Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #90, Saturday at the Movies #89, More Real Life, and I am Going Somewhere With This, Trust Me

funny pictures - Hello, Turtle!
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Originally, I was going to let the real life interlude have this spot and not post today. Still dealing with the events that led to last week's ER visit, wrangling the home while the home team is a man down, reasonably optimistic that the light at the end of the tunnel isn't a train, giving the writing doubt monster the stinkeye, needing a nice long nap, wondering if TBR pile could double as a pillow; all good reasons not to post today. Not to mention that it drives me crazy when my Happy Dance Friday and Saturday at the Movies numbers don't match, BUT....okay, two buts.

Second thing first (I'm punchy, just go with it) and reason for the triumphant baby turtle above. I realized that I do have some extremely minimal dance cred. Okay, more of a brush with fame. In certain circles. When my age could be measured in single digits. With pictures to prove, but they and I are not in the same place, so let's meet here again next week after I've had a chance to scan and upload, mkay? Thanks much. For now, I can honestly say that I took dance classes at a school founded by former Rockettes, sisters Romayne and Mary Ann Strilka. Ballet and tap, and while I did break my arm on the property, it was horsing around on the sidewalk outside rather than an injury for the art.

Which leads me to the first thing, which is where our Saturday at the Movies tag comes into play. I will admit to being a Degrassi fan from so far back that Mr. Simpson, the principal, was in junior high. So, when, during an airing of that show, I saw a promo for this one:

My first thought was, "hot dang, Degrassi with dancing." I wasn't far off. Our viewpoint character is Tara, a young dancer from rural Australia, who comes to the prestigious Dance Academy in Sydney to hone her craft. There, she meets students and teachers who all share a passion for dance -main discipline being ballet, but also including other forms, though I clear my throat and tap foot in annoyed fashion because there is no ballroom. Really, people? Really? Hip Hop but not ballroom? Really?- and have to navigate their own way through the vicissitudes of life.

While Tara has to learn how to go from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond, her fellow students have their own challenges. One must learn how to stand on her own and escape the shadow of her mother, a ballet superstar. Another must find a way to integrate his Jewish faith and dedication to dance. For another, dance is his one ticket out of an extremely rough life when even his last remaining relative wimps out on him. Plus there's a male ballet instructor who I know would have broken the heart of my time travel heroine oh so hard if she'd met him prior to the hero (after, pfft, he wouldn't even register.) Oh, and it's on two times per week, and what's this about season two already? (Possible shippy spoilers in clip below, FYI)

I'll be watching; will you? Does anybody else have ballet class memories to share?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #89 - Peter Tork and Real Life Interlude

funny pictures - Lolcats: Da Dictshunary Sez
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz! I almost numbered this as Happy Dance Friday #88.5, because it's an abbreviated version. DH, our friend Linda, and I spent the night in the ER. DH was the patient, now home resting comfortably, and my job one for the day is getting some sleep.

Still wanted to finish out Monkee Month, though, with a couple of entries from Peter Tork. His Monkees character, a silly simpleton whose optimistic outlook provided the source for much mischief, provided this multitalented performer with a chance to exercise several skills. Including songwriting, as his "For Pete's Sake," with vocals by Micky Dolenz, played over the closing credits of each Monkees episode:

Peter sang lead on the chaotic fun of "Your Auntie Grizzelda":

While "Since You Went Away" is one of my favorite cuts from the Monkees' Pool It album, this demo version of one of the world's bounciest breakup songs was originally conceived for Peter Tork and the New Monks.

Thus ends Monkee Month, and my store of energy for the day, faithful readers. Time to go grab a nap and start thinking of themes for next week. Who's got a great suggestion?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday at the Movies #88 - I saw the Decoy Bride

For those still on the hunt for showings of The Decoy Bride, we have on our hands that most elusive of things; the limited release. Often moviespeak for NY and LA, this also means "not in a theater near you if you live anywhere else." UK audiences got to see this in 2011, but fret not; if you have Cox Cable, it should be in the On Demand section, which is where I saw it (twice so far) or at Amazon Instant Video here.

Short review: I loved this movie.

