clhollandwriter: (Inigo)
We went to see Mad Max: Fury Road last week, and I have to admit I was a tad underwhelmed.

Don't get me wrong, it was impressive what they managed to do using physical effects instead of CGI - and a refreshing change as well - but as a film I found it a bit dull. Perhaps because it's pretty much one long chase scene, because I had the same problem with the fight scenes in Age of Ultron. They just went on and on and on and on...

Still, it did a lot right. While Max was in the right place at the right time, as with all the other movies he's not really the driving force behind the story it just sort of happens to him. This allows Furiosa to be the kickass protagonist and drive most of the plot's conflict in a way that's much more honest than if Max were doing it. Which, let's face it, he wouldn't because he never volunteers to get himself in these situations. It's just a shame that the plot (such as it is) goes in such a straight line I saw the plot twist coming pretty much as they put the gun in the drawer, and there weren't any real surprises. Except one, which was a refreshing change to movie-fare but to mention it would be a spoiler.

On the whole I liked it. The women were allowed to kick ass and not rely on men to save them (another refreshing change from most of what comes out of Hollywood these days), and it was as daft as any other film in the franchise. I just, I don't know, expected more of something.


In other news: no flash challenge for me this week as next week I'm on lates again. Last week I sat down to write but couldn't make anything of the prompts. It happens that way sometimes. I did write two poems on Monday though, typing them on my phone while on the bus. For some reason that seems to work quite well as a drafting method for poems. I don't know why, but I don't feel comfortable writing in a notebook on public transport these days. The phone doesn't work as well for prose though, so I need to get over it!
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I have another story out today, "The Empty Dark" in the first issue of Fantasy Short Stories. It's one of my few shamelessly sword and sorcery stories, and I'm glad it's found a home. The magazine is available from Amazon and Smashwords, and if anyone's interested in leaving a review at those sites I can provide a free copy.

Also, Twitter is fun! I hadn't realised until I saw the "My tweets" posts just how much I'd been posting. I may have to stop the cross-posting though. Anyone who's interested in seeing it is already on Twitter, right?

We went to see the Avengers movie on Tuesday. It's even better than I thought it would be. I did spend a lot of time wondering just how dumb SHIELD could be, but overall it's more fun than annoying. The characters are really well done, dripping with testosterone in places, and of course it's full of sparkly Joss Whedon dialogue. He even managed to sneak an absolutely filthy word past the censors, in true Firefly fashion.

Busy Sunday

Aug. 7th, 2011 10:43 pm
clhollandwriter: (Moogle)
We got up early this morning to go and see Captain America - it's a good thing our local cinema does coffee. I enjoyed it more than I expected as it had a sense of humour about itself. In hindsight I don't know why I expected anything else, since the other Avengers lead-up movies have been the same. And, after a disappointing wait through the credits of Thor it was nice to see the Easter egg back, even if it is a bit of a cheeky cheat.

Plenty of things to do this afternoon, but I settled on doodling with pastels and tried out my new easel. It certainly made things easier, and I love having the sapce in the box to store all my bits and pieces. I did one of the tutorials from Jenny Keal's Painting With Pastels, and while it wasn't great (I had all the wrong colours and had to improvise) at least it showed me I don't suck as much as I think I do.

Then I spent this evening getting submissions back out the door. And now it's late so I should get to bed. Oops!
clhollandwriter: (Default)

What was supposed to be a relaxed weekend turned out rather less so when, after I put a homemade lasagne in, the oven decided to die. For some odd reason so did one of the hobs, so we're now cooking on a three-hob-and-grill combo. An electrician was supposed to phone today to arrange to come and fix it, but he didn't bother which leaves me full of confidence about his workmanship.

And then on Sunday the TV died in a flash of light. It's been on its way out for a couple of weeks, although the randomly resizing screen was quite funny after a while. A quick trawl of the internet revealed that it's practically impossible to get a TV these days that doesn't have a freeview box. Which is a pain in the bum, because it makes our lives slightly more difficult when explaining to the TV Licensing people that actually, no we don't watch any TV with it.

