"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."

23 August 2011

Kicking Brain Puppies

Editing is hard. Just getting that out there for any and all aspiring writers. Slashing words you've grown accustomed to, and in some cases even grown to like (possibly A LOT), does not lead to great joy until you get yourself in a headspace capable of knowing what you do is meant to make your work stronger. Once you wrap your mind around that and accept it, it can make you stronger, too. After a while you begin to feel that just by deleting passages and correcting spelling and grammar issues for clarity, you have done what is necessary to make your work better.
Oh no, sweets.
There's more.
It's called re-writing.
And it's a pain in the ass.

Your editing mind has finally come to terms with its existence and you have a symbiotic relationship. You cut things out, and change some structural issues, and feel better about yourself, the process of editing, and your work as a whole.
Then you must go back and look at the work as a writer again, to fix plot holes, clarify and/or strengthen characters and relationships, add layering details... and your writer brain hides in a corner like a punished child, neglected by time apart from it and weakened and afraid from having the editing mind push it away while Editing Mode trumped all other needs for the work.
It's malnourished, depressed, and confused as to why you're seeking it out again with such joyful energy when three weeks ago you banished it in favor of the bullying Editor Mind.
Editor Mind doesn't care. It's happy to hang around and wait until you need it again (because it knows you'll come crawling back soon enough). Writer Mind, however, looks at you with plaintive eyes and quiet whimpers of sadness. You coax, you bribe, you get down to face it on its level and ask oh so sweetly for it to come back to you. It's wary, though. You wounded it and it hasn't recovered yet. It remembers screaming to you, wanting to be released while you had it locked in a closet when working with Editor Mind, pleading and begging to rewrite passages. You didn't listen. You needed to edit. You didn't want to shut away the Writer Mind, but you exist in a world of deadlines which Writer Mind doesn't understand. Editor Mind does, though, so you needed its help. Editor Mind is damn good at telling Writer Mind to STFU and mind itself. So good that Writer Mind has just been likened to an abused puppy for an entire paragraph in hopes that giving it the treat of extended metaphor might coax it out of hiding.

*le sigh*

This is one of those times I know I need to be a writer. It drives me, feeds me, pulses within me. Without it I am utterly lost. That ain't to say it's easy, though. Easy right now would be to chuck it all aside and turn to something that is... like knitting, or playing piano, or becoming an expert marks-person. I can't do any of those. I have a puppy to coax out of a corner so I can finish my novel, start writing query letters, and then have myself and my puppy kicked an inestimable number of times until someone coaxes us out of a corner...

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

22 August 2011


August is almost over, for which I am grateful. Yet today is shaping up to be the most Monday-like Monday I've had in quite a while. I'm on edge. My skin is almost tingling. Every time the phone rings I just want to pick it up and yell, "WHAT!?"
I need to write, but Writer Brain is buried under Editor Brain. I can't write so it makes me more stressed. I'm stressed, so I can't write. Cyclical bullshit of the psyche that makes me want to curl up in a ball with a mug of tea and a stack of books and ignore everything for a solid week.

I revert back to this post from last year:

