Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So That Happened

The title pretty much says where I am at with my book, folks:

So, that happened.  Now what?

Roughly translated, this means that the big final conflict has happened and now my characters just have to wrap up a few loose ends and then say their goodbyes.  For now, at least.  I definitely hope to revisit this world and some of these characters again in a second book.  Not any time soon, mind you.  Sorry Cass and Niko.  It's been fun and all, but I think we should see other people for a while.

So, I didn't manage to finish last night, despite staying up until three in the morning (for the second night in the row), but I got very very close.  I am confident that I can finish things up today.  I am hoping I can finish up by the end of nap time, but we shall see what we shall see. 

I got a lot of writing done yesterday though, and I am pretty proud of myself.  It is especially impressive, I feel, when you consider how demanding the boss at my day job is.  I mean, sure, she seems all cute and sweet and personable, but when she wants something, she wants it precisely nowish.  She's not above screaming or crying or throwing things, or even figuring out how to get at something that hasn't moved since yesterday when I could swear it was completely out of her reach, just to get my attention.

But I set myself up a little writing station in the living room, pulling in the table from our breakfast nook so I could hang out with her and still work on my writing (while keeping the laptop and cords out of her reach--though she can still get to the mouse if I am not careful).

The view of the wall and china cabinet is ultra-inspiring, I tell you.

That would be Wally lurking under the chair.  Put a chair in the room that he can sit under, and he will.  Anyway, I didn't get a whole lot of extra writing in during the non-baby-sleeping hours, because I was still playing with my daughter, but I did get some done, and it helped a lot.

So, now, I've got some more writing to do.  I will see you later folks!

I will leave you with this reminder:

Don't forget to watch the Stargate Universe mid-season finale tonight on Syfy at 8 pm (CST)!!!

This is a big one.  The ratings have been going up and/or remaining steady over the last few episodes, so if they can have a jump tonight, that just might be the push we need to get a third season!  Plus, the episode looks pretty awesome.

I am also looking forward to tonight's Glee (Fox at 7 pm), mostly because they are doing one of my current favorite songs, but also because I am very curious to see how Kurt's story arc progresses this week.  Here's a sneak peek:

And finally, I will leave you with one more video.  This one had me laughing out loud last night when I was taking a brief break from all of the intense stuff going on in my book.  Enjoy (and make sure your volume is on).

Word Count Update:  72,000
Page Count Update:  130

Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving Way to My Creative Side

I feel like I got a lot done this past weekend, creatively speaking.

I hit 50,000 words in my NaNoWriMo novel and waved as my narrative just flew on by them.  That was an awesome feeling, let me tell you.  Technically, I have now officially won NaNoWriMo.  However, I am not uploading my 50,000+ word document to the site's verification engine until I have completed the story, because the challenge for me was not about reaching the word count (though that was certainly part of it), but about actually finishing the story.  I actually had a moment of panic when I realized I had passed that number, because holy cow I still hadn't made it to the climax of the story.  This was Friday night.  Saturday I had another writing date with my friend and fellow NaNoWriMo participant Miss T, and we pretty much camped out at Starbucks and Barnes and Noble for six hours giving each other feedback, bouncing ideas off of each other, and, well, writing.  Despite the post-lunch difficulty finding a seat near an outlet (my laptop has zero battery life, I may need to finally cave in and consider getting a new battery for that thing), it was a fantastic experience.  It also managed to kick my butt into high writing gear.

Ideally, I would like to finish the story this evening,, I have until midnight tomorrow to upload the story, but I would like to not be frantically working until the last moment to finish.  That kind of stress just isn't necessary.  But if that's what has to happen, then I will accept it, as long as I actually meet the goal.  I think it will happen.  I crammed as much writing into yesterday as I could.  Thankfully, Sundays are a slow internet day for me, which means more of my allotted computer time can be devoted to writing rather than reading the eight zillion blogs I follow in my feed reader.  I've gotten my characters to the climax, now they just have to survive it and let me wrap up this part of their story.  I definitely think there is enough here for another novel, maybe two.  So I do think I will be returning to this world.  I devoted a lot of time to world building, and as a result, I have a wealth of information that didn't get conveyed in this particular story but will be very helpful down the line.

I know I've said several times already how glad I am that I decided to participate in this challenge this year, but I truly do feel that it bears repeating.  In addition to getting me writing an actual narrative once more, it has also helped me to see a lot of things about my writing style that need to be addressed.  Learning your weaknesses is always a good thing if you are willing to work on improving them, I feel.  I also think that this has brought me and Miss T a lot closer to each other, which has been very nice indeed.  There's always room in my world for stronger friendships.  When we closed up shop on Saturday we discussed continuing our writing dates on a regular basis throughout the year.  I really hope we can juggle our respective schedules to make that work, because it is a fantastic idea.  So if you consider yourself a writer at any level, and you like to write any kind of prose, I strongly recommend that you consider NaNoWriMo next year.  Even if you don't reach the 50,000 words or finish your story, there is so much to be gained from the experience.

In addition to my writing, I also got quite a bit of crocheting done.  I am now done with my sweater and it is so warm and cozy!  I love how it came out.

Lady Grey by Cori 2010.

A closeup view of the pattern detail.

Action shot!

The pattern for the sweater is Ladylike Pullover (pattern # 90189AD), by Lion Brand.  It is available for free (though free registration on the site is required) at Lion Brand's website.  

Yarn:  Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Grey Heather (7 balls to make size L)
Hook size:  J-10

Ever since I got the sleeves attached and started working on the yoke, I have been constantly fighting the urge to slip it on and try it out, unfinished or not.  So it was nice to finally finish and be able to put it on!  While I was working on that, I also managed to burn through my Netflix DVDs and a few episodes of Atlantis with my husband, which added to my feeling of productivity. 

I also managed to wrap some more Christmas presents, we bought several for our daughter when we went to the store this past week, and several more that I had ordered from Amazon came in.  The trick is to find a place to do it where neither my daughter nor my cats (specifically, Tony) can get into the wrapping paper.  My husband found this video online and is convinced Tony would let us do this to him.  I am not so sure, but it is an amusing thought.

Speaking of Christmas and crochet, if you are looking for something crafty to do for the geeks in your life, I found some awesome crochet patterns this weekend.  I will totally be making all of these things soon.

The Cthulhu toque.  This is available in adult and baby sizes.  You can purchase them pre-made or buy the pattern for only $5 if you want to give it a try yourself.  I am totally going to be making one for my daughter next year.  Not that she actually wears hats, she takes them off as soon as we put them on her head, but still. Also, my recent online discoveries of all of the cuddly Cthulhu crafts really make me feel that I need to actually read some Lovecraft one of these days.  So...it's an educational gift as well, right?

I also stumbled across patterns for Star Wars Amigurumi.  You can buy the set of ten patterns, or each pattern is available individually.  I need an R2D2 and a Stormtrooper for my desk, and I think Miss T has first dibs on a Yoda for her classroom.  The author has a lot of other cute patterns available as well, including a dragon and a wizard.  Ooh.

Word Count Update:  62,648
Page Count Update:  113

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Am Taking the Day Off

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!  If you are braving the Black Friday crowds and hunting out good deals today, I wish you luck.  I kind of think you're crazy (it's called, Amazon, folks), but, still, I wish you luck.  Happy hunting.

Me?  Well, I have spent the past two days cleaning, running errands, and cooking.  So today, I am taking the day off.  Other than tending to Baby Girl and getting some writing done, I am just going to chill.   This shouldn't be terribly difficult seeing as how our lovely sixty and seventy degree weather seems to have abandoned us.  I know my husband wants to try to start getting some of the Christmas decorations up, so yes, I will help him get the boxes down from the attic.  But in return I am gonna make him sit down and watch some Stargate Atlantis with me. 

I have a few DVDs from Netflix waiting to be watched.  Just so you can get a sense of my own personal brand of schizophrenia, they are:  Hello Again, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and the second disc of the complete series set of Crusade.  I may or may not watch some of those.  If I don't, I will probably give in to the siren call of Towers of Midnight.  I am about halfway through and man oh man things are heating up.

I am also making some pretty good progress on the sweater I am currently crocheting.  I have gotten the main part of the body and one of the sleeves done.  So if I give in to the movies, I will definitely be trying to get the second sleeve done.

And there you have it.  That's my day.  Fun, no?  I hope you and yours are happy and blessed.  Have a wonderful weekend folks.

Yay!  Weekend!

