Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday has been illuminated.

Christina: J’espère que ton voyage passera sans difficulté ce dimanche! Et je suis impatiente d’apprendre tout de ta vie française.

Cassie: I always love to see your roses. They are gorgeous, and I love what you’ve done with the colors in this one! Well done : )

Alexandra: I adore your post. Words are not always necessary when one is so impassioned about one’s work, especially with newspapers and dragons!

As for my craft this week, I got glass bottle (6). Cassie may remember that I originally also chose bottlecaps (4, I believe). While I had access to a vast amount of bottlecappage, I decided that for my chosen project, bottlecaps would look tacky and “undergrad,” and I wanted to be all classy and stuff. So I went with a lone glass bottle.

::Disclaimer: This description is going to involve a lot of references to Meghan and the hardware store where she works. I also neglected to take in-process pictures… Hopefully my words will be illustration enough!::

To procure my glass bottle, I bought myself a bottle of yellow tail (lowercase on purpose, as per brand name—it drives me crazy, too) moscato wine and enjoyed it over several nights’ worth of dinners. I recommend this wine. It was cheap and tasty, if you like dessert wines. I’m sure it would be scoffed at by a connoisseur.

Once I finished drinking the wine, I removed the bottle’s labels with some Goo-Gone I bought at the hardware store. (I also recommend Goo-Gone for quick gooey-stuff removal.) Next I waited several days until I could get back home to the hardware store and the girlfriend who knows enough about how to make things that she could help me.

With the help of a particularly lovely hardware store employee, I procured the following objects:
1 cork big enough to stop up my bottle (it was originally screw-top and therefore corkless)
1 screw-nipple-thing (I swear that’s what they’re called. Technical term.)
1 lamp kit thing (another technical term)
1 electrical cord with plug

With the help of that same lovely hardware store employee, I [read: she] drilled a hole on the side of the bottle near the bottom. This was a far more arduous process than one might think at first glance--it requires a special drill bit, patience, wet and dry paper towels, and a little bit of masking tape. The drill was also used to put a hole through the center of the cork big enough to allow for the nipple.

I then ran the cord up through the bottle, so that the plug was on the bottom and the wire ends were at the top. I ran these ends up through the nipple that was inside the cork.

After some internet consultation, HSEG (Hardware Store Employee Girlfriend) and I connected the wires to the lamp kit thing (where the bulb would screw in). We then screwed the lamp kit thing to the nipple and pushed the cork into the bottle’s neck.

A trip to Goodwill provided a lampshade of exactly the perfect size, shape, and colors for less than $1. This was placed over the lamp kit thing, and a light bulb was affixed in much the same way as light bulbs are often affixed to light fixtures.

The lamp was plugged in and turned on. Et voilà, the wine-bottle lamp was born!

I think I may add a piece of paper, rolled around the cord, inside the bottle. That’s the magic of having the cork easily removable. I can put a message in my bottlelamp!

This wonderful creation has found a perfect home on my dining table. The colors fit exactly with the other objects on the table, from silk flowers to chopstick collection. I’m quite thrilled with the way it turned out!

Lamp turned off:

Lamp turned on:

You may notice in the corner of these photos some green and blue stick-looking things. These are chopsticks shaped like light sabers. Just thought I'd point that out...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday likes roses an awful lot

Hello, girls! It's time to be crafty!

So this challenge idea came to me actually while I was completing Carlyn's challenge a few months ago. I do a lot of crafty stuff and scrapbooking, etc, so I'm always saving and reusing supplies other people might throw out. So that's where this came from. Personally, I rolled cardboard, and I was kinda excited about it.

Back in February, while Stumbling on the internet, I came across a website that showed how to make roses out of old book pages. Now, I like roses. I like roses a lot, and I especially like roses that are made out of other things. I own roses made of glass and of copper and of wood and of paper and of paper towels, two of which variety I made myself (hint: the easiest sounding ones), so I was thrilled to learn to make my own roses out of old book pages.

When I rolled cardboard, I thought, why not try a rose out of cardboard? It didn't go quite as anticipated, but it turned out pretty good, I think, so without any more gabbing from me, here's my craft. Also, I apologize in advance for the photo quality. The light in my apartment sucks and my camera is cheap. Sorry!

Step 1: Obtain cardboard of the thinnest variety possible.

I used, as you can see, cereal boxes, cracker boxes, and tissue boxes. Originally, I was going to try and do a rose of all the same color, more or less, but I didn't have enough section of any one color, so I went with each layer being a different color. 

Step 2: Cut faces off boxes and cut out three and a half six-petal flower shapes.

If you're not doing individual layers, this is easy. If you are, you'll need three full six-petal flowers from your outside three layers, and then the inside three can just have half-flowers. Regardless, you should end up with this:

Quick note: I goofed the upcoming step, so my color-coordinating kinda went out the window. Originally. the red, orange, and yellow were going to be my outside layers. But I made the red into the wrong layer, so I had to cut another purple full-flower out and that became my outside.

Step 3: Cut a slit between two of the petals of your outermost layer. It should still be a six-petaled flower. This is what I goofed, so I don't have a picture.

Step 4: Cut one petal out of the next layer.  (Note: if you're not color-coordinating your layers, keep the petals you cut out. You'll use them later)

Step 5: Cut two petals out of the third layer.

Step 6: Cut the fourth layer in half.

(Steps 6b and 6c: Because I'm color-coordinating, I need my one- and two-petals still)

Eventually, you want to end up with this:

Step 7: Overlap each of the first four layers to make three-dimensional flower shapes. So the first layer with the slit will become a five-petal 3D shape, the next layer will have 4 petals, etc. For paper flowers, I use Tacky glue. for the cardboard, I used hot glue.

 I also glued a length of floral wire to the first layer, to give my rose a stem.

Step 8: Curl the petal edges. This is MUCH easier with paper than cardboard! I started off curling them around a pencil, and ended up just using my fingers, especially on the double layers.

Step 9: Nestle and glue the first four layers in place.

Step 10 (No picture because I'm dumb and forgot to take one). Curl the two-petal section into a loose spiral and glue.

Step 11: Glue the spiral into the top of the rose.

Note: Normally the single petal then gets rolled into a tight spiral and becomes the final layer. However, I found that I couldn't get the cardboard to curl tightly enough, and it looked fine without it, so I left that layer out.

Final product:

A rose for you, lovely ladies!

Alexandra, I'll see you tomorrow!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Let's Be Crafty in Week 29

All right, girls! A few weeks ago, I gave you a challenge. I forced you all to be crafty with recycled objects. I look forward to see how that turned out! :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Last post in America... (for now)

Alexandra: Great wedding photos, you both look so happy!

Meghan: I enjoyed the Omnovia jokes! I have a friend who has his own joke Eastern Europe, so I envisioned that in my head and it worked well, I think. :)

This blog post is being written in between packing and Gilmore Girls viewing, which is on in the background as I get everything in order... I leave for France Sunday night! I still can't believe it's so soon- I don't think I'll believe it's really happening until I'm on the plane over there. I thought I was prepared and relatively packed, but man do I have so much more packing to do. And printing! And scanning! So much printing and scanning to do, guys.

I'm scared but excited to be going to France. I'd love to just stay at home, relax, see friends, and do nothing for a bit, but I've done that for a month now and I know it's time to move on and actually start my own life: own apartment, own job, own taxes, own health insurance... all that. And I'm going to be doing it all in French! But I think I'm ready. And I'm realizing that my French is pretty good, if I may say so myself. I'm getting to that point where I don't have to always think about what I'm going to say before I say it, instead I can just talk and (for the most part) correct French comes out. I definitely have further to go (my vocabulary is on the small side and accents can always be practiced and honed), but I'm happy with where I am and think I'll be able to get around easily in France.

