Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Post-Christmas!

I hope you're all enjoying the wonder of the holidays. I know I am, so much so, apparently, that I've neglected to post for a few days. Heh, heh...hmmm..yeah.
Anyhoo, Christmas was excellent. I got my first MP3 Player ever! I was pretty late in my decision to hop on the MP3 bandwagon, and when I did a little research I decided that I wanted a Creative Zen Micro - and that's exactly what my parents got me! Whoohoo!
They also got me lots of biographies of famous writers (Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Amy Tan, etc - crap, now that I means I have to go out and read Austen, Hemingway, and Tan!) Also, I got cute little bath kits, bubblegum, bubble bath, and of course - lots of money and gift certificates, most of which I spent today when Sisters #1 and 2 dragged me and Dad off to the mall to cash in on the crazy Boxing Day deals.
I did pretty well - I got Madonna's new CD, the Black Eyed Peas' and Kanye West's old CDs, Weezer, Fullmetal Alchemist #2, the soundtrack to 13 Going On 30 (because it had that Billy Joel song I was dying to hear - "Vienna"), and Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing, Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel, and two pairs of earrings. Of the Christmas money, all I really have left is the 25$ Chapters Gift Certificate from Uncle #1, and I'll soon use that when the whole family goes out on the Official Post-Christmas Insanity Book Run. Excellent!

Friday, December 23, 2005

I have links now!

I've mentioned in a few of my posts that I've been reading authors' (or writers') blogs, and so I finally defeated my laziness and put them up on the site.
True, Brokthor Goreflinger's blog is not technically that of a writer (specifically, he is an "Illegal Acquisitions Engineer" - a professional pillager), but it looks like it might be fun to read, and may follow an interesting storyline, once he publishes more than one post.

Christmas holidays are going excellently - I finished all my exams, and have been spending the free days reading through the Entertainment Weeklies and Locus issues that I've allowed to pile up due to my studying, so that I can hurry up and get cracking on my booklist already! Read read READ! Write, write WRITE!
I've finally started writing the first draft for "Aunt Tansy's Alma Mater". It's not going to well, but I'm going to fight through it to the end and see what comes out of it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Very Different Christmas

I guess once the snowball starts rolling, it's not going to stop until it reaches the bottom of the hill. More things are changing this Christmas, in order to make these holidays easier for the members of our family. We got a new tree, for instance. Our last one (we've never had a real tree in our house for Christmas, it's messy and stinky and probably not very environmentally sound), well, I can't remember not having that tree.
Every year, the family would put it together, than fumble and swear and grouch in tune to Bing Crosby holiday songs as they carefully arranged the lights - they were small, pastel-coloured fairy lights on strings, and we were always rearranging them to make sure the lights were distributed evenly, and one string always blinked no matter what we did, so we always had to arrange it so that it was on the back of the tree where we wouldn't notice it so much. Then came the gold-and-silver tinsel garland, and then came the ornaments.
The ornaments were much more fun to put on than the garlands and the lights, and everyone cheered up at that point.
Not this year. This year, Mum got us a lighted tree - one with the lights already on it and already evenly distributed. And we completely abandoned the garland. It's narrower than our old one, and the lights are different. I've spent my whole life accustomed to the fairy lights, to waking up in expectation to go down and see those fairy lights, and right now I can't help but distrust the new look, at least for a while. The bulbs that have come already-wrapped on the tree are larger, and come in bright, sharp primary colours. I can't account for why I feel so different just because there is a different set of lights, but I just do. I'm sure I'll grow out of it, or move out of the house - whichever comes first.
Also, I handed in my essay today, and had a surprisingly helpful tutoring session with my Philosophy professor. Tutoring usually doesn't help me, it's just my way of lessening my guilt at getting bad grades by telling myself "that I did everything I could", but I think I actually got the message this time. I guess we'll see. The waiting for the last exam is killing me though - to hell with time to study, I want the exam to be right now, so that I can get over it and can stop worrying for the rest of the Christmas Holidays.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christmas, Yay! Finals, Boo! Parties, m'eh...

Seasons' Greetings!
I've just had two exams, and I fearfully await the completion of two more, plus a take-home essay exam that I have planned but haven't written yet. I only thank God that the professer who asked for the essay is this cynical bohemian type who considers himself above caring about the rules of MLA citations, and doesn't give a fig for the amount of research you do. Yay for me.
I took my Classics exam - I expected it to be hard (I had to leave a disquieting number of questions unanswered on the midterm, and crawled out of there with a 75%), but this time I managed to study the right areas so I finished off the 3-hour exam in 30 minutes feeling relatively proud of myself.
Japanese was this morning - it was that delicious mixture of easy/difficult that comes from a subject that takes a great deal of work to master, but it so very entertaining to study that remembering everything is far from an impossible task.
In an hour and a half I proceed to my English final - a tricky piece of work that requires me to remember the names of Victorian poets and essayists (like WB Greg and his loathsome "Why are Women Redundant?" paper along with F. P. Cobbe and her intelligent rebuttal: "What Shall We Do With Our Old Maids?"), and what they were supposed to symbolize, and then write about them. I'm a little nervous about this one - I had no trouble remembering the novels I read, but for the papers and poems (as well as some of the discussions that took place regarding such fickle pieces) I admit that I drifted in and out of paying attention to them.
After that, however, the weekend is free for me to write that essay for Film Studies and read up on Symbolic Logic. Symbolic Logic is another sticky whicket - I got 97% on the Midterm, but the later half of the course was a shade more difficult, but thankfully the exam is cumulative.
More good news - it's cold again! How I have longed for a white Christmas! For the last few years, our winters have been unseasonably warm and brown. People used to blame it on El Nino, but El Nino is supposed to stop after a few years. In November, the temperature dropped drastically and we got layers of snow, but then in the earlier weeks of December these horrible warm winds came in and ate it all up. It's very hard to get into the spirit of Christmas when outside it looks like it's mid-March. Now its back to a lovely -19 degrees Celsius, and there is snow, but not a great deal of it. It's settled in fits and starts, coating everything in a delicate, thin layer like a sprinking of icing sugar. One day of -5 and all of that will be gone, and we'll be back to mud and puddles again, so I'm hoping that more snow comes down soon.
I may have mentioned that we are not having Christmas dinner at our house this year - instead it has been decided that we are going to Uncle #3's house (Uncle #1 being Dad's brother, and #2 being Mother's brother who is younger than her, but older than #3). Mum had been the pillar our family has relied on for the Christmas Feast since Nana and Papa's self-imposed exile to Condoland, and her wish to relinquish the duties this year has jabbed a sharp stick into the anthill, so to speak, with all the relatives flailing about to come up with some sort of alternative, and saying many things they didn't really mean that have placed a shadow over our anticipation of the festivities.
As amusing as it is to discover that Mum and her siblings can still engage in the verbal equivalent of hair-pulling and snowball-chucking and tattling to an extent that rivals the bitchfights I still hold with my sisters,I do hope they can mend everything by the time Christmas truly rolls around.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Patrick Dempsey's received a Golden Globe nod for Best Actor in a Television Series, Drama!
And both Jason Lee and Steve Carell have been nominated for Best Actor in a Television Series, Comedy!
I'll definitely be watching the Golden Globes this year.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Another Story Takes Wing (and movies are reviewed!)

*sniff* They grow up so fast...Yes, I did it - I followed up on my declaration that I would do the final polishes to "Desert Muse" and sent it out on Friday.
Yes, it was at the very last minute, but that's the norm for me - most of what I've done has been performed at the last minute, including my birth (wouldn't you know it, the day before they were going to induce labour, I came out all on my own, ha ha ha). But now it's out, and I feel satisfied. There was a long line at the post office, though - so many people trying to beat the Christmas rush created a Pre-Christmas Rush Rush. Human nature at its finest, eh?
I've been studying over the weekend - exams are coming up. I've been re-reading my Victorian poetry for the English final, and once again I'm surprised at how much reading Tennyson's Idylls reminds me of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. The descriptions of sword and shield, of battles in the lists, and especially the behaviour of Guinevere in Lancelot and Elaine - she could have been Cersei for how bitchy she was in that poem, what with her contemptuous disdain for Arthur and insane jealousy towards Lancelot for wearing Elaine's favour during the tournament. Whoo-boy.
Still, I did have some free time. Watched some good videos on the weekend - Fantastic Four and Lucky Seven, an ABC Original Movie starring Patrick Dempsey that I happened to find at the local video store (instead of the specialty Old Video store, which requires me to take a 40-minute bus ride there and back if I want to rent Mr. Dempsey's more classic films like Loverboy, Happy Together, and Run. Yes, Run. I want to see it. Stop looking at me like that! )
I'm a Marvel comics fan, and while my tastes tend to run more towards Spider-Man, I do have a working knowledge of the Fantastic Four. The film version was generally panned, and I can see why - the plot is silly, they never fight the Big Bad Guy until the very end (and then they defeat him by pouring cold water on him - I'm not kidding!), and it generally makes no sense whatsoever. However, I enjoyed it immensely. This film, unlike Hulk and DareDevil, tended to swing more towards humour, most of it based on the dynamics between the Four. Despite everything else in the film, this they did pitch-perfectly. The dialogue was sharp and funny, the interactions hilarious, and the characters spot on. Jessica Alba as the Invisible Woman didn't do very much, to be sure, but they didn't give her much to do other than look pretty and take off her clothes in public (!), which she does reasonably well.
Ioan Gruffold as Mr. Fantastic was better - he managed to portray a lot of Reed Richards' kooky, oblivious science-nerd charm, and they explained the creation of his superhero name with a hint of wit ("yes, yes, you're great, you're Mr. Fantastic!). Still, he couldn't hold a candle next to Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis as the Human Torch and the Thing, respectively. Chris Evans portrayed the Human Torch as a complete asshole - which is the Human Torch to a tee. It was great fun to see him square off against the Thing. Chiklis played the Thing with admirable charm, macho humour, and, yes, sadness - he was the most "human" of the characters, if you'll believe it, because, really, he's the one who got the short end of the Super-Power-inducing-Ion-Storm stick.
Lucky Seven was pure silliness. In an hour and a half, the movie contained a ridiculous, plot-starting life plan, a lawyer who hates her job and would rather paint, bagels and schmeer, a fake relationship (that ends in real sex!), two weddings, a man who quit his Wall Street job and gets dumped in the bargain, and a difficult choice between two gorgeous guys. Which should the motherless protagonist choose - the sexy, successful, loved-by-all-of-her-friends, blond venture capitalist? Or the sexy, somewhat less successful, had-his-tender-heart-broken-before, green-eyed Irish-American bagel shop owner? Money or bagels? Financial security or SCHMEER?
To put it in clearer terms, our Motherless Protagonist becomes motherless through cancer, but not before the soon-to-be-deceased matriarch plans a timeline of advice to help our Motherless Protagonist get over being Motherless. In the timeline, she plans for our Motherless Protagonist to go the Summer Camp, run for Class President, get a Law Degree, and settle down with her Seventh Boyfriend, He who is Prophesied to be The One For Her.
Fast-forward several years, our Motherless Protagonist has just broken up with Boyfriend #5: He Who Cheats, and runs into Blonde Venture Capitalist. Sparks and fireworks fly, but our Motherless Protagonist is frightened to take the relationship any further - after all, dating Blonde Venture Capitalist would make him #6: Almost Had Her, and she's destined to be with to #7: Wedded Bliss, and Blonde Venture Capitalist is just so perfect - he's rich, her dad likes him, and he buys her chocolate strawberries! She wants to have his Blonde Venture Capitalist Babies, but she can't defy the Dead Mother Prophesy!
So, she decides to make him #7 by a technicality - she takes up Bagel Boy (that would be Dempsey) on his offer of accompanying him to his brother's wedding and pretending to be his girlfriend in return for free bagels. She seeks to fool the Dead Mother, thinking that if she's publicly declared to have Bagel Boy as her boyfriend, that will make him #6: Close But No Cigar, thus pushing Blonde Venture Capitalist into the coveted #7 spot.
Yes, Poor Bagel Boy needs a Pretend Girlfriend - when his free-spirited bagel-loving nature inspired him to quit his Wall Street job for small business paradise, his gold-digging fiancee dumped him at the altar, and he needs the Fake Significant Other present at his brother's wedding to convince his clingy relatives that He's Over The Bitch. More chocolate strawberries, hands-on croquet lessons, and kayaking mishaps ensue, and pretty soon they're making the sweet, sweet, off-screen luuuuuurve (as the Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels would say). However, Bagel Boys wants a Real Relationship now, but our Motherless Protagonist dumps him (at a Pancake House, no less!) because she's in a rush to have Blonde Venture Capitalist's Blonde Venture Capitalist Babies now that he's firmly seated upon the #7 Throne.
However, (surprise, surprise!) Free-Spirited-Bagel-Loving-itis is apparently a sexually-transmitted disease, and our Motherless Protagonist finds out that she's become far less enamoured of her Time-Wasting-Lawyer Job, and of her Not-Free-Spirited-Enough Blonde Venture Capitalist, and finds that she much prefers Free Bagels with Schmeer to Chocolate Strawberries. Cue realization that Dead Mom's Prophesy was to be taking Figuratively, Not Literally! Cue Money-Shot of Patrick Dempsey's Smile! Cue Wedding Bells! Cue Credits! Cue mad, guilty giggling!
Yes, I enjoyed it. Yes, Dempsey was very good looking. Was it better than Tales from the Whoop: Hot Rod Brown, Class Clown, starring a teenage Tobey Maguire, a film I watched during my recovery from Spider-Man withdrawal? God, yes. Was it worthy of an Oscar? Hell, no. Here's to guilty pleasures!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I've attributed my love of reading to my parents, who had exceptionally good taste in the choices of children's books they read to me, and let me read once I was old enough. The Mouse Who Wanted a Cookie, The Missing Piece, the entire collection of Beatix Potter's books, and A. A. Milne. Mum always used to read to us the stories of Winnie the Pooh, and I love Milne's poems, especially "King John Was Not a Good Man". I watched the Winnie the Pooh animated series when I was little, but I grew out of it quickly, and it was never a favourite. I never watched the movies, either.
However, I never really minded what Disney was doing with the stories - until now.
Reading Neil Gaiman's blog over at, he brought to attention the fact that Disney, for it's next animated Winnie the Pooh series, has decided to replace the Christopher Robin character with a "six-year-old tomboyish girl", as yet unnamed, in order to "bring a breath of fresh air to the franchise". WTF?? You can read the article at
That, my friends, is heresy! What were the folks at Disney thinking? I'm trying to imagine the nitwits in the boardroom going over why, exactly, they saw fit to dissect the childhood memories of millions of people to tear out the beating heart of the A. A. Milne story and replace it with an cold artificial thing of mechanical moving parts that pumps sugar and anti-depressants in place of blood.
Maybe they thought that since there is only one female character in the Pooh crew (that would be the Roo's mum), that they were alienating the toddler girl audience. Balls. BALLS, I tell you. Girls and boys alike loved the books and the cartoons. Christopher Robin and the Rabbit character are suitably androgynous, and really, three-to-six year-old girls do NOT care - they like the stories. Since when has a four-year-old darling, with chestnut curls and the money of her doting parents in equal abundance, ever said, "Gee mommy, I don't like Winnie the Pooh. I feel alienated because there is no female character with whom I can relate to, and so the story has no emotional relevance for me anymore."
ARGH! Dammit, Disney - go back to doing what you do best: which is making faithful adaptations of fairy ta...wait a minute...
Damn. I guess this is just a regular workday for the Mouse House, then.

Best Birthday Gift EVAR!

Guess who's coming to town two days before my birthday!
GEORGE R R MARTIN! For his Canadian Book Tour!

Home For The Holidays!

Sure, I have to study my butt off for exams, but still - I don't have to sit through the completely ridiculous and unnecessary subject Symbolic Logic anymore! Huzzah!
Yesterday, I celebrated by going to Karaoke with the Mixed Chorus afterwards. The place was packed, and as such I didn't get to sing more than one song before I felt it best to go home so that I could wake up at a reasonable time to start studying. It was very fun - the two DJs were really crude, but I grinned and beared it. The whole room would sing and dance to the more popular songs, to the point where some songs had to be sung from memory because the dancefloor in front of the screen projecting the words was too packed with dancers.
"Ra-Ra-Rasputin, Russia's Greatest Love Machine!"
"I've got friends, in loooooooow places...."
"Play us a song, you're the piano man...."
"It's now or never, I'm not gonna live forever, I just wanna live while I'm alive - IT'S - MY - LIFE!" This was especially popular.
The two social organizers of the choir had really good memories, it seems - after I sang, both of them sought me out to tell me how good it was that I came, and that they hoped I would come again. (I'd like to - but I'll either have to find a ride for next time, or save up for the $20 cab ride home) Their attention baffled me - it was just karaoke, but to them it seemed to be as if I'd passed some bizarre initiation ritual to be really "in" with the Mixed Chorus (despite the fact that I missed half of this year's Christmas concerts due to cold and cough).
Oh, and the song I sang?
"Can't Buy Me Love".
"Oh, so you like the Beatles?" *blush* "No, I like Patrick Dempsey." ^_^;;;

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Writing Track

I haven't been keeping up on reading my authors' blogs, and I probably should. Reading about other writer's progress makes me all frantic to keep up, and spurs me to write more. ^_^
I should probably think about setting up a list of all the links to the author's blogs I visit, because most are quite fun to read. Some, true, aren't really by authors, but by people connected one way or the other to books and writing. Those would be Ms Snark, Literary Agent ( a very helpful agent from New York who answers dozens of questions on her blog every day - to the extent where many doubt her claim that she actually is a literary agent, seeing as she spends so much time answering writer's questions. Bollocks! If she wasn't an agent, then her answers wouldn't nearly be so well-informed as they obviously are.
The second exception would be Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels (, written by women who are unabashedly devoted to the Romance novel industry, but not afraid to call them on their shit, when they see fit to produce shit.

Still, moving on - I've been riding along with a fairly even pace through George R. R. Martin's Clash of Kings. A Feast For Crows appeared in the mail a few days ago, and I'm in a rush to catch up so I can start reading the new book.
I've noticed something about novels and writing style - depending on the style, I read books slower or faster. I use the metaphor of a track - reading George R R Martin and JK Rowling is like riding a rollercoaster on a neverending slope downward - I'm drawn in and in and keep reading faster and faster until I reach the end. They're that good. Other authors have a style that's read more awkardly - Ian. R. MacLeod, for instance. Reading Breathmoss and Other Exhalations was like driving a rickety stationwagon over an unpaved dirt path littered with giant rocks and gaping potholes. Bounce, bounce, jolt, bounce - very rough, very meandering, very slow to get through.
My style, well, I enjoy it, the way a child might enjoy a jostling cartride along a flowering forest path - it goes all over the place, and it's hardly smooth, but I have a sentimental attachment to it. I think it all goes back to adjectives. Speech tags, upon closer examination, don't really grab my attention unless they're grossly misused. Adjectives, though, and the tongue-twisting names and new concepts often introduced in science fiction and fantasy, can provide obstacles in a writer's style, a rock on the path, if you will. A good fantasy writer, something I'm desperately striving to be, should learn how to add all those touches in such a way so that the passage of reading is smooth and uninterrupted by confusion.
So, I'm trying to do that for The Boy Who Would Be Queen. It's working, but mostly because I tend to unwittingly copy style from the author I'm currently reading - George R R Martin. I'll have to polish it more into my own style (presuming I even have one yet...^_^;;) during re-writes and revision.
Now, I'm back to school and waiting at the mailbox - I'm expecting the last of my Christmas presents (I'm done all my shopping!), a rejection/acceptance letter from CICADA Magazine, books from Green Man Review, and Locus, the December issue with an interview with Robin Hobb!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Cancel Christmas!

There were good things and bad things about today.
Bad things first - I'm still coughing up a storm, which meant no Choral Rehearsal for me today, which means I can't perform during the Choral Performance tomorrow. It's a tragedy, I know, but maybe I'll be in better health when I go to karaoke with the chorus on our last rehearsal this Wednesday.
Also, I made my first attempt to find a replacement sweetie for my Mum's snowballs. Snowballs and fudge used to be a Christmas baking tradition at our house, but with my development of a dangerous allergy to pecans, snowballs have become verboten and we've had to look for other baked delights to fill the sad-looking void next to the squares of chocolate fudge on the seasonally-decorated plate.
I found a recipe call Mocha Bites - which mixed instant coffee and cocoa and butter together into small, round coins that were rolled in sugar afterwards. Mum and I (mostly Mum, because of my cough) made them, but when they came out and were finished, the reaction was less than stellar. My mother said they were too bitter, my sisters said they weren't as good as I had hoped. My dad ate one, and said "They're not bad." I ate them, and while I thought they were nice, they were dry. They were the kind of dessert that I wouldn't hesitate to eat if they were being served at a stranger's house, but not the kind of cookie that I would want representing Casa AnimeJune.
Horribly disappointed, I tossed all three batches into the sink (after eating fifteen). Afterwards, however, Dad and Sisters #1 and #2 wailed, tore at their hair, and demanded why, why, why had I been so heartless and wasteful as to dump those delicious cookies into the sink? They then proceeded to salvage as many of the cookies from the garbarator as was possible (about half a dozen). Well, excuuuuse me.
Good news now - we've cancelled Christmas!
By which I mean, we've refused to hold a Big Christmas Dinner at our house. We've done it almost every year since Nana and Papa moved to the condo, and while it's a pleasant affair for those who eat the food and retire to the cheapseats with coffee and fudge afterwards, it's a pain in the butt for those of us, and I mean the people who own the house, who have to clean it up afterwards. It's tiring and frustrating and has to be planned very meticulously in advance, and very often Mum and Dad are too exhausted to enjoy Christmas dinner as much as everyone else.
Relatives have suggested other alternatives, but none of them were appropriate, and would, if they didn't make it even harder than it already was, make the dinner more uncomfortable for the guests as well. So, we've decided to do just hold a Christmas dinner for us, Mum, Dad, me, and sisters #1 and #2 (#1 has volunteered to cook the turkey - she's in Food Sciences). And it's not a complete cancellation of Christmas, and nor are we isolating ourselves from our family members. We're still going to have a big Christmas Eve dinner at Nana and Papa's condo before going to Mass, a gettogether that is, allegedly, much more popular with the aunts and uncles and cousins than our dinners.
I think it's going to be a pleasant change - the work that went into the big Christmas Feasts had arisen to the point where we dreaded the approach of Christmas - and it should never go that far.
And, I've already bought all my Christmas presents. Huzzah!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Striking While the Iron is Hot

Yesterday, my cough worsened to the point where it felt like I was being uncomfortably squeezed around my mid-section everytime I hacked something up - the effort it took for coughing strained my diaphragm and the muscles of my back.
So I stayed home, drank soda, read George R R Martin, fiddled with my homework (it's dwindled due to the approach of exams, but I'm become horribly lazy concerning it all the same), and wrote some more pages for The Boy Who Would Be Queen. By the way, that's just a working title - my mother thought it was gimmicky, and I have to agree, but it was the only think I could come up with at the moment.
However, I haven't had any trouble writing down for that story. It's amazing - sometimes I have to force myself. Reading the Willow King is stillborn - I have no passion left for it. I think the reason is that I'm writing Boy right when I'm feeling passionate about the story - and the act of writing creates momentum for the passion that keeps me writing. If I plan a story (like I did for Willow King in August), but don't write it, it goes to seed. I have to keep writing if I want to keep involved with the story - that's what helped me finish The Shining Empress, because I kept writing at it regularly, and it keep the iron hot, so to speak.
Well, live and learn, I suppose. I can always come back to Willow King and try and ressurrect it someday, but for now, I'm going to focus on Boy.
Also, I've been dilly-dallying for Desert Muse. Next week - I will send the story into the Challenging Destiny. You all heard me. I'm going to do it - if Mum can't read over it in time, well then, too bad.