Friday, September 30, 2011

5 good things about you

  1. I’m smart.
  2. I’m pretty.
  3. I’m healthy.
  4. I’m talented.
  5. I’m proactive.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

First trip to Europe

To prepare for my trip to Europe for the first time, I didn’t have to do much. I was about thirteen years old at the time, and my mother packed everything. I remember going to someplace to get my picture taken for my passport. It was a very silly little picture. I had a large goofy grin. I wore a red sweatshirt. That was back when my hair was long and uncared for. I didn’t really know at the time that this would be the picture that would stick with me for the next five years. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it; it was just that I looked so young.

When I was in Europe, it was the first time I had ever been out of the country. We went to France, England, Italy, Switzerland. A couple of other random places that I can’t recall very well at the moment. I remember being dragged through art museums and churches that I didn’t appreciate at the time, but I look back in awe now.

One of the places that I remember most was in France. We’d rented a cabin area, and at the time I was traveling with my family and another family that had three girls, the oldest of which was my age. This cabin was in the middle of the French Alps. Two levels, as far as we were allowed, but apparently there was a third. We didn’t realize it, but I guess the guy who owned the place lived on the top floor. So anyway, the parents decided to go out, and so the first thing the kids did was start to blast American rock music as loud as we could. We started shouting and jumping on the furniture. Basically anything we felt like to kinda get out the repressed energy that we felt so strongly while walking through incredibly boring places such as the Louver.

Anyway, so naturally the guy upstairs heard us, and so I believe he felt it was a good idea to come down stairs to see how we were doing. He came trotting through the room, and he waved at us. This guy spoke limited English, but the extent of what he knew felt very natural and fluent. “Hey, guys. How’s it going?” A sheepish grin. I remember he was tall, muscular. He had short blonde hair and a typical French disposition. I remember just staring at the guy and thinking to myself, “and where the hell did YOU come from?” After that, we were quieted, mostly from the startle of discovering that our host was actually living upstairs. His excuse had been that he needed to get a glass.

I was the oldest there, and it was only in times like these that I was carefully reminded of it. I was always the wild one in the group. Uninhibited by petty worries of what someone thought of me, so the girls and my little brother all gathered into my room, expecting that I would protect them. Of course, I would. I never minded how my role always switched up when it came right down to it. I actually took pride in it, and I would have done whatever I could have to protect my makeshift family.

We listened to the clicking and shuffling around in the downstairs kitchen. I remember the quiet, strained breaths of my friends who huddled on my bed, unsure of what this stranger would do. The soft steps, the creaking of the stairs. He knocked on our door and peered inside. I stared at him and said, “Move on.” There was a nodded response, and finally, a click of a mysterious door as he finally disappeared into the recesses of his hidden abode.

We told the parents right off about it. Mine didn’t care much, and I guess it was that disposition that raised me to be the person who I am today. It did feel comforting that the other parents agreed with me that the guy was just weird…

Monday, September 26, 2011

Special Constables for a Special Man

Shar’d Ney of the Echo Bazaar
I’ve never had any difficulties with the gentlemen in blue. They’re about as corrupt as they come, and unburrying modern gossip has been my forte since I was a child. A red stocking here, a little blackmail there. “Oh my, Mr. Constable, what have we here?” They’re never too difficut to dissuade from investigating my daily activities.

The Special Constables, though. They are formidible indeed.

There was a time when I didn’t care for politics. If Mr. Pages and the Ministry of Public Decency claimed a topic was too vile for the public to muse over, I could only benifet. Social climbing becomes natural, like breathing air, so long as the words you’re exhaling are teetering on the Ministry’s edge. I don’t miss those days. Perhaps if I were still as naieve as I was then, I may long to return to the safety of Society’s posh social rings, but I have come to realize there is heracy afoot, and it’s not in the ranks of the Flit.

My association with the revolutionaries is purely coincidential. Hellfire and cannon is not to my liking, and there are many war-ragers among the revolutionaries. My knife and candle is the words I press to those in the public willing to listen (and there are many.) Yes, I own a printing press. Yes, it is likely the revolutionary pamphlet in your hand was written by yours truely. Do I consider myself a revolutionary? Not particularly, but my kinship with the higher-minds of the revolutionaries is absolute.

The constables that drew up beside me in Spite were dressed in black. They consider themselves important, and I was not impressed. However, being a gentleman, I politely agreed to pull our conversation to a location more private.

I did not, nor will I ever, succomb to blackmail.

To die a thousand deaths rotting in the bowels of New Newgate would be far more attractive to my immortal conscience than to become the dog of the so-called “Masters.” The men determining the fate of our lives are churlish, impertinent, and base individuls with mental capacities comparable to bats. If the truth can only be expressed in the form of insult, it is only the fault of those neddy men in officer’s garb (and I did not hesitate to inform them of this.)

So I was taken to prison.

I will not reminise on my time there, only admit that it was as abhorrent an experience as I remember it being the first time.

However, since then, the Special Constables have been following my movements closely. Again they approached me (not even two days after my escape!) to inquire about The Giver. It was to my fortune I happened to be dressed finely on that occassion (details withheld.) It gave the illusion that my time in New Newgate assisted in redirecting my ambitions back to trivial matters of Society. As a direct result, my winding, backhanded lie as to why the idol was in my possession was concievable. They let me go-

only to chase me down for jay-walking outside of the very Veilgarden retreat we’d held our conversation.

