"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

25 August 2010

Ammending Previous...

On what I stated in this post: The same rules apply not only for creative endeavors, but life in general. When creative, energetic, passionate people dedicate copious amounts of their time to expression it's easy to get so caught up in the whirlwind that you forget to take care of yourself. When that happens it affects every aspect of your life, whether you realize it or not.
It's an easy trap to fall into -- ignoring your own needs in favor of trying to accomplish too much at once. This is not to get all self-help, preachy on everyone, but just to state that whatever your creative drug of choice, and whatever your status in life, you're no good to your endeavors, others or yourself if you don't look out for your own well being.

I torture people in happy relationships...

Project: Chronological (New) Whoniverse - watching all episodes from the Davies/Moffat Era Doctor Who & Torchwood in chronological order.
Purpose: I never did it in the first place. After sprinkled episodes of both, I went: series 3 of Who, series 2 of Who, series 1 of Who, series 1 & 2 of Torchwood during series 4 of Who... then finally chronological for the Who Specials, "Children of Earth" and series 5 of Who. In my impatience to obtain series 5 on DVD, I decided I should go back and watch everything in order.
Having just finished series 2 of Who, I'll have a re-cap/review/reaction to that, but my first impulse to write about it all came with the first two episodes of Torchwood, specifically while watching (Doctor) Owen Harper. Within five minutes of Owen's on-screen presence it struck me once again what a twisted fuck that character is... and how much I adore him. Granted, the fact that Burn Gorman is electric to watch benefits the formation of my opinion, but what makes Owen work for me goes deeper. On the surface he's a callous, sarcastic, narcissistic jackass -- even if he is a medical doctor who in theory should want to help people. Yet underneath that facade exist multiple layers to Owen -- layers of sensitivity, compassion, self-loathing, fear of really living, sensuality, insecurity, and bravery. Owen's character rivals Captain Jack Harkness in complexity, yet while I adore Jack and sometimes get angry or frustrated with his choices, I have a true love/hate complex with Owen. Still, I do love him -- a love attributed to some incredible writing and damn fine acting.
More detailed, articulate praising of Owen Harper to come as Project Whoniverse continues.

20 August 2010

Stop talking. Brain thinking. Hush.

Lack of blog posts indicates lack of mental capability to focus thoughts enough to have coherent opinions that don't turn into tangental ramblings. Then this line popped into my head after telling myself to focus for about the eight-hundredth time. It caused me to realize that, to continue quoting, time is not the boss of me. Too often I think in terms of deadlines (usually self-imposed), or needs that aren't actually needs, and allow these things to distract from what I want to do -- which is write, or create -- to have an outlet beyond escapism that is actually productive. This balance becomes increasingly difficult to find with a full-time job during the day and the bulk of the remainder of my hours consumed by a show. Still, if you don't carve out time for yourself to write, even if it has to come in brief, stolen moments, nothing gets accomplished. Ever.
None of this comes as a revelation, but at times reminders are necessary to return focus to what really matters, what satisfies the inner-creator.
So this is my little shout-out for myself and anyone else whose buried under too many 'other' aspects of life keeping them from doing what they truly want to be doing: take some time to deal with whatever must be dealt with, then take the time to push it all away, focus on yourself, ask yourself what you WANT to be doing at that moment and indulge. Give yourself permission to write or play music or dance or draw or otherwise engage your mind creatively for a while. The rest of your life will still be there when you return, but you'll be more refreshed and confident you can handle it all -- because you can. And you can do it without sacrificing your creative outlets.
Be good to yourself and your creative mind -- because there's only one you, and if you don't create the kind of art or writing or theatre or film or world-at-large you want to live in, who will?

11 August 2010

You think killing people will make them like you, but it doesn't; it just makes them dead.

