Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 of 2010

It was hard to choose, but I tried to pick 10 media based things that are new for me this year or at least have reached an extraordinarily new level of enjoyment. No doubt there were other writers, musicians, etc. that tickled my fancy this year, but here are the standouts with brief explanations for each.

The Black Keys- Though they aren’t brand new, they are a recent discovery of mine. I love their blending of blues with an alternative rock feel.

Cabin Pressure- Discovered entirely by accident, this has encouraged me that radio plays aren’t completely dead and my dream of writing them may be realized. It’s also hilarious and has Benedict Cumberbatch.

Doctor Who Series Five- I was so ready to dislike Matt Smith and after the indulgent completion of Davies reign, it seemed bleak. Though it wasn’t perfect, I thoroughly enjoyed series five and am terribly excited for series six.

Florence + the Machine- Finally gaining notoriety in the US, Lungs is probably one of the best albums I’ve experienced in recent memory. Every song is unique and well crafted.

The Great Gatsby- I can’t believe I had never read this book before. It was incredibly fluid and tragic. It deserves its place among American classics.

Have I Got News For You- I’ve recently started watching this program online. It’s a great way to get an overview of world news and a great laugh via British celebrities.

Keats- His melancholy poetry has been my companion through many a rainy afternoon this year. The film Bright Star, a biopic of the poet, though flawed, was beautiful and lush.

NaNoWriMo- Not my first year doing NaNo, but an infinitely more satisfying experience than last year. Really found a new writing niche and characters I adore… maybe too much.

Sherlock Holmes- This year I consumed more Holmes based media than probably my life combined before. My readings of the original canon, watching the Jeremy Brett’s series, and the series Sherlock have created an obsession to be sure.

Thoreau- In my other life (and blog) interest in practicing a more natural and sustainable handmade lifestyle has drawn me to Thoreau and I’ve quite enjoyed many of this writings from Walden and his idea of simplification.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Doctor Who Sherlock Crossover

Steve Moffat said this won't happen outside the realm of fanfic, but I say it already has. Clearly the Doctor infiltrated the unaired pilot of Sherlock.Little montage of Anderson's beard from the pilot from Andersonsbeard on Tumblr.

It's the same beard. Picture is from the new series six trailer. Coincidence? Yeah. Probably.

Sorry, my mind couldn't rest until I had done a comparison post. When I saw the new Doctor Who trailer all I could think was "With that beard Matt Smith looks like Anderson in the unaired pilot of Sherlock." The lanky hair helps too I believe. I really should be doing something more productive with my winter break- though I have been writing quite a bit and working on material for the spring Forensic Speech tournaments.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

British Actors in Band of Brothers

Yesterday was a bit of a duvet day at my house- we had considerable snow fall the night before and were a bit stuck in. There was a Band of Brothers marathon on and my father is a huge history buff- especially in regards to WWII so we had it on all day. It followed the Easy Company from D-Day through the end of the war.
I did miss several bits of it as I was trying to be productive and not stay on the couch all day, but I noticed that there were many actors from the UK pulling convincing American accents in the film- many actors I've enjoyed in other pieces.

Damian Lewis is fantastic as Captain Winters, one of the main protagonists of the piece.

James Macavoy plays a fresh faced replacement, Pvt. Miller.

Marc Warren plays the very sympathetic Albert Blithe.

Andrew Scott plays Pvt. "Cowboy" Hall. Look at that pout. His voice is deeper for this role than the voice he used in Sherlock and My Life In Film as well.

Tom Hardy from series such as Wuthering Heights and Oliver Twist plays Pfc. Janovec

Michael Fassbender plays yet another soldierly role (previously from 300 and Inglorious Basterds) plays "Pat" Christenson.

Simon Pegg does a great American accent as Sgt. Evans - great Scottish as well in Star Trek.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Doctor Who Special and Series 6 Trailer

The Doctor Who Special that aired on Christmas Day. It was loosely based on Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol with the Doctor trying to rehabilitate a Scrooge character named Kazran during the "Crystal Feast"- that planet's version of the Christmas holiday. Overall, it wasn't bad. There were excellent performances by Michael Gambon and singer Katherine Jenkins. It starts with Amy and Rory on their honeymoon... dressed as a kiss-o-gram and a roman soldier... ahem.

For once the Doctor wasn't trying to vanquish some monster force, he was trying to prevent a man from becoming a monster. Interesting.

Some very humorous timey-wimey things occur. The Doctor might have married Marilyn Monroe, he and a young Kazran also get to wear some fezzes and some rainbow striped scarves. Though all this was amusing, they did play a little fast and loose with the established rules of time travel, such as crossing personal time lines.

Moffat also gave the Doctor a total Sherlock Holmes deduction moment- he notices a painting of Kazran's father and deduces the state of their relationship by its placement in the room in relation to the furniture, etc. For a moment I thought he must have accidentally forgotten he was writing Who and started working on the next season of Sherlock.

Still, overall it was enjoyable and a bit sad.

The series 6 trailer has me so excited! It seems to be very America centric (which as they have been filming in the US makes sense) with some great Western landscapes and a new hat for the Doctor, this time a Stetson- though River doesn't seem to like it much. She seems like she'll be heavily involved in next season... and possibly naked. Yeah. Anyway, some key quotations from the trailer seem to be the Doctor saying "Amy Pond, my life in your hands," and "...monsters are real." Some creepy doll creatures are on the menu (as if dolls aren't creepy enough).

There appears to be: 17th century characters, Nazis, the TARDIS from "The Lodger," the Doctor chained up and bearded, Utah, the Ood, mysterious markings on Amy and River. Neil Gaiman is said to have written an episode this season, so that should be interesting.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I don't want to get beaten up... but in many ways I prefer the 2008 film to this version of Sense and Sensibility, this is no comment on the acting- the cast is fabulous- simply the fact that the longer, episodic form of the 2008 version gave the story breathing room and allowed for more of the book to be adapted. There were many moments where I thought "Yes, but then in the book ____ happens" or "They didn't ____."
Emma Thompson is dazzling as the quietly struggling Elinor (one of my favorite Austen characters played by one of my favorite actresses), and her screenplay does use a lot of Austen's own lush language to her advantage. Even though her screenplay is limited by the time allowance for the feature film format, she gives great characterization to all the characters. Kate Winslet is excellent as Marianne, very young, which is perfect for the character. There are also some moments where she seems a little bratty, especially toward Elinor, but that fits well and helps create and interesting dynamic between the sisters. Gemma Jones is also admirable in the role of Mrs. Dashwood. She is, as the book describes her, very similar to Marianne in many ways and seems almost half in love with Willoughby herself.

As far as the menfolk go (oh no, I'm getting to the shallow part of my review quicker than I had intended...), Greg Wise is believably dashing as Willoughby and very likable. There are slight hints of his hiding something, but for the most part it is very unexpected in the film when his previous indiscretions come to light. Hugh Grant is classically awkward, but it works very well for the character of Edward Ferrers and his bumbling attempts at communication with Elinor are very sweet and endearing. Alan Rickman is by far the most fabulous of the men in this film. He is passionate, long suffering, and so darn honorable. His facial expressions tell so much emotion, though he is reserved. He is also very pretty, in a totally manly way.

The supporting cast was also very strong. Hugh Laurie makes a brief, but humorous appearance as Mr. Palmer and Imelda Staunton plays his ever chatting wife, Charlotte. Imogen Stubbs as Lucy Steele comes across as calculating and slightly evil- I like this interpretation. Her little chick fight with Fanny, played by Harriet Walter is highly amusing. James Fleet is a good fit as John Dashwood, Elinor and Marianne's hen-pecked half brother. However, I will always prefer Mark Gatiss in the role. Perhaps it is because I like gingers, perhaps it is because I like Mark Gatiss. Who can tell?

Overall, a good adaptation, even if it is a little too condensed. There are some very lush outdoor scenes and some nice interiors as well for those that enjoy historical buildings and furnishings. The only thing it lacked that I so enjoyed in the 2008 version is a sense of darkness and bleakness in the visuals in the beginning. The atmosphere of uncertainty wasn't as obvious, nor was the desperation of the Dashwoods' financial situation. Still, it was enjoyable and is definitely worth the watching, especially if you don't have the time to dedicate to the 2008 mini-series.

However- I must say that in the movie poster Kate Winslet's hair looks like a weird curl helmet, it's much prettier than that in the movie.

