Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday at the Movies #31 - Movies I Need

funny pictures - Ever have one of those mornings?
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Yep, one of those weekends. I could use a good movie today, as my brain is scattered, schedule convoluted and the day is going to be a long one, the part of it requiring the most energy and concentration coming at the tail end. Writing needs to happen, but it feels like going to an empty well, so that right there is an indication it's time to refuel.

Reading is not a problem; after coming off my reading fast, I now have four books I'm reading at once (more on that in another post) but days like this, it comes down to the basic need to sit in the dark and have somebody tell me a story. Having a big bucket of hot buttered popcorn and some gummi bears can only enhance the experience. (I would also accept spice drops or Hot Tamales.) In an ideal world, that story would be one of these:

Never Let Me Go:

Deuling versions of Wuthering Heights?


or this?

I already wanted to see An Education, but knowing that Nick Hornby wrote the screenplay, it is now a burning need.

The trailer for A Single Man has no words at all, but definitely entices:

None of these are available to me at the moment, hence the frog in my chai. Harumph. If you could see any movie in the world right this second, what would that be?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy Dance Friday #34 -Put on a Show

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One of the things I love about DH is that he knows when he's found something that will hit exactly the right notes for me. His latest discovery in this vein is Red Hot Chili Pipers. Bagpipes meet loud, passionate rock. Happy dancing Anna for sure.

I can only imagine the energy that must pulse in the air at a live show with these guys, They'd have the crowd on their feet for sure:

For those who prefer their musical fusion to have a more Eastern European flair, how about an epic cello rock battle? Maybe not so much dancing on this one but amazing music, and it's my blog, so I say it's appropriate. Deal.

What show-stopping music gets you up and dancing?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bookmark, please

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Last night, DH wanted to watch Iron Chef and I did not (something about loud clanging things and a ticking clock not being terribly conducive to the falling asleep process) so I removed myself to the office for some petting of my bookshelves.

While I'm not saying the reading respite is entirely over, I did read five chapters of "The Night Riders" by Hannah Howell in the The Immortal Highlander anthology. I've been keeping notes on this not-reading phase and had earlier listed things I would like to find in my next read. An anthology was high on the list because sometimes, much as I love the big, thick books, I am too pooped to turn that many pages and want to get from once upon a time to happily ever after in relatively quick fashion. Since I didn't want to have to access the WABAC machine part of my brain, a reread made sense, and since this story world takes place in late 15th century Scotland, same as the historical portion of a current ms of my own, that's where my brain already is for a good part of the working day. I'd started reading the Howell/Sands anthologies when they first came out, but wandered off around the third volume. This seemed like the right time to come back.

I didn't consciously plan to read anything last night, but that is the way I planned for things to happen - the not-planning. The important thing, I've found, is that for reading for pleasure to be worthwhile, I have to change the way I look at things. While it is important to keep up with the market if one expects to work in that market, when it comes to reading for pleasure, the books serve me; I don't serve the books. There needs to be, at least in my corner of the world, a balance.

Do I have to read the books that are getting all the buzz? No. Be culturally literate, yes, but it's not worth tying myself in a knot so that I can't fill my creative well. Do I need to keep current with the unending proliferation of unending series? No. They'll do fine without me, for the most part. Rereading is good. New books are good. The right book for me to be reading for pleasure at any given time is...the one I want to read. That easy. Any others will wait, and if the wait is long, there are other things I can do in the meantime.

Last night, I didn't spend that long sitting cross-legged on the floor, digging through my shelves, petting covers, until I plucked something from its shelf and flipped to the first page and had that "yes, this, now" feeling that I'd been missing. I did scout out a few future reads, but that is subject to change. I'm allowed.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday at the Movies #30 - grousing and coming attractions

This picture is from a couple of years back, but I can verify that it looks pretty much the same as my current surrounds. Still steering into the skid on the non-reading but as the DH is home tonight but in need of extra snooze time, it's going to be reading or a DVD and at the moment I'm not inspired in either direction. On the other hand, I've gotten farther along in a Sims neighborhood than I ever have before and I've been making a ton of art. I almost went to see The King's Speech again yesterday but while the spirit was willing the body was in need of a nap. As we are currently Netflixless (but considering remedying that) my choices are restricted to what's on hand.

Since I recently recovered my copy of About A Boy, this may be an option. Definitely have to snag How I Met Your Mother DVDs at the next opportunity, since I'm on a strong Barney/Robin kick at the moment,and these fan-made promos are only adding fuel to the fire.

Ditto on acquiring Bones DVDs, so a trip to a few local libraries to see who has what may be in order.

Since I found that tango scene last week, I'm very interested in getting my mitts on a copy of Easy Virtue.

