Saturday, December 11, 2010

Transformers 3 Dark of the Moon Teaser Trailer

Look, strange robots lying in ships distributing technology is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical astronomic ceremony! Look, you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some stasis-locked machine threw a Cube at you. I mean, if I went around saying I was an emperor, 'cause some spacey droid lobbed an All-Spark at me, they'd put me away!

Okay I'll stop now.

The Purpose of Fantasy

I had two book reviews written. I really did. I had them all ready, and then I lost the second jumpdrive I had after finding the first. Maybe they'll switch places soon so I can get my book reviews back. Or I may just have to rewrite them.

So I went back, found an old blog from a month or two ago, and decided I would post it. It is appropriate considering what I read yesterday at work. Yes, I read at work. I get distracted when I'm shelving. It happens.

Some author wrote a book explaining how C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were fine but J.K. Rowling clearly had evil plans in mind. It was a bit silly, though not quite as silly as Laura Mallory's website. The man was countering arguments in favor of Harry Potter, and doing a halfway decent job of it. The problem was that, though he claimed to have read the books himself, he only used those passages that proved his point, a huge no-no I recall from my college English class. He presented his opponents' viewpoints in the most simplistic and asinine way possible, then went into great detail of his own, giving appropriate examples from the books, while totally ignoring those parts that completely counter his own arguments. It was almost cute.

But at least he didn't do like that demon-busters website and complain about fantasy in general, and that, after a short preview rant, leads into my little ramble.

Because, writing fantasy must be part of my personality.

I have begun to realize that even my stories that were originally planned to be somewhat realistic have evolved into something closer to the fantasy genre. For example, I had a story planned in which a group of children were the subjects of mental experiments. However, it has started changing from them having simple neuroses due to the experiments to something more…and of course, much less realistic. Looking back, everything I have written has had something of the fantastical in it. I can’t be content with something-I know people dislike this term-mundane. Sometimes I wonder, is this a problem? Am I perhaps too lost in “my own little world” for my own good? Shouldn’t I be able to write something real life decently?

I confess there were many times I longed to truly get lost in my own imagination. Bullying was a very real thing for me and, strange as it seems, it felt easier to deal with the supernatural villains concocted in my head than the children I looked in the face every day at school. Perhaps because in a way I had control over those villains, and control over myself. I was brave, I was strong. I wasn’t shy and quiet; I wasn’t the one who longed for people to simply leave me alone. I wasn’t the “sidekick” or, more likely, the “red shirt”. I was the heroine and I could win.

I’m aware too much distaste for reality could be bad. As much as I see what is wrong with this world, I see many things that are right. I wouldn’t trade my friends and family for any adventures in the world. (No, not even David Bowie can change my mind, thank you very much.) I’m fully aware life is pretty decent. But perhaps, like everyone else, I long for the fantastical, for something far beyond myself. There are those that would argue, “Erica, you are a Christian. Isn’t this good enough?” Not in this fallen world, I suppose. It is more than just a desire for something beyond. I want to create. Now, seeing as I am not God, there’s no chance of anything I write really coming to life (though Inkheart was a pretty fun book), but it’s not necessary. I believe Tolkien himself felt that his writing was a way of imitating his Creator, though his world is but dim compared to what God made.

I’ve begun noticing something like a trend. There is always some genre that is looked down upon by the intellectual elite. In the 1800’s, novels were the scapegoat of the day. They filled young ladies’ minds with unladylike notions; they did not edify minds as did the biographies and literature collections of the day; they were unrealistic. How could something so unlike day-to-day life help anyone at all? And yet, as one of my favorite authors says, “….or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world …” (Jane Austen, for the unenlightened ones out there). Fantasy may be, well, fantastical, but it still contains much of human nature (even if the characters aren’t particularly human) and psychology. Perhaps it is as I said before-sometimes it is easier to face imaginary monsters than real ones. It is much easier to read about the defeat of a Sauron than face the back-stabbing she-devil at work. And maybe it’s good that way.

After all, if you can face a Dark Lord, you can snark at the she-devil.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jane Austen's Fight Club

Or, That Time That Fanny Shoved Mrs. Norris' Face Into Red Velvet Cake

Amongst other nonsenses. Lizzy makes an excellent Tyler Durden. :-)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Writing Prompt: It was half past midnight when the paper clips revolted

A story that is not Lord of the Fandoms.

But still very nonsensical.

The tinny clattering went unnoticed in the office building. The cameras were more concerned with larger intruders, after all, and ignored the typical small noises all buildings make when settling down for the night. But the clattering ought to have been noticed, all the same.

It was half past midnight when the paper clips revolted.

Oh, don't worry. They had good reason. Many had been lost on the floor, only to be devoured by the ravenous vacuum later on. Humans were notorious for dropping things, after all. And let's not even mention the cruel mutilation enacted by that same species. Paper clips seemed to be just the right width for reaching things that had fallen into narrow spaces.

So it was, while the cameras kept a weather eye out for intruders, thieves, and the occasional drunken janitor, the paper clips skittered across the desk, prepared for revenge.

The first things that went were, of course, the computers. They found themselves viciously stung in several places along the wires. The paper clips were veritable kamikazes, as one after another went up in sparks for the cause. Once the computers' gentle humming was silenced, the next victims were the copiers. Those crabby, stubborn copiers. They were always jamming paper and spurting ink for their own wicked delight. Their wires too were quickly dispatched.

