Monday, April 30, 2012

Media Monday--Review of THE CABIN IN THE WOODS

Perhaps a better title would be: Kind of a Review, But I Don't Want to Spoil the Entire Movie. Having said that, there will be spoilers below, and since I'm too damn lazy to write *SPOILER* before every single one, if you don't want to know anything about the movie, stop reading now.

If you don't care, read ahead.

Cabin is one of those movies where you watch the trailer, and you think you have everything figured out. "Oh, it's a horror movie, people are going to die, blah, blah, blah." Let me go ahead and tell you: YOU HAVE NOTHING FIGURED OUT. Are there horror elements? Absolutely. But there is something much, much bigger at play here and to be totally upfront and honest, it's the kind of thing that social historians/movie critics/hipster psychological majors love.

(If I've offended any historians or movie critics by lumping you in with the hipsters--I apologize. To you, not the hipsters.)

If you want to get super introspective (which I try not to do on a Monday, but what the hell), Cabin isn't so much about college students being massacred in various ways as it is about the viewing public's craving to watch it happen. Wes Craven did something along the same lines with Scream, poking fun at the cliches even while playing into them. The entire Scary Movie series (which I love with all my heart) didn't poke fun, but instead rather blew everything up and out of proportion, so you had to laugh at all the stupidity that seems to run rampant in horror movies.

And there is a lot of stupidity. Take I Know What You Did Last Summer. I'm sorry, but there were mistakes being made all over the place by those four knuckleheads. First mistake, if we want to go super prudish, was the entire drinking/sex sequence at the beach. Second, was not sticking the two guys in the backseat so sober boy could take care of drunk boy. Third mistake, obviously, not calling the police, because, really, the excuse about "nobody will believe I wasn't driving" is pretty much bullshit, tied in with the whole "there's alcohol everywhere" bit. The town looked a little rundown, but I'm pretty sure they had some sort of Breathalyzer test. Fourth mistake, not making sure the guy was dead. Really? Seems pretty fucking obvious to me. Fifth, dumping the body. Sixth, making a pact to never say anything--nice way to hem yourselves in, guys. Seventh, when crazy shit starts happening, not going to the police--again. I won't go on, because after that, they just start piling up more and more. The point is, there's a lot of stupidity.

Cabin's characters make mistakes, but I'm loathe to say they're stupid. To be honest, they seem like the kind of mistakes most people would make, even after they've outgrown their hormone-laden youth. Poking around an abandoned gas station? Yeah, I can see that happening. Poking fun at the crazy looking guy who's also pretty creepy? See that happening, too. Getting offended all to hell and back when said guy calls the perfectly nice female a derogatory term? I know people who would have started brawls over that. All they did was pay for the gas.

Other mistakes--hard to explain away. Me, I would have decided to vacation somewhere else when I saw the two-way mirror. I wouldn't have changed rooms than covered the damn thing back up. A little nutty there, don't you think? I also wouldn't have gone down into the cellar when the trap door "magically" opened the fuck up. Maybe I just haven't been in houses with cellars (since I live in Florida, this is a definite), but I don't think the non-blowing wind from outside can push open a door facing the front direction. Sorry, I'm not buying it. Finally, I sure as shit wouldn't have gone and started playing with stuff that looked really fucking out of place in a cellar, culminating in reading Latin words from a backwoods, uneducated girl's diary. Because the sudden appearance of a language that would have been completely out of her depth isn't suspicious at all.

And then--things get really interesting.

Now we start to see more and more of the standard horror movie conventions. The totally out of place and inappropriate sex scene, resulting in the death of at least one person (usually the bad girl/slut/whore--whatever you want to label a sexually free woman). Follow that up with a series of deaths and narrow escapes, culminating in the death or salvation of the paragon of virtue--the Virgin. There's a funny line later in the film where the Virgin references her non-virgin state and the Director replies, "We work with what we have." The only way to avert disaster is to follow these guidelines--otherwise you risk angering the Gods.

Which, of course, is what happens. The Virgin and the Fool (who is not foolish at all and someone I would totally hang out with) unveil the inner workings of the Cabin and set the entire plot on it's ear. There's a very funny scene involving a merman which I saw coming about three seconds before anyone else. And yes, I did laugh like a loon.

In the end, the world cannot be saved because the guidelines for the sacrifice--which, funnily enough, are the guidelines for a horror film--haven't been followed. The Gods rise up and smash humanity down.

