Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday at the Movies - playing hookey

Or hooky. Whichever. Since my only obligations today are towards those with four legs and fur, I'm spending this Saturday at the movies. Need to sort through DVDs on hand and see what tickles my fancy. Will most likely be a re-watch, which is fine.

What I'd like to see, I'm pretty sure doesn't exist. Anybody besides me remember the short lived Fox series, New Amsterdam? This had Anna-nip all over it; hero who can't age until he is united with the love of his life, same hero who has lived through four hundred years of New York history, NYC setting, multiple flashbacks, lots of of course it gets cancelled after one season and ended on a supremely unsatisfying cliffhanger. :throws popcorn at Fox executives: Bah. Grumble.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no DVD of that single season, but if there were, I would be spending my day watching episodes of this:

and interview with lead actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau:

Well, well, what do you know, has all eight episodes right here:

Back to Plan A, I am. What short-lived tv shows would you like to see again?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Dance Friday #20 1/2 - Why Anna blogs about dance...

I'm the one with the broken arm. Which, I should add, I sustained while horsing around outside a dance studio in suburban NY with a friend's little sister (not pictured.) Obviously, this did not keep me out of the recital. I also kept the costume far past the time I grew out of it (though wisely ditched the hair bow. I know it was the 70s, but come on, giant madras plaid hair bow? Bleh.) because, hey, sparkly tutu. Even at that age, I had my priorities straight. This is also photographic proof that my DH is indeed correct - I am part Weeble...and I digress.

While it is true that every episode of Dancing With the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance gives me a serious case of wanting to be a twentysomething professional dancer, having a heroine who is exactly that in my time travel ms is the closest I'm going to get to that aspiration. Though I do recall the fellow audience member at the SYTYCD third season tour who asked if my buddy and I were dancers...but then again, we were close enough to ascertain that said audience member had found the bar as well as the barre, so nuff said there.

The beginnings of my interest in dance probably began at the age of three days (I have no idea if my biological mother got her frug on while I was in utero) when my parents brought me home. Since NYC has the most dancers per capita in the world, maybe I breathed in something at that tender age. Also, the building we lived in then was home to several retired entertainers. More likely, it comes from my father, who was prone to cutting a rug at very slight provocation. As soon as I got big enough, he drafted me. As in I remember being in a movement class when I was in preschool. I also remember an argument with another student (we had to work in pairs) about whether our routine should include arm flapping (I was pro, she was con.)

Lessons continued throughout elementary school, the good ol' ballet/jazz combination, "jazz" meaning "tap," as did my drafting as Dad's partner. Because Dad's style of instruction was extremely intuitive, it wasn't until I started watching the dance shows that I had any idea what specific moves and even some dances were called. It was only later in Dad's life that he shared with me that as a young man, he'd wanted to become a professional dancer at one point but his father strongly discouraged that. Which only proves one needn't be a pro to have fun. Good lesson there. Seeing A Chorus Line live on Broadway during a school trip also had an impact and quite possibly had the very first seed of my dancer character starting to form.

All of that is the long way of answering my own question with: because I like it.

Also because I like it (and I'd feel guilty for posting without a clip) the other video from The Guild. Dancing may not be the main focus in this one, but it does make me happy.
<a href=";fg=Xbox_Channel_GUILD_S4_FINAL&amp;vid=601e493a-9f80-4d4e-ad8c-62962c3c5add" target="_new" title="The Guild - Music Video - Do You Want To Date My Avatar">Video: The Guild - Music Video - Do You Want To Date My Avatar</a>

Monday, September 20, 2010

I is tired wurk too hard
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The Weekend That Was

Another Monday, and the kitteh above is doing a great impression of me at the keyboard. The all day CORW workshop on Saturday wore me out, but in a good way. Guest speakers Annette Blair and Toni Andrews spoke respectively on building sexual tension and plotting. If you get the chance to see either of them in person, do.

Once again, at the basket giveaway, the person on the right of me won a basket, the person on the left of me won a basket. Guess who broke the pattern. Ahem. I did go home with a Samhain (publishing house, not Halloween) t-shirt, which is appropriate, as I did get to pitch both Endless Summer and Draperwood to both them and literary agent Jan Kardys from the BlackHawk agency. Since I did get requests from both, that is actually better than a basket. I will still accept random gifts of office supplies, tea and chocolate, however. (Yes, I am still punchy, why do you ask?)