Friday, December 24, 2010

This Sums Up Everything

Need I say more? Totally snagged from Bookshelf Porn on Tumblr.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Hound of the Baskervilles

I just finished reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles for the first time. It is probably his most famous and beloved novel, I believe it is also the most frequently adapted Holmes story as well. There may be a few mini-spoilers near the end of this review, but nothing that should endanger your enjoyment of the book.
The story starts as many do, someone coming to consult Holmes on a problem. In this case it is a country doctor by the name of Mortimer. He has come to meet the new owner of the Baskerville estate, Sir Henry Baskerville, soon to arrive from North America. His relative, Sir Charles Baskerville has just died under slightly mysterious circumstances and Sir Henry is the last living Baskerville.
Stories of a mythic hell-hound haunting the Baskerville family, some missing boots and a mysterious fellow tailing young Sir Henry in London are enough to peak Holmes' interest that there is indeed, something afoot. He sends Watson to Devonshire with Sir Henry while remaining in London to finish up some business surrounding a black mailing case.
By far, Hound is creepier than any of Doyle's previous stories. The wild Devon moors with their unearthly cries and the Grimpen Mire where ponies and people are sucked under, never to return, all set an ambiance of danger and the unknown. However, as we are dealing with Sherlock Holmes, there is a logical explanation behind all, or nearly all. This is also a very Watson centric narrative, as Holmes leaves him on his own to investigate for several chapters. Of course, Holmes is lurking nearby and reenters the story before long. There also seems to be a lot of guy love in this particular story- Watson's determination not to let 'his master'- yes, he calls Holmes his master at one point- down. Still, as much flack as Watson gets for being the "dumb side-kick" he shows time and again in stories like this that he is very sharp and very useful, Holmes wouldn't trust him if he wasn't.
We also receive a very interesting cast of characters all laden with secrets and pasts. Doyle creates some depth to characters that may not be initially thought of as important.
My biggest criticism is that the final chapter is a little too heavy
handed. Doyle felt the need to have Holmes reiterate every important point from
the novel and explain how the conclusion was reached. I felt this was
unnecessary. Any astute reader or even any reader familiar with this kind of
mystery will- metaphorically- prick their ears up at the mention of a very disreputable younger brother supposedly dying in South America some years
As many points of the mystery are very neatly compartmentalized and explained earlier in the novel, the final chapter felt superfluous. Tacked on to make sure everyone got it.
Overall it was a well structured mystery with plenty to keep the reader interested and enough clues to allow you to solve the mystery along with Sherlock Holmes (which is always a mini-ego boost when you do). Continuity was never Doyle's strong point, so I'm not even going to ask what happened to Watson's wife, I'll just assume Doyle misplaced her again.
This is the first of my winter break reading list, I'm still deciding what will be next.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Scholarly Writing and Short Fiction Contests

I've never considered myself to be a scholarly writer, obviously I have to do that sort of work in the English Department, but I've never considered it my strongest area or an area where I want to focus myself for the future. However, I occasionally write pretty decent essays and research papers (apparently).
My wonderful literature professor has talked me into submitting one of my papers to an intercollegiate women's studies conference. I still have some editing to do before I send it in Thursday, but it may be an interesting experience. If accepted, I'll get to present my paper and discuss it. The subject is the short story "The Hand" by Colette- an interesting piece and very short, worth reading.
In spite of some initial misgivings I have decided to submit it, so we'll see if it gets accepted.
I've also decided to enter a short story contest called "Jane Austen Made Me Do It." Honestly, how could I not enter a contest with that name? I'm drafting a story right now, the deadline's in February, so that leaves me a good timeline to work with. I realize that I will be one of a multitude of entries and will probably not win, probably not even really be the kind of story that they are looking for, but it will be a good experience. I'm bad with deadlines, so it will be a good exercise in self discipline, and since I'm very weird about people reading my work, it will be good for me to send it out and have other people read what I write for once.
I'm also drafting a new mystery novel for my series. I've decided that 2011 will be a productively experimental year for me as a writer. I'm not going to turn down new writing challenges and opportunities, I'm going to embrace them and broaden my versatility as a writer.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How I'm Feeling About Final Exams/Papers *In Pictures*

I've decided that these carefully selected pictures of actors from two of my favorite BBC programs describe the angst and lack of motivation I'm feeling right now quite accurately.

Now back to my papers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I almost forgot: Everything Austen Challenge

Whoops, I've neglected this challenge for a while. I can't remember if this is my 3/6 or my 4/6 project. As this challenge is for everything Austen, Austen inspired crafts and such are fair game. Well, I made this reticule a little while back and forgot to post it. It's sort of my interpretation of those bags all such heroines carry their necessities in in every film adaptation. The tapered bottom and drawstring/wrist strap is a pretty standard look, I made it my own by making a knit overlay I wove out of some lovely purple yarn. It's fully lined and up on one of my Etsy shops here. There are more pictures on the site.
I swore I would finally finish Mansfield Park for this challenge... guh, I haven't yet. It's the one novel of Austen's I've never been able to get into.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Things I have learned from Sherlock Holmes

I've been reading a lot of early Holmes such as The Sign of Four and the Adventures/Memoirs and here are some things I have learned from these great Doyle stories (other than "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" of course- I already knew that from Study in Scarlet)
-I've learned to fear receiving five dried orange seeds in the mail.
-Significant conversations are often had on trains.
-The likeliest murderer is never the murderer.
-Disguises are best used often and are extremely effective.
-War wounds tend to migrate.
-You can judge a man by his pipe.
-People often carry a large collection of significant items in their coat pockets at the time of their death
-In Watson's timeline, things often happen out of order (time traveler I have to assume)
-The motives of women are inscrutable.

And finally: Sherlock Holmes is not always right (!) "If it should ever strike you that I am getting a little overconfident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper 'Norbury' in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you."- The Yellow Face
It was inevitable.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

At Last

It has been one of the most incident crowded two weeks of my life, but things seem to be calming down now.
With classes finishing and (hopefully) no more rogue stomach viruses or dying relatives, my thoughts turn to my NaNo novel and it's sequels. I've mapped out enough for five books- the story I wrote will take the place of a sort of prequel to the series. I'm starting to write them but find I'm writing them out of order. I don't know if that's a problem, but so far it isn't. I have a new name for my main character as well: Victoria. I don't know if it will stick, she's hard to pin down, and it's totally different than the names I'd previously been working with, but I kind of like it.
The semester has gone by so quickly, but it's a relief to have a few weeks off and be able to start fresh in some new classes. Unfortunately my independent study didn't go through, but there will likely be other opportunities before I graduate. On the bright side, I had already started a bit of work on it and it has opened up my interest in an author I had never paid much attention to before.
I'll be back in a few days with some reviews.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Or lack there of.
I locked myself away in my room about two hours ago with the intent of being hyper productive- finishing my oral presentation, catching up on readings and even doing a rewrite on one of my papers. It's really not happening.
A few minutes ago I looked at the clock and thought to myself, "Really? I've been in here that long and this is all I have to show for it?"
All I really want to do is watch my new Sherlock DVD freshly arrived from B&N in the mail yesterday. In fact it's sitting next to me while I work, being all tempting. When are Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman not tempting? (Never.) I'm not going to give in and watch it because then I'll be up all night and probably get even less work done.
On the bright side this is my last week of classes. On the dark and gloomy post-modern side, finals are almost upon me.
I've been bombarded with fantastic ideas for my NaNo story, or rather the sequels to it. I have what I hope will eventually be a five book series plotted out with these characters and I'll just see scenes or hear bits of dialogue in my mind and I have to write it down with notes like 'this should happen in book 3' and such. My NaNo novel is actually sort of like a prequel to what I'd like the series to be.
Oh and this distracted me a bit too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jane Eyre 2011 Trailer

I just saw this was out... it doesn't look bad actually.

They also seem to have Blanche as a brunette- yay!
I can't say I don't look forward to another chance at seeing Michael Fassbender, although the more I read feminist literature from the late 19th and early 20th century, the more uneasy I feel about Rochester. Stories like "The Yellow Wallpaper" and essays about these "mad women" diagnosed with hysteria (code for a misbehaving female in that era), the less heroic he seems. Within the world of Bronte's book he is wonderful, but looking at him in a broad cultural context, he is less so.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Quick- I just think I coined a new term

I doubt I'm the first to come up with this term, but I really like it, it made me feel clever. Sitting in the draughty living room, drinking tea and brooding over the tickle in my throat and the possibly dead deer from earlier, I decided to check and see if the Sherlocking forums were back up. They were hacked a week or so ago unfortunately.
The answer is no, they aren't back yet. So, feeling a bit melancholy that I am seperated from lighthearted Sherlock Holmes discusssion by one hacker and the glass box surrounding the world of Tumblr, I thought to myself, "I guess I'm just feeling Holmesick."
That caused me to smile.
Spread it around people: Holmesick.

The Downside to Country Living

I killed a deer tonight... well possibly. I was taking the shortcut home tonight and a deer ran down the side of the hill and collided with the side of my bumper. I was a bit shaken up, so I went a few more yards, put on my hazard lights and checked out my car.
No blood, no dents, and looking up the road- no deer. Somehow it had survived our encounter and run off into the woods, I saw a the flick of its tail disappearing between the trees. However, I cannot help but worry that once the adrenaline wears off, the deer will feel the full effect of its injuries and perhaps not be out running hunters tomorrow.
My car, though from the outside looks relatively unscathed, is making a terrible rattling noise. Something was knocked loose by the impact.
We shall have to examine it further tomorrow, but I thought I'd share my little misadventure with you. This is the first deer I've ever hit, or more accurately, the first deer that has ever hit me. The suicidal thing did run straight into the side of my car. What a week it's been.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Day After NaNo

I believe NaNoWriMo could be called crack for writers.
It effects your relationships, makes your brain go a little crazy and after you stop, you suffer from withdrawal. This happened last year as well- once you get into the habit of writing everyday, you feel like you still should. Not a bad habit for someone hoping to be a professional writer, actually.
Last night I wrote a new scene with my characters that will appear in an eventual sequel. I think I feel it even more acutely this year because I adore my characters and plan on spending more time with them- as I said, sequels.
My friend and I did a novel swap, I'm currently reading hers. Tonight I experienced that awkward moment when you realize you're a side character in your friend's novel. That was new. Not terribly unpleasant.

Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010 Winner!!!

I just logged in on the site with 50,066 words!
Yay! I can't believe I thought I wouldn't make it this year- oh me of little faith. I'm actually quite please with my story as well, which I could say last year. I really know who my characters are and where I want to be going with them- I already have ideas for several more to create a series. I'm going to give myself a few weeks off before I start editing, but I am so pleased. I'm going to go bask in NaNoWriMo glow now, excuse me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why Getting Flowers is Terrible

I went on a rant this evening about how awful flowers are as a token of love. In a purely symbolic sense, it is very discouraging.
For example, giving flowers to a dying relative: your relative is dying, so to cheer them up you give them flowers that have been cut off from their life source so that they can watch them whither and die while all their family stands around watching them (the relative) whither and die. I would be so annoyed.
From an admirer I understand the deeper metaphor of a rose representing romance because they are beautiful, delicate, rare, and they hurt like hell. I have been given flowers once or twice and I appreciated the gesture, but I had to consider the other implications. Does the relationship, like the flowers have no "roots" or solid foundation? Will it be very pretty for a short while, then wilt and decay? Will all the petals drop off and reveal that all that's left is an ugly thorny stem of dead love?
For goodness sake, I would say give me a living plant, so it can grow and bloom *like our love* (excuse, I just made myself dry heave a little). Please excuse my rant, I've had a migraine for three days. I've always wondered if my migraines are caused my me over analyzing everything, such as the symbolic implications of flower-giving.

Friday, November 26, 2010

NaNoWrimo Day 26

I'm almost caught up to my suggested word count! Now there are only about 8,000 words to go until I reach 50,000. Yay.
I can't believe I was such a downer the other day. Unbelievably I still have a little bit of plot to write and have written very little word count padding crap so far this year.
Truthfully, it was a gamble this year, I picked my plot only a week before starting but being a planner with a new story has proved to be better than last year's story even though the characters had been brewing in my head for a while- I was still mostly a "pantster" in terms of preparation.
I'll be revealing my killer soon. Again, it's probably wrong, but I'm very excited. In fact, this deserves an epic and mysterious image:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Eleventh Doctor Busts A Move

Yes, yes, I'll get back to my NaNo in a minute, but it's blizzarding outside so I can't go shoot my bow or take a walk around the cemetery to cheer myself up, this has to be it.
It's a very silly interview with Matt Smith on Craig Ferguson's talk show (I'd never seen the show before this), about 10 minutes in he shows off some very nice dance moves. He also wears some interesting socks- I think his pant legs are a few inches too short, but oh well.
This will, inevitably, eat my sidebar, but I think it's worth it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Confession Time

I'm closing in on the 35,000 word mark, but I'm still about 5000 words behind on the suggested daily word count.
My confession is that I'm a little worried I won't finish this year. I know I felt the same last year, but I'm starting to lose a bit of steam. I actually do still have a few plot points left to hit, but the whole thing is very fatiguing.
Tomorrow I'm just going to have to lock myself in my room with a pot of coffee.
Perhaps part of it is now that I am getting near the climax, I'm realizing some holes in my plot and thinking about things I'll have to fix or change. Curse you inner editor. I did have fun writing this passage last night. It's very silly and slightly inspired by Sherlock, but here it is:
“So…” she began hesitantly, trying to introduce a pleasanter subject, “Chris called me. We’re going out this weekend.”
Sabrina’s eyes flickered up to meet hers, “I take it this is social?” she asked.
“Well yeah, it’s called a date, I’m sure you’ve heard of it,” Jackie told her.
“Heard of it, yes, of course. Fine. I hope you have a good time. Tell me if he says anything about the case,” Sabrina requested.
“He won’t talk about the case, it’s a date. I’m not going out with him to spy,” Jackie explained as if to a child.
“Yes, I understand that’s not the sole purpose- it can be a secondary benefit. Besides he might say something that doesn’t seem important but could be significant. In fact, perhaps you should just tell me everything he says so I can judge for myself,” said Sabrina.
“I won’t remember everything he says,” Jackie said, slightly appalled.
“Oh,” Sabrina said as if that was incomprehensible, “You won’t?”
“No,” Jackie replied firmly.
“Then maybe I should come along,” she said with a serious tone.
“Absolutely not,” Jackie insisted.
“Could you perhaps record it then and make a transcript for me? You could omit anything too personal or that would seem like a violation,” she continued.
“The whole thing seems like a violation,” Jackie scolded her.
Jackie marveled at the fact that Sabrina seemed to be pouting, “Look, if he says anything important, I’ll write it down on a napkin or something, okay?” she said.

Hey, that's the first NaNo excerpt I think I've ever shared. I'm still trying to think of a better name for the character currently called "Sabrina". I've been thinking of alternatives and visiting baby name sites. Back to the book.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Being Unproductive: a celebration

In light of the giant weight off of my shoulders with all papers complete, a reprieve from classes until Monday and little left to worry about until finals, I enjoyed an extremely unproductive afternoon. The weather was gorgeous, so I went on a long walk around town, but then decided to wander off by the creek in search of a good climbing tree. I haven't climbed a tree in ages and sometimes the urges of my tomboy childhood in the middle of nowhere return.
My search didn't yield anything too promising, the best bet was in some one's yard and that just seemed mildly inappropriate and like it might alienate my neighbors. However, cutting up by the range at the sportsman's club (it was empty, I regretted not bringing my bow, I would have had perfect solitude to practice), I ended up below the cemetery. As I write this I realize it seems slightly creepy, but it was so quiet, I just lay down in the grass- not in the cemetery proper mind you- the sky was that shade of off white that is so common in autumn.
With the tombstones in the distance behind me and the sounds of the water trickling over rocks in the creek, I felt very content. For some reason it made me think of "Ode to a Nightingale" by Keats. Particularly this stanza:

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mus├Ęd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.

Hmm... this whole scenario is sounding even more morbid. I couldn't remember the stanza exactly, but some of the words and their impression were floating through my mind. I do feel like perhaps I should watch Bright Star again now. Well to veer away from that, I should tell you I spent most of the rest of the day making things for my Etsy shop and listening to Pandora Radio.
Because of my love of analyzing and debating (English major all the way) I am a member of online forums so that I can discuss some of my obsessions that are more obscure where I live. I've recently become a member of the "Sherlocking" forums and this afternoon I wanted to go waste a bit of time there. To my chagrin the site is currently disabled due to hacking problems. Many of the members are also bloggers, but they all belong to camp Tumblr. Curses to Tumblr and its ridiculous exclusivity- you have to be a member of Tumblr to follow or comment.
I was eager to share the geekery of a recent whim of mine:

I stitched over the top button hole on my coat with red thread. It's a long story, but it has a Sherlock significance.
This has been an extremely long post. I'm going to go drink tea now. Ugh, looking at that photo has made me realize that I have really unattractive, ungainly hands. Well, I guess I should take 'hand model' off the list of possible careers now.

200 Posts

Hooray! About a month ago I celebrated my blogiversary and according to my dashboard this is my 200th post. Thanks to everyone who has kept me going for all this time!
I also find cause to celebrate the fact that I've finished all my papers. It has been rough completing four literature papers in two weeks while trying to keep up with NaNo, the paper and other homework but I have succeeded.
The rest of my week is free from classes, so I can spend it catching up on word count. I also must finish my articles for the next issue of the college paper. For my section (Arts) I write a column about British pop-culture- cleverly entitled "Pop-Culture from Across the Pond"- and I've had a request to write my next column about the upcoming royal wedding. Not exactly pop-culture, but it suddenly has everyone interested in the monarchy, so I will concede to this request.
My write up on the Katty Kay meet and greet as well as my opinions column will be going in this upcoming issue.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 21 NaNoWriMo

So, I'm about 5000 words behind right now. Yes, that's disappointing, and yes, my characters have started to have conversations about my research papers, but I've managed to write a few quality passages that I can be proud of.
I'm also proud of the fact that the second body did in fact show up around 25,000 words which was my goal. Wednesday and Thrusday I plan to spend my day off catching up on word count- I have off from school. I may even become ambitious and make scones. We'll see how the writing goes before I can determine that.

The literature paper tally for the week is: 2/3. I just have to finish that darn third by Tuesday.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Literary Crush (that's not mine)

This time it is not my personal crush, but a crush that was expressed by one literary figure over another. I was reading some excerpts from Louisa May Alcott's journals while in the laundromat this afternoon because... well what else do people do at the laundromat? I needed a break from homework and though there hasn't been much news, I do entertain hopes of doing an independent study on Alcott next semester. Anyway, I came across this passage about her sister's wedding:
Mr. Emerson kissed her [Meg]; and I thought that honor would make even matrimony endurable, for he is the god of my idolatry, and has been for years.
A deliberate reference to Romeo and Juliet it would seem. She had a crush on Emerson- I laughed out loud when I read that. Her family was very closely knit with the literary community. When her sister Elizabeth (inspiration for Beth in Little Women) died, Emerson and Thoreau were among the pallbearers according to her journal.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Katty Kay and Womenomics

I had a great experience- remember how the other week I was geeking out over getting to interview someone? Well I did and that someone was Katty Kay. She's the co-writer of a book called Womenomics that discusses the ways women work differently than men and how they can chart their own career paths. She's also the Washington correspondent for BBC News. Need I explain my geek-out?
Fortunately- and I say fortunately because it is an intimidating situation for a student journalist- some of the other paper staff came as well and everyone was involved in asking questions. It was my first press conference like situation and I think it went rather well.
Ms. Kay is extremely friendly and personable, some of the other editors and I were able to talk with her at a reception afterwards. She is also extremely passionate about her book and what she does. She's a great role model for myself and all the other women on the paper staff because she has found a balance between having a family and having a career. She's also travelled the world and speaks several languages.
Some reporters from other local papers came to watch us interview her and then ask her a few questions when we were finished.
Afterwards one gave me his card and told me the paper he was there representing may be looking for a new stringer and I should look into it. That's great news. I'm really looking to start doing some freelance work, especially in the summers to start building contacts and honing my skills. I was extremely pleased that he thought I might have a shot at the job and I'll be making contact soon.
Check out Katty Kay's interview on the Colbert Report- she handles him really well!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Adventures in Literature Homework

Currently trying to finish "The Turn of the Screw" for my lit class. It's weird... very peculiar. A bit of a difficult text.
My Troilus and Cressida research paper is actually coming along- I at least have a better idea of where it's going now. Very interesting getting into the "poets war" with Ben Jonson as a possible fuel to the satire of the play. I've come to think of T & C as a sort of anti-Romeo and Juliet.
I took a break this morning and made a new batch of soap with my fabulous new fragrance oil, aloe, and activated charcoal. While it cooled I read some Sherlock Holmes stories (The Adventure of the Copper Beeches and The Bruce Parington Plans). By next year when season two arrives I'd like to have finished reading the original canon.
I'm still on my NaNo prohibition, but have some ideas for when I start back up tomorrow night.
Back to Henry James.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trying to Cheer Up a Bit

As Allie, my boss on the college paper can attest, nothing calms me like men in wool. So, after adding a few hundred words to my story, instead of leaping into my research paper (Satire in Troilus and Cressida is due Wednesday!) I decided to watch a Sherlock fan vid or two which inspired me to read "The Field Bazaar" and "How Watson Learned the Trick" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They're actually parodies of Holmes and Watson that Doyle himself wrote.
They are pretty funny. They're also very brief, so I then read one that J.M. Barrie wrote for Doyle when together they wrote the libretto of an operetta that was a total flop, it's about the two of them having a confrontation with Holmes and Watson and it's called "The Adventure of the Two Collaborators." Kind of... cute actually. Made me smile anyway.
In another attempt to cheer myself and re-invigorate my writing I've decided to write scenes in my story that I didn't originally plan, but that I think would be fun. I wrote one yesterday that brought my protagonist together with her two equally strange and interesting siblings, just because I find their potential for interaction to be exciting. I did it in flashback so that it didn't change my plot.
Next up on the frivolous scenes agenda will be one where the sidekick convinces my protagonist to go "clubbing" with her. Of course my anti-social misanthrope will try to gather clues and make this an experience that will help her solve the crime (and help me move the plot forward, ahem), but I just think it could be fun to see her faced with such an obnoxious situation and have her size up other people at the club.
Best of all, I definitely think that I will go over 20,000 before introducing the next dead body... well not introduce, we've already met him, but you know what I mean. We haven't met him dead yet. Might not quite break 25,000 before he's found, but we'll see.
I'm optimistic within reason. How's that for a qualifier?
Well, tomorrow is home work day. While I'm at the laundromat I'll finish reading "The Turn of the Screw" and then when I get home I'll get on my satire paper- hopefully the other book I need will be in by tomorrow morning when I check. Saturday will probably be spent in shaping up said paper and maybe starting on the next one, a comparison piece. Ah, yes I still need to choose a subject for my third paper, I have two weeks on that one, but I'd like to at least know what it's about. Have I ever mentioned that I'm very bad at selecting a topic for research? Unless something jumps out at me right away, I just stumble around in the woods until I fall into a pit, then I stay and hang out. Translating my mental and emotional responses to a text into something I can research or write about in a scholarly way is difficult for me.

Week Two Blues

This condition has swept the NaNo community, coming in to week two and worrying about holding up your plot while holding up your life.
My word count is solid, but again, I'm going to have to back off this weekend because I have three research papers to write over the next week and a half and an new interp piece to get on its feet before the next Forensic Speech Tournament which is... oh yeah, just over a week away. Gah.
I know I need to prioritize, but my novel is really important to me. I appreciate and enjoy my literature classes, but in the end I want to be a writer and I need to develop those skills. Not the essay and research paper writing skills, but the creative writing skills. There is no class in the program that actually forces you to write a whole novel- this is my independent study of sorts (if only I were getting credit for it).
NaNo is probably more hands on training for a career as a writer than all my research papers because I really don't think I'm going to become a literary critic or professor or anything like that, I just don't think it suits me.
I'm just annoyed and stressed. My Forensics coach told me to ease off on my novel and I totally get why he said so, but I really wish I didn't have to choose. I wish I wasn't so crazy busy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pic Spam: Sherlock

Because I can and because NaNo, research papers and newspaper nonsense has nearly crippled my ability to use words. I have to economize where I can. So here are some of my favorite Sherlock images:

Sherlock thinks... and absorbs nicotine.

That John sure has a great sweater collection.

The tension builds... and then...

Jeremy Brett!? No one invited you.