Liam Neeson's Unknown looks like it will lure me into the theater in the very near future:

But tonight's choice? Still anybody's guess.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy Dance Friday #33 - technical difficulties

Polar Bears Being Polar Bears Gif - Polar Bears Being Polar Bears
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One of my favorite parts of Friday morning is searching for the Happy Dance Friday clips. Small slipup (hah, see what I did there? Slidey polar bear, slipups?) today, though. My mp3 player and I became separated (though player is safe at a friend's house and we will be reunited at lunchtime) and thus I have no working earphones. The desperaton backup pair I grabbed in order to not steal hubby's for the morning do not work at all, so while it keeps me from blasting all of Panera with my musical selections, it also keeps me from blasting myself with my musical selections. Since it isn't the same surfing the interwebs for clips of people cavorting to complete silence, today you get a newborn polar bear:

cute baby animals - Acting Like Animals: NEWBORN POLAR BEAR. REPEAT. NEWBORN POLAR BEAR.
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Come on, newborn polar bear. You can forgive anything for newborn polar bear, right? Look at them paws - he was made for dancing allllllllllllllll night long.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Steering into the Skid, aka Reader's Block

funny pictures - From the depths of a snowy prison, Basement Cat plots revenge.
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There's another snowstorm threatening the northeast, which means an amount of snow such as above will be dumped upon me. Which is good, because I love snow, but the downside of that is...I'm not reading anything. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Goose eggs. New books? Meh. Old books? Meh. Favorite books? Not now, kthanx. Closest I can come is the Somerset Studio family of magazines, which while they do contain information and inspiration for art, are mostly really pretty pictures.

Normally, I will stomp around in a circle and grouse when these reading blocks hit, but this time, I'm trying something different. I'm steering into the skid, as it were. I'm not reading? Okay, fine. I'm not reading. I'm not going to try to read. I am not going to spend fruitless evenings pawing through my TBR shelves or keeper crates, only to come up with a heartfelt "meh." I am not going to wander unfamiliar sections of the bookstore, plucking random volumes from the shelves and putting them back, only to return to my beloved romance section and hoping in vain there has been a total turnover of stock in the five minutes I have been away.

I love historical romance and that's my home and I'm not leaving. I've tried other genres and they don't give me the same return. If I could grab the gritty feel from the covers of urban fantasy books and smush that into a historical romance book's content, I would be happy as a pig in slop.

Right now, I'm tired of series, and they seem to be everywhere. I want to read one book. One book. One hero, one heroine, one HEA. No spinoffs, no sequels. On to something new. Regency is fine when it's one choice among many, but too many too close and for me, they start to blur. In which case, taking a break is a good thing.

I have other stuff to do. Writing, of course, and I have art, and Sims and I've been watching more TV lately. Bones and How I Met Your Mother are doing more for my romance fix than some books these days, so I'm indulging in many reruns.

The reading urge will return at some point but I'm not going to force or rush it. It will come as it will come. My books will be waiting.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Saturday at the Movies #29 - I actually saw a movie

funny celebrity pictures - Ye olde podcast  commences thusly...
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In the theater and everything. Amazing, isn't it? When I go into a movie with high expectations, there's always a bit of fear that things won't go as I'd hoped, and so when the previews begin (and the previews here put a few films on my to-see list) I'm teetering on the brink of "this is going to be good" and "it's not too late to leave and spend the time with a good book instead." I have yet to walk out at that stage yet, and it would be impolite to the friend I'd gone with, so I did stay and I'm glad I did.

I loved this movie. As in goopy, drippy, sobbingly loved it. English historical setting, location shooting, Colin Firth, even a bit o'Brideshead with Anthony Andrews in a supporting role, and superb acting all the way around are all surefire Anna bait. From the very first scene, we aren't told "Prince Albert is nervous about public speaking because he stammers." Instead, we get to see the agony that plays out behind the royal calm, how the man who walks toward his duty of addressing the empire would much rather be anywhere else, doing anything else, but he doesn't have that choice. We feel the Duty with capitol D, and we know what is important to this character and what he will do to get it as well as what stands in his way.

The relationships make this film, the way the Royal family is truly a family. Bertie is prince, then king, but also a son, brother, husband, father and friend, who cares about those close to him. His wife agonizes over the obstacles her beloved faces and takes steps to help him even though he may not (and doesn't) appreciate it at first. The difference in the ways Bertie and his children relate to each other before and after his brother David's abdication underline the shift in his status, and we see him make the choice to still remain Papa even when he does ascend the throne.

