"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."

31 January 2011

Ice: The Next Generation

Or: Why male figure skaters rock my world
While I miss the live feed of figure skating events, and the sharp decline in full coverage over the past couple years (except for the Olympics), I do love having the power of DVR to replay great showings and fast forward through commercials. It allows me to get through an entire weekend of U.S. Championships in about five hours.

As usual, though I love all forms of figure skating, the men’s competition consumed most of my attention. Don’t get me wrong, women skaters are amazing and their programs range from stunningly gorgeous to energetically playful. It’s also fun to see how the costumes adapt for each skater over the years and performances. Ice dance is like ballroom dancing with deadly weaponry, so that’s fun. Pairs skating is watched with a similar intensity to race car driving – it’s enchanting and much more artistic than racing, but let’s face it, you watch partly in case someone goes flying off their partner’s hands and crashes spectacularly into the boards, judges and/or crowd.

Men’s figure skating gets a bad rep because it requires an attention to artistic detail unlike any other sport, and since there aren’t any females skating with the competitors people speculate as to why one would choose this sport over another. Seriously? Why does artistry need to be limited to certain areas of performance and sport? Anyone with the ability to heave their body several feet in the air, rotate 3.5-4.5 times and land on huge razorblades strapped to their feet is certainly fulfilling their athletic quotient, so what’s wrong with adding meaning and creativity to the footwork and spins that come between building your body up for aerial acrobatics with deadly weapons? /rant

Going into the U.S. men’s portion of the championships I was rather underwhelmed. No Evan or Johnny for the first time in many years and without my two uber-talent beauties to watch and pine over, what kind of excitement could there be? Plenty, it turned out to be. Ryan Bradley put on a show unlike any he’s done since he rode Evan’s spectacular showing at the 2007 championships. Abbot (predictably) choked when it counted, opening the door for the new generation of young cuties to step up. While I wasn’t overly impressed with Ross Miner’s program, he did skate very well and clean. Richard Dornbush’s long program to Sherlock Holmes deserved every point he garnered. What I love most about the top two finishers is they know how to combine athleticism, musical interpretation and artistry into their skating and still have fun. As wonderful as some of the European and Asian skaters are (and even Evan and Johnny), they sometimes take competing a little too seriously, forgetting that in this sport it matters just as much that you engage with your audience as much as doing your utmost to skate a clean program. While some skaters have innate ability to draw the spectators in, it’s often through dramatic performances and yet it’s been proven time and again (and now again) that having the support of the crowd and giving them a little wink or backflip now and again is just as important as any quad jump… ok, maybe slightly less important. But not much.

Thanks to the excellence of the U.S. men I’m now exceptionally geeked for the men’s competition at the World Championships (anyone who can keep Joubert off the podium has my vote). Now if only NBC would stop taunting us and actually show all the short programs in addition to the long…

28 January 2011

People doing cooler and better things than I…

It’s been a heck of a week. I wanted to write more and yet every time I sat down to type something interesting, intelligent, creative, spontaneous or whatever, nothing happened. Even my subconscious has become dull again. However, there are some pretty damn awesome people I know writing some pretty damn awesome things. So I will share those I lieu of being able to create anything worthwhile myself:

  1. Running to Tahiti Lovely, talented, bright, gorgeous Rebecca ranting about society’s obsession with physical female perfection and our inability as women to reconcile ‘healthy’ with ‘thin.’
  2. Luv & Kiwi First L.A. pal Tishy joins in my anti-snobbery campaign against aggravating hoity-toity literature types who refuse to find merit in anything that isn’t nominated for a Pulitzer or hasn’t been around for over 100 years. We don’t share the same love for the same type of books, but gal-pal and I do share an overwhelming love for books and disgust for those who stop taking anything you say seriously once the words, “Yes, I’ve read the entire Twilight series,” leave your lips.
    Also, she directed me to Apartment Therapy which is equal parts awesome, depressing and inspiring.
  3. Merry Maudlin Other than adoring the name of her blog, her style is marvelous and her posts always entertaining. This week she made an offhand comment about the developmental issues in Disney characters that not only cracked me up at work but made my little mind ponder the oddness of Disney psychology.
  4. Hyperbole and a Half I make no secret of my adoration for Allie and her hysterical drawings and entries. Sometimes I’m afraid she may be stalking me and patterning her development as an adult after my own horrid attempts and colossal failures, but if only my life were able to be painted in such entertaining ways… this most recent entry delves into the psychology of little girls who want to play ‘boy’ games and are more likely to figure out ways to stalk you like a wolf and gnaw you to death than worry about grass stains on their pretty dresses. Yeah, that was me.