Why can't JB just be content with being second sexiest Sherlock Holmes? Benedict Cumberbatch is not amused.
Okay, that's out of my system. For now. I'm going to finish my apple and try to catch up on sleep, I'm at about 15,000 words. Rough seas ahead, I know this. Troilus and Cressida paper is proving to be troublesome as well. Ah, well, I'll get through. Probably.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review: Sherlock, The Great Game

Gatiss and Moffat very cleverly made sure that fans would just be aching for a second season of Sherlock and demand the BBC bringing it back next year for another three episodes of fun and adventure. But, I'll come to the cliff hanger later.
We begin with Sherlock in Minsk meeting with a potential client- it's very clear he stabbed his girlfriend in a fit of anger, no mystery there, so after correcting the man's very poor grammar (Sherlock Holmes correcting grammar, does it get any sexier? He gained major points in my literary crush scale for that one.) he takes his leave and finds himself at home, in his robe and so utterly BORED. So bored in fact that he starts shooting at a smiley face he's painted on the wall. Yet another reason Sherlock makes a bad roommate/tenant.
Sherlock: "The wall had it coming."
To his delight, however, he and John are soon off on a series of puzzles carefully crafted by an evil genius lurking on the sidelines. He gives Sherlock a time limit to solve a series of crimes and holds hostages which he will blow up if Sherlock goes over the limit.
Another great Baker Street Irregulars reference in this episode with the "homeless network" of London being used by Sherlock to gather information. The assassin called "The Golem", was hiding out among them and he was so creepy. There was something very classic Holmes about him- I don't know, he had the right level of exoticism and sinister scariness. The fight scene with the assassin in the planetarium was slightly comical and very awkward. Not my favorite fight of the series, but oh well.
John (about the homeless network):“So you scratch their backs?”
Sherlock: “Then I disinfect myself.”
Now for Moriarty. He only appears for about ten minutes in this episode and never gets any actual screen time prior to "The Great Game," but he is a major talking point for the whole series. I've heard many people that absolutely hate him, but something about him works for me.
Moriarty is like Sherlock's doppelganger, his evil twin, his yin. Sherlock, with his capacities could have very easily turned the other way and become a criminal- Moriarty is like Sherlock in an alternative universe. So, therefore Moriarty has a similar genius and also, I believe a similar level of erratic unpredictability. I think it was really inventive to see a young Moriarty that isn't so suave and collected, he's terrifying because as he says, he's changeable. His giant ego combined with his intelligence and power make him like a child. Just as Sherlock gains a kind of weird pleasure from having a formidable adversary at last, Moriarty is delighted at their meeting. He's thrilled to finally meet someone at his level and sees them as kindred spirits in a way. Oh and they threw in some more slashiness for those shippers as well. Meh. Anyway, there is some reference to "The Final Problem" in the lines I quoted last week. Here's my favorite original quotation from their meeting:
Moriarty: “Don’t be obvious, I mean, I’m gonna kill you anyway someday, I don’t want to rush it though, I’m saving it up for something special- no, no, no. If you don’t stop prying I will burn you, I will burn the heart out of you.”
Sherlock: “I have been reliably informed I don’t have one.”
Moriarty: “We both know that’s not quite true.”
I still have one question (other than 'how will they get out of this one?')- who left the phone for Sherlock? When he opens the envelope he says it's from a woman. Is that just a throw away line or Sherlock being mistaken? I doubt it, I think it might be significant. Is this man, Jim, a "sub-Moriarty," a minion, an assassin, a partner? Is there are female behind this? Moffat has promised that Adler appears next season, but would she be on team Moriarty? The 2009 film says yes, but only under duress.
Well that's my clever thought for the night. I'm still behind on homework, and I haven't done much on NaNo this weekend, but I'm still on track numbers-wise.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rolling Into Day Six

Tonight the Literary Society held a writing workshop. Our turn out wasn't spectacular, but it was better than expected. We all contributed writing prompts to a bowl and started the night by sitting around talking about what we're working on (or not as the case may be, then we pulled from the bowl of plots and took a minute to write a few sentences about it.
One girl has obviously not been taking enough creative writing classes, she seemed liberated by the idea that an essay format was not expected. We all felt a little liberated actually.
After the initial prompt exercise one of my friends and I excused ourselves to a separate "quiet writing room" to work alone. I brought my laptop and broke 10,000 words, my goal for the night.
Later, when I got home I found I wanted to keep working and I've been writing for a little while now, breaking 12,000. There was a quotation by Geoff Nicholas I heard once that equates writing to drinking and I think it's always important to leave the table while you could still maybe write a little more. Sometimes if I let ideas and words fester for a little while it's easier to put them all down later.
Surprises so far? I, the plotless wonder has actually constructed a pretty tight story (maybe a little too tight, so I still might have a little issue with word count). Some interesting gender dynamics have occurred unintentionally. My protagonist walks that fine line where she could either become a great force against crime or be quite a good criminal herself- she picks more pockets and locks than I originally anticipated. I like her though. She also reminds me a lot of her sister in some ways.
Oh, yes, her sister. While I was plotting out my protagonist's back story (even if it won't all be revealed in this particular story I like to have it well fleshed out) and while I was wondering about her siblings a character from last year's NaNo (the only good thing from that story) burst in and told me she was my protagonist's sister. I'm unutterably pleased with this. I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to use this character due to some botch-ups in last year's story, but she fits so well in this "world", family and genre I believe. Maybe she'll appear in the sequel.
Now, it's two a.m., I must get to bed.
I am also swearing off NaNo for the next 24 hours to catch up on school work.

Friday, November 5, 2010

End of Day 4 and The Things I do for Journalism

I'm at about 8 and a half thousand words, still pretty well on track, I have to take Saturday off from NaNo to catch up on papers for my literature classes (maybe next year I should independent study NaNo). So tomorrow I'll be catching up on some reading from said classes and then spending the evening at a writing night with friends upping my word count.
The performing arts department at the college is doing an experiment where they are taking away people's cell phones for 24 hours and they're going to tally all the missed calls and texts that accumulate. My Forensic Speech coach was heading up the campaign, but I was holding firm because I have to commute and need to keep in touch with people for various projects. I'm not on my phone alot and I've unintentionally gone periods of time without my phone (left on the charger, etc), but with a long drive ahead of me tonight, I just didn't want to give up that security.
However, I have the opportunity to interview someone in a few weeks (more on that later) and I like to be well researched on the person I interview. So, I have to read their book asap- my forensics coach happened to have a copy of that book. Basically, I had to exchange my cell phone. As I said to the other editors, "the things I do for the paper..." no one offered to give up their phone as a sign of solidarity.
This interview is very exciting and intimidating, but I'm glad I get the chance to do it. It will look fabulous in a portfolio. I don't want to let out too many details at this time, but I should be able to post a copy of the final article here after it's in print- unlike some college papers, the school doesn't hold the rights to our articles, they let us retain them (thank you!) so it should all be on the up and up, but I'll make sure. Even if I listed the name of the person I get to interview, I doubt many would know it off the top of their head, but my excessive geekery makes this way better than interviewing a pop star or anything like that.
More updates on NaNo and the paper soon.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

As Day 2 Turns to Day 3

I just broke 6000 words, I'm about two days ahead on my word count and feeling pretty good. I'm already getting nervous about having enough plot though. I'm just over 10% into my story and I'm about to have the first murder, or rather the first body discovered. So that means that 80% of the story will be my hero team solving the murder/dealing with a few subplots I've come up with, leaving 10% of the story for denouement.
That seems like a decent breakdown, but I have to think of a few more external roadblocks to delay my protagonist from solving the murder because I don't want her to be plodding along, unable to figure it out. She has to be extremely quick, I see her as Holmesian figure (further explanation of her character is a few posts down under "National Novel Writing Month Preparations"), with a similar way of processing and using logic. However, in the character's timeline this is her first brush with solving a mystery and I've decided I really would like to write more stories about her and her sidekick that show her mature as a detective and develop in other ways as well- not all of them positive.
I've decided that if I finish a bit prematurely this year, I can start working on the next story, I've already scribbled down a few ideas for future adventures in my notebook. In the editing process I can go back and bulk it up.
Friday I plan on having some solid writing time while I sit at the laundromat, but Saturday I'm taking off from NaNo to work on my literary comparison paper due Monday and my paper on satire in Troilus and Cressida that's due the 17th. I need to bump that one up on my priorities list. When papers are assigned 5 or more weeks in advance it ruins my time budgeting. I always think I have loads of time. With a more constricted frame I am more aware of when I need to work.
I think that's another reason why NaNo is a good exercise for me- in spite of the somewhat negative reputation it has in some circles, it can be the perfect impetus for you to finally finish something. I do believe that nearly anyone can be a writer, but that doesn't mean everyone should. Incidentally, according to a page about "Icons of England," Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde during a six day cocaine binge. He probably would have loved NaNo, but it might have killed him if he were high for 30 days straight. Still, the point is that quickly written first drafts aren't always a bad thing, that's evidence of that. And no, I in no way advocate "writing under the influence" I'm just making a point.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 1- NaNoWriMo

It's been going well, it will be Day 2 shortly so I thought I would write an encouraging post while things are still looking up. Today I wrote 3521 words, exceeding the 1667 word per day goal. I know there are going to be a few days this month where writing will be impossible due to mass amounts of school work, so on days I can write I'd like to exceed the word count goal as much as possible.
In my preparations for writing about murder, mayhem and an annoyingly intelligent detective, I was reading a good deal of Arthur Conan Doyle over the weekend- and of course as you look down and see my review, I ended my weekend watching the second episode of Sherlock.
I read "The Final Problem" and I can see why audiences were in a bit of an uproar, Doyle did not give a very satisfying conclusion to Holmes' story. It was ambiguous and somewhat anti-climactic. Moriarty was such a great creation as well (look at all the Sherlockian media he's inspired), kind of wasted on one brief story- though apparently in a post "The Empty House" story he is expanded on a bit.
However, his appearance does lead to this fabulous exchange in "The Final Problem":
"All that I have to say has already crossed your mind," said he [Moriarty].
"Then possibly my answer has already crossed yours," I [Holmes] replied.

