Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Movies seen over Christmas vacation

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Hope it was a great one.

I got to go see two movies at the theater this past weekend.

Aquaman (2018) - This was a very enjoyable movie.  Pure popcorn fun.  Definitely my favorite so far of the DC movies.  I'm not much of a DC fan in general, but this one just really works well.  I think a lot of that is because it doesn't have a message or agenda, and it doesn't try to be anything more than what it is:  a superhero movie.  And it does that really well.  There is no great depth to this one, the plot doesn't try to be clever or manipulate its viewers, it's just straightforward and straight shooting.  I liked the actors and the visuals were cool.  There was a lot of humor, and some serious moments, and some striking imagery.  There was a lot of beauty in the underwater landscapes that I appreciated.  And a submarine.  I'm always going to appreciate submarines.  Alas, a completely unmemorable film score for this one, but otherwise, a very fun romp.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) - I loved this movie so much.  I can't wait to go back to see it in the theater again.  I'm not even that much of a Queen fan, though I have always admired their talent, and I love many of their songs ("Crazy Little Thing Called Love" has been in the top 5 of my favorite non-Duran Duran rock songs for ages), but this movie is so classy and respectful and full of the band's love of creating music/performing.  It's beautiful, it's sad, it sticks with you afterwards.  This is movie celebrates their lives and their talent, it isn't a sordid expose.  I like that.  The casting is completely uncanny.  The casting director should get an oscar for finding this ensemble cast who is freaking perfect.  I was watching Queen videos the day after, and I literally cannot tell the real Brian May from the actor who played him in the movie.  (My brother-in-law, who grew up watching and listening to Queen, commented that it was actually creepy how much of a resemblance there was... we're all fully onboard with the hilarious internet theory that Brian May (since he is an astrophysicist) figured out how to time travel and came to the future to make this movie. ROFL!)  The others are truly amazing as well.  Rami Malek is excellent as Freddie Mercury, and he really looks like him, particularly with short hair and a mustache.  Of course, I've been listening to Queen songs and watching their videos ever since seeing the movie.

I'm still trying to decide if I want to go see Mary Poppins Returns.  I've been hearing good things about it... but I just don't know if it's for me. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Publishing news!

It's been awhile, but I have a new story just published.  It's a flash fiction story called "A Clean Home is a Happy Home," in an anthology called It Happened in a Flash.  This story is published under my pen name Dana Fischer.

And right now, this anthology is free on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!  You can't beat that price, that's for sure, so what are you waiting for?  Check it out!

Not only do I have a story in this anthology, but Hamlette does as well.  Her story is called "Knighthood."  We've wanted to share a table of contents for a long time, so this is very exciting for us!

Two stories for the price of... nothing!  Not to mention, there are 62 other flash fiction stories of various genres in the anthology. 

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Happy birthday, Kirk Douglas!

Kirk Douglas turned 102 today! My family watched 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea tonight to celebrate.  Hope he had a great day.


Saturday, December 08, 2018

The eagles are coming

The salmon are running, which brings the bald eagles to the lake to feast.  I don't have a good camera, so getting the really good pictures I leave to the rest of my family, but I was able to snap this one on my phone.  The days are very overcast right now, so the lighting is not exactly conducive, but it's not terrible.  A third eagle joined these two right after I started walking away. 

I spent a long time just watching the eagles fish on the lake.  It's quite cool to watch them dive down and snag a swimming salmon in their talons then take off.  If you look at the trees around the lake, the eagles are really easy to spot with their white heads.  Some trees have a dozen or more eagles perched in them.

Friday, December 07, 2018

2018 Movie Wrap-up

So, this was an interesting year for movies.  I saw eleven new movies in the theater in 2018.  Only a couple of those merited repeat viewings in the theater.  The only other movie I will probably be seeing this year is Aquaman.  We will have to see where that one falls in the scheme of things! 

