disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)
Dear Yuletide Writer:

Thanks for participating in the exchange! I hope you enjoy the reading, writing, and excitement of Yuletide. A bit about me:

Relationships: I enjoy gen, het, slash, and femslash. Poly is less of a thing for me, but if you find it makes for a compelling story, go for it.

Likes: Gothic tales, May/December relationships, noir, silver foxes, mentor/student relationships, atmosphere, vampires, ghosts, period settings, sexual extortion, power dynamics, nature (forests, deserts, shores and swamps). Exploration of the minds and motives of villains. Fraught relationships (sexual frustration, longing, unrequited love). 

Squicky about: cannibalism, bestiality, zombies, gratuitous graphic violence, scat/watersports, underage (see fandom specific details), body horror. Dub-con is okay; explicit non-con is iffy but not a deal breaker. I’d prefer not to read stories that focus on infidelity, though I know it can play a role in the backstories of some characters.

I’m good with missing scenes and canon divergence, but I like to stay in the world of the story, so I’m less interested in other types of AUs.

Some fandom specifics... )

Happy writing! I look forward to reading the fruits of your creativity in December.

disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)
Dear Trick or Treater:

Thanks for participating in the exchange! A little bit about me:

Relationships: I enjoy gen, het, slash, and femslash. Poly is less of a thing for me, but if it’s fun to write, go for it.

Likes: Gothic tales, May/December relationships, noir, silver foxes, mentor/student relationships, atmosphere, vampires, ghosts, period settings, sexual extortion, power dynamics, nature (forests, deserts, shores and swamps).

Squicky about: cannibalism, bestiality, zombies, gratuitous graphic violence, scat/watersports, underage, body horror. Dub-con is okay; explicit non-con is iffy but not a deal breaker.

I’m good with missing scenes and canon divergence, but I like to stay in the world of the story, so I’m less interested in other types of AUs.

Fandom Specific Suggestions )

I'm looking forward to reading what you put together!


Aug. 31st, 2017 06:31 pm
disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)
 Going to Montreal tomorrow! What should I make sure I do?
disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)
I meant to post this close to a month ago, but:

This year I checked out Trailer Treats night at the Brattle Theater. It sounds like it was a bit muted compared to previous years, which featured live bands and barbecue, but it was still absolutely schlocktacular. If you like men with authoritative voices shouting craziness over vintage bananas footage, this show is for you. Some highlights: 

Dr. Goldfoot and His Bikini Machine  (Vincent Price!) 

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (Christopher Lee!)

Battle Beyond the Sun (Paper maiche vagina dentata monsters!) 

Invasion U.S.A. (Chuck Norris!) 

Planet of the Vampires (Vampires...in....SPAAAAACE) 

Black Sabbath (Boris Karloff!) 

I couldn't find a trailer for the Tower of Screaming Virgins, but the whole movie seems to be available on Youtube. I look forward to watching it with a bottle of cheap peach schnapps. 


Jul. 18th, 2017 10:39 pm
disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)
My entries for the recent Multifandom Drabble Exchange (and treats!)   

Awake for mergatrude 
Fandoms: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Star Wars - All Media Types
Characters: Cassian Andor, K-2SO (Star Wars)
Additional Tags: Pre-Canon, Drabble
Words: 100
"The rebirth of a droid" 

Feast for theprokaryotekid 
Fandom: Dracula - Bram Stoker
Relationship: Brides of Dracula/Mina Harker
Characters: Mina Harker, Brides of Dracula, Abraham Van Helsing
Words: 100
"En route to Dracula's castle, Mina is tempted by strangers in the forest."

Our Moment
Fandoms: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel - James Luceno, Star Wars - All Media Types
Relationship: Galen Erso & Orson Krennic
Characters: Orson Krennic, Galen Erso, Jyn Erso, Lyra Erso
Additional Tags: Double Drabble, Drinking, Coruscant, Project Celestial Power
Words: 200
"During a toast, Orson Krennic contemplates his and Galen Erso's rise to greatness."
disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)
Stuff on Screens
The Beguiled (Siegel, 1971).  In my continued pre-gaming for the Coppola remake, I watched this one. A wounded but lusty Union soldier recuperates in a Southern boarding school full of repressed girls and ladies, and things get out of hand. It’s as lurid as you’d expect a movie made in 1971 to be, but disappointing on a number of counts. The screenwriters promptly trade in the suspense for the sleaze, revealing a major piece of character backstory within the first several minutes. This reveal both neuters said character and eliminates the slow burn unfolding of that information, which made the book interesting to read. I came for the Southern Gothic atmosphere, which takes a distant backseat to softcore sex scenes and gauche visual metaphors. While the book shows both sexes struggling under the confined, upside-down circumstances the war has brought, this movie seems to be more sympathetic to Clint Eastwood’s injured soldier than most of the women, who either want to possess him or castrate him, regardless of their age or backstory. 

Still, if you have three minutes, the trailer is hilarious. It’s a solid example of the “so bad it’s awesome” trailer formula: Authoritative Voice Man barks craziness over the most sordid or ‘splodey parts of the movie.

I’m still interested in seeing where Coppola will go in her version. So far I agree with those criticizing her for not including the black house slave character in her adaptation, which is a loss not in only terms of representation but also as a counterpoint to the privileges and restrictions the white women experience. But I’m holding out hope that she’ll bring back the mysterious environment and languid pace, and approach the story from a feminist direction.
Big Trouble in Little China (Carpenter, 1986). So, okay. I didn’t do my homework on this movie. I went on Netflix looking for 80s goofball craziness and landed on this one. At first watch, it makes negative sense. I never figured out who some of the characters were or what motivated them. Exposition is either shouted over gunfire or occasionally blurted out as though the characters were being given Heimlich maneuvers. With its underground booby-trapped labyrinth filled with Claymation and puppet monsters, it looks an awful lot like The Goonies for grownups.

Then there’s the pan-Asian-pop-culture candy coating poured over the whole thing.
Gonna stumble through my thoughts about this, from a white perspective. )

Life Stuff

Last weekend I was in Geneseo, IL for my cousin-in-law’s wedding. The wedding was enjoyable, the bride lovely, and the events on either side--a firefly lit barn party and a small-town Father's Day parade--were quite fun. The parade was like drinking America from a fire hose: marching bands and tractors and beauty pageant winners and Trump and Jesus. While I had a good time, the heavy dose of religion I encountered throughout the weekend (wedding ceremony + fundamentalist Lutheran community) and the youthful innocence of the bride brought up some complicated, bittersweet thoughts and feelings. I found myself mourning my past as a religious teenager, when life often seemed more straightforward and I had fewer regrets (thought maybe that’s just because I was younger…). But I also reflected on the many reasons--intellectual and spiritual--why I’m not that person anymore.

This week I'm competing in the Grownup Field Games, including work wardrobe shopping and *gulp* dipping my toe into the waters of the metro Boston real estate market by meeting with a realtor. It’s all making me long for simple summers with nothing but my library's summer reading program to worry about. But I had a good time at Sunday's Fannish Brunch, which is a good reminder that you can be random and nerdy and fun no matter what age you are.

I’m taking a break from Hunchback to write a Rogue One Orson Krennic fic that came to mind in (relatively) whole cloth while reading James Luceno’s Catalyst Star Wars novel. I’m learning that “one does not simply write fic in the Star Wars Universe.” There is lore for fucking everything. For what it's worth, I am now very adept at writing about bug people.

Looking forward to…

July 4th weekend in Acadia National Park. Atomic Blonde (opening July 28). Charlize Theron AND John Goodman AND Toby Jones? Oh, my!

disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)
 Stuff on Screens
My Cousin Rachel (Michell, 2017).  After reading and seeing the 1940 adaptation of du Maurier’s Rebecca, I was excited to see this, especially with Rachel Weisz as the star. An heir to an English country estate flits between infatuation and suspicion after his cousin’s beautiful but mysterious widow comes to live with him. The acting was solid, particularly by Weisz, and the setting, costumes, and cinematography were really beautiful. I did fall prey to being distracted by actors I recognized, which in some cases enhanced my experience (waves at Simon Russell Beale and Holliday Grangier) and in other cases detracted from it (sorry, Iian Glen). 
The film made me want to know more about de Maurier’s life experiences and how they might have shaped her ideas about women and power. No woman seems to be safe for long in what I’ve read or seen of her stories. Those with personal charisma become dangerous, but not enough to keep them out of the crosshairs. I found myself a little unsettled watching the film ask the question “did she or didn’t she?” (as opposed to “did he or didn’t he?” in Rebecca), but that kept me thinking about it long after it was over. 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Dieterle, 1939): The Disney version borrows heavily from this adaptation, and well it should, because it is AWESOME. Lots of fangirling under here )