This brings me to the seesaw of "yay, requests" and "ack, requests." Authors, you know what I mean. Readers, this is where the author runs around in little circles, muttering incomprehensible things about voice and marketing. Pretend you don't notice, and they will return to polishing the manuscript. Give them their beverage of choice and back away slowly.

Looking at a nicely full week of preparing submissions, new writing, critiquing and a new lesson for my online workshop. Does this warrant an extra cat nap?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Dance Friday #20 Game On/Going Gaga

I had other plans for the 20th edition of Happy Dance Friday, but real life (see video) threw a few curves, so here's what we get.

I hadn't heard of The Guild until yesterday, and the only gaming I do is Sims-related, and this isn't only dancing, but it gets me inspired to work. There is dancing, it is happy,so here we go:

M.P. Barker once told me a really funny story about singers at the living history museum where she once worked, singing modern songs to period melodies. I remember the theme from Gilligan's Island was mentioned, and some formula about beats and arrangement. I, myself was kicked out of high school chorus, so I can't explain further than that, but that's what came to mind when I saw this next clip. I haven't seen Newsies and really, after this, the real thing would fall short.

or this

Whoever is doing these mashups is a genius:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A bit of writerly ranting...

The rather menacing gentleman there is Patrick, my apple pie badass. He's not a story character (at least not yet) but a Sim (and I seriously hope I saved him before the great crash that made me reinstall the game) and he reflects my mood at the moment. Which is to say that I need a bit of menace to get my game on today. By that I mean writing game, not Sims2.

I have an all day workshop at my local RWA chapter to attend on Saturday, where I'll be pitching twice. I love pitching, so two pitches in one day is a special treat. Even better if either of them want to catch what I'm throwing.

Warrior by Zoe Archer is peeking out of my bag, taunting me. Reading time later. With my love of adventure in my stories, how can I resist a love story set in Outer Mongolia? Plus the cover is gorgeous.

I blame Michelle Ward's art for the endless loop of HIM's "Acoustic Funeral" that's been going on in my brain...and Rhapsody player. I'd never listened to that group before visiting Michelle's blog in search of art tutorials, and now it won't get out of my head. I also blame her for the decision to design my own digital brushes for words that go with images I use in my art...but this isn't an art post.

This is where I throw a fit about writing and perfectionism and telling myself what I would tell anyone else. Open a file and start pounding keys. The process will beget the content. I have never found that to be false, so on I go.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saturday at the Movies #19 - I haven't seen these, but I need to.

Reign Over Me: I love Adam Sandler in dramatic roles, and Don Cheadle is wonderful. Put those two in a drama about reunited friends whose lives have taken different paths, and I'm there. The sensitive issue is that Adam Sandler's character, Charlie, lost his family in the September 11th attacks. Being a New Yorker at heart, that's a tough one. I think it's time, though.

Suddenly Last Summer: Actually, I've seen part of this, but need to see the whole thing. Tennessee Williams always tells a compelling story, and anything that has Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn in the same movie is a must see for me. There won't be any surprises plot-wise. I know what happens, but it's the way things play out that has me filled with anticipation. Dark and convoluted, yes, and I am looking forward to every minute of it.

Picnic at Hanging Rock: An Australian classic, directed by Peter Weir, adapted from the novel by Joan Lindsay. It's Valentine's Day in 1900, and a group of students from a girls' boarding school goes for a picnic at Hanging Rock, a geological formation. Four of the girls go missing, and a mass hysteria takes over the school. We don't find out exactly what happened to them, but the effects are far-reaching.

Heavenly Creatures: Another Australian feature, directed by Peter Jackson and based on actual accounts. Also Kate Winslet's first film, and again, no surprises for me, as I'm familiar with the factual story. I'm also squeamish about red stuff squirting out of people, which is why I've held off, but this is on my to be viewed list. I want to see how they handle the abnormal psychology and the relationship between the two girls.

Okay, Saturday at the Movies followers, which one should I see and review first?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday at the Movies deferring until Sunday this week, in memory of all those affected by the attacks on September 11th, 2001.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Dance Friday #19 - Viennese Waltz

funny gifs  -Cagney Waltz
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I was going to save my all time favorite ballroom dance for Happy Dance Friday's 20th, but I found the above GIF and couldn't resist. Besides, my time travel's heroine would come straight out of the ms and hurt me if I didn't feature it now. Different from the other sort of waltz, this is faster, twirlier, and conjures the image of grand ballrooms lit by candlelight, where women in sumptuous gowns entertain decorated veterans bedecked in medals.