25 January 2011

Special Author Days and a Special Planner

In my attempt to organize life, and writing endeavors within that life, I invested in a planner for this year. You know, one of those compilations of paper with printed dates on each sheet and spaces between those dates to write important occurrences in one’s life, bound together in chronological order for the calendar year -- you write in it with a pen or pencil. It’s not electronic and you cannot schedule annoying dinging/vibrating reminders, but you have a physical record of what you are doing, should do, might do, and have done, should you choose to record any of those items.
I bought this planner, because well, I am that kind of ridiculous person who needs more than dates on a page to hold my interest when it comes to planners, and assaulting my eyes with deadlines for writing competitions, fellowships, etc. and helpful prompts and information might actually get my fingers typing something more interesting than a blog entry (not to say blogs don’t have merit, but it’d be nice to scribble out a poem or story one of these days).
Since I purchased the planner a few days into January as it was far cheaper, I didn’t start cataloging my life until last week. The planner includes birthday of what I at first thought were famous writers. I noticed as the planner goes on it becomes more the dates of birth of random famous people that the editors apparently think interesting enough to include (Eliza Dushku, I love you, but why are you in my writing planner?).
Still, last week I noted that two of me ‘hero authors’ had birthdays last week. I do not see this as coincidence, nor do I intend to indoctrinate their births as a time for me to emulate their skills. However, I just wanted to mention, for the record, these amazing authors whom I admire and can only hope to one day emulate: Edgar Allan Poe (1/19) and Anne Brontë (1/17).
Poe is, well, a master to put it simply. Not everything he wrote was great, but this is true of all authors, but what was great was nearly miraculous. To be a master of two (especially now) rather disparate genres and truly be responsible for their rise in popularity is nothing short of genius.
Anne,for me, will always be the most talented and sane of her family. Branwell was a mostly-talentless drunk. Emily and Charlotte were intelligent women with general ideas of strong women... but had a major soft-and-blind spot for Byronic men, who sound great in theory. In reality, Byronic men pretty much equate to the mopey, abusive, narcissistic, drunken lout of a cad named Arthur Huntingdon. Plus, Anne penned my favorite quote by any author regarding gender equality/standards in writing, which is why it’s the subtitle of my blog.

24 January 2011

Write, Damnit!

As it’s the start of a new year (January's not over; the year is still very young!), articles like this one pop up all over the interwebs, in addition to the explosion of articles in print which appear like spring daffodils that seem to sprout from nothing, shooting out their yellow-belled cheer overnight. Except cheer and writing don’t always mix. Sure, there’s cheer when you get a new idea, start plugging along with inspiring projects, or finish any work you feel even approaches half-decent, but the process of forming a plan to write consistently, committing yourself to knowing hours stretch before you when you may stare, aggravated, at a blank page or screen... it’s enough to stress you out to the point that even having an idea is a daunting notion.
However, a writer who’s not writing isn’t a writer. As difficult as inspiration is, and as impossible as it is to force inspiring thoughts to manifest themselves, the craft portion of writing only gets stronger with use. Thus, like many others who dabble and drown in the world of writing, I’m attempting to use a new year as a fresh start. So far my concepts and ideas have failed, however in blaming myself (and some pesky germs which knocked me down and rendered me incapable of focusing on anything except breathing and remaining conscious during work hours for two weeks) I also choose to blame technology.
First there’s the distracting nature of the worldwide beast that is the internet. I mean, this place has (nearly) everything and can feed it to you whether you want it or not. That need to feed yourself (usually) useless information becomes highly addictive and counter-productive to doing what you want to and/or should be doing. It can also make you painfully aware of your failings, seeing what others are accomplishing while you’re merely reading about how awesome they are and thinking about how awesome you’re not (yeah, I do this). Lest we forget, technology also gives eleventy-billion more ways to record our ideas and present them to the world. The stream of endless options coupled with global pressure to put out something useful and/or worthwhile can further our own insecurities, and let’s face it, writers are (generally speaking) a pretty insecure lot.
Thus, in addition to that nebulous yearlong goal of ‘writing more,’ which will hopefully soon lend itself to more measurable items within that goal, I’m going to try and stick to a goal of ‘useless internet less.’ This means instead of spending countless times refreshing facebook or twitter to see if anything spontaneously cool, funny, inspiring or random has occurred in the past few minutes (you do this too sometimes, admit it) I hope to use those F5 moments to continue writing when I get stuck, or read a few pages of a book, or (if I must stay plugged into the interwebs) search for something useful and potentially educational or inspiring.

Which prompts me to ask: what are your own writing/creative goals for this year, and what tips, if any, do you have for keeping distractions and that nagging, nay-saying self-doubt at bay?

19 January 2011

I am The Doctor

This week, in the midst of work hell, a cold that will not die, and life just doing its best to kick my ass down in despair, I thank the maker for bestowing upon me musical goodness in the form of the two most recent Doctor Who soundtracks.
For those who think television scores do not equal their filmic counterparts, I urge you to listen to Christophe Beck's music from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (series 1-5) (and pretty much any composer who worked on a Joss Whedon series), or the music for Merlin the series, or Trevor Morris' first season music for The Tudors, or the compositions for Torchwood, but most of all I would refer you to Murray Gold's scores for all five(presently) series of Doctor Who. Each series has its own feel and tone to fit the season, and yet each one builds upon the last. The two most recent soundtracks reflect the final specials with David Tennant's tenth Doctor and the recent series with Matt Smith as Doctor the eleventh.

The two-disc specials soundtrack covers less episodic territory than previous albums, but more of the scope of each episode. The music follows each special in theme and style: the first two being mostly light and adventurous with a touch of sadness, the third much darker and chaotic, and the final two specials (on their own disc) culminating four years of this Doctor's life in an epic, exciting, painful, heartbreaking ride.
Also, anyone who has seen the end of "The End of Time" and does not need to fight the urge to sob at hearing Vale Decem has cobwebs where their soul should be.
Yet the Doctor moves on, as he always must, and following the regeneration the album concludes with starting music for the eleventh Doctor and the journey begins again.

As a new Doctor, with a new companion, the entire thematic composition of the music has changed and yet is still completely relatable to the show overall and fits magically and uniquely with this new series and its Doctor. The new Doctor is more excitable, quirkier, spastic and madder than his predecessor and the music reflects this; yet he still holds perhaps the greatest mind, the fearlessness and the might of a timelord. There's also a new sense of whimsy and mystery which he projects for his new companion, and his themes reflect this. Amy Pond's theme and style capture not only her alpha female attitude and youthful energy but the magic we see in here eyes as she discovers the universe in terms of traveling with the mad man with a box.

While this is all one giant love letter to Murray Gold, I do have to conclude by saying that of the two compilations, it's the series 5 soundtrack which makes my heart swell, the tears well and imagination thrive. Still, you can't really go wrong with any collection of tunes from the new Whoniverse.

18 January 2011

Vexing Visages

Though not always...
While not always on a wide range of topics, my dreams lately are more vivid and, in theory, inspiring than they've been in months. Apparently actually allowing myself the time to sleep as well as not running ragged with work and theatre (together) allows my subconscious some reign over sleep and let's my fears, thoughts, and fantasies have more sway. Disturbing as some of these dreams have been (woke up in a cold sweat the other night from dreaming about being an 'accidental' baby killer -- of what would be my own sister), the quality of construction and vivid sensory material makes them seem not only ultra-realistic, but a welcome distraction to life -- and so much better than months of dreaming about 'the show,' my cast, work, etc. (Apologies to cast & crew of 'the show' and any co-workers who might read this. You're all awesome, but I see you in waking life and don't need a constant stream of you in my dreams.)

While upon waking and getting into my day these dreams rarely stay clear in my mind (I might need to start a dream journal), some of the images stay clear for hours. Right now I have the image of my dream forest -- a tangled web of decaying trees which appeared more as twisted, skeletal branches reaching in every direction to form a thicketed path to wander through, daring anyone who approaches to enter and emerge from the same location. This dream also featured a young man: tall, pale, with dark, spiky hair and piercing eyes, who sometimes appeared translucent, other times as a silhouette, but always in the realest of real physicality. The only time I remember seeing his features and form in dreamy technicolor came when we were reunited after many separations and he reached out a hand, touched my face and became as clear and solid as anyone before kissing me.

I've had several Colin Morgan centered dreams, likely due to my playing Merlin every night to fall asleep. Some are with Merlin, others with Colin. All are pretty damn pleasing ;)

Whatever the content and caliber of these dreams, all those I remember upon waking leave me with very specific emotions tied to the dreams, as though they continue even during wakeful hours, and a pressing need to do something about or with the images which my mind creates. I don't know what that something is, but I hope my subconscious continues building new worlds long enough for me to get something productive from all this.

12 January 2011

The Dangers of Taco Bell Dinners

Or: Why I should not watch anything involving technology and Summer Glau before sleeping

I'm pretty sure it was the new burrito with the flaming hot Fritos which tipped the scale...

Last night I experienced some of the most vivid dreams I've had in quite some times. Some of them involved friends and co-workers, which is a trend as of late since all I do is work, theatre, occasionally binge drink and pass out from exhaustion. Still, others became quite imaginative.
In one, hummingbirds hounded me like I was a sugar-coated feeder, which would have been cool for anyone who likes little objects flitting around them incessantly like nature's hurtling disco balls. Though there was a point where Merlin (don't judge) managed to slow down the little aerial monsters so I could appreciate their minuscule beauty before they resumed chasing me... and then my sweater became coated in bird crap and I washed it with a sponge which turned its deep turquoise into sunshine yellow -- a color that looks terrible on me and caused me much sadness.
Another dream involved tossing and turning in bed, constantly looking at my alarm clock and dreading the time when my alarm would go off that was so real when I woke up I was extremely vexed with my subconscious as I thought all that had actually transpired and yet still had fifteen minutes until my real alarm went off. Brought back memories of the dreams where I wake up, start my morning routine, sometimes even leave the house, all realistically vivid, only to wake up and still be in bed needing to 'really' do all those things.
The one that made me pat my subconscious on the back, however (even though it's a warped idea), was this dream:
In the not-at-all-distant future, scientists working for the government were either ordered or decided it would be a nifty idea to implant long-term suggestions into our minds to lead us to one specific event. After much trying and some success with mundane and even inspiring ideas, they decided, as science and the government working in cahoots always do, to attempt using this power for military 'gain.' Using some sort of sketchy brain technology (it was never clear if was an implant or Dollhouse-esque electrical mind manipulation or some combination), the idea they implanted in two individuals was for them to become involved, romantically, with each other in college, marry shortly thereafter, then enter into a suicide pact and kill themselves. The concept being that an idea that serious and intense might not take because it defied inherent survival instincts.
These two individuals do connect in college, but don't end up together. The woman meets another guy in college, she marries him shortly after and they start a life together. The guy dates a string of women during and after college, finally marrying in his late twenties. Just before he turns thirty-five, his wife unexpectedly dies of an illness. Having long ago given up on their Romeo & Juliet of mindwashing, the government leaps with joy when the implant kicks in for the man after the death of his wife (Yes, they keep tabs on them. Their parents are plants for the love of conspiracy.), while the scientists start to worry (guilt after the fact -- that's science for you). The man becomes obsessed with the woman he dates in college and reforms a friendship with her. Though she's a little creeped out by the guy, the woman is also inexplicably (she thinks, poor soul) drawn to him. They embark on their odd and slightly creepy friendship and all seems eerie-yet-well until hypno-boy starts getting a little obvious with his obsession. Woman starts to worry just about the time her husband becomes suspicious and before she can say, "I've made a horrible mistake and something terrible may happen," her faux-Romeo goes nine shades of Godfather assassination attempts on her and her family and, well... then I woke up.

My subconscious was apparently too uncomfortable to follow through with this story line, so I offer it up to the universe for a conclusion. Unless I come up with one first. And if some day I see this unfold in a movie or bestseller which doesn't come with a paycheck for me, consider yourselves served.

11 January 2011

Utterly Random Links for the Celebration of the Internet

Cross-eyed Opossum Capturing the Hearts of Germans. This is the actual title; I do not lie. Thanks, land of some of my ancestors for showing that you are just as capable of making a spectacle out of a misfit-yet-adorable animal as any other insane nation (like the U.S.).

Bestsellers on Your Birth-date... because bibliophiles need more random lists and information. No, really, we do.

More Free Parking Could Disappear in L.A. and meanwhile billionaires in the hills continue to rake in money while the rest of us get poorer, unemployment does not go down, the 'budget' stays unfixed, and no one seems to really give a shit.

Meanwhile, the Nepalese are added to the list of governments more refined (in some respects) than ours by adding a third gender to census forms. Tranny hookers on Sunset rejoice.

And in movie news, David Tennant could be Legolas' daddy in The Hobbit... which is almost as cool as he and Catherine Tate starring in "Much Ado..." in the West End. Almost.

07 January 2011

I'll never be cookies.... yay?

Still trying to decide if this quote is inspiring or depressing... or perhaps both.