A fool’s error. I’d underestimated their desperation for the information I carry. Again, I sit in New Newgate, sighing whistfully and waiting patiently for the next opportune moment to escape. They’ve bought some time, perhaps three days, before I return to the roads of Fallen London. The “Special” Constables better make good use of it. They won’t have me again.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Alfred Hitchcock on suspense

“Four people are sitting around a table, talking about baseball- whatever you like. Five minutes of it. Really dull. Suddenly, a bomb goes off. Blows the people to smithereens. What does the audience have? Ten seconds of shock.

“Now take the same scene, and tell the audience there is a bomb under that table and will go off in five minutes. Well the whole emotion of the audience is totally different because you’ve given them that information- that in five minutes time, that bomb will go off. Now, the conversation about baseball becomes very vital because they’re saying to you ‘don’t be ridiculous, stop talking about baseball, there’s a bomb under there!’

“You’ve got the audience working. Now the only difference is -and what I’ve been guilty of [in the past]- the bomb must never go off. Because if you do, you’ve worked that audience into a state, and then they’ll get angry because you haven’t provided them any relief. And that’s almost a must. So a foot touches the bomb, somebody looks down, says ‘my god bomb’, out of the window, then it goes off. Just in time.”

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Favorite movie from your favorite actor/actress

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather

If you haven’t seen this movie yet you need to go see it RIGHT NOW because for serious, you have no idea how many pop culture references you’ve been missing until you’ve watched this. Bonus: Not only is it a great movie, but it’s got my favorite actor in it, Al Pacino.

Look at that handsome mother*er. I love you, Al Pacino.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A movie you wish you had seen in theaters

Valkyrie (2008)

This movie is actually the shit. Like, seriously. I’m not usually into movies that are based on historical events or anything like that. History was never my thing. But this is like… Ocean’s 11 meets Hitler. (Or something like that…)

Anyway, it definitely had an epic feel to it, and I don’t mean Lord of the Rings epic, more like Inglorious Bastards epic only more serious. I think it would have been appropriate to see this on the silver screen. But I suppose if you have to, your home entertainment system will work alright. Get surround sound, though. To help raise the tension. This movie has a lot of atmosphere.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top 5 strangest things I’ve found on Amazon

Don’t ask how I found them.

Wenger 169995. Wenger 16999 Giant Swiss Army Knife
Number 5 on my list of top 5 strangest is this Giant Swiss Army Knife. Normally I wouldn’t find a knife very interesting, but when you try to combine 87 tools and 141 functions into an 8.75” beast, you’ve got my attention.

Product Description: This giant Swiss Army knife from Wenger is designed with an incredible 87 implements that perform 141 functions, making it the only tool you’ll need to get any job done. Whether in your pack or on display, the Giant Knife is sure to be a conversation starter.

Among the tools you’ll find:
- Chain rivet setter
- Removable tool for setting spokes
- 2.4” Springless scissors with serrated self-sharpening design
- Club face cleaner
- Shoe spike wrench
- Cupped cigar cutter with double honed edges
- Mineral crystal magnifier
- Telescopic pointer
- Shortix laboratory key
- Flashlight
- Special self-centering screwdriver for gunsights
and a toothpick.

…Not enough for the top 5 strangest you say? Well, you haven’t taken a look at the customer reviews yet.

Consumer Reviews:

“I came across a two old women selling crochet crosses. I pulled my Wenger out of my pants to get to my wallet. The ladies saw this and died in ecstasy just at the size of my Wenger. Now Armed with two crochet crosses, I went to the cave. … I flew out of the cave in the Wenger’s Millennium Falcon and crossed the River of Desolation just east of The Mountain of Despair. I was hungry, so I pulled out the Wenger’s giant spider legion and they shot down 4 flying dragons with their dark matter tusk lasers. It was pretty cool. Lunch was alright.”
~ MidlightWest

“Found this stuck into a stone while on vacation. I’m impressed with it, generally. Unfortunately, it turns out that removing it made me the new king of Switzerland, which is a lot of responsibility.”
~ MechYeti

“It’s a great knife, it’s just that the toothpick is in the center of the knife so when you use it, it looks like your playing some kinda f’d up harmonica.”
~ MozartFX

“Con: Since the passing of my dearly departed husband, my Wenger 16999, or Wengy, has become extremely possessive going so far as to stab poor defenseless rocks when I use any other tool. In order to keep Wengy happy I have decided to move to the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico where our complicated, yet multi-functional relationship can continue to defy logic and bring us closer to answering mankind’s greatest question ‘Who needs a $1,000 knife?!?’ “
~Bethany Beck

And $1000 is just about right. This baby goes for a list price of $1400 but you can get it on Amazon for the low price of $902.48.

Canned Unicorn Meat4. Canned Unicorn Meat
Mm mm good! Sprinkle on a little pixie dust and you’ve got dinner for the whole family! Or…something like that. Unicorn Meat, brought to you by ThinkGeek, is probably one of the funniest things I’ve found on Amazon. It seems like this is a gag gift for all those The Last Unicorn lovers out there.

Product Description: (excerpt) No foolin’ - Unicorn meat is real! Excellent source of sparkles! Rick Bite Unicorns, as we all know, frolic all over the world, pooping rainbows and marshmallows wherever they go.

It seems to be a hit to the Amazon reviewers. This magical can of elusive beast has gotten itself five star ratings. But don’t let this fool you. A full unicorn meat diet can be dangerous. Here’s what our experienced consumers report…
Consumer Reviews:

“Please do not consume this product. Despite the long term benefits of eating unicorn meat, I am talking about the immortality and the ability to talk to trees, the cons far outweigh the pros here. Suffice to say, I’m currently an elf.”
~Brian Tanti

“Right when I got my Canned Unicorn Meat in the mail, I knew something was wrong. For starters, it took me four hours to open the can. The can was sealed with some of the strongest unicorn magic, so my normal can-opener had have no effect. It seemed that the only way to open it was using a can-opener constructed of two basilisk fangs, hair taken from the beard of Santa Claus, and the tears of ginger children. Long story short, if it takes you that long to open a can of meat, the universe is trying to tell you something.”
~Confoundingly Here

“This product is pretty good, but fresh unicorn meat is much better. The sparkles tend to lose a bit of flavor over time, and the magic deteriorates quite quickly during the canning process. I recommend getting your unicorn meat fresh from the butcher, it’s better that way.”
~Brian Whitlock

If these reviews don’t deter you, get your own can of unicorn meat today for $11.95 on Amazon!

Bacon Strips Adhesive Bandages3. Bacon Strips Adhesive Bandages
What really gets me here is that these are shockingly usable. I’ve seen designer bandages before, but none as outrageous as these. I wonder if they smell like bacon as well. Would that be weird? Do they have a crispy bacon print as well?

Product Description: Ouch! That smarts! Treat your minor cuts, scrapes and scratches with the incredible healing power of a designer bandage. And if a fancy bandage isn’t enough to dry up your tears, how about a FREE TOY! Each 3-3/4” (9.5 cm) tall metal pocket tin contains twenty-five 3” x 3/4” (7.6 cm x 1.9 cm) adhesive bandages and a small plastic trinket to help make even the ouchiest owies feel all better in no time.

What exactly that “small plastic trinket” is can be left to the imagination. Personally I like to think it may be a mini frying pan. With 69 reviews and a 4.5 overall rating, this product seems to be pretty quality.

Consumer Reviews:

“I’ve been sitting here just *waiting* to cut myself just so I can slap one of these bad boys on, to the envy of all friends and coworkers.”
~W. D. Hairston

“Someone, please come rescue me! I am typing on my cell phone in the middle of the Canadian arctic. All night I have been hearing strange noises outside my tent. The creatures get hungry at night. I know they can sense that I am wrapped in bacon-goodness. You have to come help me. They are getting closer. I think it’s only a matter of time befo850094u .[FPeii”
~Brian James

“This is the most foul tasting excuse for a pork product I’ve ever come across. Before this product destroyed my life I was a successful pig farmer, the defending Pork Chop Champion for the local pork eating contest, and was even a key researcher in the re-discovery of the long lost science of Bacon Manipulation. No longer.”
~Beloved Leader

Okay, so that last review wasn’t exactly glowing, but no body can deny that the $5.46 price on Amazon is well worth a life-altering experience.

Genuine Squirrel Underpants2. Genuine Squirrel Underpants
If the name alone isn’t enough for you to double-take, then consider this: “Genuine” squirrel underpants?
Help out your commando neighborhood squirrels by donating these lovely underpants to them. They also come in pink for all the lady squirrels out there. Maybe that’ll teach those giant Washington DC squirrels a little modesty (or not.)

Product Description: Squirrel Briefs For squirrely lawyers? No, that would be stupid. These are genuine squirrel underpants. Nothing salacious, just your standard white cotton jockey-type drawers with an elastic waist. These are XXXXS, with a 9” waist, but for squirrels they’re pretty much one-size-fits-all. (Will also fit most guinea pigs but are probably over-sized for the average gerbil.)

I wonder if they’ll fit chinchillas too? If you don’t think this product is exactly what you need, check out these reviews and reconsider…

Consumer Reviews:

“These little ‘tighty whitey’s’ will do when the laundry is all piled up and your pet squirrel is far too modest to ‘go commando.’ My squirrel prefers boxers though… these tight little underbritches just don’t seem to have enough room for his nuts.”
~Timothy Poteet

“The squirrels in our neighborhood dash up and down the trees, across the telephone wires and around the lawns in full sight of our windows without a single stitch of clothing. It’s HIGHLY offensive to me. We got our neighbors to dress their dogs in little sweaters, but this squirrel nudity was really making me so upset. Now, with these underpants, our squirrels are modestly attired and no longer bare-arsed. The squirrels used to cavort, nekkid as jaybirds but not anymore.”
~Bookaholics Anonymous

“Yeah, I know. These were meant for squirrels, but I didn’t have the heart to tell my parrot, who accidentally opened the wrong package on Christmas and got so excited about his new underpants that he tried them on right away. So I gave the squirrel the bag of birdseed I had wrapped for the parrot, who proudly has been wearing the same pair of undies for over three weeks now. They fit quite well, and there’s even room in the front pocket to store his peanuts.”
~Robin Brownfield

If you have a squirrely (or parroty) friend in mind, you can pick your set of Genuine Squirrel Underwear from Amazon on sale for $5.01!

Yodeling Pickle1. Accoutrements Yodeling Pickle
Yep, you read that right. The number 1 strangest thing I’ve found on Amazon is a yodelling pickle. Why anyone would ever need or want a yodelling pickle is beyond me (and how the heck do you come up with that?) but they say everything exists on the internet and here it is.

Product Description: Are you sick and tired of trying to teach your pickles to yodel? Pickles can be so stubborn. At last, the yodeling pickle you’ve been waiting for. With a mere press of a button (yes, it has a button) this little pickle will yodel its heart out. You’ll think you’re in the Swiss Alps listening to a yodeling pickle.

