Yesterday I talked to students at Norman High School about writing and publishing. I love talking to young writers! I'm always amazed by how talented and driven they are. I polled today's group, and several had already finished a novel. This was thrilling to hear, but I confess it also made me feel a little lame.
What was I doing in high school? Writing bad poetry about boys and fluffing my already ginormous hair. Okay, I did start at least one novel during my teens, but that story never went anywhere because I didn't know what the heck I was talking about. (I think it was a romance between a graduate student and an athropologistist, set in Africa. WHAT? Oh, and the sexy anthropologist bore a striking resemblance to Sting.)
Anyway, I love these school visits -- I always feel inspired afterwards. I was so risk-averse as a teen, at least in terms of creativity. And I could barely stand to share anything I wrote because I was too sensitive to criticism. It's reassuring to know there are plenty of kids out there today who (1) proudly identify themselves as writers, (2) eagerly run the gauntlet of drafting, sharing and revising their work, and 3) pursue their writing goals while keeping on top of all their other school work. Hooray!
By the way, in the above photo I am using an image to discuss one of my bullet-proof kinks. Can you tell what the kink is?
I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones last night. I've never read the books -- all I really know about them is that many of my friends find the character of Jaime Lannister swoon-worthy. (After watching this first ep I am, of course, thinking "WHAT?")
Things I liked: --beautiful locations, sets and cinematography --high production values --interesting relationships --quirky kids --Lord Stark (SEAN BEAN!) --his bastard son (I don't know anyone's name!)
And I enjoyed playing "spot the BBC character actor" as I watched.
What traumatized me: --the sexual brutality --the heavy cloud of IMPENDING DOOM hanging over EVERYONE I LIKE
Despite this trauma, I'll watch more.
Did any of you recognize Jason Momoa as the scary warrior dude who marries the trembling albino girl? (Names? Will I ever learn them?) Anyway, it seems that Momoa's ticket out of Scifi TV obscurity is playing barbarians. How interesting -- far fewer lines of dialogue to memorize, I guess!
Lately I've been searching out novels written/set during the 1930s -- mostly because I've been playing around with a story idea set in that time. I've long been a big fan of Cold Comfort Farm (which may actually be set in the 20s?), so I decided to go about finding more novels by Stella Gibbons. Nightingale Wood, published in 1938, seemed a promising candidate.
I must admit it started out a bit slow. It meandered here and there, throwing some rather jarring POV shifts at me along the way, and the characters were not exactly likeable. Still, I giggled at the satiric elements and decided to stick with it. Lo and behold, the drippy, depressive characters began to do unexpected things and thereby grew and changed. (Well, not all of them changed, but at the very least they finally figured out what they really wanted.) By the time I was halfway through the book I could not put it down, and I found the ending wholly satisfying. (I believe I did, in fact, hug the book.) This riff on the Cinderella story is surprisingly modern for 1938 and, though perhaps not quite as funny as CCF, the humor is delightfully biting. I highly recommend it. In fact, I really wish someone would make a mini-series out of it. (Hear that, BBC and ITV?) A little compression would serve the story well, and what gorgeous fun such an adaptation would be!
Anyone have recs for other books published/set during the 30s? Should I try Angela Thirkell?
On a related note, I was very tickled when Gibbons did some literary name-dropping -- Mr Spurrey, who is "lonely as only a crashing bore can be" nevertheless proves himself quite lovable in this passage:
Mr Spurrey, too, was content. The sun was shining (Mr Spurrey liked sunshine), there was blue sky, the Rolls was running well, and at home he had Dorothy Sayers's latest story waiting unopened. He would read it that evening, over a decanter.
[By the way, I was excited to learn today that the Lord Peter Wimsey Companion is now available online to members of the Dorothy L. Sayers Society. Huzzah! Maybe it's time to give Five Red Herrings another try, now that I have this resource available to me.]
Sometimes I get tired of police procedurals that follow the typical script. Detectives: 1) arrive at scene of crime, 2) interview wise-cracking forensics expert, 3) interview suspects, 4) fixate upon red herrings, 5) finally get a clue. In a 1-2 hour episode, this formula doesn't allow for character development in all the individuals connected to the crime. That's why I love shows that pursue an investigation over the course of an entire season (like The Wire, for instance). And that's the kind of show AMC's The Killing is turning out to be.
Three episodes in and I'm pretty much hooked. Sarah Linden, our reluctant investigator, is interesting to watch, but I'm more intrigued by her newly-assigned-to-Homicide partner, Stephen Holder (played by a fairly established Swedish actor -- I never would've guessed). His narcotics background certainly makes for interesting interview scenes! Billy Campbell (as Councilman Richmond) is always fun to watch, too. The man is simply too good looking to trust -- Richmond seems perfect for the villain -- but then Campbell pulls off these moments of honesty and vulnerability that make my heart melt a little. And finally, there are Rosie's parents. The Larsens' grief is raw and painful to witness, and yet they are so sympathetic that I'm not quite sure if I can trust them. They've got to have a secret or two that's yet to surface.
The show, adapted from a popular Danish TV series, has managed to maintain a certain Scandanavian bleakness in its new Seattle setting.
Who else is watching? Which characters intrigue you the most?
