Monthly Archives: August 2015

All the Shows I’ve Loved Before

When I find a new show that I really like I figure it’s either going to go FOREVER or going to fall to an early demise. Especially lately.

I loved Firefly. I loved Surface. I loved Almost Human. I loved Constantine. Terriers, My So Called Life, Moonlight, and I’m sure there are others I can’t think of right now. Basically, if I love a show, it’s probably going to die a quick death. Supernatural and Doctor Who are simply juggernauts that cannot be stopped (and I came late to the party to – season 2 and the Fourth Doctor respectively) and the X-files started before I became a jinx.

I really hope they renew Killjoys. I’m coming in late to the party which is probably in its favor but I am really loving it. More of you should be watching it. If you liked the shows I listed above, especially that first one, you’re likely going to like Killjoys. It is so much better than the next episode of Famous People Who are Famous for no Reason I Can Determine or Houses I Will Never Be Able to Afford.

I admit, there is a heavy sci-fi/fantasy bias in my favorite tv. And in my favorite movies, books, and comics too. It isn’t that I don’t watch reality tv. I do. Just not reality tv that is entirely based on people being awful to each other. There’s enough of that in actual reality. When I watch reality tv, I like art shows – the early years of Project Runway (not so much now), Face Off, I liked Top Design a bit, the new Steampunk’d is fun but limited and I like survival shows – Naked and Afraid (not so much XL  as there’s too much nastiness), Survivorman, Bear Grylls does anything.

I am really enjoying Killjoys. There’s a Space Western flare like Firefly. It’s a lot like Firefly actually. It works. It works really well. I hope it lasts longer than this one season. It is fabulous. And now I’m going to go watch another episode.

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Writing Implements

When I was younger, about 14, my little family was walking around a little antique shop and I found the thing. THE thing. That one thing I had to have for my life to be complete. Fortunately, I was a weird 14 year old girl and that thing was an antique quill pen in a battered but still whole case. Who knows how old it was, whatever, I didn’t care. At 14, I knew one thing. I wanted to be a writer, a real writer and real writers used real writing implements. (Side note: I have NEVER actually used my quill pens – not the antique ones anyway). It wasn’t expensive and my mother bought it for me for Christmas because I wasn’t leaving the shop without it. That was the first. My collection has grown since then. Writing implements of all kinds – quills, desk sets, ink wells, typewriters – antiques, reproductions, any artsy writing related thing with a flare for style.

This weekend, I found a really cool thing in a junk shop. I left it there but I guess I talked about it when we went visiting at the in-laws as my father-in-law, when he brought my oldest child home, he had bought it for me. It is really neat and nothing seems to be missing. A personal printing press. I don’t know much about it but I do know it was used to print a club newsletter just from the type that was set on the drum. The rubber type is so small and it’s going to be so neat to show my kids how it used to be, at least on the small scale. I find myself really hoping that the font I’ve got isn’t Times New Roman as my youngest boy, for whatever reason, really dislike’s Times New Roman.

so neat

so neat

What's inside the box?

What’s inside the box?

I can’t wait to play with it! I have no idea what I’m going to do with it but I know I’m going to replace the ink pad, get new ink, and do something fun with it.

I really lucked out in the in-law lottery. I hear horror stories from time to time from other people and I can’t help but be grateful that I really absolutely won the in-law lottery.

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New Additions

My house is full of critters. It’s been more full at various times and I know that a lot of people have problems with the kind of animals that tend to find their way here. To each his own and I’m not saying some of them don’t make me nervous but I don’t see why others have so many problems with my furless fur babies.

Right now we’ve got a lab mix, a vizsla, two bearded dragons, a jungle carpet python, a cat who refuses to come inside, two stick bugs, a baby ball python, and a baby timor monitor. The last three on the list are very recent editions. We got the bugs because our local pet store is the bees knees. The ball python and the monitor were acquired from a reptile show.

I love monitor lizards. We’ve had savannah monitors with varying degrees of success but I was very hesitant to handle them. Partly because our big one we got as a subadult and he made me a little nervous. Then I was pregnant and not touching any lizards and then I had a baby etc etc etc. But I based an entire race of people in my novel Guardian of the Gods on monitor lizards. They have big personalities and can be, if they are handled well and often, dog-tame. This timor is part of the family but mostly my responsibility.

Help me name my new friend!

Help me name my new friend!

I really don’t know the gender – it is terribly difficult to tell with a Timor without hurting them – but I’m calling her a girl. She doesn’t have a name yet because I have too many things. She’s too timid to be an Arilan (my lizard girl) or a Leeloo. I can’t use Ripley or Lucy as they’re in use by people (and animals) I know and love. She doesn’t strike me as a Newt or Motoko. And I’ve pretty much used the entire pantheon of celtic gods and goddesses for other animals. She’s so skittish I’m not comfortable holding her outside of her tank just yet. She’s fast, small, and whippy and I don’t want her getting loose.

Help me name my new friend!

She’s really pretty and this picture is a bad picture. Her pattern is lovely and underpinned with a soft orange color. She’s also in the process of beginning what is probably her first real shed and that’s a very good sign as it means she’s eating. It can be a bit of a crap shoot at a show but I’m so happy!

I came close to coming home with a different reptile. I was really considering a nile monitor. She was alert, pretty, the people selling her had video of her eating. If not for the fact that they get SO big, I’d have a nile. My timor will stay pretty small by comparison.