It's been slow going with the progress of goals the past few days. LIFE (reality, not the game) intervened as it tends to do in August and threw BS at me which rendered me incapable of creative, productive thought. Then the most extraordinary thing happened: on a complete whim I decided the time had arrived for me to investigate a little stage show called "A Very Potter Musical." In between yelling at my cell carrier and cleaning and stressing out, I'd take 15-20 minutes to watch this gem in sections on YouTube. By the end of the weekend I'd watch both the original and the newly released "A Very Potter Sequel," and bought the soundtrack.
This is how obsession works for me: Find something to indulge in at the right time, come to love it within minutes, then devour it like a hungry, hardworking family at Thanksgiving dinner.
What kept me enraptured of this particular show wasn't just that it's produced by a group of students at U of M, or that Dumbledore, Ron and Harry are huge Zefron fans, or that the music is unexpectedly catchy and fun (though all these points make it totally awesome). What appeals most is the obvious love these people have for the Harry Potter world, and the complete unabashed bashing they do to it with such reverence and love. It's the ultimate in parody because it so obviously adores its source material -- and no one can make fun of anything so well as someone who loves it entirely. That kind of inspiration and cheek goes a long way in my world.
The music in the sequel is more advanced, though not always as catchy as tunes in the first. I found the original to be more satisfying and a little better written than the sequel, but still more than worthy of viewing. The absence of Hagrid is lamentable, though the Hulk-esque Goyle provides great comedic fodder. The cast overall is solid with a few standouts, namely Draco Malfoy in both shows, Quirrell and Voldemort in the first show, and Lucius Malfoy and Umbridge in the sequel (incidentally, the same actor plays Voldemort and Umbridge -- through the writing and his performance an amazing thing happens: you start to love both those horrid characters. Really love. And kind of want to molest make your cuddle bear lick from head to toe be close to...).

Overall, anyone who loves Harry Potter in a nice, safe way (i.e. you don't treat it as your bible) really should check this show out. Yeah, it's an 'amateur' show, but these amateurs are damn talented and dedicated -- and FUNNY. Very, very funny.
For final encouragement, I give you these four words: Death. Eater. Kick. Line.

10 August 2010

Carrying the Banner

Oh yes, I geek out about more than just books and Dracula. See in my world, where snobbery gets shot down by mental snipers whenever it tries to peek out, there exists an unabashed fangirl of most things Disney. We're not just talking masterpieces like Sleeping Beauty, Mary Poppins and The Lion King. We're talking Oliver & Company, Lizzie McGuire and the cheesiest of the Disney Channel Original Movies (I'm looking at you, Brink). This includes everything in between, some of which I defend ("Phineas & Ferb") and some of which I will just say, "It's an entertaining train wreck." ("Hannah Montana" - thought I must state that a good portion of my amusement with this show stems from the fact that Jason Earles, who plays Hannah/Miley's brother, is older than I am... kudos, buddy.)
The other night I indulged in a Disney geek out of epic proportions - I saw Newsies, in a sold-out theatre, with a featured Q&A by director Kenny Ortega. Whether or not Ortega came to the show didn't factor in until after I already purchased the tickets. We're talking jailbait-era Christian Bale singing and dancing here, people. Nothing could keep me away from experiencing that on the big screen. Add to that the director/choreographer who got Bale to sing and dance, as well as being the choreographer for Dirty Dancing and the director of a certain cheesy Disney franchise which I do indulge in (shooting a snobbery peeker here) and, well, I would have walked from the West Side to Pasadena to see that.
After eighteen years in the vault, I have to say on the big screen Newsies impresses more than I thought it would. It's not great, but it is good. Story-wise it's quite solid and cinematically as a freshman directing endeavor it's ambitious in both scope and content. It's still Disney fluff, but it's good fluff. Fun fluff. Also, find another movie where Bale smiles as much as he does in this film -- It doesn't exist.
The benefit of seeing this screening wasn't just geeking out over Jailbait Bale and enjoying the movie on the big screen for the first time, it was the entertainment value of being in a packed theatre with other people who possess a similar, obvious love for this movie. This screening inspired me with the idea that Newsies should start a Rocky-Horror-style tour where you come dressed as your favorite character, sing along to the movie, dance in the aisles, yell back at the screen -- an elevated version of what occurred at this screening. This really is a movie that could benefit from audience interaction.
If this screening taught me anything, though, it's this: fluff movies that also inspire and instill hope are few and far between, and the lack of good, fun movies with this much hope are a contributing factor in the emerging cynicism of these young whipper-snappers of the late '90s-00s generation. Call it brainwashing, but I am one of the most cynical people I know. However, park me in front of a screen or TV and give me something fun, peppy, and emotionally uplifting and I turn (temporarily) into one of those perky, confident, hopeful, sing-songy heroines whose plucky persistence gets them through even the most troubling times. This lasts for about a day or two before I return to my curmudgeonly self, but while it's occurring life does seem more cheery and hopeful -- and THAT is something I think all of us could use a little more of in our lives.

