Music That Moves Me (Movies)

When this post extended past a few pages on movies alone, I realised it was the first of a two part series. This one is for the movies. The second installment will be for video games.

I am an annoying person to watch movies with. I don’t chatter and spoil the surprise, but I will make a comment now and then, usually along the lines of:

“Check out the composition of this scene.”

“This is directed by <name>. They did <film>. Remember that one?”

“Oh, wow, check the cinematography here.”

“Wasn’t this actor in <film> and <film>?”

and, more often than not:

“Have you been listening to the soundtrack? I wonder if it’s <artist/composer>.”

I nearly always notice the soundtrack, and it’s one of the reasons I love to watch movies at home. There I can sit with my phone in hand, IMDb app open, so I can look up the other films for that particular actor, check out the director and find out who was responsible for and/or composed the music. I’ve discovered some of my favourite artists and composers through film.

Music has been an important part of the movie experience for the entirety of my lifetime. When I think back to some of my earliest movie experiences, the soundtrack, or just the theme immediately comes to mind. It’s as indelibly planted in my memory as the name of the film and the actor(s) who starred. Who directed. 2001:A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Star Trek, Chariots of Fire, The Mission. Even if you haven’t seen Deliverance, you know about the dueling banjos.

The first movie soundtrack I ever purchased was The Mission. I was pretty blown away by Ennio Morricone’s haunting pan flute melodies. I love the movie, but I’m not sure it would have the same impact without Morricone’s music. One of my favourite renditions of “Gabriel’s Oboe” is by John Williams on classical guitar. It’s from the album John Williams Plays the Movies and I own that too.

Morricone’s score for all three films in The Dollars trilogy is the very definition of iconic…and I’m going to move on before I digress into a blog post on Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone and the Spaghetti Western. 😉

Another series I adore are the Star Tracks albums featuring the most beloved science fiction TV and movie themes of the last century. The first CD came with a bass level warning. It’s…awesome.

An exciting moment in movie music for me was the soundtrack to Sunshine. I adore this movie. It combines so many of my favourite things: a director I avidly follow, a writer I favour, actors I love and a completely transformative soundtrack. Sunshine is an apocalyptic tale, which is totally my thing. It’s tense and frightening. The story asks the big questions. But the film is also full of hope, which is another of my things. I don’t mind if I’ve used a box of tissues by the end as long as I feel hope in my heart.

The soundtrack for Sunshine played an important part in my understanding and enjoyment of the film. It’s one of the most wonderful movie scores I’ve stumbled across and I love it dearly—especially as it introduced me to John Murphy. As soon as I looked him up, I fell quickly into the black hole of OMG, he did the music for this! And this! He has in fact done the music for many notable Danny Boyle films, most recognisably 28 Days Later (also written by Alex Garland and starring Cillian Murphy!).

When I discovered that John Murphy worked in collaboration with one of my favourite bands, Underworld, on a number of these projects (Underworld has a solid history of scoring Danny Boyle’s films too), my black hole got pretty geeky. I lost a couple of otherwise productive weeks immersed in movies and music as I rewatched and listened to everything I could get my hands on.

As you can imagine, I also enjoy movies about musicians and music. I cannot watch the scene in Immortal Beloved featuring the excerpt of Beethoven’s 9th, Ode to Joy, without weeping. The part where he is floating in the pond of stars (5:15)? Forever imprinted in my brain.

At another end of the spectrum, I enjoyed The Doors so much I often used to put it on just to listen to the soundtrack. It’s rare that you get a selection of greatest hits in chronological order! As an aside, I often did the same with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’d put the movie on, close my eyes and just listen. It’s a completely different movie experience.

Recently, I watched Begin Again, starring Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine. What a pleasant surprise! I bought the soundtrack before the credits rolled…and constantly question the fact I am actually listening to Keira Knightly sing.