"Adults need summer vacation.
When you're a kid, no matter how long or short your summer vacation is, it provides you with freedom and opportunities to be expressive, creative, social (or not), occasionally spontaneous and more carefree than you ever realize at the time. Once you hit high school (or if you're lucky, college -- in which case you have no idea how lucky you were/are), you get summer jobs and much of that freedom dissipates. It's still there in smaller doses, though. You're also still more free to travel -- even if it's with your family -- and goof off, because your responsibilities and ties are relatively small.
Then, you 'grow up,' get some form of job, and vacation is typically reduced to a couple weeks at most which you have to plan out in scary detail, usually not take all at once, hope that all of your plans work out, and in all that chaos actually find time to relax.
That is wholly inadequate. Pardon my language, but it's just bullshit. 'Maturing' into an adult does not mean you need less time to decompress, to be free in thought and action, to explore the world around you, to express your creativity or lack thereof, to be a social butterfly or a hermit... if anything you need more. I believe the problems with stress so many people experience in adulthood, especially in this country, stem from the de-institutionalized human need for time to deal with ourselves and our problems. Everything must be done faster, better, more efficiently, even coping with our problems and personal inadequacies. Work Harder has replaced Work Smarter and in that we have lost the time, the ability and the PERMISSION to take time when we need it. We steal cigarette breaks and long lunches where we can. We use a vacation day to deal with doctor appointments, bills, family issues and the like. We try not to use sick days (if we are lucky enough to have them) unless we're at deaths door. Why? Because jackasses creating corporate models have instilled in us that this is how we become better workers. It's not. It's also very much not how we become better people.
Even if you have a non-traditional job that is more flexible than most, you still need time off and not scattered for a week here or there. We all need actual breaks -- at least 2 weeks of solid time off, SEVERAL TIMES A YEAR -- to truly be productive, rational, sane individuals."

I don't claim to have much sanity to begin with, but what little I possess is currently on its own vacation with my mental equilibrium, patience, and ability to process information and daily life occurrences without wanting to scream.

19 August 2011

Welcome to Fright Night, Guy...

Let's get this out in the open right away: this is not your dad's (or cousin's or older brother's or your childhood) Fright Night. Yet it is still Fright Night.

It's fun and scary and over-the-top juuuuuuust enough to balance the serious moments. Yes, there are some flaws, sometimes in character logic, but it's a horror movie. Such is the world those people inhabit. Inevitably you make one distracted decision which throws someone you care about into potential danger and you don't realize it. And one over the top scene contains the least subtle acting I've seen in... a long time, and yet it sort of works. Don't want to spoil too much, but my crew deemed it the Hey Guy Can I Get a Few Beers Predator Check scene.

The writing is sharp, smart, sardonic, and even bittersweet when it needs to be. The setting (Vegas and its suburbs) is perfect for what they're trying to accomplish with plot, tone, and style.
The performances and direction cater to the writing and the actors. Yelchin balances former-geek-into-wannabe-popular-dick very well. Mintz-Plasse makes a strong argument for why listening even to your former friends when they tell you someone is a vampire is a good idea (and his post-transformation shtick is equal parts saddening and hilarious). Poots and Collette handle typical chick roles in horror with wit, charm, and grace. Farrell is the Stanley Kowalski of vampires -- a role which is crafted well with his abilities: hot, alpha male, douchebag who knows he's the shit. He's pure predator with an arrogance carried from hundreds of years knowing other men pale in comparison to his prowess and his pecs. Tennant is... magical. Yes, I'm a fan, but there are reasons and several of those are prevalent in this flick. Timing. Chemistry. Ability to switch from drunk wimp to drunk bad-ass in seconds. Multiple creative uses of the word 'fuck.'
It even has a few good surprises... and Chris Sarandon in a great little cameo.

It ain't perfect. It is very different from the original, but it succeeds on its own merits. It's one of the few movies since Scream to hit the balance between comedy and real horror right on target.
Also, it's just freaking FUN.

Now, if you want your horror films all scary and intense, I recommend you wait for The Woman in Black. As several sites have pointed out, the latest trailer manages to combine a myriad of ghost story cliches and yet still be tense and creepy. See for yourself.

17 August 2011


This is not a post referencing bodily functions... unless, like in my world, geeking out is considered a natural physical reaction to something awesome.
Or, as deemed yesterday, Poots!ing.
The reference relates to the very pretty and talented Imogen Poots and her presence in the upcoming Fright Night movie. One of my male friends needed some reason to have the same swoony, geek out feelings toward the film as I do... and I offered him Imogen Poots. Not only was this acceptable, but this fine young woman's name is now interchangeable as a verb (as in: I'd totally Poots that!) and an exclamation of awesome (see title).
Fun times with Poots!ing aside, one may ponder why this movie excites me so... well, sit a spell and I'll tell ya, Sal. (Not sure where that came from. I'm going to blame the Bonanza concrete truck spied this morning on the commute to work -- a red and yellow cement spinner with cowboy hats painted on it. It inspired a conversation of treating cement mixer trucks like cattle on the prairie and bucking broncos; we all must do something to stay awake before our morning caffeine fix.)