At the lycée (highschool) I'll be teaching at I'm going to be the only English assistant and there will be a German assistant. I've been talking with my contact teacher at the lycée and he suggested that the German assistant and I get an apartment together. I'd love if that could happen! It would be great because 1. I'd like to have a roommate and 2. Having a roommate from another country would be a great experience, I think. Also, I started taking German my last semester of college and I really want to continue. If I lived with a German person, I could just continue learning by talking with her instead of enrolling in a class! Nothing's really been discussed at all yet, but it's an appealing option out there.

While I'm talking about France and all that, I also wanted to ask if I could get a pass on blogging next Friday? I have no idea what my internet situation is going to be my first week or so in France and things are undoubtedly going to be crazy, so I don't know if I'll be able to get to an internet café to blog. So, give me a pass next week? It would be greatly appreciated! And of course if I do get internet access in time, I'll give you guys an update!

Talk to you all from France!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday is patrolling the 'nets for a cheap rental

Kim: Thanks for blogging! It seems like you fit in pretty well with the crowd here : )

Cassie: You do love those kids. And they love you. And it shows. Dear Readers: Cassie is hella dedicated to her theater and her kids. You’ve never seen passion like this. Trust me.

Alexandra: What a lovely wedding locale! Your pictures are gorgeous. I love the uniqueness. I am delighted for you! What a smiling occasion.

So this week is JAB week. For me, this means I’m going to complain somewhat about my car.

I’m going to start two weeks in the future and work backwards. But first a couple details.

So, my dear guest blogger/girlfriend Meghan and I are from hometowns about ten minutes apart (though we met 2.5 hours west of that, in college). Additionally, we have three siblings between the two of us, all born in one three-year span. And they all go to the same university an hour south of our co-hometown-area, one each in freshman, sophomore, and junior years. This all combines to make visits home heinously convenient.

Except when my car breaks down.

This doesn’t happen too often, but it always tends to be at the most inconvenient times.

Say, for example, Meghan were invited to a wedding in Cleveland very near our co-hometown-area. This wedding might be in a week and a half, and I might be attending as her plus-one.

Say this also presented a perfect opportunity to go home and visit our families, whom we don’t often get to see.

Say ALSO that I planned to visit my collegehometown this weekend (a week before the wedding trip), maybe see my delightful girlfriend, maybe go apple picking, spend time with friends, get a wedding-preparation haircut and color from the one person I’ve trusted in years to get near my hair with scissors…

Now say I talked about this in front of my car, who took it as an impetus to refuse to start.

Come hell or high water, I WILL be in Cornfieldville, Ohio by midnight tomorrow. But it will probably be in the company of a AAA-discounted rental car.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Still Spends Most of Her Time Writing

First of all, wedding pictures!

Secondly, I have begun the immigration process, a frightening process indeed. If I don't get past this first step (visa validation and all that), I'm basically going to have to leave the country for the next fourteen months... the country where my house and husband are. So that's great.

Thirdly, my JAB is once again informing you all that I am writing, as I always am. I've begun the early planning stages for my NaNoWriMo! (Does anyone else do NaNo? I'm Ophiucha over there, you should friend me.) It is, by the way, National Novel Writing Month. Good stuff, done it for years to get out early drafts. This project actually has a plot, too, which is something new. It's called The Memory of Stone, and it is about ~palaeontology~. Yep. Basically, the world is a sort of quasi-Wales, but all animal life - save for humans, protected by their magic - have died. Millions of years ago, mind. They've adapted, certainly. Every bit of land that can be spared for farming is dedicated to it, and they use any waste (from the obvious to the bodies of the dead) as fertilizer. And humans have grown used to getting their protein and whatnot from nuts, beans, and veggies. Nonetheless, the story follows a woman (about ~30) named Olwen, who can sense the presence of fossils beneath the stone, and can bring them back to life... well, sometimes. She doesn't have the power to bring anything but small animals back, bugs and the rare rodent or baby bird. Magic is gained through murder in this world. Kill a man, get his magic. And as much as she craves power, she doesn't have the heart (or, to be frank, the talents) to murder a few dozen men.

And she'd need to for what she wants to do. Beneath the Isle of Draig, the capital of Cymry, there is a gargantuan, intact fossil of a dragon - one as large as the island, with a wingspan spreading out into the sea. Even if she had the power, though, it is buried deep in the sediment, far beyond the reach of her chisel and hammer, needless to say. She comes up with a plan, though, that will work in her favour twofold. There is a woman named Arianrhod (Aran) who fought during the last war, whose magic alone would give Olwen the power she needs. And she wouldn't mind killing her, either. But she's the King's best friend, and top advisor, and Olwen knows he'd defend her with his life. She contacts Roderick and Gareth, two lovers who were once Aran's friends. They fought in the war with her, gaining just as much power, and combined, the two were able to move mountains. Aran feared that power, feared for Cymry, and cursed them. One would turn to stone by day, the other would turn to stone by night, so that they may never be together again. Olwen offers them a very simple trade. Help her fight Arianrhod and King Cadwgan, allow her to kill Aran, and wipe away the layers of stone hiding the dragon's fossil, and she will return them to flesh, allowing them to see each other once more.

Not particularly keen on defending their old friend, and willing to do just about anything to see each other again, they agree. And that's your basic set up, there. I'll leave you with this hour long video of Bill Bailey, which is an hour of beautiful orchestral performances, comedy, and even a bit of musical education.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday loves her kids

Hello, girls! It’s Monday!

And a huge thanks to all our guests last week! It was great to hear from some new folks. In place of my usual responses, I shall respond to you!

Kate - Why on earth would I go to Matthew when you’re the far more interesting sibling? Glad to hear New Hampshire is living up to the hype. Say hi to Ken and the kids for me.

Matthew - Thanks, big brother. :)

Alexander - I always love reading people’s defenses of things they enjoy. I haven’t seen much of  Kevin Smith’s work – the excessive cursing puts me off a bit, I’ll admit – but I have enjoyed what I’ve seen. But I agree with you that movies should be judged on their own merit, not just on the merit of their directors or stars. Your attitude toward “Good for a Kevin Smith movie” seems very similar to my “Good for a kids’ show” in youth theatre! Anyway, it was good to hear from you!

Meghan - Omnovia just doesn’t translate to well to text, does it? The stories, yes. The accent, no. Welcome to the hardships of your histogriopher. And how dare you say I am not technically inclined! I can build things! I can handle a drill competently I can . . . put screws in things and – and paint, and . . . shut up, I only drilled through your shoe once.

Kim - It was great to hear from one of our most avid commenters! :) I hear you on Harry Potter, and I, too, am loving being in my twenties!

Now, then. JAB week is upon us, and I . . . have very little to say (I know, I know. For once, yeah?).           

I was going to talk about what a frustrating week I’ve had, because I had and I felt the need to blow off some steam. It hasn’t been a bad week, not really, but it’s been a frustrating and disappoint one.

My classes started this past weekend, and while I don’t and would never gauge the success of the classes by how large they are, I think in my head, I was anticipating the same turnout I got last semester. I taught 30 students in four classes. But this semester, I have only 15. They’re 15 great kids, but it was only half of what I’d planned for, and I had to scrape, scrounge, and beg to get that many. And I’m happy, willing, and desirous to teach as many students as want to learn from me, but fewer students means less money, and while I’m not in this for the money, the more money I make on the classes, the less need I have to find a fourth job, etc, etc, etc.

So there was that on my plate, and the financial worries that went with it, and other money stuff I won’t bore you with, and then the beating up of myself for being so materialistically concerned, etc, etc, etc.

And then I spent the morning stressing and prepping for the launch of our newest project, a monthly drama club that I’m responsible for. And I was short on people, and I didn’t know how many kids were going to show up, and then we only had nine, which was a bit of a blow, and it was all just kinda piling on me and piling on me —

But then, on the way home, the close friend of mine who had been my co-instructor at the drama club and was giving me a ride said something that changed my whole day. He turned to me and said, “You know, Cassie, I just want to say that I loved watching you do what you love today. I’m always honored when I get a chance like that, and it made my day.”

