Monday, July 25, 2011

Demo What?

Dear Congress,

I will not vote for a single incumbent if you dont get your shit together and work WITH each other. Thank you.

You know, as smallish children in preschool/kindergarten/etc we are taught some basic things, like how to write our names, and the alphabet, depending on your generation you might also be made to memorize things like your home phone number and address.

Sharing however, is pretty universally taught. And for good reason to. Throughout your entire life you are asked to share things, idea's, food, money, crayons...even fictional characters occasionally share things. Often times the bad guys are characters who are actually people trying to avoid sharing things, or deliberately going about and trying to make someone else look bad. Take for example Sauron, he was definitely not good at sharing, as his parents made him skip preschool, and jump right into first grade.

I am not sure if I could successfully fictionalize what the American congress is doing right now, but you know its bad when the Onion doesn't really have to make things up.

I know this isn't exactly "writing related" but damn.

Over and out. Working on two real posts right now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone was published in 1997, I was thirteen years old. At that point, I had just finished the Lord of the Rings for the first time, and was reading Feist’s Serpent War Saga. I was at that weird stage of adjustment from preteen to teenager, where I took myself too seriously and was “too old” for kids books. So I scoffed at Harry Potter; for two years.

I did not jump on board with the series until I was 15. Too many people told me that the series was worth reading for me to ignore it. So I picked up the books (at that point the first three were out), and I read them all in about a week.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the first book I ever bought at a midnight release. Not because I really couldn’t wait. But because I was working at a summer camp at the time and I always had Friday nights off, since I was “barn staff” and it got me off camp, so I could eat real food, and go to my second favorite place in the world. A bookstore. The trip involved an hour drive (two hours in the car), and copious amounts of time in a bookstore, typically I would hide from the kids in the history section.

So in that way, Harry Potter became a tradition. Every summer, I would be at camp and go to the midnight release party with the lucky coworkers who could get the night off (and all of the barn staff) and we would read our copies, and talk about the book. It gave us something to bond over, and it was fun. I cried when I finished the sixth book, I absolutely bawled when I finished the seventh.

It’s odd to think about how this book corresponds with important dates in my own life (or really that of the people in my generation). At 16, I went to my first midnight premier (possibly because it was the first time I really had the money to spend). It was also my first summer as full time camp staff, and the year I moved out of my parent’s house.

The last book in the series came out, my last year at summer camp. The year I graduated from College. Harry Potter is an adult, with kids at the end of that book. I am an adult with bills, facing a serious injury, that needed surgery, without health insurance at the end of that summer.

And now, the series is over. I went and saw the last movie (twice) this weekend. Normally I wouldn’t go see a movie twice, but I am glad I did. I caught a lot more the second time, as there was a person bawling behind me for the entire movie the first time.

I have read a lot of speculation as to why/how Harry Potter became as much of a popular culture phenomenon that it did. It certainly was the only book I could walk up to anyone at the summer camp I lived in at the time it came out, and ask anyone about it, and they would at least know what I am talking about.

Maybe it’s the underdog story. When you start out, Harry is an eleven year old boy, who is smallish, bullied by his cousin, who lives under the staircase, meant to defeat the ultimate evil. Or the fact that he is a bit of a rule breaker, with a good heart. I don’t think anyone has the answers. There is no hard and fast rule as to what will make a series a great success.

I am not sure how much I can learn from these books as far as a writer goes. They don’t do that much right. They are entertaining. They tell a good story. They are easy to read. They have an evil villain who has no real reason for being evil. There is a lot of stuff randomly thrown into the last book (where did that wand lore come from).

Harry Potter has been around for half of my life. I was thirteen when the first book came out, and am 26 now, and it is with a great deal of fondness that I say goodbye, perhaps until one day when I can pass the books along, with Lord of the Rings, and the Dealing with Dragons series, and maybe the people I pass it on to will get as much out of it as I did. Or maybe they will wonder whats the point. Perhaps its like Star Wars, you have to grow up with it for it to mean anything at all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Are you chewing on a stick?

"The one place I did not expect this party to go was animal bondage, but here we are." No animals were hurt in the making of this blog post. So, this weekend I went up to Philadelphia to celebrate my friend Abby graduating from her MFA program. Mischief was had, a monkey leash was involved. No one debated the value of an MFA (that would have been exceptionally rude).

This included a visit to a farmers market where I bought licorice root, which is where the title of this post came from, since I am now, still walking around chewing on a "stick". But I come home to find a few pleasant surprises. Including a blog award from Libby Heily my first every blog award!

Now, I have been told this blog comes with rules. I am not a big fan of rules so I will do my best to follow them, most likely as ungramatically correctly as possible so that I can be breaking rools while following them.

The Rules:
1. Thank and link back to the person who passed on the award. check
2. Share 7 random tidbits about yourself.
3. Pass on the award to others (the number can be from 3-10) and link to their blogs.
4. Let those people know you’ve given them the award.

