Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jasper, Jasper, Jasper!

Note: This is not a spoiler alert. I will not reveal anything you didn't already know about the Twilight: Eclipse film.

Yes, I made it to the midnight showing. Yes, I stood in line three hours before it happened, ticket in hand, Edward shirt on body, with a crowd hyped up like they were going to a concert. Yes, I was one of the oldest people in line. Yes, people screamed when the show started, and many other times, too. The only difference was that my ticket was only $10, not the high dollar stuff of concerts.

While I took my fold-up chair to the car, another car stopped near me, and the driver, and older man, asked, "Why are all those people crowding up there?"

I told him it was for Twilight.

"Really? I don't know anything about the Twilight thing."

"You don't need to," I told him. "The movies weren't meant for you. You wouldn't understand." I tell that to a lot of men, actually. And some women, too.

The film was good. Not great, but I didn't expect it to be. Honestly, I waited months to read the fourth book because I had been disappointed in the third, so the movie being just okay was no surprise to me. I'm not a Jacobean, and the resemblance between the film Jacob and the boy I babysat all last year reinforces my adherence to Edward. Naturally, all of the shirtless shots of Jacob didn't do a lot for me (though they really excited quite a few others in the theatre).

I only have two beefs with the experience. One was the ring that floated around through the second half of the movie--this all-important ring that was so highly significant--and it was truly fugly. It may be one of the fugliest rings I've ever seen. (If you don't know what fugly is, think about it a bit more).

Most of all, though, I was disappointed in the title character of my blog post: Jasper. You see, in movie one, he actually vied with Edward on the hotness quotient. In the second film, his hair stunk, and he just looked weird. He looked better in this, but as we walked into the theatre, I told my friend, "I sure hope they fix Jasper's hair in this movie." And they didn't. It didn't look so much like a wig as in #2, but it still wasn't hot. Very disappointing.

So there you have it, a movie review that reveals nothing truly important about the movie at all. How you like them apples?

On a happy note, I am literally a couple hours from finishing all of the big tasks this week. Yes, my week's to-do list is almost done, and I will also manage to fit in many of the extra tasks in, too. Now I'm off to start laundry and weed the garden!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Now That's Progress!

Funny how just listing out a bunch of things online makes me work harder. Here is the list from yesterday, and the items in BOLD are those I have already FINISHED.

1. Select and order books for English 103: The Critical Essay (film criticism, I think)
2. Send syllabi to Colby Community College (the college lost previous files).
3. Finish the red dress I began in May (for July 4 weekend).
4. Help online student finish incomplete and turn in his grade.
5. Take up straps of swimsuit (too long).
6. Call girlfriends and buy tickets for midnight showing of Twilight film (unless it's too late to get tickets).

No, I'm not kidding. I pored through textbooks today, found the perfect one, and I've even ordered an instructor's copy. I am also likely two days away from the student's completion of the course.

Now all I need to do is sew. Yippee!

Oh, but wait a second. I had a second list. I have managed to work some on Oxford research, but it's going slowly. I fear the books will be overdue again very soon, but I'll just keep working on them.

On the bright side, my goal was to work out 1.5 hours/day minimum. Yesterday I managed 2.25 hours. And today I worked out for FOUR HOURS!!! Yes, that's right. I am a goddess!

Tomorrow? Cardio Kickboxing, more Oxford research, a bit of kid-tickling... Sky's the limit, as long as I can work in a nap in the afternoon. Otherwise I won't be able to stay up for the midnight showing of Twilight: Eclipse.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Got to Get Going!

Just about a week ago, I posted a list of things I need to get done. I am working on one of the bigger tasks right now (the research for Oxford), but since I began work, I have discovered a bunch of other assignments that I simply must do as well. I've been on "vacation" at a hotel for three days, and I'm heading home today, but I'm truly hoping to get some substantial work done this week, prior to the Thursday afternoon/evening when we take off for Nani's (my beloved mother-in-law).

Here's what I need to get done:

1. Select and order books for English 103: The Critical Essay (film criticism, I think)
2. Send syllabi to Colby Community College (the college lost previous files).
3. Finish the red dress I began in May (for July 4 weekend).
4. Help online student finish incomplete and turn in his grade.
5. Take up straps of swimsuit (too long).
6. Call girlfriends and buy tickets for midnight showing of Twilight film (unless it's too late to get tickets).

But here are the other things I want to get done by July 1:

1. Complete Oxford research and return all overdue books.
2. Revise short play for ten-minute play festival (auditions are July 10).
3. Do another piano lesson with the kids--Wednesday?
4. Exercise a minimum of 1.5 hours per day.

Can I get all this done in four days? No idea. My prediction is that some Oxford books will still be overdue and that I might take some work with me. I'm trying to make weekly goals, though, and not just a full summer goal, so that I can get stuff done in increments. I was actually really efficient last week, stepping up my exercise to about 3 hours/day, as well as getting the house in shape (finally!), starting up my kids' piano lessons again, and fixing half a dozen pieces of clothing that had been in the mending pile for months.

What are your goals this week? If you find my list daunting, don't fret. I'm a bit overly self-driven.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All about Oxford

I am digging into my research today on Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Most of you have likely not heard of the guy, and I had not until my freshman year of college, oh so many years ago (too many for me to admit). I was in Composition II, and our final assignment was to write a persuasive essay on anything we wished (after writing several on a variety of assigned topics like gun control, capital punishment, abortion, etc.). I couldn't find a topic I really cared about at all, but fortunately my parents watched a lot of public television.

I was watching Frontline on PBS on Sunday evening, the day before our chosen topics had to be turned in, and it's title that week was "The Shakespeare Mystery," and it brought up the idea that William Shakspere of Stratford had not written the plays at all, but instead, as a growing group of people contended, Edward de Vere did. I'll admit I scoffed at first. By the end of the hour, though, I had serious doubts. I researched the topic diligently, and was surprised to find that a huge number of books on the subject were right in my small college's library, ripe for the reading.

And, after much research, I had to admit I had become an Oxfordian, joining such famous people as Kenneth Branagh and Sir John Gielgud. (Shakespearean actors tend to be more open to the idea of Oxford's authorship than Shakespearean scholars--big surprise). I've been fiddling with these ideas ever since, and now that I've found a used copy of Oxford's biography, The Mysterious William Shakespeare, I'm researching everything, constructing timelines, planning out major events, all in hopes of creating a magnificent full-length play.

As most of you know, though, my first drafts tend to stink, so I'll be making a truly mediocre version first, then revising it to death until it's actually worth performing onstage. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Deus ex Machina, or the Stupid Solution

I just finished another Pride and Prejudice knock-off. After my last experience with Regina Jeffers' awful book (bashed in a previous blog entry), I was reluctant to try another one, but I checked out Mr. Darcy, Vampyre from the library anyway.

Let me say, first, that it was a FAR better book than Jeffers'. Her level of plagiarism and horrid grammar made me gag for two days straight. This book was far more original, and began with the wedding, leading through to Elizabeth's final discovery that her husband was a vampyre.

What I hated--and I mean hated--was the end. Instead of resolving the problems the book accumulated through some known means, Amanda Grange (the author) pulled a rabbit out of a hat, inventing in the last 20 pages a solution for all of it.

It isn't just this Deus ex Machina I hate. It's any solution slapped on the end of a plot line because the author(s) cannot think of a fix that is integral to the rest of the book. As I write, perhaps I am better at creating the problem and building the tension than I am at finding the solution. Perhaps the solution only comes as I write, and I don't plan for it. However, once the solution has been found, it is my job as a writer to REVISE with that solution in mind. Grange's book's ending tossed all of the suspense and conflict on its head, essentially wiping it out in simple ways with an invented wash cloth of sorts. It's as if she'd written her characters into such a hole that the only way out was some weird prophecy.

The Sherlock Holmes stories had this problem, offering "solutions" to the mysteries only through cryptic details at the last minute, details none of the readers would ever be able to pick up on, but at least some of the clues were there already. I like it best when a plot contains the solutions, yet I miss them, and the ending is a surprise. Then I can re-read and see all the clues I missed the second time around. That, to me, is satisfying.

Now, here is one place this worked for me, and I'll explain why: At the end of Disney's The Little Mermaid, when Triton sees that his daughter loves Prince Eric, he magically gives her the legs she wanted, and she gets to live happily ever after. One could certainly argue that this last-minute "fix" was a deus ex machina. However, Triton could have done the same magic earlier, except for his prejudice against humans and dry land. It takes his near loss of his daughter and personal witness of Prince Eric's bravery to change his mind. You see, the plot isn't really about Ariel's becoming human, but about her father's acceptance of her choice. And that makes his act all the more potent and meaningful, as well as something we could have seen coming (though I was surprised the first time around).

What about all of you? What endings have struck you wrong? When has an ending seemed forced? When has it fundamentally changed what you thought you were reading?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer To-Do List

Admit it. You knew this was coming. You did. You knew I was just biding my time, holding back my inner OCD-driven list maker. Haiku kept it at bay over the last few weeks, but here it is, my overwhelming summer list of creative To-Do's:

1. Revise Mariah's Ark (second novel)
2. Revise Charley (third novel)
3. Revamp plans for Thomas novel series, rewriting the first episode from scratch
4. Write mermaid novel (to be my fourth)
5. Research all I can for Edward de Vere play
6. Write Edward de Vere play (full length)
7. Get ten-minute play "A Game of Dance" ready for performance
8. Write at least three more short plays
9. Paint with my kids at least once per week
10. Get back on track teaching my children to play piano
11. Write two more veggie books and get them ready for submissions
12. Develop a submission plan to implement by September for ALL works, so that I can submit at least one item each week through the school year.

I'm sure I have more, but I'm already feeling overwhelmed (and excited). I'm about to start on the research part, mainly because half the books I am using are already overdue at the library.

What are your plans for summer? Got a to-do list of your own?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Another Haiku Theme

I have to admit the guesses for the last set of haiku were great! Flit's was especially perceptive, for she figured out hedgehog for the fourth haiku stanza. I've always loved hedgehogs, though I cannot tell you why. They seem a bit like Piglet (of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories), cute and timid and easily spooked, and that brings out the maternal in me.

Here are a few more, all based on a single theme:

Golden, flame-throwing
Hot enough to fuel each
Summer afternoon

Mystic, calm, remote
Brilliant in a darkened sky
Behind passing clouds

Softened by the winds
Swirling over all its lands
Mammoth in its space

Like its "son" next door
Swirls of stormy clouds, but more--
Asteroids in rings

I assume by the end of the selection the clues will help you through them all. I should, perhaps, make the stanzas more difficult, but I don't want them to go unguessed! (Is that so wrong?)

Anyway, tell me what you think each one is. Post a message to me, and write one of your own haiku on the theme! I'd love to read them!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Haiku Party

I am at a teaching conference right now (which would explain my not checking in), but my sister's last haiku inspired me to create a series of four. Can you guess how they are related?

Silken, slippery
Swishing bubbles, drifting through
Its treasure chest

Black-eyed, waiting for
Children stepping off the bus
In lonely silence

Curled up soft and warm
Eyes golden, mind drifting off
The sharp smell of fish

Soft and fragile, but
Given cause, all sharp as pain
Not easy to kill

Guess one, and you'll probably be able to figure them all out. I head home from my conference tomorrow, so I'll soon be home free, and able to write. Leave me a message with your guesses, and kudos to whoever can figure out all four!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Haiku Saturday

This is turning into an obsession! Jeff guessed the last one correctly: Piano. I am finally at the point where I can play the piano again, so it's been on my mind. I have a pretty fabulous system here in my living room/sitting room. My gorgeous antique upright grand piano is right next to my writing chair. If I get stuck writing, I can just hop over to the piano, plink out a few songs, and then regroup at the writing station.

I've also rediscovered zumba. I've done it three days in a row, and I've already lost almost three pounds just from the exercise! Even better, it feels great.

Here's the haiku for today, a clue for what I'll be doing later this morning:

Sharp pin prick of pain
Then dullness, ache, well worth the
Sparkle of diamond

Got a guess? Let me know what you think it is! Remember, too, to write a haiku of your own, riddle or not, for the rest of us to enjoy.

And tell me what you think of the new template I'm using. I think it's pretty me, especially for the summer, since I'll be reading and writing books with abandon.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Haiku Continued

Sorry if y'all are sick of this, but I'm not, and it's the only thing fast enough for me to attend to until I get my grades turned in. Final Projects are graded for one class, but I have a few essays with the other class to assess, then final exams, and grade averages to figure out for everyone.

But when I'm not swimming in papers, I'm thinking of haiku riddles. Stephanie figured out the last one easily, with a not so gracious "duh" (she's my older sis, though, so I'm used to that), so here's another one.

Black as night mixed in
Between the pearly gloss
Lilting melody

You know the drill (or if you don't, the object is to figure out what my cryptic haiku is about, post a message with your guess, and await my fantastic answer on my next post).

Remember, too, to add a haiku of your own, either as a riddle, or just for fun!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More Haiku

Congratulations to Stephanie, who caught on to the "dew" of the last haiku! And I'm grateful for the creativity of both Stephanie and CherilynDavid, too! Please keep the haiku coming!

This next haiku is a famous person:

Muscles, bright blue eyes,
A single lock of hair, but
Too soon wheelchair bound.

Got a guess who it is? Post a message letting me know.

Feeling brave? Try a famous person haiku of your own! I'll try to guess yours (or you can guess each other's, too).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summertime's Coming

The light at the end of the tunnel is glimmering at me... and though I spent all last night on one stack of papers, and another awaits me as I type this, I know the grading will end very soon.

Here is a summertime haiku, just since I'm in the mood:

Still shining sprinkles
Resting, waiting for the air
The golden sun sheds

Think you know what it is? Comment with your guess. Despite my horrid grading schedule (which should end next Thursday at the latest!), I'll try to post the answer tomorrow, with another haiku. If you'd like to go further (and have the inclination and the time), leave a haiku of your own!