Monday, November 18, 2013

Plans for the Future

Changes ahead (as well as behind me).

I've been busy. So busy with real life stuff (God, bills suck) and working my two jobs that I've been a bit creatively clogged for the past few months. I was at a crossroads once again in my life trying to figure out what I wanted and who I wanted to be.

I know that I'm meant to write. It's just that for the past few years I was never clear on what kind of capacity that was meant to be. Right out of college I had an awesome internship with a publishing company and realized I could be happy being an editor. I could be happy with the right group of people surrounding me and working with the written word. I could be happy in life very easily.

But I don't just want to be happy. I don't know if it's because I'm young, but I've decided I want it all or nothing. I have to try. So the decision was made after a lot of talking to mentors and family and friends that I was moving to LA. to LA! It still seems unreal.

Since that decision, I've been working 60-80 hours a week to save money. And finally, yesterday I broke my writer's block. I have time left to polish up some screenplays and keep (always, keep) writing. I want things out of life and my main dream has always been to affect people with my words.

Now that I'm getting to a point where my organization can mold my creativity, I know I must keep blogging to stay on track. So, updates every Monday and Thursday. Sidenote to end this post: I have also started Hipster Houseware with my really good friend Lola (who - fingers crossed - will also be my roommate in LA) so I will also be updating my DYI projects and whatnot.

Still a lot of exciting things ahead and I can't wait to share it all with you guys!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Can I be Candid?

There was a time (probably when I was thirteen or so) when I made absolutely everything up. I'm talking straight-up fiction here. My characters were not specific people in my life, my heroine tended to be very different from myself, and I imagined every plot as a what-if-this-happened and every conversation as this-might-be-said-in-real-life. I thought my life was utterly boring. So I made up entirely new ones.

At some later point, I looked at my writing and it was truth. (Don't get me wrong, it's a writer's right to exaggerate. They do call it story-telling after all.)

The emotions were how I honestly felt (which caused some sporadic bursts of angst in a comedic scene, etc., before I realized the brilliance of scrap-piling). Situations were inspired by occurrences in my life or were secondhand translated from the stories of my friends. And personalities were mash-ups of those who surrounded me. My writing became more and more real, and thus, harder and harder to share.

Now I'm taking time to address my on-going dilemma. How much can I share? When are things too personal? When are things not my secrets to tell? Mainly: Am I brave enough to be honest? Because it's when I'm able to that my best writing occurs. When I'm fearless I create. When I'm uncensored I affect.

I guess this is my warning. (Ha!) I have to tell the story I have to tell, and if that includes you so be it. An artist uses a muse, a musician plays the lyrics from the heart, and a writer compiles reality to figure out life. I must not be held back by my insecurities. Writing is hard enough without constantly agonizing over if you're going to offend someone or if your audience isn't going to relate to your experiences.

Besides, it's not like they have disclaimers for nothing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Identity Thief

This one wasn't my pick; however, I had no arguments against it. It seemed a little silly and good for a few laughs, but what really got me interested enough to pay money was Jason Bateman. I don't know if you know this, but I love his sense of humor. Something about the straight-laced, no-one's-listening-anymore, almost-muttering delivery he has just speaks to me. A lot of people I've tried to explain this to do not understand. They don't laugh when he speaks. I, on the other hand, find trouble not laughing at every word he says. There's just something about it.
Basically Sandy (Bateman) finds out about huge purchases made with his card and a crime he supposedly committed in another state. Obviously, this was not him and he realizes he has become a victim of identity theft, because someone has been using his account, his social, and his name. The police (like in most comedies/actions/any movie where the cop isn't the main character) are useless in protecting Sandy from becoming overdrawn and losing his job, so it's up to him to bring the person who has stolen his identity face-to-face with the ColoradoPD and get a confession. Thus, he travels to where his card was used last to bring "Sandy," who we shall now call Diana (McCarthy), to bring her back with him. A messed-up roadtrip ensues where they have to beware of a crazy bounty hunter and two drug dealer (associates?) who are also looking for Diana. A lot of random troubles occur, which I honestly could not tell you the exact order of (or why), even though I saw it two days ago.

So, obviously, there's some great laughs. And for the most part it tends to stay on track of fairly believable. (Minus the bounty hunter and two drug dealers, who I kind of felt the movie would've done much better without.) The odd thing about this movie was that there are some strangely sentimental moments where you really sympathize with Diana (and Melissa McCarthy does a great job in these dramatic scenes -- I think she cries like three times and it makes me think she shouldn't always go for the funny girl parts).

