Thursday, December 29, 2005

"King Kong" (2005) -- Initial Thoughts

I went to see King Kong last night with ED and the Chameleon. I very much so liked it, so hooray for Peter Jackson! (Except for all those centipedes, I could really have done with out them.)

Later that night, the Chameleon and I watched Laura. And we noticed that these two very different movies--one a new monsterful movie and the other classic film noir--have startling similarities. Think about it...beautiful, fragile girl becomes object of monster's affection-that-turns-to-obsession. In King Kong, the monster is a giant gorilla; in Laura, it's a snide narcissist. Of course, Kong is actually be a sweetheart, while Waldo Lydecker turns out to be maniacal. But they both die at the end, and not by the hand of the guy that the girl ends up with (whew!).

Monday, December 26, 2005

This Christmas, I discovered a really great new fudge recipe--it's so much easier than the ones I've used before! It involves absolutely no stirring and stirring and stirring over a hot stove :-) Check it out!

Pudding Fudge

1 pkg (8 squares) Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, divided
1/3 cup water
1 pkg (4-serving size) chocolate instant pudding
3 cups powdered sugar

Microwave 4 of the chocolate squares, water, and 6 Tbsp of butter in large microwavable bowl on high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir. Add dry pudding mix; stir until well blended. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, stirring until well blended after each addition. Press into foil-lined 8-inch square pan. Microwave remaining 4 chocolate squares and 2 Tbsp butter in large microwavable bowl on high 1-1/2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Spread over pudding mixture. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. Remove foil and fudge and cut into squares. Makes 36-48 pieces.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" (2005) -- Initial Thoughts

I went to see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tonight, with Noumenon and some of his (and Cowboy's) relatives. Two of the relatives were kids, 15 and 10, perfect for watching this kind of movie.

I liked it. I didn't love it, but I liked it. It was good, just not magnificent. If they would have gotten Weta Workshops to do all the effects, instead of just letting them do the armor and weaponry and giving the rest to Industrial Lights & Magic, I think it would have been better. I mean, the main CG stuff was good, like Aslan and the beavers and the centaurs, things like that. But there were too many minor parts that weren't polished and perfect, little flaws around the edges that kept catching my eye and distracting me. Like this one twitchy little critter in some of the scenes with the White Witch...I don't know what it was, but it annoyed me every time it appeared, because it looked like it belonged in Shrek, not this.

Oh, and can I rant about the costuming for a minute? Most of it was nice, and the bits of 1940's England were quite lovely. But what was up with the White Witch's main costume? Here, I've got a picture of it...isn't it odd? It looks like two giant styrofoam sno-cone cups stuck together and covered in squishy silver stuff. What is up with the whole shelf thing on her shoulders? It's just weird.

As for acting, well, I first have to say that casting Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan was bloody brilliant. How delightful! As for the children...they're good little child-actors. Not Freddie Sizemore or Haley Joel Osment or Margaret O'Brien, certainly, but I'd say they're on par with the kids in the Harry Potter movies. And the boy playing Peter (William Moseley) is really rather hot...and before you accuse me of being a mental minor-raper, he was born in 1987, so he's 18 and legal, nyah nyah nyah-nyah nyah. Actually, he was so charming and earnest and brave, I almost gave up my traditional allegiance to Edmund and became a Peter fan! But I didn't, because Edmund came through as usual and gave my heart-strings a good tugging with his whole fall-and-redemption character arc. He's always been my favorite, from the very first time I read the books. Maybe because I see a lot of myself in him--I hate being scolded and bossed and told to 'do as you're told'. His whole "Oh, yeah, well watch this!" attitude is a lot like mine.

I don't think I liked this enough to want to buy it when it comes out on dvd, but it definitely made me want to revisit the books. And I'm glad I went to see it in the theater, because that was loads of fun. Especially since I don't get to go see movies with gobs of people very often, and this is the sort of movie you want to see with gobs of people.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ohmygiddyaunt! I finally finished my latest piece of Combat! fanfiction, "Dying Like Men". The webmasters of the Purple Hearts site are too busy with Christmas busy-ness to post it there right away, but I'd been writing this story since January and a lot of other fanfic writers were clamoring to read it. So I uploaded it to our Yahoo group page, where we put temporary copies of stories until we can get them on a real page. I'll let you know just as soon as it's posted for the whole world to read (if you simply can't wait, email me and I'll consider sending you your own copy as an attachment).

I have never before gotten reactions like this to one of my stories. Bayonet, one of the other fanfic writers that I admire the most (actually, she started the Purple Hearts page), wrote me this long letter of praise for the story. She said that if I wrote a story that had no one but Littlejohn in it, she would read it.
Let me explain what makes this compliment so wonderful that it made tears well up in my eyes. Littlejohn is a very minor character in Combat!. Most fanfic stories are about the whole squad, or at least several members of it. If they're about a single member of the squad, they're generally about Lt. Hanley or Sgt. Saunders. Or sometimes Kirby or Caje, the other two main favorites. There are a few pieces that focus on Doc and Billy. I don't think I've ever read a story about only Littlejohn. His character never got very well explored in the series, and he's mostly just kind of there, being useful for whatever plot device comes along. In fanfic, Littlejohn generally gets relegated into a sort of clumsy buffoon role, which I firmly dislike. In the series, he could be clumsy, he had some marvelous humorous moments (especially in scenes where he was the 'Older and Wiser Soldier' playing off Billy's 'Naive and Disingenuous Youngster'), but he was never a buffoon.