To clarify for those living in foreign climes, in the UK you need to have a licence to watch TV. Yes, really. It stems from the days when it was used to make decent programmes, rather than for over-inflated stars' salaries and pandering to the lowest common denominator. According to the law, a licence is needed to watch any TV as it is being broadcast (and this counts watching on PCs and mobiles too), but not if you only use your TV as a monitor for DVD players/games consoles etc. Unfortunately, the TV Licensing people tend to assume that if you have a TV you're a fan of the X-Factor or Britain's Greatest Hairdresser, or whatever.

Since the whole country went over to freeview and digital TV it made our lives easier as we have neither a freeview box nor digital decoder. With a new-fangled telly we're back in the same position as before the digital revolution, namely having a TV that we could plug in and tune if we wanted to but not.

And between all the breaking appliances, we went to see Hanna at the cinema. And I honestly didn't think it was that great. The performances were excellent, but on the whole the fairytale/music motifs didn't work for me, the story had one too many cliched plot twists, and there was one massive loose end that seemed only to be left untied to maintain the film's 12A certificate - which seemed a cowardly choice to me. And the soundtrack....Ack. Far too prominent throughout, so much so that through some of the action scenes it pushed itself nto the foreground. Between that and the odd cinematography in places, sometimes I thought i was watching an extended music video.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

What was supposed to be a relaxed weekend turned out rather less so when, after I put a homemade lasagne in, the oven decided to die. For some odd reason so did one of the hobs, so we're now cooking on a three-hob-and-grill combo. An electrician was supposed to phone today to arrange to come and fix it, but he didn't bother which leaves me full of confidence about his workmanship.

And then on Sunday the TV died in a flash of light. It's been on its way out for a couple of weeks, although the randomly resizing screen was quite funny after a while. A quick trawl of the internet revealed that it's practically impossible to get a TV these days that doesn't have a freeview box. Which is a pain in the bum, because it makes our lives slightly more difficult when explaining to the TV Licensing people that actually, no we don't watch any TV with it.

To clarify for those living in foreign climes, in the UK you need to have a licence to watch TV. Yes, really. It stems from the days when it was used to make decent programmes, rather than for over-inflated stars' salaries and pandering to the lowest common denominator. According to the law, a licence is needed to watch any TV as it is being broadcast (and this counts watching on PCs and mobiles too), but not if you only use your TV as a monitor for DVD players/games consoles etc. Unfortunately, the TV Licensing people tend to assume that if you have a TV you're a fan of the X-Factor or Britain's Greatest Hairdresser, or whatever.

Since the whole country went over to freeview and digital TV it made our lives easier as we have neither a freeview box nor digital decoder. With a new-fangled telly we're back in the same position as before the digital revolution, namely having a TV that we could plug in and tune if we wanted to but not.

And between all the breaking appliances, we went to see Hanna at the cinema. And I honestly didn't think it was that great. The performances were excellent, but on the whole the fairytale/music motifs didn't work for me, the story had one too many cliched plot twists, and there was one massive loose end that seemed only to be left untied to maintain the film's 12A certificate - which seemed a cowardly choice to me. And the soundtrack....Ack. Far too prominent throughout, so much so that through some of the action scenes it pushed itself into the foreground. Between that and the odd cinematography in places, sometimes I thought i was watching an extended music video.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

Today is the last day of freedom before we go back to work tomorrow. I can't say I'm looking forward to it. Despite having done large amounts of spring cleaning, tidying, laundry, shopping, and general chilling out, I don't feel like I've accomplished nearly as much as I wanted to.

So this morning I made a batch of chocolate caramel brownies for consolation purposes. Not exactly great for the plan to lose weight, but the good thing about this recipe is that the brownies freeze really well and so last for ages.

Recipe cut for those with no willpower )

We went to the cinema to see Thor in 3D yesterday. I can take or leave 3D movies (they tend to give me a headache), but the movie was great - didn't take itself too seriously, and managed to reconcile the whole Norse gods/magic/modern world thing without coming across too hokey. And a rounded and understandable villain is also a welcome plus, especially in a superhero movie. On the whole, far more enjoyable than the insipid Limitless, which we went to see last week. Although they lost me at the start with the whole "I have a book contract! And an advance!! For a book I haven't even written yet!!!" nonsense. I gave it a chance, but since the message seemed to be that taking drugs is the only way to become successful and get girls to like you it was a fail as far as I was concerned. All in all, it felt a bit like it was sponsored by the American pharmaceutical industry.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

I've just finished N.K. Jemisin's The Broken Kingdoms in less than two days. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as the prequel, but I did. It was completely different, but still managed to keep the feel of the first.

Last night we went to the cinema to see Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal. It's a bit like Groundhog Day meets Quantum Leap with added terrorists. I definitely recommend it, especially for those who like films like Inception, and Next. We followed it with a meal out at the local Chinese restaurant, and a re-watch of The Hangover on DVD.

Today I made the most of the sunshine to get three machine and four hand loads of washing done. It's even all mostly dry. I'd have got another load out if I'd bothered to get up early but hy, it's the weekend.

This week's veg sack: eggs, onions, potatoes, purple as well as orange carrots, fir apple potatoes, beetroot, some sort of cabbage, and rhubarb. Plans so far: serve everything with carrots and cabbage; boil the beetroot for salad and/or pickle it; rhubarb crumble.


SEEK PI

Jan. 9th, 2011 09:52 pm
clhollandwriter: (Default)
My first sales of the year were followed by my first germs of the year, so I've spent most of the last week with a sore throat, not sleeping, and exhausted, but with not enough external symptoms to be able to stay home. Needless to say, I haven't got a lot of writing done - although I figured out how to rewrite something to make it saleable, and read Stephen King's On Writing, so it wasn't a total loss.

The bf and I have also watched a couple of films this week. The last of the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies The World is Not Enough and  Die Another Day - the latter featuring an awful cameo, and even more awful and forgettable theme song by Madonna.

Earlier this week we watched Black Death, and there will be spoilers )

Something that amused me this week - I got a lift to work with a colleague, who likes to listen to the radio on the way. At one point on the trip is a spot of dead signal, and when the radio cuts out and it all goes silent a message flashes up on the display: SEEK PI. It reminded me of the time I went out to find all the local bus stops graffitied with "Know Thyself". I'm sure there's a story in there somewhere.


__________________________
*Yes, really.
clhollandwriter: (Default)

"In Search of Camanac", originally published in the Hadley Rille Books Ruins Metropolis anthology, is now available at AnthologyBuilder.

It's a great place to send reprints, since once they're there they tend to look after themselves. There doesn't seem much point in shopping them around to markets that will always prefer a new story over an old on anyway, especially as there's not much money in reprints to justify the extra effort to find markets that accept them. Part of my plan for the year is to go through my back catalogue and see what else I have free to send to AnthologyBuilder. Every story should earn its keep!


We went to see Tron 3D last night. On the whole it was a very enjoyable film - part sequel and part remake. It had all the bits the fans would be looking for (except, amusingly, the bit itself), and was as shiny as you'd expect. The plot was a little light in place, and downright odd in others (what's with the Zen?), but it wasn't as two-dimensional as Avatar. The 80s-style soundtrack by Daft Punk fitted it perfectly, somehow managing not to sound out of place in a film set in the last decade. The only thing that marred it was that the cinema didn't seem to have their 3D set up properly. The adverts before the film were perfectly rendered - even made a couple of people shout in surprise when butterflies and footballs flew out of the screen at them - but in the movie itself they were middling. There was a "shadow" on the screen, particularly noticeable whenever one of the characters in their neon suits were stood next to a dark background. The end result was that the 3D lost a lot of depth and I ended up with a splitting headache. But still, worth seeing anyway.

clhollandwriter: (Default)

My first sale and publication of the year: my flash story "And a Cup of Good Cheer" has been published in the January issue of 10Flash Quarterly, the theme of which is Santa Claus Ain't Coming to Town.

The magic was all in the hat, of course.  It had to come from somewhere and it certainly wasn’t him.


Fairly unproductive weekend, just making the most of the time off before going back to work. Mostly spent playing on games or watching DVDs. On New Year's Eve we did what we always do and stayed in to watch films with a friend. First was The Fall, which is a very odd mix of The Princess Bride, Big Fish, and The Usual Suspects and is probably the best film Terry Gilliam never made. We followed it with Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, the Ian Dury biopic which was, frankly, a bit rubbish. The narriative jumped around all over the place, relying a bit too much on viewers already knowing the story, and from all they hype it seems they were going for "loveable rogue" - except they forgot the loveable part so instead it was a portrait of a man with no redeeming features. 

Lucifer brought us a starling yesterday, still alive and screaming. Unlike Gabriel she still tries to bring her prey in the house - her sister has worked out we don't like it and prefers to play with them in the garden instead. I honestly don't know why Lucifer does it, since it's obviously not to present it to us. Usually she pauses in the doorway looking stupid and runs away when we spot her. This time we managed to get her to drop the bird in the kitchen, and once she was safely out of the way we caught it in a towel and released it into the garden. It flew away in a hurry, which was a big relief since I've lost count of the times she's brought home birds beyond saving.


clhollandwriter: (hello)
...Well, not so much a holiday as a Bank Holiday weekend.

Friday night I got the first draft of a story finished, and off for critting. So now I'm stuck in-between-projects, trying to get my head out of the story that's been occupying much of my waking thoughts for the last week and into something new.

Yestarday, in a fit of nostalgia, I inflicted Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure on the bf. He was not amused, and having never seen it before he didn't have any fond memories to recall. Watching it again as an adult, I have to admit it has less redeeming features than I remember. Then in the evening we went to see Iron Man 2 with a friend, which was fun if a little overlong. There's a neat little Captain America reference buried in the middle, and the three of us outed our geek credentials by being the only people in the cinema who reacted to it.

Today I sat down to watch Inkheart. And wow. It was a good old-fashioned fantasy-adventure of the sort they don't seem to make any more. And the basic idea--that someone could read fictional characters out of books and into the real world--is of course one that appeals. I don't know if it's just that I'm a writer, but the moment when Dustfinger meets his creator made me feel all shivery. Definitelyone I'll be looking out for on DVD. And getting the book, although don't tell my boyfriend that!

Being a Bank Holiday, tomorrow is a day off work. Yay! So I intend to try and get some writing done.
clhollandwriter: (Marvin)

I watched Terminator Salvation at the weekend, and I have to say that while it’s an OK movie, on the whole I found it a disappointment.

 

Extremely spoilery under the cut )


 


clhollandwriter: (Default)
Hmm, LJ seems to have gone a bit weird and eaten my formatting options again. Oh well.

I was woken up last night by Lucifer hitting the windchimes in the bedroom until I woke up, and then sauntering off. She also did a Lassie impression yesterday, meeping at me and looking over her shouder to make me follow her upstairs to play. I guess I shouldn't be surprised: as well as playing fetch the two of them also stay when told to (in very specific circumstances), and understand that "bedtime" means to go upstairs. That last is usually followed by Gabriel's second favourite game, making the hoomans chase her.

The bf made me sit through Batman Returns yesterday evening, so I wound him up by deconstructing bits of it. I argued that since Selena's apartment is pink and full of toys (stuffed animals and a dollhouse) that she represents a woman's childhood, and that her transformation to Catwoman is woman's sexual awakening, which is threatening to a man's world since Catwoman is a villain (interestingly though, as far as I know she's the only one who walks away from a Batman movie. The rest end up dead or in Arkham). He accused me of overthinking it. It's fun to talk academic bs at him sometimes. :D

I'm supposed to be getting the last little bit of the Reunion chapter finished today, but my copy of Sarah Monette's (truepenny) Corambis arrived today. Oh, the dilemma!
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I just did, but we went out for a meal afterwards and I've had too much wine to be particularly coherent. But here are some thoughts:

- Rorschach - wow. The actor completely nailed it.
- The "Boys" folder on Viedt's computer was cheap, lazy characterisation. I can understand why they did it (not a lot of foreshadowing otherwise) but it was still badly done.
- The ending made a lot more sense, the pieces seemed to fit together better.
- Great soundtrack, mostly.
- Archie is cute - I want one!
- There are a lot of naked male bottoms in this movie.
- Hallelujah? Halle-fucking-lujah?!
clhollandwriter: (Default)
If you only see one film this year, make sure it isn't The Spirit. You know how some movies are so bad they're good? Well this isn't one of them. It's teeth-grindingly, eye-gougingly, there's-two-hours-of-my-life-I'm-never-getting-back bad instead.

To begin with, there is no absolutely characterisation or sense of pacing. Even my non-writer bf complained of a lack of foreshadowing, and at the large chunk of the Spirit's background that's left until right at the end of the movie - "and by then I'd stopped caring." There is no sense of what the characters were like as people, no sense of what motivates them beyond the female antagonist's Electra complex and love of shiny things, and the villain's desire for immortality. A desire for immortality so he can rule the world, but not for any reason other than He's Evil. He must be evil because he wants to rule the world, and he wears a Nazi uniform apparently just so that the fanboys can see Scarlett Johansson in one too.

Johansson also gets to wear a "sexy academic" outfit - in fact with the exception of one character's Miss Sensible ensembles, most of the women in this film seem to be dressed in outfits usually found at the back of a branch of Anne Summers. There are more soft-focus shots than in the original Star Trek, and most of them seem aimed at pointing out that women have boobs and bottoms. There's even a scene where Eva Mendes photocopies her behind.(I should point out that they do wear more than the women in Sin City, but at least there the women are independent and in charge of their own destiny, even if they are all portrayed as either lesbians or prostitutes.)

With a script that bad - full of pretentious voice-overs (anyone who can refer to the same city as his mother and his lover has a whole set of issues of his own) and cheesy lines - it's no wonder most of the performances are so wooden they make Pinnochio look like a real boy. Johansson spends the whole film looking bored, while everyone else spends their time doing the kind of meaningful-look-filled emoting that you'd expect from a first year drama class. On the other hand, Samuel L. Jackson's acting as the Octopus is so over the top that while his character was ranting about how much he hates eggs (runny, free range, or on his face) I just wanted to shout at the screen "but they go so well with ham!" He made Jack Nicolson as the Joker seem restrained.

This campness is part of the problem, as the film swings between trying to convey the gritty darkness of Sin City and the camp silliness of Adam West Batman, and fails to succeed with either. Frank Miller was obviously going for the same kind of comic-panel-as-frame cinematography that worked so well in Sin City and 300, but whereas in those films the panels are woven into the action, here they seem to be the whole point of the shot. There are whole scenes of action that are nothing more than one panel after another. It's like Miller knew what made Sin City and 300 work, but couldn't understand why it worked.

And the mythology. Don't get me started on the mythology. There are two MacGuffins, both taken from Classical mythology - the blood of Hercules and the Golden Fleece. There's a little background of the blood explained, for the benefit of the few people in the audience who haven't heard of its previous owner - and explained to the Spirit by the villain and sidekick just two scenes after they rant to their minions about how the Spirit must never find out what the blood is. The Golden Fleece, however, is mentioned in passing early in the film and never really explained beyond that it's "the shiniest of shiny things." The film assumes knowledge of the fleece even though it doesn't credit its audience with knowing who Hercules is.

Towards the end of the film was a brief exchange that irritated my inner academic beyond everything else. The Octopus refers to "the blood of Herakles." "I thought it was Hercules," replies the Spirit, in a smug and knowing way that implies he's caught the Octopus out. Nothing more is said about it. But he didn't catch the Octopus out. Herakles is the Greek name - Hercules is the Romanisation, and therefore technically less correct.

