temporus: (moremagic)
2015-03-31 11:36 pm
Entry tags:

Theatre of Illusion.

We had a busy, but magic filled weekend.  Saturday, we took the kids to see The Spencers, Theatre of Illusion.  The magicians Kevin and Cindy Spencer performed at our local community college theater, but do not be fooled.  The production was fantastic, worthy of a far bigger stage than that might make it sound.  The show tours the country so if they come by you, I highly recommend it, especially as a family fun activity.   (You can find details about them and their schedule here:  http://www.spencersmagic.com/

Even more awesome, this was a special needs friendly performance which generally means the flash and bang are cut back so as not to overstimulate those kids with a sensitivity to that.  The style and showmanship were top notch, and I can see why they've won many awards for their performances.  They engaged the audience in a way that invited you to be a part with the show, not just sit back and be clinical observers.   Oh, sure, they had the typical volunteers from the audience, but it wasn't just that.  It was the story telling, the art, of the performance that made you feel like you had a connection to these people, instead of just being up there and doing trick after trick until done.  You can tell that they have fun, even though I am certain they must spend a lot of time doing the same performances over and over again.

But what's awesome about them isn't just that they do magic, they also do outreach to the community.  Sunday, they held a special class at the theater for kids with special needs.  We got to go, and learn a few tricks along with a class of great kids.  I really felt that the Spencers and their whole crew knew how to help the kids feel comfortable and empowered up on stage performing their new learned skills for everyone.  They even encouraged the kids to develop their own story to go along with their tricks and give them the experience that magic is as much about sharing stories as it is about fooling the eye.

Then, home, my son was not content enough with what he's learned (we also bought a small kit they sell as fundraisers to support their outreach program teaching special needs kids) and now he's spent every spare moment he can watching a show that aired some years back where a magician reveals all the big secrets on how they perform their illusions.  It's been magic morning noon and night.  But I don't mind.  I keep hoping I can get him to do more than just read/watch/observe the illusions and to actually focus long enough to learn more than a handful of tricks.  He's got the energy to be up on stage, and he crafted a very fun (if very convoluted) story for his one trick he got up to perform.  Now to help him direct it.
temporus: (dawn)
2015-03-17 11:38 pm

Insurgent

Last night I was fortunate enough to get to the NYC premiere for the moving coming out this coming friday, Insurgent.   It's the second movie in the series, Divergent, by Veronica Roth, and it's based upon the second book.  Insurgent.   I have not yet read the books, though my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the first movie, and I would say we enjoyed the second one as well.  Though, as with any second movie in a series, it has some bumps along the way.  The visuals and effects on the movie are stunning, and for that alone, I'd say its worth seeing in the theater on the big screen.  If you can't, then at least try to see it in High Def when you see it on the small screen, as I think the cinematography warrants it.   For me, I suspect that if you compare it to the novel, they had to make sacrifices in the story to get it to fit in the roughly two hour window they had to tell the tale.  At the after party, there were a few young girls who were going around getting actors and even Veronica to sign their copies of their book.  (OK author friends, yes, I think that's a goal to go on the list, get to be at your own NYC Premiere for a movie based on your own novel, right?)  I glanced at the novel and it was quite thick.  (And can I just say, all the actors at the after party seemed quite wonderful, taking pictures with fans, signing, etc.  Very approachable, etc.)  In any case, with just a quick glance, it seemed clear to me there's no way they covered all the intracsies of the book in that movie, and so I'm wondering what got cut short for time.  I think Peter Jackson has spoiled me, because now I always want the extended cut to watch on DVD to see what parts of the movie had to be left out so they could keep it in a reasonable amount of time.  I plan at some point to go back and start reading the books, to hopefully pick up on those missing bits.  Though I'm tempted to wait until after the final movie so I don't spoil myself for the ending.  That's a hard choice.  I tried to do that for Harry Potter and I couldn't last past movie/book three.  With a shorter series, maybe the will will be strong enough.

If you are a fan of YA Dystopias, I think you'll very much enjoy it.  If you're the average moviegoer, it's a good film, though if you haven't seen Divergent first, go see it before trying to hit up this one in the theaters.   I think if you aren't familiar already from reading the books or seeing the first film, you are going to have a hard time keeping up, and the first movie definitely shoulders a huge portion of the world building that isn't repeated in the movie.  (It might be in the book, I do not know.)
temporus: (reading)
2014-06-23 05:10 pm

Goal met: 30 books.