By this time the cameras were rolling their eyes round, trying to find the culprits of these heinous crimes. However, the cameras, designed to find rather taller perps, continued to look round in vain, as the paper clips began mustering their strength to turn over wastebaskets.

Not a few of their comrades were found, lingering there with the old styrofoam cups, candy wrappers, and paper balled in frustration. Many of them were rather sticky with dried coffee, and some were just too far gone to save.

The paper clips next headed for the filing cabinets. This took rather more effort; but ripping out the fiber from the office chairs gave them good ropes for opening the cabinets, and spilling their contents on the floor.

The cameras continued to search, now exceedingly alarmed by these invisible intruders.

The filing cabinets dumped, the paper clips now were prepared for the coup d'etat. They picked the lock of The Boss, the large man that all the humans seemed to fear. There they planned on shoving his very desk out the window and onto the street below. The fiber ropes were secured, the window opened...

A light came on.


The swear echoed through the office. In an instant the paper clips fell to the ground, motionless.

Heavy footsteps shook the ground, the smell of cigar smoke filled the air, and more swearing followed. The phone was jerked off the cradle, and the man jabbed viciously at the numbers. The phone let out a squeak of protest, which was duly ignored.

"Jim! Check the cameras, someone's wrecked the whole place! What? I don't care if you didn't see anyone, someone's been here! Now get to it before I kick you to the street so fast your pants'll fly off!" The phone was slammed back into the cradle. It whimpered again.

The footsteps receded back into the office, where things were being kicked.

"Want to join the revolution?" a paper clip asked.

The phone let out a happy chirp in reply.

"Now what?" The footsteps returned, and all went silent once more as the phone was once again abused. There was always tonight...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review-Pride and Prescience by Carrie Bebris

I hear the sobbing and wailing from the literary purists already. But I can't help it-I love these books and there's nothing you can do about it. Nyah nyah.

I heard of the "Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries" over at the Republic of Pemberley. At first I, too, thought it would all be ridiculously silly, for I too tend toward literary purism (I'm almost entirely certain that is a word; if not, well, Webster's had added "chillaxing" so they can add this as well). However, I finally decided to give them a try; and I'm glad I did.

The first book of the series is Pride and Prescience. It starts out with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett at their wedding, where Caroline Bingley has, true to her traits, happily announced her engagement with a rich American, who she seems to have known for only a few weeks, and who she plans to marry within another few short weeks. Though this throws a wrench into the Darcys' plans, they concede with good grace and remain in London for the wedding.

However, right after the wedding, very strange things begin to happen to the former Miss Bingley, starting with wandering around on the streets of London late at night. Elizabeth begins to suspect something...unnatural at work, but Darcy is having none of it. It's like Mulder and Scully in reverse.

Carrie Bebris maintains a tone and language similar to Austen's (though no one will ever be exact on that), and nails the characters pretty well. Elizabeth is appropriately teasing, and Darcy is still a bit stiff though learning to tease back.

I also enjoyed this and subsequent books because, well, the resolution doesn't remind me of a Scooby-Doo cartoon. "Oh, the ghost was just old Farmer Jenkins trying to scare the hooligans away from his crops!" "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids, and your dog too!"
It's more like "I am an old professor with an odd knowledge of pagan magic. How are you? Shall I aid you in fighting the darkness?" sort of resolution, which is fine with me. I get tired of there being a last minute rational explanation. It's fiction, people! Go wild with it!

So, go read this book, enjoy the proper madness involved, and have a cup of tea. Just make sure that old professor doesn't try to read the leaves when you're done.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review: Still Life with Crows (spoiler possibility)

So here we are, back in Pendergast-Land, where anything weird that can possibly happen will happen. In this segment we find ourselves in a redneck Kansas town in the middle of cornfields, where the death of woman digging around Indian burial grounds has people talking of a curse. Then more are killed, all in strange but unrelated ways, puzzling even Pendergast, who has the townspeople equally puzzled after he requests steak tartare at the local diner....
Pendergast, with the help of a temporary assistant, the purple-haired goth girl Corrie, pokes around town and makes a general nuisance of himself while trying to solve the murders.

The authors' writing style is, as usual, very engaging, and the characters seem to jump off the page. The ending twist (there's always an ending twist) too is...disturbing, in a way, although I'm very proud to say I had guessed it. Also, the build-up and suspense, and of course the encounters with the unknown killer, gave me chills that I have not had since Relic. The problem comes in, and this may seem spoilerish, that the constant talk of curses has little bearing on the actual plot. Yes, people are scared and talk of ancient Indian burial ground petshops and the like, but it doesn't actually cause anything to happen. The history helps to understand the present but the actual curse fear does not. Secondly, I thought there was too little to go on for Pendergast to figure out the twist. We never hear him pondering it, he just suddenly has all the answers at the end. This, I thought, was a weakness. The facts he had to go on were too scant. You can make a guess but it wasn't enough for him to know what would happen in the final denouement. Lastly, some of the scenes seemed too broken up, almost dreamlike, because you would flip to another scene without any explanation. (This happens especially near the end). It seemed weaker than the others in this way. However, as I said, it was still entertaining, but not the usual fare.

I give this a 2.8/5.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Famous Inboxes

Thanks to the wonderful Republic of Pemberley, I've discovered this amusing little site. Not only do they have Lizzy Bennett's inbox, but also such infamous others as Voldemort, Sauron, Darth Vader, James Bond, Kermit, etc.

So go waste some time.

Miss Elizabeth Bennett's Inbox

Friday, October 15, 2010

Two Reviews: The Haunting of Hill House and Cabinet of Curiosities

Back again with a couple more. I love working at the library. I see so many books while shelving that I normally wouldn't notice. Anyways, on with the reviews!

The Haunting of Hill House:

So I had vague memories of the movie, which I recalled was exceedingly strange, and had a female character I wanted to slap around, and trying to start the book back in high school, which ended when I got to the nonsense about the star cup. However, I pressed on this time, and was....well....I suppose rewarded would be the word, but I still feel very puzzled indeed. A short summary: Dr. Montague moonlights as a supernatural investigator, and would like to find out what exactly is wrong with Hill House (other than the obvious "I am a creepy old house" syndrome). He sends out invitations to people who have come into contact with the supernatural, but only gets two replies: one from Eleanor, our heroine, who was apparently poltergeisted with pebbles on the roof shortly after her father's death, and Theo (The One To Be Slapped) who has some sort of telepathic ability, although we see nothing of this.
When everyone arrives at the house, the gatekeeper (ZUUL!!) warns them off, then lets them in, and his wife, the housekeeper (NOT ZUUL!!) explains that she always leaves at certain times, and informs them of this repetetively. Well, they start experiencing strange things, whilst Eleanor and Theo fight over the heir to the house, Luke.

I suppose it was a good story. Eleanor was an odd one. People spoke of her as though she wasn't there, and the scenes shifted so quickly I had trouble understanding where everyone was at any given time. Which I think was the point; the book seemed a lot like the house, which was apparently built so none of the rooms were exactly square. However, the three young people in the house acted less like thirty-something adults and more like teenagers (Theo especially-i.e. The One To Be Slapped). It was all right, and it had a few creepy moments, but nothing much else. 2.5/5.

Cabinet of Curiosities:

Speaking of creepy things, this book was right up there for the creepiness. To summarize, an old charnel is found at the construction site of the new apartment building, but is quickly covered up so the building can continue. However, archaelogist Dr. Nora Kelly (at the behest of, you guessed it, Agent Pendergast) does some further investigation with her boyfriend Smithback (yes, he has finally scored a female) and discovers what appears to be signs of a serial killer who performed horrible experiments on living human beings. The worst part is that after Smithback publishes his article, new killings eerily similar to the old begin cropping up. Now Pendergast and Co. must find out who has started the killings and stop them.

Now this was an awesome book. Nora is a fun character, who was introduced in an out-of-series book Thunderhead. Also joining for the book is policeman Patrick O'Shaughnessy, who uses his Irish-cop-ness to help out our heroes. The build-up is slow at times, but the end is amazing (and the twist is mind-boggling, as usual). I give it a 4.5/5, the .5 added on because Pendergast says "Barbaric Yankee drivers" at one point in the book.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Book Review + Rant: The Turn of the Screw

In anticipation of the Halloween season (which has been shoved in our faces since August, incidently) I read Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, known as one of the best written ghost stories out there. A young woman is engaged as governess to two young children who are, apparently, being stalked by the ghosts of two former servants. I found it creepy, though a bit confusing. There's a lot of vague sentences where we can only guess what someone was going to say, even vague thoughts where we're really not sure what the heroine is really thinking. I suppose it was his intention to give the reader the same confusion as the heroine, but it actually detached me from the story. The ending is a great deal of depressing drivel, with no real resolution beyond "rocks fall". We don't really get the "everyone dies" part so we don't really know what happened. I know many people enjoy that sort of thing but it just left me feeling abruptly disappointed. Overall I would give this story a 2.5 out of 5. Creepy but not effective as a narrative, I think.

What really got me, though, was all the literary criticism (I could only find a book filled with critics' drivel as well, which is also depressing). Ah, yes, literary criticism, that horrible maze turned more horrible thanks to Freud. Many believe that this story showed only a young woman going insane thinking she was seeing ghosts. Oh yes, they acknowledge James had intended it to be a real ghost story, not one of those silly Scooby-Doo endings where the sheet is pulled off the ghost and police captain Todd is revealed as the villain. Yes, they acknowledge this, but point out James was self-deceived.

Wait wait wait.....So some critic, who has no knowledge of what went through the author's head when writing this story, knows better than the author himself? Since when? I honestly have trouble understanding this mindset in literary criticism. Why should an author know less than the reader? The author wrote the damn thing! You'd think they know how the story should go, unless you adhere to that weird "collective consciousness" drivel (drivel being the word of the day, by the way).

The only other explanation is that literary critics are telepathic and psychic. That would explain a lot.

Anyways, beyond the arrogance displayed, one particular critic does something stupid. He acknowledges that the heroine, being able to describe two people she had never seen before, poses a problem to his "she's insane" theory, but then he completely skips over it, ignoring this issue for the rest of his essay, and in fact then pointing out she must have led the housekeeper on when the housekeeper realizes the identity of the ghost that had frightened the heroine. Well, it doesn't matter. Because Freud is always right.

That's right. The critic comes up with a fool-proof explanation of why the poor governess is suddenly hallucinating.

Sexual repression.

You heard that. Sexual repression causes someone to hallucinate "ghosts" that look identical to people she has never seen before.