This passage may be part of the wild speculation surrounding the third episode of Sherlock airing in the US next week on PBS. It certainly supports some theories, but could also be a ~red herring~ to throw our opinions in another direction, but I wouldn't be surprised if this passage is cited as evidence for certain theories regarding what's coming next season.
According to Moffat the key words for Sherlock season two are Adler, Hound and Reichenbach.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review: Sherlock, The Blind Banker

“The Blind Banker” opens with a sequence that proves why Sherlock makes a terrible roommate. It soon proceeds with a classic Holmsian mystery: how could someone get into a high-security bank and leave a cryptic message? How can murders take place in a room locked from the inside? This leads to an adventure surrounding ciphers, smuggling and murder. There’s an awkwardly hilarious fight at a circus (chalk that up as another reason why Sherlock’s a bad roommate- he tags along on first dates).
This episode allows for the relationship of John and Sherlock to develop further and gives Martin Freeman as Watson a lot of material to work with in this installment. His moments of dealing with the domestic side of life and meeting a girl he likes is really endearing to watch. Benedict Cumberbatch also had the opportunity to show the fighting side of Holmes at several moments in this episode (he was a boxer, a sword/cane/riding crop fighter and a bit of a martial artist in the stories). He has several close calls in the episode- mostly unnoticed by poor John standing outside.
A running gag this episode was Sherlock’s going off to investigate and leaving Watson locked out of wherever he’s broken into. Throughout the stories, Watson is often following Sherlock, waiting to be let in on something that inevitably, Sherlock discovered two pages ago. In this episode it also facilitates a case of mistaken identity. A dangerous gang of Chinese smugglers believes that John is Sherlock and puts his new girlfriend, Sarah, in peril.
Call me over-analytical, but the mistaken identity seems symbolic of the way John and Sherlock are fusing into a single unit. To the criminals of London, they may as well be one person because they function together so perfectly. True, Holmes can work on his own, but not as well, and probably not for as long.
Also, Sherlock consulting the vandal doing graffiti art on the gallery and sending him on a mission could be a bit of a throwback to the Baker Street Irregulars (I just finished The Sign of Four this week, so their on my mind- perhaps why I’m making the connection).
Overall, intelligent, entertaining and it left off with a menacing mention of Moriarty lurking nearby.
Gemma Chan (from Doctor Who “The Waters of Mars”) as Soo Lin is a very sympathetic character, one we regret the fate of although we know what it will be. Paul Chequer (Eugene from the “Random Shoes” episode of Torchwood) appears as the detective in charge of the case while Lestrade is engaged elsewhere.
I was a bit disappointed that they had to cut some scenes from within the story again this week to fit the time slot more exactly. Now, will the Region 1 DVDs also be cut up because that always ticks me off- no programming slot to fill, due to an invention called *the internet* we are aware of the cut scenes- just put them on the DVD, seriously.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

National Novel Writing Month Preparations

I've realized that I have three major research papers due next month. Ha. I'm going to dedicate myself to doing research for those papers tonight and tomorrow, partly to keep myself from going stir crazy while I wait to start noveling, but also so I don't endanger my academic scholarship by forgetting about them completely.
I must admit, I find it difficult to focus on the satire of Troilus and Cressida and the defamiliarization of Emily Dickinson's poetry while all I want to do is get into ~Mystery Mode~. In fact, I have been quite distracted and found myself spending my yesterday evening reading The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I was also looking over "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" because it is one of only two stories written from Holmes' point of view.
Though this may be a cardinal sin of mystery writing because it has been done so many times, my protagonist is a bit Holmesian. Mainly in their method of logic and their tendency toward solitude (with the exception of one close associate), and maybe an odd quirk here or there. I like to believe my character will be interesting and though in some ways similar to Holmes, their own unique and attractive character. One of the major differences is that my character is a 22 year old female. According to Doyle's cannon, Holmes started solving mysteries as an undergraduate student before he decided to become a consulting detective.
I thought it would be interesting to write a story about a similar sort of anti-social genius solving their first case and finding the perfect use for their talent and intellect. I am very excited by this character, she is the kind of figure I would enjoy reading about or watching, which I think is a good place to start. There are also many opportunities to write great banter with such a character.
Here's a challenge I know I will face as I continue working on this story: writing a character smarter than I am. I believe myself to be an intelligent person, but this girl has to be utterly brilliant, it's difficult to stretch the mind and imagine the thoughts of someone smarter than you. That is why Doyle told most of his stories from Watson's perspective I believe.
My plan for the narrative is a third person, semi-omniscient structure. Telling it from the sidekick's point of view would omit several scenes I've plotted that I believe are very important to building my protagonist's journey.
“Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle and rolled back his left shirtcuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist, all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks. Finally, he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined armchair with a long sigh of satisfaction.”
The Sign of Four, chapter 1 paragraph 1

Unlike Sherlock's cocaine and morphine habit, my character lives on coffee and red wine. Probably about the modern equivalent in a social sense- perfectly legal (as the cocaine and morphine were) uppers and downers.
Incidentally, there is a society for female Sherlockians called ASH: Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes (created because the Baker Street Irregulars wouldn't allow female members until 1991). Check out their website here. Now I kind of want to join. Okay, more than kind of.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Now, now, now!

I grow extremely impatient to start my NaNo project. I have outlines, character sketches and am already developing a nervous tick. They say ability to delay gratification is a sign of maturity. For my entire life people have been telling me I'm mature for my age, oh if only they could see me now.
When I sit and think about my story, my knee starts jiggling up and down because I'm so excited. That's a good sign, I wasn't nearly as excited last year. Perhaps it's macabre to be this excited at the prospect of writing about murder, but I just decided who my killer is tonight. That's very exciting. I had chocolate to celebrate and wrote a few more character outlines.
Now that I have the main plot skeleton figured out, I've been adding in fun things, sub-plots other relationships the characters have. There needs to be a hearty amount of *stuff* in my story- I learned that the hard way last year.
Mostly I'm extremely excited about my characters, especially my "hero team" if you will. I'm actually planning the next two books. I know, it's called "getting ahead of yourself," but it's nice to be this excited. I'm not usually this... confident about my stories or this infatuated with my characters. Not to sound snotty, but I've always steered away from anything that could be called 'genre fiction' due to some bad reading experiences. However, I feel a great sense of liberation in having some parameters to gauge my story by, and yet I feel there is a lot I can do to test those parameters and become a better writer through the process.
I'll be honest, I don't even know how to describe the story I wrote last year, except as depressing and convoluted. I have high hopes for my story this year being suspenseful, witty, sexy, and exciting. Much better adjectives.
In two weeks when I start having a novel identity crisis feel free to refer me back to this post. It will be hellish, but I intend to surface from it relatively un-scorched.
I have to go shopping for NaNo supplies this weekend. Yes it does require supplies. Specifically I'll be looking for fake mustaches and a bubble pipe to cheer myself up at low moments. I also need a new robe for those cold nights that turn into morning while I tap furiously on my laptop. Something I've been looking for for a while is a small digital voice recorder to put idea on- I always have a notebook, but when driving or running across campus I'd like to have a recorder for convenience and time efficiency.
I wish you all well in your similar preparations for the '30 days and nights of literary abandon.' If you haven't committed yet this year, what are you waiting for? The worst that could happen is that you don't make 50,000. I had to quit Script Frenzy in April, it was fine, they didn't even beat me much.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Murder and Mayhem

