Battlestar Galactica/ Hunger Games Crossover by Dutch War Lord is Pure Gold

Katniss call sign: Sweetheart (Assigned by Haymitch, of course. Frack, frack, frack!)

Peeta call sign: Baker

Situation: Peeta’s Viper has been shot down! Battlestar pilots need to rescue him, ASAP!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Guardian’s Review of Mockingjay 2

Self is writing this, her third post of Saturday, even though she swore she’d go out and walk the streets of Manhattan! On this unusually temperate December day!

She wants to see “Joy,” David O. Russell’s new movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Self loves J-Law.

Anything with J-Law in it, self will watch.

But she just can’t stand The Guardian review because it is all J-Law. There is not one mention of J-Hutch. And Peeta, his character, self’s thought all along, is the real reason The Hunger Games is such an enthralling story.

Sure, Katniss Everdeen is really kick-ass. Kick-ass like no other. Her hunting? Her bow and arrow? Not to mention her Mockingjay outfits? Epic.

But the Katniss Everdeen story wouldn’t be anything without the character of Peeta. The guy makes us believe she has a heart. He’s in love with her from afar, it’s the greatest stroke of luck (for her, not really for him) that he gets reaped along with her, he gets to play a fake romance with her that really screws up his brain, gets hijacked, then keeps trying to kill her.

In short, Peeta is a mess.

The films gave very short shrift to his character. Which was a mistake. Because when the end came, when Katniss gets to have him, there is just no ooomf.

Self doesn’t know if Lionsgate had no faith in Josh Hutcherson as an actor. Or if they just wanted to cash in on the J-Law phenomenon. But the films would have worked better if they’d given Peeta his due. Seriously.

That said, she really loves the way Mockingjay 2 ended: not because of the meadow scene (In this scene, J-Law looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal! Not a criticism, just saying), but because of the scenes with Peeta and Katniss together in her house: Peeta reading aloud Annie’s letter in the kitchen (And J-Hutch just looks so good here), the two watching it rain. Katniss joining Peeta at night in the guest room. Because: normal is good! Normal is where Katniss needs to be! The daily routines — and not her Messianic mission — save her.

Suzanne Collins wrote this ending because she knew she needed to show Katniss whole. The selflessness of the warrior woman needed to give way to her personal satisfaction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Are You Ready For This? Vanity Fair’s 10 Best Movies of 2015

And self has only seen three of them.

Time was when self had seen all. All of the movies nominated for 10 Best.

Self is kinda shocked that three of the movies she really liked this year are nowhere: Pawn Sacrifice and Bridge of Spies. And Mockingjay 2!

Starting in reverse order (10th to 1st):

10.  The Martian: YAY for Matt Damon! Absolutely!

9.  Steve Jobs: God, NO! But if you want to see Steve Jobs’s life transformed into a Lifetime movie, complete with angst-ridden assistant played by Kate Winslet in her most painfully sappy performance to date, then this is the movie for you!

8.  Eden: Self has yet to see. YAY that it’s directed by a woman, though. Triple-YAY.

7.  The End of the Tour: Self has yet to see. She’d see it for Jesse Eisenberg alone.

6.  Tangerine: Self has yet to see. A movie about “pimps, johns, donut shops, and laundromats.” (Sounds like a Mary Gaitskill short story. The part about donut shops and laundromats sounds also like self’s current life) Shot entirely on iPhone. YAY for technology!

5.  Ex Machina: Everyone, but EVERYONE says self has to see this. And self loves Alicia Vikander. So, yes.

4.  Carol: Self has yet to see. But — Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett? The twins of serious acting? Will it be boring?

3.  Spotlight: Self has yet to see. One thing she’s never understood about the Church sex-abuse scandal is, she remembers a wave of sex-abuse Church scandals at least 20 years ago. The Archbishop of Boston was forced to resign. Remember him? Bernardin? Do we never learn? 20 years from now, will there be another Church sex-abuse scandal? Judging from the present: YES!

2.  Clouds of Sils Maria: Self has yet to see. But Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, the twins of really serious acting without being obvious about it. Yes!

1. Mad Max: Fury Road: God, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Tom Hardy playing Max. Charlize playing Imperator Furiosa. Five pretty girls in white dresses. Nicholas Hoult saying Oh what a day. What a lovely daaaaay!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

A Bookshelf Survey (Tagged by j4mieleigh)

Thanks, j4mieleigh, for tagging self in the Bookshelf Survey!