A full rundown/review of the movie will post on Friday after basking in the glow of the Thursday night screening, however, in anticipation of the release I feel it my duty to express why I am more excited for this movie than just about any film this year.

1. It's a real vampire movie -- with real vampires vampiring. None of this wussy Cullen sparkly mopey Anne Rice crap. Alternately, none of this utter predatory, near-wholly animalistic creatures with more resemblance to Gollum than to human. One of the previews contains a perfect assessment of what Jerry is, and what vampires were created to be: he's not brooding, or love sick. He's the shark from Jaws. That assessment alone excites me.

2. As I duck objects being hurtled at me, the original Fright Night isn't all that. It's fun. It's got some great moments. The cast is good. The writing's solid. However, if you're going to remake an 80s horror movie, this is one that, in the right hands, could use some TLC -- especially in our current climate of aforementioned lack of 'real' vampires in vampire movies. Put it this way: the original is good, but it's not The Lost Boys. And if anyone goes after that (again), I may have an aneurysm.

3. The cast. One of the aspects that first excited me about this film is the cast. All solid actors: and only one of them American. It does amuse me that a story about a suburban kid in suburban America fills itself with a wordly cast.

4. Marti Noxon. One of my favorite BtVS writers, who already in the previews has given a couple nods to Buffy-isms in the crafting of the script. Mostly in Peter Vincent's lines.

5. Peter Vincent. OK, the Vegas magician thing may seem like a Hollywood ploy to get more business into Vegas. Or just some cheap gimmick. And yet... we don't have the late night horror fests on telly anymore, especially ones hosted by has-been horror actors. We don't really have anything similar to it on TV, unless you count nostalgia clip shows which don't usually have hosts, only a series of semi-has-beens talking about said items in the clipfest. We do, however, have Vegas: the place where good, decent, and terrible-yet-popular acts go to die a long and slow death, possibly over the course of years. And let's face it, Celine Dion isn't likely to have great knowledge of the undead, and those Cirque people may be able to kick some ass but their mind-bending acrobatics are almost as creepy as a guy who wants to seduce you just so he can murder you via exsanguination before the morning. Magicians, though... those are the kind of buggers you can see having a dark past and perhaps just a little too much insight into the realm of the paranormal -- at least as much as any washed-up horror movie actor. I mean, any guy who drinks Midori straight is either a nineteen year old girl, or has some serious early adult life issues he's working through...
And, yeah, OK... it's David "My Doctor" Tennant. I would be going for this fact alone, but thankfully every article I've read and preview or interview I've seen has given me plentiful reasons for wanting to see this movie besides Shirtless!Doctor in 3D.

15 August 2011

Break Day

*deep breath*

Taking a break from the editing today. Partially because this friggin' day job demanded my attention for about six hours. Ugh. Partially because while I managed to accomplish week two's goal for editing last night, that means today my brain is pretty mushy. Two solid days of playing Look at the Screen, Look at the Page, Look at the Screen, Look at the Page, Look at the Screen, Look at the Page... yeah. Easy way to create brain mush, that.

However, I see it as a good sign that while taking a break today to gather my energy and thoughts, my brain itches to continue. That's quite a switch from "OMG HOLY HELL HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO EDIT ALL THE THINGS IN THREE WEEKS!"
Perspective. Dig it.

11 August 2011

Meanwhile, in the Depths of Editing...

As previously mentioned, I (perhaps foolishly, perhaps brilliantly) agreed to have a readable first draft of Novel the First completed in a couple weeks. After the initial shock of it all, I planned out a rough timeline of how to accomplish said goal.