Word Count Update: 47,799 out of 50,000

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm Sorry, But I Think Jacques Cousteau is Dead

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  I hope you are all spending your turkey-day with exactly the people you wish to be spending it with!  And if for some reason, you can't be with those people, I hope you can at least let them know you're thinking of them, and that you love them.

My husband and I are officially hosting our first Thanksgiving this year, so I am very excited (and a little nervous).  It's just my hubby's little brother and his fiancee, but still, it's the first time I am cooking for more than just the two of us.  I am still not making a turkey, I don't think I'm quite ready for that step yet, we're still just doing the turkey-ham.  I am, however, making sweet potatoes, despite the fact that I loathe them.  Well, loathe may be a strong word, but I will not be eating said sweet potatoes.  However, my husband loves them, and my little sis-to-be likes them as well, so I will make a small batch, even though looking at the recipe, they are actually going to be the most labor intensive dish I will make today.  Sigh.  But it's a day to do for family, so I will do.

Also, this is the first Thanksgiving that Baby Girl actually gets to partake in the feast, so that's kind of exciting as well.  As you can imagine, I've got plenty of cooking and a little bit of cleaning to get to today, so this will be a short post.  I just wanted to share some of the things I am thankful for with you.

  • My husband and daughter.
  • My whole family, actually.  Even though we're all spread out and I won't get to see most of them, they are in my thoughts and my heart, and I will probably be spending a good portion of today on the phone making sure they know that.
  • The wonderful circle of friends I have managed to amass in my lifetime.  They've seen me through the fantastic times and the impossible (seeming) times, and somehow, someway, they still love me.  I don't know where I'd be without them.
  • The fact that one of the biggest "problems" in my life currently is that I fear I will never be caught up on all of the books I want to read, DVDs I plan to watch, and video games I hope to play.  
  • The fact that even in this crazy economic climate, my husband is willing to let me be a stay-at-home mom, which means I get to be with my daughter every day and watch her grow and learn and explore the world around her.
  • NaNoWriMo--I've found my muse again, and that is a wonderful thing.

I truly do hope you all have a wonderful day.

In parting I will leave you with perhaps the funniest two minutes of Thanksgiving television to ever be created.  Enjoy.

Also, the final episode of Riese:  Kingdom Falling is up today, check it out!

Word Count Update: 46,681 out of 50,000

Update:  Ooh, Gronk posted a day early.  Go check out this week's strip, here!  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stargate Wednesday: Visitation (2.9)

Beware of Spoilers My Fine Friends!!

Spoilers For The Stargate Universe Episode Visitation to Follow!!

Oh man, is that number up in the post title right?  This is episode nine already?  That means next week's episode is the last before the mid-season hiatus.  Oh, no!  What I am gonna do for my Stargate fix?  Hmm...I guess I could just read one of the several Stargate novels I have in my reading pile, or watch some of the Stargate shows from any of the three franchises that I have on DVD...gee, I guess I will survive after all.  Well, now that we've established that, let's move on, shall we?  Okay?  Good.

So this week, Destiny drops out of FTL (on what I believe to be just a routine stop), and then all of a sudden, another ship literally appears from out of nowhere.  Not only that, it looks just like the shuttles that Destiny used to have!  We soon find out that the shuttle is in fact one of ours, the damaged one we left back on Planet of the Crazy People in season one.  On board the shuttle is everyone who stayed on the planet.

Commence the "WTF?!?" reactions.  The shuttle hails Destiny and the person on the other line sounds a whole lot like Dr. Caine, who was pretty much elected leader of the Crazy People back in the day.  He says that he has no idea how they got there, they just went to sleep in the shuttle, on the planet, and woke up in the shuttle, in space, next to Destiny.  There is much speculation in the bridge that this might be some kind of ploy on the part of the aliens who built the planet all of these fine folks were last seen on.  It is then pointed out if this is a trick by those mysterious aliens, then considering how advanced their technology is, there's nothing our crew has on hand that will help them see through the ruse.  So they agree to let the people from the shuttle on board but keep them under close watch.

I would like to take this moment to say that not only did I find myself thinking that Rush was making a lot of sense throughout this entire episode, I actually agreed with him on more than one occasion.  I think I'll go have my own WTF moment now, if you'll excuse me....  Okay, back now.  Sorry about that.  Can I just say for the record though, that any episode where Rush is the person making the most sense means that there must be some serious crazy afoot.

Eventually, after giving everyone from the shuttle an exam, Young realizes he has no reason to treat them like they're a threat, so he lets them take up residence in their old quarters.  He points out to Wray and T.J. though that these people all give him the heeby jeebies.  And he wants to know why.

Oh, poor T.J.  As soon as the shuttle docks with Destiny, she goes running to meet Caine and crew, hoping that they will be bringing her baby back.  Young tries to tell her not to get her hopes up, but she can't help herself.  But not only do the people from Planet of the Crazy People (which we learn that they called Eden) not have T.J.'s baby, they have no idea what she's talking about when she asks them about her "visit" to the planet a while back.

Of course, these people have pretty much no memories at all beyond parting ways with Destiny several months ago.  Young has Wray interviewing them all, trying to see what they do remember so they can try to put together the pieces of what happened  while they were on Eden and exactly how they got back to Destiny, which is, by now, all the way in another galaxy.  Rush and Scott go over the shuttle and find that it has been restored to its factory settings and is as good as new, with no logs indicating how it got to where it is, of course.  (I groaned inwardly when the brand new status of the shuttle was revealed, fearing that there was going to be a serious Starbuck ripoff here, but thankfully they went in a totally different direction.)

Everyone (except Caine) is pretty certain that the aliens who created Eden had something to do with getting the shuttle back to join up with the rest of the crew, but no one is really sure of their motives for doing so.  They are starting to wonder if maybe the people on Eden had some sort of encounter with the aliens that the aliens then wiped from their memories.

Then poor Eli sits down in the mess to talk to one of the returnees, who have been more or less shunned by everyone else (Young's not the only one picking up the bad vibes), and he gets her talking about what she does remember about Eden, when suddenly, her nose starts bleeding, she has a massive freak out, and then dies, right there in the mess.  Wow, I would have hated to have been on that lunch shift.

At this point I am thinking to myself, Aha!  The aliens who made Eden totally screwed with these people and then wiped their memories and sent them back, and remembering their time on the planet triggers a kill switch!  And, well, I was wrong.

In the infirmary, T.J. informs us that the woman, Val, died from what all evidence indicates to be massive blunt-force trauma to the head.  This causes more confusion, and Wray decides to try hypnotizing the people from Eden to see if she can get them to remember more that way.  We learn from the next person she talks to that Val actually died on the planet, several months ago, when she was hit in the head by a falling tree.  Then, Peter, the guy that reveals this, dies in session.  His cause of death appears to be extreme exposure and hypothermia.

We eventually learn that everyone on the shuttle died on Eden, and for some reason the aliens temporarily revived them and sent them back to Destiny, where they all get to die again, in order, from what originally killed them.  I've gotta say, I did not see that one coming.  In the end, James finds a Kino in the shuttle and we see Caine's last moments, recording a farewell message and begging for help, just before a bright light swallows up the shuttle and the transmission is cut off.

So now we know that all of those people we left behind (and kind of assumed were dead) are actually dead.  But, bonus, we've got a shuttle again!  T.J. also finally gets closure about her daughter in this episode and finally lets herself begin to grieve.  I have to admit I did like Caine's little speech imploring her to continue believing that her daughter really is in a better place, even if it isn't the better place she had imagined.

While all of this is going on, we also get a few glimpses into the situation with Chloe.  Apparently she is starting to become more and more something alien and less and less Chloe.  Greer tries to convince Scott that he needs to stop torturing himself by continuing to visit her, because she is turning into the enemy and the day is going to come when she is going to be gone, and he needs to deal with that now rather than later.  Scott refuses to listen to this, so Greer pays Chloe a visit.  They have an amazing heart to heart where Chloe works out that when she finally is fully alien, Young is probably going to have her killed, for the safety of everyone.  They also both know that Greer is likely the one who is going to be given this job.  So he has come to say his goodbyes to her now, while she's still mostly herself, and to ask for her forgiveness for doing what he believes he is going to have to do.  The part of Chloe that is still Chloe is taking this all very well, I must say.  She understands that she is in a crappy position, and she isn't expecting any sort of eleventh hour save.  She's just trying to make her peace with the time she has left.