Dear critic, sometimes a ghost is just a ghost.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Review: Reliquary

Mind you, it's been awhile since I last read Reliquary. Still, it was an exciting read, with the return of all our favorites (D'Agosta, Smithback, Margo, Dr. Frock and Pendergast) and the introduction of a few new ones that we both love and hate (Waxie the Whiny Police Captain, Laura Hayward the Obligatory Tough Female, Mephisto the odd but lovable homeless guy). Oh, and let's not forget to mention the headless bodies with bite marks....I'm sure if the characters knew the title of the book they would have become even more alarmed.

But I get ahead of myself. The book opens on police divers looking for a brick of heroin, only for the poor newbie to get tangled up in two headless skeletons floating about in the Hudson. One is socialite Pamela Wisher, the other is....Well, you'll find out in due course. :-)

D'Agosta is put on the case, and Drs. Frock and Green (Margo not being one to play the perpetual student role) are asked to examine the bodies once the M.E. discovers those lovely bite marks at the base of Pamela Wisher's neck. As they get closer to the truth, more beheadings begin to happen, while Pendergast and D'Agosta probe the homeless community, filled with victims whose deaths went unnoticed, for information, culminating in a fine dinner of track rabbit with the oh-so-hospitable Mephisto. Suspicions rise as they discover more and more, and we are left to wonder....Will it be the supernatural this time? Is Mbwun really a mad god come back for revenge? Or is there some scientific explanation for this as well? (Hint: there is. But it's a freaky one, so it's okay.)

I would give this a 3.5 out of 5, the extra .5 for Mephisto's overall weirdness and sense of humor.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'm Back!

Now that life has settled, and I've decided to stop procrastinating, I have returned. And I had all these great ideas in the interim, and now I can't remember any of them. Oh well.

I've decided instead to laud a series of books that are rapidly becoming my favorite. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are two authors who have come together to write what are by far the best techno-thrillers I have read. Honestly, I think they're better than Crichton's work. Congo did not have me leaving all the lights on and shining my light into every corner when I got up to go to the bathroom.

Relic definitely did.

Relic is the first book written by these two geniuses. It starts out with an ill-fated scientific expedition to the Amazon Basin, with even more bad fortune following the crates of scientific finds all the way to the New York Museum of Natural History (transparently modeled after the American Museum of Natural History, in New York).

Suddenly, people begin dying in brutal ways. The manner of wounds indicate what has done this is not human. But what is it then?

The main character, Margo Green, teams up with the journalist Smithback and the enigmatic FBI agent Pendergast to discover who--or what--is committing these crimes.

First off, these authors have a knack for characterization, especially through dialogue. Smithback is a perfect example of this. The moment he opens his mouth, you know just what type of guy he is-dogged journalist, jokester, and flirt. The police lieutenant D'Agosta is another fine character. Even the most minor characters come to life with a few deft keystrokes.

The other thing that is outstanding is the suspense. These guys could give horror movie directors several good lessons in frightening people. By choosing a large, sprawling, sometimes archaic museum, they set the atmosphere immediately. And describing just enough to let you know something very bad is going to happen, and you're not sure what. In fact, the thing you notice most is that whenever they mention the "odd smell", you immediately stiffen up. You can see what's going to happen immediately. As they are well aware, the greatest fright comes from anticipation.

Finally, the thing that got me most was the incredible, freaky twist at the end. Something you never saw coming, something that filled me with actual jaw-dropping horror, which no book has been able to do before.

Most of this is positive, however I do have a criticism. I appreciate this takes place in a heavy scientific setting. However, there is a lot of technical jargon that can lose a reader. The only reason I managed to get through it is because a lot of the jargon in this book was about genetics, and that's something I remember from high school Biology. But a lot of the equipment, the terms, etc. were over my head. And sometimes they run on in explanations about how these things work, and it only confuses me more. During re-reads my mind tends to skip over those parts without realizing it.

I would give this a 4 stars out of 5 with regards to readability.

Next I will review Reliquary, the sequel, and then Cabinet of Curiosities, all of which are part of the Pendergast series, as the books become increasingly focused on the FBI agent.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Updates and Nonsense

First off...the deck has been painted, Gravity Hill has been visited, and life has gotten back to normal, flea spray and litter boxes included. We are close to having Internet, but the home computer which we rescued from the father-in-law's old place has, well, basically died. But what with the smoke and the never cleaning it and the fact of it being an Emachine...
Well, I suppose it was inevitable. We'll see if we can get a new hard drive for it.
In other news, I have actually started writing The Story. You know, the novel? That I started 3 years ago? (Actually, more than 3 years. But it is necessary to quote Stewie on this matter.) I'm working on it quite happily, and then it'll probably undergo serious revision, but at least I've started. Actually, I'm happier with it than I thought I would be, so that's a good sign.
And now, finally, I give you the second Lord of the Fandoms, just to keep you amused while my mind concerns itself with things other than posting on a blog.

Things had gone back to normal after the last bit of silliness that had occurred. Voldemort was receiving daily hate email from Harry while nursing his migraine and Sauron was happily tormenting Peter Jackson in his dungeon for portraying him as a giant flaming eye. He was lounging in his throne room, thinking about how much he missed his shiny ring (he had long since lost it) when the door burst open. Dumbledore entered, looking politely interested in the surroundings.

“Wonderful decorating job. Very dark-lordish.”

“What? You’re supposed to be dead!” Sauron cried.

“Am I not?”