Week one (now): Scan through binary (i.e. computer-stored) draft, seeking out obvious spelling and grammar issues, major plots holes, items that still need explaining, and logistical problems. If a solution cannot be found to one of the non spelling/grammar issues, mark it, describe the issue, and move on for now.

Week two (next week): Compare edits made on printed draft to those done above. Correct further grammar issues. Hopefully find solution to a few of the other problems.

Week three (oh, lord...): Fix all the things. All the things? Yes. Fix all the things like a mother-effing adult! All the things... or at least as many as I can.

Week four (I predict): Send this wicked child out to be viewed by other eyes. Panic. Begin work on query letters. Panic more. Drink. A lot.

Progress is... progressing. Not at the present moment, obviously. This is in part due to the fact that I have entered the repeated 'shit hitting the fan' section of the book (i.e. the last third) and even in Editor Mode there's a lot of emotional turmoil happening to the characters and it's difficult to look at that with a completely disconnected eye. It's the first time I've really done that to characters I created, so I'm quite new to this feeling.
Still, I continue to press on... or did until I decided to pick up A Feast for Crows and finally finish it. Getting my head out of Westeros is proving difficult. But hey, if I want throngs of readers to one day have themselves sucked into worlds I create because I nurtured those worlds, and my writing, then by the seven I shall find a way to exist in both realms.

After all, when your mind races with thoughts of your own writings along with thoughts of a master's, sleep is irrelevant, right?

Edit all the things!
Fix all the things!
Defend the Wall... erm, all the things!

08 August 2011

Inspire Me

The previous post made a to-do of my summer playlist, or at least a sampling of it. However, it focused on the music I listen to while driving, working, jamming… my writing music tends to central around only a handful of styles.
Sure, I’ll listen to a little stylistic music to get the emotional tone for some writings, but typically my genres for writing ‘seriously’* are limited. And since a not small number of posts here relate to writing and creating, I thought it about time to provide some of my most inspirational writing tunes. And by ‘some’ I mean enough to make a full length album.
It’s pretty soundtrack heavy due to my being a very visual writer and since music, good music, can drive a show or film with expert precision into a certain mood or emotional state it works very well for someone who sees pictures in their head as they write. Sometimes those pictures need coaxing from the right music to transform into words.
I have an extensive mix (actually several) of music to listen to while writing, as a good sprint can go on for hours and the more fuel provided for that sprint, the better. This list represents not necessarily the most outstanding or emotionally driving pieces, but ones I do turn to time and time again to get the creative juices flowing and the fingers working in time with the brain to transfigure mind pictures into fleshed out scenes.

The Kiss – Trevor Jones (The Last of the Mohicans): A great film score overall, yet despite the cheesy dialogue that accompanies this music in the film as a standalone musical work, this selection engages my synapses to fire in rhythm with my pulse every time.

A Game of Cricket - Adrian Johnston (Becoming Jane): Another score which stands out as a captivating work on its own. Anything that requires romance, a period feel, and/or a bit of cheek mixed with splendour is served by listening to this song and the score as a whole. Honourable mentions for: Selbourne Wood and Rose Garden

Marco Polo – Loreena McKennitt (The Book of Secrets): Instrumental with vocals is tricky because if the vocals don’t fit with the tune, or overpower it, it becomes too distracting. However, McKennitt has an extraordinary gift in blending her voice with the music she composes so when a song is instrumentally based and lacks lyrics her voice always compliments what the rest of the song already carries. While the album version is solid, I have a deep, visceral reaction and connection to the live version from Live in Paris & Toronto.

Loneliness of Six – Christophe Beck (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): One of the most overlooked series compositions ever. The music in Buffy (at least during Christophe’s main run in seasons 1-5) is some of the best television composing ever done. I listen to this cut most often because of the sweet melancholia it brings out, especially when the solo guitar comes in 2/3 through. Honourable mentions for: Remembering Jenny (with a haunting vocal by Anthony Head), Close Your Eyes, and Waking Willow

Madame De Pompadour – Murray Gold (Doctor Who, series 2): All right, let me be frank, there will be an entire post at some point dedicated to the incredible music composed for Doctor Who and Torchwood, and how each piece affects my writing. I truly cannot express how deeply invested I am in this music. However, if I have to choose one piece that succinctly captures all the sweetness, majesty, heartbreak, and hope that Gold’s music inspires, it is this one selection. Some days it gives me hope. Some days it inspires romance. Some days it causes me to break down into uncontrollable sobs. Yet I value each of those experiences equally and they always fuel some good writing. Honorable mentions: too many to name. Seriously. I’ll be doing a post just on Whoniverse music.