It looks like Chloe's situation is going to come to a head next week.  I have to say, I hope that she doesn't turn into one of the aliens, but that she also doesn't get "fixed."  I would like to see her become something truly other, still Chloe, but not, and become an asset to the crew (and stay that way).  We shall have to see where they take this character.

All in all, I have to say, I liked this episode a lot more than I was expecting it to.  Caine and his followers came back, sure, but they didn't wreak much havoc other than to leave everyone in a huge state of doubt and confusion about what it all means.  It was a very quiet episode, and I thought it was extremely well handled.  Even the bits about faith and God and miracles and science were all done in a way to make one think, rather than to get one's hackles up (whichever side of the fence you may come down on those issues).  I especially liked that they played with some science fiction tropes and the episode started out feeling like it was very predictable but ended up going down a completely unexpected road when you weren't looking.

There were also some really good character moments, like the heart to heart between Greer and Chloe, and Chloe's Kino messages to her friends and loved ones.  There was some lovely humor, such as when Wray reveals she knows how to hypnotize people and Young asks if there is anything else he should know about her.  Her response?  That she was probably overqualified for an HR position.  Eli, of course, gets the requisite Arthur C. Clarke quote about sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic (to which Young gets his own quip in reply).  Also, most importantly, there was a cute little couple moment between Greer and Park, yay!

I am very curious to see our big cliff-hanger next week for the mid-season finale, to be sure.

Word Count Update: 44,345 out of 50,000

P.S.  Today's NaNoWriMo writer's pep talk?  From Lemony Snicket.  Write on, my friends, write on.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hey! I Think I See a Way Out!

First things, first, announcements!

Don't forget to watch the new episode of Stargate Universe tonight on Syfy at 8 pm CST!!!

There's a new episode of Riese:  Kingdom Falling up today.  Check it out here.


Wow, I am having a hard time believing that it already the week of Thanksgiving.  Where did my November go?  Oh, wait, that's right, I spent it writing.   Mostly.  I mean, yeah, I sort of remember some other stuff sneaking in there, but mostly it was just writing.

Now that we're past the two-thirds point of the month, I thought I would give you a little "state of my novel" entry.  I remember saying after the first week that I thought I might be able to actually finish my story (or at least hit my 50,000 words) by November 20 or 21.  Well, clearly, that hasn't happened, but mostly because life kept getting in the way.  I have broken 40,000 words though, so I have no doubts that I will hit the 50,000 mark by or before November 30.  Whether I actually finish my story by then, well, that's another matter entirely.

Heh.  Remember when I was agonizing that my story might not even lend itself to 50,000 words?  Silly Past Me.  The more I wrote in this world, and the more I stopped to sit down and actually build this world, the more ideas I came up with for what was going on in the story.  I think I may have actually tried to do too much.  I've got about three possible big final conflicts, that, ideally, would all happen and play nicely off of one another.  In reality though, I think I am about to have to pick one and write towards that conflict and wrap up the story.  I would like to figure out a way to do that without those other plot points just fizzling away into nothingness though.  So right now, my primary goals with my story are:

  1. Start ending the story.
  2. Wrap up what can be wrapped up.
  3. Provide plausible reasons for why what was left hanging was left that way.

I have so many cool ideas that I have been kicking around that I fear I am just going to have to leave be.  But, I am making sure to take notes on them.  Maybe if I write another story in this world, I can work those in somehow, and provide resolution to the unresolved issues from this story.  As I am sure you can imagine, since I've come up with so many new ideas while writing, my story has started to stray a bit from that shiny outline that I sat down and hammered out back in October.  Granted, I tried to leave that outline slightly vague in the first place, because while there were some specific scenes I envisioned that needed to be included, I didn't have the entire story worked out beyond where I wanted it to more or less go.  So, I am not completely off the rails, but I am getting to that point where I haven't referred to my outline in a while, and I am just a teensy bit scared to look at it and see what I've totally left out and how much I've veered from my original plan.

Not that veering is a bad thing.  An outline is just that, an outline.  It's a set of steps, a path, if you will, for your characters to try to follow over the course of the story.  But just like any path, there are forks, and detours, and you can't always know where or when those will crop up.  Sometimes you just have to leave the established road and hope that you end up where you need to be, whether that's where you thought you were going or not.  I honestly have never really been big on using outlines in my story-writing in the first place, so I am really not surprised that this one has ended up not dictating my every scene.  Still, just having it has been more than helpful, especially when I would find myself stuck on where to take my characters next.

I do think I need to sit down and do one more review of my outline, and of my story notes, and then compare it to where my story is right now.  From there, I am going to make new,  retroactive outline of what has actually happened, and what there is left to do, and hopefully I can bring this puppy home.  As I've said before--starting stories is never something I've had a problem with.  Finishing them, well, that's my challenge.  That's why I am doing this.  But, that means that I have now officially entered the hard part of the process.  Whee!

I do have to say, I truly am really really glad that I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.  The reason I started this blog back up was because, in not writing regularly, I really felt like I was missing some crucial element of me, and doing this, as stressful as it has been at times (self-imposed stress is still stress), has really made me feel so much better about myself than I have in a very long time.  I've learned something very important about myself this month.  Writing is in my soul, and writing stories, whether they are excellent, or complete crap, or even unfinished, is something that I need to be doing on a regular basis. 

Of course, so is playing video games, apparently.  I am just itching to jump back into that particular part of my life.  Finding a balance between that and story-writing should prove an interesting challenge, but as we start to close the books on this year, I feel like it is one I am up to.

I have been debating with myself over which game to pick up and play once I finish my story, and I think I have chosen Kingdom Hearts.  It is the "great unfinished" challenge in my video game playing history.  I have started this thing so many times.  Seriously, I've been trying to beat it since 2002 or 2003.  (Look, I have never once said that I am a good video game player.  This game was actually one of my gateway drugs into the pastime, and I have leveled up considerably since then.)  I had already decided that 2011 was the year that I was finally going to finish it.  But, in the wake of setting a goal and finishing a story within a given period of time, I am wondering if it might not be possible to actually do the same with this video game.  If I could manage to beat it before the year is out?  Well, that'd just be the icing on the cake.

Word Count Update: 42,116 out of 50,000

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Howdy folks.  I am gonna try to keep this as non-spoilery as possible for movie (and book) seven.  Anything that came before is fair game though.

Let me just start off by saying that I really, really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.  I really thought it was just fantastically done.  I am tempted to say that it is my favorite Potter film so far, but, I am not sure that would be fair to do, since I haven't watched the others since the release of Half-Blood Prince.

(I will note that I fully intended to rewatch all six Potter movies before going to see the new one.  It just didn't happen.  I blame USA, they brought back Psych and Burn Notice and made my DVR explode just a little bit, and I really just didn't have the time.  Also, probably, NaNoWriMo might have something to do with that, as I haven't been able to just say, "you know what, I think I'll watch a movie during naptime today" this month.  Sigh.  But what are you gonna do?)

While this clearly wasn't a 100% faithful adaptation from book to film (and let's be honest, no one actually wants that, regardless of what they might think), it was still pretty darn spot on.  More importantly, it kept in line with the slightly altered universe that the previous movies have established quite well.  For example, in the books, Harry met Bill Weasley at the Burrow before the Quidditch World Cup, but in the movies they have never been shown to meet until the start of Deathly Hallows.  This meant there was an introduction, that for a lot of people might have seemed out of place.  But in the movie-universe, it was actually essential.  It wasn't drawn out, and I thought it was handled very well, so it didn't even bother me.  As I said, the film managed to stay nicely within the version of the Harry Potter universe that the other movies have created.  I bet a lot of fans won't understand that, and were annoyed that Bill introduced himself to Harry, but, well, you can't please all of the people all of the time, I suppose.

(As I was typing that last bit, I realized that Charlie Weasley is also introduced to Harry in book four, and was also left out of the film.  In fact, to date, Charlie has yet to make an appearance in any Potter film.  My first reaction to this realization was outright indignation, as Charlie is my favorite of the Weasleys.  Upon reflection, however, I think I might be okay with this.  The second he appears onscreen is the second my dream of him being played by Seth Green (who does play him in my head when I read the books, and yes this is a parenthetical inside of a parenthetical, deal with it) is shattered forever.)