So I decided to write "Dying Like Men" as if it was an episode shot over Littlejohn's shoulder. It's got all the other main characters in it, but it's from Littlejohn's perspective. We get to hear his thoughts and observations above all the rest of the stuff. I wanted to show him to be the intelligent, insightful character I've always thought him to be. It seems I've succeeded. Wow. That's a pretty doggoned cool feeling: succeeding in getting readers to feel the way you do about something.

(In other words, for those of you that haven't seen much/any of Combat!, writing a whole story from Littlejohn's perspective is like doing a story focusing on Riley of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Sulu of Star Trek.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I'm reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote at work during my lunches right now. I'm enthralled. I've read some of Capote's stuff before, like Breakfast at Tiffany's (which has a far better ending than the movie) and some short stories (which I seem to get confused with Tennessee Williams plays--they're all full of sweaty, unhappy people). This is so much different, I can't believe it's written by the same guy!

I think the thing I'm noticing the most is the way he's using foreshadowing. Usually foreshadowing bugs me. It makes me impatient, makes my brain scream, "Stop hinting and just tell me!" But in this, I'm not irritated, I'm tantalized. Every time he alludes to something that'll happen later, I think, "Ooooh, I wonder where that will lead? What does he mean by that?" I'm not sure how he's doing this, but I like it and I'm going to try to figure it out so I can do it too. Foreshadow without frustrating my readers.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Okay, the previous list of favorite Christmas songs just contains my favorites in general--no matter who performs them (with a few exceptions), I like 'em. Here, however, are my Top Five Favorite Specific Christmas Songs:

5. "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey (I generally detest her music, but this is fun)
4. "Jingle Bells" by Barbra Streisand (Unexpectedly jazzy and funky for Babs)
3. "Do You Hear What I Hear" by Bing Crosby (Forget cheese, he is the Voice of Melted Chocolate)
2. "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Guitars and drums for Christmas!)
1. "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful" by Elvis Presley (The percussion is amazing!)

Oddly enough, only one of those is on my other list..."Christmas Eve/Sarajevo" is a brilliant rock medley of "Carol of the Bells" and "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen".

Sunday, December 11, 2005

My dad would say this is "indicative of our society". I just call it sad. On the radio the other morning, a dj listed off the top ten most-recorded Christmas songs from the last five years. Only one of them was a song about the birth of Christ: "The Little Drummer Boy". And it came in at number ten. The rest of them were all secular, about snow and Santa and such.

So anyway, here are my Top Ten Favorite Christmas Songs:

10. "Pas de Deux" from The Nutcracker
9. "Silver Bells"
8. "Once in Royal David's City"
7. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
6. "If Every Day was Like Christmas"
5. "White Christmas"
4. "Go Tell it on the Mountain"
3. "Angels We Have Heard on High"
2. "What Child is This"
1. "Carol of the Bells"

Hmm. Seems like I'm half-and-half, huh?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I should be writing about the attack on Pearl Harbor tonight, shouldn't I? Being the big WWII history buff that I am, right? But I'm not gonna. I'm gonna write about Walk the Line, Joaquin Phoenix, and Johnny Cash. Because I just went to see the movie tonight, and it was even better than I'd hoped. Honestly, it was as if Joaquin Phoenix wasn't playing Johnny Cash, but he was Johnny Cash. Now, I'm not what you'd call a huge Johnny Cash fan--I mean, I don't know him and his music like I do Bobby Darin's, so I couldn't judge the acting and singing in this the way I could for the BD biopic Beyond the Sea, but to me it seemed like Joaquin really got inside who Johnny Cash was and the demons that drove him.

My first memories of Johnny Cash come from my teen years. Mom, Johnnycake, and I would watch Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman every Saturday night, and Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash did one or two guest appearances over the years on the show--I remember a Thanksgiving episode with them in it, for sure. My other memory is of this tape of Western songs my Dad has. It's got two Johnny Cash songs on it, "Don't Take Your Guns to Town" and "Wanted Man."

Then Johnny Cash dropped out of my life for about five years. He dropped back in when Cowboy and I got addicted to his version of "Hurt" the first year we were married. And now...well...I've got "Walk the Line" stuck in my head, if that's any indication to you...

As for Joaquin Phoenix, well, I've pretty much been drooling at his feet since I saw Signs and he was all broad-shouldered and broody. In this one, he's about the sexiest I've seen him, particularly since I'm enthralled with his eyes and he does a lot with them here...and who knew he had a voice that amazing? I'm going to buy the soundtrack. His lower register in particular just makes my toes tingle.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I uploaded my manuscript to the Official NaNoWriMo Word-Counter today, and it officially declared me a winner! So now I have these two nifty icons to use, and I also got to print up a certificate of accomplishment, which I plan to frame and hang on my wall to remind myself that I can write unbelievably large numbers of words in a very short time if I really want to...