“Wait, you just referenced ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.”

“Yes. In fact, I was wondering if you knew the current whereabouts of one Mr. David Jones?” Sauron put his head in his hands and began weeping. It had begun again.

Voldemort stared at the undead wizard who called himself “Milenko”, feeling very confused.

“And so, if I help you in your quest to find Davy Jones, I’ll get a reprieve from hell?”


“But I’ve made myself immortal!”

“What about the end of the world?”

“There really will be an end of the world? I thought that was just Tim LaHaye running off at the mouth.” He looked closely at the wizard. “Why is your hair red?”

“It’s a long story. You see, at the age of seven I was abducted by aliens—” The door burst open. A ringmaster with long claws and red eyes hurried up to them.

“I’m the only one here allowed to have red eyes!” Voldemort protested.

“Shut up,” the Ringmaster said, hitting him over the head with his cane.

“Why’d you—OW! I’ve already got a migraine!” The Ringmaster had hit Voldemort again.

“We have to find Davy Jones and you, Tom Riddle, must go with us.”

“Why?” Voldemort asked in a rather whiny voice, as his headache was worsened, ignoring the use of his real name.

“Because, your pet snake and final Horcrux is being held hostage in the Gryffindor Tower of Hogwarts!”

“And they were so delighted that they made me their chief.” Ginny and Hermione were sighing over Captain Jack Sparrow, who was regaling them, Harry, and Ron with his fifth tale of how a group of natives had made him their chief. He leaned back and put his arms around the girls. Harry and Ron both shouted their protests.

“Don’t touch Ginny!”

“Sure, forget all about me,” Hermione said in a hurt voice.

“Oh, don’t touch Hermione either,” Ron said hastily.

“Look, Jack…” Harry began.

“What?” said another voice. They turned to the two beings by the fireplace, who both had Nagini in a death grip. Nagini was saying several obscene things which only Harry could understand.

“I wasn’t talking to you,” Harry said to the one who was sitting up, gazing at him in confusion. He thought it was just his luck that two fire spirits from the Dark Carnival inexplicably shown up with Voldemort's pet snake . Several things were scorched already.

“I suppose you’re still mad at me, are you?” the other Jack said.

“You set Arnold the Pygmy Puff on fire!” Ginny shouted.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.” His brother smacked him in the head. “What was that for?”

“I’ve decided to hit you every time you say, ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’, because it never seems like a good idea, you just think it does.”

“That doesn't make any sense!” They immediately began fighting for what was probably the tenth or eleventh time. Nagini slithered over to the corner, swearing in Parseltongue.

“Why are they even here?” Ron asked. “Why is Jack Sparrow even here?”

“Captain!” Jack corrected.

“The Matrix implanted them here,” said a voice from the farthest corner, where Nagini had slithered. It was an elf lord wearing dark sunglasses. “The Matrix has you all. Come with me,” he continued, pulling out a gun. “You must help me find the Red Book of Westmarch, which is hidden in the Hogwarts library.”

“Row 88R of the Restricted Section,” Hermione said automatically. “But why do you need it?”

“I’m really not sure,” the elf said. They all, including Nagini, followed him, leaving the twins to their fight.

“This boat is rickety,” Sauron said. Sauron, Voldemort, the Ringmaster, Dumbledore, and Milenko had all boarded the boat that would take them to Davy Jones.

“It is rickety,” Dumbledore said. “This will be great fun!”

“Yes it will indeed,” the Ringmaster agreed. Milenko was continuing his story to Voldemort.

“They had this hideous new extraterrestrial hair dye which they were loath to test on their own kind…” Ballydowse struck up a loud sea tune as the boat set sail.

“Why is Ballydowse here?” Sauron asked.

“Background music,” the Ringmaster replied.

“…they had poured the substance onto my head, but it burned like fire. I ripped loose from my bindings and threw myself into the nearest water, then darted for the door…”

“At least you weren’t squashed by a tire!” Dane Cook said with a laugh.

“Why is Dane Cook here?” Sauron asked, even more confused.

“Comedy relief,” Dumbledore told him.

“But this entire story is comedy.”

“Oh, you’re right…”

“Then we don’t need him,” the Ringmaster said, and promptly threw Dane Cook overboard.

“Well, now that that’s over with, we should be able to arrive at Davy Jones’ ship in a very short time,” Dumbledore commented blithely.

“Why do you think that?” Sauron challenged.

“Oh, because the time span in these stories is always terrible. Authors cut out to a different scene, then cut back to show a passage of time.”

“Who’s writing this anyways?”

The group moved silently through the Hogwarts corridor, following Agent Elrond’s odd glowy form, and every now and then having Captain Jack run into them drunkenly. Nagini suddenly let loose a string of swear words, and they turned around to see the strange twins standing there, once again holding on to Nagini.

“That was not cool, leaving us there like that.”

“Not cool at all.”

“It’s like you don’t like us or something.”

“You were trying to kill each other!” Harry protested.

“I would never try to kill Jake! Severely injure is another matter altogether—”

“Quiet! We’re at the library!” Agent Elrond snapped.

“Why do we need to be quiet?” Ron asked.

“Because I’m afraid of Madam Pince.”

“Oh.” They entered the library, preparing to face what lay ahead.

The boat stopped by a shipwreck in the search for Davy Jones. Sure enough, a ship soon rose from the sea.

“Prepare to board,” Dumbledore said, while Ballydowse played an appropriately mournful tune.

