Thursday, September 27, 2007

People of Note

2007 - The Year of the Fire Pig has been incredibly chaotic just as predicted. There's been good and bad all over. One of the good things, though, has been my exposure to the works of an incredible amount of awesome actors and screen writers. I've watched more amazing episodes and acting than I have ever been exposed to before. (There have been some bombs, but I'm going to ignore those...told you there'd been good and bad this year! heh)

I figured this time out I would mention some of these in the hopes of getting them and theirs a little more exposure out in the world. (Okay, so they don't really need MY help. But it is fun talking about them.) :P

Thanks to a serendipitous conversation at Lazy Dragon Con I got to discover an incredible screen writer and two of his awesome shows, plus a plethora of amazing actors. And all of them from British TV! The screen writer's name is Steven Moffat He's done several episodes for the new Dr. Who (1 per season - "Blink" being the latest one shown in the states - and it was an all new kind of creepy) and is the driving force behind this summer's coolest Paranormal show called "Jekyll". (You can catch it on BBC America), which is about an ancestor of Hyde/Jekyll. He also did four seasons of a very funny show called "Coupling". (My hubby, who doesn't normally like British stuff, especially their comedies, adores this show!) Coupling basically follows three men and three women and their interlaced lives. Lots of truly creative things in this one, and the science fiction references that get thrown in out of nowhere on occasion are awesome. Like when Steve talks about the 3 main uses for a couch - #3 is a place to hide behind during Dalek attack. ROFL. Mr. Moffat does comedy and drama extremely well. Definitely a master of his craft!

From both Jekyll and Coupling you can view the work of actress Gina Bellman. When seeing her in Jekyll she is good, but you don't realize how good until you see her as Jane in Coupling. The difference between the two is so amazing that it is as if she too were Jekyll and Hyde! Which brings us to James Nesbitt, a northern Irish actor, who with very little physical change or makeup (like almost none), changes from mild mannered Dr. Jackman to the very powerful and disturbing Hyde. The transformation has to be seen to be believed. An utterly spectacular performance.

Heck, everyone in Coupling was awesome. The timing, the weird stuff they'd pull. I definitely recommend it and Jekyll! Way too much fun!

Oh and by the way, the helper for Dr. Jackman in Jekyll, is the very woman who is about to be Jamie Summers in this years remake of the Bionic Woman! (I told you I am a coincidence magnet!) Her name is Michelle Ryan. Liked her very much in Jekyll, so I think she will be a lot of fun as Jamie in the Bionic Woman as well.

Other screen writers I am definitely enjoying are Sera Gamble, Eric Kripke, John Shiban, Raelle Tucker, Ben Englund, and all the other writers in Supernatural (You knew I had to go there eventually, right?) Sera Gamble is responsible for tons of my utter favorite episodes, especially the one that took me over the edge - "Bloodlust". "Heart" just took my breath away - it's also one of the episodes I've heard is most responsible for winning converts from the female population - heh. John Shiban did the super impacting Croatoan (also one of the meanest cliffhanger episodes EVER!) Raelle Tucker will be loved forever for the episode "What is and What Should Never Be", which was also a great acting vehicle for Jensen Ackles! Ben Englund has a sick sense of humor which was a blast in "Hollywood Babylon". I swear this show has one of the best teams out there. I think only Boston Legal's team comes close!

And while you have heard me wax poetic on the virtues of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, through Supernatural I have also discovered the amazing talents of Jim Beaver! In another series of coincidences, I've seen the man in several shows this very year, and the more I see of him, the more I am impressed! He played an FBI boss in the movie "Next" (Really weird seeing him dolled up compared to the other roles he's played! He turns out rather nice!), a prospect miner in "Deadwood", and an old Vet in the now canceled series "John from Cincinnati" (which has one episode that would make any weirdness he's had to face in Supernatural totally mild in comparison! lol!). He is one of those supporting actors that brings so much to his role, but in such a quiet, underhanded way you barely notice, yet without him, the atmosphere wouldn't be there - his is the sealing touch. (Not sure how to explains this exactly.) And his performance as Bobby in the episode "All Hell Breaks Loose pt2" shows his excellent range. I was very happy to hear he will definitely be a returning recurring character this new season. Go, Jim!

Another supporting actor that has very much impressed me is Garret Dillahunt. He played Dr. Michael Smith in "John from Cincinnati" but also played two very different characters in "Deadwood" - Jack McCall and then Francis Wolcott. They were like night and day. Very nice work.

I can't wait to see what new actors and writers I will discover in the blooming new season! Am I ever glad for my Tivo! heh

Happy Watching!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I had originally planned to post something else this week, but fate had other plans.

This week, my daughter brought home a movie which I had seen the previews for at the theater. At the time I thought it had looked totally fascinating, despite the fact the second half of the preview made it look like a slasher film. My husband pooh pooh'ed it at the time, and I don't know if it was out long if at all at the theaters.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is far from a being a slasher film. They shot themselves in the foot with the advertising there. But what had caught my attention at the time when I saw the preview, it had in spades. More on that later...

As the title itself suggests, the movie is the story of a murderer, a biography actually, of the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. His life was one of being different, obsession, and desperately wanting to preserve things that could be lost.

For an obscure film. it had some heavy hitters. Dustin Hoffman was a total delight as the aging perfumer Guisseppe Baldini. Even more fun was Alan Rickman (Better known as Snape by most) as Richis. I do not believe I have seen Mr. Ben Wishaw before (though his film credits are many), but I will tell you he made a great creepy/obsessed/innocent/eager/abnormal man.

Jean-Baptiste is unusual from other people in two things - 1) He has an uncanny , virtually superhuman sense of smell and 2) He has no actual scent of his own.

What I utterly loved about this film is how hard those who made the film worked at making the act of smelling something and turned it into a visual medium so though you could not smell what Jean-Baptiste smelled, you could very well imagine it. There is one scene with Dustin Huffman where he opens a vial of perfume Jean-Baptiste has made and you see him overwhelmed by the scent as the scene around him changes to a lush garden full of all sorts of flowers, even a gypsy woman who saunters by and tells him that she loves him. (I've seen this done for taste in a cooking anime show, so I thought the similarities hilarious, but never mind...)

The settings, the clothing, and all the little touches were wonderful in the film. They took you from the common filth to the elite and back. And they did some marvelous things with light and shadow. The very first scene was amazing in that way as they use light and shadow to highlight the one organ that meant everything for the film, Jean-Baptiste's nose. Another lovely scene was when he sneaks up on the fruit seller girl when she is home so he can smell her scent up close.

Even better, though Jean-Baptiste is so not normal, and at times it screams of his not fitting in, you still find yourself wanting him to succeed in his project, despite the fact that to complete his goal people must die. The writers have several unusual and clever things going on as well, as for some reason pretty much anyone who Jean-Baptiste gets close to end up dead, and through no doing of his. Just some clever plot of fate, as if making sure no one would remember this unusual man by getting rid of those who know him. Several plot twists work you up toward where you think you know where things are going and then go somewhere else. The ending, while totally apt, you will never see coming.

Definitely a must see movie, even weird as it was!:P

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Book Review - Dark Lullaby

Dark Lullaby
by Mayra Calvani

Premise: Gabriel Diaz is an idealist. He loves debating about good and evil, justice versus murder. His relationship with his ex-girlfriend Liz is friendly, though he knows she would let it be more again if he wanted. But he doesn't think he loves her. Yet more fodder for moral discussions in his own mind. His childhood in Puerto Rico was not a happy one. Though he and his twin sister survived, it has colored his perceptions. The unusual bond he and his twin share hasn't failed to impart to him her fears of her current pregnancy, having lost a daughter hours after birth three years ago. Yet all these hanging issues and more get put on hold when he meets Kamilah. Foreign and beautiful, she drives him to distraction. And she seems as fascinated by the moral issues of justice and darkness as he is himself. Then little things start happening the closer the time for his trip to visit his sister for the impending birth comes. Is there a form of darkness at work here or is he only letting his imagination and worries run away with him?

Review: Filled with several exotic locals, Dark Lullaby makes for a plethora of the unusual and foreign. The Middle Eastern mythology used is also not one seen often, so it made for a very refreshing change and caused the horror aspects to be even more poignant. Gabriel has to face the very moral issues he's been battling in his mind, pushed and prodded toward an end that will affect the lives of more than just himself. While who the evil persona is was never in question, the goals and resolution weren't clear until the end, making the read much more exciting. If you like chills, foreign settings, and moral dilemmas, this book is for you! ***1/4!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Curse of the Cover

Being a writer tends to involve a lot of time spent waiting. Waiting to get distant enough from a project to edit the manuscript, waiting to hear back on submissions, waiting to get a manuscript back from a beta reader or editor, waiting to actually move up the cue to get the book published. It's all part of the process, and you grin and bear it as much as possible. But no one ever told me I would have to deal with curses too!

My first book, In the Service of Samurai, actually went pretty smoothly from acceptance, editing, and print. No real problems. But, Vassal of El, on the other hand, was plagued after it went to print with odd category placements! On Fictionwise it got dumped into Dark Fantasy, something which it is definitely not. But on Amazon, by some fluke of nature, it got slated as a Scientific Experiment Text! Who knows what it got dumped under elsewhere. And let me tell you, after you get stuck in the wrong category, it is hard, very hard to get you put into the right spot! (The publisher and myself going at it, it still took more than a year to fix Amazon! Eek!)

I sold two other manuscripts, one to another publisher, and a new one to my main publisher. The new publisher got me edited right away, and it was awesome. But they got cursed with some truly terrible personal catastrophes (on multiple members of the staff!), which trickled down, so that book was delayed along with many others for over a year. I have my fingers crossed that Cross-eyed Dragon Troubles will see print sometime around Christmas, but who knows! (I don't think of this one as cursed per say, but then, I'll have to wait and see till it is released!)

I had much higher hopes for Willing Sacrifice. But little did I know! Back in 2006 the specs for the cover were sent off to an artist, and there was a proof by January 2007. I liked the proof a lot, and so did the publisher, and after compiling some minor changes to bring out a couple of aspects, the publisher contacted the artist and waited for the changes. And waited, and waited, and waited. Despite repeated attempts to get a hold of the artist, there was no response. Suddenly the release date is looming and the book has no cover! (Hadn't had an edit yet either, so all I could think was doom and gloom!) Publisher found another artist. The edit got done. I did the final manuscript pass through. We did miss the original publishing date, but the artist did get a first cover pass out. The cover was totally different from the first one, but was pretty good. Did need some changes, (I'm sorry, Dal doesn't have a goatee!) and the comet needed to be placed on the front rather than the spine (some weird placement issue thing), but once fixed I was sure it would kick!

I wait and wait and finally bug the publisher. Well, the proof got looked at by the partner, who is also the cover layout person, and she didn't like it. Decided she would take the project on herself. But she's swamped. So now I wait, and wait, and wait. Maybe 2007 just isn't my year to publish books...

Want to take bets on whether a fourth artist will have to take a crack at it?

The Curse of the Cover is here! :P
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