Once I’d come down from the comedic nostalgia high, I decided that I had to share this with all of the other BSC fans I know. (The rundown of BSC # 38 might just be the funniest thing I’ve read all week). I hope you enjoy this literary nostalgia trip with the fabulous Lady T as much as I did.
Do you like the sound of your own voice? Have you ever recorded yourself speaking and played it back finding yourself distraught by a foreign voice? I am reminded all too often that my own voice lacks character, an accent, and has little uniqueness. We all enjoy spending our small amount of free time reading poetry, allowing the style, subject matter, and each small intricacy to wash over us in our living rooms, on a bus, or in front of a fire; we lavish over the wonderful silence that exists while we turn the pages in between poems, but this is not the same as hearing those poems read aloud by their author. We are unable to hear each word, each line as the author intended them to be read. It is nearly impossible to duplicate the sound or emotion said poet put in his or her piece.
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Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Velveteen Monroe’s life becomes a horror movie the day that Ron Simanski offers her a ride. She soon realizes that death will involve neither “rest” nor “ peace.” Velveteen has a full afterlife as leader of a team of soul collectors, but when events among the living threaten the existence of the City of Souls, it falls to Velvet’s team to avert the intersection—and destruction—of the realms of the living and the dead.
Even faithful horror fans recognize that the genre suffers from an acute case of Trope’s Disease. Time-tested elements within the horror formula (from zombies and serial killers to possessions and exorcisms) are recycled in the same incarnations until horror fans lose faith in the idea of a fresh take on a horror signature. Examining these conventions from a new angle without sacrificing legitimacy is a Sisyphean task, but Daniel…
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San Diego’s Mysterious Galaxy bookstore manages to strike a welcoming balance between homey and gothic. Dark purple walls and grey, well-stuffed shelves give their inventory—a specialized blend of horror, science fiction, and mystery—the feel of a collection of dusty, forgotten treasures in the attic of a slightly creepy literature professor. (I wish to point out that the shop is very well kept, lest I appear to be disparaging the cleanliness standards of the venerable Mysterious Galaxy staff). A stuffed Yoda doll attached to the wall near the sci-fi section, and a full-sized, plastic gargoyle perched on the corner of a horror shelf, greet you as you progress toward the back of the room. The oddly friendly atmosphere weaved into the shadows gives one the impression that the Gargoyle probably has a name. I imagine that it’s something like, “Fred,” or, “Chuckles.”
The store boasts little open floor space, but the wide…
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If you all like this, check out California Journal of the Heronie here on wordpress. http://caheroinejournal.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/the-war-on-men/
by Alex Kanuha
When a friend texts me a hyperlink, it’s rarely (actually, never) a Fox News opinion article. Let’s just say there is a reason for that. The latest one? Suzanne Venker. According to Venker, an author who “accidentally stumbled upon a subculture of men” that will never get married, the war of the sexes is alive and well and mostly women’s fault. Who initiated the discord between men and women? Feminists, of course. Who knew that calling for equal rights and better treatment of women would actually push men toward “retreating from marriage en masse?”
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A fifty year partnership; a ten minute conversation that stays with you the rest of your life; the end of an old friendship; the beginning of a new romance; seeking your footing in the uneven limbo as a familiar bond twists and bends into something new. Being human is a jagged chain of bonds and breaks, old stories and new starts. Existence is a steady cycle of attempts to reach beyond the boundaries that make us “ourselves” and connect with one another, with wildly varying results.
Touch is a collection of poetry and short fiction about the need to connect with other human beings. We want your stories and poems about broken, bonded, and mended human connections—among friends, siblings, lovers, acquaintances and strangers. Write about the pain of separation or the joy of finding a “kindred spirit.” Write about being forced together. Explore the pain of being to close. Muse on the end of loneliness, or the realization that it is time to say goodbye. Show us what happens when you connect with the wrong person, or examine the experience of connecting with no one at all. The possibilities are as numerous as the ways that seven billion human beings can find to reach or repel one another. Any genre of short fiction is welcome and encouraged (from literary fiction to romance to historical to science fiction and beyond) as long as the story addresses the theme.