I don’t just get off on movie music. Sometimes it’s the sound effects. The swish of doors opening in any science fiction film? I grin every time. It’s like they have a button on every mixing console marked “SciFi Door”. The tricycle wheels in The Shining. The hum over hard flooring punctuated by the silence of carpet. It’s just so damned creepy. The aforementioned Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Who doesn’t know that sequence of notes by heart? Next time you watch it, listen for the echoes throughout the film. Then we have The Revenant. I actually popped out of suspension once or twice just to lean back in my theatre seat and let go of a silent “wow”—not for the music, but for the crackle and groan of ice. The sound of air. Leonardo DiCaprio breathing. I was pretty blown away, especially when I did my customary research after the film and learned that director Alejandro González Iñárritu used ambient sound throughout. Moviegoers were actually listening to the ice crackle and DiCaprio breathing. The air moving, the wind through the trees, and so on. I could devote another blog post just to this film. Instead, I’m going to drop the trailer right here, which takes full and bloody amazing advantage of both the musical score and Iñárritu’s innovative direction.

So, I’ve got a category missing. Several, probably. Movies and music are inextricably linked. For this post, however, I’m going to wrap up with genre that combines both—the musical. I’m not a huge fan of live theatre. Shock, horror, I know. Call me low brow, but I just prefer movies. I find it easier to be swept away when I’m in the theatre—also, I can pause, rewind and rewatch my favourites, over and over and over. Oh, and movie tickets generally only cost twelve bucks.

I do like movie musicals, though! I rewatch The Sound of Music every year, and absolutely adore Mary Poppins. I love Disney movies. The Lion King is an absolute fave. The scene where Simba climbs Pride Rock? “It is time.” I sing every time my cats climb out on the rock overlooking the creek at the back of our garden. Yeah, you all knew I was weird.

While we’re talking animated films, the music for Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films is always well considered, and the sound effects for The Wind Rises are very cool.

I wish I could ramble on forever, but I will show some restraint and leave you with one last video, which is from Curious George. Going to see this movie with my daughter resulted in another immediate soundtrack purchase. In my defense, I was already a Jack Johnson fan going in.

For a good list of movies with unforgettable music, visit: The 50 greatest film soundtracks

 

A Pantheon of Superheroes

I’m not the first person to draw parallels between superheroes and the gods of classical myth. It’s a subject that’s been written about endlessly! But as happens when I try to educate myself, I want to apply what I’ve learned. Or at least talk about it.

For the past few weeks I’ve been listening to a series of lectures on Classical Mythology. I’ve always been interested in Greek myths. They’re an integral part of our culture; they’re the stories nearly everyone knows. Having finished this series of lectures, however, I have gained a sense of just how deep the appreciation and appropriation of classical mythology runs. While these myths didn’t necessarily invent the art of storytelling, the people who wrote them down, or paid homage to them when penning their own epics, used the ideas conveyed by these myths to shape the art of storytelling forever. That might have been to do with the fact once these myths were written down, the act of writing became an act of storytelling, and it had to make sense. Or it could simply be that these tales speak to a need in all of us to make sense of, well, everything.

Our stories of superheroes continue this tradition even if in a more fanciful sense.

On the weekend I watched Justice League: War. I got sucked in by the snarky banter between Batman and Green Lantern. They traded insults throughout the entire movie. It was awesome. I also really liked the interpretation of Batman in this instance. He’s my favourite superhero, so I’m always a little sensitive when it comes to how he is portrayed.

Anyway, at the end of the movie, Wonder Woman makes a comment along the lines how much she enjoyed being a part of the pantheon once again. Superman, the lovably clueless lug, says something like “Huh?” Diana then nods to the heroes lined up beside her, giving each one a Greek name.

This got me thinking.

(here we go…)

Here are her match-ups:

WonderWoman_Diana

Wonder Woman, Alex Ross. Diana the Huntress, Giampietrino.

First of all, for Diana to assume she was part of the pantheon means she must be one of these gods (or goddesses). Given her name is Diana the most obvious choice for her is Artemis, goddess of the hunt. I think it’s a good fit. Artemis (and her Roman counterpart, Diana) is the protector of young women and animals and mistress of the wilderness. This works well with Diana being a warrior princess of the fabled Amazons, which places her in the same category of myth! I could dig deeper, but then this post would get long and boring.

Batman_Hades

Batman, Jim Lee. Hades, Wrath of the Titans

Batman is Hades (according to Diana). I really like this comparison and not because Batman is dressed in black and Hades is overlord or the underworld. Let’s start with Batman’s superhero name. It’s a nod to the fear he has overcome. Hades name ends up becoming synonymous with the realm he rules over. I think there is a parallel there. Moving on, Hades is not an evil guy. He’s actually portrayed as quite altruistic and with a reasonable temperament. He is a god of balance and change. He’s also the keeper of human souls, from the moment they are born until they enter his realm. Batman’s search for balance, or the meaning of his existence, is a key component of his character. He’s also the most human of the superheroes—because he is human, unalterably, using only technology (and oodles of cash) to defeat his enemies.

GreenLantern_Apollo

Green Lantern, Ethan Van Sciver. Apollo, ArcosArt.

Diana called Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) Apollo. I don’t know much about Hal as a Green Lantern, so I had to do a little research for this one (woot)! Apollo is a really complex god who had a finger in a lot of pies. He’s depicted as a patron, leader, defender and oracle. Hal’s a cop and a superhero and, well, a lot of everything. As Parallax he’s one of the most powerful beings in the DC pantheon. Apollo is also extraordinarily powerful. I think the simplest parallel is in the way a Green Lantern uses his powers. He can shape them into anything, and his imagination is fueled by his willpower. This fits with Apollo’s ‘jack of all trades’ godding. (That’s a word. Really. Okay, maybe not.)

Flash_Hermes

Flash, CWTV. Hermes, Unknown.

The Flash is Hermes. This is an easy parallel as both of these guys have winged feet. They’re fast. They’re both supposedly cunning and witty, which Flash, Barry Allen, is in Justice League: War. The Barry Allen of the current TV series is charmingly naïve, but still makes a fair comparison with his other skills—being able to move between worlds and seeing himself as a protector.

Cyborg_Hephaestus

Cyborg, Lee Bermejo. Hephaestus, Riordan Wikia

Cyborg is Hephaestus. Before Googling Hephaestus, I assumed he’d be the burly sort—seeing as Cyborg is big. Hephaestus is the god of blacksmiths, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes, among other things. Greek gods rocked at multitasking. So the similarities are obvious. Blacksmith doesn’t necessarily mean weapon smith, but they are handy with tools. Cyborg pretty much is a tool. He thinks and it is. Also, he’s rather fond of blasting fire at things.

Shazam_Zeus

Shazam, DC Comics. Zeus, Injustice: Gods Among Us

Zeus as Shazam (Captain Marvel). Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? They both wield lightning. This connection can be explored on a much deeper level, however. As portrayed in Justice League: War, Shazam is a geeky kid in his human form and a terrifically built dude in his superhero form. Zeus is, at the same time, both the youngest and oldest son of Cronus and Rhea. According to myth, fearing one of his children would grow up to kill him, Cronus swallowed each one as they were born. Rhea substituted a stone for the last, Zeus, and sent her son away to be raised elsewhere. As an adult, Zeus freed his siblings from Cronus (in some stories, they were disgorged, in others they were rescued from his slit belly) and they were ‘born’ again in reverse order, making Zeus the first born and therefore the oldest. I kinda like how this parallels with Shazam being a young kid, and then an adult superhero.

Diana doesn’t match Superman to a Greek god. She instead tells him he’s something else entirely. Which is interesting! In other match-ups, he’s inevitably paired with Zeus. I really like the above comparison, though. So who exactly is Superman? I guess that’s for you to decide. 🙂

(Featured image is from Justice League: War, DC Comics)

My Favourite Things: 2015

I always wait until the last possible moment to write this post because, in the last two years, I’ve had to update a couple of the entries as I go to one last movie or find the book I couldn’t have made it through my life without reading. This year, the delay again proved worthwhile as I became absorbed in December by some of the best television I have ever seen, and a number of startlingly good books.

As always, highlighted entries point to my reviews and rambles.

Books

2015Books

I read about 270 books this year. That’s twenty less than 2014 and, consequently, I awarded fewer five star ratings. I had 64 to choose from when trying to decide which books to rave about. Narrowing my list of favourites wasn’t as hard as last year, however, as there were some clear standouts.

Science Fiction: Hyperion by Dan Simmons

This book kinda blew me away. Actually, there’s no ‘kinda’ about it. This book hit all my buttons: impending apocalypse (okay, it’s Armageddon, but good enough), deeply drawn characters and a sprawling sense of space—a universe you could live in, would recognise when you returned to it—poetry and a compelling narrative. Six compelling narratives, actually. Told from the consecutive points of view of six of the seven men and women making a pilgrimage as the galaxy prepares for war, this book is a saga in one volume. It’s three love stories and a treatise on military action. It examines humanity, religion, philosophy, art and politics. The story bends time and rules. It’s just nothing short of amazing.

I also enjoyed Kevin Anderson’s return to the Seven Suns universe in the Saga of Shadows, Pierce Brown’s follow up to Red Rising (last year’s top SF pick from me), Golden Son, and everything I read by Peter Clines.

Fantasy: City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Long. Oh my goodness, so long. Every word is worth it, though. Every. Single. World. This book, these characters, this world! SIGRUD! Also, there’s a sequel coming out next year and I already have the ARC for it. *pause for epic flailing*

What sets this book apart is the world building. It’s truly unique. I have never read about a world like this one, and the world is such an integral part of the story. It’s nearly a character in its own right.

Close runner-up is Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations #1) by Michael J. Sullivan, a new to me author who is now an auto-buy author. I will read anything this man writes. A part of the charm of this series is the fabulous narration by Tim Gerard Reynolds. If you can afford to do this on audio, go for it.

Horror: The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey

This is a new category. I don’t usually read horror, but The Girl with all the Gifts is one of those stories that caught me by surprise. I can’t reveal much about the plot without giving away the magic, but what made this book work for me was the extraordinary journey of one of the characters. I despised this character at the beginning. I began to understand them halfway through. I was utterly besotted with their arc by the end—and then there’s a scene that just… Yeah, I’m haunted.

Graphic Novel: Commencement (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, #1) by John Jackson Miller

For me, this story combined elements of the original three movies and the world fabulously imagined by BioWare for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Great storytelling, decent art and fifty chapters to keep you invested for a good long time.

Romance: Waiting for the Flood by Alexis J. Hall

My review for Waiting for the Flood was a quote from within the book which, for me, defined the very essence of romance:

“It’s all I’ve ever wanted, really. Someone to make tea for. To know how they like to drink it, and share some pieces of time with them at the end of long days, and short ones, good days and bad, and everything in between.”

Movies

2015Movies

In Theatres: Furious 7

Apart from the fact this movie is a must see for every Furious franchise and Paul Walker fan, it really is the best one yet. The story, the stunts. The cast. The ending is bittersweet, as it had to be. I cried and, for about a month afterward, every time I heard the song See You Again I got all misty eyed.

I also really enjoyed both Southpaw and Creed. Southpaw was a shoe-in for me. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and starring Jake Gyllenhaal? I didn’t have to be asked twice. Creed—you’ve seen Rocky (and a handful of the sequels), right? Why not treat yourself to Stallone acting, and doing a damn good job of it.

Yes, I have seen The Force Awakens and yes, it was a great film. I also really enjoyed San Andreas!

On DVD: Lilting, St. Vincent, Begin Again, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

I didn’t watch as many movies on DVD this year. I was too busy streaming season after season of television shows I’ve missed.

TV

2015TV

Broadchurch, Sense8, Grace and Frankie, The Expanse

These shows are about as disparate as you can get. The Expanse is the space opera I’ve been waiting for since BSG drew its last breath. Grace and Frankie explores interpersonal relationships between family, friends and lovers in so many wonderful ways. Sense8 is spectacular—cinematically and for the story. Broadchurch WRECKED me. Not sure when I last sobbed in front of the television in such a distraught manner. Thank goodness no one came to visit me.

Games

2015Games

Favourite Game: The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

Geralt…

Sprawling, endlessly entertaining, well-written, beautiful and…Geralt in all his grey glory.

I also finished Dragon Age: Inquisition which left me wanting and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Music

2015Music

I don’t listen to music when I write and I wrote a LOT this year. I also listened to a lot of audio books, which really cut into my music listening time—particularly when driving. But I still managed to get caught up by a couple of new to me bands and did have a few favourite songs.

Song of the Year: Hold Each Other (ft. Futuristic)

I adore Great Big World. I love apparent simplicity of their lyrics and melodies and the depth I always feel beneath—whether that’s due to the stories I apply to their songs, or the stories they’re telling me. In this song, I really like the three perspectives. And the video is REALLY cute.

Mark Ronson’s Uptown  Funk! ft Bruno Mars was my favourite danceable track this year and every time it plays, I think of a couple of my guys, Alvaro and Daniel, from Wrong Direction, which makes me happy. 🙂

I discovered The Weeknd well after everyone else, and well after FSOG, thank goodness. I heard The Hills as I was driving and nearly crashed trying to enlist Google’s help in identifying it.

I also discovered Twenty One Pilots and am still listening to Stressed Out over and over.

Fooddoughnut

This was the Year of the Doughnut. I discovered a Krispy Kreme about an hour and a half from my house and spent a stupid amount of time visiting other doughnut stores up and down the East Coast.

Activity

Being Offline

As I mentioned earlier, I wrote a lot this year and because of the volume and increasing importance of writing in my life, I’m planning a separate post dedicated just to that! Given I spent so much time at the computer, by year’s end, my favourite activity actually became disengaging from the internet. Escaping to the real world to remember what the sun feels like. Taking day trips to reacquaint myself with my surroundings (and hunt for doughnuts). Hikes. Connecting with friends, face-to-face. Talking about anything other than writing, editing and publishing. Not being thoroughly confused and dismayed by social media.

That’s it, my list of favourite things in 2015. As always, the list is incomplete. I read so much, watched so much, listened to so much—and my tastes are so wide ranging and varied. I get a lot of joy out of mixing it up—leaping from a love story to a mystery, falling into a fantasy world and then jetting out to the stars. It keeps every adventure fresh and new.

Happy New Year and best wishes for your 2016.

 

My Favourite Things: 2014

It’s time to collect all my favourite things and play show and tell! Highlighted entries point to reviews and rambles on this blog.

Books

BooksI read 292 books this year. That’s a lot. Consequently, I awarded many five-star ratings. 72, to be exact. Narrowing down a list of favourites that wouldn’t make your eyes bleed was really, really hard. In the end, I decided on the books that were the biggest surprises.

Science fiction was the most difficult field to narrow. I read a lot of great science fiction this year. I read a lot of great and surprising science fiction–books that did something different, or took an idea and twisted it. I also read a number of books that could be counted as instant classics. Maybe not so new and different, but just such a wonderful illustration of why I love the genre. Among these would be Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold, The Martian* by Andy Weir and Trial by Fire* by Charles E. Gannon.

But the book that did it all differently makes my science fiction book of the year.

Science Fiction: The Flight of the Silvers* by Daniel Price 

Super powers, alternate dimensions, cosmic cycles and beautifully flawed characters. The Flight of the Silvers has it all, and more.

Fantasy: Sword of the Bright Lady* by M.C. Planck and Control Point by Myke Cole

A tie, in which two authors took fantasy and finally did something new and different with it. In Sword of the Bright Lady, M.C. Planck fictionalised the table-top gaming experience, right down to how XP is earned and magic is used. It’s a damn good story too. In Control Point, Myke Cole militarised magic. Gathered sorcerers under the banner of the United States military and then f*cked with the formula until they bled. Both books feature top notch characterization.

Graphic Novel: East of West, Vol. 3: There Is No Us* by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

Stunning art work and storytelling: The Four Horsemen are having a difference of opinion. Death’s not ready to continue the cycle of apocalypse that has claimed this world over and over. (My reviews of volume 1  and volume 2 have more detail.)

Non Fiction: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

An audio gem that captured me for weeks. A large part was due to the skillful narration by Dion Graham. He interpreted as he read, adding tone and inflection that personalised this memoir. By the end, I felt I knew Dave Eggers and his brothers. That I had grown up with them. Also, it’s just a damned good story.

Romance: Something Like Autumn by Jay Bell

The entire four part “Seasons” or “Something Like” series is wonderful. A tale of three men whose lives and loves intersect as they come of age and learn to navigate the world as adults, lovers, and gay men. The third book, Something Like Autumn, wrecked me. Even a month afterwards, just thinking about it put a lump in my throat. And yet, I don’t regret reading it because the author managed that ultimate surprise. Despite the ending, I felt hopeful. Despite my tears, I gained a sense of peace. That’s REALLY hard to do.

Young Adult: Red Rising* by Pierce Brown

I generally don’t have a high opinion of Young Adult books, that’s why this one is the surprise. I discovered it in the audio lending library and, because it was new—they don’t add speculative titles that often, I decided to give it a go. I was pretty much blown away by the end of the first chapter. Part of it was the narration by Tim Gerard Reynolds. He voiced every character with depth and emotion and even sang when the book required it. The greater part was that the character of Darrow and his story. It’s epic. It’s also complicated. Darrow makes so many mistakes, and he doesn’t always learn from them first time ‘round. The final part is the plot. It’s harrowing and clever. And it’s NOT bright young things against the crusty old establishment. Actually, it is, but not all the young are bright and not all the old are evil and/or stupid. There’s a good balance. Red Rising is more an illustration of a society that is eating itself from the inside out.

I just finished the sequel this morning. It’s stunning in it’s intensity and scope and I can’t wait to share my review.

(Books marked with a * were published in 2014)

Movies

MoviesIn Theatres: Interstellar

Until I saw Interstellar, Fury could have been my favourite film this year. I’m a fan of David Ayers as a writer and director. Just knowing he had a film coming out put Fury on my “must see” calendar. It’s the story of a five man tank team who complete a heroic mission behind enemy lines toward the end of World War II. It’s blood, gritty and very, very real.

What can I say about Interstellar? How about: at the end, my husband, daughter and I sat silently for about five minutes. We had to digest. Then, when we tried to pick it apart, we figured out a solution for every perceived hole. And they were elegant solutions. At the heart of it all, though, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan told a bloody good story.

The acting in both movies was wonderful.

On DVD: Draft Day, Lone Survivor, The Normal Heart, The Kings of Summer, Prisoners and Rush

Only six five star ratings, so they’re all listed here. Again, it’s a somewhat eclectic mix. 🙂

TV

TVWhile Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. continued to enthrall me, my two favourite shows were watched via Netflix. Strike Back and Marco Polo. Strike Back follows a fictional division of British Intelligence into terrorist hot spots where they kick ass and take names. It’s shocking, violent and twisty, with the script and acting to pull it off. Marco Polo consumed Husband and I for eight days. Twice, we watched two episodes at once because we had to. The show is gorgeous, gripping and probably the best TV I’ve seen in years.

Games

GamesA lot of fun was had as the family continued our co-op play through of Borderlands 2.  We’ve started the Prequel-Sequel. The game I wanted to break into tiny little pieces was Assassin’s Creed III. I’m so scarred, I’ve yet to play Assassin’s Creed IV. I enjoyed Thief up until the end. I still don’t understand what happened at the end, but this game called to the loot hound inside me. DMC Devil May Cry has one of the most tightly encapsulated plots I’ve ever seen. And it’s freaking gorgeous. The most anticipated game was Dragon Age: Inquisition, and so far, it’s living up to the promise of all those years of waiting. Likely, it will top my personal chart in 2015. For this year, however, my favourite game was another surprise:

Favourite Game: Saints Row IV

Downloaded on a whim over a free preview weekend. Ten hours later, I was totally hooked. The surprise was everything I didn’t expect: story, heart and soul. And fun. Tank Mayhem FTW. I had an idea the Saints Row games were all about pretending to be a “gangsta”. They’re not. While some folks might think the inherent violence in the game is an issue, really, it’s a hell of a lot more tame than may others I’ve played. And there are plenty of quests that have nothing to do with being the fastest draw. But, let me just say that after a long day of edits, running a tank over a few pixelated souls is good therapy.

Music

MusicI didn’t listen to a lot of music in 2014. I spent a lot of time writing and I don’t listen to music when I write. Not usually. Listening to audio books while doing chores and driving also cut into music listening time. But I did discover a new artist and an album I was able to rave about.

Favourite Album:  Hozier by Hozier

If you haven’t listened to “Take me to Church”, click through and give it a listen. Then come back and tell me if that voice gave you chills.

Favourite Song: “A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay

Like a lot of Coldplay songs, this is one I will be able to listen to for years without getting bored.

Food

A trip to New Orleans served up the best burger, ever.

Favourite Dish: Tableau Cheeseburger

Three 2 oz. grass fed beef patties from Gonsoulin Farms. topped with American cheese, housemade pickles, and sliced onion on an onion bun. Served with Housemade ketchup. Crystal aioli and pommes frites. Served by Tableau Restaurant, French Quarter, New Orleans.

Activity

When not tweaking my blog theme, I read a lot and wrote a lot. Both continue to be my favourite activities, because both take me on a journey. Also, this year, for the first time, my writing interfered with my reading. While writing the male-male science fiction romance series I’m co-authoring with Jenn, I found I couldn’t read any other male-male romance because my head and heart were consumed by our own story and characters.

So, I could say writing was my favourite activity, but instead, I’m going to dig a little deeper.

Favourite Activity: Collaborating with my co-writer, Jennifer Burke.

Chaos Station is not the first book we’ve written together, but this is the journey that’s taken us the farthest so far. We live and breathe these boys, their lives and their story, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Chaos Station is available for pre-order and is due to be released on March 2, 2015. We just handed in the final line edits for Lonely Shore (book 2) and that is scheduled for some time in May 2015. Up next is developmental edits on Skip Trace (book 3).

I also wrote two solo novels and two short stories, all of which feature romantic themes. I’ve a few projects in development for next year. Jenn and I need to write books 4 and 5 of the “Chaos Station” series. I also want to delve into a world I’ve been putting together for a while now, start developing and telling stories there. I have a couple plotted out, I just need to see which set of characters starts talking the loudest.

That’s it, my list for 2014. I hope you all had a great year. 2015 has a lot of exciting stuff in store for me (three scheduled book releases and a bunch of conventions!). I hope it’s a good one for all of you.

My Comic Con (NYCC14)

love
NYCC14. Photo courtesy of Evelina Sturzeneker.

For the last eight years, I have failed in my primary mission at the New York Comic Con. I have not met Patrick Stewart or even breathed the same air as him. I have not met Greg Capullo, I couldn’t find Stephen Amell (I think I was there the wrong day) and I never get in line early enough to catch the screenings of the movies I really want to see. I got the time wrong the year and decided I needed to meet Christopher Judge. I spent one year wandering the floor looking for the BioWare booth because I’d heard David Gaider would be there.

But this is not a tale of woe. This is my write up of NYCC14 and…I didn’t have a mission this year, because every other year, despite failing to meet the stars in my eyes, I have met some amazing people. I’ve sat in on really great panels. I’ve bought way too much art, countless comicbooks and all the gimmicky bits and pieces that litter my bookshelves. Every year, I walk away with more than a handful of books, often signed by the author. Every year, I meet at least one person who makes that con memorable. Continue reading

Summer Movies

This summer has been the busiest in years, so I haven’t been to the movies as often as I would like. After hearing friends’ reviews of some films on my list, that might not be a bad thing. But, summer is the season for the sort of movie I like: Big, noisy and colourful. Summer movies are exciting. Continue reading

Movie Mix-Ups (There’s a surprise inside)

To wrap up my week of movie posts, I’m going to share some of the weirdest stuff I’ve ordered from Netflix, accidentally on purpose. Yes, that phrase takes on an actual meaning when applied to my method of selecting movies. Here’s what happens: inspired to see a particular movie, I hit Netflix and conduct a quick search. I find a match and add it to my queue. Most often, the movies in my queue work their way up from the bottom. I’m a patient woman, which is why I still subscribe to the DVD delivery in addition to streaming. I don’t mind waiting a few months for a movie to hit Netflix and I don’t mind waiting another few days for it to land in my mailbox.

As an aside, this patience is tested when I’m burning my way through a TV series and must have the next disk YESTERDAY.

So, sometimes a delivery will confound me. I either don’t remember adding the movie to my list, or I wonder why I added it. Then there are the movies that I mistake for others. Yep. I order the wrong movie. How does this happen? I dunno—I either don’t look at the blurb or don’t have a clear idea of what the cover of the DVD should look like, or I’ve got the name so wrong, only one movie pops up so that must be it!

crash 2The first of these mistakes was a truly memorable experience. I ordered a film called Crash. I wanted to see Crash in theatres and had finally convinced my husband it was something we should watch together at home. (He likes to avoid movies with tear potential as he’s a guy and hates being caught with a tissue clutched in his hand.) We were very soon puzzled. What we were watching did not seem likely to elicit positive buzz with critics and crowds, or worthy of Best Picture. In fact, I was pretty sure people becoming sexually excited by car accidents and their victims skirted the Academy’s tastes altogether.

Not surprisingly, we were watching the wrong movie.

crash 1I like J.G. Ballard. I’ve read a lot of his books. He pushes boundaries and explores uncomfortable ideas. I had never read Crash, though. I didn’t finish the movie adaptation, either. In fact, I don’t think we got more than twenty minutes into the film before abandoning it. Later, I rented the other Crash, starring Don Cheadle and Sandra Bullock. I loved it. I sobbed horribly. Understandably, my husband refused to watch it with me. To this day I think he’s scarred, but that didn’t stop him from joining me in the next mix up.

This time, I hadn’t actually confused two movies with the same title. I selected a movie thinking it was based on a book I hadn’t read, but reckoned I’d like.

I know. I know!

 

whiteoutI like Ken Follet. I’ve read a few of his thrillers and thought Whiteout would be one of them. After renting a movie called Whiteout, which is not based on his book, but on a graphic novel of a graphically violent nature, I looked it up. I’m almost grateful they haven’t made a film of Ken Follet’s Whiteout. My husband might have left me after I insisted he watch it. As it was, we both still have recurring nightmares about the surgical removal of a frostbitten finger in the movie we did watch, and abandoned right about there.

We both reached for the remote at the same time. No way, no how. We’d already survived watching them turn over a body that had fallen from an ice shelf to splat on the frozen ground, a scene which had some of the most awful (skin-ripping) sound effects I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience. We had also watched some pull their hand hand off a frozen door. And on it went. We were so done.

Could I top that? I could, but my husband has refused to adventure with me anymore, so the next two mistakes were mine alone. The first is… Hell, both of these mix-ups are ridiculous. I did actually catch my mistakes before watching, but decided to “experience” the wrong movies, anyway.

They couldn’t be that bad, right?

 

grandmasterWe missed The Grandmaster in theatres. I put it on my list and when it arrived, I quickly realised my mistake. I’d ordered The Master. Really not my sort of movie, but, tragically, Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away while the red envelope collected dust on the TV console, so I decided to watch it as a sort of tribute. I have adored his performances in other films, particularly Doubt.

masterI tossed The Master, which had failed to capture my interest from beginning, after the scene where Amy Adams jerks Hoffman off in the bathroom. I couldn’t remember if she was his wife or his daughter, but suspected the latter. Either way, I was horribly disturbed, which is unusual as I don’t normally have an issue with sex or sensuality in films. I watched Shame and American Psycho. This scene didn’t approach anything in either of those films. I think at that point I’d just had enough, and the question on the relationship between the two characters was enough for me to halt the madness.

 

amourThe final mix-up might be the most serendipitous. I wanted to see Amour, which guaranteed to be a tear jerker. Accordingly, I did not invite my husband to view with me. Probably just as well, as I had rented Adore which is a completely different movie. Amour is the story of a man coping with his wife’s deteriorating health. Adore is the story of two women who conduct affairs with each other’s sons.

I know. I know!adore

Based on a novella by Doris Lessing, Adore was actually a pretty good film. I made it to the end this time. I did find the subject somewhat disturbing, but I really liked the questions posed and the performances by both Naomi Watts and Robin Wright.

And there ends my list of movie mix-ups, and my week of movie rambles. 🙂

 

(Featured image is from Crash, and sort of matches my expression on experiencing some of my mix-ups)