Sarabande Suite (Aeternae) – Globus (Epicon): One of very few tracks included on my epic writing playlist with actual words. However, at nearly eight minutes the lyrics make up a very small portion of the tune. I have a (no longer) secret goal to one day raise enough funds to make a trailer (to raise more funds) for my #1 pet film project. The trailer will be set to this song. And it will.be.epic.

The Funeral – Greg Edmonson (Firefly): Whedon shows take very specific stances with their music, and I love that about them. This piece came out of the composer after hearing the show had been cancelled. It’s the requiem for the series and never ceases to give me chills.

A Window to the Past – John Williams (Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban): While Williams’ composition for the first film stands as one of his best works, the second offered little in terms of new material to expand that standout effort. Yet when the tone of films changed with PoA and its new director, so did Williams’ music and the transformation took what was great about the first film’s score and amplified it (which is more than any subsequent HP score managed). This track is beautiful, haunting, bittersweet and emotionally complex as anything Williams has written since "Binary Sunset" for the first Star Wars film.

Maestro – Hans Zimmer (The Holiday): I’m a sucker for Zimmer (and his band of acolytes), I’ll just get that out there now. His compositions have a way of smacking me in the chest with powerful emotion and not letting go. If ever a romantic comedy deserved critical recognition for its score, my vote would be for The Holiday (appropriate as well as Jack Black’s character is a film composer). This selection opens the film, and when coupled with Kate Winslet’s incredibly opening VO sets the tone for what is a magical little movie with an amazing score. Honourable mentions for: Cry and Gumption

Jugglers – Javier Navarrete (Inkheart): Never underestimate the score of a ‘kids’ movie. A surprising number have incredible scores to accompany them. Inkheart is a strong example of this. The music overall is well done, but it’s obvious that (as with readers) the composer’s favorite character to write for is Dustfinger. Whenever I need a little boost in magic, I listen to this. Honourable mentions for: Dustfinger Disappointment and Meadows (also Dustfinger tracks)

My Name is Lincoln – Steve Jablonsky (The Island): Crap movie. Not outstanding score overall. This one piece? Incredible. (And it fits into the score of Elizabeth: The Golden Age almost better than that film’s real score)

Letter That Never Came – Thomas Newman (A Series of Unfortunate Events): See above re: scores to kid-oriented films. The music for this hits the tone of the film (and really, the books) directly on target. Newman knows how to pull at the heartstrings while still keeping a touch of hope and magic alive.

Samwise the Brave – Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers): Choosing a single track from these scores made my heart ache. The music of these films is intrinsically tied to the emotion and journey of the films. When they use bits of the score during the production diaries for The Hobbit, I get choked up. Yes, really. The epic efforts used in creating these films is felt in every piece of music and no matter what track I listen to, I can feel the fueling emotion of the entire trilogy within it. Honourable mentions for: The Council of Elrond, The Breaking of the Fellowship and The Grey Havens

PMs Love Theme – Craig Armstrong (Love Actually): I love this movie. Suck it. All the major score themes resonate with the tone of the film, making me feel equally hopeful and bittersweet with every track. When I need to press on to some great moment in my writing, this track always pushes me to the light as I picture little Sam tearing his way through Heathrow to have an epic tribute to The Graduate -- except The Graduate didn’t include Bill Nighy stripping on telly in the background.