Send submissions as e-mail attachments to: Realloudfamily7@yahoo.com
*Please thoroughly edit and revise all submissions.
*Please limit fiction submissions to five (double spaced) pages per piece; poetry submissions to one (double spaced) page per submission.
Submission Deadline: October 31, 2012
We look forward to reading your work!
The following was origenally posted to my other blog on November 26, 2011.
(By the way, if you are new to the “Potter” series and have not read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yet, turn back now–I don’t want to be responsible for ruining it for you. Come back after you’ve expierenced the story yourself. Major spoilers for both the book and the film ahead).
“So I Finally saw ‘ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One’…”
…and “Only one question remains: which of my children am I going to name after the director of this film?” I leaned over and whispered this to my mother as the credits of Deathly Hallows Part One began to roll. David Yates, I said that if you pulled this off, I’d love you forever—you now officially have my undying gratitude, sir.
In all seriousness, though, I was literally overwhelmed, in the best way, at the end of this film. The pacing was amazing. They managed to keep up the tension through a nearly three -hour movie; so much so that I was surprised, and a little disappointed, when we opened on what I knew was the last shot (because I’d heard that already on Pottercast). That time went so fast… and I can’t wait to sit through it again.
Even the slower moments kind of crackle with tension, because you know that the peace–or semi-peace–won’t last. That’s how it was as a reader, at least: for instance, when they go to see Xeno Lovegood, I relished the calm of that moment, remembering, from the book, that something big was close on its heels.
My mother had the misfortune to doze, thanks to having eaten before the movie, so she kept getting woken up by the battles and explosions that felt like they popped up every ten minutes or so.
Speaking of experiencing this film as a reader: because of my memories of the book, I recognized what was coming pretty quickly in most scenes, which made watching them come at me exciting in an entirely different way. For instance, I saw the aerial shot of Malfoy Manor and whispered to myself “oh, here we go…”, as the memories of that sequence in the book flooded back to me. I knew what was coming, but in the best possible way; it was anticipation, rather than the disappointment of a so-called “spoiler.” It gave me a little extra electricity that a non-reader wouldn’t have access to.
Most of it was internal, but those little electric anticipation moments happened through the whole movie. For example: “Oooh, Oooh, The Three Brothers…” At that moment I actually squirmed a little in my seat, I was so excited; I had hared that they cut away from the mainstream action to show this part of the story, and I really like the way they did it–animation and voiceover was plenty for that. Excellent.
Another of those moments of recognition went something like: “Oh, my gosh…I just realized what chapter this is…” (When Lily/Snape’s Patronus showed up at the start of the Silver Doe sequence). Little things like seeing Umbridge’s ministry and the people making those horrible pamphlets made me smile, also.
And, of course, of course: Godric’s Hollow. Harry dealing with his parents’ absence from his life and the family’s past is one of my favorite things in the books, and I loved the line that Harry got at the beginning of the Godric’s Hollow sequence in the film, when Hermione says that they should have come polyjucied: “This is where I was born, I’m not coming back as someone else.” Sigh. That was lovely. That whole first part of the sequence, with the snow and the quiet and Harry and Hermione at Lily and James’ graves, was just beautiful. It was a welcome little moment of calm between the battles, chases, and chaos, especially since the second half of the Godric’s Hollow sequence consists of the battle with Nigini (which, once again, readers knew beforehand). That time in the graveyard gave the audience a minute to breath before our blood pressure went back up, yet again.