Other than the “hours of mindless entertainment” this product promises to give, consumers of the yodeling pickle have found creative uses for the item…

Consumer Reviews:

“I loaned my iPod to my kid and he broke it. This understandably bummed me out, since I really enjoy taking long walks on the beach while listening to some tune-age. I’m kinda low on funds, so buying a replacement iPod wasn’t an option for me. I was very fortunate to discover the Yodeling Pickle. I have been super pleased with the results. First of all, as luck would have it, the Yodeling Pickle just happens to yodel all of my favorite tunes that were stored on my iPod. Hits like ‘Bobbejaan Schoepen yodels the collected works of Black Sabbath’ and of course Slim Whitman’s edgy yodeling rendition of ‘Baby Got Back.’ “
~Timothy Poteet

“Great for telemarketing calls. We had been getting so many recently; they would never leave a message, but would continue to call and call. We now use the yodeling pickle when we get one of these calls , and they never call back. It really has given us many a good laugh.”

“I could say it cures cancer, that is solves the economic problems around the world, it stops global warning. But it doesn’t do those things. It yodels. That’s basically it. But if you listen closely, it yodels thoughts to you. I’m now turning my life around thanks to the advice it gives. I’m a little worried about some of the things it tells me to do, but what the Yodelling Pickle Toy tells me to do, I have to do. I don’t make the rules. It does.”

Can’t resist a yodeling pickle of your own? Pick yours up today at Amazon for $12.95.

And there you have it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Worst trilogy



Okay, I know that Twilight isn’t technically a trilogy, but it’s close enough that it makes me wanna strangle whoever decided to make it a movie series. (It shouldn’t have been a book either, but that’s another discussion I suppose.)
If Twilight isn’t busy boring you to death it’s trying to sparkle you to death. And I don’t just mean the vampire’s skin- I mean that between Bella’s melodramatic, self-depreciating fawning and Jacob’s abs, there’s not enough room to breathe, let alone gag.

However, I have a soft spot for all B-movies. So I’ll go see them (as long as I can get in free) out of morbid curiosity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Consequels ~ Legit or no?

I had to wake up to share this story with you…

So I had this dream that I was standing in the ticket line for a movie I wanted to see. In my hand, there was a pair of pink tickets. When I got to the counter, I slapped the tickets down and said to the ticket guy, “I want to see this movie.”

He looked at me oddly and said, “You’ve already got the tickets. Go see the movie.”

I shook my head, tapped the tickets and then gestured to the woman next to me. “I want to see the real movie. I need the blue tickets, not the pink tickets.” The blue tickets were more expensive, but I knew that the blue ticket let me see the REAL movie.

“Oh,” he shrugged, “Naw, man, it’s the same movie, the blue ticket is just a consequel.”

“Consequel?” it sounded like ‘consequence’ and ‘sequel’ at the same time.

“Yeah. Consequel. You know, the same movie, only the screen is bigger, so consequently the movie is better.”

“Oooh!” IMAX versus regular. “Yeah.” I frowned and tapped the tickets again. “I want the consequel.”

“Oh, well, you should’ve just said so.” And he gave me the blue tickets…

So, that wasn’t ALL of the dream, but that was the important bit. Because now I’m going to pose to you the age-old question, only this time applied to the move-going experience:

Does size really matter?

Monday, September 19, 2011

October’s goal

So I do this thing where I dedicate every other month to focusing on one creative project. Since I have so many ideas, I have trouble figuring out how to finish one over the other. So on even number months, I focus on one project and try to crank out a next draft or tons of related work, and on odd number months I brainstorm and tinker with whatever idea I feel like so that when the next month comes, I know what I want to work on.

So, now that we’re half way through November, I’ve decided what October’s project is going to be. I’m going to work on Trope Tower.

Trope Tower Trope Tower ~ Comic (2011) by Me
Brodie wakes up in an elevator without the slightest inclination as to how he got there (or who he is, what he was doing, where he was going, why his hair is pink…) When the doors open, he finds himself smack dab in the middle of Trope Tower, a school for immature story elements.

Due to my experience with nanowrimo, my magic number is 50,000 words. It’s just enough to push me, but not so much that I can’t feasibly do it. However, since I want Trope Tower to be a comic rather than a written story, I think I’ll go by the old adage “a picture’s worth a thousand words” and attempt to produce 50 images for Trope Tower.

This is something completely new for me. Fifty images in a month is a lot, but I’m going to shoot for it and see where it goes. I plan to post the images as I produce them.

In the meantime, I still have another ten days to tinker with projects and gear up for the October plunge!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Broad Stroke

I spent the past week thinking, “AH! How am I going to finish my story in the next ten thousand words?!” And then I discovered the secret to completing my stories in 50K. It’s what I have come to call the “broad stroke.”

First, some background…

I wrote the first 40K of my story, outlined the rest, and came to the realization that I was far from done. Pretty disheartening for trying to come up with a full story in 50K in one month (thanks a lot, Nanowrimo, you’ve consumed my life.) My concern was mostly that I’d hit my goal of 50K and then lose the steam I had since I technically did what I set out to do (hit the 50K word count.)

In my desperation, I thought “Why, god? Why isn’t writing more like painting? Why can’t I just splash huge blocks of color onto the canvas and noodle the details out later?” After several days of brooding on this with little to no progress on the last 10K, I argued with myself that an outline was technically like a block of color. But it was too general. There wasn’t enough meat on an outline to satisfy the story’s needs. I needed to find a better broad stroke.

So, experimentally, I started writing cliffhangers for the remaining plot points.

Voila! Interest and excitement for the story started to boil up! It was like I’d discovered some kind of magic writing potion. The pages finally became the canvas and my ideas the large blocks, with as much detail as I was willing to put in and all the mood I was trying to capture. Plot points went down like birds in duck hunt (pewpew,) settings and characters came to life complete with dialogue and description, and I still had the word count left over I needed to finish the story!