As of this morning's drive in, I've "read" 30 books this year.  That meets my goal I set back in January for the whole year.  If I keep up this pace, I might well hit 60 books.  But I'm deciding right now, I need to start backing off.   Too much reading, not enough writing.  It's important to figure out the balance point.   Last year, I definitely did far more the former and not enough of the latter, and it feels like I'm falling into the same trap now.  So...reading will be dropping to a far lower priority for the rest of the year, away from a need to do, to a nice to do.

Time to dig in and get some words on the page.
temporus: (dawn)
2014-06-20 10:48 pm

School's out.

While I'm tempted to find an Alice Cooper video, to go with the title of the post, I'm not sure that ole AC is appropriate for the Pre-K and 1st grader.

The boys are both excited to be done, and I think at the same time a bit sad.  I remember how that feels.  You crave the comfort and familiarity of a teacher you know, and a class filled with kids you have made friends with.  But you also look forward to moving forward, the feeling of accomplishment that means you've advanced to the next grade.  Kind of like finishing off a level in a video game, and advancing to find yourself on the next board.  (OK, maybe that analogy is a stretch.)

I'll leave you with this snippet of conversation between Little Man and Younger Son and myself.

Me (to Little Man): After tomorrow, you won't be a first grader any more.  You'll be...
LM: A second grader.
Me (to Younger Son): And you won't be in Pre-K, you'll be...
After a pause..
YS: I don't know.
LM: A kindergartener.
YS (pumps his fists into the air): Yes!
LM: Have you been waiting your whole life to be a kindergartener?
YS (pulls his fists down his chest in a sort of victory gesture): Yes!

Hope you all have a fabulous start to your summer.
temporus: (Music)
2014-06-16 11:45 pm

Color me Bluegrass

So, Amazon recently launched their Amazon Music Prime promotion thing.  If you happen to already be a Prime member, there's a whole bunch of songs you can add free to your purchased/stored music.  (I've been using Amazon MP3/Cloud music for a few years now, instead of iTunes, because I already have an investment there, and it seemed ridiculous to have tons of disparate segregated pockets of tech solutions.  I'm sure at some point that's going to bite me in the ass, but seemed like a good thought at the time.)  So, you know, I have to try it out, and it works essentially the same as buying so no big deal.  Might as well browse to see if there are any albums or artists I'd been meaning to purchase but hadn't had the spare cash for.  (Most of my music is my own CDs I owned and burned up so I can access on the cloud.)

Well, I ran across this selection:  Bluegrass Tribute to Classic Rock

Yeah, that's right, classic rock songs turned into Bluegrass tunes.  Color me intrigued.   First song:  Come Sail Away by Styx.   Sold.   (Which, in this case just means I clicked on add to library, so not really costing me anything.)  Styx.  Journey.  Kansas.  Steppenwolf.  Queen & Bowie.  It's totally a blast.  I am not, by any stretch a Bluegrass expert, though I do like Banjo, and keep meaning to get around to learning to play, but that's a whole nother thing.  So I can't tell you if this is quality bluegrass for the true fans, or just a gimmicky way to enjoy some familiar songs.  But, in my opinion, they are doing a good job here, so I snagged a few others from the series.   Might turn it into my new writing jam.

In particular, I'm a big fan of people who take an existing song and make it into their own style, and for me, I think that's why this works.  (Though I will admit to a little cognitave dissonance for the chorus of Joan Jett's I Love Rock and Roll with a bluegrass sound.)  Check it out if you're a fan of Bluegrass, or just like listening to different takes on songs you're totally familiar with.

temporus: (yawn)
2014-06-13 11:36 pm

School year ending, summer is rising.

There's one more week of the school year for Little Man and Younger Son.  And it strikes me, as that time nears, how odd it is, that for so many years of our lives (well, mine, in particular after 20 years of school) how odd it is to have a year ending at the cusp of Spring into Summer.  For reasons I can't really explain, other than long attenuated habit, this time of year feels more like the "end of the year" for me than does the transition of calendar years.  I'm sure those in education probably share that trait.  And of course, it follows too, for many, if not all of us, to think of the summer as a different season.  The time of going away.  Vacation.  The beach.  Swimming.  I'm sure the list is varied for everyone, but somehow, the transition into that time is like going off into faerie land.  More so, I think for children who in fact get a very long break from the day to day life of school, and homework.   Perhaps I'm waxing nostalgic about summers because I've got plans in two weeks to meet up with a bunch of old neighborhood friends from my carefree bike wherever I want all day long and do whatever I feel like with the gang days.  They were quite good days filled with crazy adventures.  Insane risks.  Fights.  Friendship and bonding.