Overall, Deathly Hallows Part 1 is about showing that Harry has grown up, and he has accepted the burden placed upon him by Voldemort the day the Dark Lord killed his parents but failed to kill him.  The first six films set up the world, showed us the worsening situation, and laid out the path that Harry must follow.  In this film, Harry starts to truly take his first steps down that path.  With Dumbledore gone, Harry must lead the effort to fully destroy Voldemort once and for all.  But he cannot do it alone, no matter how much he might want to protect the people he cares for.  That is another big part of this story, Harry learning to accept the help he needs, and inversely, his friends realizing the costs of helping him in this fight, but doing so anyway.

Deathly Hallows does give us a few good action scenes, certainly, but this is a quieter film than a lot of people will be expecting, or at least hoping for, I think.  Part 1 is the calm before the storm.  It's as much about learning how to accomplish what needs to be done, as it is about actually doing those things.  Yes, there is a lot of time devoted to the camping in the woods part of the book, but I really feel like that was handled quite well.  And I'm sorry, but to all of the people who want to gripe about that part of the story (book or movie), maybe you think it is boring, but it is still important.  Harry at the start of Deathly Hallows is simply not ready to go charging after Voldemort.  The challenges he faces in those months of isolation with only Ron and Hermione, trying just to figure out what the hell to do next, those are crucial moments in this story.  To skip over them would be to do this tale an injustice.  I feel like these three young actors, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, did completely amazing work throughout the film, and with that material in particular.  Without them, this movie wouldn't have had half the impact that it did.

I have seen two primary complaints about Deathly Hallow Part 1 floating around since reviews started appearing, and I would like to address those quickly.

The first, and perhaps most valid, is that this film is going to be incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't read the book before going to see the movie.  I am not completely sure I agree, but I can understand where that is coming from.  Despite all of the information given to us throughout the previous films, a lot from the books still ended up being left out, and quite a bit of that turns out to be important in book seven.  So some things only vaguely touched upon in previous movies, or never mentioned at all, come back here and are presented as if they are something that the audience should already be intimately familiar with.  For example, the mirror given to Harry by Sirius in The Order of the Phoenix, was, as far as I can recall, never even mentioned in the movie version.  But in movie seven, Harry is frequently shown looking at it (and occasionally we see that someone is looking back).  Those who haven't read book seven would, understandably, not really know the significance held by that piece of mirror, or the fact that Harry seems to be seeing someone else looking back from it.

I personally had no trouble following anything, but I have read the book.  I don't think there was too much going on to be inaccessible to the non-readers in the crowd, but I could be wrong here.  Although, I have to day, I have a really hard time believing that there are that many people going to see this movie who haven't by now read all of the books (or at least read through book six if they prefer to see the movie before reading the book).  My brain just doesn't comprehend how someone could watch any of the movies that came before and not want more right that instant.  It only seems natural that they would then go seek out the books.  But, maybe I have a skewed perception of reality there.

The second big complaint I've seen is that there was no point in breaking up book seven into two movies, and, furthermore, that doing so relegated Part 1 to not really being much of a story on its own merits.  There, I have to very much disagree.  To maintain even the level of detail given in the previous movies, one movie was not going to be able to handle everything going on in book seven.  As I said before, this part of the story is very much about Harry getting ready to face Voldemort.  Not just making preparations and finding horcruxes, but actually psychologically readying himself for the fight that is to come.  Part 1 shows us that story admirably, and leaves room for Part 2 to be about Harry as a man of action, giving us the final preparations and then the glorious final battle itself.  I felt like the final conflict of Part 1 is a very important part of book seven that is often overlooked because of what comes so quickly afterward.  Splitting up the book where the movies have done so is an excellent way to give that set of events the importance that they are due.  I am not ashamed to admit I was crying during the end of this movie, I certainly felt the weight of what had just happened.  And the very last scene?  Absolutely perfect.

A few of my favorite (non-spoilery, of course) bits of the movie were:

  1. Noticing the multiple teapots in the tent while our heroes were in the woods.  I love that Hermione's preparations including making sure that they would have the necessities.  And by necessities, I mean tea.
  2. The way that the story of the Three Brothers (and the meaning of the Deathly Hallows) was presented.  I don't want to spoil it for you, but it was done in a really cool and spectacular fashion.
  3. Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour.  He's not on the screen very much, but when he is, he OWNS that thing.  That was an outstanding piece of casting, folks.  
  4. We get just a tiny glimpse of Neville beginning his ascent to awesomeness, when we see Voldemort's people stop the Hogwarts Express.  I'm very glad that scene was included.  It would be so easy to forget about Hogwarts during Part 1, and this scene not only showed us Neville starting to come into his own, but also reminded us that Harry, Hermione, and Ron aren't the only ones putting up a fight.

My only real gripe, per se, it's more of a lament really, is that we don't get to see Harry's farewell with the Dursleys.  That was a truly touching moment as it was written in the book, and I wish we could have seen something more of that on the screen than what we were given.

At this point, really, I don't think there's anything left to say except that July can't get here fast enough.

Word Count Update: 40,184 out of 50,000

Friday, November 19, 2010

Today's Word is Enthusiasm

Well, I am officially on vacation.  So far, so good. 

Last night's show was completely awesome.  I didn't realize that it was actually a fundraiser to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation.  That totally made up for all of the sorority girls.  Actually, they weren't that bad, I just get grumpy looking at all of those mini-skirts and high-heels.  For some reason they make me unaccountably angry.  But, um, that's probably a foray into my psyche best left unexplored, I am sure. 

ANYWAY.  The show.  Yes.  It was spectacular.  And I don't say that just because my husband was playing bass for two of the three bands.  Calhoun was in fine form.  It's been a while since I've seen them, and I had forgotten how much I truly miss going to see live shows.  That used to be such a big part of my life before I became a hermit.  Also, I really need to get an iPod adapter for my car so I can listen to my ridiculously huge library of music more.  As I was enjoying my absolute favorite Calhoun song, Dead Days, it struck me that it would be absolutely perfect for one of the end of episode music montages on Stargate Universe.  So would Welcome Mat, for that matter.  The music montages have been one of the more controversial changes to the the Stargate format ushered in by SGU, but I could totally be on board with either of those songs putting in an appearance.  They fit the mood of the show, I think, and I could see either of them being appropriate to wrap up any number of things that could happen on the Destiny.  (Fun fact:  Calhoun did actually have a song appear on a season two episode of Chuck.  It was The Earth Has Lost Its Hold.)

The Frontier Brothers were also pretty spectacular.  I only remember seeing them once before, and I had completely forgotten how freaking enthusiastic they are.  Folks, have you ever seen a performer live that, however talented, just didn't suck you in because he or she seemed completely bored with what was happening?  Okay, this was the exact opposite of that.  It is so clear that these guys are having an absolute ball up there on stage.  They were just so stoked to be playing for us, and that in turn made their already pretty awesome songs about a hundred times better.  They are relocating from Austin to New York early next year, these guys are dedicated to doing the rock star thing (which is another important trait for any aspiring artist).  So if you are in Texas, you really should catch them while they're still here, and if you're out east, well, you've got a real treat headed your way.  My only disappointment in their set was that they didn't play The Robot Song.  But my husband informs me that has long since been retired.  I guess that's okay though, because all of the songs they did play were pretty awesome-sauce.

As it is Friday, don't forget to check out the new Gronk.  I'm not gonna lie to you, folks.  If you are a cat owner, and sometimes wonder why, today's strip explains exactly what's going on there.  Go.  Enjoy.  Give Katie Cook lots of love because she is awesome.

On a slightly more serious note, speaking of girls in the realm of Star Wars, this mom's blog made it's way around the interwebs yesterday.   It seems her daughter, in the first grade, recently was bullied by some boys in her class for carrying a a Star Wars water bottle to school, because Star Wars is "for boys."  Well, we all know that's nonsense, of course.  Thankfully, there is a happy update to the blog.  The female Star Wars fans have been commenting on the blog in droves in support of the little girl, Katie, and telling her that she is not alone and to be proud of who she is.  Her mom has been sharing the comments with her and they have been a big boost to her self-esteem and to her Star Wars pride.  If you've got a few minutes, and you're a female Star Wars fan, can I ask that you go leave a supportive comment for Katie?  As a girl who has always leaned toward the tomboy side of the spectrum, I feel for this little girl.  If we can help her be proud of who she is just by sharing our love of Star Wars with her, then I am all for that. 