I've decided to write a mystery. That is going to be my NaNo this year. I've never written a mystery before, but after the large amount of Sherlock Holmes stories and multi media I've been consuming, I have diabolical scenarios on the brain. Also, the other night I was creeping around the campus and I realized that a college campus is a perfect setting for a murder mystery. Thus and idea was born.
Most of my stories aren't exactly plot driven- they're usually more like character meditations where stuff happens and there's the occasional metaphor. I think that style works pretty well in the short form, but last year during my NaNo I ran out of plot at about 30,000 words and that was a problem. I had interesting characters, theme and concept, but not enough stuff happening. The perfect way to break out of my habit of writing ~concepts~ instead of ~stories~ is to write in a genre that is especially plot driven. At least that's what I'm hoping.
This may be too optimistic, but I think that if I break through this issue in my writing I could be highly publishable eventually. A lot of modern fiction I read has a lot of stuff happening, but not enough character or theme, I seem to have the opposite problem.
Strangely, though I reveled in the joys of short fiction a lot over the past year, I've returned to poetry lately. At a very young age I fancied myself a poet, but stopped abruptly when I was in high school for several reasons. After that, the more I read poetry, the less I felt I could ever write it and aside from the occasional sonnet, I didn't touch the genre until a few months ago. Now I've been having phrases come to me while driving or taking walks, even sometimes when sitting in class.
In my typical fashion, many are bit gloomy, but some are kind of... nice. I think I'm funnier in person than on the page. I often go a bit dark in morbid in my writing, but in real life I'm the person bantering with anyone willing to spar. One of my professors has suggested I write a series of literary parodies. Perhaps.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Sherlock, A Study in Pink

Finally, finally, finally, Sherlock has made it to the US (though some American viewers found ways of watching it previous to this premiere...), it is being shown as a part of the current Masterpiece Mystery season. The first episode was shown last night and the literary club and I got together to watch it- yes, watching Masterpiece Theatre and drinking tea is our idea of a party, thank you.
In spite of my initial skepticism about a modern Sherlock Holmes, it worked really well. He was a very modern figure, which is probably why the character and stories are still so popular today. Moffat and Gatiss almost seamlessly update all aspects of the setting and methods of Sherlock's deduction. Very clever use of screen text to let the audience glimpse inside Sherlock's thought process, I enjoyed that.
The dialogue was clever, well paced and highly quotable. There were also many references to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories and characters, some of them even a little tongue-in-cheek, acknowledging some of the changes made in the update.
Now on to the shallow part, I know you were all waiting for it: Benedict Cumberbatch is extremely attractive. Sherlock has always been in the realms of literary crush despite his prickly lack of social skills and level of asexuality- something about that gigantic brain of his is extremely attractive. The funny thing is, I've never found Cumberbatch to be particularly attractive in any of his other roles (he tends to play creeps), but while watching Sherlock I realized how amazing his bone structure is, and his hair is lush as well. Now I can't decide who the sexiest Sherlock is: Cumberbatch or Jeremy Brett, it'll be a struggle.
Martin Freeman as Watson is fantastic in the role and also very cute. The two of them have a great working chemistry, making them a believable team. Although there seemed to be a few purposefully "slashy" moments, I will always feel that they are simply the perfect example of best friends. Sherlock doesn't have any friends, so it's an extremely significant relationship for him even without there being a romantic component.
Overall it was a very good start to the series with some good references to the first Holmes and Watson story, "A Study in Scarlet," though it was an original story. Though updated, in many ways I think it was closer to canon than the recent Robert Downey jr. film, though I didn't have the issues with that film that many did.
Next week episode two, "The Blind Banker" will be shown and I'll review that as well.
Oh, and incidentally, if you Google Sherlock's website in the series, "The Science of Deduction" you'll find this. You may also want to check out Dr. John Watson's Blog, if you're feeling very nerdy and fan-ish, which I was.
Once again, a bit of media I import eats my sidebar. Oh well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Not Another Jane Eyre Movie

2011 is supposed to see the release of another Jane Eyre adaptation. Fortunately talk of one that was supposed to come out around 08/09 starring Ellen Page never amounted to much, but I'm still nervous. After the 2006 Masterpiece series, it seems a little soon. That adaptation was excellent and long enough to fully develop the novel.
The US release date is slotted for March 2011 according to IMDB (and we know they're always accurate about everything....)
Here's the cast and my pithy commentary about them:
Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre)- You probably know her as Alice from the recent Alice in Wonderland. She's just turned 21, which puts her close to the age of Jane in the novel. She's very pixie-ish and I just don't see her as Jane, hopefully they'll have her go brunette for the film, a blonde Jane would bother me.

Michael Fassbender (Rochester)- I had no idea who this guy was, until it hit me: 300, he's Irish/German and beautiful. Maybe too beautiful for Rochester. He was also in the recent Inglorius Basterds (yes, that's how it's really spelled).

Jamie Bell(St. John)- 10 years ago he gained fame in Billy Elliot and has done little of note in recent years, excepting perhaps Flags of our Fathers. Apparently Wasikowska studied ballet, so perhaps the two of them can act out their scenes as an interpretive dance. How cracktastic would that be? He's a little pouty for my taste.

Imogen Poots (Blanche)- I enjoyed her in Miss Austen Regrets, but she's also appeared in movies such as 28 Weeks Later. I'm sure she's capable of playing the part, but someday I would like an adaptation that has Blanche look the way she's described in the book- dark hair and eyes. I guess no director believes we can handle a non-blonde being the prettiest girl in town.

Sally Hawkins (Mrs. Reed)- Known to me from the recent (slightly dissapointing) adaptation of Persuasion, she was also in the US released film Happy Go Lucky. I can't imagine her playing such a witchy character, she always seems so nice and happy and meek in all her roles

Judi Dench (Mrs. Fairfax)- I love Judi Dench. I harbor secret dreams that she will one day adopt me. Her sit-com from the 90s As Time Goes By is probably my favorite PBS import. I hope they don't waste her.

Of course I'll go see it, but I will try not to be too excited or too cynical. All that engergy could go into more amazing puzzles.

Raccoon of Triumph

Ta-da! This is my Raccoon of Triumph. It was a challenging 25 peice puzzle for ages 3 and up.
I decided to get rid of my summer blog background, we're getting frost, so I thought it was time for a more sober toned autumnal/winter scheme.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Curmudgeon of the Week

This can be chalked up as another one of my hobbies: misanthropy. I follow a hilarious blog called "The Sassy Curmudgeon" and Una, the blogger extraordinaire, has a series called "Curmudgeon of the Week."
After making a list of annoyances that plagued me over the course of one day ( a Forensic Speech exercise- thanks coach) I submitted it to Una for consideration. Remarkably, I was accepted for this somewhat peculiar honor. You can see my entry here.
There are several things I'd like to add to the list after this latest Forensic Speech Tournament:
Getting up before it's light
Wearing stockings with trousers
$7 salads
Pointy witch shoes
Riding in a van full of club music
Being out of fake mustaches
Jerks that make fun of me for liking Jane Austen (she's a brilliant satirist!)
Conflicting suggestions
Dirty Gas Stations
Running out of matches
Itchy sweaters

I'm going to watch PBS for a while and then get to sleep. I might do my Ages 3+ Raccoon puzzle as well. Good times.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Blog-iversary to me....

Today is the anniversary of my first post, cleverly entitled, "Awkward First Blog." I've definitely experienced many changes in my perspective on blogging since that fateful day a year ago.
I celebrated by registering my NaNo for next month, NaNo was the first major project I undertook after starting my blog. At first I was very covert about the whole thing, calling myself a "secret blogger" and not really letting many of my friends or family know about my project to train myself to be a better journalist and writer in general. Now I speak more freely about it and have reached 8 followers as well as a handful of sometimes readers.
What will the next year bring? Both in blogging and life, it's difficult to anticipate. Let's keep it as adventurous as possible.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Budgeting My Time

I've been awkwardly stalled on my Austen and Lawrence reading challenges for the last two months, so I'm gracefully bowing out of them until mid-December when I finish this semester and am not reading for three literature classes.
However, I think I am going to do NaNoWriMo again this year. I had to quit ScriptFrenzy, but there are a few stories I've been sketching out that I really need to push myself to bang out into a solid draft. Knowing myself, I need to write to keep myself balanced (mentally and emotionally) and I haven't been doing it lately. I need to make myself do it because I feel the frustration of unexpressed words building up in me which makes me grumpy and, eventually, depressed.
There are several stories I'm between, not sure which one I'll NaNo- I have a story I wrote a while back but basically completely scrapped, over the sumer I made an outline that restructured it completely and even changed out some characters. There's also my short story, "Target Girl"- I think that could be expanded, as well as a few random ideas I've been kicking around in an abstract way.
Reading is incredibly important and I know I'll never have enough time in my life to read all the great books I ought to- there being created much faster than I can read them and so many were created before my birth- but in the end, I want to write a few great books that are worthy of someone else's overly ambitious reading list.
For a while, books were a great majority of my life and I'm at the point where I'm trying to balance out the time I spend reading with that I spend writing and also the time I spend doing. I think in the end this is a much healthier attitude toward books. I shouldn't only live them.
But, I digress, expect many updates about the story I choose as NaNo gears up.