It brings to mind how different the world is today, in many ways, from those days, oh, only a few decades ago.  Sure, there's plenty that's just the same.  But I can't imagine the unmitigated trust my parents had in me that I had 8-10 weeks of the year where I would essentially disappear into the ethereal landscape with my friends and just who knows what sort of mischief we got ourselves into during those hours, until, when it was dusk enough to realize it, I'd meander on home (if I hadn't stayed out too late already and my folks or brother would come get me.)  And of course, things were different because it only mostly seemed as if we were unsupervised kids.  But our families had roots in the neighborhood.  Aunts and uncles that saw us pass by.  Kept tabs on the kids.  Knew enough to tell when we were pushing the boundaries that bit too far.  (Well, mostly.  I know we got away with some things we never should have.)   But today, families spread out more.  We don't have the same roots.  My children don't have aunts and uncles and great aunts and uncles, and great cousins, etc. peppered all through our block.

Of course as an adult, you don't get to visit faerie land the same way.  As a child, you saw it as wonder.  That freedom.  That blank slate.  That moment when you, and your companions could take on any adventure you could dream.  As a adult, as a parent, you see the dangers lurking in that wood.  And the terror that hides around the corner.  And it makes you anxious.  Anxious to let the little ones go off in carefree fashion.  A conundrum, how to keep them safe, without cutting off their own ability to explore, to wonder, to do?  I'm sure it's a conundrum that has faced countless generations before, but, well, this is the time I stare into it.  Of course, my boys are young yet, so I have time to ponder it before I have to decide how we will live it.  But faerie land is there.  Every year, waiting--waiting to share its promise of fireflies and moonlight, and thunderstorms and sun showers, open fields, and dark woods.

temporus: (reading)
2014-06-11 10:31 pm

The Sound of Purple.

So the other day, Audible had a daily deal on The Color Purple by Alice Walker.  Super cheap.  And it was narrated by the author.  This is one of those books that I've been meaning to get around to reading.  And I had a feeling that, getting to hear it narrated by the author would either be totally awesome, or a flop.  If it's a flop, I could just switch to reading the actual book, which is somewhere here in the house, though it would take me a bit to find it.  I had an instinct though, that the narration would be good, and it is.

You might think that reading by the author is always top notch.  After all, if anyone understands the nuance of the words on the page, it should be the author, yes?  While there's certainly some truth to that, not every author is meant to be a narrator.  Oh, sure, it's well expected that authors will go to events and give readings of their works, especially either their famous ones or their newest.  That comes with the territory.  But not everyone has the gift of oration.  Not every author can get up and give a great reading.  Many of us, well we make do as best we can.  Some, however, are exceptional.  Professional narrators can definitely make a book even more enjoyable.   When an author approaches or reaches that level, well, that's a wonderful bonus.  I think Alice Walker is right there.   So, it is a pleasant and happy surprise instead of a disappointment.  Now, I'm not done with the book just yet.  So, not going to discuss the contents or anything, other than to say it is exceptionally good to remind myself that I do need to continue to branch out from my usual fictional stomping grounds.  There's nothing wrong with enjoying fantasy and sf, but it's important both as a reader, and as an author to make efforts to keep the mind open to many different types of stories.  If you let yourself settle on just one kind of tale ever, you'll miss out on large territories of great stories.   Maybe it takes you out of your comfort zone, maybe it pushes you a little.  But I think that's just fine.

What book have you read lately that took you out of your usual stomping grounds? 
temporus: (landsknecht)
2014-06-09 09:56 am

Monday's broke.

Woke up this morning, rainy, bleary day.  No one really wants to get moving, and yet somehow we did.  Wasn't exactly in racing form, but the kids got out the door and to school on time.  Unfortunately, I got into my car, and....nothing.  Not even a meager attempt of the car to turn over.  The battery is dead. (Again.)  Time to sit on AAA and hope they come soon to get me started.  This is not an auspicious way to start off the work week.
temporus: (dinner)
2014-06-06 01:43 pm

This year's Viable Paradise applications, closing June 15th.

In 2012, I was fortunate enough to be accepted to the Viable Paradise workshop.  I had excellent instructors, fantastic staff, and a spectacular cohort of writers that joined me in a journey to learn what we could and improve our craft.  I made a great many friends, and I find myself cheering on these great writers as they each build their career.  Every publication by one of my fellow VP 16 graduates gives me goosebumps.  These are good authors, and I'm thrilled to have been witness to some part of that journey with them.

If you are looking for a week long writing workshop/retreat that specializes in SF & Fantasy, this might just be it.  You can find more information here:   http://viableparadise.net/

I will be forever grateful for the time I spent there among that group of talented individuals, and should you apply, I hope you have as informative, inspiring, and empowering time as I did.
temporus: (dawn)
2014-06-04 10:31 pm

Lego my spaceship.

