I had the privilege of being invited to a family get together of a friend this evening to celebrate Halloween. There was a fire and fire works (which were lovely when they worked properly and went into the sky before exploding, but not so nice when they stayed on the ground or, worst of all, careened towards my car), followed by a meal, ghost stories and a discussion of the spirit realm. It was the second Halloween party I have been to, the first being about 16 years ago. I much preferred this one.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I was listening to one of my favourite songs today. It is in Italian and sung by Andrea Bocelli, and I don't have a clue what it is about. The song starts well and has a good middle, but it is near the end that it really takes off. The music swells and Andrea's voice rises up, he holds the note and then crashes over like a wave into the rest of the song. To me, it is a affirmation of life, and a vocal representation of those moments when everything is going well and you think 'yes!'. It makes me thrill just to listen to it. I get goosebumps waiting for the best bit to come along. If I have my ipod in and I am listening to it, I grin and quicken my step at that point. There are several other songs, movies and books that have this effect on me with these kind of climactic scenes. It got me thinking, wouldn't it be wonderful to collect all these great climactic pieces together and make a super feel good motivational boosting collage of moments. However, without what has gone before, would they have the same impact? Would Ripley's defeat of the alien in Alien or Aliens mean as much if you hadn't followed her journey throughout the movie? Would the collection of the nine bells have spine tingling importance if you hadn't read the Abhorsen trilogy from start to finish? Would Andrea's jubilant high note make you tingle if you hadn't heard the build up of the song? It made me question whether these high points are truly great in isolation, or is it the sum of all that has gone before that makes them great. Like our own lives, do we have one defining moment of wonder, beauty and greatness, or is the significance of our greatest victory actually dependant on all the little ones that have preceded it along the way?
Monday, October 29, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Lily Marie was welcomed into the Catholic Church yesterday. Unfortunately she had to share her baptism with three other babies, but despite the crowding, it was a beautiful ceremony. Lily looked resplendent in a Christening robe made by my mother. It was my Christening robe too, so it was nice to see something being used that had such a strong connection to the family. Lily was very good and cried at the correct moment of the ceremony, when the priest put the water on her head, letting out the demons. I don't think she liked dressing up in her finery (she especially disliked her tights, but they did come up to her chin), but I am sure it is something she will grow into as she gets older (ha!ha! get it?). There was a lovely meal afterwards for the special girl and her family. I forget the name of the hotel. I think Lily found all the attention a bit draining. Suri Cruise couldn't have been more in demand for photographs. However, it was her party so she could cry if she wanted to. In the afternoon she got a bit grumpy - it had been a long emotional day and she had circulated among the guests - so the evening wound up. It was a lovely day and it was lovely to see Lily and her parents again. I predict she is going to be tall, she has very long fingers. Thanks to Valpot for the picture. As you can see, she is tired and unhappy and very Murphy in appearance!