“Professor Snape?” Snape was standing guard by the Restricted Section. But that was not the odd part. Snape was wearing a flannel waistcoat.

“This is getting really silly,” Hermione said.

“Go right on in to the Restricted Section,” Snape told them. “I’ll fight off Madam Pince.”

“Why?” Harry asked suspiciously.

“I feel uncommonly and uncharacteristically good-natured today.”

“You won’t need to fight her off, mate, they’ve got the madam in a right state already,” Captain Jack said. Several bookshelves were on fire, and Madam Pince was swearing loudly and jumping up and down.

The strange sea creatures glared at the motley group.

“And what have you to do with the captain?”

“Oh, old times and whatnot,” the Ringmaster said vaguely, an answer which confused the creatures enough to let them pass through. They entered the captain’s chambers, only to find My Chemical Romance blaring “Welcome to the Black Parade”.

“Save us!” the lead singer hissed as they passed.

“Why are we here again?” Voldemort asked, but was ignored. Davy Jones stopped acting emo over his tragic past long enough to notice he had visitors.

“Well, it’s about time you showed up!” he cried. “I suppose you two want your payments for those lost card games?” he added, addressing Dumbledore and the Ringmaster.

“I wouldn’t mind taking a few souls back as well,” the Ringmaster said cheerfully. Davy Jones told him to go do something that wasn’t very nice, and pulled out…a bag of pipe tobacco and a bottle of brandy. These he shoved into Dumbledore’s and the Ringmaster’s hands.

“Now all of you, get off my ship! You! Keep playing music! My soul is in torment and you are my only hope!” The band began playing again, giving the group sad, desperate looks as they left.

The group boarded their boat once again.

“So we came all the way out here for tobacco and brandy you won in a bet against Davy Jones?” Voldemort asked.

“Then why’d you make us come along?” Sauron demanded. The Ringmaster smiled.

“Oh, it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“It always seems like a good idea doesn’t it??” Jake was yelling at Jack, who was staring unconcernedly at the smoldering ashes nearby, over which Madam Pince was weeping.

“Would you two shut up?” Harry asked, irritated. “Don’t make me start sending you hate email too!”

“I’ll set your computer on fire!”

“So why are we standing here staring at the Red Book of Westmarch?” Hermione asked Agent Elrond.

“It is not something one just rips off the shelf! It is…special.”

“But I’ve read it dozens of times! For light reading!” Agent Elrond looked crestfallen.


“Well, I see you’re all having fun here!” Dumbledore appeared in the middle of the chaos.

“Professor Dumbledore!” Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny all shouted in unison.

“You’re supposed to be dead!” Harry exclaimed.

“Am I not?”

“Don’t you hate it when people do that, mate?” Captain Jack asked. He and Colonel Snape were happily drinking rum at a nearby table, Colonel Snape telling a tale of lost love.

“So…you’re telling me that Milenko made all that ‘reprieve from hell’ bit up?” Voldemort was yelling.

“Yes, he has a tendency to do that,” the Ringmaster said, then spotted the ashes. “JACK WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT SETTING THINGS ON FIRE??”

“I can’t believe Peter Jackson escaped,” Sauron was grumbling. The library was now in utter chaos. Agent Elrond had thrown his sunglasses to the ground and stormed out.

“Foiled again!” he cried before he left.

“Give me back my pet snake!” Voldemort was yelling.

“It’s Jack’s fault!” Jake shouted back.

“Is not!” his brother yelled.

“That’s a good question,” Dumbledore said curiously. “Where is Nagini?”

Nagini was quite happy she had escaped the madhouse. She had slipped on a plane and was curled up under a seat, enjoying the in-flight movie (“Anaconda”). She found herself amongst many other snakes, which confused her.

“Are you escaping from madmen too?”

“No, a madman put us on here,” another snake answered. At this point a woman noticed them and screamed loudly. The plane was thrown into chaos.

It was a horrible flight for Nagini. She was chased around by an angry black man who looked a lot like that guy from “Pulp Fiction”, and he swore at her a lot and tried to shoot her. When the plane finally landed, Nagini, having wrapped herself securely around a seat, snuck out and made her way back to Voldemort’s lair. He greeted her joyfully, but she cussed him out and said that if he ever let two maniacs kidnap her again, she’d kill herself out of spite.

The End.

At this point, an armored hand grabbed my pen and broke it in half.

“I’m not taking this anymore!” Sauron yelled, pacing my living room. “You just keep on and keep on making this idiocy up and messing with us all. You’re as bad as me, tormenting people!” While he continued to rant, I discreetly took a pen from my purse which sat nearby and wrote, “And then everything went back to normal.” Sauron poofed away. Then I added, “Or did it?”

Monday, July 12, 2010

A little update

I am, in fact, still alive and well in Illinois. Things have been unpacked, the apartment set up, and now I'm just antsy because my creative side wants to come out and play with the decorating, and we're on a limited budget. Ah, well.

We went up to Shullsburg, WI this weekend. The husband was supposed to be painting his aunt's deck, but as it turns out the last job on aforementioned deck had been a grade A disaster, and new posts are needed before painting can begin. So it was more like a relaxing weekend, involving far too much eating, but few people complain about that.