This, like all the stories I love best, is a love story. Between Bertie and his family, between King and country, and the lifelong friendship that forms between Bertie and his speech therapist, Lionel, who gives Bertie the gift of being treated as an equal. the scene where Lionel gives Bertie permission to finish a model airplane is a tearjerker in the very most rewarding way.

Which is another thing I need to mention. I cried. A lot. I felt Bertie's agony and the fetteredness and the anger and wanted to reach into the screen and give David a strong shake. I sobbed when Bertie's father died and the very first thing the newly minted Queen Mother had to do was pay obeisance to her older son, now the new King. Then again at that same man's look of utter wretchedness, because his new status traps him away from the woman he loves; well done, Mr Pearce. I wanted to sit beside Elizabeth in that sisterhood of wives who want to help their husbands through something difficult support by being there. I felt my heart clench when listening to the King's speech declaring that England was indeed at war with Germany. I found myself whisked back to the childhood of a family friend from my elementary school days (a child during the Blitz) when the air raid sirens sounded and people emptied the streets for public shelters...and Lionel refused shelter, intent on being by Bertie's side to help him hold onto his voice.

I want to study this movie, make notes on what the actors do with their faces, voices, bodies; note the camera angles, which are used to strong effect; set design, how the scenes are blocked. Yeah, storytelling geek and proud of it. Definitely buying this one as soon as it's out on DVD.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy Dance Friday #32 You've been Firthed

Funny Pictures
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One of the perils of writing in coffee shops is that sometimes loud people (often very young) will occupy the next table. Add to that the fact that I am fully loaded to go into actual discussion of a movie that is currently in theaters, and thus have Colin Firth on the brain. So that's what you get today.

"Yes, We Have No Bananas" from The English Patient

No desire to see What a Girl Wants, but this counts as happy dancing:

I did not know Easy Virtue existed until searching for clips for today, but now it's on my must see list.

Please join Colin and friends for a big finish:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday tired writer rambles

That's what the calendar says, and by 'calendar' I mean the date I see on the interwebs, because I have yet to find the calendars our family will be using throughout 2011, and have begun my "I may as well make the calendars this year" threat/promise.

Anyway, the polar bear above is doing a fairly accurate impression of my mental state this morning. This comes from three straight nights of partial sleep. Still, it has been confirmed that I am indeed part Weeble and so I will allow the Mssrs Ben Folds (music) and Nick Hornby (lyrics) to peek into my brain and sing my anthem here:

Part of this week is set aside for my RWA chapter's semiannual Book in Six Weeks program. Pretty much the same thing as NaNo, so time to prepare. I'll be delving into the Regency era for the first time with this story, working title I Would Know You, but it's not in or near London, no ton, no rakes, no bluestockings, no wallflowers, but you do get star crossed lovers, a hero with PTSD, an opium addicted heroine and the hero's sister who loves big brother a little too much and not in the right way. I can't wait.

What's on your schedule for the week? More importantly, anybody know where I can find a really good spiral bound planner?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Saturday at the Movies #28 The King's Speech

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Though one of my long standing rants is that I am absolutely desperate for a historical drama that is not a fictionalized biography, The King's Speech is going on my must see list. We'll tackle the obvious first: Colin Firth. Dear mercy, the man can act.

Looking at things in different manners than one usually might has always been one of my natural bents, and yes, I would be interested in this story if it were entirely fictional, which is how my brain addresses it. Do not ask me why; I don't have an answer for that. Let's take a man with a speech impediment significant enough to effect his day to day life. There's a challenge right there.

Since the key to good storytelling is to make things worse to up the interest, let's go up one level. Make this man's job involve public speaking. Worse for him, but better for the story. Let's go up another level. This man's job involves public speaking because his job is being the King of England. Can that get much worse? Well, yes. Because this man is the King of England and we are looking at a world war. Can it get worse than that? Well, yes, because one of the bad guys in this world war we are looking at is an extremely persuasive public speaker, exactly the opposite of our hero's problem and our hero's speech is going to be rather important in how his country is going to get through this very bad thing of massive porportions.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Happy Dance Friday #31 - Happy New Year

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What's on the horizon for another year of happy dancing? I haven't seen Paula Abdul's Live to Dance yet, but it's on the DVR. So You Think You Can Dance is still a while away from the season premiere, and I somehow managed to miss an entire season of Dancing With The Stars, but there are other sources.

Music clips are always good for getting up and doing our own dancing,especially when the band is full of energy and having a great time. I first saw Sawyer Brown when I was in high school and they were on Star Search. Loved their energy then and now, and the lead singer has some impressive moves.

Since I am a sucker for audition and rehearsal scenes:

Do we detect some gospel influence here?

This one is...well, I'm still not entirely sure what it is, but it's got plenty of energy. Also pelicans.