Friday, December 30, 2011

Fine Art: A gem of a book to write in

Look over to the right at the top  and you'll see a beautiful gift my daughter, Liz, made for me..

Here's another perspective:

It's a beautiful little book. It inspires me to ask myself - as a writer, how will I fill pages in 2012?

I eagerly anticipate writing my second novel to be posted in weekly chapters on this blog.

This blog will turn one year old in 2012 and I look forward to writing the birthday post and the 100th post.

If possible I plan on writing some guest blogs for the Bettyverse. (And anyone else that asks me. I'm not proud.)

I also look forward to writing comments to as many blogposts as I can for all the blogs written by my lovely cyber-space cronies. Thank you for allowing me into your community!

How will you fill pages in 2012?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fiction Novel: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Author: Stieg Larsson, Movie: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Part 2

Skip the books & the movies

Okay let's finish this and move on:

The American film is truer to the book than the Swedish. Strange huh?

I don't recommend the books any more than I do the movies. If you're already acquainted with the material, I welcome your opinion. No offense to the estate of Stieg Larsson but he doesn't have much in the way of voice.

In the book and the American movie, Lisbeth deals with her guardian in such a way as to also protect other women from him.

The book goes even further. The name of the book in Swedish translates to "Men Who Hate Women" and Lisbeth continually refers to that.

In a conversation with Mikael, she also takes Harriet to task for letting years of killings go on by running and hiding instead of telling someone about her brother. Mikael attempts to defend Harriet by pointing out that Harriet didn't know her brother had taken over the killing when her father died.

But even then Lisbeth does not let Harriet off the hook and IMO rightly so. If Harriet had spoken to someone about what happened to her, he would have been caught or, at least, caught sooner.

As far as the American movie weakening Lisbeth in the end by breaking her heart at the sight of Mikael with his other woman, the book does it also. My daughter, who saw all 3 Swedish movies, says that it had to be done to set up the next books.

Lisbeth and Mikael end up together in the end of the third book but believe me, their romance is definitely not worth the effort.

In the book Lisbeth does not ask Mikael if she can kill the killer. She makes sure Mikael is alright and then goes after him much like the Swedish version. Leaving aside whether it's right or wrong for her to have gone after him, do American men need to give women permission to wreak vengance on their oppressors? I think that's really telling.

In the first blogpost I mentioned the American version taking bits of Lisbeth's genius and giving it to Daniel Craig. Actually they were just more accurately following the book.

The depravity is still there, though and I agree with Delia's comment to the first blogpost. The book, IMO, is "torture-porn" using the excuse of  "bringing awareness or empowering the victims." I, like Delia, question Larsson's version of empowerment.

As to the Millenium Trilogy, don't waste your money or your time, my friends.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fiction Novel: The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, Author: Stieg Larsson, Movie: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Part 1

Three Dragons and the one and only Daniel Craig

In preparation for a long weekend in which I knew I wouldn't spend a whole lot of time with my gkids because they would have other holiday obligations and the need to play with their new stuff, I checked out books and grown-up movies from the library.

For some reason I decided to watch the first two movies in the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. This would not generally be my choice of entertainment but I can sometimes live in a created world long enough to watch a movie when I don't want to be in that world long enough to read a book.

The trilogy is out as movies made in Sweden. I was a little confused but I now realize that only the first is out in theaters as a Daniel Craig movie here in the states.


So I watched the Swedish made version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Then I thought, enough of that. I don't want to watch the second movie. No thanks.

Certain things my mind wouldn't let go of, though.

In the Swedish movie 24 year old Lisbeth is a psychological ward of the state due to things that happened when she was young. Her kindly guardian dies and the new one turns out to be sexually abusive. He has control over her money and his plan is to make her do what he wants whenever she needs money.

After he makes her give him a blow job, she decides to secretly video their next meeting so that she can catch him forcing her to give him another one for more money. Except he has something much worse in mind. He handcuffs and ties her to a bed and brutally, anally rapes her.

When she goes back the third time, she tasers him and ties him up. She anally rapes him and then shows him the video she made of him doing it to her. Then she tells him how it's going to be. He's going to leave her and her money alone and he's going to insure that she is declared competent. Then she tattoos 'I'm a sadistic pig and a rapist' on his stomach.

I am bothered by the fact that she only protects herself. The tattoo would only be discouraging to someone he plans to get naked for. He doesn't get naked for her either time. What about his other wards? Why doesn't she give thought to protecting them?

Eventually Lisbeth gets involved with journalist Mikael helping him to solve the 40 year old disappearance of  a 16 year old girl named Harriet. In the course of their search, they find out that first Harriet's father, then her brother have been serial killing young girls. Father has died a year before Harriet disappeared and brother is killed at the end of their search.

Harriet is still alive. Living in another country. Again I'm perturbed when no one addresses the fact that she knew about the killings and for forty years she never once tried to stop them. She was, in fact, researching them before she disappears. Are we expected to believe she just moved on to a happy life?

So then, of course, I have to see the American version to compare. Do they talk about this in the American version? Also, is it in the book? What other differences are there?

Looking up the movie times, I also looked up Stieg Larsson who died in 2004. He witnessed the gang rape of a young woman when he was only fifteen and was depressed all his life that he didn't or couldn't help her or stop it.

Really? And yet, he doesn't have either of the women in his book think about anyone but themselves? Or does he? I haven't read the book.

As far as the American version is concerned, there are lots of disturbing differences. One good thing, though. Lisbeth does force the guardian not to sexually abuse any other wards.

In both movies, she's strong against the guardian. But the American movie weakens her tremendously in other ways.

The way that most infuriates me takes some explaining. In the Swedish version when she goes to rescue Mikael from the basement of the serial killer brother, while she is freeing Mikael the killer takes off in his car. She makes sure Mikael is okay then goes after the killer. She forces him to drive his car off the road and roll it several times. He is upside down and begging her to help him because he can't get free and gas is leaking everywhere. She stands, watching, smoking a cigarette. The car blows and kills him.

She and Mikael later talk. He asks if it was an accident. She says yes. He asks if she could have saved the killer. She says yes. He tells her he would never have let him die that way but he understands why she did.

In the American version, she frees Mikael and asks him - "May I kill him?"

What? What? Why in the hell would she ask permission? She doesn't take suggestions let alone ask permission. That so pissed me off!

So now I know, I'm going to sift through the damn book and see how it was originally.

Also, at the end of the Swedish movie, you see Lisbeth in another country living it up on money she has taken from an evil financial empire. The head of that empire had tried to set up her friend, Mikael earlier in the movie. She and Mikael bonded sexually and otherwise but she wasn't invested in a conventional, monogamous, romantic relationship with him.

At the end of the American version, Lisbeth buys Mikael an expensive leather jacket and goes to drop it off at his apartment only to see him leaving with a woman he's been peripherally involved with all along. She throws the jacket in the dumpster and goes off into the night with a broken heart.

Again, what the fuck? No way. No. W ay.

I know this is getting long and I'll try to wrap it up but there are two other bothersome things.

One is that in the American version, they take bits of Lisbeth's genius and give them to Mikael. Okay, Daniel 100% gorgeous Craig, needs to be the hero but it really takes away from the dynamics and from the character of Lisbeth and why? It even screws up the almost cute meet between Lisbeth and Mikael from the Swedish movie.

Lastly, I want to say something about depravity. The state of being unnaturally or abnormally wicked, evil or perverse. Abnormal means it should be rare. And shocking. And it used to be both of those things in all media outlets, books, movies, television. Not so now. Now it's commonplace. And I don't like it. I want to be tolerant but I read for escape among other things and I don't want to escape into depravity. I really don't understand why anyone does. I know it exists in real life but in very rare instances, not commonplace.

Are you bothered by this?

I realize that this was only about 2 dragons. The third will come in next time when I compare to the book. Unfortunately there is no Daniel Craig to look at in the book. Maybe I need a poster.

Friday, December 23, 2011

winter solstice

As the Earth tilts on its axis

May you sleep soundly through the longest night of the year

Waking fresh to embrace the little extra time

The new day brings.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Romance Novel: The Peach Keeper, Author: Sarah Addison Allen

PeacE and PeacHes

"If anyone had been paying attention to the signs, they would have realized that air turns white when things are about to change, that paper cuts mean there's more to what's written on the page than meets the eye, and that birds are always out to protect you from things you don't see." The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

If you have read my blog for a while you know, I've talked about SAA before. Here I talked about her book, Garden Spells. And, on May 9th I talked about The Girl Who Chased the Moon. For some reasons my archives won't yield that one up right now.

Anyway - I love Sarah Addison Allen. Her truths resonate with me. And she creates worlds I want to live in.

"Being met by the sharp scent of chocolate mingling with the moist scent of brewing coffee had a dark, secretive feel to it, like Willa had finally found the perfect place to hide." The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Who wouldn't want to be there? Not only does heroine Willa own the sporting goods store that contains this wonderful coffee shop, she doesn't have to run it. Her magical assistant, Rachel, runs the shop while keeping a journal of what people drink and their mood when they order it, developing a coffee-drinkers science. (Of course, she could have created even more magic if she had Robena or her mother to read the coffee dregs left in the bottom of her drinkers' mugs.)

All Willa has to do is drink the coffee and eat freshly baked oatmeal cookies with coffee icing. Yum.

"...He had abuse written all over him. It had happened to him. He had delivered it. It was so much a part of his psyche that he couldn't look at another person and not imagine how they would look with bruises." The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Have you ever met people like this? They make you uncomfortable for no particular reason you can name. My thing is, I don't want to ignore the warnings my psyche sends me and yet I don't want to judge people unjustly.

"Fate never promises to tell you everything up front. You aren't always shown the path in life you're supposed to take. But, if there was one thing she'd learned in the past few weeks, it was that sometimes, when you're really lucky, you meet someone with a map." The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

I've had people like that in the past. People with a map to where I want to be. Sometimes I can take the path they took, and other times I just have to blaze my own trail. If there's one of those people out there at the moment, make yourself known, would you? I'd like to know if I'm headed in the right direction.

It's funny but I bought this book thinking the title of it was The PeacE Keeper. Then I put it on the shelf and didn't read it forever. I'm not sure why. When I picked it up to read it, I saw the title was the PeacH Keeper.

PeacE, PeacH, whatever. Sarah Addison Allen has written yet another wise and entertaining read.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Work In Progress: An appetizer

When I started to write this I thought I'd have more by now. Then menopause reared it's powerful head and I've been in a fog for a couple of days.

Still, there's this much. It's a little taste, the appetizer, the opening, of the new novel that I'm ALMOST ready to write.

Veronica Ryder couldn't remember when the dimes started coming. They dropped out of vending machine change returns at her feet. They appeared in parking lots beside her car when she opened her doors. She found them when looking for things like recipes or telephone numbers, lying alone and random, on tables. They multiplied in her purse, and played in her pockets, driving away quarters and nickels. They stared out at her from pictures taken by friends who didn't realize one could be driven crazy by the mere appearance of coins.

She couldn't even remember when she knew they were a message she was sending to herself.

Just like the owls. She had counted five random owl sightings before it occured to her that something was up.

Then came the coyotes.

On the way to Sunday lunch with her friends she made the third coyote sighting when one darted across the road in front of her. She began to think she was losing her mind.

Carla Spears and Georgia Thatcher were sitting at a table digging into the chips and salsa when she arrived. They each looked to be halfway through a bottle of beer.

"Where's Maddie?" Veronica asked.

"She's on her way. She sounds mad," Georgia said.

"Maddie never gets mad," Carla said, "must be serious."

Next comes a part that I can't write yet cause I need to research but I will say that Maddie (Madonna Lyons) has been wronged by a mysoginistic man who puts on demolition derby events.

Veronica was glad she'd only drank one beer and one cup of coffee. She'd been in good shape to drive everyone home. Now alone again after dropping her three friends off, her thoughts turned back to the dimes. And the owls. And the coyotes. The message was still muddy but it was like a car windshield; the wipers were making places of visibility on the glass and soon it would all be clear.

The dimes were easy. Cyclical changes. New things happening. Her life was headed in a new direction. She needed to stay alert for signposts directing her course.

The owls were about being lead out of darkness. Or leading others out of darkness. She wasn't sure which was appropriate this time. They could also be harbingers of death but that didn't resonate right now.

The coyotes were a little harder. They were known as the tricksters. Either she needed to be on the lookout for someone trying to trick her or she was going to trick someone else. That last one was hard to believe.

Her instincts told her the crux of the message centered around that asshole Crosby Yates and his treatment of women, like Maddie, at his events. Was she going to trick Crosby Yates? That was a scary thought. He was a scary man.

So much of the story is there waiting to leap out onto the page but like Veronica's windshield, it's still muddy.

What are you writing right now?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Loud and NOT clear

It's raining. That's right, again. Or should I really say still. I mean it did stop and the sun came out for almost a whole day but in the grand scheme of things lately, that wasn't much of a break.

This is significant because yesterday when it wasn't raining, and, in fact the sun was shining, I woke up early. Well, early for me. Earlier than I absolutely had to and that is, I won't say unheard of but definitely rare.

And I decided to take a trek. The pool is just not working out for me anymore and better to face facts. I drove to a small park close to my work and trekked for a bit in the sunshine with my ipod. Then I went to work.

I thought to do the same thing today's raining. Although I won't melt I don't relish changing clothes or being wet at work, so, maybe tonight. I hope. I really can't commit to this trekking thing yet, though. We'll see.

I just realized I've had 5 owl spottings in the past couple of weeks. Yesterday there was one on the side of the road, down on the ground, about to do the owl-takes-mouse thing. Today there was this:

I came upon it by clicking cake wrecks on Julie's blog. It was made by Nevie Pie Cakes.  I know owls are very significant and I'm trying to give myself some message. I'll have to do some research. Later. Or maybe I can sneak it in on break at my sucky job.

And, of course, the damn dimes are just as persistent as the rain.

How do you message yourself? What's speaking to you lately?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Little Rebellion

So at my sucky job they have a new way to torture me. xmas carols. Do you know how much I hate xmas carols?  A lot.

I decided today to do something subversive but subtle. I made my screen saver rotating 3 D text that says - MERRY AXIAL TILT.

I wanted to say Axial Tilt is the reason for the season - but that is too long.

A very small rebellion that may go completely unnoticed by anyone but it makes me feel better.

Yeah, I'm a hellcat.

Tell me about your small rebellions. Come on - you know you got some.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Romance Novel: The Winston Brothers, Author: Lori Foster

Fostering Smiles

I like Lori Foster. It surprises me considering that she does something I detest. Let me explain...

When I was young I used to snag my mother's Harlequin romances and read them at night, in bed, under my covers, with a flashlight. I got bored and quit reading them at around age thirteen for two reasons.

One - they always ended in a chaste kiss in the sunset of their marriage plans. I didn't buy it or want it, even at thirteen. Let me tell you - Lori Foster doesn't do that. No way. Some of her books even carry an erotica label in the library.

Two - the old Harlequins always featured a reformed rogue and a near virgin. Lori Foster does do that. I hated that double standard. And I still do. So why do I love her books even though it embarrasses me that I do?

 For one thing, her virgins or near virgins are never that way for morality purposes. Also, they don't typically have their general dislike of sex overcome with a need for sex with the newly reformed rogue. Oh no, they are generally seeking out sex and eager for it. That's a little more believable.

The series I'm currently reading started with 3 short stories in a book titled The Winston Brothers. That was followed by the second book in the series, Wild, about the fourth Winston brother, Zane, and the gypsy he falls in love with. Her name is Tamara and she falls in the category of virgin eager to learn about sex.
She said low, "I want you for sex."
..."I want you," she boldly continued, fanning the flames, "to share your body with me, and let me give you mine."
Slowly hypnotically, she lowered her lashes and added, with a small shrug, "That's all."
Zane resists but not for long. Eventually he gives her everything she wants and more. He succombs to the 'Winston brothers curse'.

Stories of the Winston Brothers leads to a second series called the Visitation series. It starts with Say No To Joe about crude cousin, Joe Winston, who falls in love with Luna Clark and the two kids she takes on to raise.
"All right!" Brows drawn, expression stern, she said, "I have two kids."
...Finally, eyes watering, Joe sputtered, "The hell you say? Must've been one quick birth."
"Are you going to be serious or not?"
Joe clutched his aching ribs. "Believe me, sweetheart, I'm as serious as a nun on Sunday."
The Visitation series has five books: 1- Say No To Joe, 2-Secret Life of Bryan, 3-When Bruce Met Cyn, 4-Just A Hint, Clint, and 5-Jamie. Those I've read are light and funny and definitely kept me turning pages.

Like the book The Winston Brothers, the book Tempted is three stories of related people; Dr. Daniel Sawyers, Annie Sawyers and Max Sawyers. Max is a reformed rake from the beginning of the book. He's reformed for a unique reason.
He was on a bride hunt, and since his bride absolutely had to get along with his dog--he was marrying for the dog, after all, to give Cleo a stable home and the love and acceptance she'd never had--he couldn't help taking note of the somewhat tenuous friendship forming right before his eyes. It amazed him.
Of course, Maddie, the one woman who understands his dog, doesn't want to get married. She just wants sex. With Max. So he has to convince her to want more. And he does.

That's a different take on the old Harlequins that always featured a hero who wanted no part of marriage and an angel who changed his mind.

Lori Foster takes part in several anthologies also. One such anthology is Hot and Bothered which features her story, Luring Lucy. Lucy is the story of a woman who was widowed right before she divorced and the best friend of her dead/ex husband, Bram, who is in love with her.

Whether what she's written is long or short, if Lori Foster wrote it, I want to read it!

She's a very prolific writer. Go to her website to check out her bibliography.

Are you surprised about your enjoyment of a certain author? Who? Why?

I made my embarrassing confession. Your turn...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lovin Lori and quilt block pics

Lately I've been plowing through Lori Foster books. I surprise myself by enjoying them immensely. I'm going to write a genuine novel truths blog about them this weekend when I have time to savor the writing.

Meanwhile - quilt block pics -

Kat's first:

This is at the center of hers. It's a picture she took at Garden of the Gods in Illinois. Here is the whole block:

Jay's is a product of his current interests in writing and drawing graphic novels and being a cartoonist. 

Smurf Village.

Good effort on both of their parts, I thought.

Tonight is my daughter, Liz's senior art show at her college. I'm so excited.

And, of course, I'm just generally glad it's Friday and I'll have 2 days away from the sucky job.

What are y'all up to?