Also, I've been doing quite a bit of reading. First was The Secret, and...well, I'll have an entire post dedicated to that. Dale has heard the rant already. I finished the entirety of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Why is it in public schools you only get snippets of these amazing stories? Read the whole dang thing! If anyone complains, smack them upside the head. Because that was seriously good. And lastly, I've been reading At Home In Mitford, thanks to my brother's review (The Flying Inn). It's been rather riveting, so I suppose this is a new series for me to get started on.

Next I'll be reading Pearl (by the same unknown author as Sir Gawain) and I'll start on Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill which sounds like, according to Dale's description, a kinder, gentler, and less heretical Secret. Reviews of books coming soon, and possibly some story snippets, if I can eke them out amidst concerns of flea sprays and emptying that poor cat's litter box.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The First of the Nonsense

Well, I had planned on going on a temporary hiatus while I packed everything and got ready for the big move (across the town); however, I've decided to foist some nonsense upon everyone. I have a feeling most of my family has seen this before; but I'm proud of it for it's sheer absurdity. I give you...The Lord of the Fandoms (Number 1).

Voldemort was, as usual, being dark and brooding. It was a hobby of his, which was why he kept a mirror around. He could never forget that embarrassing moment when that Potter brat entered his head as he was practicing his “angry Dark Lord” look…But that was over. He could practice in peace.

A loud knock resounded, drawing away his attention. Voldemort rearranged his face, then said, “Enter.” Wormtail scurried in. Voldemort had trouble not laughing at Wormtail, since he was constantly scurrying like that.

“My lord, I have news that may interest you,” Wormtail said with a bow.

“Harry Potter has been captured?” Voldemort asked hopefully.

“No, my lord…”

“Then what could possibly be so important as to interrupt me?”

“May I ask what you were—”

“No!” Voldemort snatched the paper out of Wormtail’s hand. It was a news article in the Daily Prophet: “Earlier today, in the castle of Miragul, the necromancer attempted to create a Horcrux, taking a cue from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Unfortunately for him, he accidentally hid his entire soul in the chosen object. He is currently wandering mindlessly about his castle.” Voldemort burst out laughing.

“Ah, Wormtail, the follies of those weaker than me! Let’s celebrate my vast power!” (It seemed like a good idea at the time)

“Yes my lord…”

“My lord!” Severus Snape burst through the door. “The Last Alliance is at the door!” Voldemort paused.

“The…the what?”

“The Last Alliance!” Several moments of silence followed, during which Voldemort blinked in confusion. Suddenly, Elendil, Isildur, and Elrond burst in!

“Give up your power, Evil One!” they cried. Voldemort stared at them.

“WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING HERE?” he roared. He felt very annoyed, and tried to kill them all. Unfortunately, the curse bounced off Elendil’s shield.

“Elf magic!” they said cheerfully.

“Elf as in…elf?” Snape asked, holding his hand close to the ground.

“No, elf,” Isildur answered, pointing to Elrond.

“Avada Kedavra!” Voldemort cried. Elrond held out a hand to the curse and said, “No.” Everyone went silent.

“Elrond,” Elendil said hesitantly. “You can’t keep doing that. You’re not Agent Smith.”

“But I work for the Matrix…”

“No, you’re just a cold and heartless elf lord!” a cheerful voice said. It was Aragorn!

“What are you doing here?” Elrond exclaimed, while Isildur and Elendil both murmured, “Hi…descendant?”

That’s when suddenly, Sauron apparated in the middle of the room.

“All right, who are these ‘Phoenix’ people and why is there a kid saying he has to kill me?” he griped.

“Oh, those are mine,” Voldemort said helpfully.

“Good, because these are mine.” Sauron gestured to the Last Alliance (and gave Aragorn a very confused look).

“Well, I suppose you’ll just have to switch then,” advised Snape.

“Look, Sauron can have them all,” Voldemort said.

“What? No! I have half a million soldiers to battle; I can’t handle an angsty teenage brat yelling at me all the time.”

“Kill them!” cried a strange voice. “Kill them both! Then Gollum can have his precious back…” They turned to stare at the strange creature randomly creeping about in the corner, then Voldemort killed him for no apparent reason. Gandalf apparated next to Voldemort and hit him in the head.

“Gollum was supposed to destroy the ring!” Gandalf lectured.

“What ring?”

“This ring!” Sauron said, holding out up his hand.

“What’s so special about that?”

“It’s his Horcrux,” Aragorn explained.

“You only have one? Ha! I have six! What now?” Voldemort bragged, while Gandalf fainted at the thought and Elrond inexplicably put on dark sunglasses.

“So you have an old annoying wizard too?’ Voldemort then asked Sauron.

“Yes, I suppose you do?”

“I did, but Severus here killed him for me.”

“Well they’re notorious for coming back to life,” Sauron warned, glaring at the fainted Gandalf.

“This one won’t!” a woman’s voice cried out.

“Wait…” Voldemort murmured.

“They can’t be…” Sauron said.

Three seconds later, Voldemort and Sauron apparated into a staff meeting between Jo Rowling, Christopher Tolkien, and the Matrix screenwriters.

“All right, you lot!” Voldemort cried. “Return everyone to their proper stories, or…” Before he could finish, a large anvil fell on his head.

“That was some fast writing, Jo,” Christopher said gratefully. Sauron flipped them all off and disapparated.

“Well, let’s all meet against next week, shall we?” Jo asked.

“Yeah, all right.” They left, noticing a random wizard who appeared to have no clue where he was and was, in fact, trying to get through a wall to no avail.