Here are some of self’s answers:

Find a book on your shelves for each of your initials:

M would be for Mockingjay (Book 3 in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins)

V would be for Victor Klemperer, whose meticulous diary of his days living out World War II in Dresden, Germany are searing and humane and unforgettable.

Count your age along your bookshelves. What do you land on?

Self ran out of bookshelf space. Honest-to-God.

No, actually, most of her books are in Redwood City, California. She only has a dozen books with her right now.

Find a book that takes place in your city or state.

Self has to be tiresome again. She has no “city or state.” Unless you consider Facebook a place. She’s there every day.

Find a book set somewhere you would love to travel to.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare is mostly set in Wales. Apart from one brief stop on the ferry from Dublin to London, self has never been to Wales. Perhaps next year?

Find a book cover in your favorite color:

Self’s favorite color is BLUE.

Here’s the cover to a book she’s almost finished reading:

DSCN0955

Detail, Book Cover: ERAGON, by Christopher Paolini

Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Break It Down, by Lydia Davis. That collection rocked her world.

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

The Horse Whisperer? She just wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. Because the events in it are pretty terrible. Worse, they are true.

Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest sense of accomplishment?

Eldest, by Christopher Paolini. It is 700 pages.

And, to be honest, The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Because it is Horror. And because self lives alone. And hears things in the night. All the time.

Do you have a special place at home for reading?

The bed. Hands down.

When do you usually read?

Anytime and all the time, if possible.

Can you read while listening to music/ watching TV?

Umm. No.

What do you use for bookmarks?

Right now, book postcards that were handed out at the most recent Cork International Short Story Festival. The artwork for them is mostly incredible.

Are your book spines creased or unbroken?

No. (To elaborate: None of her book spines are creased or unbroken. Her favorite books have stuff written on the margins. Even, coffee stains)

What is the last book you bought?

Middlemarch, by George Eliot

Self hereby tags Dee Dee Chainey (curator of the Twitter hashtag Folklore Thursday) and Laura Dodge Meyer whose blog is The Second Fifty.

Stay tuned!

 

Science Fiction, Coming to a Theater Near You

(From Tor.com, which has an amazing amount of new content, every day — but of course, they are a conglomerate of writers, while self is just SELF!)

BTW, wonder why there are so few women on this list? Self has actually met one of these authors: Charlie Jane Anders. Long long time ago. Don’t bother asking him if he remembers self.

  • The Man In the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick: Presents an alternate history where America loses World War II and is split between Nazi Germany and Japan.
  • Preacher, by Garth Ennis (writer) and Steve Dillon (artist):  After getting accidentally possessed by a creature called Genesis, Reverend Jesse Custer goes on a quest to find God. Joining him for the journey are his ex-girlfriend and a wise-cracking Irish vampire.
  • American Gods, by Neil Gaiman: It’s about the battles between old gods and new.
  • Uprooted, by Naomi Novik: Plain, clumsy, loyal Agnieszka is handed over to the Dragon, a fearsome wizard who takes one girl from her village every ten years.
  • The Dark Tower, by Stephen King: Combining elements of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and Westerns, it follows a gunslinger on his quest to find a tower that is both physical and metaphorical.
  • Skin Trade, by George R. R. Martin: A private investigator gets involved in a string of gruesome serial killings that reminds her of her father’s death two decades prior.
  • Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson: The story tracks the colonization and terraforming of Mars, as told through the perspectives of the First Hundred who are chosen to leave behind an Earth suffering from overpopulation, ecological disasters, and the emergence of transnational corporations threatening to overthrow the world’s governments.
  • Midnight Texas, by Charlaine Harris: Phone psychic Manfred Bernardo relocates to Midnight, Texas, and then winds up overstaying his welcome — probably because of all the murders.
  • How To Talk To Girls at Parties, by Neil Gaiman: Enn and his friends go to a party hoping to talk to girls, only to discover that the girls, especially one named Zan, are not what he expected.
  • Ghost Brigades, by John Scalzi: 75-year-old John Perry enlists in an inter-galactic war that has soldiers fighting in younger bodies into which their consciousness is implanted.
  • Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson: The Big Blackout cuts Earth off from the Stars and Sun through an alien barrier.
  • Six Months, Three Days, by Charlie Jane Anders: Tracks the doomed relationship between a man who can see the future and a woman who can see many futures.
  • Luna, New Moon, by Ian McDonald: In 2110, fifty years after the moon’s colonization, the top ruling families — the Five Dragons — are intermarrying, poisoning, sabotaging, and battling for control of the Moon.