Longer review: This is exactly the kind of romantic comedy that works for me. David Tennant and Kelly MacDonald played their parts to perfection, the scenery was gorgeous, the supporting cast relatable and firmly rooted in the setting. What sticks with me most, though are the characters and the romance.

Aspiring guidebook writer Katie returns home to the tiny isle of Hegg after breaking up with her bad boy ex-fiance, right in time for the wedding of another ex, the last single man on the island. She's also right in time for another wedding, that of British author James, whose famed novel, The Ornithologist's Wife, is set on Hegg, making it the perfect venue for James' wedding to American actress Lara. The media gets wind of the nuptials and Lara's people hatch a plan; they'll stage a fake wedding, using Katie as the faux bride.

Problems ensue when Lara goes missing and both James and Katie sign their real names in the register, which is, as Katie puts it, "the legal part." Add in a lovesick paparazzo and Katie's terminally ill mother, whose illness takes a back seat to a serious case of wanderlust, and a neglected bathroom that may or may not be haunted by a cow. With the press in pursuit, James and Katie (aka John Johnson and Toilet Girl, as they know each other) go on the lam together.

As a romance writer, watching a romance where both principals are writers was a special treat. James' writing anxieties and Katie's determination will strike a chord, and the subplot of James finding his muse in the most unlikely places is absolutely heartwarming. A scene with an elderly couple who mistake James-in-disguise for a favorite bagpiper could melt a heart of stone. The road to happily ever after isn't easy for James and Katie, but that's the charm of it. This film gives them the room and time to grow, make mistakes and make things right.

Long story short, I am snapping this puppy up the very first second I see it on DVD, and wil leave you with this clip of one of the lovely musical selections, "Hide You Far Away" by Will Nott.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #88 - Michael Nesmith

Monkee Month comes to the penultimate week with a focus on Michael Nesmith, singer, songwriter, one-time wearer of wool hats, entrepreneur and former politician. I have fond memories of listening to multiple replays of "Listen to the Band" with my friend, Kenny, when I was ten, on a particular afternoon. Kenny B, this one's for you, wherever you are:

I may have been a Sweet Young Thing at the time, but still old enough to appreciate a clever turn of phrase and catchy tune, and anyone who can compose along with Carole King and Gerry Goffin is worthy of notice. Plus the Monkees and friends certainly seem to be having a good time here:

Few things inspire a happy dance more than a well written song that tells a complete story, such as "What Am I Doing Hanging Round?" Wistful lyrics play against a bouncy tune that lingers long after the sound fades away:

Was that a little down for Happy Dance Friday? Let's try Sunny Girlfriend:

Nez, as his fans affectionately call him, has kept on in his own unique style, melding thoughtful lyrics with memorable tunes, perfect accompaniment for writerly celebration. We'll close with this solo celebration of individuality:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Saturday at the Movies #87 - The Decoy Bride

Pretty much my reaction when I saw the trailer for The Decoy Bride on the Heroes and Heartbreakers blog. How much do I love this? Let us count the ways.

One: David Tennant. I fell madly for him in Blackpool, referenced here, as well as here and though I'm not a regular follower of Doctor Who, I loved "The Girl in the Fireplace" and Ten will always be "my" Doctor. So of course, the chance to see Mr. Tennant in a straight romantic lead, especially in a role that looks like something Hugh Grant could also pull off, and tell me his character is an author? Say no more, but wait, that's not all....

Two: Kelly MacDonald. Loved her with Bill Nighy in The Girl in the Cafe, as well as in Gosford Park, and am looking forward to Brave and Anna Karenina.

Three: Inhabitants of a small UK locale band together to put one over on outsiders. In this case, a Hollywood actress and her fiance, a British writer played by Mr. Tennant, who apparently has set his books on this particular isle...without ever visiting it. Cue media frenzy, cue marketing people arriving to put a spin on things, part of which involves a decoy bride to attract attention away from the real nuptials. Add in one accidental actual wedding, and hijinx ensue. With, it would seem, love as a byproduct.

Four: The music in the trailer inspired me to hunt down the composer, Julian Nott, who has more musical samples available here. Gorgeous instrumentals, though still no clue who does the snippet of the bit with vocals. On with the hunt.