“Okay,” Christopher cried, “who wrote in Miragul?”

“Do you think that’s a good ending?” I asked Dale.

“Yep,” he replied, and went back to conquering the world on Civilizations.

I basically own nothing in this story, in case any copyright happy lurker gets any ideas. I clearly would never make any type of profit for this bit of nonsense. And if you're wondering, you can simply blame my husband for any and all confusion resulting from reading this.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some preliminary fun...

After writing my initial introduction for my blog, I started wondering, "Now what?" I had an idea of what to do with it. I knew I wanted to show off my writing. I knew I wanted to use it for my occasional rants and raves. I knew I wanted to blather endlessly about my favorite fandoms. But I realized I didn't have much of a plan beyond aforementioned blathering.

I'm not an organized person. It takes a real effort for me to keep to structure. I've decided to take the middle road on this issue. I'm going to outline the different types of posts you'll see, but I'll be posting whatever happens to come to mind that day.

1.) Serious writings.
These will probably be less frequent than the others. When I am writing something seriously (even if it's humorous) I tend to take my time, flesh it out, and edit before posting (even if it still looks rather rough drafty at the end).

2.) Humor writings.
I already have many of these written. These are simply stories or parodies I've written just for the fun of it. I didn't consider much about "plot" or editing them, because they tend to be purely nonsensical and, quite frankly, surreal.

3.) Rants
These happen when something pokes at my mind enough to annoy me. They're usually political in nature but aren't necessarily such. They tend to happen after listening to talk radio; however I try to search around, get some for/against opinions, and facts beyond Rush Limbaugh's paper-shuffling ranting. I warn you right now-I'm a mad conservative anyways, but I'm willing to hear and discuss reasonable dissenting opinions. My brother enjoys debating enough to play devil's advocate, so I'm used to it.

4.) Reviews and other things
From time to time I'll review something I've read or watched, or just call attention to something that I think is either funny or interesting. Prepare for November 11th, when I get back from the movie theater after seeing the first part of Deathly Hallows....

Lastly I'll just put up a couple links I use to help my writing.

The first is Rich Hamper's Writer's Resources Page. I really love this page. It has some great character profiles that help my disorganized mind put down all I know about my characters, and then some. It also explains some common grammatical mistakes and regulating narrative flow. (Ex. In my writing I tend to dump a lot of information at once, like a college lecture, and I've slowly realized that, well, is boring. Like Geography class, "Erica, your eyes are unfocused" boring.)

Next is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Since I'm not published I'm not a member, but they still have some great resources for authors. My favorite is the world-building; it helps me think out more about the world I'm trying to create in my stories. As I said before, these sorts of things are great for someone like me with a disorganized frame of mind.

Finally, I'm going to plug a friend's blog, Mermaid Tea. Tori has a similar creative bent, and she started a blog specifically to help writers. It's just started, but she has useful ideas that help inspire me.

And that is all you're going to get out of me for today. Until next time....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Please allow me to introduce myself....

Hello! My name is Erica, and I've started this blog specifically to discuss my passion in life-literature-as well as let loose my thoughts on various subjects from day-to-day.

I have been reading as long as I can remember, and according to my parents was frequently read stories by them. I have fond memories of my father making up bedtime stories for me using my stuffed animals, and my brother started writing at a young age as well. I first started writing when I was eight. We were told to simply write a story in creative writing. Inspired by my brother's writing, I made up a superhero known as "Bill the Goose" (inexplicably named after then-President Clinton). Bill the Goose had several adventures, and I have since found out my teacher kept those stories, and reads them to her students every year. (I am 22, and my wild imagination is still influencing children. I'm sure some people would find this rather frightening.)

My writing tapered off for a bit after this. I was homeschooled for several years, and away from the influence of that teacher. However, if one is meant to be a writer, one will write. I began a long, rambling story based on a game I used to play as a child. It was a game influenced by all those 80's cartoons. I was the hero and I fought the bad guy, etc. Of course the writing was hideous; but the point was that I was writing.

The breakthrough came in eighth grade. I was in advanced reading, and we were told to write a short historical fiction story. My imagination took off, and soon the legend of the Jersey Devil (my "phase" at the time) was caught up in the American Revolution, and British spies. My teacher was a bit astonished at how much I had written, and it wasn't simply the amount; apparently the quality was somewhat decent for a 13 year old.

I continued refining my childhood story; it evolved with my age, becoming increasingly less childish. When I was a junior in high school, I heard about the L. Ron Hubbard scholarship. Winners not only won the scholarship but also got published. So I set to work writing, an idea forming from listening to excessive amounts of Blind Guardian and reading "Pete's Evil Overlord List". I finished, I sent it in, and...oh. I had gone way over the allotted word count. I tried to pare it down but it just didn't work. I had too many ideas to fit into 17,000 words. So I decided-I will get published the old-fashioned way.

I'm still working on this novel today. It's evolved greatly. I've been using online resources, tips from published writers, outlining my ideas and my characters and slowly, surely, writing something I feel is worth publishing.

In my spare time I write snippets from other ideas of mine; from that old childhood story that's become something much, much more; from other ideas that keep popping into my head and won't leave me alone. And here is where I'm going to refine them, showcase them, and get the attention of those who love reading.

So kick back, prepare to give me some constructive criticism, and also be ready to discuss other works of literature, or just to rant and rave about daily goings-on.

Again, welcome and enjoy!