Favorite movie of the year:  Ready Player One
Hands down my favorite movie of the year and the one I've seen the most. I love all of the characters, love the setting, love the plot.  I had read the book beforehand, but I had no problem with any of the changes they made to translate to screen.  Absolutely adore Ben Mendelsohn as Nolan Sorrento in this movie.  My sister and I laugh and laugh over his lines, and my nephew even has one of his lines as his text tone on his phone cuz it cracks us all up so much.  ("You need three of them...")  We laugh all through this movie, in the best way possible.  And Mark Rylance is brilliant.  Of course, the 80s were our formative high school years, so there are tons of funny references and easter eggs and things that just tickle us to death.  Plus, simply re-watching and catching new references or shots of things from other movies is a joy.  The martian ship from George Pal's War of the World film is a highlight every single time it comes on.  This movie is a happy place movie I can watch anytime, anywhere.

Best movie of the year: Avengers: Infinity War
I loved everything about this movie, thought it handled everything so perfectly, I'm still in awe of how it managed that.  I come out of this movie so revved and pumped up.  The combos of characters thrown together was absolutely delightful, the dialogue some of the funniest. Doctor Strange remains my favorite character, and I could watch him and Tony (and Peter) argue over things all day.  This is one of those movies that ended up making me love the Guardians of the Galaxy.  They worked so well here that now I actually love their two movies, where I wasn't particularly a fan of them previously.  Thanos was marvelous as a bad guy whose goal is actually to help save the universe, for once. That was so refreshing.  There was nothing about this movie I didn't love.

Most disappointing movie of the year:  Ralph Wrecks the Internet
I didn't see the first one in the theater.  The family ended up catching it on cable, DVR'd it... and we then proceeded to wear it out.  We loved the plot, the characters, the resolution... it was just so much fun.  It was one that the adults couldn't walk out of when my nephew wanted to watch it. The sequel... is none of those things, though depending on what sweet spots people have, the plot may be more appealing than the first one.  It undeniably has an utterly fantastic depiction of the internet.  That alone is worth the price of admission. I absolutely positively loved the internet.  And there's nothing wrong with this movie.  It's very well done.  Just disappointing, and that feeling may vanish on repeat viewings.  But the things that drew me to the first movie weren't in this one. I loved the characters of the first one.  But in this one, everything that I had loved about them in the first one was gone here.  Vanellope had lost her sass, Ralph had become clingy and whiny and no fun to watch in the movie (I realize this actually isn't unrealistic... again, nothing wrong with this, just explaining why it was disappointing to me on first viewing), and Felix and Calhoun, who were my favorite part of the first movie, were sidelined into nothingness.  The secondary characters in this movie ended up being more interesting than the leads.

Movie I expected to hate and quite enjoyed:  Incredibles 2 
I'm not a fan of the first Incredibles.  Like at all.  So it surprised me greatly when I actually rather enjoyed the sequel.  This is probably the opposite of Ralph Wrecks the Internet...  I had zero expectations, and so the movie ended up being a lot of fun.  Jack-Jack was great, all the characters were much more likeable than in the first movie, and I generally had a good time.  Not a movie I need to own, but I won't walk out on it if the family is watching it, where I do leave if the first one is on.

The rest:

Black Panther -- liked it a lot, love the characters, except the bad guy, who just doesn't work.  Better on repeat viewings, though.

Tomb Raider -- Okay, fun but hard to think of as Tomb Raider.  I enjoyed it more just as an action adventure movie starring an actress I really like.  I like Dominic West too, and Alexandre Willaume (a Danish actor I really enjoy watching).

Solo -- most of it was good, but that nerve-grating droid of Lando's nearly ruins the whole movie.  But loved young Han and Chewie.

Ant-man & the Wasp -- liked it a lot, will probably be better on repeat viewings, but I only saw it once and haven't felt much desire to see it again.  I didn't love it the way I loved the first Ant-Man movie.

Hunter Killer -- hahaha!  I quite loved this.  A lot of ridiculous, delightful fun.  Just like a first season Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode, but with a big budget. Don't go to this one for believability.  Go because submarines and crazy cartoon action.  (Also, the guy playing the Russian president was cute.)  Toby Stephens played my favorite character, as the head of the SEAL team.

Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald -- a bit of a wreck, though some of it is still good.  But it sidelined main characters, and, really, the whole thing felt like filler and padding just to set up the next movie, which means the next one should be much better.

Robin Hood - The first half of this was really entertaining.  Then it went all message-y and lost the fun.  Nothing annoys me more than having a message shoved down my throat.  Doesn't matter if it's a message I agree with or one I'm against.  Do Not Preach At Me.  And it's really too bad, because I found a lot to like about this movie until politics and things mucked it up.  I liked Taron Egerton, I liked the completely whacked out setting/costumes.  Almost goes without saying that I loved Ben Mendelsohn. He was fantastic.

The only ones of these movies I've bought on blu-ray were Ready Player One and Solo, and the latter remains unopened.  Ready Player One has, of course, been watched repeatedly.  You may ask, what about Infinity War, and I will be picking it up... I just saw that one a lot of times in the theater and am not prepared to watch it on a small screen yet.  I prefer my big screen memories right now.

As for film scores this year...  It's a toss up between Alan Silvestri and James Newton Howard for favorite composer.  Silvestri scored both Ready Player One and Infinity War, both of which have gotten hours and hours of playtime.  Howard scored Red Sparrow and Fantastic Beasts 2FB2 was just released, so I haven't had a chance to listen to it much, but I've really enjoyed it so far (more than the movie itself).  And Red Sparrow has some fantastic cues.  (I also picked up Howard's score for the Nutcracker movie, but it's a very specific sound because of the Tchaikovsky, so I probably won't play it much.)

Favorite cue of the year from the new movie scores is a toss up between "Didn't I do Well?" from Red Sparrow and "Looking for a truck" from Ready Player One.

As for what I'm looking forward to next year... Avengers: Endgame, of course.  Captain Marvel, How to Train Your Dragon 3, Chaos Walking.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Snow and Nano Update

I have a folder on my ipod with a lot of my favorite soundtrack cues.  It's what I listen to at work a lot, or while I'm doing chores, as I usually don't want a single mood or sound.  I set it on random, and just enjoy what comes up.  I put it on early this morning while I fed the cats and dog and did morning chores, and it must have known I had a rough night, as it's given me lots of most excellent revving up cues.

It started with a cue from High Velocity by Jerry Goldsmith, always a great way to start the morning, went to "Bishop's Countdown" from Aliens by James Horner, went to "Traveling," from Island at the Top of the World by Maurice Jarre, To "Claudie Says Yes" from The Last Run, to "Rock Shop" from Robocop by Basil Poledouris, to Shogun, to In Harm's Way, to For Greater Glory... and on.  Of course, there's a reason these cues are in this folder, but some days the shuffle feature is just dead on.

We've had our first snow of the season here, last Friday.  It was lovely, and it was so much fun watching family members experience snow for the first time.  I didn't t really take any pictures, so I'll wait for the next snow.

(Mmmmm, "Hunting the Wolves" from Wolf Totem just came on by James Horner.  This is a very good music morning here)

Nano was churning along steadily, but I had a major revelation last night, and so I'm not continuing with Nano this year. This isn't a bad thing. Quite the contrary.  I was participating really only to 1) get back in a regular writing habit, and 2) clear the air, free the genie, release the kraken.. whatever you want to call it.  And this revelation did that.  That makes this Nano a resounding success for me!  I could not be happier.  Certainly worth the tears and frustration.  And even better -- I figured out what I needed to figure out 20K words and 12 days in, so I don't have to waste another 30K of words that I could better spend on other projects.  Win win win.  And a new plan and attitude going forward.  I am very pleased with this Nano.

("Main Title" from Lonely are the Brave)

As far as movies, my dad has been my movie partner lately for the TCM movie releases on the big screen.  We saw Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and this past weekend, we went and caught Die Hard.  It is great fun getting to see and share these with him.  A local theater is having a Veterans Film Festival today, and we may get to go see Sergeant York this evening.  That's one I've never seen before so hoping we can make the timing work out.  We'll be catching White Christmas next month.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Happy Halloween and Nano begins

It is November 1st!  Hope everyone had a lovely Halloween. It was pretty fantastic here.  My sister's new home is right by a popular park, and it's where many come to go trick or treating.  There was a fabulous turnout.  Hundreds of kids... we ran out of candy to pass out, had to make a fast grocery store run to pick up more.  Saw tons of adorable costumes.  One of my favorites was the mom and dad dressed as Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter, and their three young boys were all Harry Potter himself.  Three matching little Harry Potters.  It was fantastic.  There were superheroes, pirates, Disney princesses, Incredibles characters, a whole flock of kids in those blow-up T-Rex suits running around (which was hilarious).