This broad stroke revelation is very likely not an original idea, but it took me forever to figure it out. To potentially to save even one writer’s pain, I’ll tell you what I learned…

Here’s how the Broad Stroke works:

Say you have a plot point such as “Thisperson and Thatperson fight.” This scene is an important plot point but you don’t have the time or word count to write it all. The Broad Stroke style says, “You think this plot point is worth writing? Prove it.”

So, under the heading of “Thisperson and Thatperson fight,” write three or four paragraphs that highlight the dramatic tension of this scene. You might not use any of this writing in the next draft, but this is a very important elaboration on the plot point that will capture the essence of Thisperson and Thatperson fighting. It’s similar to writing a mini mood piece.

But the key is to leave off on a cliffhanger.

By leaving on a cliffhanger, you’ll recapture your interest in the scene when you come back to edit and fill out your work. Chances are you know Thatperson wins the fight, but if you have the cliffhanger, you’ll still feel a sting of freshness when you return. Also (and more importantly,) it’s likely that the cliffhanger will be a climactic moment in the scene. By highlighting that climactic moment, you’ll know that each of your scenes has a rise and fall of dramatic tension. That, in my opinion, is one of the most important parts of first-draft writing.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this technique with my writing buddies. Now I’m off to finish getting the broad stroke of my story! If you have any tips for completing first drafts when you’ve run into writers block, share in the comments!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

IT Guys

IT guys are among the strangest people I know…

They come over to my computer, say “What’s wrong?” and when I answer, they always look at me like I just said the stupidest thing in the world. In this case, I said “I’m running an ancient version of Firefox.” To which he replied (with that ‘you’re dumb’ look,) “That’s impossible. Firefox runs on the network.” And then he sat down and looked at it.

Two minutes later he says, “My god, you’re running an ancient version of Firefox.” So now he’s looking at me like I must be some kind of extra terrestrial because the ability to run an ancient version of Firefox when the network is updated is obviously out of this world.

Dammit, I told you I was running an ancient version. Stop looking at me funny!

Friday, September 16, 2011

A movie from your childhood

Robin Hood (1973)

Robin Hood

As a child, I watched this movie over and over and over again. I love the character Robin Hood. He was lovable and smart and a total rebel (I was a sucker for them from day one.) I wanted to be Robin Hood and fight the system and get the girl. My mom still has stories about how that VHS was worn to the bone and yet I still watched it.

Interesting fact- the characters walking during the end credits have flashing colors (different shades of green.) It’s because they ran out of paint for the cells and had to make due with what they had. How do I know? Because my 2D instructor worked at Disney with the guys who made that movie, and they told him.

Anyway, I still love this movie today, though not as much as I did as a kid. No particular reason. I think I just desire different action in my movies now days.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What is your biggest most terrifying nightmare?

My terrifying nightmares all have the same theme- being hunted.

I hear it’s really common for children to have nightmares about being hunted, and that was certainly the case for me. I would be hunted by any number of things, people, dogs, lions, but more than anything else, I was hunted by dinosaurs.

God I hate dinosaurs…

Primarily velociraptors. Velociraptors are my greatest fear. Seriously, I cannot look at an image of a dinosaur, velociraptor especially, and not feel my heartrate go up and my eyes get wide. It’s terrible. Thankfully, velociraptors are extinct, so there’s no worry about meeting a real one. (yet.)

In my dreams I’d be hunted by these creatures throughout my childhood neighborhood. More often than not I would hide in a ditch and hold really still and they’d pass on the road without seeing me (they sense movement.) But occasionally, one would catch me. In which case I would jerk awake gasping or screaming, depending on how painful the capture was.

To this day, I still have hunting dreams, but not with dinosaurs (as much.) My dreams have matured over the years and now I end up getting hunted by shadows, vampires, anonymous evil secret agents, monsters of varying horrific degrees, people that I should know but don’t (because they aren’t real,) and other such amorphous figures of stress.

I think it’s because of the frequency of these dreams when I was younger that today I have such great control over my dreaming. Now days when I feel a hunting dream coming on, I have an arsenal of weapons to use against it. Sometimes I simply stop the dream. Freeze time and walk around the horrors, go through a white door (the same white door every time) and move into the next dream. Other times when I’m feeling angry at being hunted, I’ll grab my trusty dream-crowbar and defend myself. Or if I’m feral, I’ll just take down the horrors with my bare hands (and teeth, man. Show no mercy.) Usually after I’ve given my stresses the good ol’ one-two, I feel better when waking up.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Best film by favorite director

Kill Bill vol 1 and 2 (2003/2004)
Kill Bill

I am SO SAD I did not see this sooner. If you like kung fu movies or kick-ass female leads or Quentin Tarantino (or all three) then you NEED to see these movies. Kill Bill is actually what made me fall in love with Quentin Tarantino in the first place- and I want to have his babies now, so that says something. (hopefully)

These movies aren’t just senseless gore or creative ways to kill badguys (though there is a LOT of that.) This movie gets its heart from its main character, The Bride (Uma Therman,) who is like The Little Engine That Could on steroids times infinity on steroids plus kung fu superpowers…on steroids. Or something like that.

Just go watch it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Did you ever have any special powers in your dreams?

Of course. All the time. How fun would dreaming be if you couldn’t give yourself special powers?

I’ve had them all. Flying to invisibility to transformation. All of the stock powers, really. But what’s really interesting is when I discover a power or become something completely different without trying. Then it really does feel like a discovery, and it really feels real.