Now, I don’t normally react aloud to things in the movie theatre, but I had a couple of moments in this film in which I couldn’t help it. One was when Dobby showed up again (I whispered ‘Dobby!’ at the screen before I could stop myself); another was when they first cut to Ginny and Neville through the window of the Hogwarts express. I hadn’t expected to see Neville at all in this film, so when I realized who was sitting across from Ginny, I allowed myself a soft, excited “Oh my gosh…”. Neville was only on screen for a very short time, but he pulled another reaction from me with his one line. When he stood up and said, “Losers–he’s not here,” I had a little internal moment of Yessss–my Neville’s becoming a Bad-A already.
I also need to mention the seven Potters. I remembered this sequence pretty well from the book, and it was nicely done here. Dan Radcliffe did very, very well, and it was a needed, welcome light moment in a film full of intense sequences.
I had no idea that two -and -a -half hours could go by so quickly.
In the car, on the way home, my mother commented that every time she woke up and came back to things, it was “fighting…seemed like it was the whole movie.”
Me: “and you know the best part about that? This was the slow half of Deathly Hallows.”
Mom: “You’re kidding.”
Not at all, actually. This was a calm little romp through the countryside compared to part two. I can hardly imagine what the Battle for Hogwarts is going to be like on screen.
That will come later, though. For now, I’m content with basking in the glow of amazing that is Deathly Hallows Part One, and looking forward to seeing it a second time. And a third. And…you get the idea.
Thank you again David Yates, Steve Cloves and, of course, Jo Rowling: thanks to you- all, I think I’m going to be on a Deathly Hallows high all evening.
Oh, a P.S. that I just thought of:
I have to mention Hermione’s response to Ron’s return. When she looked at him for a second after beating him with the bag, and then turned around and asked, “where’s my wand, Harry?” I actually appluaded. Yes, girl; that’s exactly it.
I hope that Mr. Narrowcrookedlanes doesn’t mind, but a friend shared this with me, and it was so brilliant that I had to share it with everyone else. I think that’s how most revolutions of thought get started.
(Content: screwed-up gender dynamics, heterocentric discussion of sexist concepts. Fun content: Klingons and daguerrotypes!)
(Alternate titles included The Ally Territory, The Companion Realm, and Eight Rules For Dating My Non-Age-Specific Fellow Sapient. [Edit: also, Salacious Tortoises would have been a good one.])
This is one of those subjects that makes it hard for me not to just profane for a while. I have been spending time (any amount is too much) on parts of the internet where ‘The Friend Zone’ is treated as an established and accurate concept, and now I just want to reboot the world. On the plus side, it’s also providing me with a fascinating new perspective on the way I view people.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I love the heroic villain archetype is that they are doing the right thing even while not feeling like it. They protect…
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I’ve always been a big fan of the movies. If I find anything charming in a film at all on the first viewing, I won’t blink at watching that same movie two or three more times. I realize that this isn’t the best use of six hours, but I suppose we all have our own favorite ways of wasting time. Anyway, all of those repeat viewings of films from all different genres, categories, and length classes (Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I’m looking at you) are bound to unearth a surprise now and then. For me, it’s rather rare that my opinion of a film will change radically upon a subsequent viewing, but every so often, giving a film another shot does help me see it from a new angle, or appreciate something in it that I hadn’t noticed before. Examples of these little cinematic surprises can be found both in my childhood memories and offerings from the more recent past.
- Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Technically, I have not seen the original Disney film version of this as an adult, but I did see a stage adaptation that stuck very closely to the film, even down to using the introductory voice-over from the movie, so I feel satisfied that this one counts. I do not actually remember how I responded to this movie when it was first released, but going into the story for a second time, I made one grave miscalculation: I underestimated it. I mentally placed it in the category of “kid’s stuff,” and expected to be essentially immune to its impact: it would be cute, certainly, and even entertaining enough, but I was far too old now for it to really affect me. I don’t know if the fact that the stage version was live action had anything to do with it, but by the end of the play, I was genuinely choked up. The quiet, beautiful simplicity of the story took me off-guard: it seems that a story about isolated people slowly and cautiously learning to open up and let love into their lives has the same impact on the human heart, whether said heart has been beating for four years or for twenty-four. Looking back, I feel silly for ever believing that a story that explores such delicate facets human existence would fail to touch me—even if it did involve dancing toast and a man dressed in claws and fur.
