that has sold. The idea behind The Divine Jury is one I came up with while ... uh ... serving jury duty ...

The divine jury is a celestial body that exists in the city of Kintarra, the sister-city of the gods. They serve a term rather than for a single case and are chosen at random from the population to judge on cases of divine/celestial importance, matters of hubris, divine intervention, etc (as well as offenses committed inside Kintarra). To keep the jury honest and to prevent them from taking bribes, the following system is applied: 1) eleven of the jury members are executed at the end of their term (why accept a kickback if you're not around to enjoy it?); 2) The twelfth, most honorable member of the jury is elevated to godhood.

To say much more would give away the plot, but my main character, Kiacina, is a Helen of Troy homage who encounters this system as the defendant ...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Few More Calendar Clips

Again, from my page-a-day. The first one is just a great image. The second one ... hmmm ...

"Drive on! We'll sweep up the blood later!" -- Katherine Hepburn (instructing her driver to push through a crowd of fans)

"If you want to get revenge on a man, marry him!" -- Belinda Hadden and Amanda Christie

In other news, I never pictured myself as the kind of writer to insert high-falutin' quotes at the beginning of my stories, but First Contact demanded a bit of Shakespeare, and now Polestar, set in the same world with the same characters, has picked up the tradition ... and if I ever write a third one, I'll have to do it again, though I'm out of "star" quotes from Shakespeare I can remember off the top of my head.

For the idly curious, First Contact's quote is:

But then there was a star danced, and under that was I born. (From Much Ado About Nothing)

And Polestar's is:

O no! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark ...
(From Sonnet 116)