Monday, October 18, 2010

English Major Tee Shirts

The science department in my college is the dominant area of study in the school. When the college first opened it was especially dedicated to science studies and those are still the most populated programs of study.
Recently the sciences came out with a witty tee shirt that references how much time they spend in labs, so my friend Sacha and I were pondering what witty tee shirt the English department could come up with to combat this and boost morale.
Here were some we came up with:
"I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I'm an English major, so I'm a little more perfect than you."
"I have better taste than that, I'm an English major."

Those were our best, but please leave your own suggestions.
Now, I have to go read about 50 more pages without falling asleep or having my eye balls fall out. This will be a challenge.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Motto for the Day

This weekend was my first Forensic Speech tournament and I was nervous. I was thrown into one event only this week, so I was very nervous. One off our assistant coaches made us little slips of paper with inspiration quotations and pictures. I don't know if she did this purposely for me, because I'm an Anglophile, but she put "Keep Calm and Carry On" in the corner and it was my motto all tournament.
I knew I wouldn't be coming in top rankings my first time out, in fact I knew in some events I wouldn't even make near the finals, but I kept on. And I made it to finals on two events this weekend.
So, I'm looking to next weekend, hoping that it's only up from here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Louisa May Alcott

Next semester I may be embarking on a rather exciting project about Louisa May Alcott. Best known for largely autobiographical novel Little Women she also wrote many stories and novels that she like to refer to as "blood and thunder" stories- gothic romantic thrillers under the name A.M. Barnard.
The more I learn about her and her work the more I adore her and become even more excited for the project. Reading accounts of her life and her personal letters makes me feel a very strong connection to her. I'll be very pleased to continue my research.
Her father was an abolitionist and friend of Emerson (Louisa and his daughter were apparently close), Thoreau and many other intellectuals of the time. She was a nurse during some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War where she was inspired to write Hospital Sketches. Then she contracted Typhoid fever and was dosed with a mercury based medicine that caused vivid and disturbing dreams- perhaps providing inspiration for some of her sensational novels?
Over this winter break I'll be rereading Little Women, I haven't read it since I was twelve. My goal is also to go to Concord MA and visit Orchard House where she lived most of her life and wrote the novel. I have friends that live near Boston, so I'm hoping they might let me couch-surf with them for a few days. I've always wanted to see Boston as well and while I'm there, I'd love to take a day to visit Walden. It would be quite the literary trip and I want to do it in December before I fully embark on this project, but money and the prospect of driving around Massachusetts in the middle of winter may delay me until the spring.
I've also been toying with the idea of writing my own gothic romance in a similar style to hers to get me in the proper mindset.
Maybe I'll post excerpts if it goes well.
Now back to reading Sons and Lovers.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Cautionary Tale

This time about archery.
I forgot the leather bracer that I wear over my left arm to protect it from the bow string when it snaps forward and releases the arrow. I was wearing long sleeves so I thought it would be alright.
There are bad ideas, very bad ideas, extremely bad ideas, and 'holy mother... that was a terrible idea'. Clearly, this was the latter. While going through my second quiver of arrows my string hit my arm very seriously. It wasn't so bad until it was struck again, even harder when I started my third quiver.
I had to quit early because I was in so much pain, I kept flinching away from the bow when I went to fire. I was very inaccurate. It wasn't worth continuing, I would either be hurting my arm more or just being totally off.
It's already a little swollen and turning black. Alas.

Incidentally, I read "A Scandal in Bohemia" last night. It's the Sherlock Holmes story where Irene Adler appeared. Funny that one short story has lead to many many spin-offs and paralits featuring her. Moriarty was also only in one novel, but was retrospectively made responsible for some of the events of other stories.
Two weeks until PBS airs the new Sherlock, the campus lit club is hosting a viewing party, we're all going to get together, bring snacks, and watch the frist episode's premiere.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Forensic Speech

Possibly the nerdiest competition in the world, Forensic Speech has nothing to do with science and dead bodies, it is a competitive speaking competition involving informative, persuasive and interpretive speaking.
So a combination of English and an almost element? Of course I joined the college's team. It's a clever way of keeping my theatre scholarship, but it's a lot of hard work. I'm currently piecing together a Program Oral Interpretation or POI. That is where you select various cuttings of poetry, prose and dramatic text that have a similar theme or subject and you build a program that weaves them together. So far I have two poems, one prose and one dramatic piece and I'm trying to find and work in a few more. The whole thing has to run 10 minutes when performed, it's harder to get the timing right than it would seem.
Since I haven't taken my program out to competition yet, I won't say what it's on, but I think it's clever and that some of my texts are original. But, that's what I've been up to lately. My first competition is coming up soon!
Next I'd like to get an After Dinner Speaking piece ready- ADS is an informative or persuasive speech that is performed in a comedic way. I was hoping to have mine ready for my first competition, but it's taking a while to come together. I think I have a good subject and it will be fabulous by the November competition I'm taking it to.
Must go Forensicate now.

Monday, October 4, 2010

From the Pen of Thoreau

We're studying a chapter of Walden tomorrow in my American Literature class, so I'm catching up on my reading. Our hilarious professor had intended us to take a nature walk to the creek for our discussion, but the fact that the creek has over-spilled its banks makes that unlikely. Alas. The transcendentalists would not approve.
I thought I'd share several passages from the chapter "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For" that I found interesting and enjoyable.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Classic Thoreau, sort of a manifesto if you will. Next, Henry David tells us why mail and newspapers are a waste (I wonder how he would feel about text messages and Yahoo! News).
The penny-post is, commonly, and institution through which you seriously offer a man that penny for his thoughts which is so often safely offered in jest. And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned or one vessel wrecked, one one steamboat blown up or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter-we never need read of another. One is enough.

As a student journalist, I must say that I don't believe news is useless, but I get his point.
One more for good measure, one of my favorites:
Let us spend each day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails.

Ironically (as it is my life long quest to find irony and produce it where there is none), some club on campus had baskets of foam fortune cookies (I don't understand either) in the college center this afternoon, each with a slip of paper containing a quotation. The one I grabbed had a quotation by Thoreau about the importance of writing only when the impetus to write is hot upon you. Have you ever noticed that certain things seem to follow you in life? Words, stories, writers that pop up in various people and places that are unconnected to each other. This happens to me all the time, and lately it has been Henry David Thoreau.
I think it's time to officially upgrade him to Literary Crush. He makes me laugh, we could take nature walks, he likes the quiet, but doesn't seem dull- I like him. Although according to the pictures, he probably could have benefitted from a shave to get rid of that mutton chop/beard combination, but he has very soulful eyes. Besides, he's got a great cabin in the woods, and I've always said my ideal man is a rugged nerd. Yeah, this one has promise.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wonderful and Strange: My Day Out

I had a crappy night last night, so my friend Amy suggested a small adventure today before I went to work. Simply for coffee and then to the book store (where inevitably, my caffine addict companion had another coffee). It cheered me up greatly and salvaged what could have been an utterly desolate day. I couldn't even go to the archery range this morning and work off my righteous anger... anyway...
There are many wonderful and strange things to behold on any trip out no matter how mundane and today was no different.
While waiting for my coffee I saw a woman with a hoard of small children. One little girl broke away from the other children and started noisily kissing an advertisement for the Star Wars Clone Wars cartoon, but that was not the strange part, the oddest element was that she was kissing a picture of Yoda. He is my favorite trickster, but unusual as the object of a little girl's first crush. It made me laugh and I very much enjoyed watching them- especially when their mother realized one of her children was kissing some random item in a public place.
Then at the book store, I saw a woman wearing the most spectacular eye patch I have ever seen. It was covered in a series of small rainbow metallic sparkles. She could rule the high seas if she wanted. Yes, it is unfortunate that she is in need of an eye patch, but she is embracing it and not taking herself too seriously.
Also, at work tonight I saw a man that looks like Mark Twain. That makes this a *Famous Dead Guy Spotting* a rare and monumental occasion.
Not a bad start to October. In spite of the fact that I didn't achieve any of my reading goals for September, I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'm taking three literature classes, all of which I have alot of readings for- I had to read two Shakespeare plays I have no previous experience with this past month, All's Well That Ends Well and Troilus and Cressida. Both very fascinating by the way. I have few occassions to pleasure read coming up and I intend to finish Sons and Lovers very soon.