- Aladdin (1994)
I’ve already praised this film pretty highly in a past post, and if my memory serves, I was fond of it even as a kid. The surprise in this one came much later, when I watched it again remembering having enjoyed it at the age of eight, but not expecting it to hold much charm for me as an adult beyond the draw of nostalgia. I may not have expected much, but when I did decide to try it again, I was surprised to find myself just as drawn into the story at age twenty-three as I had been at age eight, and in some ways even more so: for example, I didn’t know enough about Islam at eight years old to catch the subtle references to Muslim and Middle Eastern culture that the filmmakers included in the dialogue and action of the film, and my background in history as a college-age viewer made the beautiful employment of that setting even more interesting. I never felt as though the content were “talking down,” to me, and I found the cast of characters so well developed that you could transplant their story from animation to live-action without making many major changes. Overall, giving this film a second chance resulted in one of the most pleasant helpings of crow that I have ever eaten.
3 .The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008).
When I saw Caspian in the theatre for the first time, I cannot say that I hated it, but I recall being less than impressed: all I could really remember after seeing the movie was a battle scene that went on too long. Even so, I somehow convinced myself to see it again recently, and was treated to little treasures that had escaped my memory over the past three years. In particular, I had been too distracted by that over-long battle scene to recall how beautiful that film is. Caspian has arguably less character development than either of the other two films in the series, but it is filled with lovely, realistic sets, and little quiet moments that help create a subtle, gentle, mobile-painting of a film. (And, of course, it is fun to see familiar and well-love characters back in action, even if some of them did change a bit between films one and two). After waiting three years to give Caspian a second look, I’m now looking forward to a third round. Maybe I’ll notice something else that I did not see before; but even if I don’t, at least I can enjoy those stolen moments from C.S. Lewis’s and Andrew Adamson’s beautiful dreams all over again.
- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)
As a proud Potter nerd, I was as excited for the release of the Half-Blood Prince film as anyone else: in fact, it was the only Potter movie to date that I’ve ever seen at a midnight showing. When I walked out after the movie at 3:00 A.M., though, I confess that I was not sure how to feel about the newest installment in the film series. There were plenty of things that I had liked about it, but also a few that had thrown me a bit (for example, that scene of Harry flirting with a waitress nearly threw me off the bus in the first fifteen minutes of the film). My initial love for the Prince was lukewarm at best, but it was still strong enough to give the movie another go when the DVD was released a few months later, and I’m still glad that I did to this day. It wasn’t long before I learned to live with the more annoying and unnecessary changes (*cough cough* fanfic Harry *cough cough*) and grew to love the Half Blood Prince for what it really is: a realistic, atmospheric, shadow-drenched imagining of a fictional world that, for better of worse, occupies a little corner of my heart.
Although I might extend the gesture too liberally at times, some films really are worth a second look. At worst, a repeat viewing of a film that really deserves it is a little vacation in a well-built world of the imagination; at best, it is a walk down a welcoming path that is both familiar and full of surprises.
A classic convention of Western “scary stories” is isolation. Many horror films go to great effort to get the protagonists on their own–as completely cut off from aid as the script can make them–before bringing in whatever the looming threat happens to be in that particular story. Stephen King places the Torrence family in a snowed-in hotel during the off season in “The Shining”; a group of young filmmakers wander deep into the woods with nothing but each other and their video equipment in “The Blair Witch Project”; and Bram Stoker makes sure that anyone who seeks out his Count will have very little recourse in an old, drafty castle out in the Transylvanian countryside in “Dracula.”