The most significant special power I ever discovered in a dream was… it was like… transcending physical form.

I was having a really stressful dream where I was being hunted by wolves, and I decided to leave that one and run really far into the distance until I went over the hills. The wolves wouldn’t be able to get me here because the hills divided two different dreams.

This hill dream was really nice. The sky was blue with some clouds. The grass was extremely green and spongy. I remember the smell of grass after a spring rain. And on this hill there were grazing rams that had these horns bigger than a monster truck wheel. They were big animals.

I walked up to one, and he charged me. But I wasn’t afraid of it, I wanted it to charge at me because when it hit me, I was rocketed into the air.

I shot up up up into the sky at amazing speeds. It wasn’t flying, it was just a line of force that I had no control over. Power that sent me in a direction without mercy for my wishes, and it was liberating. I kept my eyes on the clouds above me, and I saw that there were people looking down at me with their hands held out.

I reached my hand out, and as I did so I felt my body disolve. Or disappear. Or become unnecessary. I can’t quite figure the best way to describe it except to say I became a scribble. Everything that was me became this buzzing ball of energy, a streak of shifting color, consciousness in its freest form. And I knew if I could get past those clouds and touch their hands, I could stay like this forever and travel the universe at will.

My hand almost reached them. With only a couple feet of distance, I felt myself slow, and my physical form started to return. I’d reached the highest point of my journey and now earth’s gravity was pulling me back down. I was distressed that I couldn’t get any closer, but felt like it was well worth coming all this way to at least have a taste of this form. The people in the clouds smiled and waved at me. The brief moment of freedom disappeared, and I slammed back into my body and woke up.

It felt great. And it’s the one dream I would die to have again but for the life of me I can’t seem to get it right. I’ve had similar dreams, but none quite so vivid as that one.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Top 5 Movies That Legit Made Me Cry

Okay, I’ll admit it. We’ve all seen Pokemon The Movie and cried at the part when Ash is turned to stone, but aside from tear-worthy childhood traumas, there are some movies that legit would make anyone cry when they watched it.

So, if you’re suffering a bout of masochism (can you suffer from that?) here are my Top 5 Movies That Legit Made Me Cry.

Shall I jump from here? Higher?5. Up (2009)
I didn’t say this would be easy. Pixar has gotten into the habit of pulling the tear-jerking heartstrings. I usually go to the theater with the hopes to have fun, but sometimes Pixar likes to stab its audience in the chest with an iron poker and give a few good twists.

In the case of Up, not only do they give a few twists, they actually attach the poker to a power drill and hit the ‘go’ button for about thirty seconds. It’s actually the first thing they set out to do in this movie, and then the rest of the film feels like an hour-and-a-half-long apology for making us want to commit suicide.

Rotten Tomatoes gives this movie a 98%, which is absurdly high by Rotten Tomatoes standards. Overall it’s an enjoyable action/adventure family movie- it better be after what they did to the beginning of it.
“The humor gets weirder as it goes on and it’s among the lightest of Pixar’s films, but the first 20 minutes offer the saddest, most poignant sequence seen in an animation film since Bambi’s mother died.”
~Johnathan Romney

Spare no one. Not even the children.4. Kramer vs. kramer (1979)
I’m fortunate enough to come from a fairly well-functioning family unit, and if you are too, you’ll obviously be looking for a dose of the torture you’re missing out on! For those of us who don’t want to experience the pain of divorce first-hand, Kramer vs. Kramer is available on Netflix instant watch!

No, really, all the movies that I’ll be listing in this top 5 are fantastic, so you should go watch it. Just beware that this is number 4 on my list of top 5 gut-wrenching bawl-inducing movies.

Kramer vs. Kramer spends the entire show getting you to fall in love with the characters. Then the film proceeds to throw them all in a wood-chipper, re-arrange them in a pseudo-functional manner with superglue, and then place that back into the wood chipper. And you just can’t help but stare at it.

I mean, come on. Look at that kid.

I don’t generally trust Rotten Tomatoes on older movies since they don’t really get enough reviews to receive a fair percentage, but since this movie is an Oscar-winning classic, it has enough that I’m willing to quote it. RT gives this movie an 85%.
“A high class modern weepie.”
~ Geoff Andrew

Garunteed tears or your money back.3. Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
I want you to imagine, for a moment, a baby duckling following its mother. No, several baby ducklings. They’re cute and fluffy and waddle around. They’ll follow their mother everywhere- even across the street. If you’re the innocent passerby cooing over the train of ducklings, Bridge to Terabithia is that asshole mack truck driver who just ran them over, laughed maniacly, and then proceeded to put the truck in reverse.

Grotesque descriptions aside, this movie has several beautiful moments- which is probably why it has the power to make grown men awkwardly tear up next to each other. I still think about this movie today as one of the best please-let-me-die moments of my life.

The tomatometer reads at 86%, which is a go-see movie in my book, at least. The audience gave it a lower 71%, which is still pretty good all things considered. The general consensus on audience reviews is that it’s the kind of movie you look back on and enjoy, since, well, Bridge to Terabithia does love to kill your heart’s ducklings.
“Bridge to Terabithia the movie, like the book, is buckets-of-tears sad. Director Csupo and company manage to get that — the simple power of a story about kindred souls, about loss, about the limitless possibilities of a lively mind — just right.”
~ Steven Rea

As if my love-life weren't tragic enough.2. Cinema Paradiso (1988) - Director’s Cut
I specify the director’s cut because the director’s cut is so dramatically different from the theatrical cut. The theatrical version is more mainstream, it feels like, and it’s also an hour shorter. The director’s cut, however, digs into different themes that each character represents and results in an eye-exploding ending that makes you want to crawl under your bed and never come out.

This movie is classified as a drama, which is accurate, but the director’s cut also adds in a more intense romance theme throughout. But don’t be fooled, boys, you’ll also enjoy this movie. I challenge you to watch this and not have waterfalls spring from your face by the time it’s over.

This is another classic movie that has a fair number of reviews on RT. It’s also one of the interesting cases where the audience expressed much more appreciation for it than the critics did. Critics: 89%, Audience: 96%.
“Where the original release was an essay in childish delight and adolescent longing, topped off by a muted coda implying that you really can go home again, the reissue is a fully realized epic of the heart.”
~ Ty Burr

Why god, why?1. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
The big daddy of all death-by-drowning movies is, undoubtedly, Grave of the Fireflies. As if the title weren’t hint-hint enough…

Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) is a story that follows two children’s attempts to survive WWII Japan. It deals with a range of themes, from a grand-scale society’s reaction to war all the way down to a little girl’s enjoyment of the simple things in life. It’s an emotional roller-coaster not meant for the weak of heart.

At least watch it with some friends, so you can console each other afterward. Or something like that. *finishes tying noose*

Critics on RT give a 96% while the audience gives it a 93%. Not much of a difference and the general consensus is that this movie is a must-see. Oh, by the way: It’s a Studio Ghibli film. Those words alone make it a film-lover’s requirement.
“An emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation.”
~ Roger Ebert

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A movie with the best soundtrack

Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars


Any movie that has this song (and you all know which one I’m talking about) in it automatically has the best soundtrack, in my humble opinion.

A little trivia on the Imperial March:
- The word that describes “a character’s theme song” is leitmotif
- First heard in The Empire Strikes Back
- It was first performed a couple weeks before the Star Wars 1980 release by the Boston Pops, directed by John Williams (who wrote it.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A film you will never watch again

Other than The Last Airbender?

Ghost Rider (2007)

Ghost Rider

I demand a formal apology for the dialogue in this movie.

Actually, I demand a formal apology for this movie. Period.

Mephistopheles: [after Blaze defeats Blackheart] Congradulations, Johnny. You upheld your end of the bargain. It’s time I take back the power of the Ghost Rider. You get your life back. The love you’ve always wanted. You can start a family of your own. There are more deals to be made. More people willing to give their souls for what they desire. Let someone else carry this curse. You’re free now. After all… a deal’s a deal.
Johnny Blaze: [looks to Roxanne; points to Mephistopheles, his hand burning as fire flashes in his eyes] No. I’m gonna own this curse… and I’m gonna use it against you. Whenever innocent blood is spilt, it’ll be my father’s blood… and you’ll find me there. A spirit of vengeance… fighting fire with fire.
Mephistopheles: [angered] I will make you pay for this.
Johnny Blaze: You can’t live in fear.
Mephistopheles: [shouts] NO!

Please don’t make me search for more examples.

You know, I spend a lot of time wondering if I should feel sorry for Nicolas Cage or not. Is he a bad actor or does he keep getting saddled with bad movies like this? Are they hand-in-hand? Can a movie be good if it has Nicolas Cage in it? Nicolas Cage appears surprisingly successful despite his role in stroke-inducingly horrible movies like this one…

Friday, September 9, 2011

5 bad things about you

  1. I get angry when my focus is broken.
  2. Sometimes I feel sad and don’t know why.
  3. I don’t like to do chores every day *sigh*
  4. When I’m stressed out I find it hard to sleep well.
  5. I expect to be treated differently than other people.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

10 things about your appearance.

  1. I like to wear baggy clothing because it’s super comfy.
  2. I like glasses that only have a half-frame. Full-frame is too heavy, I think.
  3. I prefer short hair because it’s easy to take care of, but I look best with shoulder-length hair.
  4. I almost always wear sandals because I take off my shoes at every opportunity.
  5. If I paint my nails, it’s dark blue.
  6. I’m most complimented on my eyes and my lips/smile.
  7. I prefer neutral color clothing.
  8. When I’m concentrating I sometimes look angry. It’s just the intensity of my thought!
  9. I sit in my chair cross-legged or with my knees curled up.
  10. I don’t wear makeup because it feels icky.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The University Library

But where was I to begin? The section on the Third City? the Fourth? Oriental Traditions? Classical Myths? Lost Gods? Confounded Devils? The sketch of the flint idol I held in my hand wasn’t the best work of art I had produced, but the very thought of staring much longer at that scowl-less scowling face was abhorrent. I couldn’t very well bring the actual item with me. I did what I could, made the notes I could stand, and raced to the University in attempt to uncover the truth behind this…thing.

Several hours of fruitless hunting left me exasperated. But finally, on a topmost shelf, I stumbled across a collection of traveler’s journals. Some spoke of the unterzee, others of the exile’s rose. All very interesting, but what struck me was a leather-bound collection of anecdotes by a certain Dr. Balthus.

Dr. Balthus had in his notes a sketch of an idol quite like mine, though it was described as being much, much larger and carved from a crag of basalt. Natives of the Elder Continent called it the “Giver-of-Skins.” He continued with several gruesome details that I will not repeat on paper (lord please lift them from my mind) but was particularly adamant in reporting that any individual foolish enough to make sacrifice to the totem would be ritualistically executed by the natives.