Anya Garnis and Danny Tidwell:

Change partners! Lacey Schwimmer and Danny Tidwell:

Mark and Courtney's clip also includes a bit from the choreographer, so entertainment and education:

The pros from Britain's Strictly Come Dancing show the spectacle of this dance when performed in a group setting:

I couldn't resist including the pros and their amateur partners performing to my all time favorite Billy Joel classic:

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Saturday at the Movies #18 - Closeup: Brideshead Revisited

This discussion refers to the 1980 television miniseries adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel, and probably my favorite movie of all time, ever. Which is, if you know me, saying a lot. I had expectations when first I met Brideshead several years back. There it was on the library DVD shelf, and I figured it was about time. I'd expected that to some degree, this would be Brokeback: UK (never mind that Brideshead was first and I have not yet seen Brokeback Mountain) I knew that this had an England between the wars setting (which is an Anna-magnet) amongst the upper crust (more Anna-magnetry) and there was angst a-plenty (you get the idea.)Into my player it went.

I wasn't sure where things were going in the beginning, as we plunge right into the world of a WWII British military barracks and the narration from Jeremy Irons' Charles, about knowing the exact moment he became old and feeling like a man who's fallen out of love with his wife. Okay, that got my interest, and when Charles, the commanding officer, is told he must move his men to a secret location, things get rolling. There's a bit with a hapless young man with a for-the-best attitude. Put a sticky note on that. The sentiment, if not the fact, will come in handy later. The men move, there's a mustard gas drill and it all ends with dumping Charles at the one place in the world that can completely cut him to the quick. Brideshead Manor, the home of everything he ever hoped or loved, now fallen into ruin and where he is to bed down with his troops. Oh yes, he knows it well. This scene is one of the best punches to the gut I have ever seen in film, and may well be the winner in that category.

The years fall away as Charles remembers his first glimpse of Brideshead, two decades before, when he was a young college student, brought along for holiday by the glittering youngest son of the Marchmains, Sebastian Flyte, played by Anthony Andrews. Sebastian is a golden boy, whimsical yet jaded, carrying about his beloved teddy bear, Aloysius. It's that first glimpse, when the boys turn round a curve, and Brideshead rises in all its golden splendor. Charles, and I, fell in love right then.

Sebastian introduces Charles to the great house, and the heart of it, his dear nanny, but wants to be far away when his sister Julia arrives. When Charles meets her and the rest of the family, Sebastian frets, Charles will love them and not him anymore. I have to concede Sebastian may have had a point there, as life is not particularly kind to either of them. All too soon, life intervenes, and the two men react to it in very different ways. While Sebastian begins to tarnish, Charles finds his involvement with the Flyte family gives him polish both as an artist and as an adult, though he has issues with their strong Catholic identity.

In disgrace, Sebastian takes off for points unknown and Charles, though in love with Julia, marries another and attempts to build an independent life. Even so, he is bound to the Flytes and to Brideshead by a thread that twitches, drawing him back and forcing him to face his deepest dilemmas. Love, death, loss, friendship, faith, lack thereof and reconsideration of same, all twine into a gloriously written and acted tapestry that plays out over the course of decades.

Messrs Andrews and Irons both deliver iconic performances and Diana Quick (do I get geek points for knowing she was the longterm partner of another favorite actor, Bill Nighy?)portrays Julia with sensitivity and depth, making her ultimate, excrcuicatingly difficult choice believable. There is love all over this story, but surprise, not in the way one might think at first. The nature of Charles and Sebastian's relationship is open to much debate, with compelling arguments on all sides. (Personally, I go with the one Julia offers.) This is a coming of age story for not only the characters but for England, and I do believe for the astute viewer as well. The eye candy, in scenery and costumes, is droolworthy. Fans of period pieces set in the early 20th century will be in absolute ult, and the iconic score will linger in one's ears for ages. It takes twelve hours to tell this story, and every second is completely worth it.

In short, my favorite movie ever, ever, ever.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Happy Dance Friday #18 - It's still the dog days, you animals

celebrity pictures - lady gaga - animated cat
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Either this dog is having as much fun as his human seems to be, or his owner will never again know a dry sock:

Brits can indeed dance, as we've seen before, and so can their dogs.

Canine terpsichory goes worldwide with this Brazilian pair competing in Canada:

I originally typed that I wasn't about to leave a Happy Dance Friday without showing how people do it, but that came out wrong. I mean dance. Can't leave Happy Dance Friday without showing people dancing. Pasha and Jessi's bird routine is a big favorite from SYTYCD: