Sunday, January 28, 2007
Why is it that reporters cannot write? I don't even mean gripping, flowery or amazingly good pieces, but pieces with complete thoughts and proper grammar? Or even one without a constant point of view shift, without any explanation as to who the writer is? Gahhh! And we won't even get into how unintelligent and uninformed most of their articles are.
I have started checking the local news site for WHNT-TV every couple of days to see what is going on in Huntsville. It's a habit I picked up when a school bus from my old high school flipped off the interstate overpass on November 20th. WHNT actually seems like it might be the most poorly written of the sites, but it doesn't disgust me as much with its content. News Channel 48, if I recall correctly, refused the requests of many members of the city to cease covering the story when Fred Phelps and his cult came to Huntsville to tarnish the funerals of the girls killed in the bus accident. All that man wants is attention, and that is what the news channel was giving him. Also, either Channel 48 or Channel 31 posted a story shortly after the bus accident titled "SUV Flips Off Of I-565" and it turns out that an SUV rolled off the grounded part of 565 somewhere over the mountain, not an overpass. They were being blatantly sensationalist and trying to continue to get ratings off of the bus wreck, and it disgusted me.
Anyway, there was a small movie made in Huntsville called Constellation and they had the premiere here earlier today, and here is the article covering it.
Look at it, and weep for the state of our news reporting. And the spelling of average Americans. I was going to pick it apart, but I'm not sure it's worth wasting my time on.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
So, it is very late but I need to get in an update this week, and I just returned from the only showing of Pan's Labyrinth in town.
This will contain some spoilers for the movie, and will perhaps be a bit disjointed as I have not figured exactly what I think of this film. It was an interesting experience on many levels, one being that I can speak rudimentary Italian, and so during certain points in the film I found that I did not need to read the subtitles or the translation for words, which was kind of cool. There was of course much that was different because the film is in Spanish, but many of their words are very similar.
I am very impressed, first of all. Everything in this film was well done-- the cinematography, the acting, the creatures, the music (god, the music!), and the script. But I cannot lie-- I left the movie upset, a tad annoyed, and disturbed. It is not the fairy tale that it seems to be from the trailer! It is depressing, it is violent, and it is graphic. Note the bolded word-- the "R" rating is serious. No matter how mature or into fairy tales they might be, it is no movie for a child. There were times when I had to cover my eyes, and I am an adult who has dealt with such movies as We Were Soldiers, Black Hawk Down, Sin City and Kill Bill.
And that, I believe, sums up all the issues with the film. It was not what it was represented to be, and it put Sin City to shame. Mainly because the violence in it was very real and not stylized as it was in Sin City. From a bloody and violent birth to the Captain bashing a man's face in with a glass bottle, it is gritty, realistic and cringe-worthy. I think that they actually went too far with much of this-- simple cuts and representations would have almost been better than showing the violence. It would have been just as powerful, but not enough to make your stomach roil. I didn't come to the movie to see a man shot in the face, I came for a fairy tale.
Pan's Labyrinth is a war movie, with fantasy elements as a little girl tries to escape the horror of the world she is living in. They made a mistake in representing it as a fairy tale, because I know many people (including myself) went to see a dark and twisted adult fairy tale. And those elements are there, but let me just say that every single shot in the trailer that is of the fantasy world, is a shortened version of everything there is. There is the Labyrinth, the Pale Man's Feast, opening the doors with the magic chalk, and the Labyrinth at the end, as well as a few places with the Faun and the fairies visiting Ofelia in her room. The rest is a gruesome tale of the Spanish Civil War, and the fascists trying to ruthlessly suppress the uprisings. If I had gone into the film expecting what it was, a realistic movie with a few shots of a magical world, I would have been more prepared.
And so I am disappointed in it, but not because it was poorly made, written or executed. I was very much impressed at how well done it was, and how it didn't fit into the cookie cutter blockbusters that are coming out our ears. But it is not what I wanted to see.
The acting is phenomenal, as are the creatures. I can honestly say the baby-eating Pale Man is one of the scariest and most disturbing things I have ever seen. It might not be saying much, because I don't frequent horror or slasher movies, but damn, one glimpse of that thing and I'd run screaming down the hallway. I hope I don't have nightmares about it tonight. The Pale Man was freakier than the Bunny from Donnie Darko, and that was one scary bunny.
I would recommend seeing Pan's Labyrinth, it's one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Just be wary of the gore and be warned before hand that it is not what you are expecting, and I have to say shame on the advertising department for marketing it in such a way. I still haven't decided where it goes on my list, but it's definitely a movie to see if you can deal with death, darkness, and lots of disturbing creatures and blood.
I don't think it's fair for me to give it a quill rating. I'll leave it up to you.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
I submitted my short "Wishing Only Wounds The Heart" to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I didn't really expect much, as it is "the" magazine for science fiction and fantasy. It published Ray Bradbury, among others, so although they say that they are open to first time submissions, I seriously doubt they take any of them.
Ah well. Perhaps I'll try again with the short story, although probably not. It's not particularly stand alone, and that is probably a strike against it. I'll work on some more pieces that aren't connected to novels and anyone can sit down and read them without a lot of explanation.
On the plus side, it means I can save it to post here since I know that they aren't picking it up.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Darkened muses adorn the looking-glass
Hollowed and dead pretty girl faces
Watching me from the burnished brass
Crying their tears and leaving demon traces
They were the three, the very first three
Whose blood and skin I claimed
They cried their tears with their plea
Beautiful, and murderer I was named
The other beauties writhe behind me
Their specter-bodies my mirror haunt
Begging for me to set their souls free
But they keep my form from growing gaunt
Each time I look to the mirror
I hear their screams and see their deaths
With their pretty bodies, to perfection I am nearer
And their suffering extends my breaths
For over a hundred years
Blood has been my wine
My skin soothed with maiden tears
And rosy flesh the meat on which I dine
Pretty murdered girls haunt my sight
Wherever I may glance
But I will not submit to the endless night
Nor lose my beauty to time’s eternal dance.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
How Baby Boomers Are Robbing Our Grandchildren
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Before I go into anything, let me mention that I am a gigantic Evanescence fan. I love rock music, and when I saw the video for Bring Me To Life late at night on MTV, I immediately went out and bought their first studio album, Fallen. I was ecstatic about the idea of a rock band with a talented female singer. The piano mixed in with the rest of the band on the songs was also another plus for me.
But this isn’t a review of Fallen. It’s been three years since that album was released, and I was very eagerly awaiting a new CD for many months, and it didn’t come. So when I heard that they were releasing a new album soon, I was excited. After so long of hearing absolutely nothing from them, it has to be amazing, right?
Co-founder and lead guitarist Ben Moody left the band at some point during the years between Fallen and The Open Door. I had hoped this wouldn’t affect the quality of their music too much (I knew that it would probably affect the sound, but I don’t mind a little different sound on a band), but I was wrong. Evanescence is seriously lacking without Ben Moody, and it’s very hard to describe on some level. Gone is the creative tension and magnificent mixing of guitar, piano and female voice found on Fallen.
The Open Door is not a bad album. But it’s more like an Amy Lee solo album than an Evanescence album. Her vocals are pumped way up over the other instruments or vocals. It also seems like the entire album is a “hey, look at how loud and pretty I can belt!” rather than an artistic collaboration of everyone. Her vocals are also very static—which is part of the comment about it being a show off CD. She very rarely drops into quiet, whispery singing. There is no variation.
And that is the big issue with the entire CD. If you don’t listen to the beginning of each song, by the middle of all the songs it begins to sound like the song before. The mixture of the music and vocals is part of this problem; when the heavy rock sound kicks in, Amy Lee’s vocals drown it out. In Fallen when the heavy parts of the song kicked in, they temporarily pounded over Lee’s voice. This gave the songs a change in the feel and tempo so it didn’t become repetitious. There is nothing like that on this new album.
There are some good songs and interesting mixtures of piano, violins, choirs, and distortion, but you can barely hear the music behind Lee’s singing to listen to the intricacies. “Lithium” and “Lacrymosa” are both interesting songs; “Lithium” is the song on this album that comes the closest to Evanescence’s old sound. I also miss the distinctive harmony that Lee’s voice and Moody’s distorted guitar made. It’s not just because the vocals are turned way up; the new guitarist doesn’t do the almost discordant note compliments to Lee’s vocals.
Unfortunately, this is not a different CD from a favorite band that slowly grows on you the more you listen to it. The Open Door is more grating and repetitious the more it plays.
All in all, I give it 3.0 quills out of 5.0. It won’t stay in my CD player for days like Fallen did. I know many of their fans like this album better than their first, but I’m not one of them. I’d say borrow it before you buy it to see whether the music engages you or not.
“Lithium—don’t want to lock me up inside
lithium—don’t want to forget
how it feels without
lithium—I want to stay in love
with my sorrow
oh but God I want to let it go…”
Monday, January 8, 2007
Wait for me, my princess pale
Wait for me in your false sanctuary
Cower within night’s concealing veil
My caged and broken albino canary.
Wait for me, quivering princess pale
I will come when the sunlight dies
Thirsting in the black for your fearful wail
And reveling in your nightly cries
You belong to me, my sweet princess white
With your raven locks and aphrodisiac tears
Your anguish and hate is my delight
Forever will I feed on your midnight fears
Each cry for mercy and every scream
Catalysts my mania, princess white
You are my release in this darkened dream
Though I wield a shining sword I am no knight
Princess pale, princess pale
Open your eyes and look at me
Beautiful princess, so small and frail
Of vice and pain, we shall never be free
Sunday, January 7, 2007
Seven year old Olive Hoover is given a chance to compete in
Paul Dano and Steve Carell both put in a marvelous performance as the Nietzsche-loving teen who took a vow of silence and the suicidal Proust scholar. Steve Carell plays a believable side that accentuates Dano’s silent performance. This hilarious pair almost carry the movie on their own.
Alan Arkin is alternatively amusing and touching as the grandfather, with a very controversial and interesting take on life. It was great to see a character daring to spout such things, and around a seven year old as well. His lack of political correctness was a welcome change. He reminded me very much of my own grandfather, with foul language and a heroin addiction.
Toni Collette plays Sheryl, a well-crafted mom who is the grounding for the rest of the family, and whose only vice seems to be smoking. It created an engaging dynamic to have a family member who is fairly normal and based in reality managing to deal with everyone else. As a side note, I appreciate her character’s take on parenting. I would have loved for my parents to be as straight forward with me when I was kid. Just because a kid is seven doesn’t mean that they are stupid and can’t figure out what is going on. Olive would have resented her later in life after she did figure out what had happened to her uncle.
Greg Kinnear as Richard makes you want to punch him in the face. Through the entire movie. If it’s not speeches on winners and losers and his “nine step” program it’s subtle manipulation of Olive to make her feel bad or open rudeness to his wife’s brother. He is very convincing, and by the end of the film you have some sympathy for this failed motivational speaker.
I do, however, have a minirant inspired by this movie. The way the contestants in the Little Miss Sunshine are dressed and made up is ridiculous. They are wearing adult make-up, adult clothes (two piece bathing suits), and strutting around like sex symbols. And they are scandalized about the dance Olive does, but see nothing wrong with seven year olds wearing pounds of make up, bikinis, and swishing their hips around? I mean really. Even the other dances that the little girls do are provocative in some way or another. And people wonder why our society has issues with pedophilia.
Besides that, the treatment of a seven-year old was appalling. If I had been at the pageant, I’d have found the performance amusing, if a little tasteless. I suppose it wasn’t high class enough sex appeal for the staff of the Little Miss Sunshine contest, or it was just so in their face they were unwillingly forced to acknowledge how disturbing their pageant was. They couldn’t pretend the issues didn’t exist with a little girl (who had won in another state!) dancing around like a stripper to the song “Super Freak”.
The ending is the only let down, I think, and mainly because it doesn’t really tie up any of the story arcs, except perhaps Olive’s. I didn’t expect a full tie-up of the character arcs because the characters are so complicated and the issues in their lives are not easily resolved, but I felt that not even their trip was finished. We assume that they get home without anymore amusing or dangerous incidents, but it would be nice to know. I just wished there was a little more closure to the entire story. To be perfectly fair, however, I can’t think of a better ending myself, because it is a very hard movie to tie up.
In an age of
4.5 out of 5.0 quills."Losers are people who are so afraid of not winning, they don't even try."
Saturday, January 6, 2007
Where has the shining love in her eyes gone,
The bounce and flaming color in her curl?
Only echoes remain of her Irish song
Oh, for her to dance and laugh in dawn's rays
And splash again in the cool summer springs
I would leave her and be alone all my days
And bring to life her lost, battle-slain king
In the heart of my emerald-eyed maid
I am not, nor will I ever be so graced
With the loss of her lord, her life will fade
Such despair the sunny girl has not faced
I am left to a lonely life of crying
While she, because of her woe, is dying
Morgon Luvall, 2005
Thursday, January 4, 2007
The song of the sea whispers in the night
A melody of death and despair
For the ocean might shine as a glorious sight
But its waves are made of unanswered prayers
The water glitters like a thousand jewels
Sapphires that are tears of countless lovers
Who hoped to heaven like such human fools
But the sea never returns the souls it covers
One day it is gentle as a loving maid
And other times a bloodlust emerges
Those that crease its surface on crusade
Are at the mercy of fickle surges
So all who brave the crystalline waves
Cross your chest and quietly pray
For the sea, on a whim, can be your graves
And in the blackened depths your limbs decay.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
"My father was a ranger of the east. He met my mother when an Elven Lord gave him shelter and food after he saved his household from raiders. Needless to say, they fell in love and married secretly," Aithne explained coldy, taking another sip of her wine.
"I take it he was a dark skinned man from Renau?" Dyaie commented, deciding to take this rare opportunity to find out more about this woman who could rival him in his every skill.
"No, he was a translucent skinned man from the Snowlends," she replied sarcastically, and a flit of a smile crossed Dyaie's lips. He did not comment, and was surprised when she continued.
"It was against my grandfather's wishes, naturally, but he knew his daughter well and was in debt to this ranger, so he allowed it. Secretly, of course. He was high standing enough that he couldn't risk it be known that his only daughter had married a human.
He hid her away when she was noticeably with child, and pretended my younger brother and I were orphans he had taken in out of the goodness of his heart. As a baby, my brother was always accepted by my grandfather's people, for he was entirely elf-like on the outside." Aithne's eyes darkened slightly, and she shifted her gaze from his face to the deep red of the wine in her cup. Unconsciously, Dyaie leaned closer to hear her better.
"I had the dark coloring of the Renau, and little of the elven beauty that was my mother's. The older I become, the more human I looked.
My family's household was invaded by neighboring dwarves after a dwarf was killed in a skirmish over a stream that was rumored to have gold. It was unexpected and they overran the defenses. My father immediately came to defend his wife and children." Aithne closed her eyes briefly, and the rain pounded on the window. Pain was etched across her features, and Dyaie knew she could see all of this clearly before her. He had no terrible childhood memories, but he could still see the bloody battles he had fought whenever his thoughts drifted to them.
"It was obvious when everyone saw the two of them together that my brother and I were their children. My father was slain in the battle, and after everything was cleaned up, my grandfather was forced to cast us from his house.
We became refugees, and were lost in the crowds of migrants trying to find better lives in the Borderlends or escape the skirmishes of their home countries. My mother was merely another woman fleeing with her children.
We managed to survive, and everything was starting to look brighter until..." Aithen's voice trailed off, and her grip on the delicate Elven glass was crushing.
"Until my mother realized she was with child again. It had happened right before my father's death. Now we had no home, no money, no father, and another baby was on the way.
War broke out in Renau, where we had gone to find refuge, and we were forced to flee. The Elves and the Humans were fighting again. One dark, cold night as we were running, my mother went into labor. We were forced to stop in a damp, freezing ditch away from the main road. She gave my brother a sleeping potion because he was so young, only four, and she didn't wish him to be witness to what was going to happen.
Elven births are extremely difficult, but the Elves are of hardy stock. But something to do with the unnaturalness of a union between elf and human makes birthing even more violent. Human women carrying half-elven children rarely survive, and Elven women almost always need the assistance of healers. My mother was underweight and it was bitterly cold. I tended to her through the night and the next day as she writhed and screamed and pushed. The next night I helped her finally deliver my sister; I was covered in blood and fluid, and I was helpless to stop the pain or the bleeding of my mother. It was as if she never realized she'd already given birth to the child within her, and the pains continued until she died from exhaustion and all the bleeding. My mother's dying screams had caught the attention of several Renau soldiers, who came to investigate. My brother was still sleeping, hidden in the tall grasses. The men saw my dead mother and the babe in my arms. They laughed about being rid of another Elf and defiled my mother's body. And then they demanded me to hand over my sister so they could be rid of the elven bastard, and I refused.
'It isn't no doll, girlie. I know yous found it, but yous can't keep it!' he shouted at me. Then I realized that they believed me to be human. I fought to keep hold of my sister, but they took hold of her and murdered her before my eyes. I was eight years old.
I had been cast out by my mother's people, my mother defiled by my father's, and my sister murdered. I certainly had no place in either world. I took my brother and fled to Kei, and there we grew up street rats. That is why I am so bitter, Aente. That is why I trust neither human nor elf, although I find my grandfather's offense against my family less grievous than what my father's people did." Aithne finished. Dyaie stared at her, horrified. To murder a child, a woman with child, or defile a woman or the dead wre the most heinous sins an Elf could ever commit. Any offenders were tortured and executed, although they usually took their own lives first.
Realizing that he had said nothing, he fumbled for words.
"Shigar is not an Elven name. Who was your mother?" he asked quietly, and Aithne finally raised her gaze to look at his face.
"My father was ranger Eikenna Shigar, and my mother was Alethiel Darowyn." she said softly, and Dyaie's eyes widened in shock.
"Alethiel Darowyn? The Sunstar?" He said incredulously, and Aithne nodded slightly. Dyaie felt bile rise in his throat and he had to fight to keep his normal cool expression. Alethiel Darowyn, or the Sunstar as she had been generally known, had been one of the most beloved maidens in the Elven kingdoms. She was renowned for her beauty, her kindness, and her blood. She was descendant of Kiroas Darowyn and Reinee Sunbrow, and relation to the lord of the kingdoms, Zathen I'Lod.
"You do realize, then, that you are the Darowyn heir since your uncle, Lord Darowyn's only son, died in the wars, and your mother perished in childbirth?" He asked her a moment later, and Aithne frowned, her features hardening.
"I do. But my surname is Shigar, and I am ugly to them. They may accept my brother, but he thirsts for humanity. No, Dyaie, my sister would be their heir if she had lived. But not I. And I do not want it." she replied firmly.
"You could create a haven for your people," Dyaie said, and Aithne's eyes narrowed.
"I could do that now, with enough work. The Halflings do not want a haven, and the Elves will not accept it." There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Aithne downed the rest of her wine in one gulp, and Dyaie uncharacteristically fiddled with the buckle for his sword belt.
"My sister was pale and fair-haired, but with eyes as dark as the Renau. She was beautiful, even as a newborn babe. I will never forget the sight of those soldiers dashing her head in." Aithne said softly, then rose from the table and gracefully left his presence.
Dyaie watched her go, and felt something stir in his heart.
"You are not ugly," he said, but it was too late. She did not hear him. A moment later he was glad, because he'd never meant to say it.
I don't intend this to be a particularly personal blog, so I am not quite sure how much of an introduction I should write to it.
Alright, the basics. I am an English major at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, which is perhaps the last place I expected myself to be at this point in my life. As a high school student, I was desperate to leave Huntsville, but when my plans for a gap year fell through I started at the local university. Hopefully after this semester I can transfer into the University of Georgia. I am engaged, I have a wonderful dog named Mina, and I am probably more of a hippie than I should admit. I am also a gamer chick, and at one point in my life I was a theater geek, but for many reasons that slid onto the back burner. Mainly for a less exhibitionist hobby, the art of scribbling in notebooks in the corners of coffee shops and during class when I should really be taking notes.
Anything else? Ah, as my Facebook account so eloquently puts it, "I hate zombies, mean people, and public restrooms." And that pretty much sums up my total amount of hate. Hence the blog title, "The Doormat Writer".
I don't really deem myself to resemble a doormat, it is more an interesting title and a metaphor for my humble writing situation. Take it how you will, but to be honest, it was the most unique title I could come up with. Not without lack of trying, mind you. It took me days to come up with this one. Yes, my career is already off to an awesome start!
I'm not setting out on this to be a professional blogger, although that would be a nice plus. I am more interested in the exposure of my work, and the chance to flex my non-fiction article writing skills which up until recently have been nonexistent. And to boot myself into writing more.
So let's see how far we can get with this.