Five: Can you resist this trailer? Can you really?

So what do you think, faithful readers?

Friday, March 09, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #87 - Happy (Belated) Birthday, Micky Dolenz

With the sad passing of Davy Jones, Monkees fans could certainly use a real happy dance, and since this is the day after Micky Dolenz' birthday (and gives me the urge to make it Monkee Month) today's choice is a natural. If Davy was the song and dance man of the group, Micky was the clown, and no wonder; his first acting job was as the youthful lead of the tv series Circus Boy. An actor playing a drummer, who then became a drummer, Micky brought his own brand of delicious insanity to the Monkees antics, providing lead vocals on such upbeat classics as "I'm a Believer":

Even songs of social commentary, like "Pleasant Valley Sunday" or "Last Train to Clarksville" got the special Micky touch:

"That Was Then, This is Now" has got to be one of the bounciest second chance songs I've ever heard:

Though embedding is disabled on the official video (click here to see) of the Monkees' "Heart and Soul" video, which has the trademark Monkees hijinx as they tackle the 80s, Micky's optimistic attitude shines in this live version:

Remember, a truly heartfelt happy dance negates the calories of an extra helping of birthday cake, and "Tomorrow's Going to be Another Day." Happy Birthday, Micky!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Tired and Cranky Writer Looks Forward to April, pt 1

Let's start with the basics. I don't like spring. DH has asthma, I'm sun and heat sensitive, so no, we're not full of sparkles and unicorns about warmer weather. I will freely admit to an extra dose of crankiness today, but sleep deprivation will do that to a gal. So if I'm extra abrasive today, that's it.

Please give me a blankey and a pillow and a quiet corner and all will be well. Extra points for a stuffed animal and white noise. Also some books. Considering the state of fatigue here, I may as likely lay my head on them and snooze as read, so maybe gently tuck the ereader, fully charged, into the crook of my arm.

Even with all of the above, there is one part of spring I do look forward to. April means a flurry of real writer person things. Of course every day writing is a real writer person thing, but in April, I will be at two conferences and teaching an online workshop. On April 21st, Charter Oak Romance Writers presents an all day workshop with Theresa Stevens on using fairy tale structure and theme here. Then on the 27th and 28th, NECRWA presents the annual Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference, here. Both of which overlap my From Fanfiction to Fantastic Fiction online workshop at Savvy Authors, here.

I live for these things. Even with the advent of social media (a lifesaver for the extroverted writer) there's nothing like being plopped down into a room, real or virtual, with other like minded souls. Extroverts do well here, and "what do you write?" is an accepted icebreaker in every encounter, from line for the bathroom to a crowded elevator. Staring at chests is considered normal here, as that's where the nametags are located, as the internet and a rabid reading habit may make names more recognizable than faces. Expect a few instances of "I didn't know you were you" after you've been to a few of these. Also expect to bring an extra suitcase or totebag with you because you will bring home more than you left the house with; free books at every meal and then there's the freebie table laden with shiny promo materials. I come home from these conferences exhausted but happy, like the time (possible TMI alert) the family dog stayed out all night, only to turn up on the front porch in the wee hours of the morning, tired smile and wagging tail. Multiple neighbors' female dogs had mystery litters a couple months later. :ahem:

Long travel times, the epic battle of hotel food and my allergies, the combination of churning stomach and rushing endorphins that accompany a pitch session, all mix with the chance to make new friends, get current with old ones, and best of all, answer "yes" when a hotel staffer asks if you're "one of the romance writers." The red heart sticker on a nametag that identifies one as a published author always puts a skip in my heart. Me. I did that. I can do that again. Free books make friends and family members who know the drill pounce on me upon my return, because if the books I bring home are not of my preferred genres, that means they have first dibs. Anything left over means UBS run on the first available weekend.