My own family went the Star Wars route, specifically Return of the Jedi, with Vader, Luke, and yours truly as a stormtrooper.  Walking around in full-on Star Wars costumes is The Best.  Kids, and more often than not, the adults, would come running up, saying, "It's Darth Vader!"  So fun!  We all had a blast.  And now we know what to expect for next year, so we can have more candy stockpiled to start with.

Today, it is raining, and it is the perfect weather to start a novel.  I've got my hot tea, a Danny Elfman score on (Oz, the Great and Powerful), and am 800 words in.

And now for probably the last of the fall color pictures.  It's still going strong here.  I had to check the date of my first post, and that was Sept 10th.  I suspect the last trees will still be turning on Nov 10th, so that's been two wonderful months of amazing color.  These were just taken, you can see the weather's turning towards rain and cold.  No more sun to shine off the leaves.  But the color is still impressive.

And now, off to write some more.  Still have another 800 words to complete today's word count.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The nanowrimo fanatic tag!

So!  This tag from Smudged Thoughts couldn't be better timed, as I decided basically last night to participate in Nano this year.  I found this tag via Coffee, Classics & Craziness.

The rules:
1. Insert the tag graphic into your post.  (done)
2. Link back to the original post. (done, see above)
3. Answer all — or as many — of the questions as you like.  (done)
4. Refer to our communal family bunny named Fanny at least once in your post. (done, see question 5!)
5. Eat three cookies. (I don't eat cookies, so.... I gave them to Fanny!)
6. Post a clean list of ALL of the questions somewhere in your post. ('Clean' meaning a list of the questions without my answers.  Which is always convenient for other people who want to answer the tag.)  (done)
7. Tag as many friends as you want! (I tag anyone doing nano this year!)

. . . THE QUESTIONS. . .

PART ONE. . . Get to know me

What is your NaNoWriMo Username?
Fencer (hence the url of this blog page, which was originally begun to share nano writing fun).  Not quite sure how to link to my page there, but please find me so I can follow your progress too!

Are you a plotter, pantser, plantser, or planter?
Er... a plantser, I guess?  That's assuming that's a combo of plotter and pantser?  Haven't actually heard that term.  Usually, I have to know where the plot is going, but not the details of how to get to the end.  That comes as I write.  Usually I need some carrot scenes that I'm writing towards.  Broad strokes, not nitty gritty details.  However, that said, I'm plotting absolutely nothing this time around.  We're going to pants it all the way, just for the fun of it!
How many years have you done the NaNo? How many times have you won?
I have done nano 7 times, won each time, starting in 2004 (!).  Boy, that seems a long time ago now.  I also did an unofficial on-my-own half-nano of 25K in 2012. However, haven't participated in quite a few years now.
What is your NaNoWriMo Origin Story?
That was in 2004, you expect me to remember??  I do know a good writing friend of mine and I decided to do it at the same time, and so we did, but how we found out about it... don't recall.  All the cool kids were doing it?
Do you have any writing “lucky charms”?
Not even sure what this means, so no.

What is your absolute favorite NaNoWriMo memory?
I guess I would have to say the very first time I won, as I had no idea I could write that much so fast, and I did it.  That was a huge thrill.

How do you pronounce NaNoWriMo? (Na-No-RYE-Mo, or Na-No-REE-Mo?)
Hahah!  Na-No-REE-Mo, thank you very much.  I have pronounced it that way from the very first time I saw the word in print in 2004, and I refuse to pronounce it with the RYE sound.  Sounds awful and weird, and I hates it when I hears it that way, precious, I don't care if it is technically correct.  It's REE for me. Part of that is because I did not recognize the "wri" in nanowrimo as = "writing" until months after I was already mispronouncing it, so it never occurred to me to say "rye."  (P.S. Yes, I am dreadful with acronyms. I just see them as words unto themselves, never pull out what the pieces stand for.)  (P.PS.  I also mispronounced meme... which I say as memm.  When I first heard someone say meeeeme, I was completely taken aback.) (P.P.P.S.  Yes, a writer should know better, what can I say.)  I should add that when I'm forced to say the whole word aloud, I do pronounce it with the RYE sound.  It's only in the privacy of my own head that I call it REE.  And ideally, I always just leave it at Nano.

What’s the name of your NaNoWriMo Project?
Well, I'm doing something new for me this year.  I'm going in blind. I'm doing that for multiple reasons.  When I work on a serious project... I can't write words that aren't working, I don't care if it is a first draft.  I can't write words just to fill space.  I can't go off on tangents.  So the last couple times I did nano, I deleted words left and right as I went.  Yeah, I totally edited as I went.  Exactly what you're not supposed to do during nano, but I couldn't help myself.  Which made meeting the word requirement difficult, but it also meant I came away with a pretty clean 50K at the end.  

I don't want to do that this year, though I have three projects I could do that I would love to have done (or at least have my 50K start on them).  But I don't feel like planning and preparing this year.  I think I would prefer not to focus on an existing project, but start with something brand spanking new. Something shiny and unknown, and I will trust my subconscious to fill in the required details as I go.  

Now, I have been known to change my nano project as late as November 3nd (when the one I started fizzled and I had to throw out what I had done and pick a new one and start over from scratch), so... until I'm actually in the throes of Nano, who knows if this will remain the project of the month?

All of which is to say, the project is currently untitled.  LOL!
What is your project’s genre?
I prefer fantasy or science fiction, so it will be one of those.
Introduce us to your cast!
Well, I'm trying something new here too.  I have a potential cast randomly selected by Pinterest's "suggested for you" algorithms.  No character names yet, no idea how these people relate, if they're friends or foes or what.  I don't know if any of them will even remain in the book, but for now, I like the randomness and the fact that I wouldn't necessarily pick some of these if left to my own devices.  Different things are good sometimes.  I'm getting an Ocean's (8, 11, 12, 13... pick your number) vibe from these pictures.  Of course, I don't like cons or heists, so I wouldn't write a story about one, but the pictures suggest they might be experts in certain fields working together?  

What is your novel’s theme?
What are your novel’s main settings?
Unknown!  But I was just touring some very very old buildings in real life, so I'm also thinking ancient ruins will figure in this story.

Are you using any plotting/story structures for your project, or are you just winging it like the beautiful pixie that you are?
"I don't know, I'm making this up as I go."
What are some ways you prepare for The NaNo?
Normally, I'd have a sense of plot, characters, setting.  I'd have a notes document started with a bunch of potential character names to use and all my set up and world building notes. This year... who needs preparation??

What’s in your writing toolkit? (pictures are encouraged!)
A laptop. My iPod.  A tea mug. The internet.  Books.

(Laptop, tea, plus Silver and Jack... can't do anything without them either!)
(iPod in its player.)
PART THREE. . . Inspiration

What was the initial inspiration for your NaNoWriMo novel?
Hamlette and I talked about doing nano this year, and when she decided to do it, I opted to join her.  Honestly, nano succeeds for me only because of peer pressure.  Because I can't flake on my writing when everyone else has achieved their words for the day.  Or when they're pulling ahead.  Since I don't know what the book will be about yet, that's the only inspiration I have to offer.

What’s your NaNoWriMo Novel’s Word Aesthetic?
Sparse, tight, clean.  I can't write extra words just for word count.  Has to be words the story needs.  Yes, I will delete the extra words, even this year, when I'm aiming more for fun than anything else.  I have my own expectations to meet, don't'cha know!

Share your Pinterest boards and music playlists!
The Pinterest board I have is right here.  Playlists, well, can't choose music until I know what the story's about, can I?  What sort of mood will be required?  Playlists will come later.   On the other hand, just looking at my Pinterest pics, I keep hearing the theme from "The Detective," which would lead to a playlist of Jerry Goldsmith scores in this vein, such as Nick Quarry, Police Story, The Stripper, Studs Lonigan, etc...

What’s your absolute best advice to new (and old!) NaNoers?
Never forget to have fun.  Writing should be a joy, not a hardship. 


So, the clean questions:
. . . THE QUESTIONS. . .
PART ONE. . . Get to know me
What is your NaNoWriMo Username?
Are you a plotter, pantser, plantser, or planter?
How many years have you done the NaNo? How many times have you won?
What is your NaNoWriMo Origin Story?
Do you have any writing “lucky charms”?
What is your absolute favorite NaNoWriMo memory?
How do you pronounce NaNoWriMo? (Na-No-RYE-Mo, or Na-No-REE-Mo?)
What’s the name of your NaNoWriMo Project?
What is your project’s genre?
Introduce us to your cast!
What is your novel’s theme?
What are your novel’s main settings?
Are you using any plotting/story structures for your project, or are you just winging it like the beautiful pixie that you are?
What are some ways you prepare for The NaNo?
What’s in your writing toolkit? (pictures are encouraged!)
PART THREE. . . Inspiration
What was the initial inspiration for your NaNoWriMo novel?
What’s your NaNoWriMo Novel’s Word Aesthetic?
Share your Pinterest boards and music playlists!
What’s your absolute best advice to new (and old!) NaNoers?

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

October colors

Autumn gets lovelier by the day here.  The days have been in the 40s and 50s, nights in the 30s.  It rained yesterday, so I couldn't get pictures, and then last night, the winds kicked in and blew many of the leaves away.  Sigh.  So, when I went out at lunchtime today, many of the trees are now past their prime, but many more are still on their way.  I ooh and ahhh everywhere I go around here because of how beautiful all the trees are.

(My nephew and I collected all these... I love the purple-veined yellow ones.)
(... to orange...)
(... to orange from another angle...)
( yellow.)
(This pic's a bit washed out, but the center of the tree is orange, and the outer leaves are still green, which was just really really cool, like it's burning from the inside.)

(And here are the ever-changing colors of the backyard view.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fall continues

I love fall so much!  Now it's in the 40s in the morning, and it is just crisp and clear and wonderful out. The trees everywhere are all turning colors now.  There are some streets of all yellow, and some streets of all red.  And there are these one kind of trees that are a bizarre purple/yellow that is just plain weird.  I have to get a picture of one of those. (EDIT:  took some pics of those last night, they're at the bottom.) Even the grass at the park has begun to turn orange.

(Out on the trail in the forest)
(My sister took this picture, she really liked the leaves.)
(Okay, these are the weird purple/yellow trees, but my phone camera isn't capturing it very well)

(A whole row of them...)

Monday, September 10, 2018

Pictures not at an exhibition

Autumn is my favorite season.  I love when the angle of the sunlight changes.  Everything is sharper and clearer.  The weather is crisp and cool.  It is just lovely outside.  I tend to go on longer and longer walks with my dog because it's so pretty out I don't want to go back inside.

The trees here are turning colors.  There are two young maples I pass by that went fully red last week. I didn't have a chance to take a picture until last night, and they're now already past their prime, but still lovely.  Here is one of them.  Love the red leaves against the white bark against the blue sky.

This tree is not even half-yellow yet, but I just liked the way the late afternoon sun was shining through it.

The neighbor's trees going red...

Two perfect leaves...

And because one doesn't live in Idaho with seeing lots of meese, here is a young male we saw while driving around the other day. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Day 10 - 10-Day Movie Challenge

Day 10 - an image from a movie that had a big impact on me, with no explanation. 10 days, 10 movies, 10 images.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Day 9 - 10-Day Movie Challenge

Day 9 - an image from a movie that had a big impact on me, with no explanation. 10 days, 10 movies, 10 images.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Day 8 - 10-Day Movie Challenge

Day 8 - an image from a movie that had a big impact on me, with no explanation. 10 days, 10 movies, 10 images.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Day 7 - 10-Day Movie Challenge

Day 7 - an image from a movie that had a big impact on me, with no explanation. 10 days, 10 movies, 10 images.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Day 6 - 10-Day Movie Challenge

Day 6 - an image from a movie that had a big impact on me, with no explanation. 10 days, 10 movies, 10 images.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Day 5 - 10-Day Movie Challenge

Day 5 - an image from a movie that had a big impact on me, with no explanation. 10 days, 10 movies, 10 images.