Seven Random Tidbits:

1. I quite like licorice root

2. I bought my friend Abby a monkey leash backpack for her graduation present, cause she is a big girl now, but still runs off in crowds of people. And told her I would get her one months ago--but she forgot so when she was asking for clues about her present I would keep saying, "I told you I was going to get this for you." and she couldnt remember, till she saw the card.

3. I write, not because I think I am any good at it (although I like to pretend that I am) but because when I have tried to kick the habit I had mini nervous breakdowns where I would write things like:

"I feel like I am trapped somewhere in between sane and ity. And since my lip was bitten off some three miles ago, Im gonna go ahead and guess that I am closer to the latter. My bed is made out of kitten claws and lipstick, bu I have to open my eyes to get a blanket, or else risk perpetual blinding by things I would never like to see. Darkness is an absence of light rather than an absence of knowledge of whats in it."

which I wrote in my sleep, and have no recollection of writing.

4. I used to train horses, and still love horse back riding although I dont get to go much anymore.

5. My entire room is furnished from either things from Ikea, heirloom pieces, or random junk I have found.

6. I dont believe in "normal"

7. I went to 6 different Elementary schools in 5 years, but never moved.

And the winners are:

Bards & Prophets : Her blog is super entertaining, and very informative

Multiculturalism for Steampunk : Its a good research blog, especially if you are looking for steampunk ideas. Its also very well written.

Author Michael J. Sullivan : Although he is neither sweet or stylish(you can be stylish if you want to Michael), and probably wont participate, I do enjoy reading his blog.

Wildly Urban : An interesting blog about all things nerdy/yuppy and otherwise entertaining.

I'm off to chew on more sticks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pride and Dialouge

Mr Darcy: I have fought against my better judgment, my family's expectations, the inferiority of your birth by rank and circumstance. All these things I am willing to put aside and ask you to end my agony.
Elizabeth Bennet: I don't understand.
Mr. Darcy: I love you. Most ardently. Please do me the honor of accepting my hand.
Elizabeth Bennet: Sir, I appreciate the struggle you have been through, and I am very sorry to have caused you pain. Believe me, it was unconsciously done.
Mr. Darcy: Is this your reply?
Elizabeth Bennet: Yes, sir.
Mr. Darcy: Are you... are you laughing at me?
Elizabeth Bennet: No.
Mr. Darcy: Are you *rejecting* me?
Elizabeth Bennet: I'm sure that the feelings which, as you've told me have hindered your regard, will help you in overcoming it.

from the 2005 Pride and Prejuduce movie.

One of my favorite parts of writing is dialouge, especially if you have two characters with good chemestry. And they bicker. I think it comes from having so many sisters, but I tend to write characters that bicker extensivly with each other. I often, in rough drafts never use dialouge tags, which tend to annoy the crap out of people that read my rough drafts (See below)

Damien paused, “You called me Dai.”
“Not the point.”
“What if I have a problem with you calling me Dai.”
“Do you?”
“You don’t let me call you Lens.”
“Fine call me Lens, but answer the question.”
“I don’t really care if you call me Dai or not.”
“Not the question I wanted answered.”
“I know.”
Leni stared at him for a moment, “will you stop me if I try to leave.”
“Depends on where you are trying to go.”
“Away from you.”
“Could I follow you?”
“I think that might be trying to stop me.”
“No, it would just be following.”
“And the point of that would be?
“To keep you out of trouble.”
“I can keep myself out of trouble.”
Damien shrugged, “maybe.”
“I have so far.”
“I know.”
“So why would you follow me.”
“Why don’t you want me to?”
“Stop answering my questions with questions.”
“I forgot your original question.”
“Will you stop me if I try to leave?”
“Do you want to leave?”
“Damnit Damien!” Leni shouted, pushing him away from her. “Just answer the question.”
“I think I already have.”

Anyone struggling with Dialouge should watch Pride and Prejudice though, the dialouge in that movie is amazing. You can see the scene above here

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday/Kinda

So this isnt as short as I would like it to be, and a litle later than I would like it to be. I would have finished earlier if I had'nt gotten sidetracked by a really nice old man, who asked me to write his memoir. His name was not Michael.

The following is all true, except for the part that is a lie:

It didn’t do for ducks to be brooding, but Michael had little choice in the matter. He was, after all a teenage duck, and a vampire, and a pirate. So he stood on the bow of the Meridian, the sea breeze pulling at his dark feathers as he looked out into the emptiness around him, brooding.

A half discarded suduko puzzle sat off to one side, he had been working on it but had found it hard to concentrate his thoughts kept turning to what brought him here. He didn’t go out looking to become a pirate, or a vampire. Those things just kinda happened to him, as he set off to make his fortune so he could provide a house for his true love. He originally had been a Ferrier, but there wasn’t much money in shoeing horses, especially if you were a duck. So he went into the city, where he was attacked by a vampire, but since the vampire really didn’t have a taste for feathers, so instead of killing him, he just turned Michael into a vampire as well.