In another serious topic, Brit Mandelo over on Tor.com shared a link to Hal Duncan's It Gets Better Video, which takes a more realistic approach at trying to reach LGBT teens who are feeling isolated, and in all probability, angry, about the treatment they receive simply for being who they are.  Be warned, the language is pretty strong, but it's worth a watch, check it out here.  The circumstances that led to the creation of the It Gets Better Project sadden and anger me greatly.  But the fact that it does exist now is a good, good thing. 

Now, back to happier thoughts.  My husband and I are off to see the new Harry Potter movie in a couple of hours.  I can't wait!  Hopefully I'll have a review up for you on Monday.  Now, go forth and have a fantabulous weekend!

I'll take it, 'cuz it feels like a win. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Austin Bound!

That's right, kids and kiddos, in just a few short hours my husband and I are heading down to Austin, TX for a long weekend, and I am super stoked.

This is my first time to be away from Baby Girl overnight, ever.  So, in addition to being stoked, I am a teensy bit nervous as well.  But mostly the first one.  My super wonderful and spectacular mother-in-law not only agreed to watch her namesake while we're out of town, but she's also staying at our house with Baby Girl so her world isn't completely turned upside down by Mommy and Daddy disappearing for a few days.  This has the added bonus of solving the "who will take care of the kitties while we're gone?" conundrum as well.  Double score.  Have I mentioned that I love my mother-in-law oodles and lots?

I may have mentioned before that in addition to his really cool day job, my husband is also a gigging musician by night.  This is actually the reason we're going to Austin.  Occasionally he sits in on bass for the band The Frontier Brothers.  They are, to say the least, an interesting group.  Let's just say that Austin is the perfect place for them.  No, seriously, they're really good, I'm just still scarred by the first time I saw them, when the drummer played in a flesh-tone one piece skin-tight body suit.  That kind of thing sticks with you.  They are really nice guys though, and they asked if my husband could come down and play with them on Thursday and Saturday.  So instead of driving down to Austin Thursday afternoon, driving back Friday, then driving down there again on Saturday, he decided he would just stay for the weekend.  And then we got the idea to make it a couple's getaway. 

Since he was already going to be down there, he also got asked to play with Calhoun tonight, another band that he sits in with occasionally, who is playing the same gig with The Frontier Brothers.  This is super awesome news for me, because while I get a kick out of The Frontier Brothers, I love Calhoun.  I haven't gotten to go to one of my husband's gigs in a while, and this weekend I get to seem him play two.  I am really looking forward to it, provided I can stay awake for the shows, that is. 

In a happy coincidence, this happened on the weekend that the new Harry Potter movie comes out, and he has Friday night off!  So, while we're down there, we're also going to go see that.  We've already got our tickets.  Y'all, I haven't been to a movie with my husband since before my daughter was born.  Of the four whole movies I've seen in the theater since she came along, two were by myself and two were with a friend of mine.  So this is a pretty big deal.

Also on the plate while we're down there, besides a lot of relaxing and enjoying each other's company, and possibly going shopping for clothes (because that is for some reason how we roll), I am also planning to do two things:
  1. Get a buttload of writing done.
  2. Read most, if not all, of Towers of Midnight.
I am going to miss my daughter like crazy, and I have no doubt that I will be fighting the urge to call and check in on her a whole freaking lot.  But this is going to be pretty awesome.

In writing news, I think I finally figured out the actual sequence of events leading to the end of this story, which is awesome, since I've broken 30,000 words and that means it's time to start moving them toward the finish.  I had a vague outline, but now I actually know specific details, and that's super nice.  You guys, I just might be able to do this.  I am already thinking about next year's NaNoWriMo project.  It's gonna involve space ships.  I am debating, once November is over and I get into the actual editing/revising process (probably after the start of the year, which is disturbingly close), on whether or not to share my story on this blog.  Like maybe once a week I'll post a chapter.  I dunno, I am still kicking it around, but that might be coming your way.

Hey, did anyone watch Human Target last night?  I am so glad that it is back!  That was my favorite new show of last season.  Funnily enough, it was another of those shows that I totally wasn't going to watch at all.  The preview promos showed a lot of Tricia Helfer in the first episode, which tempted me, I'll admit, but it wasn't until I found out that David Nykl (Zelenka!) would be guesting in the first season that I decided to give it a try.  And I am so glad that I did, because not only did it blow me away and suck me in right off the bat, but the slew of guest casting that this show had in its first season was absolutely phenomenal.  I mean, imagine my surprise one Wednesday night earlier this year, when the preview for the next week's Human Target showed up, and Kavan Smith was featured all front and center!  Sure, he turned out to be the bad guy, and then, well, dead.  But still.  You know how I feel about any show that involves Kavan Smith.  And that was only the tip of the awesome casting iceberg.

I am pretty sure I should never be allowed to go to Vancouver.  I don't think I would want to leave, which is a shame, since I would probably be forcibly evicted for stalking half of the actors working there. 

Last night's episode kicked off season two extremely well, I have to say.  Plus, the stunt casting is already underway with not one, but two awesome actors.  First, there was the addition of Indira Varma to the show as a new member of the team.  I first noticed her in the short-lived 3 Lbs. but after that she started popping up in pretty much every show I watch.  It's crazy.  But a good kind of crazy, since I totally adore her.  I knew that she had been added to the show, but I did not know that Tahmoh Penikett was also guesting in the first episode of the season!  I was so happy when he walked into the room!  Of course, (spoilers!  highlight the block text to read!) I knew right away that his character was either the bad guy or was going to get killed before the end of the episode.  He was a good guy, but also a little stupid, so that meant he got killed.  Sigh.  I was kind of thinking, well, at least he wasn't the bad guy, after all, but, maybe if he had been, he could have been set up as the season's big bad.  I would have been totally down with that.  Oh well. At any rate, the new season status quo has been established and I am super geared up for more!  Also, can I just say that I love Guerrero?  He is awesome.  Yay for the return of good television!

Word Count Update: 33,455 out of 50,000

Oh, and don't forget to check out the new episode of Riese out today!  Click here to watch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stargate Wednesday: Malice (2.8)

Okay folks, sing it with me:

Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers!  Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers!  Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers, SPOILERS!!!

So yeah, if you haven't seen last night's Stargate Universe yet, and wish for it to not be ruined for you, turn back now.

Right then, moving on...

Creepy Lucian Alliance Guy is creepy.

Last night on Stargate Universe, things picked up right where they left off last week, with Eli and Rush showing up on the bridge, where Young had been in the process of giving Park, Brody, and Volker a pep-talk about dealing with Rush now, even though he's a complete jerk and they can't believe he kept such important information from them!  Young seems to be trying really hard to invoke the spirit of cooperation though, so he basically just tells them to get over it and focus on moving forward.

This is actually profoundly sound advice coming from Young.

The scientists do seem pretty excited about this message in the fabric of the universe or whatever (sigh), so they decide to suck it up.  They've managed to make the ship drop out of FTL near to three planets, at least one of which has a gate and looks worth exploring.  They have not figured out yet, however, how to override the countdown clock that starts up whenever the ship drops out of FTL.  So Rush and Eli show up on the bridge and there's some snark and Young tries to play the pacifist, and Rush seems to feel like there's no point in him being there at the moment, which, admittedly, seems to be the case.  I think Young was just trying to include him in things.

Rush decides to head back to his make-out session with Dr. Perry, and Eli tries to think of ways to keep him from doing that.  Rush seems to understand Eli's worries though and promises that nothing will happen.  Well, that's certainly true enough.  As Rush leaves, Eli turns to Young and starts to pester him about bringing Ginn back from Earth instead, but gets a look from Young and drops it.

Rush gets to Ginn's quarters and knocks but there's no answer from Dr. Perry.  After banging on the door and still receiving no answer, he overrides it and goes in, to find this:

Bummer, man.

Yup, she's dead.  Definitely dead.  Rush calls for help and the ship sets into an immediate flurry of action, with Young trying to figure out where all of the Lucian Alliance people are and James grabbing a communication stone back to Earth to see what's going on there.   We then cut to Creepy LA guy, okay, fine, I'll call him Simeon, it's shorter to type.  He's running through the halls, shooting people left and right, and breaking into the armory to stock up.  While he's in there he also grabs a couple of ominous looking discs that, surprise, surprise, turn out to be explosive devices.  Scott radios Young that everyone from the LA is accounted for except for Simeon, whose assigned guard is not answering hails on the radio.  James gets back from Earth, and her update to Young reveals that they've got a dead girl on their end too.  Not only that, but before Ginn/Perry died, Ginn told them that Simeon had all of the information about the looming LA attack on Earth.  Names, times, dates, places, all of it.  Rush takes off like a bat out of hell, figuring out where Simeon has to be headed.