Stay tuned.

 

SYNTH, Chapter 3!

SYNTH is a gorgeous Everlark fan fiction in which Katniss is an android called KTNS-12, manufactured in a lab by Genius Scientist Beetee and Junior Scientist Peeta, the latest effort by humans to develop a weapon that will help them win a war against — well, it’s not clear who exactly they’re fighting against, but anyway the humans are holed up underground in bunkers, and it seems they are very reduced in number. KTNS-12 is the first prototype that succeeds in walking, talking, fighting, etc., and Peeta made her. Yes, he made her, coddled her from a clump of cells in a petri dish to a full-grown, gorgeous woman.

Faster than you can say “Pygmalion and Galatea,” KTNS-12 begins following Junior Scientist Peeta around like a baby chick (She even begins climbing into his bed at one point, and no one thinks to stop her). Nurturing Peeta is so adorable, and Beetee expounds his theory of “imprinting” (since Peeta talked to Katniss’s cells and coaxed them into growing, his voice has imprinted on KTNS-12. Oh this is just too ADORBS!)

KTNS-12 has an anomaly: she has feelings. She knows she has been bred to be a fighting machine (Again self wonders why the scientists bothered to make a gendered fighting machine, even with reproductive parts. Wouldn’t that seem like such a waste of time, since they’re not supposed to procreate, anyway. Or — are they? DUN DUN DUN!) and she’s deathly afraid that these feelings are going to cause them to recycle her parts. When a dastardly team of scientists led by Dr. Cato and Dr. Gloss do all kinds of experiments on her (such as, tightening C-clamps on all her digits until the skin splits), she has to pretend she isn’t afraid, but she thinks Gloss knows. Because every day, he schedules more vivisection and . . .

The last self read of Synth was way way back in the beginning of the year. Six months ago. Two chapters dropped, and the end of the second chapter was quite a cliff-y: Katniss being taken to a lab (with no Junior Scientist Peeta present!) where horrible Dr. Cato and Dr. Gloss are waiting with awful sharp surgical instruments and C-clamps.

For over six months Synth followers like self were forced to imagine the most horrible atrocities perpetrated on KTNS-12. Paging Junior Scientist Peeta! Emergency! Paging Junior Scientist Peeta! Your immediate presence is required to save KTNS-12!

MILD SPOILERS!

Finally, yesterday, followers were put out of their agony: Chapter 3 dropped. Evil Cato and Gloss clamp KTNS-12 down on a table and slowly up the pressure on all her limbs until finally, finally, KTNS-12 does feel something: “It’s a sensation like dark is a color. There really isn’t anything there, but it’s far too real to be nothing.”

AARGH!

Horrible! Just horrible!

Puke! Barf! NO!!!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Directions for the Journey to the Meaning of Reality

While self was wandering around Florence, early this month, she stumbled into the Palazzo Vecchio. Milling about in the lobby were participants in a conference to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the death of Monsignor Luigi Giussani. It was the first she’d ever heard of this man who, one of the conference staff told self, was a much admired teacher and writer.

Self walked away with a brochure of his writings, and wasted no time opening the brochure. She was very struck by this statement:

LIVE REALITY INTENSELY

Then, she read a discourse on the meaning of the word “Thing”:

I would be amazed by the stupefying repercussion of a presence which is expressed in current language by the word “thing.” Things! “Thing,” which is a concrete and, if you please, banal presence which I do not myself make, which I find. A presence which imposes itself upon me. At this moment, if I am attentive, that is, if I am mature, then I cannot deny that the greatest and most profound evidence is that I do not make myself, I am not making myself. I do not give myself being, or the reality which I am. I am “given.” This is the moment of maturity when I discover myself to be dependent on something else.

Self has a story in the New Orleans Review called — THING.

The consonance of her Thing with Monsignor Giussani’s discourse on the word Thing is super-mindblowing! It’s as if self’s frail tendrils of story, and this always-churning imagination of hers, has transported her across the ocean to Italy, simply so that she can receive a brochure at the Palazzo Vecchio where a teacher and philosopher tries to explain the meaning of Thing. Of Thing-ness.

Self’s story is about humanoids in the post-apocalyptic Earth. Where no one looks human anymore. Hence the use of the generic to describe that which-is-neither-here-nor-there. That which is thing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Victory Can Only Come After Struggle

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, VICTORY, posted on Friday morning. Right after that came news (from Twitter; self’s news always come from Twitter) about the Paris attacks.

It seemed very ironic, that the photo challenge urged us to think of the positive. The terrorists made that all seem like such a travesty.

Nevertheless. Nevertheless.

Here are some pictures that self needed to look at today. Reminders of the positive.

The inaugural issue of Irish lit mag Banshee was celebrated at the most recent Cork International Short Story Festival, in September. Self was so glad she attended the launch:

It is a perilous venture, the field of literary magazine publishing. But the young women who edit BANSHEE prove that the dream never dies.

It is a perilous venture, the field of literary magazine publishing. But the young women who edit BANSHEE prove that the dream never dies.

One of the most life-affirming and redemptive characters of recent fiction is, in self’s humble opinion, the baker of The Hunger Games. She only caught the symbolism today: Hunting doesn’t feed the belly, doesn’t sate it, to the degree that bread does. In the purported love triangle of the trilogy, there was never really any other choice for Katniss: Peeta Mellark rocks.

Self will mourn the passing of this franchise when the final film opens on Nov. 20. J-Hutch, you did a great job bringing Peeta Mellark to life!

Self will mourn the passing of this franchise when the final film opens on Nov. 20. J-Hutch, you did a great job bringing Peeta Mellark to life!

Finally, one of self’s favorite reads in 2015 was Crab Orchard Review’s West Coast and Beyond issue, which included a haunting short story by Lucy Jane Bledsoe. Self brought the issue with her to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, this past summer. Whenever her writing energy flagged, reading a bit from the Crab Orchard Review never failed to revive her inspiration:

Several of the contributors from the West Coast & Beyond issue will be participating in a panel during AWP 2016/ Los Angeles, end of March.

Several of the contributors from the West Coast & Beyond issue will be participating in a panel during AWP 2016/ Los Angeles, end of March.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s Speculative Fiction: Short on Science, Long on Speculation

Self’s science fiction may be a little short on the science, but it has everything to do with story-telling.

She is thinking about her stories today because last week she was in San Francisco and popped into Borderlands, the Science Fiction Bookstore on Valencia. So wonderful to browse! Self saw many, many books she wanted to read. There were new books from China Mieville, Joe Hill, and Jo Walton, to name a few.

Borderlands, Valencia Street, San Francisco: All Science Fiction, All Fantasy, All the Time

Borderlands, Valencia Street, San Francisco: All Science Fiction, All Fantasy, All the Time

This is the problem with going to a bookstore: self ends up leaving with loads of books that she then has to pack into a suitcase and then haul that suitcase around on her travels and the experience is just painful.

Anyhoo, self had been thinking for quite a while of starting to put together a new collection, and is leaning more towards having it all be science fiction. She might lead off with “Spores,” which her friend Morgan Cook turned into an MP3 Audio File, early this year.

This excerpt is from “Spores” (Trigger warning: profanity)

“Me mum’s a thick,” K said once. “A fecking thick. A root rotter.”

“Hit brew and all?” I asked.

“12 pints one go, honest,” K said. She silent the rest of the day.

I grew weary of K.

Self’s story “First Life,” published by Juked in July, is again “nothing but strange,” to quote from FictionFeed.net. The first sentence:

Ever since they moved our colony from Tonle Sap to the Philippines, my mind hasn’t been the same.

And then there’s “Thing,” which came out in the New Orleans Review in 2012, about Animal Rehabilitation Center, Sector 6, where the results of heinous lab experiments are tended to by a rag-tag group who are barely human themselves.

And “Magellan’s Mirror,” which J Journal published and nominated for a Pushcart (The Philippines populated by a race of giants)

And “Vanquisher,” which self wrote as a sequel to “Magellan’s Mirror,” in which Juan de Salcedo turns into a kind of vampire.

And there’s “The Forest,” about a man whose wife has just let him, and whose sister offers, out of the kindness of her heart, to turn him into a spotted deer or an eagle.

And there’s “Ice,” which is set in a future Earth whose surface is covered with ice:

Out there, ice caps, cold as knives.

Steam from her mouth, his mouth, none from the boy who lay between them. She knowing what but not able to bear it.

And of course, “The Freeze,” in Bluestem Magazine early this year, in which a woman loses her entire family when a catastrophic freeze descends on the planet (The rumor is that the Russians started it) and decides to walk to Mexico.

And “The Departure” (2011 Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s annual Best of Horror list), in which a woman looks up at the sky just in time to see a giant hand appear and go left to right, the gesture of a teacher erasing a blackboard. Next thing she knows, her face has sprouted glass.

And her short short “The Ark,” in which Noah is unbelievably cruel to the animals under his care.

And “Sofia,” in which a woman is visited by her great-great-grandfather, to tell her she is . . . (No spoilers here)

And her piece in Witness, about a man who is the last living person on Earth to have actually tasted a mango.

And she has other stories: stories about “breeder” sweaters (Women wear the sweaters to help them conceive) and lonely Cyclops (“I Am Cyclops,” published in Lillian Howan’s Nimbus Cat)

And another about the lost city of Atlantis, discovered 1715 (“Residents of the Deep”)

And another story called “The Great Emptying of the Three Triangles” which is a Power Point presentation on desertification.

And another called “Harvest” in which a young girl’s mother walks around all day dressed in nothing but a mink coat and her best friend vanishes from a field during an insect harvest.

And another called “Eating” in which a girl’s mother forces her to eat and eat and eat until the girl feels she is about to die.

And another called “Appetites” in which a girl sends her nanny off into the wide, wide world to search for a particular delicacy the girl wants to taste (This one’s published on Café Irreal)

And “Isa,” which is about the last two remaining islands on Earth (published by Rogue Magazine in their Bacolod issue).

And one in which a Fetch appears to a father mourning the loss of his daughter.

And one about a dictator’s Special Research Project (This one’s included in her first collection, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila)

Phew! Too many stories to list.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Snowpiercer” the 2nd Time: Murkiness and Mayhem

First time self saw this movie was in Mendocino. She downloaded it from Netflix. It was January.

Nah-ah. Chris Evans, bearded and in knit hat, scowling. Okaaay. Role didn’t need to be played by Chris Evans. Anyone of sufficient height and bulk and scowl would have done quite nicely.

Little did she know that she’d be watching it again just nine months later, in far different circumstances. She still doesn’t love it, but it is interesting.

Tilda Swinton is just so weird. She’s weird-looking, and she is totally fearless. Self has seen her in The Deep End, in We Need To Talk About Kevin, in Constantine (playing the earthiest angel ever) and now in Snowpiercer, where she is downright repulsive, with big horsey teeth and spittle flying out of her mouth as she shrieks against the rebels. Granted, this character would not be everyone’s cup of tea. But Tilda plays it with — wit? She actually pulls off a line that goes something like: “Because of those stubborn rebels, 74% of you will die.”

SPOILER ALERT!

Jamie Bell is in this movie. He is one fine actor. In the scene where an enemy holds a knife to his throat, and Chris Evans, his buddy, has to choose between saving Jamie or going after Tilda Swinton, once it becomes clear which way Chris Evans will go (and we all know there is only one way Chris Evans will go), the change in his features is remarkable.

If this were a normal science fiction thriller, Jamie Bell would have a look on his face something like, “Atta boy, Buddy! Go for the Kill! Don’t bother with me! I’m ready to offer my life for the Cause!” But the look on his face once he realizes he’s been given up, is actually — sad? So sad. Which is actually how self would look, if she knew she was going to die in the next few seconds.

Self also loves the bizarre classroom teacher played by Alison Pill.

In one scene, Chris Evans yells “Fire!” and we have no idea what that means. Then, a little boy starts running from the back of the train with a lighted torch, cheered on by a crowd of people. He hands off the torch to what appears to be a one-armed man. Self wasn’t sure if this runner was really a one-armed man, so she kept following this figure as he raced through the murky depths of the cinematography. When she was finally convinced that the man running indeed had only one arm, the torch was passed on to a really handsome, buff dude who might have auditioned for Fifty Shades of Grey. What? What is the meaning of these three successive runners? The child, the one-armed man, and buff dude? Since self has seen 300, she is well-prepared for this last runner to die (It’s called The Astinos Trope. There, she made something up. Just this very second). But, confounding all her low expectations, he actually makes it all the way to the end and manages to throw a knife and inflict the first wound on Tilda Swinton (Unfortunately, it hits her on the leg and is not fatal)

Also, there is the obligatory (ever since Saving Private Ryan) close and intimate fight scene, where two men arm-wrestle for a knife at close quarters, and the one whose side we are on loses. And the knife goes in very, very slowly. And it’s so terrible.

Self is so glad she didn’t see this movie in a theatre. She might have walked out. Like she did after 45 minutes of Far From the Madding Crowd. But since she’s watching it on a TV screen, and she has access to her laptop, it is able to engage her attention.

And she’s ended up writing a long post when all she wanted to do was toss something off.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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