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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hey, I Want to Read a Book

Someone on Twitter asked me why I don't talk about what I'm reading much.

There are a couple reasons for it. One is because when I'm reading, I'm not on Twitter. When I watch TV, I am on Twitter, hence the amount of tweets about what I'm watching. Writing, sleeping, reading - no twitter. Watching TV, waiting in line, researching - lots of twitter.

The other reason is that I feel weird about talking about the books I read, especially the YA ones. I can't explain it, but I'm always afraid that me saying, "Hey, I like this book" will suddenly downgrade the book and make people less likely to buy it or want to read it. True story.

I guess what I just said that is that I think everyone thinks I suck, and by me saying I like it, they will also think it sucks.

This doesn't hold true for TV or movies, becuase I don't write them. If I did write for television or movies, I probably would never recommend them either. I'm basically saying that I think you all think I'm a terrible author, and I don't want to taint good books with my terrible authorness.

Oh, the neurosis of me. It's such a constant thrill.

But anyway. I'm trying to make a point of talking about what I read. Because I do read. A lot. And many of the things I read, I think other people will enjoy too.

So here are some books I've read lately:
- The Sandman by Neil Gaiman - Still working my way through it. I love it so much but I'm breaking it up, reading different books in between. I'm up to volume 6 so far.
-Mind Games by Kiersten White - I was excited about this one, rightfully so, and James would be very good friends with Loki (if there were ever some kind of Trylle/Mind Games crossover, which there won't be)
-Because I Said So by Ken Jennings - I love Ken Jennings, and I love random facts. So this book pleased me very much.
-Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench (The New 52) - My friend Matt laughed when I told him I was reading this, but you know what? It was good. So there, Matt.
-Fated by Alyson Noel - I didn't realize the second book Echo is already out, so I ordered that one, but I haven't got it yet, but the sooner it gets here, the better.
-The Casteel Saga by VC Andrews - I don't know why. I don't know why at all. I started reading it, and then, it was like a compulsion, and I had to finish the series. I don't know why.
-Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King - I actually read this years ago, lost my copy (somewhere in all the moving after my parents' divorce, along with so many of my other books, records, and action figures). It holds up well, though. I don't even like werewolves, but this is good stuff.

But I'm actually looking for book suggestions. What I'd really like to read is a stand alone YA horror/paranormal romance. I love series, I read a lot of series, I write a lot of series, but I'm just in the mood for a stand alone or two, and I'm actually having a hard time finding any that appeal to me.


I'm fine with people dying, but I don't want it to be super sad. (Ever since I totally bawled while reading Where the Red Fern Grows, I've sworn of super sad books. Although, I inexplicably cried a lot when I read Salem's Lot. But I don't know why.)

I'm also interested in reading a western, again preferably YA, and if there were elements of paranormal or horror or sci-fi, that would be a huge plus.

Also any YA books from the 80s would be awesome. Especially horror or paranormal or even just straight up romance. I just bought a whole stack of Fear Street books, and I'm super psyched to dive into them.

Right now: I'm about to go read Damned by Chuck Palahniuk, even though it's been on my shelf for ages. I kept forgetting it existed apparently, but now I've remembered and I will read it. So if you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Results of the Contest

The Valentine's Day Giveaways (both of them) have finished, and the winners have been chosen. They are being notified by email, so keep an eye out on your email today.

The winners' first name and the first initial of their last name are displayed on the Rafflecopter entry on the Valentine's Day blog, so you can check there too. Please reply to the email within 72 hours, so I can get the prizes out to you next week.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and it was really great seeing all of your comments. This time, you also voted on what were your favorite songs from the Tidal soundtrack, your favorite cover for the Watersong novels, and your favorite characters in the books. You also suggested songs you'd like to see on the soundtrack, and I picked my top picks of your picks (let's say picks a few more times, just for fun).

So here are the winners:

Favorite Cover:
  1. Tidal - featuring Daniel and Penn - won by a landslide. It got three times as many votes as either of the other two books. It is also the only one that has Daniel on the cover, so that makes sense to me.
  2. Wake - featuring Gemma - came in second.
  3. Lullaby - featuring Harper - was a very close third, nearly tying with Wake.

Favorite Character: 
  1. Daniel - but only by a tight lead above Gemma.
  2. Gemma - very close second.
  3. Harper - trailed slightly behind her sister.
  4. Alex - finished out the top four.
  5. Marcy - She only got two votes, but I still think she's neat.

 
Favorite Songs from the Tidal Soundtrack:
  1. Mumford & Sons - "White Blank Page" was the clear winner, getting twice as many votes as the third place winner, and this comes right after their big win on the Grammy's means they are really on a roll. 
  2. Civil Wars - "Poison & Wine" is a great song. 
  3. Imogen Heap - "Tidal" got the third place, and as the inspiration of the title for the third novel in the Watersong series, I'm glad to see she placed. (Fun fact: Another one of her songs "The Walk" helped inspire the Trylle novels, particularly some of the end chapters in Switched).

