Tag Archive | dorkitude

No Penguins Were Harmed Making This Post

Today is my two month new house anniversary. I still love my little townhouse. I thought that having neighbors in such close proximity would take getting used to, but really? I lived in the land of the big house and small yard, so this isn’t that much different.

In fact, it’s kind of quiet. But this morning when I let the dogs out, the neighbors were having an argument. (These are the neighbors who have a cat that likes to come over and taunt my dogs by prancing in front of the window.)  Of course, as soon as the dogs are done, Mom and I are pressed up against the porch door, shamelessly eavesdropping. I haven’t had any neighbor drama since the pot-dealing teenagers across the street from the old house got sent off to military school.  I’ve really missed it.

“I think someone is getting kicked out,” says Mom.

“She’s not going to kick him out,” I whisper back. “She’s pregnant.”

“She might,” says Mom sagely. “It’s the twenty-first century, not the nineteen fifties.”

“I hope he takes the cat,” I say.

It’s at this point that I realize that Mom and I have become characters in a Monty Python sketch.

Not really, of course. I have a flat screen TV. A penguin couldn’t sit on top.

*rimshot*

Thank you. I’ll be here all week.

Actually, mom and I each have a TV, so exploding penguins aren’t as much of a problem as dueling explosion movies  from the 90’s. She likes Independence Day.  I like The Rock. (The movie with Ed Harris, not the actor Dwayne Johnson. Not that I have a problem with him, either.)

Also, is it weird that Independence Day is almost 20 years old? It’s older than a lot of you. Will Smith was the hot young guy who punched aliens in the face. But it’s weird now, because the crushes of my youth are now playing Somebody’s Dad. I mean, still hot, but I’m just putting that in perspective for you.

The nineties movies aren’t on purpose, by the way. It just happens that 1) they are a particular kind of awesome (case in point, The Fifth Element) before filmmakers had the need to be all brooding and dark and stuff, or even make sense, really and 2) they are on TV all the time.

Also, no penguins are harmed in those explosions.

rimshot gif photo: drum GIF Rimshot_zps53c00dd7.gif

Soylent Green is People

No one ever believes me when I say that I’m an introvert at heart.  If you’ve ever met me at a book event, you know what I mean. I have no trouble with public speaking, and I enjoy  talking with readers and writers and librarians. I have a reputation as bubbly and outgoing.

Hermit Crab

This is a sham. I am really a hermit crab with good coping skills.

It isn’t that I don’t like people, especially readers.  But you know how you don’t want to go to a friend’s birthday party or something, even though you actually really like your friend, but it’s going to be noisy and there’s going to be dancing or whatever, and your mom is all like, “Just go. You know you’ll have a good time once you get there,” and you whine and protest but she makes you go and then you actually do have a really good time?

That’s pretty much me all the time.

And it’s kind of a vicious cycle, because once I get into my cave, it’s safe and cozy and I have my dog and MY SPOT on the couch and lots of coffee and cookies. You would think that I would have a lot more writing to show for this, but there’s also satellite TV and Netflix for marathoning full seasons of Lost Girl and Breaking Bad. Then I realize that I’ve written five pages in the last five days and I live with my mother and I haven’t had a date or been out with my friends in months, which is my own fault because I love my spot and my dog and my Netflix and OH MY GOD THIS IS HOW CRAZY CAT LADIES GET STARTED.

Not that that is really what happens. I’m just saying it could.

This is why writers need Real Life friends. Because after a certain point it takes dynamite to get me out of my cave. When I don’t come to critique group for two weeks in a row, my friends threaten to send a Navy SEAL extraction team. It has nothing to do with the fact that my work needs critique. (Which, of course it doesn’t, because it falls from my fingers like perfect jewels of prose.)  It’s because otherwise I will turn into the crazy dog lady.

So, this morning I’m sitting at a table in Starbucks with four of my writer friends. We’re actually being really productive this morning, all of us with our earphones in, typing away at our laptops, which probably looks a little weird to people. (Or maybe not. I’m sure Starbucks has seen weirder stuff.)  Why meet in person to sit and look at your own computer screen and not talk to each other?

For one thing, it forces us to rejoin civilization. You know. Take a shower and wear pants without elastic waistbands.  For another, I look up and see my friends hammering on the keys, and peer pressure puts its boot to my butt.

But most of all it’s good to get out of the cave.  We’re social creatures, human beings. Sometimes being around people, whether you actually talk to them or not, is like taking your vitamins.

I hear that’s good for you.

Soylentgreen

 

 

Friday Faves – The Twisted, The Pretty, and the Yummy

Here’s what’s floating my boat this week. Why? Because “Friday Faves” sounds cool.