Family did an impromptu lego space ship build.  Everyone grabbed some legos and made something up.  We have a strange assortment of blocks, so, here's the results.

Pictures behind the break. )
temporus: (dawn)
2014-05-30 10:32 pm

Cardinal vs. bumper.

My boss's cubicle at work is situated such that when I talk to him, I'm also looking out the window overlooking the parking lot.  We're right on the ground level, so I can see all what's going on out there.  And, being that I'm imminently distractable in many ways, when I'm talking to him, or listening, I will catch a bit of movement out of my eye.  Mostly, it's pretty common stuff, a chipmunk scampering from under one car, over to the next.   A small bird flying across the lot.   Geese (during that time of year) waddling through the parking lot looking for somewhere to make a nest.  It's the kind of thing that I notice, but don't focus on enough to be really distracting.   Until recently.

Lately, we've been visited by at least one cardinal.  I've seen it on three seperate days, and it could even be three different birds, or it could be the same one.  In any case, a cardinal isn't a completely noteworthy bird this time of year.  I spot them here and there.  The males in their bright red plumage are pretty much designed to be easily noticed.  However, in this instance, what drew my attention wasn't the fact that it was a cardinal, but how it was behaving.

Someone at the office has a big SUV/Truck, and that truck has a big, shiny, chrome bumper on the front.  I noticed the cardinal standing on the strip of mulch between the parking spots, and it would leap into the air and fling itself at the bumper, then drop back to the ground.  It would do this over, and over, and over again.  The behavior odd enough that I had to point it out to my boss, who also watched for a moment in a bit of amazement.   I don't know for sure what is going on, being that I'm no animal behaviorist, but I'm suspecting that the cardinal thinks it's seeing another male cardinal in the reflection from the chrome bumper, and is trying to scare it off.  But, well, that's really not going to work out for the poor little guy.  No matter how many times that bird flings himself forward to scare off the other bird, that "other bird" isn't going anywhere.

I can't tell if I feel like that poor bird these days, flinging myself again and again at the same kind of things almost to no avail.  Or, if I think, maybe I need to develop more determination like the bird.  To learn to launch myself again and again into the fray to try to make the "impossible" happen.  After all, every time that little bird takes to the air, it is absolutely convinced it's going to win. 
temporus: (reading)
2014-05-26 10:48 pm

What are you reading?

I just finished a re-listen of Cold Days, by Jim Butcher in anticipation to the new book, Skin Game.  So, I'm in a holding pattern waiting as it will be out shortly.  I don't always go back and reread books when the new ones come out.  Some times I do.  I used to do that a lot more when I was a kid or in college.  Then again, I had more time for such things as re-reads back in the day.  These days, in the precious hours I have at all to dedicate to reading, I prefer to mostly take on new things.

But in this case, because the books really do have a compounding effect, one building a bit more, and a bit more, upon prior books, and it being much more than a year later, I decided to freshen up the brain with the events of the last book.  The nice thing about audiobooks, is you can make use of them while doing other things.  Laundry.  Dishwasher. Commuting.  Yard work.  And so, it's helpful to me to get to do a re-listen which, while it means I couldn't use that time to listen to a new book, also means I'm mostly finding ways to get it in during double duty.

What about you?  Do you like to re-read when a new book in a favorite series comes out?  Do you just jump in?  Do you even re-read at all, or do you hate the very notion?  Let me know what you think.
temporus: (shadows)
2014-05-23 11:34 pm

Oy, seems like I'm always dreaming.

Ok, I think this is going to be my last time talking about dreams for a bit.  Woke up this morning from another "hanging out with an author" dream.  This time, I know whence this one has come, it's because I'm waiting for the next book to drop this coming Tuesday, Skin Game by Jim Butcher.  So, yeah, had a dream where I was hanging out chatting with Jim Butcher.  Ordinary geek type conversations, books, movies, comics, gaming.  Pretty much exactly what I'd expect to do if I ever actually did hang out with him some time.  Because, well, that's what I expect to do with most authors I meet.  In this case, having seen enough video talks of his, I've apparently internalized it enough to pass muster in dream land.  I do find it rather strange that most of these dreams are about authors I've never met in person, rather than the many that I have.  (The exception being one dream where I was back in Viable Paradise hanging out with the crew all there, but I'm pretty sure that one was nostalgia as it was about 11 months after the workshop.)  I still don't know what purpose the dreams serve.  Maybe it means I miss hanging out with other authors.  Or maybe I just want to be more successful, and they are unconscious images of what I think life might be like if I worked harder, and had more success with writing.   Or maybe they are just wishful thinking, that I might get to hang out with my version of "the cool kids."  Who knows.  But now I'm tired, and it's a long weekend, and I hope to get some relaxation under my belt while I can.
temporus: (ogre)
2014-05-21 11:33 pm

That which makes you wake in a cold sweat...

Since I brought up my son's nightmare the other day, I thought it only fair to bring up some of my own in comparison.  When I was young, not only did I have nightmares on a somewhat frequent basis, I often had recurring nightmares and dreams.   One of the most vivid that I can still recall was almost always the same.  I was in the garage, with my father and grandfather, doing something.  (Our garage was the kind always filled with stuff, not with a car, the cars lived in the driveway.)  We might be working on my bike, or going through the tools on the shelf, something.   Then the very ground of the garage would rip apart, and amidst flames up would rise The Devil.  Red skinned, big giant black horns, a pointed tail, the works.  The dreams rarely lasted much longer than that, because the arrival of the Devil was so intense it almost always woke me up in a complete panic.  I'd get up, go into the bathroom and sit for a while to calm down.  (It was the one room that had a light that I could turn on and not wake everyone else up.)  I'd usually have to read for a while, to get my mind off the dream (something I still do occasionally when my mind gets into a panic/anxiety mode late at night, which is, naturally, never fun) and then I would brave my way back to bed.   Sometimes these things would wake up one of my brothers--we all three shared a room--and when it did, they would usually comfort me and get me back to bed.  That dream happened a lot all through grammar school, then eventually faded away.  I'm certain I'm forgetting quite a lot of the little details.   But then, that was quite so long ago now.

Besides that particular dream, I'd also have recurring and what I think of as "serial" dreams.   Usually they would come in batches, from two to a dozen.  Separated out by a few days here and there so I'd never really know if I'd finished the story (so to speak.)   But the jist of it was much like being inside a TV show or movie, where the story would go along then abruptly cut off.  (I would wake up.)   Sometimes an "episode" would repeat itself, though often modified.  Like two, or three variations of the same story.  Sometimes, they would pick up right where things left off, but mostly, they would start up again as if some time had passed, and we were just now catching up with the hero.  (IE, me.  Hey, if I can't be the hero in my own dream....)

Actually one of my oldest novel attempts, from somewhere around 5th grade was me trying (and pretty much failing) to put down on paper the story of my dream.   The problem with that, other than the fact that I was maybe 10 or 11 trying to do that, is that dreams often just don't make sense.  They aren't usually narratively cohesive.  Things would happen, like, one moment I would be running down the block trying to catch up to my friends, then as I turned the corner, I would be driving a motorcycle.   Being young, I'd often have super human powers.  Could make things move with a flick of a hand.  Fly.  Swing from webs like Spidey.  You know, kids ideas of how these things go.  They'd be harrowing adventures, filled with things to battle and overcome.  And on at least one occasion, I recall having died, and trying to get back down through the clouds to help save my friends, and I couldn't.   No matter what I did, whenever I tried to go through the clouds, it would hurt, like being set totally on fire.   That one was particularly frightening, because the need to get down to the ground and help save my friends was so intensive, that being unable to help them hurt every bit as much as the pain I was experiencing trying to reach them.  So it was pain for me either way.  I had that particular dream twice that I know of, though it never made it's way into that story.

I still experience the occasional bad dream, or reccurant dream.  Though it gets hard to tell if I they really are recurring or just déjà vu in a dream.

What about you?   Do you recall any nightmares from your youth?
temporus: (dawn)
2014-05-19 08:58 pm

Lessons in life from the playground...

So this weekend, a local library had a small Children's and Teens Book Fair.   I took my sons, and we had a good time.  At first, because it was not our usual library, they insisted on going to the kids section and just playing with the toys/reading books.  Which was a touch frustrating, because, you know: authors were there giving talks and readings, and cool stuff like that.  I guess I should have known, new library, new toys, new books.  Too much new stuff to play with first.  They did come around, and we did meet most of the authors there.  The Little Man even got excited at one point because he recognized one of the books as one they'd read in class this year, and I'm pretty sure his jumping up and down made the author feel good. 

After the boys hit their limit in the library, we stopped outside to have a snack, and play in the playground for a few minutes to burn off some energy.   After some minutes of chasing my guys around the park, I sat in a low portion of the structure, in a little niche that was rather too small for me, but I was getting out of the sun, and into a trollish position to be able to reach out, and up and pretend to attack the boys as they tried to sneak past me on he bridge above.  As I sat there  I noticed a little graffiti. It struck me as a bit profound in it's own way, so I took a snap shot to share.  Here it is:

Things do, indeed, happen.  Relationships end.  I got to wondering, who put that there, was it Bryan? Criscelle?  A friend. To me, it's matter of fact, not bitter.  Perhaps some regret, but not angry.  No name calling, no blame slung.  A simple acceptance of the new state of a relationship. I found it curious, too, that it's a kind of hidden statement, but done in a far more permanent way than you'd expect in this digital age where things of this nature normally flare out to the public, then fade quickly to the archive of all things online.   And so it goes.
temporus: (dawn)
2014-05-16 08:30 pm

What came first, the book or the movie???