 
My Top Picks from Your Soundtrack Suggestions:
  1. Anna Ternheim - "No, I Don't Remember." I'd never heard the song before, or at least I don't recall hearing it, although it was on the Alan Wake soundtrack and I played the game. It's a really nice, though, and I think it definitely ties in with some of the things coming up in Tidal.
  2. Imagine Dragons - "Demons." I love their song "It's Time," but I was unfamiliar with this one. It's a good song, and I think it fits Gemma.
  3. Death Cab for Cutie - "I Will Follow You Into the Dark." I love Death Cab. I love this song. It totally works for Harper in relation to Gemma, or Daniel in relation to Harper, or Alex in relation to Gemma. So it fits, and it's beautiful. 

It was really awesome seeing what you guys think, and what you guys have came up with. In future giveaways, I think I'll definitely do more stuff like this. There will be more giveaways in the future (not sure when yet), and I have a really fun month-long event planned before the release of Tidal in June. Probably one of the funnest things I've done yet.

But thanks again to everyone who participated!


Monday, February 18, 2013

A Few Things

Hey if you haven't checked out the Valentine's Day Giveaway, you ought to, because it ends soon, and I'm giving away ARCs of Tidal.

So I'm trying to blog more, just for funsies, and keep you updated on all the excitement that is my life.

Here's a tidbit of the excitement that is my life:

I have to wear my glasses today, as opposed to my contacts because my eye is bugging me. Now the whole world looks slightly farther away that it normally does.

I've been reading The Sandman, and the volume I finished the other day was about Midsummer Night's Dream, which makes me want to see it again. I enjoy the movie, and although it has Sam Rockwell, Christian Bale, and Kevin Kline - three of my all-time favorite actors - it's just not the same on film as it is in person. I told Eric that I want to start a theater company, and just put that play on every weekend, so I can watch it all the time, and Eric said that would probably lose a lot of money.

This song has been playing almost nonstop over the past weekend:


The music video for Cobra Starship's song "#1Nite" is missing from my phone and iTunes, and I can't rebuy it, and I spent a great deal of time this weekend trying to discover what happened to it. I eventually just downloaded it from the interwebs, but it caused me great pain to do this. I feel kinda okay about, though, because I actually did already pay for the video, and it just got stolen from me somehow.

I've been working on a new book, which excites me greatly, but I won't say anymore about it until I know if/when/where it will be published. But work has been fun lately, and that's good. Some days are less fun than others, so it's good when days are more fun.

Kiersten White's new book Mind Games is coming out tomorrow. I'm excited to get it, and I'm going to try to hold off and read it this weekend as a treat for myself for getting my allotted amount of writing/working out done. But we'll see if can hold out.

Oh, I also got  a movie called Frankenstein Unbound, which I'd never heard of but it has Raul Julia and Michael Hutchence in it. I'm super psyched it watch it tonight. It also has Jason Patric, and I'll find that a bit confusing, since Jason Patric has always reminded me of Michael Hutchence. Though Michael Hutchence is much foxier and also Australian. And if I have a dream guy, it would be an Australian musician. Or an Australian anything. Or maybe a British or South African guy. Yeah. Any of those.

And I listen to far too much INXS. Well, not too much, but an awful lot.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Owls and More

My mom (sometimes referred to as Mama Lewie by myself and my friends) is into making things. She makes minatures and dolls and doll clothes and kids clothes. Recently she made me this owl pillow:

Roswell Owlenton the Third and my cat Sophie
 And she liked it so much, she decided to make more. She's started a store on Etsy, and she's selling some owls, and she's currently working on making more things, like potholders and tablet covers. She has many patterns and many ideas, and loads of fabric. My aunt is also making things, and she will be selling them there as well. (I think my aunt so far is mainly making clothes sized for American Girl Dolls but I'm not 100% sure).

So if you like awesome things, like Roswell Owlenton the Third, then you should totes check out my mom's store at Etsy and buy things. Click here to check out here store: MommaLewieCrafts.

This is an owl pillow currently for sale at my mom's Etsy store.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

An Argument for Steff

In 1986, John Hughes came out with the classic teen flick Pretty in Pink. I usually tell people that Breakfast Club is my favorite of his films because I think it sounds better, but the fact is, I love Pretty in Pink more. (If somehow you have not seen this amazing movie in the past 27 years it's been out, be forewarned that there will be many, many spoilers in this blog).