Friday, October 26, 2007
I imagine one of the hard things for parents to accept is the day that they realise that their darling child isn't the brightest and the best, but that they love them all the same. I know I have posted about this before, but it was brought to my mind recently so I thought I would write about it again. Things that you have created - as in works of art - are different from your children, of course, but I imagine that the comparison holds true on many levels. You want your books, or paintings, to do well, to be well received and accepted into loving homes. You've taken time to raise them and you want them to have a wonderful life. They are connected to you on a deeply personal level and their reception - be it bad or good - impacts directly on your life. I want my work to be the best, and I constantly strive to improve, but there are times when I realise that no matter how hard I work, nor how much experience I have, my work will never reach the lofty heights I would like it to. Does this depress me - yes. Does it make me give up? - No. Because it doesn't matter whether my work is the best of the best, if it is high art or just pretty pictures, not everyone has to love it. There will always be better work than mine, but there will always be worse too. My work is mine, it is good, and I like it. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it doesn't have to be. All that matters is that I remember that, and still believe in it.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I was in Dublin today and met up with Valpot. We went to not one, not two, but THREE movies in the Dundrum movieplex. The first movie was Stardust. I thought new comer Charlie Cox was very good in the lead role of Tristan. Other stand outs were Michelle Pfeiffer as the witch and Mark Williams as Billy the goat, although all the cast were good with the exception of Robert De Niro, who was cringe worthy, Ricky Gervais, who just does the same thing over and over again, and Claire Danes, who wasn't enough like a star for me, although she did grow on me after a while. Apart from that, the movie was very well done, imaginative, magical and enjoyable. Our second movie was Ratatouille. I have already posted an in depth review of this movie, so I'll just say that I enjoyed it again. After a brief meal in a nearby eatery, we caught our third movie, Black Sheep, a comedy horror with the by line 'The Violence of the Lambs'. There were some parts in this movie that I didn't like, but apart from those one or two occasions, I found it gory, funny and scary which equals good in my book.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Valpot introduced me to this amazing competition last night. Amazon.com, in association with Penguin USA, are offering 5000 novelists the chance to be discovered. Through a six month process, their novels will be read and reviewed and narrowed down from 5000 to 1000 to 100 and then to the final 10, at which time ordinary customers will have the chance to read all 10 entries and vote for their favourite. The three authors with the highest votes will be flown to New York and wined and dined at an award ceremony where the grand prize winner will be announced. Up for grabs is a publishing deal with Penguin USA, a $25,000 advance, promotion through amazon.com and a HP media suite. The runners up get some cool prizes as well, and of course all this publicity on amazon.com is going to help your career prospects no end.
Reading the details on amazon.com, I got the feeling that this is an opportunity too good to be missed, but thanks to my procrastination (a subject for another post) I don't have The Mark of the Wolf in a suitable condition for submission. Entries are open until the 5th November or until 5000 entries have been received. Valpot persuaded me to sign up last night, so I now have seven days to submit my novel or lose my registration number. Can I wrestle 120,000 words into shape within that time? With several gallons of diet coke and no other commitments, I might. Who needs to sleep anyway?
Of course, Valpot has already entered, which leaves an ethical question - should we compete against each other? What happens if we both get down to the final ten? I would be thrilled if I did, and even more so if Valpot managed to hit the top spot, whether I got knocked out at the first round or not. However, this is all moot as it is highly unlikely that I will have anything to submit in the first place.
Does The Mark of the Wolf really have to be 120,000 words long? Maybe it would be just as good at 50,000.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Signs was on tv last night and I caught it about half way through. I ended up watching the rest of it. You know when that happens, you start off browsing and then a movie hooks you in and keeps your interest? Well, that's what happened to me. The script is actually really funny, and the atmosphere is very tense. Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix are perfect in their roles, hitting every mark with practised ease. The children, Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin (much younger than her role in Little Miss Sunshine) are also perfect. It made me remember how once M Night Shyamalan was a good director/writer. Ok, so casting himself in the role of the vet who killed Mel Gibson's wife was a tad self indulgent, but nothing compared to his recent Lady in the Water, which was absolute drivel. Night burst onto the scene in 1999 with the Sixth Sense, which, until Lady in the Water, was my least favourite of his films. Everything is built up to the twist ending and, while it is well made and Brue Willis is good in it, I don't think it rewatches as well as his other films. Then came Unbreakable, a really good movie with an interesting concept that came along before everyone jumped on the superhero bandwagon. Next was Signs. It isn't a good example of an alien movie, but as a thriller and a look into how a family react to a global threat, without playing a big part, it is excellent. A lot of people didn't like The Village but, despite slight disappointment about one of the plot points, I thought it was a very good movie with really likable characters. Night's recent work, Lady in the Water, is so bad that it doesn't bear mentioning. Watching Signs again made me wonder - what happened? How come the promising career of a writer/directer good at creating tense atmospheres between a small group of characters just died in this messy puddle? Is there a lesson in hubris to be learned by us all through his example?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I got a lot of congratulations because of yesterday's post, which I found extremely puzzling. I want to thank everyone for their kind words, but I think it is necessary to clear some things up. I used the example of losing weight to illustrate an abstract concept (the high of achievement), just as I used getting my acting job as an example. I was not speaking about any recent or specific achievement. It was not to celebrate anything that has happened in my life within the last week. Thank you for congratulating me on past experiences, but this was not the aim of the post. It was trying to understand something of the nature of achievement and how it gives you a high to continue to pursue your goal. When this is lacking, it can be easy to fall into apathy and leave the path. I obviously didn't make this very clear.
In reply to DN, yes I am published in Voices in Dundalk and I have won writing competitions, but I have not yet SOLD an article for PUBLICATION. There is a difference.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
It is amazing the satisfaction that achieving something can bring. I know every time I step on the scales and see that I have lost weight it gives me a great of achievement and spurs me on to lose more (and I really need to). I suppose it is the fact that you have done something productive that gives you such a high. It is the same when I land an acting job. It is such a boost to know that I have managed to do something, that someone else has seen my work and decided to pick me out of all the available people, and I am sure the same goes for any walk in life. I have heard that selling an article for publication gives a similar high and encourages you to write more and seek that achievement fix once more. However, it doesn't matter what the achievement is, big or small, you stick get a kick out of hitting that goal. Maybe it is taking your first steps, or learning how to make an omelet, or going on holiday on your own. They may be small things to other people but they are big things to you and doing them gives you a craving for more.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Went to see the latest Pixar movie, Ratatouille, at the cinema this evening. I had heard very mixed reviews and, after Cars, I was somewhat apprehensive. There was a time when Pixar could do no wrong in my eyes. After a string of films that just got better and better - Toy Story, It's a Bugs Life (ok, that is my second least favorite), Toy Story 2, Monster's Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles - I was bitterly disappointed with Cars. Not that it was a bad movie, mind, and the animation was fantastic, but it just didn't have the imagination and the heart that the other movies did. Ratatouille had me wondering if they had produced another clanger (no offence to the whistling pink mice who live on the moon). It didn't sound very promising to begin with - I mean, a rat who wants to be a chef in a human restaurant? It didn't sound like the greatest of ideas. Then again, when I first heard about The Incredibles I was completely nonplussed and now it is one of my all time favorite films. Like The Incredibles, Brad Bird wrote and directed Ratatouille and I should not have doubted him for a second. Ratatouille was a beautiful film, and I don't just mean that in a visual sense, although the animation was the best Pixar have produced to date. What I loved most about Ratatouille was the story and the characters. It had a real heart and a depth that transcended the fact that one of the main characters was a rat. Like The Incredibles before it, which wasn't really about super heroes, Ratatouille was more about friendship, family, following your dream and being true to yourself than it was about rats and kitchens. This is no dumbed down kids movie full of toilet humor. This is a fully rounded meaningful, fun, uplifting movie for the whole family. I thought it was fantastic. Some of the people I was with felt it was a little slow to start, but for me the pacing was excellent. I loved Remy (who was a rat) and they did not anthropomorphize him too much (if that is possible for a cooking rat). While the people were stylized, after watching them for a while you forgot they were animated and believed they were real. The voice acting was superb. The story line was exciting with a satisfying conclusion and there were enough laughs to keep me chuckling throughout. I think Pixar have returned to form with this gem of a movie. Miss it at your peril.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I have just heard the most wonderful news. VALPOT has made her first sale of an article to a magazine. CONGRATULATIONS VALPOT. I've been dancing around, sorry that 50 miles separate me from Valpot so I can't join her in celebrating. She has been working so hard, never giving up, she really deserves this affirmation of her writing. I hope it will be the first of many publications. YOU'RE THE BEST VALPOT.
A big shout out as well to Broken Wing, who will shortly be appearing in print in the letters page of a well known equestrian magazine. Congrats BW.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I've been feeling quite sick, sluggish and nasty the last few days so when I visited my nutritionist yesterday (sounds dreadfully posh, doesn't it?) I asked her for a detox regime to help me get rid of the ickiness I was feeling. She recommended this living food, green food drink, which sounded great as she described it (a shower for the inside) and promised to get rid of the acidity in my body (I did feel really acidic). I went shopping for the ingredients this morning and, armed with my brand new juicer come blender, I proudly made my first portion. After hours of work and making mountains of mess, I was left with a glass of thick, green smelly sludge. The colour didn't put me off too much, it was a very pleasant dark green (if it had been paint), the viscosity didn't deter me, it was like a smoothie (a smoothie made of sludge) and I could even put up with the smell, it had a freshness to it (freshly composted veggies perhaps) but my resolve was sorely tested when I took my first taste. The first hit to my palate was not unpleasant. It was quite sweet, and I thought 'This isn't too bad.' The second thing my mouth noticed was how thick the mixture was. It was not a nice sensation; I felt as if I had been sucking the scum off the top of a pond. Then I got a double whammy of flavour (if I can call it that) - I was hit by a spiciness, which might have been nice if I hadn't been punched at the same time with a slimy earthiness of an aftertaste that made me want to retch. One sip was enough. Unfortunately, this is what I've got to drink during the day - for the next four days!
Monday, October 08, 2007
I've been watching out for my landmark 200th post for ages, and I am mad that I missed it! This is my 207th post, my real 200th post was a review of Lottie the Half Vampire, however I am going to pretend that it really is my 200th post.
YAY! 200 POSTS!
Can you believe it! Special prize for first comment on this post.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
I've just finished writing a short story and I am really pleased with how it turned out. Valpot challenged me to write a fantasy short story for Alienskin, and we both spent most of the day plotting out and writing our stories. I ended up writing a horror instead of a fantasy, but I'm going to try and write the fantasy tomorrow. I haven't written a short story in so long, and doing this exercise today made me realise that I can write them relatively pain free, so it is something to think about doing again on a more regular basis.
Friday, October 05, 2007
33 days to go until I fly out to New Zealand and I am feeling totally overwhelmed with work. I want to plan out what I'm taking to New Zealand and get the trip in order, I want to get all my Christmas presents (bought and made) sorted before I go away, I have 3 friends birthdays this month and two family and there is Lily's baptism of course. I have paintings to finish and my art work to promote and sell and last, but by no means least, I have my writing to do. Til the Moon Fails has to be finished, The Mark of the Wolf has to be edited, and there are a couple of other projects that need my attention. Whether or not all these things are humanly possible, I don't know, but I will never get them done while I am stuck in this brain freeze of overwhelmdom. I've tried blocking things out, and even letting things go, but I am still buckling under the pressure of this self imposed burden. You know the old saying, 'You are your own worst enemy'? Isn't it funny that even when you know all the things you are doing wrong, it is really hard to stop doing them and change your behaviour.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Feeling sad today for two reasons:-
1. Humphries went back today
2. I should have been flying to London to spend the weekend at a sci-fi convention today but I'm not well enough and I am so fed up of having to cancel things because of poor health.
On a more positive note, my brochures and cards arrived for my paintings today. Now all I have to do is get people to buy them. Also, I got to brain age twenty on the DS today, after only 3 days!
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
It has only been a few days since Witch Rose was banished from the Ferga by the Diamonds, and already twins Cathy and Alan are bored. Their boredom doesn't last for long, however, as Mount Slant is attacked, the Diamonds imprisoned and Susan and Vicky kidnapped. What follows is a breathtaking, edge of your seat, non stop knuckle ride that will keep you from putting down the book until you have finished. More details about the land of Ferga are revealed, and we also get to see Paul Puddings land and the lands beyond the Diamond's realm. This is a brilliant book, a worthy follow up to the Lucky Diamond. Valinora Troy is a master of her craft, weaving story lines involving ten characters and three different countries with ease and skill and keeping the readers interest throughout. I can't wait for the third book in the trilogy. I remember feeling the same way when I finished Lireal by Garth Nix. I couldn't put it down and when I was finished I had to get my hands on the third part of the trilogy, Abhorsen. In that case, I only had to wait a couple of days for the shops to open to buy it, unfortunately in this case I don't know how long I have to wait for the third book to be out! It is terrible. I'll just have to read The Lucky Diamond and Revenge of Queen Rose again until it comes out!