What does this mean for me? And how did an idol such as The Giver make it all the way to Fallen London? The natives feared candles for they believed the flames attracted The Giver. Perhaps I should take to sleeping in darkness- though, admittedly, I may fear worse what those shadows will bring.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Grim Idol

When I lie awake at night, my thoughts wander to the man found washed up on the Stolen River. I remember the glint in his eyes: a desperate plea. The exact nature of his plea eludes me still, the only clue to his intentions being this silent, scowling statue he’d pressed upon my palm. He passed on without a word.

Perhaps, instead of waiting on the cold, dank banks for the stranger to recover from that nasty stab-wound, I should have pulled him to somewhere safer. Then, maybe I could have gotten a scrap of information on this strange idol. All events considered, the constables did arrive on the scene at a suspiciously convenient hour, just as the man began to take his first breaths.

The idol now sits silently on my dresser. It’s a fiendish looking statue, and I hope that it may suffice to ward off the dangers of the night. Thieves, assassins, devilesses whom I shall not name. If only it could scare away the nightmares (oh lord, the nightmares) that occur to me every fitful hour.
Three long nights now I have drempt of a lime-stone cave. It is dimly lit, the ground lined with flickering foxfire candles. For a time, I watch a drip of wax roll sluggishly down one candle, pool on the cool stones, and solidify. It grows darker. I look up, and the little flames, one by one, are turning to wisps of smoke. I’m consumed by darkness and then-

a metallic sheering sound.

I startle awake every time, drenched in my own sweat. Never before has this dream occurred to me, and yet the moment this grim idol came into my possession, the same horrors repeat every night. I fear to throw it back into the Stolen River. What if the wretched statue were bestowed upon some other unfortunate soul? What if it returned to me?

I’ve determined to research the blasted thing. An idol this old, this striking, and this affecting must have a history of some kind. I have access to the upstairs University Library. I will begin my search there.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A movie that you would love to see re-released

Ginger Snaps (2000)

This is such a teen movie…

This is one of my favorite werewolf movies in existence ever. I can’t exactly tell you why, there’s just something about the tone of this horrible movie that I adore. It’s so corny and yet, it’s got something in it that I want to embrace.

There’s an exercise I did for creative writing class in college where we took an established story and re-wrote it with our own characters. That way we went into the story knowing beginning, middle, and end (even if that’s not how it ended up by the time we were done.) Just to flex our writing muscles. I think if I were to use this concept on a movie, it would be this one.

It would just be so much fun. Actually, I think I’ll do it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A movie you’ve seen in theaters more than once, or desired to

Inception (2010)

I saw this movie I think three times in theaters. The first time I was just trying to keep up. The second time I actually got it. The third time I got to enjoy it.

This is a movie I would say would have been better as a television series. It would have given more time for character development and more exploration of the worlds. But as a movie it worked really well. It was so…layers on layers on layers that it was difficult to really wrap my brain around it, but I did have fun while I was there so that’s why I went back with friends and family.
So, did the totem fall?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?

I have…. so many characters.

Actually, once upon a time I tried to count them. This was about two years ago, I believe, and the total came to somewhere around two-hundred, but I’ve written so many more stories since then that I just flat out couldn’t say. I suppose I could safely answer that I now have over two-hundred.

My cast of characters is overwhelmingly male. I’m not sure why that is, I just feel more comfortable writing male characters than female characters. The first character I ever created for a story was male, then followed by a cast of six more characters, three male three female.

I think I like male characters more because when I first started writing, I was consuming a lot of stories from sci-fi movies, which usually feature alpha-male leads. I likely subconsciously modeled my first stories off of that, and the trend must have just stuck with me.

Most of my females (and we’re talking 95%) are in the “kick-ass” category of female. My leads usually feature a lot of inner strength, stubbornness (wow that’s an odd-looking word,) and leadership qualities. These traits are stereotypically associated with male characters.

Also, when I was little, I played with the boys. My main troupe that I owned the neighborhood with was all males about my age, so I was that girl in grass-stained jeans who crawled through the ditches, built tree-forts, and fought with her fists when she was teased. For the longest time I was more comfortable with hanging out with the guys than the chicks, so perhaps my characters are predominantly male because that’s who I like to spend time with.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Do you usually have more dreams in one night? How often do you remember them?

I usually have two or three dreams a night that I remember when I wake up. I guess you could say I’m a prolific dreamer. Sometimes I have multiple dreams because I decide that I don’t like the one I’m in, so I go someplace else. Other times I kinda wake up in the middle of the night and then fall back asleep, in which case I have an entire new dream.

Remembering my dreams is the norm for me. Actually, I get disoriented in the morning if I wake up and can’t recall a dream. It’s like dreaming is what I do while I sleep, so if I don’t dream then I feel like I’ve done some sort of weird time-warp or something (not RHPS time-warp, you goofs.)

Last night was one such night. Actually, let me rephrase. Last night’s dream was so unusually bland that when I woke up I couldn’t tell if I was remembering something that actually happened or if I’d dreamed it all up. I had a dream that I found my roommate’s lost wallet and gave it back to her. I had to confirm with her that this was not the case.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Describe a dream that you had in the previous week.

I had a dream that I was in a witches school, but it wasn’t like Harry Potter. Our witch school was out in the middle of a craggly woods, and we only had one large building in which we learned about magic.

I remember flying around on a broom stick. And there was a dark ball of energy that would form in different places and I tried to zip around and catch it in a jar. It was like a kid’s game, and there were some other witches there too who were trying to catch it as well.

Part way through the game I was at the top of the trees, and I decided to get off my broomstick and hang out on the highest branches. I looked over an ocean of waving green, and wondered what was on the other side of the mountains.