Injection – Hans Zimmer (Missions Impossible: II): Yes, another Zimmer track. Yes, from the Notorious rip-off that is MI:II. Yet fresh off his epic achievement in scoring for Gladiator (with Zimmerite Lisa Gerrard), this soundtrack soars far above the provided film material.

The Moon Beckons – Nick Glennie-Smith (The Man in the Iron Mask): This score pretty much began my obsession with soundtrack music (well, this and The Lion King). An instance where the music fuels the film when it could have destroyed it, but the quality of the score helps me overlook the UN Committee style accents scattered through the film.

Lancelot Theme – Rohan Stevenson (Merlin: Series 1): Merlin’s score themes are limited, but the ones that are used time and again never grow stale. The music for the show covers playful and epic, romantic and dramatic, with its own stylish flare. It’s more subdued and grounded than a lot of fantasy TV series’ scores. The Lancelot theme is the main romantic theme in the show, and it’s haunting beauty is both inspiring and swoon-worthy. Honourable mentions for: The First Code, Merlin Rides Out and Lancelot Leaves

The Caravan – Jerry Goldsmith(The Mummy): Take the score of The Omen and do a mash-up with the score of The Wind and The Lion, and you have the score for The Mummy. The score perfectly captures the feel and tone of one of my favorite flicks. Equal parts epic adventure-comedy-romance and old-fashioned-horror. This piece always makes me want to go ride camels through the desert – and I hate sand. And heat. Honourable mentions for: Camel Race and Giza Port

Wolsey Commits Suicide / Finale – Trevor Morris (The Tudors: Series 1): Period-style scores in TV dramas are tricky to get right, and Morris not only got it right, he excelled at it. Any montage done in this series set to his music wields as much power as any of the best written scenes in the show. This piece in particular. Honourable Mentions for: Henry Meets Anne Boleyn, More’s Love of a King, and the title theme

Gabriel’s Oboe – Ennio Moricone (The Mission): I may have my own preferences and leanings when it comes to film scores, but that doesn’t mean I shy away from greatness even when it doesn’t fit my usual style. The score for The Mission is one of the most haunting, beautiful, accomplished works of film music ever created. This oboe-driven piece never ceases to inspire depth in my writing. (And how often do you get to use the phrase ‘oboe-driven’ in scores? It’s rare.)

Barbossa is Hungry – Klaus Badelt (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl): Again, Zimmerphile here, but the scores to the first and third Pirates films are, like The Mummy score, perfect matches with the film material. While I love all the music, this track holds special significance for me. When I want power and speed, I use this. Also, play this track through your best sound system at about ¾ full volume – you’ll shake walls. Promise.
Honourable mentions for: Will and Elizabeth, One Last Shot, and One Day (by Zimmer, from At World’s End)

So there you have it. Twenty-one tracks (off a playlist of about 650) that inspire me to write more, better, and often.
What music inspires you to create?

*'seriously' equates to writing with intent of creating something that may someday be viewed by others for critical and/or commercial use… or anything I write that I want to pour myself into fully.

07 August 2011

I'm a Writer!

Yeah... still coming to terms with that phrase. Despite encouragement from teachers over the years, including a college professor who once stated that everyone in our creative short fiction course WAS a writer already, just by being in the class. Despite all my in-progress works, years of blogging, completed projects of which I have evidence... saying I'm a writer with emphatic assurance makes me squirm inside.

Well, I have three weeks to get over that as yesterday I agreed to have a readable first draft of Novel the First done. Then I shall embark on the arduous journey of creating query letters for agents while allowing a privileged few friends take a gander at the book.
Nervous? Panicked? Freaked? Self-doubting? Wanting a time machine so I can return to yesterday and say, "NO! No way. That is way too soon, and I have life and stuff (do you know how much laundry I DESPERATELY need to do?)... and besides the book isn't perfect yet!!!"? Yep. All of those are happening right now.
Know what else is happening?
Excitement. Empowerment. Hope.
And a bit of fear-driven motivation... with a dash of screw you, Universe, I'm going to be a WRITER!

Deep breaths.


05 August 2011

Summertime Tunes

It’s once again time to shortlist some songs that currently have me keeping a grasp on sanity, and keep me from pushing people off Mullholland Drive who have no idea how to navigate a winding road and therefore have no business driving on it. These songs also keep my brain from dribbling out my ears due to the mind-numbing day job which takes away pieces of my soul everyday. (It’s like I’m creating horcruxes out of coffee mugs, envelopes, staplers and sticky notes, without the cool street cred of having killed people for them.)

Annabelle Lee & Come On Up to the House – Sarah Jarosz: Incredibly talented, sickeningly young bluegrass doll (yeah, I said bluegrass) creates haunting song with one of Poe’s most famous poems and mellows out a Tom Waits tune with some Appalachian soul.

Make It Out Alive – Hanson: More than a year after the release of Shout It Out, and I’m still finding gems on this album. Right now the horn and piano driven bounces of this song, coupled with Taylor’s always melt-worthy vocals make a song about how we’re all going to die eventually one of the most fun compositions to bop along with in the car.

Smotherin’ Me – Imelda May: One of several cute, pixie-like, Brit chicks I’ve come to adore after appearing on The Graham Norton Show. Rockabilly swings with the voice of a long-time smoking jazz musician who’s done one too many wails.

Summerboy – Lady Gaga: Sorry, Born This Way, but you’re really not up to par with The Fame (or The Fame Monster). I can actually hear GaGa’s real voice in this song, not the auto-tuned, over processed product in, say, “Judas.”

Vigilante – Lucas Grabeel: This is one of those tunes I am so addicted to yet have no idea why. It was stuck in my head for three days this week. Not complaining as I love Lucas’ sweet tenor voice, especially when it dips into the lower register, but this is just one piece of ear candy that inexplicably makes me really happy.

Latest Mistake – Mandy Moore: Much as I like Amanda Leigh, I still stand by Wild Hope as the most accomplished of her albums, and whenever I go back to it, I come away with a new (temporary) favorite tune from the album. The emotional push behind the lyrics adds true depth to this folk-pop-rock gem.

Anchored – Tony Lucca: A bit out of place seasonally with lyrics that begin Smells like Los Angeles, middle of winter, but the emotion which carries this ballad transforms even the hottest day into a cool, romantic, bittersweet evening.

When I Stop Running (Album) – TFDI: The grouping of Jay Nash, Matt Duke and (the incomparable) Tony Lucca is inspired. The album plays off their strengths as artists, yet even when singing their own solo tunes the depth added from backing vocals by the other two outshines individual performance. And the group efforts combine the trio’s folk-rock aspects in harmonious unity.
Best tracks: When I Stop Running, If I Was a Ghost, Sweet Talking Liar, Hurtin’ Kind (And it's only $1.99 for the whole mp3 album on Amazon...)

Honorable Mention:
Anything Darren Criss sings. No, Really. Seriously. Anything.

04 August 2011


Fear not, this will not be a post about boys in relation to my personal life (nothing to speak of in that area, which is another issue in itself, so we'll just pretend your mind never went there and just get on with our day, shall we? Good.).

This is about re-embracing the non-gender-specific empowerment in all of us. (Inspired, partially, by a post yesterday by Luv & Kiwi)

I'm pretty laid back when it comes to fashion. I like to be comfortable. Jeans and tees kind of gal, kicking it in flip-flops or chucks. I do like cute, girly tops, love corsets, and even a good flowy dress or skirt can make me feel like my feminine powers have increased. Yet I experience a different kind of empowerment when I don a pageboy cap, or a snappy vest. Don't even get me started on what kind of empowered mischief I could get up to if I owned a bow tie...

When I get girlied up, even if it's in slacks and a barely-breathable corset with a snazzy necklace that drops down almost into my cleavage, I feel womanly. I feel as though I could walk up to some good-looking bloke, plant one right on his lips, and he'd be dazzled by my awesomeness (rare is the occasion I do something like this, but I FEEL that I could, without consequence). It's a pretty great feeling, don't get me wrong.