The reptile show (Pittsburgh Reptile Show and Sale) was bigger than I’d expected and pretty well orchestrated. It was busier than I expected too. I guess for every five people who get all squicked out by snakes, there’s one who loves them. I might not LOVE them but I’ve lived with them long enough not to really be afraid of them either. My husband once had a Jungle Carpet Python who was Houdini reincarnated – she got out on a regular basis, usually at night, to end up under MY pillow. I discovered this one night when she decided to check out my books and started climbing the shelf beside my head and I woke Rob up to get her and he informed me that this was not an isolated incident.

 

 

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Death and all that follows

For such a natural part of life, death is an uncomfortable topic for most people. I both understand why and don’t understand why at the same time.

Relevant information: my grandfather owned a funeral home and I spent my entire life surrounded by death.

Watching this week’s Face Off and hearing the contestants being all uncomfortable being in that beautiful mausoleum started this train of thought. A nice sleeper car got added to when I was singing in my kitchen and my oldest child got all sorts of squicked (it’s a word, I swear) out by the lyrics. Again, I understand but don’t understand as it’s a beautiful song that is currently quite stuck in my head. I found the caboose when I was mulling over the fate of a character whom I love a great deal but may have to meet his end.

I have witnessed uncountable funerals from most walks of life and they are all beautiful, sad, amazing, and strange in their own ways. I have found humor in funerals I probably shouldn’t have. I have found beauty in the skull of a deer left to the elements for who knows how long before my husband found it for me. I have written about death, a lot. Quite a number of my books come with body counts.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t understand what death was. I don’t remember anyone ever explaining it to me the way I have had to explain it to my children. It just exists in my world the same way that breathing exists. It may be the only part of life I don’t worry and fret over. I understand not wanting to rush to meet death but I don’t understand being afraid of it. The hard part is all the living that comes before it.

 

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Naked and Afraid

I know I’m not the only one watching Naked and Afraid. To be honest, usually, the show amuses me. Yes, it is more about the drama than the survival. It’s a bit like Alaskan Bush People (known as the Trainwreck Show in my house) in that way. You get caught up in it and you can’t look away! You want to see if Honora really does throw that big a tantrum or if karma will find Alana for her cruelty.

Naked and Afraid XL is just a supersized version and is rapidly becoming a PSA about bullying. If you don’t watch the show, it drops a bunch of people in exotic locations with very little equipment to survive for a set amount of time. XL has 12 people instead of the usual 2 and they are divided into groups of 3. Apparently Columbia is the perfect location to go crazy in.

Yes, this is a TV show and they edit it to be as interesting as possible. There are a LOT of hours of footage to fit in a few measly hours of entertainment. But, no matter the editing, those actions took place, those words were in fact uttered and that’s not ok. Certain people should be ashamed of themselves. Very.

One contestant through a toddler proportioned tantrum and threw everyone’s tools to the bottom of a pond. Because that’s healthy and helpful. It doesn’t matter if her teammates didn’t necessarily deal with the tantrum the best way (I’d bet neither of those men have children), her actions were inexcusable.

Another contestant was on the verge of breaking and, according to the edits we saw, that lies at the feet of one mean girl and her lackey. Sure, now they’re home and saying it’s the edits but they haven’t acknowledged how awful their words were regardless of how edits have maybe manipulated their position and intent.

I don’t watch a lot of reality TV for this very reason – I’m not big on the soap opera aspect (I’ll watch General Hospital for that thanks!) and I don’t trust the editors as they want the most compelling tv not the truest telling. It’s one of the reasons I love Face Off – I’m there for the makeup not the drama and, with few exceptions, that’s what SyFy gives me. I would honestly rather see how they build the mold rather than listen to one contestant gripe about how another contestant was snippy with her.

Regardless of intent or edits or however they want to justify their behaviors, we should be using this as a teaching moment – here we see what happens when you treat people terribly or throw a temper tantrum that you are twenty years too old to be throwing. Look at Shane and see the effects of harsh words, cold shoulders, and snobbery. It could be used as a training for people who don’t see the effect of their words. Bullying isn’t just something kids do, adults do it too and they are so much more cruel.  Why can’t we all just be nice. If you don’t have something nice to say, keep your mouth shut. The world would be a happier place if we encouraged each other more than tearing each other down. But, the whole world loves to watch tension and arguments.

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Actions Matter

The idea that actions speak louder than words is an old one and a good one. It is true in day to day real life and in fiction.  Just as a person says a great deal by what they do (or don’t), a writer can say so much with the actions or lack thereof of their characters.

What we say can be beautiful and heartwarming but if how we behave contradicts those words, our words will no longer mean anything. The same is true of our characters. If their actions contradict their words (in ways that aren’t explained), as readers, we will stop trusting those characters. I don’t mean placating a difficult person because that usually comes across pretty easily. There are times when we might have a reluctant to admit their own feelings sort of character but that’s also pretty easy to spot and they nearly always figure out what they really want by the end of the book. The problem comes when we have a character who says all the right things and it isn’t a plot point that what they do is physically ignore the object of their lovely words.

I do realize there are some types of stories that wouldn’t exist without people being a bit hypocritical or dichotomous with their words and actions. There are occasions when that distrust of a character is essential for a story but when you see a perfectly good character speak so eloquently about something one page only to completely ignore the object of their beautiful words (be it a person, thing, place or idea) on the next, you just want to walk away. Or at least I do.

It is as annoying when people do it in real life too but it’s easier to spot in fiction and I’m just easily annoyed today. At some point, I’ll probably forget why I set it down and pick up the book again. I may even like it on a different day just not today. Fortunately Face Off is on tonight and looks like it’ll be a really fun episode so at least I have that to look forward to!

 

 

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