And the movie has this message about being a schmuck because that's the "right" thing. I couldn't really get a hundred percent behind that part. Sometimes you need to play the game. The world is not black and white, and I think it's better to stand up for yourself and what you believe is right, then get walked all over because that's the nice thing to do.

Identity Thief (Gordon, 2013) has some silly laughs and great friendship-based values. I think it tries too hard (and fails) at a deep moral message five minutes after she tapes up a bounty hunter with a Capri Sun, but it's a fun movie to see with friends. Verdict: RENT-IT. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Friday Five: internet personalities, ripsters, yum

We're basically into Saturday now, but here's my Friday Five Obsessions. 
1. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries 
Whoa, a day disappeared after I discovered this. At the beginning of this week I was reveling in the magic of 200 years of Pride & Prejudice delight, and crazy-stalking everyone who tweeted about their favorite line/character/cover for Jane Austen's work. (Side note: Hard to have a favorite book, but this one is somewhere in Top Ten for me, hands down.) Anyways, in some post about the best P&P adaptions, I came across this. And I googled, and I watched. And I kept watching. And half a day was gone. But holy crap it's so good! They've done a really good job adapting the story to modern times, with vlogs, cell phones, working women, etc.
The best (worst?) thing about this obsession is that it's on-going! I get a new one every Monday and Thursday. Yesterday's about wrecked me. Relating it to the book, it's at about where Lizzie finds out Lydia has run off with Wickham - but it's modernized so that's not quite the drama. The drama is comparable to the same level of scandal we'd feel in today's world if a woman runnning away with a man had happened to us 200 years ago. But, I'll give nothing away. Just know that if you love P&P or webisodes of good shows you MUST check this out here.
2. askageek
I wouldn't consider myself a huge geek (I don't read comics, play video games, or understand the fascination of Doctor Who) but this guy cracks me up. Because of the fact that nerd culture is becoming a huge part of pop culture (who hasn't heard of Game of Thrones?), it's turning fantasy and superhero topics into something "cool". Anyways, the general public has questions and boy, does askageek have answers. I want to believe that he doesn't do research before answer simply because it is impressive to me that he can name all of Spiderman's girlfriends off the top of his head. 

I don't understand every question that he answers, but when I have a bit of nerdom knowledge (Star Wars, mainly) it seriously makes me find him attractive. And there are times when he is so serious and cynical that I enjoy his realistic pessimism. There's just something about a man who can make you laugh, you know? See his answers here.

3. Orange Mango Smoothie w/ Matcha
Let me first say I tried the Strawberry smoothie and added matcha powder and - DON'T DO IT. I love strawberry green tea, so I thought that would work, but no. So, then I tried adding matcha to the orange mango smoothie. And now, this past week my craze has been making one of these every Starbucks shift I work. It is so good. (Also, for those who don't know, matcha is ground green tea leaves. And for those who know me, you know I lurve green tea quite a bit.)  Yum.
4. Writing like Hemingway
What I mean, is drinking and writing. Haha. I have never done this, but it surprises me how many writers (specifically Hemingway) swore by doing so. I even think he's the one to thank for the "Write drunk, edit sober" quote. I haven't had anytime to do this, especially since I work basically every morning. But I keep thinking about it. And saying, "Maybe tonight..." I don't know, it's weird. I want to try and see what I come up with. Honestly, I feel like it'll be a bunch of nonsensical drivel. But, like Alice, I have too much curiosity.

5. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
The best way for me to describe this is "hipster rap". (Does that make them rapsters? Ripsters?)
I was listening to Sirius radio and heard them come on, with the catchy beat in their song "Thrift Shop", and a name like "Macklemore", I was really interested. After finding their music video, I realized how awesome these guys were. They're rapping about thrift store shopping - how great is that? I'm pretty sure I alone added at least 300 views to their youtube video views. Ha.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Five: TV, quests, and these pants

Realizing I am not alone when it comes to the blogging lag, I have come across the idea to have a weekly themed post so that I at least have one a week where I have a go-to topic. The topic is my obsessions. If you know me at all (or even slightly, really) you'll know I'm a bit of an obsessive person. I want to talk the crap out of any certain thing/event/topic/whatever that currently holds my interest. It's why I watch entire shows on Netflix (with like, five seasons) in one week. It's why I go read the IMDb message boards when my friends no longer want to discuss why a certain film did a shot from a certain angle. It's why I listen to my favorite song 857 times before finding the next to put on repeat. And it's also why I get depressed when I have run out of pages of the book I'm reading to devour.

I'm obsessive. So I introduce... my Friday Five Obsessions!

1. Buckwild

Okay, wait. I know what you're thinking. I thought it too. But seriously, watch this show for ten minutes and I believe it will only take you five to realize what a gem it is. No, really. These kids are not idiots; they are not country bumpkins. In fact, the one who from commercials might appear like he still can't read (and speaks remarkably like Boomhauer from King of the Hill) is close to genius. No, really. He's a MacGyver who says some of the best philosophical things, I kid you not.

And, yes, they're a bunch of kids who sometimes do stupid stunts or get in drunken fights. But they all seem very real. No, really. They might be a little exaggerated because the cameras are on them now, but I honestly believe they're living lives they'd be living even had MTV not offered them a contract. Try to watch this show and not laugh. Try to watch this show and not relate in some way (mainly speaking to crowd around my age). Go ahead, but you might find yourself with a new reality TV show to waste your time. Yes, really.

2.Odwalla Bars

I stumbled across these one day between classes when I hadn't eaten anything in like 78 hours (okay, maybe only like six) and I only had time to do a quick stop at the vending machine. I didn't want the chips, donuts, or gum, so I went with the bar. And damn, it was good. I got the Berries GoMega kind and have never looked back. Except recently when I no longer have access to the OU vending machines. I was desperate. A mad woman, if you will. I talked to everybody about them, I went to at least five stores, going up every aisle. It was a quest. At the beginning of this week, I found them - oh, thank God.

3. Jennifer Lawrence's SNL 

It's because I love her that I tuned in for SNL for the first time this season (after having watched almost every episode for the past seven or so years). To be honest, SNL has really gone down hill. Their political jokes are tiring, their character sketches are severely lacking, and there is likely to be one laugh from me the entire show. But, with JLaw, I thought we might just let her do her normal funny-girl thing. What. The. Heck. It was not great, and really, it wasn't even good. So this week I've been obsessively mind-writing sketches they could have done that would have killed (in my humble opinion).

I have one that addresses the JLaw vs. Meryl thing that people tried to make happen. It goes something like Meryl (Streep, in case you live under a rock) invites Jen over to show no hard feelings, build a relationship, whatever. Jen is estatic to be there, but Meryl has ideas to show Jen that no matter new vs. old, Meryl will always run the Hollywood scene. She namedrops some of the movies/roles she's done and subtly implies that she told the committee to give the Globe to Jen after seeing that her award shelf was full and needed another panel before accepting any more awards. (Lohan tweets fightin' words gossip from the window and so on, but I digress.)

Another one is a couple of tributes show up for the Hunger Games, unaware the real process and try to "outdo" the other contestants by how hungry they are. Example: "I'm so hungry, I would eat the spoiled milk from the bowl of cereal that got left in your little brother's room." Etc., etc. (Though, I will admit they did a good job making fun of poor Peeta, haha.) In conclusion, I needed a better Jen SNL, grr!

4. Writer Conferences
I'm pretty sure I've been bugging my Henery Press coworkers about this. I have never been to a writer conference and I've been hearing more and more about it, which has got me more and more pumped to go. I definitely want to go to more than one this year (provided I find the money in the wash or rob a bank) but right now I am having a particularly hard time because there are two I really want to go to at the same time.

I am on a quest to figure out which might be the best. One is the one here in Dallas, the DFWcon, which would be awesome because it would save me money and I could meet some local author/writers to get connected to. And the other is Malice, which is in Maryland (I believe) and is specified to mystery writers and will have a majority of the Henery Press authors at (so I can finally meet some face-to-face!). It is a very hard decision, and I am wanting to go with a buddy. Therefore, I've been talking constantly about people's plans and Googling exciting conference info. Sorry, you-know-who-I'm-talking-about.

5. These pants

I hate to be that person that gushes about a new fashion purchase. Who am I kidding, I don't hate that person. Because that person is me. They're Victoria's Secret yoga leggings that I bought because I'm flirting with an Aztec crisis (alert that this might be a slow-building obsession) and they're entirely that print. I do not do yoga in them. (Well, yet.) And I have not gotten crazy enough to venture out in them. (Well, yet). But I have spent the majority of this week lounging and getting stuff done in them. I swear, that's me... super productive.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hours in the Day

Just me complaining... :)

Things I do now:
  • Work
  • Sort of sleep
  • Eat when I get a chance
Things I wish I could do:
  • Write
  • Read
  • Have a social life outside of my computer
Things I really shouldn't be doing but want to anyway:
  • Buy clothes
  • Play some Nancy Drew PC games
  • Watch bad horror movies
Things I am not doing but should want to do:
  • Workout
  • Save money
  • Blog

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: Django Unchained

I wasn't super excited about this, but I knew I had to see it. One, because it's a Tarantino film and I like almost all of his movies (except the one he's most famous for). Tarantino really captured my heart with Inglourious Basterds (2009) because that is one of my all-time Top Ten, so I knew not to get my hopes up too high coming off of that. The second reason I had to see this was because it's nominated for 5 Oscars (and has an almost infamous director snub nom to go with it). I try to see every movie that's been nominated for director, actor, film, cinematography, and writer.

Side note: I love award season. People's Choice, Golden Globes (which this year has the best host duo EVER), SAG awards, Grammy's, and then end it with my favorite, the Academy Awards. Because of my love of movies, it means I love movie stars. I want to see what they're wearing, the jokes they're making, and am only minimally interested in who actually wins. But it sure is fun to complain when the winners go all wrong.

In a nutshell, Django (Foxx) is a slave freed by a white bounty hunter, Dr. Schultz (Waltz), to hunt down three white brothers who worked at the plantation Django was at just before he was sold. Django is bought and then freed and after capturing the three brothers, decides to continue as Schultz's partner so that he can make enough money to track down his wife. Schultz offers to help him (it's next to impossible for Django to travel the South in 1858 for obvious reasons) and it turns out Django's wife, Broomhilda, has been sold to Candie (DiCaprio). Candie is a rich, mean bastard who involves himself in betting on fights to the death between slaves. Django and Schultz devise a plan to pretend to be a part of this business to gain access to acquiring (so she can then be freed) Broomhilda. Throughout, some things go wrong and some go right, and we get a in-depth commentary on the times.

Tarantino really is the epitome of an auteur. It's hard to watch a film of his (especially now) and not know within the first five minutes that it is definitely and without a doubt his. He is extremely influenced by old westerns and samurai films, with a splash of 70s grit-nostalgia. There are things Tarantino can do stylistically that other directors would be laughed at for. (Admittedly, some of those things Tarantino does precisely for a laugh.) I'm always on the fence about whether I like his "gimmicks" or not. What I have come to love is that his movies aren't always about a singular plot, but lots of tiny situations within that plot that tell you something.

Although, the thing I most like about his films is the humor. It's dark. And ironic. It's the kind of thing that you have to laugh at or you might cry. It's honest to goodness truth, twisted the tiniest bit so we're forced to look at it and see it for the joke it is. This means the writing has to be good and the actors have to be great. Luckily for this film, they are. Waltz is a Tarantino-discovered gem and Leo (we're on a first name basis) is so frightening it's hard to recognize. (I'm 50/50 as to whether Leo was also a snub in Oscar-noms, but generally I think he's snubbed a lot. He is a brillant actor that doesn't get any credit from the Academy, in my humble opinion.)

As for Foxx, let me first say he does really, really well. My only problem (and this might be more with the writing) is that it's very hard to get to know Django. Looking back, I can see this is troublesome because he's of course going to act differently slaved versus freed. And then he has to pretend to be something else to survive the meeting with Candie. So I can sort of see how Django as a person gets lost. But what we do get is Django's unwavering devotion to his wife. We see them together during slavery, we see Django without her, we see Django reunited but unable to help her, and we see his wrath to ultimately save her. Thinking on it now, I think this might be Tarantino's first true love story. So in this aspect it does a great job.

Not unexpectedly, Django Unchained (Tarantino, 2012) was gritty, witty, and at times a bit shifty. (What I mean by 'shifty' is that I wasn't always certain where it was going or what it was trying to accomplish during parts of it.) Verdict: SAY-YES.

Review: Gangster Squad

Some of my favorite movies are "guy" movies. I'll admit, if it wasn't for the star I want to be my best friend (Emma Stone) and the star I want to be my boyfriend (Ryan Gosling), I might not have ever made it to see this movie. But, alas, these two were coupling up again in a swanky 50's mob film and I was mildly impressed by the trailer which promised lots of gunfire and a story based on truth.

Basically, a mob boss named Mickey is trying to take over LA with drugs, whores, and general illegal activity. He's a bad SOB who has almost every town official in his pocket and therefore an invisible free pass that has him safe and sound from the "good guys". Which makes Sgt. John pretty P.O.-ed having to come home from the war to live with his pregnant wife in "paradise" while Mickey's running the town into the ground. It doesn't take long for Sgt. to get the go-ahead to create a squad of police to hit and destroy each of Mickey's joints until he's forced to take the money he has left and leave town. So we have our motley crew of "good guys" to act like "bad guys" and lots of gritty side stories and blood thrown in to balance out something that now reminds me of a western.

It was good. Funny in the darker way I tend to favor and great acting all around. Although they had their LA/gangster/action film cliches thrown in every now and then, overall the movie did not come off phony. Sean Penn as Mickey was very good. (Side note: I kept wondering if they'd put makeup on him, he stuffed cotton balls in the sides of his cheeks, or he just really had aged like that since last I'd seen him.) Also, Brolin was good, but as the main character, he was kind of upstaged.

Gosling was really good. I never think he gets enough (or any) credit for how good an actor he is because he's so pretty. I feel the same way about Tom Cruise (all through the years) except Cruise chooses action, where Gosling chooses such odd characters and unique roles. I realize I may have lost my credibility for advocating Gosling's acting chops after starting this review by saying he's my someday-boyfriend. Haha.

Gangster Squad (Fleischer, 2013) got some good R-rated action/violence, some great character acting, and a plot that has something for everyone. Verdict: SAY-YES.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Junk You Missed

Oh, no! So much has happened in one tiny month that I've gotten seriously behind on my life. So, highlights:

Family Move
After 20+ years, my family has finally decided to move to a new house. Of course, they picked two days after Christmas to get the keys to the house which meant my entire "holidays" were spent packing up and huffing as I try to carry things a lady should never be expected to carry. We are officially Plano residents. Of course, my plan was to stay no more than a year with my parents after moving home, so now I'll be major moving once more this year. Sigh. (This also means I've packed up my room and moved myself seven times and will be going for eight in just four years.)

Henery Press
I'm loving this internship! I've read some great (and some not-so-great) manuscripts of hopeful writers. Have I ranted yet about my love of potential? God, I love creative potential. I've got my first contracted book to redline! So excited and can't wait to talk to the author. How amazing is it to have instant access to fab authors? More and more responsibility is coming the intern's way and I'm trying to tackle it with a stress-free smile. Also, I'm slowly making my way through the current published books and have yet to be unsatisfied. Which is perfect for a publishing company I hope to work at.

(Here's a snippet of my organized chaos. Can you imagine the lists I have to boggle my brain right now?)

Required Menial Jobs
 I started at Starbucks just before November ended and finally feel like I have a grasp on all the drinks. I also feel more accomplished as a literary soul knowing the difference between a cappuccino, a latte, and an americano. And I can make them all. BOOM. Although some people are very particular about the amount of foam in their soy latte, for the most part it is quite fun to work at. And have I mentioned I love coffee? I love coffee.
Also, I started working for my brother's girlfriend's mom's company. I had an opening in my schedule and now help out when needed taking care of military recruiter's offices. It's tough work and this will be the only time in my life I do this kind of work. (Is that snobbish?) Part of me accepting this job was the pay, but I'll admit a small part of me accepted this job because of my dad always preaching about the jobs he had to work out of college. He dug graves. Built houses. Cleaned classrooms. Now I can say I vacuumed and emptied the trash for the Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marines. I'll just say the scenery's not half-bad either.

Writing Projects
First, let me say that with everything going on, I have not written since November. I was dying. Finally, tonight I got a bit of relief. After checking out the mess NaNoWriMo left with me I've decided I needed to scrap a lot of that and will start to move forward with a new direction. Definitely thriller/horror. And I know the "twist".
And, I think because of what I've been reading lately, I've been struck with the sassy mystery bug.Remy Harkin was born and has been smarting off in my head for close to a month. I love her and I can't wait to see where her life takes her. Tonight I wrote the first chapter and it's a nice balance between the humor I wrote in my teens and the dark horror I've been writing lately. Basically, I leave it at I'm excited.