For me, these conferences are like getting my battery charged, and I'll be honest, it's been a tough writing year, so I'm looking forward to a good charge or two that much more. Since I've ventured into rambling territory, I'll stop here and blabber about the workshop in part two.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Saturday at the Movies #86 - Being Human (UK)

Confession: I haven't seen this yet. Not a bit apart from the few seconds I managed to see while we set up to record the two episodes that currently wait on the family DVR. Apart from my dearly beloved, dearly departed Moonlight I'm not that big on vampire shows. Still, as a CORW sister pointed out not that long ago, I do have a tendency to file the "para" off any paranormal dramas and study the human aspects of the supernatural characters. So it doesn't come as much of a surprise that when I can get my mitts on a program where that's kind of the whole point, well, yeah.

All flatmates George, Mitchell and Annie want is a normal life, only that's kind of a challenge when George is a werewolf, Mitchell is a vampire and Annie is a ghost. Which is pretty much all I know so far, but a show that "which deals more with the horror of living in modern Britain than the horror of the undead?" Sold. I do not need to hear more.

Normally, I don't jump into something like this, this far into the game. By my best guess, the episodes on the DVR are from series four (and big things are about to change, including most of the cast, I take it) so I expect I'll be doing a lot of "who's that" and "what are they talking about" and looking things up online while the show is on pause. Or it won't work for me after all, but that's why there are delete buttons.

Yes, I do know there is a US version, okay, more properly North American, as it's a US/Canadian endeavor, and I may peek at that in the future, as they're not trying to remake the UK version with different accents, but go more in the (pardon the pun) spirit of the thing:

Not to mention the UK's other offering, Becoming Human, which started as a web series, but apparently has moved to BBC3, but not yet found its way across the pond.

No time to dive into this new franchise today, so this was more of a preview post, so stay tuned for impressions of one who's come late to the party in a future entry. How about you, faithful readers? Have you had a taste of Being Human in any incarnation? What should a newbie know? Which side of the pond tickles your fancy?

Friday, March 02, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #86 - Hail and Farewell, Davy Jones

Normally, I don't blog about celebrity deaths. Davy Jones, however, is different. I first encountered The Monkees in the early 1970s, when I was but a wee little princess, and the show on one of its early reruns. Bright colors, happy music, funny jokes, silly costumes and a fast pace kept my attention then, and they still do. There was a real friendship amongst the four characters, but Davy was always my favorite.

Our family lived in suburban New York at the time, but our next door neighbors were from Scotland, and my mother's closest friend was British, so it might have been partly due to the accent that Davy caught my attention the most. Sure, he was the "cute" one, and even as a tiny sproglet, I had an eye for the heartthrobs, and Davy's character had an eye for the ladies. If pressed, though, I'd have to say it was Davy's limitless well of charisma that made him stand out for me. While I'm sure that he's had his share of rough times and bad days, when in front of the camera, his performing persona was a roll-with-the-punches, make the best of it, always looking towards something wonderful on the horizon sort of character, and he made it work.

Years later, I bonded with a favorite cousin over a shared love of the Monkees, and in college, a fellow student and I navigated the then-new frontier of electronic mail by creating a new class called "Davy Dancing," based upon the choreography of the classic "Daydream Believer." So it really is in part due to Davy that I can use email at all. A pair of dormmates who remain friends to this day were also Monkees fans and introduced me to Head, which was not merely the series on the big screen, but did give Davy a chance to show off his dancing chops, with choreography by Toni Basil, no less:

The late 80s release of Pool It delighted my Monkees-loving self and I remember taking lots of walks in Ventura, CA, with the cassette playing in my Walkman, and the Davy-fronted songs were among my favorites. I'm pretty sure the actual cassette met its end long ago in a series of moves, but I still have the cover and refuse to part with that. Too many good memories. "I'll Love You Forever" was written by Davy, and would make for a lovely wedding dance:

What sticks with me the most, though, is Davy's cameo in The Brady Bunch Movie, reprising his iconic guest role from the tv series, as Marcia's celebrity guest at the prom. Of course a prom in the harder edged world of the new millennium is a far cry from the Brady Bunch of the sixties, but Davy took it in good stride and did the job he came to do with his trademark aplomb, even as his bubblegum song, "Girl" turned into a headbanging power ballad.

I think Davy has a lesson for all of us, especially the creative types, in that clip. The world is going to change, but those who know who they are as an artist can roll with the punches and find a way to make it work. That's definitely worth a happy dance in my book.