Indeed, Simeon heads for the gate room, continuing to take out anyone in his way.  He finds Volker and Park, who were making ready for the off-world team that should have been going through the gate.  He gets Volker to lock down the room and open the gate, and then takes Park hostage and drags her off the ship.  Volker tries to get Simeon to take him instead but to no avail.  Just after Simeon makes it through the gate, Rush gets into the gate room, and getting a "He went thattaway," from Volker, barrels on after.

On the other side of the gate, Rush finds no sign of Simeon, but he does find Park.

Yeah...looks like you've got a bit of a growth there...

Simeon hasn't gone far, but he did tie Park up and strap a bomb to her back before taking cover behind some big rocks.  I am not entirely certain why he hung around after this, but he watches for a while as Rush tries to disarm the bomb before heading out.  Here was actually my first really big surprise of the episode.  I fully expected Rush to take one look at Park, declare there was nothing he could do for her, and run off, continuing his chase.  Instead, he stopped and did manage to at least get the bomb off of Park before it exploded.  He even managed to alert the recovery team to hold off on coming through until he had dealt with it.  I was extremely, extremely impressed here.  Because, well, I can't think of any self-preserving motivation Rush might have had for helping Park out, especially when he knew there were more people right behind him who could probably take care of the situation.  Even Park was telling him to just go already, but he stayed and did the right thing.  Wow.

So, Park is safe, but understandably shaken up.

NOT my day.

But that's okay, because then we get this:

Greer so loves her.

Seriously, Simeon is on a roll.  First, he kills Eli and Rush's girlfriends (simultaneously, no less), and then he takes Greer's sweetie hostage through the gate.  This guy has apparently not read How to Win Friends and Influence People.

So Rush has by this time run off chasing Simeon, and Scott and Greer follow him, sending Park back to Destiny and splitting up the recovery team into smaller groups to fan out and search.  There's a lot of running around and shooting on the nice rocky planet.  There's even a few more explosions.  Rush really wants to kill Simeon, but Scott is trying to talk him into holding off until after they can extract the information about the LA attack on Earth.  Greer tells Scott that he certainly hasn't forgiven Rush for lying about the bridge, and dude better watch his back.

Basically, Simeon just has to wait out the crew of the Destiny until after it jumps out of range, then he can use the stargate to start backtracking to the planet where the rest of his people were stranded earlier in the season.  The crew only has so long before the ship jumps away, and while they've found a small work-around to the countdown clock--after four hours in FTL the crew can make the ship stop again and they will still be in range of the planet's gate, but just barely, meaning they only get one extension--they are still working within a set time limit.

Meanwhile, back on the ship, Young's got Eli, Park, Voker, and Brody working on a way to stop the countdown clock and Eli is channeling his inner Rush and being a complete jerk to everyone.  Granted, he's hurting, but even Chloe can't get him to talk to her, and she's actually got something relevant to say, even though Eli doesn't want to hear it.  But she gets Young to listen to her and it turns out that those equations Rush has been giving her to work on are starting to make sense to her.  She thinks she can help them find a solution more quickly.  The scientists all freak out, because what if this is the alien part of her taking over so it can plant a sleeper code into the ship's systems?  But Young insists, so they let her work under watchful eyes.  She doesn't figure out how to stop the clock, but she does manage to get into the navigation systems and get Destiny to turn around and go back for the people on the planet.

Back on the planet, Greer, Scott, and Rush track down Simeon, and Greer shoots him in the ass, but he's still mobile and gets away, shooting Greer in the process.  Scott has to get Greer back to the gate, and Rush refuses to give up and goes on.  He manages to trick Simeon and get a herd of alien buffalo to stampede through the clever use of C4, crippling Simeon in the process.  Rush walks up to Simeon, who starts to try to bargain for his life, but Rush just shoots him in the head and makes his way back to the gate.  Ah.  That's the Rush I know.  I was getting worried there for a bit.

So, Eli had a girlfriend, but now she's dead, which sucks.  Especially because now he's just gonna be Mr. Cranky-Pants for God knows how long.  The LA are gearing up for an attack on Earth, and Rush just killed the only person who could give them the information they need to stop it.  Chloe can steer the ship and figure out things about it that the other scientists can't, thanks to her alien reprogramming.  Whew.  Lot going on there.  All in all, I thought this was a pretty A+ episode.  I do wish we could have seen some more about Greer and Park though.  I think all of the other couples are dead, except for Scott and Chloe, and that's just kind of boring, even with her alien weirdness.  So, let's see some more of those two, please?  Or T.J. and Varro?  That'd be cool too. 

Of course, next week, the people from Planet of the Crazy People are back.  Oh joy.  Won't that be interesting.  Well, I guess at least we can (hopefully) finally settle the matter on if T.J.'s baby is alive or not.

Word Count Update:  30,490 out of 50,000

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Can Spoilers Go Too Far?

Don't forget to watch the all new episode of Stargate Universe, tonight on Syfy at 8 pm CST!!!!!


Also, check out the newest episode of Riese:  Kingdom Falling right here!


Warning:  This post is about spoilers.  It might therefore be reasonable to assume that it contains spoilers.  

 (Mostly for Stargate Universe, but also a little bit for the BBC show Luther.)


Spoilers, you say?

So, remember last week in my review of the SGU episode The Greater Good I said it pretty much looked like Ginn and Perry had been killed by Creepy Lucian Alliance guy? Then, the day after the episode aired, a bunch of people from the show (most notably David Blue and Joseph Mallozzi) went on the record telling us not to jump to conclusions, and we didn't know what we thought we know?

Sure, a couple of the trailers for tonight's episode have made it look pretty convincing that those characters are now ex-characters, but that could all just be down to editing.  Then, yesterday, I am perusing the weekly What to Watch article on io9, and imagine my surprise to find that this is the synopsis for tonight's episode:

Simeon makes his escape from Destiny after killing Ginn/Amanda Perry, sending Nicholas Rush on a vengeful mission. But Young and Greer attempt to retrieve Simeon unharmed.
Well.  That seems pretty darn definitive.  

Then, yesterday afternoon, I was catching up on Sunday's episode of Luther, which is a really fantastic miniseries that has been airing on BBC America for the last few weeks.  I was fast forwarding through the last commercial break of the episode and stopped when I got to what looked like the return of the show.

Except, that's not what it was. 

It was a preview for next week's episode, which for some reason BBCA decided to air before the episode was actually over.  In this preview, we see that Luther's wife Zoe has been murdered by his crooked cop pal and framed for the crime, and now Luther is on the run trying to prove his innocence.  My brain exploded a little bit.  When last I saw Zoe, before the break, she was alive and well.  After the preview, the episode wrapped up, giving us the big climactic scene wherein the crooked cop kills Zoe.  But the scene had lost all of the tension that the show had worked so carefully to create, because I had just seen an ad for next week and knew that Zoe didn't make it.  It really killed the end of the episode for me.  At least next week's ending won't be spoiled in the same way, since it's the final part of the series and there won't be any previews to show.  But still.

All of this got me thinking about spoilers and how they have wormed their way into the mainstream in the last few years.  Do television viewers truly not want any more mystery in their shows?  Is it just that the people who make the preview trailers aren't paying attention and put in something they think will grab viewers without realizing it gives away the ending of the episode?  

I really don't understand the thought process that went behind the programming decision to air the preview for the next week's episode before the episode had actually ended.  Granted, this series had already aired in its entirety across the pond in Britain earlier in the year.  Maybe somebody just figured that it was technically a rerun and spoilers were off the table? 

Then again, BBCA isn't the only network doing that, now that I think about it.  Psych on USA usually had their ad for next week before the last bit of the show as well.  Although usually the bit after the last break for that show is a wrap-up and all of the big reveals in the episode have happened already.

As far as preview trailers go, I know I've seen quite a few that have raised the ire of actors or writers from a given show.  They feel like they worked hard to make a really cool episode that would keep you guessing, and then someone with some editing tools somewhere went and cut together a teaser that doesn't tease but in fact totally gives it all away!  (The return of Carson Beckett in season four of Stargate Atlantis, anyone?)  What, then, is the point of bothering to watch the show?

The really good teasers do just that.  They hint at what the twist might be, and the best make you think it is something completely different from what it actually is, so that when you watch, you really get the full effect of the reveal.

I mean, I am all for spoilers for the most part.  I tend to see them as harmless fun that gets me excited for the new show.  I mean, heck, I read a daily article on io9 called Morning Spoilers after all.  But I very rarely read the whole thing.  I tend to skim, and only check out the entries for shows or movies that I like or am anticipating.  But if it's just an episode synopsis of, say, the sixth episode of the season that hasn't started airing yet, or an actual reveal about a big plot point, I try to skip it.  The spoilers I am usually looking for are casting scoops, or a general idea of where a show is headed for a season (as in, the vague overarching plot).

So, I guess when I say I like spoilers, I mean I like hints.  The problem is that the hints tend to get roped in with the really big ruiners and it can be hard to separate them without stumbling across some of the latter.  Sure, it's my own fault for reading the spoilers page in the first place, or the comments on a discussion thread or whatnot, but I do like to have a general idea of what could happen.  It's knowing that something is probably coming, but not knowing how it's gonna end up happening that makes it worth watching.

I have this problem with books a lot too, actually, because I read so many series.  I remember one of the first fantasy series I really dug into in college, I had read the first two books (out of six) and went to the store to pick up the rest of the series before I went out of town on a trip.  I read the back jacket of the fourth or fifth book, and it totally gave away the ending of the book I was reading at the time.  I was so appalled!  What made it worse was that it was a plot development I had seen coming and was really hoping would end up not happening.  So I was grumpy reading the whole rest of that book.  Now, I don't even look at the back cover (or inside flap) of books in a series unless it is the first book and I am trying to decide whether to pick up the series or not.  I realized the other day when putting away a book I had read multiple times that I had never read the story blurb on it.

But sometimes, even if you're someone who goes out of your way to avoid spoilers, you can't escape them.  Like when it's right there in the commercial before the show is over (and the networks are pushing you to watch things live), or when the usually spoiler free preview for next week instead gives away the big reveal at the end of the episode.  Heck, I love the author Jim Butcher, and as much as I enjoy The Dresden Files series, I completely adore his Codex Alera series so much more.  But once I read the first couple of books, and looked at the titles for the next few books, I realized that the actual titles of the books themselves are kind of a spoiler.  It's crazy!

I have really struggled with this in my reviews of the Star Wars Republic Commando series that I have been doing on this blog.  I've tried to discuss the primary plot of each book without giving away any of the really cool stuff that actually happens in the story.  For example, there's one plot line throughout the series which I totally left out of my review, as much as I wanted to expand upon it, because I just felt it would not be doing right by the readers to tell them that it happened before they read the book. 

I'm just left wondering, can spoilers actually go too far?  It's right there in the name, isn't it?  Spoilers.  If you're looking at something labeled "spoilers" aren't you asking to find more than you're probably looking for?  I do know that it's not fair to inflict spoilers on someone who isn't suspecting them.

I know, I know, life isn't fair.  Sigh.  But don't you kind of wish it was?

Anyway, I don't really have any answers on this topic, it has just been on my mind, and I wondered if anyone else hangs out in the middle of spoiler-land like I do.  I'll just be floating around, trying to figure out the best way to cope without letting all of my fun get ruined, I suppose.

No word count update today.  I did a lot of world-building yesterday but no actual writing, sadly.  On the other hand, I now know exactly what the paper is made of in the various countries in my story.  I also know what kind of fabric they use and what they eat, and how their language evolved.  Whee!  In that sense, my word count from yesterday is huge, because I added to my notes like crazy, but nothing in the story sad to stay.  Still, I am right about on track, and I think at this point it's very important to get my ducks all in a row in the notes so that I don't have to stop to look things up when I really get into the wrapping-up part of things.

Ta ta for now, folks.  Join me tomorrow, when we'll find out if Ginn and Perry really are dead or not.  (And you'll get to see me express my rage or amazement about how it was pulled off if they really are still alive.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why the Hate, Fans?

Happy Monday folks.  I thought I'd kick off this week by talking about something that has been bothering me for a while now:  Fandom gone bad.  I'm sure it's nothing new under the sun, but since the start of the series Stargate Universe, I've really started noticed this phenomenon a lot more.

What I've noticed is that online there is a huge presence of people who claim to be fans of a particular franchise (the two in particular that I see this in are Stargate and Star Wars, but then again, those are the two that I follow most closely online) very vocally bashing the hell out of a specific part of that franchise.  I'm not talking about the loving kind of bashing either, in the "we know you're capable of being or doing so much better, so why aren't you?" type of way.  That generally falls under the category of constructive criticism, and that I am fine with most of the time.  It's a necessary part of the creative process.  No, what I am talking about is the type of bashing that consists of people yelling at the top of their lungs (so to speak) online that whatever part of their beloved franchise they don't like not only sucks (in their opinion, though they rarely bother to clarify that point), but has also completely "ruined" the franchise.  Not "ruined the franchise for them" specifically, but that somehow one part of the whole has undone whatever good existed in the other parts in the first place.

Whiskey.  Tango.  Foxtrot. 

I do not get this.  At all.  Let's take a look at Merriam-Webster's definition of the word fan as it applies here:

Definition of FAN

1: an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator
2: an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit) <science-fiction fans>

Origin of FAN

probably short for fanatic
First Known Use: 1682

Probably short for fanatic?  Okay, let's check out that one too:

Definition of FANATIC

1: marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion <they're fanatic about politics>

I have to say, I am more than a little amused that the example used in the definition of fan specifically mentions science-fiction fans.  I didn't plan it that way, true story.  I also think it's very interesting that the definition of fanatic includes the phrase "uncritical," because that kind of gets down to the heart of the matter of what I mean.

Probably the most obvious example of what I am describing is the Star Wars prequels.  Star Wars fandom (already beginning to fracture with the release of the special edition versions of the original trilogy) was forever divided by the arrival of the sequels.  There are people that will no longer have anything to do with Star Wars because they hated the prequels so much.  Okay, and let's be honest, George Lucas has clearly realized that he can do whatever he wants to this franchise (which, admittedly, he can, because he created it) and millions upon millions of people will still give him money hand over fist.  This tends to produce a lot of less than stellar quality items.  But that's not really my point.

The rallying battle cry of the haters among the Star Wars fan community is "George Lucas raped my childhood!"  And dude, that's just not even funny.  I will admit, I kind of used to think it was a little funny, just because it is such a ridiculous thing to say, but then I realized that it's so not funny, not one little bit.  Because these people are serious.  They really think that what Lucas has done in releasing new versions of the original movies and releasing new movies, and changing cannon when he feels like it, has actually somehow lessened that original enjoyment that they once had upon watching Star Wars.  And they are equating it with rape of all things, one of the most horrible violations any person (man or woman) can experience.  Maybe it's lessened your memory of that enjoyment, or made you somehow ashamed that you once loved Star Wars so purely.  And if that's the case, I truly feel sorry for you, I really do.  But it has in no way actually violated your soul, and it is physically impossible for anyone to go backwards in time and take away that initial joy you had.  I have two suggested solutions for these sad individuals:

a) Man up and admit to yourself that deep down you still really love at least that part of Star Wars and just feel ashamed to admit it now that all of your friends/colleagues/online associates spend so much time trying to convince you that all of Star Wars now sucks.  But you still like it, so maybe you should just avoid the specific parts about it you don't like, or avoid the people who make you feel bad for being yourself.


b) Do some soul searching and realize that while past you did like Star Wars, present you no longer does.  This occurred through the combination of seeing the newer material and not liking it, and the events of your life between those two points.  As we grow up and go through life, our worldview changes, our interests change, things we once liked no longer appeal to us.  It is kind of the natural order.  It is OKAY to admit that you are no longer a fan of Star Wars.  Please do so and go away so I can continue to enjoy it in your absence.

But people seem unwilling to do either of these things.  Instead, they walk around telling anyone who will listen how they're such a big fan and Lucas has ruined everything and anything that's not the Holy Original Trilogy (or whatever part of the franchise they loved so much) is just absolute crap.  But that's not enough.  In this lovely day and age we live in, there is also the INTERNET.  Oh these hater fans love the internet.  They go online and find perfectly innocent and pleasant discussions about some aspect of Star Wars and then proceed to rip everything everyone else has said to complete shreds.  Usually in an extremely rude and derogatory fashion.  Also usually, and even more sadly, once one person does this, a whole bunch more, who were maybe just lurking and thinking of it quietly in their heads, get the nerve to join in.  Pretty soon the discussion is completely ruined for anyone who was just trying to have a nice chat about what they like about Star Wars, and not only that, if they are normal humans with normal human reactions, they end up walking away from their computer with a big seething ball of hurt, frustration, and anger.  You can only imagine how that goes on to influence the rest of someone's day.