However, when I embrace my dapper don side, pulling on the pinstripes, capping my head with a cap, aligning some cute tee or collared shirt with a vest I feel like... like I could take on members of either sex in a bar fight whilst giving redecorating advice to the owner between blows and singing a jaunty tune the whole time. It's like I grew phantom balls that come equipped with a power of fearlessness, attitude, and not giving a toss. All the female insecurities about opinions, looks, emotions, selfish behaviour, stepping out of a comfortable situation... it all just melts away.

Now, I'm not saying I'm trading in my beloved AE jeans or flip-flops or (heavens forbid) corsets for suspenders, ties, vests and a fedora. I wore a skirt and flip flops with the magical hat yesterday, and was comfy and cute all day. Still, it's an interesting realization that a bit of man-flare makes me feel powerful in ways no frilly skirt, deftly-tied scarf, or stiletto heels ever could.

What about y'all? Do you find a difference in how you think and feel when you add a bit of the 'traditionally opposite' sex's garb to your dress?

(It may be a kiss-o-gram outfit, but Amy Pond is totes bad-ass in her collared shirt, tie, and bowler)

03 August 2011

Un-Wall Me...

I posted the below in my more personal 'blog,' but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it's not just applicable to personal events and emotions -- because whatever crap you deal with (or avoid dealing with, more typically in my case) affects your creativity and the productivity of all creations. I'd like to believe that hermiting away to shun external (and internal) issues helps fuel my passions, but that's just another mask I put on to fool myself into thinking I can be really and truly depressed and still be productive.

I'm tired all the time, and while I think part of it is not taking care of myself I'm really coming to think it's more not listening to myself and trying to hard to be the best I can be in front of other people and in so doing feeling like I'm failing myself. Yeah, it's all emo up in here, and by the seven do I hate that... I hate being a shell. It's just hard to break out of the shell when you've built it around yourself to keep the bad from getting out. You don't realize you're walling in the good as well.

Interesting thing I've learned about myself just writing some of this out: I don't do well with other people trying to help me come upon revelations. It's just not how I'm constructed. Once I hit a revelation, though, I love help. But I won't directly ask for it (this is true of just about everything important to me). I like rowing the boat on my own, and if you climb in to help me you better strap yourself in and lash your hands to the oars because I'm liable to push you off after a bit. I just won't believe you're really in it with me until... well, you're really in it with me. As in, I fall overboard and almost drown; you pull me out, drag me to the shore, give me CPR and put us both back on the boat to continue rowing. Great strategy for entirely self-sufficient hermits. Horrible for anyone who even occasionally wants real, deep, meaningful interactions with other humans.

We all have ways of blocking other from helping us, and in turn ways of blocking ourselves from being receptive to help from any source. When the walls go up, even if it's to block others from seeing the bad, those walls create a divider of all energy and emotion. The longer they stay up, the harder it becomes to access the good, the desire, the passion, and even the necessity.

I am woman... hear me SMASH!

So there's your personal insight moment for the week...

01 August 2011

It's a new dawn...

It's a new day... it's a new mother-effing-August.

I could rattle off a litany of reasons why this month and I get along about as well as Severus Snape and Harry Potter in books one through six, but I'll just stick to the basics: August hates me, and in its (so far) ten year history of making my life hell, I have come to hate it.
It sucks a bit because two of my best friends were born in August, as were several members of my family. Still, this month more than any other (even March, which I have grudge matches with almost every year as well) seems to save up all the crap that could be hurled at me during the course of a year and dump it on me all at once. Like the manure truck that Biff drives into in Back to the Future. Only on a daily basis -- or at least that's how it typically feels.

Thus, like several other years, I look at the date on the calendar today and whilst pondering what horrible events might await me in the next thirty one days, I also start to ponder what I can do to cope with a life destined to be made of fail over that period of time. Unfortunately, due to recent spinal issues and a raging migraine, my mental capacity is sorely reduced right now.
I am open to any and all suggestions.

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