Sadly for the modern horror writer, though, isolating one’s unfortunate main cast was a much easier task before the ubiquity of the cell phone. In 1970, it was completely reasonable that a couple of teenagers who had car trouble on an isolated road would be sitting ducks for whatever brand of terror or threat chose to come along. In 2011, however, anyone trying to write a scene like that convincingly would be forced to contend with the first question that will spring to the lips of his or her audience members after the couple (or group) discovers that they are stranded: “where the heck are all of their cell phones?”
Some modern horror movies spit in the face of the safe-guarding connection to the outside world that technology provides by coming up with answers to that question. The most popular answer seems to be “reception is bad out here–our phones don’t work.” (The “isolate the main characters” rule, which places the casts of many scary stories in remote locations, gives this method of neutralizing those bothersome cell phones some solid credibility).
This, however, gives birth to another potential issue: creating a cliché. Horror films are particularly famous for trafficking in a variety of go-to clichés as a part of their story-telling method. I do not know if “the reception is bad” is an “official” horror cliché yet, but if it isn’t, I am willing to bet that it will be, very soon. Once this explanation gains cliché status, its intended effect will be neutralized: what was intended to help the audience suspend disbelief will serve to momentarily shatter the story’s illusion of realism, in the same way that well-worn clichés like, “let’s split up” and “I think I’ll investigate that strange noise, in the dark, alone, with just a flash light,” already do.
For this reason, it might be worthwhile for the horror writers of 2011 to consider new ways to get that irritating technology out of the way. The obstacle probably won’t be going away any time soon, so finding a variety of believable and interesting ways to get around it will result in a nice little sharpened tool in the corner of the story-teller’s tool box, just right for smoothing out those edges that are especially vulnerable to cliché status before they hurt the story’s believability.
If “bad reception” doesn’t work for you, or you’re afraid of over-using it, there’s always, ‘my phone died,’ but the success of that explanation depends on the number of people that one is trying to isolate. If there are two girls in a car, for example, it might be reasonable that one of them left her phone at home and the other one let hers die; but if the car holds a group of three or more modern teenagers, all of which have probably been familiar with the care and keeping of cell phones since they were about twelve, it might stretch the audience’s suspension of disbelief when they all reach for their phones only to discover that every phone in the car has gone dead.
In a case like this, it might be best to mix it up. For example, let’s say we have a scene with three teenage girls in a car–Jane, Andrea, and Rose. They’ve broken down on an isolated road in the middle of the night, and the success of the plot that’s about to unfold hinges on the group’s being unable to get immediate access to outside help. When Andrea informs the others that the car won’t start, Rose volunteers to call AAA, and pulls out her phone to discover that it has died. (One explanation used up; two more phones to neutralize). Jane says she’ll call, but, digging in her bag, discovers that her phone is not with her. Establishing beforehand that Jane has a little sister who likes to borrow her phone without returning it might add extra realism to the idea that she would leave the house without her phone on her. (Two phones down, only the driver’s to go).
For the last phone in the group, the author has a certain choice to make: he or she might neutralize it in some other way (“this damn thing loves to drop calls”;” I don’t have much power left” etc.) or he/she can allow Andrea to make the call. The second option offers a real boost to realism and believability, but it requires the storyteller to find another way to allow the plot time to unfold: perhaps triple AAA says they will send a truck out, but because of the girls’ location, it will take a while; or the truck is dispatched, but has trouble finding them; or even a little twist in which the people that the girls have turned to for help–the police, the towing company, etc.–turn out to be the real threat, once they arrive.
The modern world can present some unique obstacles to horror writers that their predecessors never had to contend with, but what appears to be a stumbling block to believable storytelling can, with the right attitude, become a fun workout for the imagination. Regardless of era or genre, the best thing that any writer can do is determine that he or she will not fall back on clichés or give up on an idea that they love, regardless of the bumps in the road. Give the imagination the freedom to do its work, and results might surprise even you.