Look, at the risk of someone jumping in with the "free speech argument" here, I completely agree that everyone is entitled to have and even express their own opinion about the quality or validity of any particular aspect of Star Wars (or whatever franchise is applicable).  What I can't approve of, and what I honestly don't understand is when people who claim that they like, or even love, a franchise, are so determined to trash it at every opportunity just based on one part of it.  It's not just that, it's that they make the effort to go up to a group of people (online or otherwise) who clearly enjoy what they are discussing, and barge in to start telling them all that they are wrong, and then go on to elaborate why.

Dude.  They're not wrong.  Enjoyment is a subjective feeling.  They enjoy something, you don't.  Respect that and move on.

Why, why, why would anybody spend so much time and energy thinking about and discussing something they don't like?  Wouldn't it just be more enjoyable and better for your soul to find something you do like and get on with enjoying that instead?  (I will point out here that I am also completely perplexed by internet trolls.  How anyone gets enjoyment out of that kind of behavior perplexes and worries me.)

What's even worse is that, given how vocal these people are, they not only tend to bring little black rainclouds wherever they go, they also have a really good shot of hurting the franchise as a whole.  You know, that thing they claim they love, and would love so much more if it wasn't for this one glaring flaw?  I mean yeah, let's face it, Star Wars the franchise is pretty much unsinkable at this point, but other franchises aren't.

This is where I get into Stargate.  I'll be honest with you here.  While the bashing of Star Wars still pretty much baffles me (not that I don't think it has flaws, just, as I've said, I don't understand why people are wasting their time obsessing over the flaws), it has such a global fan community, literally spanning generations, that the law of averages says there's probably going to be quite a few nutjobs running around in that crowd.

But the Stargate fan community lately?  There I am not only baffled, I am just plain disappointed.  One of the reasons I have always so loudly proclaimed my allegiance as a Stargate fan is that all of the people I have dealt with online, these have always been extremely polite to and respectful of one another.

Enter Stargate Universe.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I really enjoy SGU.  I think it's a pretty darn good show.  Is it different from Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis?  Heck yeah.  Is it any better than those shows?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  I still maintain that the season one episode "Time" is at least in my top three favorite episodes of Stargate anything and might actually hold the number one spot.  But SGU got a bad rap from the start.

The announcement that it would start filming for the next television season wasn't just announced around the same time as the announcement that Atlantis had been canceled but in the same press release.  This led a lot of fans to believe that Atlantis was canceled in favor of SGU, which wasn't the case at all.  Not only did the two decisions have nothing to do with each other, they weren't even made in the same time periods--it's just that they were announced together.

To add another series of slaps in the face to dejected Atlantis fans, press releases for SGU often contained worrying marketing babble about aiming for a younger demographic with a much younger cast (earning the show the unfortunate nickname of Stargate 90210) and about changing up the formula by adopting a completely new tone, radically different from the previous two series.  Once the premise of the series was announced, a lot of people started referring to it as Stargate Voyager, which set off a whole new round of worries.  There were also lots of hints about trying to draw in a new crowd of viewers altogether, which a lot of people took to mean that the existing fanbase wasn't valued rather than that the network was trying to add to the existing audience by broadening the appeal.

There was some violent online backlash at this point, with a lot of people vowing they would never watch anything on the channel again after it canceled Atlantis, and a lot of people griping that they didn't want anything to do with the new show.  But for the most part, a lot of us adopted the "wait and see" strategy.  After all, the only way to find out if the show was going to be any good or not would be to actually watch it, right?

So the show aired, and lots of people liked it.  Lots of people didn't.  In an ideal universe (or at least one that made a bit more sense), the people who didn't like it would either give it a few more episodes to see if it would grow on them and then drop it when it didn't, or would stop watching it after the first episode and leave it at that.  Either way, that should have been the end of the story for those people.  Perhaps they might make the occasional comment online, when the topic came up, that they don't watch the show because it never really appealed to them, and that would be that.

Instead, the people that didn't like SGU took to the internet in droves.  They griped about the lack of strong female characters in the show (even though off the top of my head I can think of five who are in just about every episode, when at any given time on either of the other two shows there were never more than two female leads floating around).  They griped about sex in supply closets and one character starting up a new relationship upon meeting someone new and more interesting to him than his current casual fling.  They said it was trying to be too much like Battlestar Galactica and not enough like Stargate.  They griped that it wasn't as funny as the other shows, even though the situation the characters find themselves in really isn't one that lends itself to levity. 

Then they got really nasty.  They started making online attacks on the actual actors, rather than the characters they played.  There was a plethora of disparaging remarks about one of the actresses (not her character, but herself) simply because she happens to be well-endowed.  The mother of Brian J. Smith, one of the lead actors, who has always been very gracious and polite to fans online, had to stop reading anything about the show online because it was so hurtful to her to read what people were saying about her son--not his acting, not the show he was in or the character he played--but actually about him

The comments on every article on Gateworld about the new show devolved into a list of who could outnasty who and say the meanest things.  I'm not talking about reasonable, well thought out, well argued discussions.  There were no agreements to disagree.  It was just a whole lot of "I'm right and you're wrong," with the trolls absolutely trying to hammer their point home and get in the last word.  Honestly asked questions of "If you don't like the show, why are you still watching it?" were met with derision and cries of "free speech, bitches."  Well, yes, free speech, but not really.  It is a moderated website, designed for fans of the franchise.  People who are not fans really have no place there, not if they aren't willing to express their own opinions in a respectful manner.  This was usually responded to with an even more immature reply.

As I said before, constructive criticism is fine, and necessary.  Lively discussion is welcome, but is only possible if all parties respect the rights of the others to their opinions.  But that is not what this was.  Gone was the friendly, open, and polite community I found when I first stumbled into Stargate fandom.  It got to the point where the Gateworld moderators had to issue a change in policy.  They no longer tolerate those kinds of comments.  Any found or reported are deleted immediately.  They are not censoring all criticism, but they did put their foot down at the absolute lack of respect for all opinions.

Of course, this prompted those who just wanted to bitch about SGU to create their own freaking website, just to get together and bitch about SGU.  More power to them, I guess.  I am glad that they are there and that is not a website I am ever likely to stumble upon, so I don't have to read it, yay!  It's totally their right, but again, I just don't get it.  Why go to all of that effort.  If you don't like something, why do you care so much that other people do?  What am I missing here?

Apparently, one of the self-proclaimed goals of this website/community is to get SGU canceled.  I have seen more than one delusional comment on several websites that maybe if SGU gets canceled, Syfy will finally "wise up" and brink back Atlantis.  Sigh.  Not gonna happen folks.  Life doesn't work that way.  And that goes doubly so for network television.  Jericho and Family Guy were happy flukes, but flukes they were.

And these people who have started their own website to get SGU canceled claim that they love the Stargate franchise and want to get rid of this blot on its record so that we can get something better, like a new series, or the revival of Atlantis, or at least the release of the two DVD movies for SG-1 and Atlantis that are hanging out in development hell due to the MGM bankruptcy fiasco.  Sigh.  Life doesn't work like that either, folks.

If it gets canceled, it gets canceled, and that would suck, but a lot of people involved with Syfy and with SGU have gone on the record explaining that the cancellation of SGU would pretty much be the end of the franchise.  We might, might still get the DVD movies that have already been scripted, but that would be it.  No new series.  And no, Atlantis isn't coming back.

Look, I love Atlantis.  It is still my all-time favorite television show, and unless they make a new iteration of Stargate that is all Lorne, all the time, (with a healthy dose of McKay and maybe some Zelenka and Sheppard thrown in for good measure), it's going to remain my favorite iteration of the Stargate franchise.  But it's not coming back.  Buy the DVDs, invest in some of the audio plays and tie-in novels (a lot of them are actually really great), and read or write some fan fiction to get your fix.  But give up the ghost.

And in the meantime, can you please not ruin it for the rest of us who are actually enjoying SGU?  If you're not a fan, you're not a fan.  Might I humbly suggest you find something new to be a fan of and go obsess about that instead?  It will do wonders for the world.  And probably for you, too.

Word Count Update:  26,782 out of 50,000 (Past the halfway point, woohoo!)