If you write a story today, and you get up tomorrow
and start another story, all the expertise that you put into the first story doesn't transfer over automatically to the second story. You're always starting at the bottom of the mountain. So you're always becoming a writer. You're never really arriving.


New World, yes... but better?

With the broadcast announcement of Torchwood: The New World today, it occurs to me I've never really shared thoughts on post-Children-of-Earth Torchwood.

Do I want more Torchwood? Yes.
Am I excited for new Torchwood? Yes.
Am I glad that Russell is head of production and Barrowman and Eve are still in it? Absolutely.
Am I psyched for new, 'hip,' Americanizing of the show? Ehhhh...

See, the problem with American shows is, well, they're American. The fact that the show is a co-production between the BBC and Starz gives me hope to be sure, seeing as how you cannot put a show like Torchwood on NBC and expect it to have the kind of life it had on BBC. Never going to happen because our major networks, and even regular cable networks, are far too conservative. Also, major networks have a completely different set of standards than the BBC because we're still puritanical infants who are only allowed certain flashes of life in our TV viewing lest we all become degraded, sexual beasts... and yet we have shows like The Real Housewives of Shut Your Whining Gobs You Spoiled Bitches and I'm a Meth Addict, Get Me Out of This Hoarders' Intervention.
So that's my rant on American TV, and why I fear shifting Torchwood to our shores.

Am I excited for new cast members? Ehhhh....

One of the greatest strengths and greatest flaws of the Torchwood world is that in its brutality, hardly anyone lives very long. We have the benefit of one character who will not completely die (not on this show anyway... unless we go all wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey to the extreme, we already know what happens to the dear Captain in the end), and the likelihood of Gwen being offed anytime soon is highly unlikely, but otherwise every major character on the show has been axed already. Do I really want to start over with new, primarily American, characters and either grow to love them only to see them killed, or hate them from the beginning and count the days until they get blown up or shot? I don't know. Again, not to rag on yank actors, but having 'replacement' Tosh, Owen and Ianto does not sit well with me, especially when they're not Brits.
I guess it comes down to liking my British TV to stay British... which is probably why I'm less than enthused about Shameless.

And really... I'm just not over Ianto yet. At. All.

06 January 2011


Spurred on by this article, and in an attempt to fire some writing synapses in my sinus-addled mind, I thought to give a go to one of the oldest of writing advice columns: what not to write, or rather what words not to use while writing.
Here's the rub, though. Everyone has their own personal pet peeves which turn their editor and reader minds against certain words, phrases, and idioms. Some people swoon when reading about characters becoming besotted with another, while others cringe at the word and feel as if some has run over their reading mind with an old mop when seeing that particular word. Still, writers love to critique, and so we continue to pluck away at others' writing with abandon, usually because by picking apart what someone else writes we can (hopefully) also be guided to flaws in our own writing. I write in a style similar to a Victorian novelist who crashed landed in the 2000s to pick up some colourful metaphors before jaunting to the 1920s for a healthy dose of cynicism and returning again to the 1890s just in time to see all the hopefulness of the industrial age crumble into decadence and decay.
This means I can be very wordy, or very succinct. Vulgar (at times) yet creative. Punctuate with nonplussed indifference to rules. Create my own grammar when it suits me, and yet still cling to a few basic rules of writing etiquette as I see fit. Very often hopeful and sarcastic within centimeters of each emotion... and damn do I love me some ellipses. Where does that leave me with words?
I enjoy juicy, crunchy, snappy words with depth and intrigue, but not when they come across as condescending or perambulating manner that drags on without purpose. Yet I love the Victorians, go figure -- except that when the Victorians wrote what we now consider to be high falutin' sentences they were a) not infrequently being paid by the word and b) using language which was generally common to the public. For people who love Hemingway, there's much to be said for short phrases with clear meaning yet unclear symbolism -- and lots of synonyms for water.

So yeah, maybe one of these days I'll get around to doing one of these oh-so-popular, just-look-how-knowledgeable-I-am posts about words that annoy me with over-usage, 'cause yeah, they're out there. However, I'm still too much of a general Word Geek and Writing Geek to deny people the joy of using words which come naturally to them by calling them out as 'weak' or 'overused' or 'pedestrian' or... whatever.
Write with the words you know, the words that strengthen your writing in a way that fits your style. And read. Read. Read. Read. If you continue to do both these things your writing will strengthen with time and experience. Then one day you, too, can engage in a battle of word wits over what the most boring and unnecessary words are... and sit back and watch as today's 'walk' becomes tomorrow's 'meander.'

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