Then there was the issue with the popular conception of Vampires. Everyone seemed to assume they were rich, or something. And then there were the hours, it was nearly impossible to find a job that would only let you work at night. But the Somalians had no qualms with giving him a job, as long as he could be ruthless, they didn’t even care that he was a vampire. The horn of Africa had its own perils. Especially for his crew mates, who were significantly less undead, and by that Michael meant that they were quite alive. Now that the UN had started patrolling, piracy just wasn’t what it used to be.

Michael sighed, there was also the other thing. Michael knew He would catch up to him soon. That was one true advantage of piracy, when you were a pirate you could spend long periods of time at sea without ever docking. And if you never docked He could never find them. Some people would consider Michael lucky, I mean not everyone had multiple fathers, but Michael had two. His true father, who had long since died, and had been turned into a mummy, and was now sleeping safely below deck. And his father’s twin brother, who insisted that Michael was indeed his son, and had been chasing them for leagues, trying to convince Michael to return home, and to stop shirking his duties.

Almost on que, Michaels fathers twin, Michael showed up on the deck of the boat, landing in a flurry of black feathers.

“Michael” Michael, Michaels fathers twin, quacked.

Michael fluffed up his feathers, slowly standing up off the eggs he had been keeping warm.

“Michael,” Michaels fathers twin continued. “I know you’re here.”

Michael stood perfectly still, as his fathers twin started walking up and down the boat, although the bag of gold at his side squeeked.

“he’s found us” the bag squeaked.

“Not yet,” Michael whispered to the bag, stroking it carefully (the bag had once been his true love, but Michael, using vampire powers, turned her into a bag of gold so that she could live forever, without being a vampire) “and he wont if you keep quiet”

“Michael!” yelled Michael again. “I know you’re here, you stole something from us. And you need to come home, or at least give it back to us. The village is starving.”

“Oh no.” the bag squeaked.

“Shh.” Michael snapped at the bag.

“Michael, I see you!” Yelled his father’s twin, walking purposefully towards them, “you need to give me the bag, so I can buy food for our village,”

“Our village?” Michael asked, his fathers twin, Michael. “Our village has been gone for a hundred years, old man!”

“Just cause you’ve been gone for a hundred years doesn’t mean the village has.” Michael yelled, lunging at Michael.

Overhead, the clouds began to rumble, turning over one another, as Michael jumped out of Michaels grasp. The water started lapping around the bow of the ship. Michael flapped his wings at Michael as he tried to regain his balance, Michael grasped at the bag.

The boat began to pitch as the lighting lit the sky. Michael flapped away from his fathers twin, ignoring the scuffle to run and grab the helm, as a wave crashed down on the ship.

“Michael,” Michael yelled at his fathers twin. “Enough already! Why cant you just leave us in peace.”

Overhead, more clouds started to attack the first set, which caused the boat to pitch and hurl even more. Michael struggled to hold onto the helm as his fathers twin approached.

“Because, you stole her from us. She was mine, after you left, and then you stole her from us and left us to starve, we need that gold” He yelled lunging.

Michaels feathered hands slipped around the bag, which screamed. At the same moment, a giant wave came crashing down, washing Michael and the bag overboard.

“No.” Michael yelled, letting go of the helm and jumping overboard after the bag. As they hit the water, the storm began to die out. The clouds calming down as the sun started to rise. Michael hit the water at the same moment as the first rays of the sun, and promptly turned into a Toyota Prius.

Michael, Michaels fathers twin watched in amazement from the ships deck, managing to hold on when the bag went overboard. As Michael the prius rev’ed his engine and powered down after the bag. Not noticing the door to the deck opening behind him, and a cloth wrapped figure emerging.
“Michael?” The mummy asked.

Michael, Michael’s father’s twin, turned, “Michael? What have they done to you?” he asked the mummy. “Your all mummified.”

“Well you’re a ghost.” Michael, Michaels father answered.

“Im not a ghost.” Michael, Michaels father’s twin replied.

“Yes you are.” Answered the mummy. “You’ve been dead for one hundred years.”

Meanwhile down below, Michael the prius, vampire, pirate duck caught up to his ex true love, who is currently a bag of gold and managed to get it/her inside the car, before transforming into a Smart Car so that he could rise to the surface. And with one great push, managed to land on the deck of the somolian pirate ship. Crushing both Michaels, which didn’t really do anything to Michael the mummy, cause he really was a ghost, however, Michael the ghost was crushed, cause he really was a mummy.

And they all lived happily ever after, except for the clouds, who were really controlled by space, and blamed the earth for everything.

I hope you enjoyed my Somolian Pirate workout VHS. Please turn over for side two.

p.s. I am 90% sure none of this makes sense, however it was quite fun to write.