The first time I saw it, I had to be maybe about 12-years-old, and I was whole-heartily Team Duckie (the best friend-pseudolove interest played by Jon Cryer). He was funny and devoted and ridiculoous, and I thought Andie (Molly Ringwald) would one day realize she loved him as much as he loved her too.

I watched the film many times over throughout the years, and I noticed that somewhere around age 18-19, I switched to Team Blane. Andrew McCarthy is definitely foxier than Jon Cryer, but more than that, he was sweet and willing to defy social barriers to be with Andie. And I do think there was more chemistry between Andie and Blaine, than Andie and Duckie, who really had about as much chemistry as most siblings do.

But as of late, I've come to realize that I am 110% Team Steff (Blane's jerk of a best friend played by James Spader). Part of it is for the obvious reason, in that James Spader is just ridiculously sexy in that movie. Like crazy hot. Like he's a shirtless yuppie shark. He's the kind of guy Patrick Bateman wished he was (but much less murder-y of course).

In the original ending of Pretty in Pink, Andie actually did choose Duckie. But it didn't test well with audiences, and Molly Ringwald was dating Andrew McCarthy at the time, and John Hughes thought it sent a bad message about classes not mixing. So he reshot it with Andie ending up Blaine.

But there was never an option of her ending up with Steff. In fact, it's not even hinted as possibility in the movie. And for good reason. Steff is a major jerk to Andie. He treats her like crap, and Andie - with morals and high-self esteem - rejects all of his overtones toward her, and rightfully so.

I'm not saying that Andie should end up with Steff - he was a jerk, and if he'd won her, he never were appreciated her. His journey is in losing her, and in that act, he can become someone better. She's right not to pick him.

But realistically, neither Duckie or Blaine were great choices either. Duckie is probably gay. Or at best, he's so obsessive that he borders on a stalker, and she's completely disinterested in him. A long-term relationship would be her treating him like a doormat until he snaps and kills her.

And Blaine, while sweet and cute, is as dry as toast. When challenged, he's meek and backs down. If he didn't have those adorable eyes and nice hair, he'd blend right into the wallpaper. He and Andie will date for awhile, but break up over college. They'll meet up years later, when she's a semi-successful magazine editor or writer. He'll be married with some sweet, pretty, but totally bland girl from his social standing, and he'll do Doctors Without Borders or something equally noble. But there will be no passion. He and Andie will remain friendly for years, but that's all.

But Steff - that's a story. He did care about Andie, probably as much as Blane or Duckie, but he didn't have the emotional capacity to express it. He was raised by distant nannies and absentee parents, has no idea who to be vulnerable with another person, and when he meets Andie, he hits on her in his usually cocky fashion, and she smartly shuts him down. But Steff is genuinely hurt by this, and spends the rest of the film unable to grasp how to get her affections so he lashes out at her in his confusion and hurt.

Yeah, he's creepy. He's a jerk. She shouldn't date him. But at least he's interesting. Andie's rebuff - along with the great speech Blane gives him when he figures out that Steff's problem with Andie isn't that he hates her but that he's in love with her - might actually give Steff the motivation to change. He can be a stronger, better person.

Andie and Blane are like that couple in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickson - Lucie Manett and Charles Darnay. They were both incredibly moral and wonderful and above all the backstabbing and games of the aristocracy. They're magical little threads of perfection, and they're also totally dull.

But it's Sydney Carton - the cynic who looks like Charles Darnay - that makes Two Cities interesting, and it's Steff who is much like Sydney. Admittedly, in the book, Sydney has a chance to redeem himself, and in the end, dies a hero for saving the happiness of his true love.

Steff never does that in Pretty in Pink, but I'd like to believe that he does later. After the prom, when he realizes exactly what he lost by being a total douche, and he has a change of heart and does something really seslfless after that. Like maybe anonymously getting his family to give a huge scholaraship to Andie.

I don't know. But the point is that Steff has the glimmer and the potential to become something better. Blane and Duckie are already at the zenith of their existence.

And that's my argument for Steff. He's not the best choice for Andie, but he's definitely the hottest and most interesting character in Pretty in Pink.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Giveaway

I love Valentine's Day. Hearts, flowers, candy - it's all wonderful. People get bent all out of shape about being single or greeting card companies forcing it on us, but the truth is that another day that serves as a reminder to tell people you love them can't be all bad. Plus, I love sending flowers and getting flowers.

Besides, book boyfriends are almost always better than a real thing, so it got me thinking about how much I've loved writing the Watersong series, and the boys that live in that Capri (especially Daniel, rawr).


And since I love Valentine's Day and Watersong so much, I thought that I should combine the two and share the love with everyone by having not one but two separate giveaways.


The first giveaway is a Valentine's Day & Watersong Beginners Package. It will include a signed hardcover of both Wake and Lullaby, along with several other Valentine's Day goodies, like bookmarks, a card with a personalized message, candy, and a couple other surprises.

I'll giving away THREE Valentine's Day & Watersong Beginners Packages (maximum one prize per entrant), and you can enter below. The giveaway will run from today until February 20th at 11:59 pm. Sorry, contest open to US residents only.
 
The second giveaway is a Valentine's Day & Tidal Package. Much like the other giveaway, this one includes a signed hardcover of both Wake and Lullaby, along with the other Valentine's Day goodies, but this one has the added bonus of including a signed ARC of Tidal - the third book in the Watersong series that won't be out in harcover and ebook until June 2013.

I'm also going to have a couple different ways to enter, including suggesting songs for a Watersong soundtrack and sharing the awesome trailer for the series. I'll be giving away TWO Valentine's Day & Tidal Packages (maximum one prize per entrant), and you can enter below. The giveaway will run from today until February 20th at 11:59 pm. Sorry, contest open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 11, 2013

Saturday

If you read my last blog (Underrated and Amazeballs), you'll know that my plans to go away with friends for the weekend was thwarted by a sick dog, so I decided to have a movie marathon to cheer myself up. I didn't end up getting to all the movies (or really, most of them) but I did end up having a really good Saturday. Here's how it went:

I spent the day with Elroy, the aforementioned sick dog, who is doing great and looking adorable. 
Then I kicked off the day with this movie, Detention, which I love lots. I also learned that Josh Hutcherson was born after Nevermind came out, and I've never felt so old my entire life.

I didn't feel like watching another movie, so I decided to re-read the first volume of The Sandman. It's been years since I read them, and I'm not sure I even completed the whole series (they were my step-dad's, so I just read what he had). It's as good as I remember it being, plus the Scarecrow cameo was fun.
 My hair kept falling in my face because my bangs are getting too long, so I put on this fancy headband.


By then, I was getting hungry, so I put on some Black Lab -

 - and I made myself some very tasty lo mein with asparagus for supper.
When I finished eating, I took my trusty Red Bull and went down to my office.

 I worked on a new book, which I've been crazy excited about for awhile now.
While I worked, I listened to my awesome book soundtrack, which includes my new favorite song - Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark."
I ended the day by finally starting J. L. Bryan's Songs of Magic series.
And I did it all while wearing my new Archer shirt.
ISIS: International Secret Intelligence Service
So yeah, I'd say it turned out be a pretty fantastic Saturday.



P. S. I'm having starting a giveaway on Wednesday, so watch out for that.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Underrated and Amazeballs

For a few months, some friends and I have had plans to go away for this weekend. I'd been working really hard lately, and I was looking forward to the break away and spending time with pals. We were supposed to leave today (Friday).

So on Thursday night, my best friend/roommate Eric ordered buffalo wings. He ate them, then he went to bed. I was in my office working, so my dog Elroy seized the opportunity to devour 8 remainders of buffalo wings, bones and all.

If you're unfamiliar with dogs and chicken bones, they don't go together. Chicken bones have a propensity to splinter, and when they do, that can lead to obstructions, vomiting, internal bleeding, and even death.

Elroy, the doggie garbage disposal
I took Elroy to the vet's, and they told me that he seems okay (and he does), but that I should keep an eye on him for the next day or two, just in case. Because there's a good chance that nothing will happen, but there's also a chance that as he's trying to digest the bones, they'll tear and he'll throw up and need surgery.

So instead of going away with this weekend and dropping Elroy off at his kennel, I am staying home with him. He will probably be fine, but on the off chance that's he not, I need to  be here.

Initially, I was quite bummed about not being able to go. So then I tried to think of fun things that I could do when I'm home by myself. (These things include working on a new book and re-reading Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series, which I still plan on doing).

But since I'm home alone (Eric went on the trip with our friends), I thought I should do something that I don't also do when he's home (like work or read). In fact, whenever Eric goes away for any amount of time, I always do the same thing: Movie Marathon.

He doesn't prevent me from watching anything, so I don't know why I suddenly get excited and think, "I can finally watch those movies!" every time he's gone, but I do.

The theme for this weekend's movie marathon is: Underrated and Amazeballs. These are movies that I think are totally fantastic, and while they may have a cult following, they aren't as readily appreciated by the mainstream. And now, in case you wanted to join in on the greatest movie marathon of all time, here's my list:

Seven Psychopaths -I just watched this movie for the first time about a week ago, and I already can't wait to see it again. I absolutely loved it. Full disclosure: Sam Rockwell is my favorite actor. I think everything he does is amazing, and he steals every scene. However, I actually think that Christopher Walken is the true light in this movie. Almost every one of his lines are of the best I've heard in a long time. His scenes with Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell in the desert are phenomenal, and I'm actually quite peeved that Walken wasn't nominated for anything for this role. It's fantabulous. You should be warned that their is excessive violence and language (not quite Tarantino, but in a similar vein).

Detention - I read the description for this and thought it sounded absolutely terrible. But I was bored, so I watched it anyway. It's one of those movies that I feel like many people won't like, but for me, it's near perfection. It hits all the right notes of things I love. It's funny. It's fresh. It's self-referential and full of pop culture. And it has a few twists that I didn't see coming, which is always nice. It also has that guy in it that everybody cares about now because he's in The Hunger Games. But I've liked him since Firehouse Dog, so that's that. If you like The Breakfast Club and Back to the Future and Scream, you might like this film. But I refuse to make guarantees on that.

Donnie Darko - Okay, so this probably isn't that underrated. It has quite the cult following. But I still remember the first time I saw it. I was getting ready to hang out with my boyfriend and it just came on, and as soon as the countdown and Frank showed up, I was hooked. This was in the days before DVR, so I stayed to finish watching it, and I ended up late to meet my boyfriend, and we got in a huge fight. But it was totally worth it. Because 9 years later, I still love Donnie Darko, but I ditched the boyfriend a long time ago. Also - this movie has the greatest soundtrack ever. Tears For Fears, the Church, Echo & the Bunnymen, INXS, not to mention that fantastic cover of "Mad World" by Gary Jules. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it. It doesn't always make sense (in fact, it rarely does), but it's soooo.... I don't know... captivating that it doesn't matter. Bonus: Patrick Swayze playing a character very against type, and I always love Swayze.

Drive - Probably not underrated either, since critics everywhere raved about this. With good reason. But it wasn't exactly a blockbuster, either. When I saw the previews, I thought it was going to be like Drive Angry, and I was super confused about why Serious Actor Ryan Gosling would do something like this. But then I saw it. And all the parts of it should be terrible. On paper, everything sounds like it should be terrible - from the score, to the jacket, to the plot, to the casting of Albert Brooks - but somehow it's put together in such a way that it all works like better than anything I've seen in a long time. It takes a cliched premise that could've turned into another Jason Stathem fare and turns it into something amazing. It transcends genres and defies explanation. Note: Lots of graphic violence in this one. But after Donnie Darko, this film has the second greatest score of all time. Double Bonus: It's based on a book that I will read soon because I just remembered that it existed.

Mystery Men - The most underrated comedy of all time. I also think this is the funniest movie I've ever seen. (Even funnier than The Holy Grail. Yeah. It's that funny). It has a tremendous cast of underrated actors - Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, Paul Reubens, Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Izzard, Geoffery Rush, Doug Jones, and Tom Waits (who was also in Seven Psychopaths, and he was great in that as well). It's so very, very, very funny. I love the sets, the costumes, and the super heroes. Honorable Mention: After Mystery Men, I think Galaxy Quest is the most overlooked comedy. It's so hilarious, and it once again stars the incomparable Sam Rockwell. Another great underrated Sam Rockwell movie: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is HILARIOUS AND AWESOME, and yet somehow not nearly as awesome as the book. Read the books by Douglas Adams, then watch the movie. (Mos Def is just the best in that movie).

Moon - So I wasn't kidding when I said that I like Sam Rockwell. It's just everything he does is amazing, and he picks roles that are so diversified and they just happen to almost always be in really fantastic films. (Remember Cowbowys & Aliens? The guy has great taste). Moon takes what could be a simple and cliched sci-fi premise of a man alone in space, and when it started out, I had great fears and predictions about where the film would head, and it didn't go anywhere near them. It flipped my expectations on their head and made something that was intelligent, moving, and entertaining. Kevin Spacey is also great as GERTY. Bonus: The film is written and directed by Duncan Jones, aka Zowie Bowie, David's Bowie's son. And if you haven't went out and got the single "Where Are We Now?" off of David Bowie's upcoming new album The Next Day, then you should do yourself a favor and rush out and get it immediately.

Disco Bloodbath in the middle
Party Monster - Based on the book Disco Bloodbath by James St. James, which is somehow even funnier and more delightful than the movie, I fell in love with Party Monster the instant I heard about it. Not only does it star my second favorite member of my favorite acting family, Macauly Culkin, after a long absence from film, but the movie is funny, so quick, so dark, and just so damn entertaining, I love it. I love everything about it. It's based on a true story about club kids James St. James (played by Seth Green) and his friendship with the narcissistic yet somehow charismatic Michael Alig (played by Culkin) who eventually commits murder. Despite the humor of the overall film, it does treat the murder with respect to the vicitim, which I do appreciate. Fun facts: I used to have a ferret named Skrink after this movie. Note: I just looked online for Disco Bloodbath the bookand its apparently listed as Party Monster, but my copy still says Disco Bloodbath so whatevs.


Rules of Attraction - Thanks to the success of Vampire Diaries and Ian Somerhalder, this film is getting to be less underrated. It's based on the book by Bret Easton Ellis (and it's a very faithful adaptation), but it's bloodless compared to American Psycho. It's actually bloodless compared to most of the movies on this list. I apparently like dark humor and gore. This, along with Drive, are probably the least funny films on the list. But I remember being in the theater, seeing a preview of this, and thinking, "I WILL LOVE THIS SO HARD!" And I did. Bonus: It stars Shannyn Sossamon, who I wanted to be for awhile. Also, another amazing soundtrack, including the Cure and Erasure, plus an incredibly haunting scene using "Without You" by Harry Nilsson.

Heathers - The ultimate cult classic. I love John Hughes, like almost more than anything, but after his string of feel-good teen-angst films, Heathers is kind of the anti-John HughesMean Girls and Jennifer's Body exist because of this movie. Teen culture as it exists today is because of this movie. It's funny, smart, and so, so damned clever it's unbelievable. Winona Ryder is amazing. If you haven't seen Heathers, you should seriously run out and see it right now. Like right now.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - At this point in my life, the only movies I've seen more than Kiss Kiss Bang Bang are Silence of the Lambs and Labyrinth. It has the quickest and funniest dialogue of any movie I've ever seen. The chemistry and timing between Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer is AMAZING. I do love Shane Black (who wrote this, along with many of the action films from the early 90s, like Lethal Weapon, The Last Boyscout, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Last Action Hero, and now the upcoming Iron Man 3), but this is by far his best work. Bonus: This is also one of my mom's favorite movies. She giggles like crazy during in it, and it's awesome.

Honorable Mentions:
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Not enough people saw this movie. I don't know why. It's funny, it's cool, and the way it integrates video games and pop culture and stylized itself is truly original. Bonus: It stars my favorite Culkin, Kieran, as well as a string of other actors I enjoy, like Chris Evans, Allison Pill, Brandon Routh, Brie Larson, Jason Schartzman, Mae Whitman, Aubrey Plaza, and Johnny Simmons. Double Bonus: The video game for it is hilarious and awesome.

Igby Goes Down - Another Kieran Culkin classic. There has never been a film adaptation of Catcher in the Rye, but if there was, this would be it.

12 Monkeys - Maybe not underrated but probably a little forgotten. I love this movie. It is the only movie I've ever seen where the rules of time travel make complete and total sense to me. If time travel were possible, that's how it'd work. Plus it's Terry Gilliam. Another Bruce Willis film that could've made an honorable mention: Fifth Element. Fun and frenetic. Plus, Leeloo Dallas Multipass.

Warrior - Critically acclaimed but not seen by enough people. I talk a lot about my love for Tom Hardy but it's in this movie that I think he proves he's truly worth all the adulation. His performance was Oscar-worthy, and I don't know why Nick Nolte playing Nick Nolte was nominated and not Tom Hardy. C'est la vie.

The Prestige - What I'm about to say won't make sense but here it is: The Prestige is my favorite Christopher Nolan movie. But, you might say, "Isn't The Dark Knight your favorite movie ever? How does this make sense?" Yes, I love The Dark Knight as a movie, as a masterpiece, as the wonderful amazing cinematic experience it is. However, where I think Christopher Nolan's true brilliance shines in the layered, nuanced, and thoughtful way it does it is The Prestige. I think it's a far superior film to Inception - although not as visually stunning - and I hope that in the future, Nolan returns more to his roots of artful storytelling. Bonus: It stars my beloved Michael Caine, as well as my other beloved David Bowie as Nikola Tesla, namesake of my cat "Nikki" Nikola "Fris." If you don't know who Tesla is, check out Oatmeal's incredible breakdown of him: here.

And that's my list. On a side note, I spent an insane amount of time linking up this blog to all kinds of fun stuff. Some of it's obvious, but others are little Easter eggs of awesomeness. (Especially the second Nick Nolte).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Villainy and Batman

Here's a blog that everyone's dying to read: What are my favorite Batman villains?

Note: There will be spoilers in this post if you have not seen any of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, so read at your own risk. But if you haven't seen them, I don't know how interesting this post will be to you anyway.

I actually get asked this question kind of a lot. (After "when is [insert book title] coming out?" or "is there going to be a movie?" the Batman villain question is probably a close third). I usually don't answer because it's complicated and doesn't really fit in 140 characters.

My overall favorite Batman villain, combining film, TV show, video games, cartoon, and comics would be: The Scarecrow.

I know. That's why I don't usually say it. Because most people react with WTF?

I get it. He's not always utilized the best. Most of the time, he's simply a periphery character helping the Joker or somebody along with a master plan. But out of all of the villains, he's the one that presents the most opportunity to be terrifying, and at times, he absolutely he is. Many other villains are brilliant, demented, sinister, campy, and all around good fun, but none have the capability to induce nightmares quite like the Scarecrow. And apparently that's what I like in a villain - not charisma, not humor, but the ability to inflict absolute horror.

This isn't really a weighted a scale, but the Scarecrow wins hands down in the film and video game department as my favorite in villain. In the comics, it's a bit more murky. Obviously, the Joker has some of the best story lines, and in comic form, he's probably my favorite villain.

Well, in fairness, I love the Joker in any form. I've never once seen a rendition of the Joker where I was like, "Nope. I hate that guy." So in consistent awesomeness, he wins. But there's still something that draws me inexorably to the Scarecrow.

My enjoyment of other villains also depends on which series I'm reading. Many times, I hate Catwoman. But then other times, I think she's fancy. But much like the Scarecrow, she's utilized to varying degrees of awesomeness.

There's about a billion Batman villains in the comics, cartoons, and video games, and so I'm not going to go through and rank them all. (Except for the Calander Man. I hate that dude). But since most people are familiar with the movies, I thought I'd start that way.

So here's my ranked list of live-action film Batman villains from 1989 until 2012:
  1. Scarecrow - Cillian Murphy
  2. The Joker - Heath Ledger
  3. Poison Ivy - Uma Thurman
  4. The Joker - Jack Nicholson
  5. Bane - Tom Hardy
  6. The Penguin - Danny Devito
  7. Catwoman - Anne Hathaway
  8. Two-Face - Aaron Eckhart
  9. Catwoman - Michelle Pfeiffer  
  10. Ra's al Ghul - Liam Neeson
  11. Mr. Freeze - Arnold Schwarzenegger 
  12. The Riddler - Jim Carrey
  13. Thalia al Ghul - Marion Cotillard 
  14. Two-Face - Tommy Lee Jones
  15. Harvey Dent - Billy Dee Williams - included as an honorable mention because he never became Two-Face in 1989's Batman, but he's friggin Billy Dee Williams and deserves a mention anyway

I didn't include Falcone and some of the other antagonists from the Batman films that were enemies but didn't necessarily belong in the Rogues Gallery. 

Most people take offense that Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy is ranked so high, especially since generally, people consider Batman & Robin the worst film in the franchise. I happen to disagree, though I love Val Kilmer and George Clooneyy does little to improve on the cardboard performance Kilmer gives in that movie, but I enjoyed Batman & Robin in much the same way that I enjoyed the Adam West Batman. (And I tolerate Batman Forever at best).

And say what you will about Batman & Robin - and it is terrible - but Poison Ivy is such campy fun that I can't help but love her. It's an awful movie, and Uma knows it's awful, and she's still having such a good time with it. So I like her.

I also didn't include the Bane from Batman & Robin because he wasn't a character so much as a prop. But if I had included him, he'd be just below the Riddler.

Thalia - at least in the film - is a total waste of my time, and that's about all I have to say on her.

And I also stand by the following statement: The Scarecrow is the best part of The Dark Knight Rises. You read that right. His ten seconds were my absolute favorite part. And yes, I do love Bane and I think Tom Hardy did an amazing job with a limited character, but it is what it is. I love the Scarecrow more.

Also, perhaps what is another of my favorite thing about the Scarecrow is that one of the only villains in the Nolan franchise that truly wants to do things for selfish reasons. He's just in it for the money.

Ra's is hellbent on destroying Gotham because he thinks its for the greater the good of cleansing the world. Two-Face is trying to save Gotham and avenge Rachel. The Joker does it because he thinks life is boring and he wants to set the people of Gotham free, but he's also using it get closer to the Batman, who he is in love with (he is, you guys). Thalia wants to destroy Gotham to avenge her father, and Bane does it because he loves Thalia. Even Catwoman secretly has a heart of a gold.

Even when you branch out to the non-Nolan films, most of the villains don't have terrible reasons. Michelle Pfieffer is trying to fight sexist bosses. The Penguin is a disenfranchised freak who just wants to belong. Mr. Freeze is trying to find a cure to save his beloved wife. Poison Ivy is trying to save the earth from pollution. The Riddler just wants to be appreciated and has a weird crush on Bruce Wayne. These are less villains than misunderstood, overzealous vigilantes, not that different from Batman from himself (which brings in a larger theme about the character of Batman, but I digress).

But the Scarecrow? He thinks he's just pushing drugs for money. He actually doesn't give a shit about anyone else. He's terrifying with his mask and his potions, and he does it for no reason other than the fact that he can.