Because of course he was write. I did spend the day doing what I love. And I spent the weekend doing what I love. And yeah, there were some setbacks involved with that this week, but in the past three days, I’ve spent a good eight hours teaching my kids, my students, and watching them grow, even just the slightest bit, as actors. I lost sight of that for a while today. But I am doing what I love, and I am incredibly lucky to be able to say so.

My kids don’t read this blog that I know of, but I want to thank them all the same, because they surprise me with their creativity and they astound me with their talent and they blow me away with their enthusiasm. And I will sit in cemeteries with them and I will sit through three-hour-long performances of books that really shouldn’t be adapted into plays for them and I will take a fourth job if I have to, as long as I can keep working with and teaching to and learning from these kids of mine.

That’s all. I’ll see you all next week, challenge projects in hand.

Monday out.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week 28: JAB!

Thank you so much to all our wonderful guest bloggers last week. As for this week, well, another JAB week is upon is. Talk about whatever you choose! :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

In which Friday's friend blogs instead

Hello! My name is Kim and I'm one of Christina's guest bloggers this week. I've known Christina since elementary school and we've been friends ever since! The other guest blogger is my sister, Beth, who is also one of my best friends. I can't explain how invaluable these relationships are to me. Just last night Beth picked me up from work and I'd forgotten she was coming. So when I saw her I literally ran through crowds of people saying, "Excuse me, pardon me" and then into her and gave her a great big hug. She had parked in the parking garage, but we accidentally entered where the cars enter and not through the staircase, so we went the three levels on foot. At the beginning I started to go a little faster than walking, and then Beth started to go a little faster than me and then suddenly we were both running. I had no idea where the car was, so I would keep expecting to turn a corner and see it, but Beth would say, "No the next one... or, I mean, the one after that!" and the ridiculousness was overwhelming and we just giggled the whole way up, panting and running, each carrying our various bags (me) and dinner leftovers (Beth).

I think there are times in my life when I feel like I'm not working hard enough to achieve everything I want. When I don't exercise regularly, or sketch enough, or I don't know random things that other people think I should know, but in those adrenaline-filled stupid moments like running through an empty parking garage and laughing, when life just smacks you straight across the face in the friendliest way, it's okay. Things are put more into a perspective. I feel empowered and ambitious and also care-free. Some things don't seem as important anymore. If I ate too many sweets, oh well, as long as I have all the nutrients I need, right? If I don't know when the civil war was, it's okay. I can always figure it out, it's not the end of the world. And Christina and I tried to figure it out the other day and we came pretty close. (I believe I guessed the 1870s based entirely on the history of photography and trying to figure out a timeline of fashion based on what I've seen in movies. Looking it up now, I was about ten years off, it was the 1860s.)

I really like being in my twenties, I feel like I'm more comfortable with myself now than I was then. I feel more confident in my abilities and talent. I feel I know more, and I can also see there is SO much I don't know. It was great being in my teens - at the time. Now that I'm in my twenties, I don't want to go back. I sincerely hope I feel this way with each new decade of my life... I think I will because the more I know the more I'm glad I know it. Like when Deathly Hallows, the book came out. I was SO HAPPY it was out. I was kind of sad there was no more waiting for the next thing. But the book was far better than waiting. And same with the movies. I was quite glad the last movie was out so I could get on with things. I can always rewatch the movies and reread the books. To me, the release of both were very good things. I wouldn't want my entire life to just be about Harry Potter and waiting and waiting and waiting (though I LOOOVE waiting for Harry Potter stuff. I just don't need to be doing it for the rest of my life). My aunt asked me what I was doing now that Harry Potter was over and I sat, not knowing how to answer because I was doing everything I've always been doing anyway. My life had changed very very very very very very very very very little due to the movie coming out. I guess it's part of growing up. I've still listened to CoS three times on tape this year, so Harry Potter is FAR from leaving my daily life, it's just a different presence now.

Unfortunately time is restricting the length of this entry for me. I know I was just rambling, but hopefully I've said some things you guys find interesting. Thanks for letting me blog!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday ees frahm Omnovia.

*bewilderedly looks around*
How did.....Why are....Where am I?!?!??
*looks ups and reads*
'Facets of Us'
Oooohhhhhhh.....that's right, Carlyn asked me to blog.
*settles down at computer*

First things first (rather than first things second or third or last), my name is Meghan. There are a few things you should know about me before I begin this. #1: I am flipping nuts. I know alot of people probably say that, but I really am. I'm sure that convinced you. #2: I am lucky enough to know TWO of these crazy blog peoples. Cassie has been my best and dearest friend for years now. I owe quite a bit to her. But that's ok, I have a written declaration of her undying love and eternal devotion. As for the second, I obviously must know Carlyn as I am blogging for her. In fact I am getting to know her more everyday as she and I have now been dating for just over 3 months. :D

Ya know what??!? I should actually write about things now. Yeah, let's do that.

For today's blog post I am going to plunge you (however willing or unwilling you may be) into the world of Omnovia.
What is Omnovia you ask? Good question.
My freshman year of college something called the Omni-Accent was developed out of a terrible and completely inaccurate attempt to do an impression of Apu of Simpsons fame. It sounded like all accents rolled into one. A year later, a tall, lanky, ginger friend asked if people who spoke in the Omni-Accent were from Omnovia. And thus it was born.
Now, Omnovian speak is marked by a mostly Eastern European sound and horrific grammar. (Note: this is the one and ONLY way you can get Cassie to speak improper English!) And over the past three years this country has developed a culture all its own. Everything from political history and national symbols, to social structure and the zodiac.
And the best part about Omnovia, is Omnovia facts. These are little snippets of Omnivian lore that ALWAYS happen by accident. They also follow the very predictable pattern of the 'In Soviet Russia...' jokes. For example...

In Omnovia... all peoples of the military are beings required to be wearing muttonchops.

In Omnovia... we do not feed the pigeons. But not because pigeons are being public nuisance. Because pigeons come up to here *holds measurement at hip height*

In age six, all Omnovian childrenings are to be losing all senses. Governments takes six year olders and putting them in holding chambers. Not to the causes of not being functional, but if not taken away children friends will put tattoos all over them because they cannot of the stoppings them.

In Omnovia...there are no carpetings. This is because of great carpet fires of 1891. All wild and household carpetings catch fire virus and combust. All across country, no more carpets to being had. Only mud now. So many carpetings now be Omnovian greatest import. Second greastest export being mud. Greatest export? Omnovians.

I will admit, a lot of humor in these facts comes in delivery. I am often known for the ridiculous fervor in which I present them. Can I link things here? LETS FIND OUT!
This is a clip of me giving an Omnovian fact while inhaling helium.!/photo.php?v=842958826824&set=t.20923235&type=2&theater

Other things of Omnovian note:
Everyone has up to two Omnovian Titles
Like the facts, these titles come about mostly by accident or at least by ridiculous circumstance. Here are a few:
Meghan: Sergeant General and Mango Providigner
Cassie: Histogriopher and Cinnamontographer
Carlyn: Chronomancer (only one developed at this point)
Chase: Computer Shayman and Raptor Master

Seceding Factions
Over the years, there have been a few groups of people who have decided to pull away from the country of Omnovia.
The first was Brohemia. No one completely knows why they decided to split from the nation, but they did so loudly and violently. Barring themselves into kitchens and armed with mixing bowl hats, wood spoon swords and nerf gun projectiles a smll group of men proclaimed "We are Brohemia! Where the women are few and the beer is plenty!!!" Omnovia refuses to recognize them to this day. The unfortunate part here is that Omnovia's High Preisting and Grand Champion Fish Flinger was in their ranks.
The second was Skireland. When Omnovia began changing the calendar by renaming months, rearranging days and the zodiac, the city-state that was home to those who cannot differentiate between Scottish and Irish accents, decided they had had enough nonsense. Rather than form a rebellion, the whole city simply lifted into the sky. Now completely separated from Omnovia, the floating 'country' creates a very odd time schedule for the Omnovians. The shadow cast by the mass of it makes for interesting changes.

I'll stop now for the sake of...well everything, but I could talk about all this for hours
*looks at watch*

Well in that case, here's something completely random!

To close things out I will give you a few things about myself that you did NOT need to know before reading all of that. I'm going to tell you anyways though!

I love otters. In fact I would strongly consider them to be my spirit animal, in a loose use of the term.
I, like Cassie, and a theatre person. However, unlike Cassie, I am technically inclined. I design, build, paint and destroy sets, props and various other theatrey things. I am most happy when creating.
I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we don't know or understand that reason, but its theres nonetheless.
And there you have it, a nut shell (and I mean nut literally) of me!

On another last note, feel free to post any questions you have about Omnovia in the comments. Myself or Cassie (if she's up for it that is) will do our best to answer them.

Peace out!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday's Husband Defends Red State (And Kevin Smith)

So it has come to my attention that I am to write a little guest post on my wife's behalf. Truth be told I was a bit confused about all this to start, asking about topics and themes and what exactly this blog trended towards. In the end though it turns out I get talk about whatever I wish so that is exactly what I am going to do.

I am huge fan of Kevin Smith. Sure, I love his movies and all, but when I say I am a fan of Kevin Smith I do mean to say that I am a fan of the man himself. Why the distinction? In recent years Smith has splintered away from his usual directorial self in many ways, most notably in the building of his podcasting empire. Now, podcasting wasn't exactly something new for Kevin, not if you take into account the many Q&A sessions he engaged in prior to podcasting. In fact, you could almost go so far as to call the Evening With Kevin Smith specials to be video podcasts.

But again, why the distinction?

These podcasts essentially serve as soapboxes for Kevin Smith's ego (and I don't mean that in any negative connotation, we all have egos and rightly so) and through that medium we get to learn more about Kevin Smith the man than Kevin Smith the director. I don't mean this in a strictly autobiographical sense but rather through exposure to his many quirks and flaws as well as by observing his interactions with his many friends and colleagues we get to experience Kevin Smith in ways not possible if he is merely sitting in his director's chair.

One very powerful example of this can be seen with his latest film, Red State. This movie is something of a departure from his typical comedic leanings. Rather than detailing the exploits of a group of filthy young adults shirking their responsibilities while engaging in rapid-fire retorts and melodramatic appeals to geekdom, Red State is a dark "What-if?" story that relies heavily on suspense and doubt. There isn't a single moment of Red State where the audience can say with absolute certainty that they know what is coming around the next corner. So Red State is Kevin Smith leaving his comfort zone and gauging by critical response so far it also takes the audience out of theirs as well.

Now as I have mentioned already, I am a huge fan of Kevin Smith. I listen to many of his podcasts, most notably SModcast and Hollywood Babble-On and through those shows I bore witness to the enthusiasm that Smith had for Red State. I followed him through the production and marketing of his latest creation and was able to experience Red State in a way that your average viewer would not. Thanks to my loyal listenership I was also fortunate enough to be able to attend a live screening and Q&A session here in Vancouver last month. To say that I enjoyed myself would be an understatement. Red State was, to me anyways, the surprise hit of the year! I couldn't wait for others to see it and begin to see Kevin Smith in a brand new light.

Apparently I was mistaken in believing that could happen.

With the release of Red State on Video On Demand I thought I would take a look around the internets and see what people were saying about the latest Smith flick. In the end I was rather taken aback by all of the hate, all of the vitriol, levied against Red State (though this IS the internet so I suppose I was simply being naive). People just couldn't seem to get past the man sitting on the director's seat. It was also rather obvious that people didn't enjoy being removed from their own comfort zones, these same people who would have decried Kevin Smith for being a one-trick pony had he appealed to that zone.

I encounter this phenomenom with every form of artistic medium, none more notably than with video games. People always cry out for originality. They say, "Challenge us! Inspire us! Show us something new!" But then when something unique and exciting hits the market they shrug their shoulders and go back to playing Call of Duty, comfortable in their "safe pick".

Well, Red State IS controversial, from its unconventional marketing strategy to its own narrative structure, it has ruffled more than its fair share of feathers. People complain that none of the characters are likable, but they're not supposed to be! Not having a likable character in the cast didn't bother me one bit. Why, you ask? Because they were interesting characters in an interesting situation. This is a movie about radical christian fundamentalists capturing, torturing, and murdering "sinners" in the name of their God. Making their victims likeable would have been TOO EASY and BORING! As it stands, there is no one to root for in Red State (well ok, I will basically root for anyone opposing a religious threat, but that's just me) and there doesn't need to be because it is satisfying enough to watch it all play out. Playing to those base human urges the collective audience has is nothing more than a Cop Out when the alternative is doing something interesting.

Speaking of those baser urges, I was watching a video review from the Cinema Snob, someone whose opinion I hold in relatively high esteem, when he came to a point that rubbed me the wrong way. Now, up until now he had been somewhat generous to the film and liked it a fair bit, but then he took issue with one of those unlikable characters not opening fire on the defenseless cultists with an AK-47 during his attempted escape. My problem with Brad's insistence that he would have just blown them all away is this: how can you know that you would? Taking a human life is not an easy thing to do, that's why we call those who have no compunctions about murder psychopaths and why soldiers have to undergo severe mental conditioning to be able to perform their duties. Even in the most dire of situations there are those who might choose death over taking a life. It is not a rational decision, but then rationality sort of goes out the window in life-or-death situations and as such it is not fair to criticize a character simply because they didn't go all Rambo on the congregation (need I mention there were kids present?).

Probably the worst offender is the ending however and to be fair I kind of see where people are coming from here. If Red State had ended with the Rapture it may well have been a masterpiece as Brad maintained in his review. But that's not the story Smith wanted to tell and I respect that. Despite my praise for the movie I wouldn't say it is perfect, but then no movie is. Hell, The Dark Knight was one of my favourites and it was FAAAR from perfect and it was the ending of that movie that threw me much like Red State's has put off so many. But if I'm being completely honest here... I absolutely LOVED the ending in Red State!

Sure, I think it dragged on a bit (many of the complaints directed towards Red State are with regard to the editing, which makes sense considering Smith edited the movie while it was being shot, resulting in a finished product at the wrap party) but I was simply delighted by the dry delivery of exposition to those government agents, thanks to Goodman's excellent performance. To me it was reminiscent of the ending of Burn After Reading, a perfect capstone to circumstances born from utter madness. That being said, I am fully aware of that most cardinal of rules: show, don't tell. So I understand why people might feel that this was a lazy, ineffectual way of ending the movie.

Critics seem all too willing to let their own expectations for the movie colour their impressions of the result. Just because you wanted the Rapture doesn't mean what happened was bad by default, if you want to argue on basis of the writing or editing then that's another matter. To me it all comes down to people wanting to hate Smith or belittle his efforts. But no complaint against Red State can quite compare to the following praise: "It's good... for a Kevin Smith movie."

Yes, Red State is good for a Kevin Smith movie, but it's also just a good movie regardless of who directed it. Kevin Smith is a passionate, engaging person and he makes no excuses for his abilities (or perceived lack thereof). He wants his movies to be judged on their own merits and to do otherwise is insulting. A lot of people have a lot of hate for Kevin Smith. Some of it is because he is fat (a completely separate issue that I could go on about at great length), some of it is because he represents that stoner/slacker "sub-culture", and some of it is honestly just because he's had success at doing what he loves.

But you know what? That doesn't really matter to me because I know what I like and I loved Red State. Kevin Smith's passion for this movie really shines through in the movie itself and whenever he talks about it in his podcasting and during Q&As. The acting is excellent, Michael Parks' performance is mesmerizing as many have said before me. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the movie, my heart pounding in my chest, the cinematography really building on the intense situations these people found themselves in. The action was surprisingly real, the gunfire feeling as though it came from reality as opposed to Hollywood. And to top it all off, Red State had its fair share of laughs and completely unexpected turns. I can't recommend it enough though I understand it isn't for everyone.

If you're interested in following Kevin Smith's exploits in greater detail then you could do worse than visiting and checking out some podcasts (I personally recommend SModcast which features Smith's erstwhile producer Scott Mosier and Hollywood Babble-On featuring the mimicry of K-Rocks Ralph Garman). If you'd also like to read more of my ramblings (though I can hardly imagine why) I've only just started up a blog of my own called where I plan to talk about gaming primarily, so feel free to come on by if that interests you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday's sibling reporting to blog

Hello, girls of Cassie’s collaboration blog! I’m very excited to be writing to all of you. I was actually quite flattered when Cassie asked me to do this. I would have expected her to go to Matthew for this sort of thing. (Hope there are no hard feelings, little brother.)
Sigh . . . five sentences in, and I haven’t even introduced myself. Well done. My name is Katherine Guion-Murdoch, though most people know me as Kate. I’m Cassie’s older sister. I believe she told you about me a few months ago. (Though I’m not sure where she conceived that story about me being a figment of her and her brother’s demented imaginations. Really Cassie, I’m sorry, but you and your brother are simply not that clever.) =) Up until recently, I was an English teacher in Kansas. Now, I’m an English teacher in New Hampshire. Aside from that, things are pretty much the same as they were when Cassie last wrote about me.
Cassie told me I could write about pretty much anything, and recently, I’ve been giving serious thought to the autobiography I’d like to write called My Life as an Imaginary Sibling. (It’s a working title, but for some reason I really like it.) So, since Cassie has already told you about my current life, I thought I would tell you about my past life and show you a brief excerpt from the book. Hope you don’t mind too much or find it too boring.
Chapter 1: An Anomalous Beginning
I was born on a day that only exists once every four years. To this day, I’m not sure how I managed to do that, but I’ve always been one to fly in the face of what’s considered normal. You would be very hard-pressed to locate any pictures of me from any point of my life, because I am notoriously camera shy. I wouldn’t even pose for family photos. I’ve never been to a high school or college reunion, a homecoming game, or even a Christmas visit. I’m kept so busy with my husband and children that I rarely see my parents or siblings anymore. And yet, it’s my siblings who really seem to define who I am. (Though I’m the oldest, so by rights, it should be the other way around.)
My first real memory is of my little brother, Matthew, and my littler sister, Cassie. Strangely enough, I have no memories of Matthew as a baby, though I have vivid memories of Cassie as one. The first thing I really remember is being in the hospital shortly after Cassie was born. Which isn’t terribly unusual, until you consider that I was eight years old at the time. How can one person not have a single, vivid memory of herself before the age of eight?
I have fragments, most of them involving Matthew as a toddler, running around the coffee table we had in our little house in Illinois, with one of his hands never quite leaving the vicinity of the table, just in case. He was deliberate in everything he did, my little brother. It wasn’t until I walked over and gave him a good shove away that he finally got up the gumption to stand and walk on his own, though he’d been perfectly capable of doing so beforehand.
Cassie, on the other hand, was almost the exact opposite. My father is fond of telling the story of when he decided to test that theory that toddlers have an invisible line that connects them back to their mother so they’ll never wander away too far. He allowed her to wander further and further down the driveway, waiting for her to stop, turn around, run back home. Needless to say, had he not run down to scoop her up from the end of the driveway to keep her from going into the road, who knows where she’d be?
It’s little wonder Cassie and Matthew got along so poorly in those early years, really. I remember Matthew being verbally cruel and Cassie responding in the only way she then knew how: physical violence. (Now, of course, she can hold her own in a verbal spar with her brother.) I witnessed a number of incidents between the two of them. The Golf Club Incident, the Unwanted Haircut Incident, the Stolen Book Incident, to say nothing of Matthew’s repeated queries of whether or not it was time to take Cassie back to the hospital in the days after she was born. (He continues to allege that he was confused and thought she was a rental. You can judge for yourselves.)
I realize that I’ve said quite a bit about my two siblings (and we haven’t even gotten to Jeffrey yet!) and very little about myself, but you must understand: I didn’t know who I was before Matthew and Cassie came around. I feel as though I exist solely because of them, despite the fact that I rarely see them. And yet, Matthew was born almost five years after I was, and Cassie nearly four years after that. How do I account for the missing years? The answer is, quite simply, I don’t. This is to be the story of my life, but my life only truly began when those two became a part of it. I can’t explain it any other way, I’m afraid . . . though I am, admittedly, going to spend an entire book trying.
I told you it was an anomalous beginning.
Hope that wasn’t too boring for you girls! I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know you all by way of your blog (which I read as often as I can). The memes last week were exceptionally helpful in learning a bit more about you. And now, I hope you’ve learned a bit more about me as well. I look forward to meeting the other guests this week, and I will see our anonymous Tuesday guest tomorrow!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week 27: Welcome, Guests!

Well, girls, this is the first week of the rest of our blog. That's right, as Carlyn so correctly pointed out, we are now beyond the halfway point! And to that end, I say we deserve a rest. So for one week (the first in six months!), sit back on your day and let someone else do the writing.

Bring on the guest bloggers!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday has watched some very bad movies lately

Okay, I've finally finished my punishment! My friends Kim and Beth very kindly agreed to watch my horrible movie with me. We headed to the video rental store and walked around the store finding horrible looking movies and exclaiming: "Ohh, I don't want to see this!" "Ohhh, I realllllly don't want to watch this!" We finally decided on Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son. We also decided to get a bad looking movie that looked like it would be good in a bad way, if that makes sense. So we also rented Pop Star, a movie starring Aaron Carter as a, you guessed it, pop star, whose mom puts him back in public school to get a good education. Well, we first watched Big Mommas which was, surprisingly, not horrible just.... boring. Terribly, terribly boring. There was hardly anything engaging about the movie. There were horrible parts, of course, pretty much anything involving the "humor" of guys dressed up as girls trying to get covert spies in a girls' boarding school (the plot of the movie). We tried to figure out the ending of the movie as we watched it and hit the nail on the head (son wants to go into music, father wants him to go to college- movie ends with father agreeing to let son go into music and son saying he actually wants to go to college, ta da!)

It turns out that Pop Star was actually far, far worse than Big Mommas. Just absolutely horrible. Terrible movie! The highlight (in a bad way, of course) was in the beginning when Aaron Carter's mom tells him he's going back to school and he exclaims, "But I'm a pop star!!" in a high, squeaky, popstarry way. Oh, Aaron.

Well, I need to be quick because I'm off for movie night, so onto the meme:

The meme I found is called "Four Things," so here we go!

Four vacations you have taken:
1. Roadtrip down to Texas this past June
2. Orlando for the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, June 2010
3. Connecticut and NYC this July to see Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
4. Mackinac Island with friends after graduating from high school
Four songs you get stuck in your head frequently:
1. Jingle Bells (I hum this at least once every month, probably)
2-4: Whatever song I just heard, there aren't really many songs that always get stuck in my head
Four things you'd like to learn:
1. Swedish
2. More German
3. To do a full rotation jump in figure skating
4. Computer programming
Four beverages you drink frequently:
1. Water
2. Seltzer
3. Tea with milk
4. Milk
Four TV shows that were on when you were a kid:
1. Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
2. Bill Nye the Science Guy
3. Boy Meets World
4. The Magic School Bus
Four places to go in your area:
1. A lake
2. Meijer
3. University campuses
4. ... other people's houses?
Four things to do when you're bored:
1. Internet!!
2. Read a book
3. Go for a walk
4. Watch a movie or tv
Four things that never fail to cheer you up:
1. My kitty
2. Harry Potter!
3. My favorite music
4. Thinking about what's going well instead of what's bad (cheesy, I know)
About 20 years ago...
1. I was two years old....
2-4: Not much more besides that!
About 10 years ago... 
1. I was 12 years old.
2. I had discovered Harry Potter a few months back!
3. I was in seventh grade.
4. I had just gone to England.
About 5 years ago...
1. I was 17.
2. I had just finished my junior year of high school.
3. I was in synchronized swimming.
4. I had made new friends (Dan and Jeff) and was hanging out with them and the group a lot.
About 2 years ago...
1. I was... you guessed it, 20.
2. I was in college.
3. I had just figured out what I wanted to major in (Psychology and French).
4. I was happy at school finally.
About 1 year ago...
1. I was getting started on my senior honors thesis.
2. I was researching grad schools.
3. I was starting my French teaching application.
4. I was starting my senior year of college!
1. I watched more Buffy.
2. I did shopping for France.
3. I had toast for breakfast.
4. I watched An Education with my mom.
Four things that scare you:
1. Moths!
2. Being forgotten
3-4: I'm... totally blanking on anything else.

Thursday is still alive...

Hey, sorry I haven't been posting for the last few weeks. I'm still really busy with class, and had a test this week. Also, since I have a big test next week too, I won't be able to post anything until the week after, but I promise a super post which will catch up on all the topics that I have missed these last few weeks!

Wish me luck on my upcoming test, and I will write my post soon!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday's allergies are acting up.

Week 26. 52 / 2 = 26, right? Are we halfway done???

Casey: Where oh where have you gone? We meesss youuu!

Christine: Why do Google searches for phobias always include a picture of the phobe’d object??? I simply do not understand. And I feel your pain, though I love moths.

Cassie: … Unicorn poetry. Also, I know that Meghan! : )

Alexandra: Happiest of ALLLLL the birthdays!

And now for my survey!

It’s a long one. And it was originally filled out January 19, 2010. I have re-appropriated it for our present purposes.

001. Real name – Carlyn Rebecca Campbell

002. Nickname(s) – Car, Carl, Starfish, Yellow, Babe, Pies Rainbow, Table, probably a couple more

003. Status – A quote from a new grad school classmate, on bartering with Pocahontas for counseling services rendered: “You teach us how to survive the winter, and we’ll talk about your problems.”

004. Zodiac sign – Leo, cusp of Cancer

005. Male or female – Female

006. Religion – Nah

007. Elementary - Orchard Hollow Elementary!

008. Middle school – Shore Junior High, back in the old days before it became "Shore Middle School."

009. High school – Mentor High

010. Hair color – Naturally, silvering blonde. Intentionally, fiery red.

011. Eye color – It switches among variations of green

012. Loud or quiet – Depends on the circumstances ;)

013. Sweats or jeans – Jeans, pretty much every day of my life

014. Phone or camera – Cameras don't make calls. Unless they're camera phones...

015. Health freak – Ha.

016. Favorite physical quality – I like being tall.

017. Do you have a crush on someone? – Quite so.

018. Eat or drink – I need both... hm.

019. Favorite movie – There are so many! All-time favorite, though, is probably Evening. Most people I talk to haven’t heard of it, but it has an all-star cast and is sad and wonderful.

020. Tattoos – So far, five: infinity sign on my leg with "ABBA" ("Daddy" in Aramaic), since edited to include a calculus function eliminating the value of the infinity sign by means of a limit that does not exist; Eleven the Cat and Dot the Superspy on the other side of the same leg; seven little birds flying on my right shoulder; “good grief” in Morse code swirling around my left shoulder; and an asterisk on the inside of my right pinky.

021. Water or fire – For drinking, water. For burning things, fire.

022. Love of your life or $4 billion – Love. Always, love.

023. First fear – Probably the dark

024. First best friend – Ashlee, a girl in the neighborhood. We were best friends for years, and we still talk from time to time

025. First award – I think I got a trophy for being on my T-ball team when I was five. In retrospect, "participation" awards should be reserved for those who actually participate. I was the kid sitting in the outfield building piles of dirt.

026. First crush – Probably some paste-eating boy in kindergarten...

027. First pet – A dog named Fairbanks and a fish named Water

028. First big vacation – Oh brother... I went to Alaska when I was like ten months old. I ate dirt off a glacier. I got sick. It must have been great!

029. First big birthday – I remember my eighth as being a pretty good year

030. Brothers – None, though I had a set of imaginary brothers when I was little

031. Sisters – My Ellie : ) I miss her.

032. Favorite place – ~CORNY ALERT~ Pretty much wherever Meghan is. ::goofy grin:: Geographically, though? The tulip fields in Scotland... *sigh*

033. Favorite dessert – Yes!

034. Favorite toy in your house – Crayons!

035. Promise ring or chastity ring? – Wedding

036. Favorite season – Spring, though fall is a close second.

037. Favorite flower(s) – Stargazer lilies! Loooove.

038. Favorite spice – Um... salt? Clearly I'm no chef.

039. Pancakes or waffles – Waffles!! It's been too long.

040. Left- or right-handed – Right

041. Ever been kissed? – For lack of a better term… yes.

042. How many relationships have you been in? – Decent relationships? One. Relationships lasting a week or less? Two more.

043. Silver or gold? – Depends on the situation

044. Checkers or chess? – I'm not good with either, but love both : )

045. Desktop or laptop? – Laptops are sooo much more convenient

046. Ever been out of the country? Yes

047. Where? Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Europe, Australia

048. Big city or small town? I want to end up somewhere I feel safe walking outside, but not so safe that I get lulled into a false sense of security. Small towns always have the best [read: worst] stories on Forensic Files.

049. Favorite food type – If I'm cooking, then the easier the better

050. Favorite drink – Diet Coke. The elixir of the gods.

051. Dogs or cats – Cats, though I love dogs

052. I'm about to – Go to bed (I’ve been blogging early these days, just after midnight on my Wednesdays). But I'll probably proofread this post first.

053. Listening to – The sound of my own typing

054. Plans for today – Tonight: sleep. Tomorrow: Classes and an orthodontist appointment. Because 22-year-olds who haven’t had braces in 11 years sometimes need to go to the ortho.

055. Waiting for – Not waiting. Anticipating and preparing.

056. Your height – When I'm properly standing up, 6'2"

057. Contacts or glasses – Glasses, when I'm reading

058. Want kids? – I’m pretty sure, yes

059. Want to get married? – We’ll see how legal it is : )

060. Careers in mind – All of them! Counselor, writer, editor, artist, business owner, teacher, veterinarian, the list goes on...

061. Rain or snow – Rain! Warm rain I can stand in

062. Gloves or mittens – The word "mitten" is such the perfect word. And so it wins.

063. Favorite girl's name – Rowan?

064. Favorite boy's name – Dash

065. Believe in magic? – Of course

066. Soda, pop, or coke? Diet Coke. The elixir of the gods. We've been over this... I
don't care what it's called

067. Brain or braun? – Brain

068. Prefer lips or eyes – Eyes

069. Great body or great personality? – Personality, of course. Having a body doesn't tell you anything about how a person works, not really.

070. Do you want to be shorter or taller? – Neither, really. Society may not work quite so well for exceptionally tall women, but society can go kick dirt.

071. Do you want to initiate the relationship or him/her? – Circumstances merit various courses of action.

072. What number are you? – I’m four. Because it’s yellow, just like me. (Synesthesia. Yes.)

073. Nice stomach or nice arms – I don’t really have an opinion on that.

074. Sensitive or loud – There is room for both

075. Hook-up or relationship – Relationship

076. Should you be friends first or date first? – I’ve had it work best as friends first

077. Trouble maker or hesitant – Oh, for sure trouble maker. So much more fun

078. Chivalry or not? – It's nice but outdated and sexist. So not.

079. Favorite board game – The Game of LIFE.

080. Lost glasses/contacts – I don't really lose things, so neither

082. Hold a gun/knife for defense – Not expecting to be attacked... I'll just use my amazing powers of persuasion to solve the problem.

083. Killed someone? – Nope

084. Heartbroken – Not presently. Not by a longshot.

085. Been arrested - For some reason, I had to think about this question. The answer is No.

086. Done anything illegal – See, I support the moral standpoint that lets me speed when I'm driving. So yes, I do illegal things all the time.

087. Cried when someone died – Yes

088. Cried by yourself – I have

089. Laughed till you cried – As often as I can!

090. Believe in miracles? – Anyone who wants to see miracles will see them.

091. Believe in love at first sight? – Nope. Infatuation, which can develop at first sight, can be useful in cultivating love, however.

092. Heaven – Probably not. We’ll see.

093. Santa Claus – Good man.

094. Say 'I love you' on the first date – That may be jumping the gun just a tad.

095. Kiss on the first date – Guilty.

096. Hold hands on the first date – Also guilty.

097. Is there one person you want to be with right now? – There is indeed. I miss her crazily.

098. Are you seriously happy with where you are in life? – I am

099. Do you believe in God? – Nah

100. If you feel like it, post as 100 truths and tag 10 people including who tagged you. Or tag no one. Or everyone. But that would take a while.

So that’s my survey! Casey, I hope we hear from you tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday is Building a World, on the Fly!

First of all, I'm 20, yo. Secondly, as an fantasy writer, there is this little something that plagues my very existence. It is worldbuilding. It's rather heavily debated, by those in the trade, whether or not this as hard as it looks, but you have the likes of Moorcock (a hilarious name, I know), who makes things up as he goes along, but maintains consistency, and then you have Tolkien, who wrote more about the world for his book than he did the book itself. It's quite the spectrum, really. With the release of Pottermore (and, if anybody doubted it, I was sorted into Slytherin!), we can see a bit of good ol' J.K.'s worldbuilding (and miscellany character development, as well). I am mixed on the issue - I like to know more than the reader, but I'm not going to be writing the encyclopedia up anytime soon. And some of my stories are a bit more fantastical than just dragons and faeries, it's the air of mystery and magic that supports them, and tedious explanations of trade routes break the illusion. Nonetheless, with a vague idea in my head, I am going to - basically blindly - create a new world! Right here, right now, on this fine Tuesday.

I'm obliged to warn you, it's going to get long. Because I didn't quite want one that would require me to spend the entirety of the day working on it, I've chosen this 30 Day Worldbuilding Meme.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Whoo!!! Survey!!!

Hello, girls! It's Monday!

Alexandra - **SPOILER** It doesn't matter what any of us come up with for my crafty challenge; Carlyn will beat us all. I watched her spend about fifteen minutes at a banquet folding napkins into different animals just to see if she could. We're all doomed. :) Hand-colored newspaper hats are fine!

Carlyn - See, it's not even the taking blood thing that bothers me. I'm absolutely fine with people taking my blood -- well, you know, to an extent. But I can give blood at the doctor's office without any trouble at all. No, it is legitimately the taking of blood via the neck that freaks me out. Part of the reason I was able to even get through Twilight at all was because when Bella did get bitten, she got bitten on the hand, and I was bizarrely fine with that. No, it's a very weirdly specific phobia and I'm not sure there's actually a name for it.

Casey - Keep your head up as much as you can! :)

Christina - So, Mothman is a no for a movie to watch for your punishment?

So! Onto surveys! My friends and I used to be huge into filling out every survey that passed through Facebook, so in order to find my survey of the week, I just went back through the notes I've been tagged in, and I found this one which is maybe slightly more interesting for you all to read. I'll warn you, though. I get very snarky as a side effect of filling out surveys.

Writing Survey

- What's the last thing you wrote?:
An email to the secretary of Horizon Youth Theatre.

- Was it any good?:
Well, it's not going to win a Pulitzer, but the phrasing was quite something, if I say so myself.

Okay, okay, fine, real answers, in terms of fiction: Written and finished - a fanfic about Draco Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass, and I'm actually very proud of it and the way it turned out.

- What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?:
A partially finished novel called The Two Princesses of Kastadale about sister princesses who hate being princesses and so subtly undermine their mother's wishes for them whenever possible until the elder runs away with the blacksmith and the younger learns in secret to be a magician because, oh yeah, she's actually got a secret special powerful magical talent that will eventually Save The Kingdom. It's based on an imagination game my cousin and I used to play, and I wrote it when I was thirteen.

- Was it any good?:
My stars, did you READ the above description?

- Write poetry?:
That is a decided no. I went through a poetry phase at the age of 12. I was determined to be a poet. Then I realized I was actually a really terrible poet and shouldn't make that a career choice.

- Angsty poetry?:
Actually, for how angsty a 12-year-old I was, my poetry back then was surprisingly not. A decent amount of it had to do with unicorns. And that's absolutely the last I'm going to say about it.

- Favorite genre of writing?:
Fantasy. To be even more sub-genre specific, fairy tale fantasy.

- Most fun character you ever wrote?:
Oh, gracious . . . probably Dori, my Dorothy character from my Wizard of Oz retelling. She was very no-nonsense and very snarky, and a combination of myself and my best friend Meghan. I had a lot of fun writing her.

- Most annoying character you ever wrote?:
A character named Aubrey from the same story listed above. She was the Witch of the West character, in the guise of a self-centered, self-entitled college freshman based on a girl I had run-ins with in the past.

- Best plot you ever wrote?:
I'm really proud of my Sleeping Beauty adaptation that I wrote for a class last year and the twists and turns that plot took. I took on a very complex idea and was able to manage it in exactly the way I wanted to.

- Coolest plot twist you ever wrote?:
I'm a fan of my Cinderella short story where, when the prince returns Cinderella's shoe and asks for her hand, she turns him down to marry the cobbler.

- How often do you get writer's block?:
All the time, though to be honest, a lot of it is just procrastination.

- How do you fix it?:
I shut myself in my room, put my writing music on, set myself a word limit, and don't let myself stop writing until I've met it. You've just got to power through it.

- Write fan fiction?:

- Of what?:
Harry Potter mostly, though I've dabbled in Heroes, West Wing, Howl's Moving Castle, Firefly, and Into the Woods.

- Is it better or worse than your other writing?:
It's an aspect of my writing. Some of it is better than some of my other writing, some of it is worse. But things aren't nearly so clear cut as this question would like them to be.

- Do you type or write by hand?:
Both. I usually use my computer, just to expedite, but if I'm really getting stuck, writing by hand really helps me get past whatever block is in my way.

- Do you save everything you write?:
Just about

- Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?:
All the time. Let's be honest; I'll probably go back to that crazy princesses story someday and actually make it into something worth reading.

- What's your favorite thing that you've written?:
Oooh, tough question. Probably my Sleeping Beauty novel. I've put the most of myself into that one.

- What's everyone else's favorite thing that you've written?:
Um . . . hard to say. More people have read the Wizard of Oz novel I wrote (because my older brother was on page 8 of Sleeping Beauty from December until just recently . . .), so I'll say that one.

- Do you even show people your work?

Yes, I do, if they're interested in reading it. More often, though, I just talk through it with people. I am not in any way a solitary writer.

- Who's your favorite constructive critic?:
Maggie. She is completely and entirely honest, and beyond that, willing to spend two hours on the phone reading two paragraphs out loud over and over and helping me fix them. Which is awesome.

- Do you have a website for your writings?:
For my fanfiction, yes. I'm on under the penname Realmer06, but I won't put my original stuff on the Internet. Gets too sticky.

- Did you ever write a novel?:
I have finished two novels that are entirely my own, two novels that I co-wrote with a close friend of my in letter game format, and one novella-length short story.

- Was it for NaNoWriMo?:
One was, in addition to being for a class. The other was just for a class, and the two I wrote with my friend were, seriously, just for fun.

- Have you ever written fantasy, sci-fi, or horror?:
Fantasy is pretty much all I write.

- Ever written romance or teen angsty drama?:
Romance is worked into my stories, usually, but it's not the focus.

- What's your favorite setting for your characters?:
Any world that I make up myself because I'm in charge of it. I'm exceptionally bad at doing research on the real world; I'd much rather just make up my own history and religion, etc. Then I can't get it wrong.

- What's one genre you have never written, and probably never will?:
Horror. Western. Psychological Thriller. Romance.

- How many writing projects are you working on right now?:
Um . . . can I plead the fifth? It's a lot.

- Do you want to write for a living?:
I'd love to be able to, honestly, but I would go stark raving mad after a week. I want to be a published writer. I don't want it to be my only career. I could never give up my theatre kids, for one thing!

- Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?:
Yes, I was the drama critic for the middle school paper in 7th grade, and the editor for the same paper in 8th grade, and then I started a paper at my high school that last for two years, so I wrote things for them.

- Have you ever won an award for your writing?:
Yes. I had one descriptive essay take first place in the Tri-County Writing Contest, two long short stories (800-1200 words) take first place in the same, one long short story take second, and one short story take first in the OSU-Mansfield Writing Contest. All of that was when I was in high school. In college, my This I Believe essay was one of the top two in the contest my Honors Program sponsored. If you search the Internet, you can find me reading it to camera or something.

- Ever written something in script or play format?:
Several. I teach performance-based theatre classes.

- What are your five favorite words?:
Hm. . .wow, that's a difficult choice . . . but I'm a fan of plethora, facetiously, verisimilitude, gesticulating, and etymologically, all for vastly different reasons.

- Do you ever parody?:
No, I'm not nearly clever enough.

- What's your favorite thing to parody?:
See above

- Do you actually like that thing, or are you spitefully making fun of it?:
I think you have to have respect for a thing if you want to successfully parody it. Otherwise, it just turns out mean.

- Do you ever write based on yourself?:
Many of my characters have several things in common with me, but I've only actually written myself into one novel, and it was a small part. Oh, and one short story, too.

- What character that you've written most resembles yourself?:
Well, Casey Morgan from my friend Meghan's birthday zombie apocalypse story WAS me, so . . .

- Where do you get ideas for your other characters?:
I'm of the writing philosophy that I actually have very little creative control over my characters. They kind of walk fully formed into my head and tell me what their story is. I'm just in charge of writing it down.

- Do you ever write based on your dreams?:
Occasionally, but not often.

- Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliffhangers?:
Happy endings, but I write a lot of angst before we get there.

- Have you ever written based on an artwork you've seen?:

- Write me a really classy simile:
Writing a classy simile is like dressing up to go to a fancy ball. It's easy to look nice from far away, but it's when you get out to the dance floor that we really see what you're made of.

- Now write me a really dumb simile:
Writing a dumb simile is like playing a violin upside-down. It's possible, but not preferable, as it won't sound very good and just doesn't make a lot of sense.

- Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?:
Hello, have we met? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

- Ever write something entirely in chat-speak? (How r u?):
No, and nothing is more likely to wake in me a desire to kill people.

- Entirely in L337?:
See above.

- Was that question completely appalling and un-writerlike?:

- Does music help you write?:
Yes, but only instrumental.

- Do you have a weblog or livejournal?:
Hmmm . . . I dunno, girls. Do I have a weblog? :)

- Do you write your life as if it were one of those journal books?:
Nope. in fact, I can't stand journaling.

- Are people surprised and confused when they find out you write well?:
No, I think they just accept it as par for the course.

- Quote something you've written. The first thing to pop into your mind!:
"All stories have to start somewhere. Some start with a birth or a death. Some start with a christening or a funeral. Some start with Once Upon a Time or on a Dark and Stormy Night. My story started on a Tuesday."
And with that perfect segue, Alexandra, I will see you tomorrow!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Week 26: Let the Memes Begin!

So, this week, next week, and the week after JAB week and challenge week were supposed to be Casey's to assign, but given that I failed to inform her of this (or if I did, it was, like, months ago and I failed to remind her; in either case, Cassie is dumb and forgetful), I shall take these weeks myself and put Casey on three at the end of the year, and I hope that is agreeable to all involved. :)

So! This week shall be Meme Week. And by meme, I mean the survey-type. Let's not lie -- we all filled out tons of these on Facebook and Myspace and other various places throughout the years, or at least I did. Whether it's a list of Harry Potter questions or the "Write a letter to your ten years past self" or any other number of collections of silly and rather pointless questions, pick a survey and answer it for us this week!

And as a heads' up, next week will be Guest Blogger week, so line up your stand-ins! They may write on any of the topics we've done so far this year!

Looking forward to hearing from all of you! :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday here, with an update

First off for anyone who watches Luke Conard's videos, you might recognize my title today. I don't know why, that just popped into my head and I then felt the need to explain it to everyone and here we are. (That's how he starts of his videos, except replace Friday with Luke.)

ANYWAY before I jump into my fears, I'll talk about my punishment. Okay, I ended up watching Never Say Never (the Justin Bieber movie). Here's the thing though... I didn't hate it. I actually kind of, sort of enjoyed watching it... heh, yeah. He was adorable in it, okay?! Stop judging me!! *hides* And the crazy fangirls provided endless amusement, of course. (I am actually scared for his safety after seeing the crazy eyes on some of them...) Well, anyway, given the apparent lack of actual punishment in what was supposed to be a punishment, I'm going to watch another horrible movie and this time I'll make sure that I hate it. This should be much easier to fit in now seeing as how today was my last day working in the lab! It was sad to leave the office for the last time, though I know I'll be back in a year or so to visit. It won't be the same though. It was actually time to say bye to my college town today too. It hadn't completely felt like I'd graduated yet since I was still living and working there all summer, but now all my ties are actually cut. Driving home today was an odd feeling.

Now then... what am I afraid of? I was excited to see that this was the week's topic because I knew I'd have no trouble at all thinking of something to talk about. My friends reading this already know what I'm going to say, I'm sure. Moths. I HATE moths. Not just hate, but am terrified of them. I'm not that fond of butterflies either, but I don't run away from them okay, I actually might run away from them too. Let me clarify, I don't like butterflies or moths, but moths are the terrifying ones (butterflies are merely scary). It's just the way they move and flutter around and they're slightly fuzzy and have creepy eyes on their wings and OISDJFOAISJDFKSDLFKALDSFJLADF. I'm creeping myself out just thinking about it. I feel like a moth's going to come attack me at any moment. So yes, I have a phobia of moths: mottephobia to be specific. I just googled that to make sure I was spelling it right and what popped up? A PICTURE OF A MOTH. WHY. WHY.

I'm not sure why I'm scared of moths, though I think it has something to do with the huge light on my aunt's porch that attracts hordes of moths at night time. My aunt lives in very rural Massachusetts right next to a forest with bears. I was afraid to go outside her house at night because I was convinced that I would be attacked by a bear. And what else was outside her house at night? A light surrounded by huge moths. I have a suspicion that my fear of going out there at night was transferred to the moths and I'm now afraid of moths. But I mean, c'mon, they're also just completely creepy, right? Right?

You guys might remember the video that Hank posted a few videos ago of those dead butterflies in the river? Yeah, that video was like a living nightmare to me. Especially because I also thought they were just flowers floating in the river at first and then the terrifying truth hit me and I physically recoiled from my laptop and may have said quite loudly "WHY. WHY. NO. NO. NO. THAT'S NOT GOOD. WHY." And then it got even worse... he started showing videos of living, moving butterflies. Eeuuurrgggh. Most terrifying vlogbrothers video to date.

Oh, and Ron? I would MUCH rather follow the spiders than the butterflies.