I've never been a "fun in the sun" kind of gal. Beaches crowded with oil-slicked bodies are not my thing. I did Spring Break in Florida once, but my roomate and I were under-age, so no wild parties. Instead we baked ourselves in the sun during the day and watched TV at night. Pretty boring (not to mention carcinogenic).
But I do love a deserted beach under a dramatic sky. Today I'm in Del Mar, California. Steve is a presenter at a conference and I tagged along to enjoy the nice weather and ocean views. Turns out the weather isn't all that great, but it's still pretty around here.
Yesterday morning I took a solitary walk down to the beach and took this photo. At one point I looked out at the waves and saw a head bobbing in the water. It immediately brought to mind L.K. Madigan's THE MERMAID'S MIRROR. Did that bobbing head belong to a seal? Or a MERMAID? Actually, it was just a surfer. But it was a nice moment.
So I do love a beach, but I seem to prefer the ones with water too cold for swimming. I want dramatic cliffs, rocky outcroppings, colorful foliage, and a scarcity of humans. Del Mar certainly fits the bill during this trip!
Okay, so . . . I had low expectations and ended up pleasantly surprised.
[WARNING -- this is a frivolous discussion. And it's a wee bit spoilery.]
Things I liked: Eva Green is AWESOME, as expected.
The Irish locations are breathtaking.
Camelot is a ruin. You know how I love a ruin!
James Purefoy certainly made an impression. (Lot's "Eff this!" was priceless.)
Kay is a nice guy. How refreshing!
Jamie Campbell Bower works just fine for me as a young Arthur. But is he Keira Knightly's long lost baby brother? They have the same snarly mouth. (Omigosh he is engaged to Ginny Weasley! So cute, but they are BABIES!)
I'm warming to Joseph Fiennes as Merlin. Wasn't sure at first, but he grew on me.
The writers include traditional elements of the Arthurian legends, but put their own spin on them. I liked the sword in the stone scene -- nice re-imagining of a rather stale Arthurian convention. I also was intrigued by how they took the "Mordred gets speared and then pulls himself toward Arthur to stab him" (one of my favorite gory moments from Malory) and assigned the roles to Ector and Lot. The writers must have decided to use this early in case the series is cancelled!
Things I didn't like: Guinevere. Why did they have to give her contemporary hair and makeup and dress her in VELOUR? (Maybe it was supposed to be velvet, but did velvet even exist that far back? Yes, it's a fantasy, but they've tried to create a pre-Saxon world in this show, right? Oh, and I hate how she's dancing like a teen girl at homecoming when Arthur approaches her at the party. Yuck. It was all yuck. But then again, I love hating Guinevere. So maybe this is a positive instead of a negative? (And I DID enjoy Merlin's agitated reaction when he was spying into Arthur's sexy dream about her. That was cool.)
Speaking of contemporary hair, what's up with Philip Winchester (Leontes)? How can he see through that flop of hair when he's sword fighting? He looks like the lead singer of a band, not a knight of the Round Table.
This is old ladyish of me, but my main complaint is the sexual content. In many cases the scenes had some faint connection to plot or character development, but on the whole it seemed a matter of "insert boobs at regular intervals." My dear husband, being a guy (a key demographic for STARZ), did not complain. I, however, was rolling my eyes.
Who else watched? What were your thoughts?
Up for discussion next week:The Killing on AMC. (Enjoyed the two-hour premiere -- will report in more detail after the next ep!)
Yes, I drove down to Dallas to see this movie, for it seems that it won't be coming to my area for the rest of this month.
(But I think it's doing fairly well in the box office, considering its limited release, so perhaps it will come sooner? I hope so, because I want to see it AGAIN!)
I was very pleased. You should know, however, that I've been a fan of Michael Fassbender for quite some time, so I was fully prepared to adore him as Rochester. Yes, he's too handsome. No, he doesn't tease and torment Jane quite as much as he does in the book. I was okay with both of those changes! He's quieter, but still intense. His relative calm made the more passionate scenes all the more dramatic. And in the end? Oh! How I love the final scene!
I quite liked Mia Wasikowska. At times, such as when her grave face would break into a quick smile (in reaction to Rochester), she reminded me of fellow Aussie Anna Torv. She's small and fragile*, but still manages to be fierce. I loved her physicality and her expressive face. (*I hope, once filming was done, that someone handed Mia a plate of cheeseburgers. She was TINY.)
The film locations and cinematography were nothing less than spectacular.
I admired the streamlined script. There's not as much of the Jane/Rochester banter -- and some might find their growing attraction underdeveloped -- but considering the time limitations of a theatrical release I thought Moira Buffini did a lovely job. There's this moment, after the BIG REVEAL, when Rochester says something to Jane that I'm SURE isn't in the book, but it's so intriguing -- I almost think it's a response to Wide Sargasso Sea, but maybe that's because it reminds me of something my friend C once said in Rochester's defense.
I was glad to see that the script cut much of the over-the-top stuff, but the film does lack a bit of the creepy/quasi-ghostly feel of the book.
Hi there! I'm the author of THE REVENANT (2011), THE DARK BETWEEN (2013), and GHOSTLIGHT (2015), all from Alfred A. Knopf. I blog a little about writing, but more often about reading, travel, TV and movies. Nothing too serious. Check the links below for more places to find me on the web, or click the banner to return to my website.