That's a totally rhetorical question in the title.  I'm not even interested in the answer.  This isn't really about which came first, it's more about how these are just always two different beasts.

I got to thinking about the topic because at dinner, my sons were watching an episode of "The Magic School Bus", in which they go around the solar system and visit all the planets.  (Including Pluto, because it was written back when Pluto still was a planet.  Poor Pluto.)  The Little Man has, as it so happens, already read the book that the episode of the show was based on.  And it was quite fun watching him throw off comments like: "But the bus started changing before that, when they were stopped at a light."   Ah, his first awareness of how a book and a show/movie made from the book will not match up perfectly.  (Never mind that he remembered a book well enough that he read months ago so that he can point out the differences between that book and the show.)  I explained to him that with a book, you often have the space to give more details than you have time for in a movie or a TV show.  The formats for visual media are often locked down to a limited time-frame that for the most part, books are not limited to.

It's also got me thinking about how I see lots of complaints here and there on the net from time to time about how this movie or that TV show isn't like the book.  I guess the shock of that lasts well beyond being seven.  For the most part, I'm pretty forgiving when it comes to viewing video as it's own medium.  Oh, I won't lie, I had my moments of "WTF did they just do?" from books to movies.  But for the most part, I'm able to disassociate the source material from the video.  (And let's be honest, it's *mostly* an issue where people are upset that the movie isn't like the book, rather than the book not being like the movie, etc.)  The worst for me was the old Hercules show with Kevin Sorbo.  There was just nothing about that show that looked, or felt anything at all like the Greek hero I'd loved as a child.   It felt....disrespectful.  Like they didn't care about the myths they were pilfering to make a campy, cheesy TV show.  So I get it, when someone finds a beloved book "ruined" by a bad adaptation.  But, I was, after some effort, able to get over my own preconceptions and just enjoy that show for the Saturday afternoon camp that it was.  Eventually, we were rewarded with the far better Xena, show,

Of course, you don't always get a reward like that for putting up with a bad interpretation.  However, it is important to learn how to deal with the fact that video will never be the same as the book.  Because that's going to happen to you a lot, if you are a reader.  (And the Little Man is a huge reader.)  That being said, it's totally fair to have an opinion of whether the changes from the source make the story better, or not.  To examine if the differences in media make one or the other superior in telling the core story, or if they tell their tale equally well, just from a different skew.

So, what about you?  Did you have a favorite story ruined when it went from book to movie/show?  Was there a story you thought turned out better in the new media?

temporus: (dawn)
2014-05-01 12:13 am

Bloody Mary...

So the other night, just about 11:30pm, my older son came out of his room and into my office.  He was scared.  This is, generally speaking, unusual for him.  He's not prone to waking up in the middle of the night, almost always it's because something has been wrong, such as being sick.  He has mentioned bad dreams in passing.  And of course, I know that for him, as it had been for me as a young child, the time around falling asleep is prone to that zone between wakefulness and dream where you almost occupy both.  The imagination runs rampant, and he can't always shut down quickly and just fall to sleep.  And in that time, monsters show up.  I tried the scientific explanation to him, as usually that is something that well reaches him.  How our eyes work, and how our brains impress pattern recognition so that you will see in shadows shapes to be wary of.  It's instinctual to do so, a base survival instinct left over from when we lived in times where things routinely hunted us in the dark. 

I think that lasted a few weeks. Then we were back to random "monsters" in the room, etc. So it goes.  But we deal with those the way I suspect most parents do, calming the kids down, giving them a night light, etc. But, as I said, this is all during the time when the boys first lay down to sleep.  My younger son, he's the one prone to waking up in the middle of the night, freaked out, then comes running into our bed.  It doesn't happen all that often, but I've been woken up by him on more than one occasion in the morning, snuggled between my wife and I.  He's still young, and it happens less and less these days.

So, when the Little Man came into my office and started talking to me about Bloody Mary...and how he'd seen her in the mirror, I was rather astonished.   I don't remember that old tale being something talked about in first grade, so I didn't suspect him picking that up from school.  Which meant that he most likely picked that up from a book.   My suspicion is one of his Worldcraft encyclopedia books that we inherited from my eldest sister.  Now, he's hyperlexic, so I'm not exactly surprised that he's able read and process such things.  What's interesting in this instance is watching him incorporate that knowledge (likely gained that evening in his reading before bed time...yes, he is exactly the kind of child that will sit and read encyclopedias) and turn it into an experience.  Not that I want him to have bad dreams about a ghost, and he hasn't had more dreams or mentioned it since, so I suspect that it has moved on.