It is a bad, bad film. I actually curled up in my seat and tried to sleep, but my brain was so stupefied with horror it wouldn't switch off. Please, in the name of good storytelling, save yourself the mental anguish this film will cause. Unless you want to see how not to tell a story, make a movie, or adapt a comic. In these cases, by all means go and see it. Just take a really thick notebook. You'll need it.

</rant>

clhollandwriter: (Default)

We went to see Taken at the weekend. It was lovely to see an action film with a brain, and Liam Neeson was excellent as a man with a "certain set of skills" who single-handedly takes on people-traffikers to get his daughter back. I'd recommend it to anyone, especially if they have children who are planning on taking a gap year. As a cautionary tale it's frightening.

No writing done this weekend, mainly because the bf and I spent it watching Star Trek movies. Back on the treadmill today! I've started planning my next WOTF entry (I decided to enter every other one), and I have a few deadlines coming up I'd like to try and hit. I did plan to do the flash challenge at LH this weekend, but I forgot about it. Oops.

clhollandwriter: (Default)
Yesterday we briefly made ourselves the most unpopular people on the planet - we gave the kittens a bath.

Gabriel went first, and yowled and tried to climb up the boyf's arm when she realised she couldn't jump out. Lucifer sat outside the door and yowled back, upset because she couldn't get to her sister. The boyfriend suffered it worse than the cats did, because he was afraid they'd never forgive us. I pointed out that they're kittens - quick to forgive. And within a couple of hours they did, and they don't even seem to mind being in the bathroom at all.

No writing has been done - I'm starting to worry now that I'm not going to have anything ready for WOTF. Tomorrow I will have to work really hard, I think.

We went to see The Happening tonight. I didn't expect to be impressed but I was. It was very creepy, although Mark Wahlberg was a bit of a weak point.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Only 300 words done yesterday, which wasn't so good, but I've averaged 1000 most days before that so I guess I'm allowed to slack once or twice. 

The reason for the skive was a trip out to the pub for a meal, and then on to the cinema to see Indiana Jones 4. I was not impressed.

clhollandwriter: (Default)
I have discovered a new addiction - lattes. As I have an intolerance to caffeine this is a bad thing. Very, very bad.

We went to see Iron Man last night. It was actually better than I was expecting. Robert Downey Jr was very good, and it was refreshing to see a superhero who is a human being for a change, rather than an alien or a mutant. There were some good trailers too, which ensure that we'll be in the cinema for most of the summer. My main proble  was that now that I know about foreshadowing Ii've become very good at spotting it - and so it's actually quite difficult for me to be surprised by the ending of a movie any more. Then again, summer blockbusters aren't written with subtlety in mind so maybe I'm watching the wrong kind of films. :-D

In other news, there has not been nearly enough writing lately. I keep getting sidetracked by housework and computer games, which is an obvious sign that I'm indulging in displacement activity. Bad me, no latte.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
More fool me, but I have agreed to a pact with [profile] sacredmimethat we'll both submit something to WOTF this quarter. I have no idea what to write. The good news is that they accept Sword and Sorcery (yay!), the bad news is that apparently they prefer it to be upbeat. Eek!

I'm still struggling with my current crop of short stories, and novel chapter. The frog-like idea now has me looking at folklore, as I think that's going to figure heavily. The thing with English folklore, though, is that it tends to fall into one of three categories: Christian, pagan, and ghost. If I pick one of these it's obviously going to have a major influence on the plot and feel of the piece. If I go for Christian folklore, it becomes Christian spec-fic, if I choose pagan it becomes fantasy or pagan spec-fic, and if I choose ghosts it becomes horror. So far I haven't made a choice, I'm just letting it bubble.

The boyfriend and I went to see Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street last night. Our local cinema is a bit behind the times. It was very good, dark and funny. Even my boyfriend enjoyed it and he hates musicals. The only problem is, and this it odd because it didn't scare me, it gave me nightmares.

That's right: Johnny Depp gave me nightmares. What is the world coming to?

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