Tag Archive | dogs

Castle Von Udolpho Crimson Abbey of Blood (Movie Monday, gothic edition)

I have got to start seeing movies in a more timely way, either at the movie theater or when they’re first released at home. It’s not such a thing this week, when something inspires me to talk about its antecedents (⇐this is not the nerdiest the post is going to get), as say, Star Wars, when six weeks after it’s out, I’m like “Let me tell you all my feelings!” and y’all are like, yes, but I heard that in the next movie…

Well, maybe not y’all, because my readers are pretty cool.

So, anyway. Crimson Peak. This movie was like they threw all my favorite things in a cinematic gift bag:

  1. Director Guillermo del Toro
  2. Ghosts
  3. OMG the wardrobe
  4. Spooky $%*#
  5. Tom Hiddleston looking even more Byronic than usual
  6. Creepy house
  7. The most Gothic gothiciness that ever gothicked.

I mean, just look at it:

Crimson-Peak-Banner.jpg

Obviously, I love the gothic novel, since I’ve written two of them. (One is even titled Texas Gothic. (link) ) And I was interested to see what someone with such as visually interesting as del Toro would come up with.

Let’s skip the history of how the Gothic novel came out of the counter-Enlightenment movement of Romanticism.  The gothic story has some very distinct elements:

  • An innocent heroine, very often an orphan or otherwise cut off.
  • An isolated setting that evokes mystery and dread. It’s gloomy, usually decaying. Extra points for secret passages or hidden staircases.
  • Supernatural beings (or what appear to be supernatural goings on)
  • Curse or prophecies. (I actually thing this, along with the idea of ghosts, has to do with the feeling of the past affecting or threatening the present events.)
  • A Byronic hero–brooding, enigmatic, slightly dissipated and untrustworthy air.
  •  Romance, or a romantic sensibility. CrimsonPeak_Hiddleston_Wasikowska.jpg

Most importantly there’s a sense of physical danger, psychological horror, and spiritual peril. 

That leaves a lot to play with, plot-wise. You can tick all the boxes (like the popular gothic romances that Jane Austen sent up in Northanger Abbey), or you can stay in the spirit, evoking the sense of heightened dread and dark tone and atmosphere. Jane Eyre and Frankenstein are both considered gothic novels (among other things).

So, back to Crimson Peak. This movie ticks all the boxes, but in a self-aware Northanger Abbey way. The movie, though, is more of an homage than a parody.

First of all, it calls itself out, right away. Austen and Brontë are mentioned right off. The heroine wants to be an author, and when a publisher dismisses her “ghost story,” she says that there are ghosts in it, but it’s not about ghosts. The ghosts represent the past. (⇑ See what I did there? Fourth bullet point.)  And obviously that’s how this story goes, too.

My interest then became less “what will happen” and more “how is that going to happen, or how will that play out.” Maybe that makes it predictable, but kind of in the same way as a Romantic Comedy or a Western is predictable. Mostly you know you’re going to end up at the opposite ends of the town’s muddy main street, drawing your guns at high noon.

So bookish Edith falls in love with charismatic but mysterious Sir Thomas Sharpe, marries him (oh, she’s rich by the way), and he takes her away to his literally falling down mansion where he lives with his crazy-eyed sister, who you know is going to be trouble. And then there are forbidden rooms and locked trunks and strange noises…

And there were these bonuses:

  • Charlie Hunnam!
  • Bobby from Supernatural!
  • Puppy! Even better? Papillon puppy!

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The adorable dog was a smart touch, and I’m not just saying that because I gave the heroine of The Splendor Falls (link) one. Because of the type of story, I wasn’t too worried about Edith, but I spent a good part of that movie terrified something was going to happen to the dog.

The ghosts were also really terrifying, because they were gross. There were a couple of pretty horrific deaths, which also elevated the tension, because I didn’t want to see that grossness. Bleh. Which bears mentioning because the original gothic novels evoked dread more than the gross out, but when they did have blood and such, it took a lot less to be shocking.

So, final verdict? Would you enjoy Crimson Peak? Well, the costuming is gorgeous, the set is amazing, and the acting is really good. There’s enough danger during the story to keep the tension up. Obviously she doesn’t trust the sister, but can she trust Thomas? That was the big question throughout. (And Hiddleston really does well at keeping you guessing. Also, there’s a love scene, so if Hiddleston is your thing…)

You know, it occurs to me—and this is not a spoiler, and it’s not about the plot, just what floats my boat—I think I was less invested because I wanted Edith to stay in Boston with Charlie Hunnam’s character.

But then it wouldn’t have been a gothic story.

So, have any of you seen this?  What’s your favorite gothic novel or movie, or movie of a novel? I could use recommendations.

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I don’t care if you’re dead. Throw my ball, dammit.

A Wild Yeti Appears…

I haven’t blogged about my do in a while. Granted, some of that is because I’ve been blogging not very much. But tomorrow is the Westminster Dog Show (I think it’s some other holiday, too) so if I want to have a post all about my dog, like the Eccentric Cat Dog Lady that I am, more power to, um, me.