Now, it might seem perfectly logical that what he reads before bed has an influence upon his dreams.  I always suspected such, and I remember when I would read him something that might be scarey (Well, to and young child at least) such as Holly Black's Spiderwick Chronicles, I was always on alert for him being scared, or having bad dreams/nightmares, etc.  That never seemed to happen.  So why thien, I wonder, did more overtly scarey story elements fail to invade his thoughts in that manner, whereas simply reading an article about Bloody Mary had such drastic effect?   Could it be because one was a story, and in the context of reading a fiction, and knowing it to be fiction, the brain filters it in an appropriate manner, whereas because the account of Bloody Mary was in a source that isn't ostensibly about fictional things, and therefore it made the account, even though perhaps talking about folklore, to be somehow more real?

I don't think I'll ever find the answer to that one for certain.  But I can't help thinking about the question.  Do we perceive and process information differently when we think it's fiction versus non-fiction, and how does that influence how we make use of that information?

temporus: (crow)
2014-04-09 07:36 pm

Dame Mix-a-Lot won't be denied.

Women (or gay men for that matter), have you ever found yourself in a life and death situation, and thought to yourself: Damn, I'm not sure if I'll be able to concentrate enough to survive this nearly fatal encounter, because that man's ass is just so fine looking in those jeans? Is this a valid concern that goes through your head often?

Seriously, is this a thing?

Now, I'm not talking about my own ass.  Imagine the sexiest guy you know.  Their ass.  In the best, most perfect pair of jeans.  Imagine yourself in a dangerous scenario.  The kind where you'd have to fight with everything you've got for your life.  Is that masculine backside going to distract you so that aren't certain you'll make it out alive?

I guess, I'm wondering if this is a trope, particularly a Romance trope, where a female lead is so totally taken by the male lead's looks, that she actively wonders if she could do her job, keep herself alive, etc., etc.  I've been reading an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance anthology, with a bit more focus on the Romance than the Fantastic.  For such an anthology, there will be a portion of the readership  more interested in the nuances of how the two leads will hook up (or not, I guess that's more acceptable in a short?) than in the nuances of how magic works or the supernatural, etc.  That's as it should be.  Heck, in any given anthology, some portion of the stories will work for each reader better than others.  That's natural reader diversity in action.

I don't object to characters finding other characters attractive.  I don't even object to the notion that in many situations, a character might be more interested in wondering how the other lead might be between the sheets rather than concentrating on their spreadsheets.  But, once people get into crisis mode, unless there's something supernatural going on with the attraction...(which in a UF/PR story is a totally legit scenario) it feels off to me if a character (any character) focuses on another characters "attributes" rather than, say, the oncoming train.

Maybe it's a case where I'm reading too much into it.  Perhaps it was intended a  bit of humor to lighten the tension.  But I felt, in this situation, it weakened the heroine.  As if I shouldn't expect to take her seriously (despite showing up to this moment that she's pretty damn self sufficient and capable) and that maybe she can't hold her own.  Instead of getting a chuckle, it threw me out of the story enough that here I am, blogging instead of reading.  Yet there's a part of me wondering if I misread the scene.  Was this a Romance trope?  Is this totally normal in a genre I don't know well.  I've been exposed enough to PR in various genre anthologies, that I'm not a total stranger, but I doubt I've scratched the smallest surface of Romance as a broader genre, so I can't rule out that I missed something a genre fan would have picked up on.  So I'm left wondering, which is it?

Do you think it weakens a character, or make them more interesting/relatable?

temporus: (dawn)
2013-02-01 10:00 pm

January results.

Ok, didn't post nearly so much to the blog this past month as I'd hoped.  Been a rather busy month, and I still haven't figured out how to get blogging time back into the schedule/priority list.  I'm sure I will, when I give myself permission to breathe and relax. 

So, here's my month in summary:

Reading:  Three novels.  Range of Ghosts, by Elizabeth Bear. (Well, technically, started that in December on vacation and finished it up in January)  A Memory of Light, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.  And The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.   Yeah, those are some rather big books.  What can I say, I like my Fantasy with enough heft to use as a lethal weapon.  Well, except that these days I'm mostly reading ebooks.  Dammit you know what I mean.  All three were great reads.  Two beginnings and one finale.  I will miss reading the Wheel of Time.  I look forward to book two of Bear's series.  I believe that's on the way soon.  And I have book two of Rothfuss's series, but I need to meter my reading.  Three books in one month definitely ate into my writing time.  I paid a bit more attention to that this year.  I pushed to do a LOT of reading last year, and my writing paid the price in productivity.  Hey, I only get the same 24 hours a day as everyone else, the hours reading are hours not writing.  BUT, I'm keeping in mind Steven Gould's advice from VP.  You cannot just breathe out, you need to breathe in too.  So, I've seriously cut back my TV time in some effort to compensate.  Still, have to meter the reading.  I'm technically also "reading" the Audiobook of Crime and Punishment.  But it's long.  I thought I'd get through it by now, but I'll be lucky to get through it by end of February.  Still, I like taking on the classics on Audiobook.  A good reader can hold the attention where my more modern eye would probably wander on the page.  I will probably pick something modern and shorter after this for commuting.

Writing:  Started three short stories.   Completed one full first draft.   The other two are in progress.  (One sort of fizzled when the "idea" didn't pan out a real story, so I need to take that one back to the drawing board and start over.   The other needs a bit more research and care, and I'm doing a little reading beacuse I want to make sure the why of things matters.   I completed two drafts on another story, including what I think might be my final draft, but I fear isn't.  I'd planned on submitting that as my submission for the month, but I decided I needed a bit more feedback, so that's out to some beta readers.   It means I miss my goal of getting one story out in the wild per month.  However, I think just submitting it without one more look over from independant eyes when I have a nagging feeling in the back of my head a bad idea.  Arbitrary goals are arbitrary.  I set them as measure and to drive myself to take on and do more.  I'll submit that story one way or the other in February, and I'll count it as my January submission, which means I'll need to do another story for February.

Submissions: None.  See above.  Falling behind and I'll have to dig in double to catch up.

Editing: No work this month.

Music: Due to circumstances, I came into possession of a digital copy of one of the recordings of music my band made.  The recordings were never 100% compelete, though I think there might be one other copy with more complete versions of the songs (only two on this copy have vocal tracks for example, although most of the songs had words), as well as I recall that we had recorded at minimum two MORE songs than are on the "album" that I have.  I can't believe we did that 20 years ago.  It's pretty cool, and I think we did a decent job for all the low end equipment we had, and the fact that our lead guitarist was I think 17 at the time.  (Not me, I'm strictly a rhythm guitarist).   But it's got me bit by the music bug again, so I've started practicing once again on the guitar.  Not every single day, but at least several days a week.  And I've written a song, though, it's really just the rhythm part, so, kind of not a complete song as of yet.  I might poke around and do some recording of it to see if I can come up with other parts too.  This falls into the fun category.  Of course, that eats up a bit of the time I'm freeing up by not watching TV.  So, a trade off.  But, if I can do some cool stuff with it, I'd much rather have more music in my life than more TV.  (I'm not down on TV, but I know I can too easily get sucked into it, and end up watching so much TV that I stop producing.  I'd rather be a producer than a consumer if I can manage it.)

So that's the state of the Ed.

How about you?  How'd your start of the year go so far?
temporus: (dawn)
2013-01-01 10:21 pm

A new year.

Welcome 2013.  I hope you are ready.  You've got 365 days to be awesome, don't waste any.

So far, a moderate and slow start.  Or perhaps an awesome one, it's hard to say.  Slept in.  Got to Home Depot.  Replaced the dimmer in my bedroom.  It was driving the family (especially Celine) crazy, so that just had to get done.  Also managed to pick up a small bit of metal to reinforce the catch on the door that hides the garbage under the cabinet.  Very important as the Fearless Mop had figured out that he could pretty much nose open the door to the garbage at whim, which meant he could get into the trash whenever he wanted.  Which is pretty much whenever there's something in there he might possibly think he would want to eat.  (Aka, whenever he remembers it is there.)  So that's done.  Did some a little TV rodeo switching around which sets belonged where.  Also fixed all the remotes so that there's a remote that works the TV and TiVO in all locations properly.  Moved luggage where it needs to be, since we were tired and got in late last night from our vacation to D.C.  Stopped to buy some food stuff on the way back from Home Depot.  Also got a few supplies for the tank.  The plants have thinned out (IE, the goldfish are ravenous beasts that aren't happy with just normal food) and it needs a bit more green, so I bought some, and added those.   Also had our old roommates over for dinner with their young son. 

All in all, a busy, and somewhat productive day, if a kind of slow and relaxed start and pace.  

Oh, and look, I wrote on the blog.  Wow. 

Now, if I can just get a little writing time in before bedtime, I'll call this a win for day 1

Not bad 2013.  Let's see if we can't keep the groove going.