1. I'm going to Las Vegas this weekend to celebrate my cousin's 21st birthday. This, in effect, makes me feel old. The last time I was in Vegas, it was for my BFF Gennia's 21st. Good times. Anyone have suggestions on what I should (and shouldn't?) do?
2. Wednesday, I received a lovely surprise in the mail - the Blue is for Nightmares series that I won from the lovely Tere! YAY, IT'S HERE! And it's so pretty and shiny! LOOK AT IT!!! (Yes, that is also my ARC of Sapphique acquired elsewhere, which I am busily tearing through. It is also very shiny.)
Thanks so much, Tere! Also, loved the Urban Outfitters bag wrapping. Good idea!
3. The talented Lady Glam is celebrating the release of her novella Cinders with THIS cool giveaway! Lots of stuff is up for grabs including an Amazon gift card and signed copies of the novella. Go check it out!
4. The sister and I came up with a BRILLIANT idea for improving your health (?) with the help of The Hunger Games and reading in general. BUT YOU WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL NEXT WEEK for my post about it. (We're trying to come up with a snappy name for it.) No, it does not actually involve hunger - well, unless you count the HUNGER to SUCCEED!!! Ahem. For the record, the sister is loving the books. This is a big deal because she is NOT a reader (and as she puts it, has the attention span of an adolescent boy - if I ever write MG, I'm forcing her to be my beta reader), so anything she raves about gets extra weight. I know, I know. I need to read the Hunger Games.
5. I finished reading Demon's Covenant and Lord Sunday this past week and a half. I've picked up where I left off in Sapphique. I think maybe I need a few days break from reading. I've been finishing and starting books without pause lately, and I think I need to figuratively catch my breath. Demon's Covenant, by the way, is so good. Better than the first.
Happy end of July everyone! And a special HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Icy Roses!
We chatted about various works in progress, which brought up my last year's NaNoWriMo story. The story, if you're curious, involves an esteemed old family, whose baggage includes an equally old curse that hasn't become any less deadly with age. It's supposed to sort of be my summer project, but I got distracted (okay, so really this is just my procrastination in action, but I digress). Alz and I then had the following conversation:
KRISPY: Part of what's keeping me from writing it is I still haven't figured out how the problem is solved. Like I know enough of everything leading up to the climax, but nothing afterward.
ALZ: What's after the climax? Falling action!
KRISPY: Well, maybe it's not really the climax. It's like I have from point A to point B, but not-
ALZ: But not B to Z?
KRISPY: Um, no. I was going to say B to C. There's only 3 points on my scale! A, B, and C! The whole alphabet is too complicated!
ALZ: Okay, so you can't get from B to C.
KRISPY: Right. I can get to the point where the big plot twist/problem is revealed and things are going wrong, but I can't resolve it. I even plotted with Luce! I told her everything, and you know how I hate to divulge secrets.
ALZ: And she couldn't help you figure it out?
KRISPY: No! She helped me un-complicate some things, but we got up to that point and both of us were stumped. I don't know how to explain more without spoiling you. It's like we're at the tip of the iceberg and we can't get down.
KRISPY: Or like, you know in math, like in Calculus, when you're trying to - wait, I take that back. You didn't take Calculus and I don't remember enough of it to make this analogy work. Um, oh! Okay, this one's a BETTER analogy. It's like in GEOMETRY, you know, when you have to do those proofs. You have the two statements and you have to use theorems and stuff to show how one gets to the other.
KRISPY: So it's like when you're doing those and you know which theorems to use to start off with. Then you get halfway through the proof and you realize you have no idea what theorem to use next to get to the end! IT'S LIKE THAT.
ALZ: YES! I know exactly what you mean.
KRISPY: I can't believe I just used a math analogy for writing.
ALZ: Yeah, that was pretty good. You should blog it.
KRISPY: I do need a post idea...
ALZ: DO IT! And write your story.
KRISPY: So, you know what's more mind-blowing than math analogies for writing? Inception. You should totally come with.
I still haven't figured out the rest of that
So in honor of that, I'm revising my Randomosity to include ice cream. I have had the distinct pleasure of being located around ice creamy deliciousness in the past few years, deliciousness which I will now share with you so that if you're ever in California, you'll know where to go. This, of course, also means there will be pictures of ice cream in this post. You have been warned.
Fosselman's Ice Cream Co.'s retail store, which is an old fashioned ice cream parlor/soda fountain, is located just a town or so over from me, but I had never gone there until like 2 years ago. The ice cream is handmade, fresh, and comes in 48 different flavors - some specialty and seasonal flavors. This is also a family-owned company, which is weird because my high school Vice Principal is a Fosselman.
In this picture, I think we had Chocolate-dipped strawberry, English toffee, Spumoni, Espresso coffee, Real Mango, and Fresh Peach.
2. Another ice cream place beginning with F, Fenton's Creamery is located in NorCal, specifically Oakland. Luckily for me, my alma mater is located around those parts. So my roommates and I went there to celebrate one of their birthdays, and a good time was had by all. Our mistake? Eating dinner right before going. The ice cream portions are HUGE there, or in any case, they aren't small and the ice cream is very rich. My roommate and I split a small self-created sundae- coffee & cookie dough ice cream drenched in caramel - and we couldn't finish it (and I ate most of it - I'm an ice cream monster, it's true). The next day, I wasn't hungry until well past noon.
Fun fact, Fenton's was featured in Pixar's UP. It's where Carl and Russel go for ice cream.
3. More ice cream good fortune happened while I was at Cal, the gourmet ice cream parlor Ici opened within walking distance. What's so special about Ici? Everything is handmade fresh daily from local and organic ingredients. They even hand-make their cones (chocolate-tipped and sprinkled with sugar), which I think I might enjoy more than the ice cream itself. Ici was opened by Mary Canales, formerly a pastry chef from the very delicious Chez Panisse restaurant (which itself is apparently known as "the birthplace of California cuisine"; went there for graduation and it was a good choice).
Here begins the BOOK half of this...
4. I finished reading The Adoration of Jenna Fox and wow! Though the premise was intriguing, it took a couple of reviews to convince me to put it on my library list. But I am SO GLAD I picked this book up. It was so good. Sure, there's the big questions about bioethics and man vs. nature/God and what is it to be human, but at it's core, the book is about a teenage girl trying to figure out who she is and what her place is in the world. It's about growing up and change and expectations and family and letting go. Out of all the YA books I've read so far since I went on my reading spree, this is one of the best. Yes, I liked it that much, but maybe I like existential questions.
5. I HAVE SAPPHIQUE! That did deserve ALL CAPS. You may recall I won an ARC from Steph Su Reads, and it arrived Monday and I ran around freaking out because it is gorgeous. I actually started reading it by Tuesday, but I didn't get too far, so I handed it off to Luce (since she is also super excited we don't have to wait until December to read it!). I hadn't finished Jenna Fox at that point anyway.
I'm reading The Demon's Covenant right now since the book is due soon and Luce has Sapphique. I am loving it. The snarky dialogue is a winner and was one of my favorite things about the first book.
(Special) 6. Avatar: The Legend of Korra, the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, was announced Wednesday as green-lighted and set to premiere in 2011. I am uber stoked about this! This time around, the Avatar is a teenage girl. One of the things I loved about the original series was that all the major girl characters were well-developed and strong in different ways. The new series takes place 70 years after the original series. There will be a steampunk city. Asian/Inuit fantasy world + steampunk + girl main character promises to be one EPIC WIN. So excited!!!
So yeah, it's been a long work week, but a great everything else week! What are you excited about? How will you be celebrating National Ice Cream Month? Have a fantabulous weekend!
P.S. I saw Inception this past weekend too. Do go see it/get your mind blown. (Actually, it's more mind-blowing after the fact when you start thinking about it too much.) Also, hot men in suits. Just sayin'.
Anyway, it must have been the random (Californian)cold weather and gloominess the past week (and the cold I caught because of it), but I've been feeling down. Every once in a while, the uncertainty and stresses of Real Life overtake me and I freak out. I wonder, what the heck am I doing? (Actually, I wonder this a lot, but it's all about the tone with which such wondering is done.) Is this getting me anywhere? Am I making the right decision?
Times like these, I usually end up shaking my fist at the sky and saying, Congrats Universe, you win! Everything sucks!
But the Universe is surprising and sometimes, it is even kind.
- At the end of my crappy-mood Monday, I got an email saying I won the ARC of Sapphique from the sweet Steph at Steph Su Reads. You don't know how much I wanted this sequel to Incarceron, and now I don't have to wait until the end of the year for it!!! I never actually think I'll win anything, but this was truly surprising! And what a mood lifter! Coupled with scoring some books from Tere just the week before, I think this is my winningest streak of luck ever.
- The ever awesome Elana posted about adjusting your thinking towards the positive on Tuesday, which was more than timely for me.
- I was catching up on some blog reading and ran across Inky's Pep Talk post from a few days back, which had the effect of giving me a pep talk too. By the way, if you follower her on Twitter (@inksie), she's celebrating having 200 followers with a contest!
- My horoscopes are strangely on it today. As in, they actually kind of apply and they're giving me a pep talk too. They say:
Leo: Think of your recent misfortune as an auspicious sign -- if you hadn't hit this bump and just carried on as usual, it almost certainly would have exploded in your face at exactly the wrong time! As it stands, you have plenty of time to fix whatever isn't working and get yourself back in the game. Be grateful for this down time -- at least it gives you a chance to take care of business with somewhat less pressure.
Tiger: When times are hard, you must be more energetic and determined than the obstacles that you face. Nobody has ever run the gauntlet and survived to tell about it if they didn't have the drive and motivation to make it through. Turn depression or feelings of disappointment into a sheer will to improve your situation as best you can.So the next time you're feeling down, do your best to push through it and stay positive. Sometimes, the Universe (and cool people) will really come through for you and remind you things aren't so bad. Chin up! You might make mistakes, but you'll get through it. Thanks Universe, and thanks everyone!
What are you grateful about this Wednesday? Has the Universe ever been kind to you?
P.S. Alz posted about Music and Writing on Monday. Check it out if you haven't yet! Yep, there are two of us here, but Alz is more reclusive than I am.
And I daresay that to a vast majority of writers out there, music is quintessential to the writing process. I've known writers who could hardly write a word without a song trickling through the computer speakers or earbuds, or a particular playlist going strong in the background. Music can lubricate the creative process, help set tone and mood, aid in the flow of words.
Myself, I'm not much of one for writing with music. I tend to find it distracting because I start concentrating on the song rather than producing narrative, and that's really not so great when I'm writing about knights fighting ninjas or a demigod decimating a city.
However, once in a while I do feel the urge for a little musical aid, either to match the scene at hand or as a general morale/creativity-booster. So here are a few songs that I find myself listening to now and again when writing:
1. All the Right Moves – One Republic
Krispy showed me this video. I'm impressed they manage to waltz to such a fast beat and still have it look so graceful. It's such a great song too. This is my catch-all mood-booster music, not for any particular scene or tone—it helps get my brain going and keep up some momentum.
2. You, Instrumental Version – Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
I haven’t watched this anime. All I know is that it's a psychological thriller involving cute girls going psycho and committing murder. But it has a beautiful image song, of which there are 2309480293842 variants, versions, and remixes—something like one version sung by each of the main female cast, this instrumental version, and numerous covers done by fans the world over.
With its melancholy sweetness and curiously wistful air, I listen to this song when I'm writing more serious scenes, albeit not necessarily sad ones.
3. Rose of May – Final Fantasy IX, cover by katethegreat19
I never finished playing FFIX, but you don't need to know a thing about the game in order to enjoy this marvelous cover by the talented katethegreat19. The original theme is wonderful by itself, but this cover is amazingly done—this girl does everything herself, from recording each individual instrument, writing her own lyrics, and mixing it all together. Check out her other covers—they're all amazing and enjoyable regardless of whether you're familiar with the originals or not.
This song works best for me when I'm working on a particular fantasy story involving a female protagonist enduring court politics and assassination intrigue, probably because I vaguely associate the heroine with the song lyrics and the music itself is so stately.
(Also, check out this video compilation that shows how she created the cover for the Cleyra Settlement theme from FFIX. Astonishing.)
4. Battlefield – Jordin Sparks
I first heard this song playing on the radio when I was at Big Lots looking for cheap yarn. I had the song stuck in my head for a week afterward, although the music video itself does nothing for me. The lyrics are a nice combo of epic and angst and determination.
This is another catch-all song that I listen to whenever, though I find I listen to this one more when the scenes involve action, from rampant worldwide destruction to ballroom dances.
5. Prospero's Magic – Prospero's Books (film)
Prospero's Books is a film by Peter Greenaway, an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. I had to watch it for one of my classes at school. And it is, uh, very artsy, with some fascinating visuals and some, er, bizarre moments. It's one of those films where I feel like I could easily crank out a half dozen analytical essays on etc. aspect of said film, because it's so very open to interpretation and analysis. I liked it overall, but I also have to admit to feeling a little bemused by the time the credits began to roll.
All that aside, it had a wonderful soundtrack. Much to my surprise, I was actually able to find the main track that I liked on YouTube, though embedding is disabled for this particular video. I like to listen to this track when I'm working on setting a scene or characters enter a new environment worthy of detailed description.
6. Sadame (Destiny) – X TV series
X is an anime/manga by the group known as Clamp, probably their top most famous work before xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles—and also infamously unfinished. There were issues with the magazine in which X was published and through one thing and another, Clamp stopped working on it. The TV series ends one way, the movie put out years earlier ends another, and the manga sits unfinished. But X is full of more angst, drama, trauma, betrayals, and plot twists centered around the end of the world than you can shake a stick at.
It also has an epic main theme of destiny, destiny, destiny. I listen to it whenever I need a little more destiny in my life. Or in my writing.
I think six songs is enough for now, though of course there are plenty more, including a few that I'd intended to share but could not find any samples available online. Do you listen to music when you write? Do you have a set playlist or specific songs you associate with a particular story? Do you create soundtracks for your stories? (I've done that last once or twice. It was pretty fun putting together a CD soundtrack by assigning songs and tracks to particular scenes or moments or characters. I daresay it helped me focus and write better, though admittedly the amount of time I wasted picking and choosing songs was considerable.)
BUT ENOUGH ABOUT THAT. It is FRIDAY, and I can't tell you how grateful I am for this short week. Well, let's just jump into the first of my random, random 5.
1. WTF Weather / Immune System Failure - It is JULY, which is full-on SUMMER in Southern California. This means an average of 90 degree weather, the ability to go swimming at 6p at night without freezing, and shorts shorts shorts all the time. I am wearing a long-sleeved cardigan and sweater dress as I type this. This is NOT summer clothing in CA. After the long weekend, it's been COLD (well, CA cold) and the weird fluctuating weather caused my immune system to malfunction and I caught a cold. A bitty one, but a cold nonetheless. IN JULY. Fail.
2. Octopus oracles and the World Cup - So my sister's friend made the hilarious suggestion that if Team USA, by some miracle, won the World Cup, everyone else would have to call the game soccer. That's obviously out of the picture now, but my sister remained very much into the World Cup because the other team of her heart is Germany. She cheered for them during the last World Cup too. I think this is the result of both of us having taken 4 years of Deutsch in high school (I took some in college too). Anyway, DID YOU KNOW that there's an octopus named PAUL who predicts Germany's World Cup game results??? He's not right all the time, but he gets it MOST of the time. His last prediction = Spain beating Germany out of the finals. Yeah, weird and freaky. My sister threatened to cook him up and eat him, and she doesn't even like seafood. I think I'll get her a vuvuzela to make her feel better.
3. Anime Expo - Anime Expo was also this Fourth of July weekend. Friends and I used to go back in high school, but we haven't been in years. (Yeah guys, if you didn't know by now, I'm a major geek.) It is HUGE now, taking up the LA Convention Center and spilling over into LA Live venues. The dance was even in Club Nokia, which is a major upgrade from JSA Convention-like ballrooms in hotels. Upon returning to this crazy event, I think Luce and I realized a little that we've sort of outgrown it, but it was still fun and hilarious. If you're an anime fan, I'd recommend it.
4. Karaoke in K-Town (sorta) - Of course, we ended the night with some good ol' fashioned karaoke, which was supposed to be in K-Town, but we had to change plans. In any case, karaoke is always awesome and funny and full of random surprises. Near the end of the night, I sang an old, kind of obscure Britney Spears pop song - like I think it was a B-side track. I didn't know all the words (that's what the screen is for), but SOMEHOW I remembered exactly how the song went - riffs and all. Yeah. My elephant memory sometimes surprises even me.
5. The Lost Books of the Odyssey - I just finished this book and it is so very good. If you love Greek myth or the Odyssey or both, you should definitely pick this up. The retellings are imaginative, and the style is perfectly evocative of the original voice of the Homeric epics. The words and descriptions are sparse but precise. I didn't think there could be so many different ways to retell the same episodes without it becoming boring or redundant. Also, Odysseus and Athena are totally like my OTP. Best story of a god loving a mortal ever - and not just because no one gets turned into an animal.
6. Shiny NEW idea - Just because I feel like I haven't talked about writing or anything related to that in a LONG TIME here, I'm adding a #6 as a bonus. I had a weird dream a week or two back, and now I have a shiny new story idea. It involves changing the past without affecting the future - a girl is saved from death but pulled into a future where she basically doesn't exist. Fun times! Now to give it a setting and some characters.
For my fellow Americans out there, how was your Fourth of July weekend? Indeed, how was your week? Will you be tooting a vuvuzela this weekend for any teams? I'll be cheering for die Deutschen and trying to decide if I should grow out my bangs...
P.S. My week just ended awesomely because I found out I won some books from the wonderful Tere at The Lesser Key! Yay! Go wish her a happy (belated) birthday! :)
Here's 4th of July trivia for you (because I love US history, srsly). Did you know both Jefferson and Adams passed into the great beyond on July 4, 1826 within hours of each other? Adams' last words were something to the effect of "Thomas Jefferson survives," but actually that was not true. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, no?
This post is sort of MOMENTOUS because it's A Nudge's 100th post! Amazing! Seriously, for us this is a big deal because there was a long while where this blog just sat around. Now it's sort of consistent enough to have 100 posts (and lovely readers like you to boot!). I think this calls for ice cream!
Lastly, many of you by now know that the casting controversy surrounding the film The Last Airbender is an important issue to me. I've briefly mentioned it here before, so I don't want to harp on this again too much. This is, however, opening weekend for the movie (and a long weekend at that - perfect timing for a wannabe summer blockbuster), which makes it time for a big nudge on the topic.
- When you go to the movies this weekend, please consider NOT going to the The Last Airbender because whitewashing is not cool. If you must go (because I know a lot of people are excited about it), please consider going after opening weekend. Thank you.
I found there are so many people who have already said what I want to say about all of this much better than I ever could. So I leave you with a few links, a few of my bullet points, and a comic because comics are fun.
Why I Won't Be Watching the Last Airbender Movie by author Gene Luen Yang.
Link: Facepainting - A well-written essay about the TLA controversy and the history of ____face. Plus, it addresses many of the arguments made in defense of the movie.
Link: An Open Letter to Racebending.com Detractors - Michael Le of Racebending.com explains racebending.com supporters' concerns and tries to clear up the misunderstandings surrounding the protest.
Quickie bullet points on some of the concerns I've heard:
- Why shouldn't I see this movie? Giving this film your dollars sends the message that whitewashing is okay and/or that we tolerate it enough to reward the studio for perpetuating glass ceilings for actors of color. The movie's success would also tell studios that they can get away with such practices, and would reaffirm the assumption that White actors are more marketable than actors of color.
- The best actors were cast for the role. It's disingenuous to say this when open casting calls asked for actors who are Caucasian - or any other ethnicity, phrasing that indicates preference for Caucasian actors. Would you audition or apply for a job that asked for blonds - or any other hair color if you weren't blond? At least, it would make you think twice about applying. Also, comments by the casting director show an offensive level of cultural insensitivity.
- There are Asians in the film, including in leading roles. The original cast had White actors in all the main roles (3 heroes, 1 antagonist). Dev Patel replaced Jesse McCartney as Fire Nation Prince Zuko. The casting of the Fire Nation was subsequently adjusted to match Patel, making it a nation filled with actors and extras of darker skinned ethnicities. Also, populating the background with extras who are actually Asian or Inuit does not make the movie "diverse."
- It's a fantasy. The cartoon characters' race isn't explicit / their look is ambiguous. Lord of the Rings is an epic fantasy as well, populated with characters whose race (other than if they're human, elf, hobbit, etc.) isn't necessarily explicit either. It's implicit from the world-building, the tradition of the story, and the intents of its originator. I don't question why Middle Earth seems mostly populated by Caucasian people even across species because I understand that the story is meant to be like a European fairytale/myth. It pays homage to the grand Nordic and essentially Western sagas and epics and the folklore of Tolkien's heritage. The Last Airbender cartoon series does this with Asian and Inuit cultures and traditions. It pays homage to them and uses themes and settings based in those cultures. I know culture doesn't equal race, but when you see an "ambiguous" bald kid with a name like Aang who looks like a monk, does martial arts, and writes in Chinese calligraphy, do you really assume he's White? And ambiguous or not, Sokka and Katara, at least, are clearly dark-skinned in the show. Taking the Asian and Inuit settings and traditions but making the representative characters of those things White says to me, "Hey, your culture is cool, but your face isn't."
- It's just a kids' movie/ it's just a movie. It's for entertainment. First, the film is marketed as a summer blockbuster, and like another "kids'" series, Harry Potter, it has cross age-group appeal. Second, movies are a way of disseminating culture. Yes, they're for entertainment, but they reaffirm and sometimes challenge our societal beliefs and systems. Even so-called throwaway, no brainer movies say something about who we are as a society because they are products of our society. Yellowface and whitewashing has existed for so long because it keeps getting reaffirmed; kids learn to expect White as the default race. So The Last Airbender film might be more of a "big deal" in its role as a "kids' movie"; think about what it's subconsciously teaching the kids.
From the fan side of it, fans are saying it's a horrible adaptation - too much exposition, bad pacing, clunky dialogue, uninspired fight scenes, and crappy effects (even worse in 3D). Worse than that, apparently characters have had all the heart and soul sucked out of them to the point where key aspects of who they are are underrepresented if shown at all. That's bad story-telling, my friends.
So yeah. If you want a family film to take your kids to this holiday weekend, take them to Toy Story 3, which is actually worth your time and money. Pixar understands compelling storytelling and genuine emotion. Better yet, watch Avatar: The Last Airbender, the original cartoon series, which I hear is up in its entirety (3 seasons) on Netflix. ;)
As always, I point you to www.racebending.com, especially their short video primer (it'll only take like 5 minutes of your time), for more information about the subject. They're civil, clear, and concise.
Thanks for sticking through that! I wish you sun and relaxation for this weekend! HAPPY 4th!