If you’re just joining us, Penny is my dog. I never thought I would have a Pomeranian. I was looking for a Papillion rescue, and she looked like a Pap in her petfinder.com photo, but she’s a Pom. But she’s not like one of those prissy-poms. She’s like… the Pom basketball team. All of it.

Here she is filling in for me at the office:

This story needs a few more dogs in it.

This story needs a few more dogs in it.

This is how P-dawg looks most of the time. This is her normal amount of fluff–somewhere between Tribble and Muppet. And can we please talk about these little paws?

Did somebody call for two feet of cute?

Did somebody call for two feet of cute?

This is my first long haired dog, by the way. Trini was a husky/shepherd mix, and though she had a little bit of undercoat, it pretty much slipped out with a good brushing. Or it would just waft off and gather under the couch to become dust Tyrannosaurs.

But Penny takes a little more work. I try to brush her a little bit every day or two (or three), because otherwise at the end of a week or so, I get enough fur to knit another dog.

Look, Mom! You could knit another dog with that.

Look, Mom! I made you a Tribble!

Only lately I’ve let her get a little shaggy. Okay, maybe more than a little shaggy. Okay, maybe more like miniature four-legged Yeti.

A rare sighting of the endangered PennYeti.

A rare sighting of the endangered PennYeti.

It’s not just that her fur had gotten where it was touching the floor. I mean, who wouldn’t want a self-propelled dust mop? It’s the tangles! I mean, you could hide a snack in that ruff.

So, Penny went to the salon today. She looks like a dog again. Well, she looks a little like a prissy-pom, because she’s all fluffy from the shampoo and blow dry (and it’s a little on the short side).  But give it a day. Most importantly, she looks like someone takes care of her.

The power of cute compels you... to give me a treat.

The power of cute compels you… to give me a treat.

Anyway. Tomorrow I’ll be curled up on the couch watching the Dog Show with my sweetie. We love it when a working dog wins, but we’ll root for the Papillions in the home category.

All right, dog people. Do you like poofy lap dogs? Giant dogs that can pull a sled? Hyperintelligent (and hyper, intelligent) Border Collies? Favorite type of dog, go!

(It doesn’t have to be a pure breed. Mutts and mixes rock, especially when they are rescues.)

Writer Haikus

My morning in haiku.

Fresh hot coffee.
Dribbles inevitable
on white tee-shirt.

Brilliant idea
this late in manuscript
is not so brilliant.

Three dogs scratch at door.
To ignore means poop on floor.
Work paused, either way.

I look up one thing
Internet is so helpful
Look! There are LOLcats!

This tee-shirt is real.You can buy it if you haveMore money than sense.

This tee-shirt is real.
You can buy it if you have
More money than sense.

Puppies and Books and Babies, Oh My!

What I’ve been doing when I’m not writing (and rewriting and throwing out and writing again)…

Penny got a haircut.  She’s hard to snap a photo of because she’s never still.  But she was looking like a yeti, so it was time.

Penny's new haircut

More pomeranian, less yeti.

And speaking of babies…

Me and B.

Me and my new cousineice. (That’s a word, right?)

And no, I haven’t had a baby, but if I could mail order one like B. I totally would.  Or at least I’d think very seriously about it. She’s the sweetest thing. Okay, it might be a contest with her older sister, but it would be a close one.

Here’s an assorted list of reminders and stuff that’s coming up and what not:

This Thursday from 7:30 to 8:45, I’m speaking at the Arlington (Texas) Central Branch Library. It’s the Teen Creative Writing Club, and you don’t have to register. I’m talking about writing and stuff and I’ll probably read something from SPIRIT AND DUST. Here’s the website for more details.

And speaking of SPIRIT AND DUST, remember you can preorder it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers. You can probably even pre-order it from your brick and mortar, too. (It seriously took me four tries to spell ‘mortar’ right. Five if you count “Mordor.”  Nerd, yes. Spelling champion, no.)

If you like to read grown up romance novels, you might want to grab DATE BY MISTAKE, available in e-book from all the e-book places (including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks).  It’s four novellas, including one  from yours truly.  It’s not a book for teens, unless you, like I was when I was 16, are already reading Harlequins and stuff.

Places I’m going to be this spring:

The Texas Librarian Conference in Fort Worth, April 24-27.

The RT Booklover’s Convention in Kansas City, May 1st-5th, but in particular the Teen Day on that Saturday.

More (Mordor?) to come soon.:-)

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.

Texas Gothic in the Wild

I love it when people send me pictures of my book in the wild, whether it’s on a bookstore shelf, their desk, or wherever.  Especially when the picture includes an adorable dog.

@rclementmoore IT IS HERE, IT IS HERE! #papillonnotincluded on Twitpic
(pic from reader @Laurenisaguitar on Twitter)

Here’s another one! It’s becoming a meme!

(From Kari’s IMM post over on A Good Addiction)

It’s no secret I love dogs.  Here’s one of mine (sans book) to round things out: