Monday, December 28, 2009

On the 4th Day of Christmas... I give you Russell Crowe

Today is the fourth day of Christmas. (Or third, depending on how you count it.)*

After a week of holiday crazies, I'm back at the computer today, but I have my Christmas music going. I am in love with Tori Amos's Midwinter Graces. I also bought Sting's If on a Winter's Night with my Birthday iTunes gift card, and I really like it, too. Both have winter/holiday/Christmas music that isn't the normal overplayed, overproduced schlock you hear in the mall loudspeaker, so they actually put me in a good mood. (I managed to get through the holiday with only one trip to the mall, and that was to the attached bookstore.  Yay!)

Today I'm slogging through my mailbox so that I can enjoy the rest of my winter break. I haven't played nearly enough Rock Band to suit me. I have, however, baked a ton of cookies, knitted fifteen scarves, moved all the furniture in the guest room, shoveled my desk out from under all the crap that seems to accumulate on it, watched Terminator: Salvation (which I liked much better than reviewers led me to anticipate).

Oh! And my favorite Christmas present?  The discovery of the trailer for Robin Hood. Oh, Summer 2010. How will I stand the wait for more Russell Crowe/ Ridley Scott historical bad-assery?

Now I must go finish answering email so that I can go watch Gladiator about a kazillion times.

Happy Holidays!

*If you've missed my rant lecture explanation in previous years, the "Twelve Days of Christmas" aren't the ones leading up to the day, but rather the twelve days between Christmas Day and Epiphany on the Church calendar.  Unlike the secular season of Christmas, which the retailers kick off in November, the actual religious holiday doesn't start until the 25th. The season preceding is "Advent" and not "Black Friday."  (I think of Mall!Christmas as a socio-cultural holiday like Thanksgiving and Valentines Day and a completely different animal than Church!Christmas. If anything, I wish they'd just call it something different, so that the non-Christians don't hate us so much for inflicting Santa Claus and "O Holy Night" on them.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

AVATAR (no spoiers)

First off-- It's Friday! That means a post over on This week: Seasonal sense memory, and writing. How they go together. It's awesome, go read it.

Next-- Schleped out to the midnight showing of AVATAR last night/this morning. You may have heard a little bit about this movie. When something I want to see is getting a lot of hype, I always try and see it before the reviews come out, so that I can enjoy it untainted. Too many times I read a review that points out flaws that... yeah, sure, maybe, but while you're enjoying in the movie, you don't notice. Until you're standing at your refrigerator later, or someone points them out.

So anyway. No spoilers here. The movie was visually stunning. Saw it in 3D and it was WELL worth the surcharge. It was one of those movies where I felt so immersed in the world, it was a little weird coming back out of it. The alien characters were just amazing. Jaw dropping realism in the scenery. I totally bought that they could have gone to this planet (or moon, I think) and shot this movie there.

A friend of mine described the story as sort of Dances With Wolves meets Ferngully, and I can't say he's wrong. The plotline did call up echoes of DWW... and many other 'wounded warrior goes native and fights against the evil imperialists' stories. But seriously, are you going to see this movie for an original, twisty plotline? No. You're not. Does that make it any less enjoyable? Not to me. I was invested in the characters, I wanted to see the bad guys get theirs (in truly spectacular fashion), and I was totally and completely rooting for things to work out for the hero. Not to mention his love interest, whom I loved; I'll say this for James Cameron, he loves a strong female protagonist. (Rose from Titanic was more willful and bratty, IMHO, but Neytiri is awesome.)

When I say it wasn't twisty, I don't mean that I knew how everything was going to play out. I know Sherlock Holmes will out the murderer by the end of the movie, too, but I can enjoy watching it unfold. There were times when I really didn't know HOW they were going to get out of their pickle. (This is where reviewers sometimes miss the point, I think. Sometimes you don't need complex characters. You need someone to fill an archetypal role so that the cool stuff can happen.)

Worth the hype? Yeah. I really think so. Definitely worth seeing in the movie theater, whether you do 3D or not.

[Also, saw the trailer for Alice in Wonderland. I would SO want to see that if Johnny Depp didn't look like a horrible creepy clown. The only thing that creeps me out more than Johnny Depp in a Tim Burton movie is clowns. (And Santa.)]

Monday, December 14, 2009

Carol(e) of the Bells

I have to confess. One of my favorite Christmas albums growing up was from the Muppets. Dr. Teeth's band playing "Run Run Rudolph" is priceless. (When I hear the Beach Boys version on the radio, there is a disappointing lack of yelling, so I add my own, a la Animal. RUN RUN RUDOLPH!!!

Animal may be a big part of why I love to play RockBandDrums. So as you can imagine, I found this rendition of "The Carol of the Bells" pretty hysterical. I love the Internet.

(PS This video is in dubious honor of my awesome friend Carole, who is a bell ringer (an actual Carole of the Bells). :-D)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Field Trip Friday

Looking for a field trip? Swing by where this weeks topic is Angels and Demons (the movie), Up (also the movie), and the old "gun on the mantle" axiom of writing. When is a Conveniently Useful Character Trait a carefully laid groundwork and when is it just clumsily convenient?

Also, Check out the ridiculous amount of cute that happens in my house every day. It's a wonder Chez Clement-Moore doesn't implode.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


So, I really love Beatles Rock Band a ridiculous amount. I love the songs, I love the little cartoons, I love the random screaming girls. Forget vampires and werewolves. If I were a teen during Beatlemania, I would be on Team Paul. I'm sort of on Team Paul now; Rock Band Avatar Paul really is really rather cute.

Of course, it helps that I love the music.

Playing Beatles Rock Band reminds of my my teen theater geeks friends. Between matinee shows we would put on Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and dim the house lights, and have elaborate air guitar concerts. My friends Tom and David loved the Beatles, and I can't help thinking about them and my other CATS friends when I hear those opening riffs of that particular song.

Anyway. Rock Band. I've determined that playing bass is really my niche. I don't want to devote the time to really practice to get good enough for lead guitar, and that stupid kick drum is my downfall when I play drums. After embarrassing myself at Rocksgiving at my friend Jenny's house, I have gotten in sufficient practice that I hope not to repeat my humiliation when we have a rematch.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Field Trip!

Hey guys. Every Friday I will be posting over at the Genreality blog. It's a fun blog with authors from mixed genres: romance, urban fantasy, mystery/adventure, and more! Today I'm taking about introductions, as in, introducing your characters to your reader. But I also blather about Carmen, Harry Potter, and Little Women. (Please go check it out! It's my first post, and my fragile ego needs stroking.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Done or Dead? DONE!

There are authors, or so I’ve heard, who work at a nice, steady pace, and writing the end of a book is no different than writing the middle of the book.

That’s not me. It does not matter how long I’ve been working on the book, how steadily up to that point, how smoothly (or not) it’s been going. The last week of work is crazy. Full immersion, all take-out, no laundry, little sleep, (few showers)…

It’s not necessarily an issue of OMG I have so much work to do before the deadline. (Though… well. Sometimes.) It’s more a case of being the zone, immersing myself in the book-world for the last push to completion, and not letting anything take me out of it. Not errands, or cooking, or laundry… Eating is a distraction, and even if I’d like to sleep, I spend the night staring at the ceiling thinking about the book, so I might as well be up working on it.

We call it ‘done or dead’ mode here at Chez C-M, and everyone hates it, but they’re pretty supportive. Mom holes up in her rooms and says a lot of rosaries. I’m not sure if it’s for me finishing the book, or to keep from killing me. (I admit, I’m like a hibernating bear and will attack if you get in my cave at this point.) Mr. RCM picks up take out. I stock up on dog food, coffee, soy milk and people chow (aka Go Lean cereal, which I live on during done or dead mode. That and Smarties.)

So when I finish a book, I feel a lot like Rip Van Winkle. I’ve been in another place, and I’m surprised to find the world has been going on without me. I don’t know what’s going on in the news (What’s the deal with Tiger Woods? Do I want to know?). My fridge is empty, the sink (and counter) is full of coffee cups and the garbage can is fully of take-out wrappers. My car battery is dead because I haven’t left the house in a week, but I do have clean clothes, because I’ve been wearing sweats and pajama pants the whole time. I cannot see the top of my desk, because it’s covered with mail, catalogues, printed and scribbled on manuscript pages, and sticky notes everywhere.

So the first thing I have to do when I finish a book is take a shower. Then eat something. Then put coffee cups in the dishwasher. Then look at my e-mail and who hates me because I haven’t answered them in two weeks. Then excavate my desk and make sure they’re not going to turn off the gas or water because I haven’t paid the bill. (I do pay bills before I go into ‘done or dead’ mode but for some reason, more of the darn things are always coming.)

Normally I go to the grocery store, but my car battery is dead.

And THEN, when I’ve taken care of the dogs, the laundry, the most pressing business, then I take care of myself. I get a massage to work the kinks out of my shoulders. I get a celebratory piece of cheesecake. I catch up on all my TV shows and the movies I’m behind on. (I finally get to set up Beatle’s Rock Band! Oh, Rock Band, how I’ve missed you!)

But really, I can only handle a day or two of that. My mind is already brimming with ideas for new books, new projects, new adventures for beloved characters. But first there are Christmas decorations to put up, and baking to do, and shopping and errands, and grocery shopping and laundry and dishes and I have to get a new battery in my car and…

And wow. I’m already sort of missing done or dead mode.

Question of the day: I know a bunch of you just finished with NaNoWriMo. How did YOU reward or pamper yourself afterward?