Stuff on Paper
The Beguiled (Cullinan, 1966). I read this one in anticipation of the movie at the end of the month. A wounded Union soldier is taken in by the students and headmistresses of a girl's boarding school in the Civil War South, but more time they spend in close quarters with each other, the more their lives begin to unravel. The book is chock full of Southern gothic elements, and the prose is rich without being too flowery. I also found the book really useful in terms of how to tell a story from multiple points of view, including how to distinguish narrators when writing in the first person. Still, the book left me with the same question, I had after watching My Cousin Rachel: what drives the way the author approached gender? Cullinan is a man, but he tells the story exclusively from the point of view of the women living in the school; we only hear about the singular male character from their perspective. Several of the characters--male and female--prove capable and/or charismatic, but practically everyone is deeply flawed: vain, prideful, manipulative, jealous, debauched. I’m still mulling over whether Cullinan’s narration choices were purely structural ones to create suspense; if there’s a misogynistic subtext; or if he might was trying to demonstrate that anyone, regardless of sex, can be corrupted.  

A summer cold sidelined my progress this week. I kept waking up to write, but I usually ended up just staring and sniffling at my laptop, and then wandering over to Pinterest. Speaking of Pinterest, you can find me here, where I have a board of findings from my ongoing writing advice scavenger hunt, among other things.
In an attempt to escape the loneliness of my Hunchback fic project, I’ve signed up for the 2017 Multifandom Drabble Exchange. How distracting can one 100-word project be? Let’s find out!
disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)

Writing under of the influence of the dreaded ‘Quil. If you ever want nightmares about taking a pop math quiz written entirely in alchemical symbols, try the ‘Quil.


Stuff on Screens


The Boss (Falcone, 2016).  I suspect this movie was a lot more fun to act in than it was to watch. Melissa McCarthy plays a ball-busting mogul who gets put in jail for insider training and has to decide what kinds of sacrifices she’s willing to make to get back to the top. McCarthy gets to spar with Peter Dinklage and show off her grade-A physical comedy, but all the characters (even hers) are so thinly drawn and the stakes so low that not even the gags make up for it. Which is a bummer, because I like McCarthy and want her and her husband Ben Falcone to succeed. I hope they at least got some epic backstage shenanigans out of the experience.


Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? (Aitkenhead, 2016). I guess this movie was the right kind of trashy, although its messages were pretty garbled. Lesbian vampires + overbearing moms + date-rapey douchebags + criminally unmonitored college drama departments + James Franco ogling the whole damn thing. Every major plot point of this movie felt like the characters were playing D&D: someone declared an action and then rolled a 2, and then everyone had to play out the worst possible version of that action, be it coming out to a parent or turning someone into a vampire. Still, I would have watched a full length performance of the characters’ Skinemax version of Macbeth with a bottle of cheap Shiraz. And it's always fun to eat snacks and boo at feckless scumbags with the ladies of Fangirl Movie Night.


I have high hopes for the sumptuous-looking My Cousin Rachel, and The Beguiled later this summer. I’ve also been watching Season 1 of The Borgias while putting in eardrops or waiting for cold-and-flu meds to kick in. It has its Game of Thrones pretensions, although with better weather, less dirt, and way more Catholic overtones (each episode is a new round of “how can we abuse this confession booth?”). So far I am enjoying following the members of the dastardly family around and watching Jeremy Irons snarl, growl, and chew scenery as the Pope. And, as a person writing fic set in the 1480s with an elegant, holier-than-thou but fundamentally corrupt villain, the show is a godsend.     



I’ve kept up with writing for a half hour every morning for over 2 weeks now, except for yesterday. Sometimes it's made me late for work; other times I’ve given in and taken a Lyft to work and gritted my teeth at the expense. I’m propelled by a terror that if I stop doing it, even for a day or so, I won’t pick the habit up again. I’m also driven by a [conflicted] rush to finish this story, but that’s a subject for a lengthier post. The words come, or don’t come, in varying degrees each day, but I’ve toughed my way through Chapter 9 of my (sigh) 17-Chapter HoND fan novel. This was one of the more challenging chapters to write; it’s hard to convincingly portray protagonists doing dumb things and making bad choices. I’m trying to celebrate getting through this part of the murky-middle slog and powering my way through to the end.

disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)


For (fic) business:

Gajdo Dilo [“Crazy Stranger”] (1997, Gatlif): I first watched this movie a year or two ago when trying to get my Hunchback of Notre Dame fic off the ground, and have come back to it for another dose of inspiration. A French drifter wanders through Romania searching for a Romani singer and is taken in by a Romani violinist, who shows him the highs and lows of life in his village. This movie is raw at every turn, which makes the sweet stuff [sex, music, weddings, bonding with little kids, hilarious swearing] sweet and the painful stuff [prejudice, death, and violent retaliation] all the more painful. Also, it is loud. Really, really loud. I want to make sure that I make the Romani characters in my fic three-dimensional, and while I worry that I’m still not nailing it, this movie definitely helps.

For pleasure:

Night Creatures [“Captain Clegg”] (1962, Scott): Watched it for the first time in honor of the 104th birthday of my favorite actor, and damn if Peter Cushing didn’t swash all of the buckles in this. An 18th century-booze smuggling ring on the east coast of England operates under the protection of mysterious marsh phantoms and under the watchful eye of the town preacher. When the King’s Navy comes to town to investigate, everyone must bring their A-game to stay one step ahead of Captain Collier and his men.This movie is a ton of fun, and reminded me of the delight and surprise I felt watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, before they ran the premise into the ground. The villagers are savvy, the villains are genuinely threatening, and Cushing is gorgeous as the Reverend Dr. Blyss. Crafty preacher-man with high cheekbones and a “Rogue-streak” in his hair - yum.


For the past seven days, I’ve gotten up and written for a half hour before I’ve gone to work or otherwise gotten on with my day. I’ve tried to build this habit in the past, but I typically fall out of it after a few weeks. I’m hoping I can stick with it, now that my work schedule is a little less insane than it has been. Putting words down at this hour feels like pulling teeth because I’m still half asleep, but the upside is that my pump is primed to write in fits and spurts throughout the day (such as on the train) or to think of new ideas or ways to solve narrative problems.


Life Stuff

Lots of opportunities for friend bonding this week. I had a tasty tapas dinner with [personal profile] bironic

on Wednesday, which healed me from my harrowing T commute. Friday featured a co-worker happy hour, and I got to see and hopefully cheer up my friend B at Mr. Crepe on Saturday morning.

We now have friends in town from Chicago, and we kicked off our weekend with a matinee performance of Arrabal at the Loeb theater in Harvard Square. It was inspired by Bajofondo, a tango-electronica outfit of which I’m a big fan, and included both a number of their specific songs plus music I suspect was written just for the show. Arrabal intertwined a young woman’s coming-of-age story with tales of the violent reign of Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, and mixed in the kind of sauciness you’d expect of an performance inspired by the tango. The narrative had its share of gaps and missteps, but these shortcomings were overwhelmed by the incredible dancing and music. The set design was also really cool; the physical set pieces were sparse, but they did a lot with lighting, projected images (particularly photographs of arrested dissidents), and video. If you can put up with a bit of narrative incontinuity, I highly recommend it. It’s playing till the middle of June.

disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)


This week was mostly random Netflix and library grabs, but high quality ones!

Laura (1944, Preminger):
I rewatched this one after snagging “The Rough Guide to Film Noir” from the library. This film is very classy, with only hints of seediness at its fringes, but the plot is still compelling--multiple men infatuated with the same woman a they investigate her murder. I liked that the most intriguing character is neither the hardboiled detective or the femme fatale, but the imperious, preening newspaper columnist trying to learn the fate of his protégé.

Rear Window (1954, Hitchcock)
: Rewatched this one after making my way through part of Thomson’s “How to Watch a Movie.” Would love to read the short story from which the screenplay was adapted (“It Had to Be Murder” by Cornell Woolrich) to see how the act of catching hints of a crime through windows did or didn’t work as prose. I also struggled a bit to make it through the hour-plus of slow build--one can only watch Jimmy Stewart cock block himself for so long--but damn if the payoff isn’t great. I must have rewound the moment where Raymond Burr looks up to catch Jimmy Stewart watching him six times.


At the halfway point of my Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney, 1996) fic, which I expect to be 70K-80K words when it’s done. I’m anxious about posting pieces of it before I finish the first draft, because I'm not quiiiite sure how it’s going to end, though I’d love to get some chapters up later this summer. I think it’s about time I start learning how to fast-draft. Not a lot of writing got done this week (see “Life Stuff” below), but I’ve had some fun filling my search history with weird stuff (patron saints of necromancy, punishments for murder in 15th century France, etc.).  

Life Stuff

This week, I went back to Long Island for my maternal grandfather’s (“Papa”) funeral. He was 89 years old. I was lucky in that I was home the week before and was able to visit him in hospice a few times. While he was asleep during most of my visits, I was able to hold his hand and talk to him. He wasn’t a talkative person, but I like we had to think we had an affectionate, if conversation-light, relationship while I was growing up. My fondest memories of him are from when I was in college, when he began to share more about his life; including working on farms to escape the summers in Depression-era Williamsburg and sailing around the South China Sea around the time of the Korean War. The wake and the funeral were tough, and I expect that some melancholy is still on the horizon, but there were some wine-heavy family-gathering good times while I was home, too.

And, this week was not without bright spots, like Fannish brunch on Saturday morning, and a tasty fish dinner and a puppet slam with my husband on Saturday night.

disgruntled_owl: annoyed owl (Default)
This was my first year attending Arisia, Boston's sci-fi/fantasy con, and I highly recommend it. When I first registered, I figured I’d drop by for a panel or two, meet my husband after one of his martial art workshops, and otherwise get work done, run errands, etc. By Monday, I found myself wishing I had set aside the weekend so I could have more fully immersed myself in the con experience.

General Thoughts

The con’s commitment to inclusiveness (race, gender, age, interest) is admirable. I found the age diversity to be the most encouraging. It was fun to be around everyone from brand new fans with lots of enthusiasm to 50-plus folks who could bring wisdom, life experience, and passion to the sessions and performances. At Arisia, you can also count on folks, including panel audiences, to stick up for underrepresented groups or perspectives, which made for enlightening conversation.


I’m not a cosplayer, performer, or dealer, and was mostly on my own, so I spent a lot of my time at panels or workshops. Most were in the Writing track, and I was impressed with the quality of the programming. Panelists had diverse experiences and came well prepared. I learned more at Arisia than I have in day-long writing workshops, and for half the price. It’s also refreshing to talk about writing without having to downplay or disguise my work because it's not literary fiction.

Write Gripping, Fast-Paced Stories: There’s more criteria to this genre than I would have thought, and helped me distinguish “thriller” from “suspense.” Also, I got useful advice about eliminating “filter words” from my limited-third-person POV stories.

What Lies Beneath: Adding Subtext to Your Story: Biggest lesson for me: subtext is there whether I’m cognizant of it or not, so I should make an effort to look for it and use it to advantage. Always great to watch a panel moderated by Alexander Danner; this guy brings his A-game every time.

Visual Storytelling for Prose and Comic Book and Graphic Novel Scripting: These sessions led by Alisa Kwitney were great fun, and really informative! I learned to set up my settings “like a filmmaker with an unlimited budget,” and (to the degree I can) I plan to act out the scenes I’m writing to better describe movement through a space.

Writing and Tarot: It was intriguing to see an experienced tarot reader demonstrate complex card spreads for character development, and it never hurts to be reminded to trust your intuition. I also love to take peeks at other folks’ tarot decks.

Writing a Worthy Adversary: I read a fair amount about this topic, so the content was familiar, but it's intriguing to see who people identify as examples Hans Gruber came up a lot as a worthy villain, both for his charisma and because he suffers setbacks just like John McClane).

“Hi, I’m Jane Doe and I Write Fanfiction”: While I didn’t learn anything surprising at this session, it was reassuring to hear how to build readership from other writers, and to be reminded that a) it’s worth writing fic for one's readers and oneself, and b) I should stop panicking about aging out of it. At a con like Arisia, though, I was surprised that this panel had a closeted feel about it (“Jane Doe” in the title, held at 10:00 at night), and I think they missed out on a more robust audience by promoting it that way.

Also checked out:

Triforce of Decades: Zelda at 30:
I’ve got a lot of unfinished Legend of Zelda fic, so I’m always reassured by people’s continued love for the games, including the ones that came out *gulp* two decades ago. One panelist was a software developer and shared some great background about how game designers create levels and her fears about the shift to an open world format for Breath of the Wild. There was also some great “olds” versus “youngs” chatter, including from people who knew the horrors of dropping a cartridge and losing a saved game.

Introduction to Puppetry: A goofy, warmhearted panel, with lots of insights about how puppeteers learn their craft and create their shows. Things went off the rails pretty quick after they took out puppets for the audience (and themselves) to play with, though.
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