There's been speculation--so much, I can't remember where I first read the idea--that the Gods are the film stand in for the audience. That we, the viewing public, require certain things in a film in order to be satisfied with the final product. When those guidelines are broken, we get all super pissy and wrathful and go apeshit. Having read more than a few reviews where a movie didn't fall into line and people got annoyed, I'd have to say it's a damn accurate theory. Even more, the standard stock characters of horror movies--the Whore, the Athlete, the Scholar, the Fool, the Virgin--are stereotypes found in society at large, and speak to our need to punish and reward based upon the breaking or accepting of societal standards. I'm not going to go any deeper than that, because this review is already super long, but suffice to say that I wouldn't be surprised if a thorough study of the genre were to reveal a live/die ratio related to societal approval of the various stock characters.

All in all, Cabin is a movie that entertains even while it makes you think. Those are a rarity in this day and age, so kudos to every person involved in the making. To quote myself (Yes, I'm going to do it), this movie is not fucking awesome.

It's awesomely fucked up.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Food Friday--Pineapple Upside Down Cake Cocktails

I discovered the most amazing thing when I was planning my housewarming party last week: Cupcake Vodka. Doesn't it just sound delicious? And it is. Even more amazing, they apparently have like five different varities. I only got one, because while I like to indulge, I don't like to overdo it. Anyway, with my brand new vodka, I "invented" a drink. Since it's already summer here in Florida (we never actually had a winter, maybe something like a mild spring), I was very much into a tropical/pineapple deal.

Enough yapping--on to the drink!

2 oz. Cupcake Vodka
2 oz. Butterschotch Schnapps
4 oz. Pineapple Juice

Mix everything together. Stir like crazy. Pour over ice. If you want, add some grenadine for color or extra sweetness.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Random Thursday!--Paperwork, Peneii, and Craziness

Today, I am full of randomness! Stuffed to the gills with it!

Paperwork. I have to go re-sign paperwork from a month ago because someone screwed something up. It's an error in my favor, but I still hate having to waste my time to go sign papers because no matter what time you go, it always takes forever. You could be the only person in the store and it would still take five flippin' years.

Peneii. Or whatever the plural of penis is. And no, I'm not meaning this in a happy way. I currently have no penis of any kind in my life (yes, I know, it sucks horribly). I just mean men in general and men I work with specifically. I've discovered something, something no one will ever tell people with ovaries and it's absolutely astonishing. Wait for it--if you act like you want to screw someone, you can get away with murder. That's it. You don't even have to screw them. You just have to pretend like you want to. You can get away with shit that no other person in the history of the company could possibly get away with. Why? Because the majority of men think with their penis. Which is why I refer to them as peneii.

Psychotic Bitches. This kind of plays in to the mini-rant above, because for whatever reason, peneii adore psychotic bitches. Really, they do. They may also be scared to death of them, but they adore the hell out of them. It's like they're attracted specifically to the craziness. Don't get me wrong, most women go psycho at some point. After all, we're putting up with peneii. But I'm talking about the women who are just bat-shit crazy on the regular. Everyone knows someone who is constantly in the middle of some sort of drama. And you want to feel bad for them, and maybe you do, but then they go off the fucking deep end about the most ridiculous thing ever and you just sit back and think, "You're a fucking lunatic. I DON'T feel bad, not in the least." It could be I've seen more than my fair share since I've been in the service industry for a while. This is possible. It could also be possible that I seem to attract these types of individuals into my circle, because I'd be willing to believe that, too. Either way--THEY ARE RUNNING MORE AND MORE RAMPANT THESE DAYS. WHERE WILL THE MADNESS END?!?!?!?!

Okay. I feel kind of better now.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writing Wednesday--A Song Stuck in My Head

So, I'm currently working on Shades of Blood, with a little Winged thrown in for creative inspiration and the edits for Harvest Moon Rising. My playlist, as always, is eceletic and not really geared toward any one work in progress.

And yet, there's a few songs that seem to continue to resonate, not just for me personally but for the books as well. Like all the books. Which is unusual.

Kelly Clarkson, Let Me Down. Maybe I'm cynical. Okay, scratch that, I am cynical and I make no apologies for it in the least. I think that's why the song appeals to me--there's such a strong, fatalistic quality about it. A relationship is doomed before it even starts sometimes and you have to make the choice to ignore that and wind up heartbroken or walk away.

Rascal Flatts, Come Wake Me Up. This is another one of those heart-wrenching songs that I adore. I'm not a big fan of bouncy, happy music for regular listening. I'd much rather daydream to the kind of song that will twist your heart and soul inside out. This one does that in spades.

Adele, Rolling in the Deep. There is no reason I'm so in love with this song. Yes, it's awesome and yes, Adele knocks it so far out of the park it's a speck on the horizon, but there is no actual reason for it to play so well when I'm writing or editing. And yet, it does. Maybe it goes back to being cynical and more than a little vicious and wishing I had the guts to eviscerate someone so beautifully. Yeah, that's probably it.

Like I said, other than being a little on the depressing side (yes, even Adele--listen to the chorus--there's heartbreak there), they don't really have a great deal in common. And there are songs that actually play better for each book on an individual basis--for Harvest Moon Rising, it's Rascal Flatt's, I'm Moving On--there's a line that says "I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong" that sums up Cari's thoughts and feelings perfectly.

But for whatever reason, I keep coming back to those three songs. So if for whatever reason you're curious about the source of some of the emotion and volatility of the books, look no further than those three pieces.

Tomorrow--the return of randomness!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday Buildup--Shades of Blood

Just like the title says--excerpt time! You may have already seen this on my Facebook page--if you have, then, will, wait for new stuff next week. For everybody else, enjoy!

I have returned home. After all my years traveling, searching, learning, I have come back to the place of my birth. If it were possible to cry, I would weep tears of joy.
But like everything else, that simple pleasure is long gone.
In over fifty years, very little of New Orleans has changed. The Market, Café du Monde, the Mississippi-all are still here, all my old haunts. My old hunting grounds.
The foolish still flock to Bourbon Street, still take part in its crassness. I have seen the fall of civilization more on Bourbon than any other place in the world. The foolish still flock, will continue to, even while myself and others like me prey on them.
The building still stands. Still blood red. I thought I could stand the sight of it, that looking upon it would no longer cause me terror. In part I was right. I feel something beyond terror, something for which I have no words. I feel grief for the acts I have committed, will commit.
But most of all, I feel rage. Rage and a hatred that causes all other emotions, even that nameless terror, to pale in comparison.
I have returned home. And now, at last, I will have my revenge.
                                                            -Taken from the diary of Felipe
                                                                           November 28, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2012

Media Monday--Review of Nora Roberts's THE WITNESS

If there is any one person I'm a fangirl of, it's Nora Roberts. I read Divine Evil when I was around... 13, 14? I really don't remember, I just know I was way too young for the book. Did that stop me from reading it and pretty much every other Roberts book I could get my hands on? Nope. Nora Roberts is one of the few authors who, no matter my age, has stayed on my automatic buy list. Considering the number of books I've read, that's a big deal. The only reason my TBR pile isn't huge is because I don't just read random stuff, I read what I know I'm going to like or something with a higher than  50% chance of liking--but I'm digressing.

Roberts's latest book, The Witness, fits the mold of most Roberts books. Damaged heroine? Check. Strong beta/weak alpha hero? Check. Quirky side characters? Check. Antagonist who is actually scary and not just kind of scary? Check. Some people point to these traits of Roberts either being in a rut or simply phoning it in.

I politely tell them to go shoot themselves in the foot.

Look, every genre has a pattern. It is why, in essence, it's a genre. You don't pick up a Stephen King book expecting to find romance and fluffy kittens. By the same token, you don't pick up Georgette Heyer and expect to find zombies and disemboweled. But again, I digress.

The antagonist this time around is the Russian Mafyia, personalized by a charming man and his not so charming actions. The heroine is unique in that she seems almost Mary Sue-ish, but that only serves to highlight the way in which she isn't a Mary Sue at all. It also, to me at least, showed how even the best of things can actually harm you when taken to extremes. The hero is the kind of man that every woman believes they want just once and then they can move on and then they end up falling in love with them. And there's a dog. There's always a dog in modern day Roberts books and most of them are rescue dogs, a cause I believe is near and dear to the author's heart. Since she doesn't bludgeon the reader with her beliefs, I'm fine with the references.

I can't really give details on the plot because then why the hell would you want to read it? I can tell you that I teared up, which is kind of par for the course, but is also a marker for how good or bad a book is--if I don't cry during a book, there's probably a problem. I can also tell you that if you enjoy Roberts's books, then you will enjoy The Witness. Go get it. Read it. You'll like it. I promise.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Random Thursday!

Today's randomness  includes:

House cleaning. Despite the best efforts of my mother, grandmother, and sister, I am not a natural housekeeper. I can cook and keep up with minor stuff, but I am not one of those women who has a ruthless cleaning schedule and adheres to it strictly. Example: I currently have about...5 loads of clothes that need to be put away. They're clean, I just hate putting them up, so I haven't done it yet. I must tackling this today. I must also deal with random odds and ends since I'm having a party on Sunday, which brings me to the second bit of randomness for today.

Housewarming Parties. I get that when you first move out or you get married, you may actually need one of these. But I've been living on my own for about seven years--if I need something at this point, it's not the kind of thing I'll be getting as a housewarming present. So why do we continue to call the first party thrown at a new residence a housewarming party? And really, is the name applicable in the middle of summer? Wouldn't you rather have a housecooling party? Things to ponder, along with random bit number three....

Neighbors. I don't consider myself anti-social but neither do I consider myself neighborly. I like to think that's one of the reasons I live in an apartment--I like the idea of people but not the actual contact. So you can imagine my discomfort when my neighbor actually introduced herself to me yesterday. It wasn't planned, not entirely, but part of me wonders (yes, I'm that suspicious), especially since she mentioned she'd been meaning to introduce herself. About the only time I have contact with my neighbors is when I leave them a note saying "I'm having a party, we'll be done by midnight, if we get loud knock on the door, don't call the cops." So I'm already a little weirded out by my neighbor. Because they were friendly. Ah, the wonderfulness of being jaded and cynical.

That's it for today, folks! Check back tomorrow for the return of Food Friday, where I'll be sharing a few recipes involving pineapple (it's my feature party item!).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Writing Wednesday--Do NOT Feed the Trolls!

I will admit to being one of those people who is ridiculously entertained by a fight of any kind. Really, any kind. Doesn't make a difference who the people are or what the fight is about, there's a retty good chance I'm going to be happy as hell to just sit back and watch.

Pretty good chance. But not an absolute. Case in point--comment/review wars.

I'm not going to link to examples or even mention sites because I feel that would be doing what I'm saying not to do in the title. I just feel like, to paraphrase and modernize a slightly offensive joke, fighting over the internet is a lot like the Special Olympics--even if you win, you look more than a little special.

Just keep that in mind, folks. Lest you become the troll under the bridge.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Harvest Moon Rising--We Have a Release Date!

That's right--Harvest Moon Rising is finished! Technically, it was finished on Friday, but I had to work like 30 hours this weekend, so the news is late.

Harvest Moon Rising is currently with beta readers, and I'm doing by own read-through and edits/re-writes before shipping it to my amazing editor, Lea Ellen Borg. The release date is, at this moment, May 4. Yes, it's a little later than planned, but sometimes life gets in the way. And I'm still going to do my best to have the next Jude Magdalyn book, Shades of Blood, out by the end of May. I'm shooting for June 1, since it's the start of my vacation and two days before I turn thirty--I like to use major events as release dates.

So, you get two more weeks of snippets and whatnot, before you get the actual book in your hot little e-reader hands. Try not to ruin any manicures with the nail-biting.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Media Monday--My Heart Will (Still) Go On...

This is a little late, but last week I was working like...80 hours, so I didn't get some things done. And unfortunately, blogging was one of the things on that list. Now that I no longer have something akin to Damocles' Sword hanging over my head, it's back on the list.

Anyway, this weekend was the 100th anniversary, for lack of a better word, of the sinking of the Titanic.

I was fascinated by the story of the Titanic before it hit the big screen. I'll be honest, I don't even remember when I first heard about the doomed ship. I do remember reading the book A Night to Remember when I was the eighth grade or so. My mom stumbled across it at a garage sale and thought I might be interested in it. I read the book, and promptly went in search of other information.

My ninth grade history project centered around Titanic. I spent weeks on it and a lot of money, lol. I pored over old books, photocopied old pictures (this was only like 1997--it was definitely still old school), and went above and beyond the call of a high school project. I can only think of two other instances where I put that much effort into a school project--one of those two involved analyzing past and present tombstones and the other was a study of the legal and social ramifications of the Storeyville District of New Orleans. Yes, I chose strange projects.They made me happy.

So, obviously I was excited about Titanic when it came out in 1997. I couldn't give two figs about the love story. I wanted the history, man! I wanted to see this amazing ship in all its recreated glory! I wanted to see actual history unfold!

Which is why, even to this day, Titanic is one of my favorite movies. James Cameron has the type of vision that is, I think, limitless. Combine that with a painstaking attention to detail and the ability to tell an amazing story (which I know from experience is NOT easy), and you have all the makings for an epic movie. He proved that again with Avatar, something I didn't jump on the bandwagon about until maybe 9 months after it came out, and I have full faith he'll prove it again in the future.

My excitement at the 1997 release was nothing compared to my excitement at the 2012 3D conversion. I was slightly anxious, because depending on the type of 3D I can wind up with a headache that would make Hellraiser wince,(I don't know why it happens, but it does) but I was still excited. And then I was shocked to find out my younger cousin had never seen the movie. Granted, he was born in 1999, but that's still no excuse. So, we turned the entire thing into an educational/fun outing.

Once again, I was blown away. The astonishing beauty of the ship, the clothes, even the disaster itself, is just so much...more on the big screen. The weaving of the fictional stories in with the actual events, the subtle use of flashbacks and foreshadowing and, in the end, a tearful dream sequence, are something I appreciate much more now than I did at 15. The technical aspects are also something I'm more aware of, thanks to a habit of listening to director commentaries on DVDs.

Yes. I cried. But I didn't cry about Jack and Rose (well, no more than a sniffle or two). I cried about third class passengers being held below stairs, because nobody really believed the ship was sinking. I cried about Captain Smith, whose years of experience worked against him, and who went down with the ship in a brave and befitting manner. I cried about the musicians, who may or may not have been playing out of duty, but will always be remembered as playing until the very end. I cried about Ida and Isidor Strauss, a scene so small most people don't notice it--it's honestly no more than a few seconds during the "Nearer My God to Thee" montage. The love and bravery to look in the face of death and decide to stay with your spouse because you can't imagine life without them--call me a sap, but it's heartbreaking.

So even though I'm not as big a fan of the song as I once was--yes. My heart will still go on. And on. And on.....

Monday, April 9, 2012

Media Monday--The End of the Season is Upon Us...

Alas, it's coming to one of my least favorite times of the year--the close of the network television season. Yes, after all the breaks they take, they still feel like they need a summer vacation. Ponder that one for a few minutes will you.

Some of the shows going off that I'm going to be sad about: The Good Wife, 2 Broke Girls, Smash (not as soon as the others, but soon).

Taking their place: Mad Men, True Blood (eventually and hopefully with a better season than the last two), Boardwalk Empire

Shows I couldn't care less about: Game of Thrones (Go ahead and stone me, I don't care. I don't like it), America's Got Talent and every show with the same premise, and damn near every reality show out there right now.

What are you looking forward to seeing this summer, what are you going to miss, and what isn't even on your radar?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Random Thursday!

I'm back! I know, you all missed me dreadfully.

Between moving, work, and writing marathons--not to mention the fact that my internet went out and this is the first time my laptop has been near a wireless connection--and I bet you can guess why I've been incommunicado. Or you should be able to guess.

Major announcement--Harvest Moon Rising will be released no later than May 4. Yes--I'm going to miss my own deadline. I'd like to say I have an excuse, and I could probably come up with a few, but let's face it--life in general just got in the way. This is going to push the release date for Shades of Blood back to roughly mid-June, unless something truly amazing happens. Which it may, but I'm not going to tell you to bank on it, and everyone get their hopes up and then things go to shit. Again. But rest assured, you will get two Jude books this year, at least one Cari, and one Frankie.

And then Winged starts next year.

I may release other books throughout the year, but for the most part, next year is going to be about Winged. The books are coming out roughly 8-9 weeks apart, so I'm going to be in constant publicity mode. I apologize now. I'll be doing some e-ARCs of the first book in probably November, maybe earlier, so keep your eyes peeled for that announcement.

And now, I'm off to do one guest post real quick and then start another writing marathon. I pulled out about 5500-6000 words yesterday and I'm looking to do double that today. My goal is to get this to beta readers no later than Monday morning, so they have a week to read and comment before I need to incorporate and ship to the editor. Everyone cross your fingers and wish me luck.