The Joker - everything he does is for, about, because of the Batman. I don't think he's actually  sexually attracted to Batman (or maybe even anyone), but all his actions in The Dark Knight are really a love letter to Batman.

And if there's one thing that's true about me it's that I love sociopaths in movies. And the Scarecrow - who cares for no one but himself - is the closest thing there is a sociopath in the Nolan trilogy. It's actually weird that I like Bane so much, because he's really the most altruistic and empathetic. (Remember when he cried, you guys? That was sad).

So there it is. My long blog about Batman villains. And now you all know. Feel free to discuss in the comments. I like taking about Batman, and I will definitely join in.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Monsters

I live in a fantasy world where at some point in the future I will either not be working or recouping from working or involved in something else that is occupying time. It's in this time that I will complete very exciting activities, like finally putting together my Lego Death Star, re-reading all of The Dark Tower books from start to finish without interruption (other than for sleep and bathroom breaks), finally complete Arkham City (including getting all those damn Riddler trophies) and watch the original version of Blade Runner plus the various director's cuts to compare all the differences.

Most of these things I have planned to do for sometime, but I still haven't done them. Admittedly, I've made time to catch up on TV shows and read other books and even put together other Legos. It's the largeness of these particular projects that I feel like I need to set aside time to work on them.

And I never have a chunk of time that I feel good about saying, "I will not write or edit or outline or spend time with family or clean the house or walk the dog. I will only devote myself to this thing that really doesn't need to be done except for the fact that I want to do it."

This past fall, I really let time away get away from. Life happened in big and small ways, in both happy and sad, and I let it take over my schedule. Life has a way of rearranging everything and giving you what it thinks you need in lieu of what it thinks you want. And it's very often right.

But now I'm being more cautious about my time management in the future. I have plans, and in order to achieve them, things need to be in a certain time. I'm trying to bring my fantasy world back down to reality.

One of the greatest fantasies in my imagination is that I'd love to go back to school and learn how to do prosthetic make up and make animatronics and puppets. The biggest thing stopping me - other than time - is that I know I have no aptitude toward those things or anything artistic. But I would really love to do.

Creatures are probably my favorite things. From Hoggle and Ludo in Labyrinth, the aliens in Alien, the skeksis and especially the landstriders in The Dark Crystal, the pale man and the faun in Pan's Labyrinth, the tauntaun and Salacious B. Crumb in the original Star Wars trilogy, Tim Curry in Legend, the shark in Jaws, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, and damn near everything in Jim Henson's The Storyteller series. I love creatures that come alive.

In looking forward to what I want to work on and write about in future projects, I see a lot more monsters. I love the romance and the paranormal elements I've worked with, but I definitely see more horror and creatures.

It's because I know I can't create these things in real life that I write about them. They dominate my imagination. They fascinate me beyond all reason. I've seen some of the puppetry and creatures in real life, and I could literally just stare at them for hours.

So, if there ever comes a point where I do ever take a break from writing or all of  you stop reading, I think I'll go back to school for that. Even if I never got good at it, I'd be thrilled to to bring coffee to the guys that actually make these things real, as long as I could watch.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Theme Song

Yes, I know Elegy is a book, not a movie. And yes, I know that Elegy is a book that won't even be out for several more months. (Not sure of the exact release date but I think maybe late summer/fall 2013).

But I don't care. I'm sharing it now. In my mind, each book in the Watersong series really kinda has a signature song, one that, to me, encompasses the atmosphere and story of the book. Even the short story Forgotten Lyrics has a song - "In Transit" by Mark Hoppus. Wake is "Never Let Me Go" by Florence + the Machines, Lullaby is "A Soft Place to Land" by Kathleen Edwards, and Tidal is "White Blank Page" by Mumford & Sons, and for Elegy it is this song - "Night is Cold" by Civil Twilight.



I couldn't find the lyrics online, so I listened to it many times and wrote them for my enjoyment, and now I'll share them with you.

    "Night is Cold" by Civil Twilight

    It was a sunny day when they drove away
    And my love disappeared into the clouds
    Where they made her wait
    And they made her burn every picture I ever sent

    There’s a thing they want so bad
    We call it love
    There’s a thing you’ll never have
     We call it love
    It moves like the ocean
    It sways like sea
    It’ll never fail to be… love

    When the city burned and the capital fell
    We were made to walk the road to nowhere
    The ones who still feel were made to kneel
    As if they could have the one thing they could never hold

    There’s a thing they want so bad
    We call it love
    There’s a thing they’ll never have
    We call it love
    It moves like the ocean
    It sways like sea
    It’ll never fail to be
    It’ll never fail to be
    It’ll never fail

    They can have it, but they’ll never hold it
    They can steal it, but they’ll never own it
    Never own it