1. Gillian Flynn. This is not a YA author. (Not by any stretch of the imagination.) Banner for Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnShe writes books about grisly murders and really twisted up characters. Her book Gone Girl is a best seller, and deservedly so. Her books keep me riveted, not just with the plot twist, but because she’s got this astounding facility with voice.

Also, it is really hard to knock me to a place where I’m staring at the book going “Holy $%^&! I did NOT see that coming.”

[YA disclaimer: I'd rate her books almost an R, not for any graphic sex but for disturbing psychology... in both the killers and the protagonists.]

2. The Immaculate Baking Company.  Oh my GAWD these chocolate rolls are so good.  I literally reward myself for getting up early and going to mass by baking them when I get home. (Appropriate, given the name, I guess.)  Only today is Friday and I’m eating one just because. (They also promote Folk Artists and they have a blog with delicious start-with-our-products-and-make-them-even-more-awesome recipes.)

Yum.

Yum.

3. The cheerfulness of Vera Bradley’s Ribbons pattern… and their Pinterest board full of inspiration.

 

4. These floats, covered entirely in flowers (like the Tournament of Roses parade), from Holland’s Bloemencorso.

Look at that little guy on the bottom, helping out with the grooming. So. Cute.

Look at that little guy on the bottom, helping out with the grooming. So. Cute.

What a cutie.

Speaking of cute. This is. 

 

5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper. First off, I LOVED that movie. JGL did an incredible job playing young Bruce Willis. His mannerisms and line delivery were dead on.  But I feel like I just discovered this guy. I know he was in Inception (and really great in that, too). But when did he go from being “Wow, that kid from Third Rock From The Sun can really act!” to “Wow, he’s kinda hot as well. A little skinny, but… day-um.”

 

That’s it for this Friday. I guess I’ll have to pull my head out of my book long enough to find new things to be obsessed with next week. Please make suggestions in the comments. Seriously.

The Real Me

So, here’s a nugget of Real Life Info for you. Not only does my mother live with me (or me with her, depending on who you ask), but I rent my upstairs apartment to a nun.

Let’s just let that sink in for a minute.

I live with my mother and Maria Von Trapp.

Then there’s the dogs. I have one, Mom has two, Sister Maria Von Upstairs has one. All of them small and puffy, except Sister’s who is a twenty pound chihuahua rescue who was raised on nachos and lard, from all appearances.

Then there’s my crafty side, and I don’t mean sly. I bake, I knit, I sew. I’m polite, dutiful, tidy, I go to church, help old ladies across the street…

So, you’d be excused for thinking, from outward appearances, that I’m a future sweet spinster dog lady. Maybe not so future.crazy dog lady

Okay, it’s true I’m a nice, polite person who loves dogs and children. But I also love violent movies, racy novels, rock and roll and everything science fiction. I have a (small) tattoo. I am overly fond of the f-bomb when I’m with my friends, and the word ‘crap’ when I’m in public. (I try not to say it on school visits. I try.)

There is, however, no getting around the fact that I live with my mother (and a nun). So integrating The Good Girl with The Twenty-First Century girl is sometimes awkward.

Not long after mom moved in with me (or me with her), I was cleaning the kitchen and singing along to Ben Folds Five “Song for the Dumped.”  It’s a great song. But maybe not so much when you forget your mom has never heard you use a particular word in a particular phrase. (By now she’s heard me use that word a lot.)

Then there was the incident with The Tudors. There I was happily watching guilty pleasure TV, when Mom comes in the living room and asks if I’m watching porn.

Me: Oh My God NO!  And if I was, I wouldn’t be watching it in the living room! (Though she had a point. I’m thrilled see books into TV like True Blood and Game of Thrones but seriously. So. Much. Naked.)

It’s not so much that Mom (or anyone else) tells me what I can and can’t watch or listen to. It’s just that living with a parent is… inhibiting.

It’s also probably why I write YA. I have conversations like this all the time:

Mom: Is that what you’re wearing?

Me: No, it’s what I put on to annoy you before I put on what I’m wearing.

Or

Me: *yawn*grumble*moan*

Mom: If you worked steadily instead of waiting until your assignment is due, you wouldn’t have to stay up so late to get it done.

Or

Me: I’m going out tonight.

Mom: Text me when you get there. And before you start home. And at hourly intervals. And don’t ride in cars with strangers. Or boys. Or strange boys.

Hang on. There was a point to this story. Oh yeah…

So, this morning, I have the house to myself. No Sister Maria Von Trapp upstairs. Mom is off at a quilting bee or whatever. Just me and the dogs and the irresistible urge to dance around in my socks and underwear like Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

Or maybe I’ll sing along to songs in the key of F-bomb.

Or maybe I’ll watch historical costume porn.

Or maybe I’ll ride in cars with strange boys.

Or maybe I’ll sit here in my bathrobe and write a blog post about the things that I could do while I have the house to myself.

Anthropological Me

Spring makes me crazy. 

I want to do crazy things like buy a bicycle and bike to the grocery and the coffee shop like I lived in some quaint English village on BBC, ignoring the fact that in a few weeks it will be 90 degrees by 8:30 in the morning and the closest coffee shop is the Starbucks on the Interstate. 

Not me.


I would fill the basket (because of course the bicycle would have a basket on the handlebars) with delicious fresh produce that I will bring home and actually eat. And maybe a baguette. Spring makes me want to be the girl from the Anthropologie catalogue. 


Hey, maybe I’ll go to the farmer’s market instead! 

Or maybe I’ll plant a vegetable garden, in addition to the flower beds I want to put in and lovingly tend, even though the summer heat and drought watering restrictions will doom them to a short, but beautiful, existence. 

Not my house.

Spring makes me break out my rose scented dusting powder so I smell as old fashioned as my name.


Apparently spring turns me into Miss Marple. All I need to do is solve crime. 

I have coffee on the porch. I clean my office and find utility bills from 2008 behind my desk. I make huge stacks of books to give to the library. I actually dust my ceiling fan. 

None of this will last, of course. By the end of May I’ll be hibernating during the daylight hours, away from the heat and car exhaust. I’ll contribute to it by driving to the grocery store for Tostitos and Reeses peanut butter cups. 

But at least the weather will no longer be such a temptation pulling me away from work. 

Do you get spring fever? What do you long to do when the weather gets nice, even if it’s totally impractical. 

(P.S. In looking for pictures, I discovered that not only does Anthropology carry bicycles like the one above, but cruiser bikes have become quite the thing. If I point out that I had one of those in college and was mocked for it, does that make me a hipster?)

Movie Monday – John Carter [of Mars]


No spoilers, I promise. Not least because I think you should go see this movie. In the RCM rating scale, this rates “Full price ticket, worth the extra for 3D.” 


Here are the short review, before I wax all thinky about character and genre and stuff: This is a really entertaining movie, visually stunning, and damned fun to watch. 
  1. Exciting stuff happens right away. Airship battle within the first minute. Awesome. 
  2. The (important) characters are really likable. Some of the others aren’t really fleshed out, but who cares. (More on that in a minute.)
  3. The script was nicely written, turning a couple of expectations upside down now and then. For a story that basically set the formula for this sort of movie, that was nice. 
  4. There are beautiful people in this movie. And they’re not wearing much clothes. And weirdly, that wasn’t cheesy or skeevy. It makes perfect sense. 
  5. Beautiful includes the Tharks, the nine-foot tall, green, six-limbed race of desert dwellers. They were so expressive, they could have flown them here from Mars and I wouldn’t have been surprised. 
  6. Dejah Thores. She’s the precursor of Princess Leia in the books. In the movie she’s just the coolest heroine ever. 
Could you pick apart this movie? Probably, if you worked at it. But why would you do that? This isn’t a Serious Movie of Great Cultural significance. (Except maybe to SciFi nerd culture, of which I am a member.)  Personally, I’m glad it’s not. I would LOVE to see more movies of this type and less dark, angsty depressing things. 

Just go. It’s a terrifically fun movie. (More ramblings about character and genre and stuff below this picture of aforementioned beautiful people.)  