04 August 2010

August is a Low-Down Dirty Month

There, I said it. Getting it out of the way early never seems to make a difference once the hellaciousness kicks in, but it's good to just put it our there. August is the all-consuming, rain-cloud following me everywhere, the universe saying you-haven't-dealt-with-enough-crises-this-year-so-you're-getting-them-all-at-once month of major suck.
So as a writer/creator I find myself asking: how do I work through this month of hell and get something productive out of it?

I have my Dracula-related bitching ranting critiquing keeping me sufficiently charged with critical energy, but it'd be pleasant to have something more creative, inspiring and/or original to help press through this time. It's not an issue of 'normal' writer's block; it's more like mental and emotional shut down which forces me to stumble through my days like a zombie, without the cool craving for brains.
I have a show to work on six days a week starting on Sunday... which basically means I will be working 14+ hours a day during the week plus 12-15 hours on the weekend. As inspiring as the show may prove to be, it's also a huge time suck, leaving little time to sleep and eat, much less contemplate and create.

Thus I am wondering: short of deciding not to sleep for the next month (which ultimately is not an option with my schedule), what can I do to find the time, energy, and drive to not only get through this month's inevitable shit storm, but come out of it with some type of accomplishment beyond mere survival?

My solution? Make it a goal to write every. single. day. Not just for work, not just notes for the show... even if it's just a rant in my own personal, handwritten journal about the insanity of life, as long as I'm writing for myself, I'm being productive.
Yet I won't stop there. Oh, no. I'm too stubborn and masochistic to choose only one goal.
I also plan on reading at least two full books this month - non-Dracula books. The (likely) best time for this being after rehearsals every night when my brain is racing with thoughts. Focusing on someone else's work, feeding on their progress and accomplishment, will hopefully spur me to further the first goal.
As a capper for all this, my final goal will be to complete an artistic project. Whether that ends up as a drawing, a piece of jewelry, a massive grouping of icons, a photo collage... whatever. I haven't decided yet, but something will be started and finished by the end of this month.

Any and all suggestions on sticking to this plan and not letting the rain cloud interfere with progress are welcome. I foresee a lot of 'hermit time' those handful of free hours I have during my days and many a Friday or Saturday night spent curled up with my laptop or sketch pad and a glass of wine...

01 August 2010

Reading/Book Meme

Since sometimes the writer's block keeps your focus on anything except what you should focus on, there will be occasional (hopefully very occasional) memes to give a little insight into my background and mask my blocks and/or current apathy.

1. Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
Depends where I’m reading, and what. However, I have been known to indulge, yes. Sometimes one needs biscuits or salty snacks to go with tea... or chocolate. Dark, dark chocolate.

2. What is your favorite drink while reading?

See above, re: tea.

3. Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I did in college, but it still bothers me some. I prefer to take notes either in a notebook or on my laptop.

4. How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ear? Laying the book flat open?

Yes. Guilty of all. I tend to use random scraps of paper as bookmarks, but in lieu will dog ear or lay open... only with paperbacks though. Hardcovers require some form of non-damaging marker.

5. Fiction, Non-Fiction, or Both?

Fiction. I know I should read more non-fiction, but when I want to read most often it is because I want to escape. It’s difficult to escape in non-fiction.

6. Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I try to make it to a chapter end, but I’ll stop wherever is necessary.

7. Are you a person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

Oh. Hell. Yes. It’s rare I get that worked up. Very rare. But it has been known to happen... (Joseph Andrews, Wuthering Heights, a couple Dracula-related novels, etc.)

8. If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

Not typically. I usually figure it out from context, but in the rare instance I don’t I may look it up, especially if I’m near Google.

9. What are you currently reading?

Fred Saberhagen’s The Dracula Tape, the Norton Critical Dracula, Leslie Klinger’s annotated Dracula and Syrie James’ Dracula, My Love (is there a theme there?)

10. What is the last book you bought?

Dracula, My Love

11. Are you a person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
See #9

12. Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

Always? Is always an acceptable answer? I tend to read at night, in bed and recently at work during breaks, outside.

13. Do you prefer series books or stand-alones?

It just depends on the story and characters. Some stories you can tell in one book and I’ll be satisfied. Others by nature require multiple books and I only doubt my liking for them when it takes too long to get the next book in the series (*cough* Jasper Fforde and Kate Cary *cough*).

14. Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

I always recommend Dracula (surprise!). I tend to ask what someone likes before offering recommendations, but I often recommend various books by Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Jasper Fforde, and my favorite books by women: The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

15. How do you organize your books? By genre, title, author's last name, etc?

Genre... then, depending on the genre I go by author or chronology (yes, my 18th-19th century English literature section is organized chronologically).

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