Now, the longer post that I wrote first, then decided it was a little thinky and long. But hey, maybe you’re trying to kill time until your coffee break. 
Okay, some of you know, I’ve been looking forward to the John Carter [of Mars] movie for a long time. Like, before it was even greenlit. (Greenlighted?) I think I covered some of the reasons in a previous post, but basically the John Carter of Mars books (along with the Danny Dunn Mysteries and A Wrinkle in Time) were my introduction to science fiction. 
Basically, they were pulp fiction, which meant they were highly creative and entertaining reads that required a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. There’s internal logic and consistency, but you have to go with the flow that this guy is transported to Mars without really understanding why. 
And that’s exactly how this movie is. Highly entertaining, with interesting people who do interesting stuff.
The characters are engaging, though some are given more dimension than others.  Likewise, the different cultures of Mars (their politics, sociologies, ideologies) are only touched on, not explored. But you do get a sense that there IS a culture there, except that we’re too busy action/adventuring to delve into it. 
Which is as it should be. John Carter has a lot to accomplish in this movie. He’s a cool character with a good backstory for his baggage, and his job is to do stuff. Manly stuff, wearing little clothes and wielding big weapons. (I’m not mocking. All the actors fully commit to this basic, intrinsic concept of the genre, which makes it come off as truly badass.) 
His other job is to be there to interact with the more interesting characters in the movie: the Tharks (a tall, green, six-limbed desert-dwelling race) including Tars Tarkas and Sola, his allies, and Dejah Thores, the most awesome awesome action hero I’ve seen in ages. 
Dejah Thores, in the books, is the ancestress of Princess Leia. Even though her plot function is to be rescued, she’s also an intelligent and competent woman in her own right.
In the movie… She’s just flat out awesome. She’s a brilliant scientist, as self-sacrificing princess, a fierce rebel and warrior, and a slyly intelligent operative–not in her own interest, but with the goal of saving her city, and the whole planet. John Carter is really likable with his aw-shucks genteelism and rebel spirit. But honestly… He’s not that complex. I don’t think that’s a flaw of the moviemakers. I think that’s just the character.
Maybe Im giving too much credit here, but I don’t think so. The screenwriters have an impressive pedigree (including Michael Chabon, Pulitzer prize winning novelist who gets SciFi’s pulp heritage).  I simply love that they inverted the pulp expectation. John Carter is a likable rogue who runs on emotion and muscle, and the “chick” is brilliant and complex. 
I know Disney dropped the “of Mars” from the title because they didn’t want to alienate (ha ha) people who think SciFi is for nerds. (Even though the same people who think that will go so see The Avengers and The Hunger Games which are both–wait for it–SciFi.)  And I think that it’s SciFi pedigree might be why it didn’t do so well on opening weekend. That and reviewers who can’t just enjoy a movie for what it is without trying to make it what it’s not. Not every genre movie has to be The Dark Knight. 
Anyway. Back to genre books and suspension of disbelief. 
In genre books (Mystery, Romance, Fantasy/Science Fiction novels… Basically everything segregated from the mainstream “Fiction” shelves in the bookstore) I think there is a contract between the reader and the writer. The writer asks the reader to believe one impossible thing, and in exchanges promises that everything else will make sense if you just go with that. 

And there’s the writer’s obligation no matter what the genre: Provide internal consistency and interesting people doing interesting things. 
This movie definitely does that. Go see it and give SciFi nerd history some love. 

Movie Monday: Green Lantern

I have NOT forgotten that Texas Gothic comes out tomorrow! Don’t forget there’s a giveaway on Goodreads (see post below). And I’m signing the book at the Barnes and Noble at the Parks Mall in south Arlington, TX starting at 1pm on this coming Saturday (7/16).

But first… Green Lantern.

green_lantern_half_page_poster5-2011-07-11-11-00.jpg

I was REALLY looking forward to seeing this movie, but the critical press reviews popped the bubble of my enthusiasm. I didn’t go see it until this weekend.

And I LOVED it. It’s not dark and gritty. It’s not a post-modern examination of war profiteering or Cold War isolationism. It’s a grand and slightly idealistic movie about the uncomplicated issue of good versus evil.

Eating planets? Bad. Digging deep and finding the willpower to overcome fear and save everybody? Good.

I especially like that the movie lampshades some of the awkwardness of the premise. Green Lantern is, after all, a magical space cop who makes stuff out of green energy. And Hal Jordan? Kind of an ass when the movie begins. Maybe even still a little bit of an ass when the movie ends, but in the best possible “I’m ready to put everything on the line” sort of way.

The bottom line is this: Green Lantern sets out to entertain, and it does. Are there other superhero movies with more undertones and psycho-social commentary? Yes. Superhero movies that go to a more “grown-up” place? Definitely. As my friend A. Lee Martinez pointed out on his blog recently, even Transformers is full of “gritty” robot gore.

But not everything needs to go to a dark, grown up place. Some movies need to speak to the kid in us. The one who can recite the Green Lantern oath without a shred of irony.

85198-98066-green-lantern_large-2011-07-11-11-00.jpg
In brightest day, in blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power… Green lantern’s light!

(I may have teared up a little just then.)

There’s nothing cheesy or simplistic about a movie about a white (or green) knight fighting a dragon to save the village. Choosing good over evil doesn’t have to be a complicated decision. Part of me thinks that if more people recited the Green Lantern oath in the mirror every morning, the world might be a nicer place.

Anyway. I really enjoyed this movie. Ryan Reynolds is adorable and cheeky, a likable rogue. Well cast as Hal Jordan, I think. Kinda nice to look at, too.

Terrific fun. Bring your sense of adventure and check your cynicism at the door. (Provided you can find a theatre still showing it! Movies come and go so quickly in the summer!)