“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.”


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.

Monochromatic 3: Costume Designer’s Sketch, Book Cover, a Weathervane in Cambridge, UK

Loved the delicacy of this page, depicting an iconic character:

Katniss, page from Costume Designer's Sketch Book for The Hunger Games

Katniss, page from Costume Designer’s Sketch Book for The Hunger Games


Self purchased Lucifer Princeps at the Atlantis Bookstore in London’s Museum Way. The bookstore specializes in all manner of things related to the occult. Since self is writing a novel about an 18th century Spanish priest who is sent to the Philippines specifically to battle demons, she thought the book might come in handy.

Lucifer Princeps: Book Detail

Lucifer Princeps: Book Detail


Self took the picture below while she was on a Jack-the-Ripper tour of Whitechapel and environs!

Cricket Player Weathervane, on top of a building on Whitechapel Road, near E. Aldgate, London

Cricket Player Weathervane, on top of a building in Cambridge, UK (Revised the location — I originally posted as a building in Whitechapel, London. Good thing I double-checked)

Other Monochromatic Takes:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WSJ on Fan Films: Ready for the Next Parallel Universe

It’s no secret to self’s dear blog readers that she loves fan fiction.

Loves it.

When she finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy, she was so disappointed that there would be no more.

Since self is a very stubborn soul, she went roaming the World Wide Web and stumbled on fanfiction.net

That was two years ago. She’s been committed to Everlark (Katniss Everdeen + Peeta Mellark pairings) fan fiction ever since.

She recently went ga-ga over another trilogy, Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. After finishing the last book of the series, Clockwork Princess, she scoured the fan fiction universe for Wessa (Will Herondale + Tessa Gray pairings).

Much to her dismay, there was hardly anything. (There were a lot of Jem Carstaris/Will Herondale pairings, though. BWAH HA HA!)

Then, she finished yet another trilogy, The 100. Her favorite character was Glass, who wasn’t even in the CW television adaptation, boo. Again self went scouring the fan fiction universe: there was nothing, zip, nada on Glass.

Tragic, so tragic!

A week ago, self bought a copy of The Wall Street Journal. There’s an article by Will Friedwald which is about Fan Films.

Fan Films are, Mr. Friedwald writes, “independently produced movies using familiar characters from iconic science-fiction and superhero franchises.”

“In the digital era,” Mr. Friedwald writes, “fan films have grown to the point where the best of them are not only incredibly sophisticated, often employing professional talent, but worthy of competing with the official product.” Many of the Fan Films, Mr. Friedwald continues, are better than epic studio disasters like Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds starrer, 2011).

“There’s only one rule governing so-called fan films: They’re not allowed to make a profit.”

And that applies also in the fan fiction universe.

There are authors of Everlark fan fiction who have so completely channeled Jane Austen that they can produce Everlark that sounds exactly like Pride and Prejudice (Self knows because she is a teacher and she has taught Pride and Prejudice)

There is something so pure about the field of fan fiction. There’s one story she likes, Katniss Everdeen Demonhunter, which is set in Hoboken, NJ. You can actually read KED just to find out what modern Hoboken is like, self kids you not. And if you ask the author for Hoboken restaurant recommendations, she will come right back at you. That’s how self discovered that Hoboken, NJ is a really cool place.

Another of her favorites, Synth, is better than I, Robot. Seriously. It features a cyborg named KTNS-12, a scientist named Beetee, and a Junior Scientist named Peeta (And Junior Scientist Peeta is simply adorbs, clucking like a mother hen over KTNS-12). Perhaps the author of Synth is simply a bored high school student who’d rather write her imaginary universe than prepare for her biology final. If she is, then self is here to tell her that she can always write, if all else fails.

(Self just remembered one more Everlark fan fiction: Katniss is a fan fiction writer. The title of Katniss’s story was something like District 12 or The Hunger Games or something self-referential along those lines. Peeta is her beta. They have such good chemistry, they are so — symbiotic. Peeta’s beta-ing makes Katniss’s fan fiction so much better, so much more appealing to readers. So of course one day they arrange to meet. And, well, you know, Everlark happens: WOOT HOOT!)

Friedwald goes on to examine two areas where the fan film universe is particularly rich: the Star Trek universe, and the Batman universe. And he tosses off film titles like Batgirl: Spoiled and Batman: Death Wish.

Star Trek, Friedwald maintains, is “the galactic epicenter of fan fiction and films.” It’s a universe dreamt up by geeks for other geeks. It’s why the characters of Big Bang Theory are the way they are, and why J. J. Abrams and Josh Whedon have such huge followings. No one gets rich doing this, and so it is a pure realm, where people like self can gambol to their heart’s delight.

Stay tuned.

More From Self’s Story of The New Ice Age, “The Freeze” (Bluestem, Spring 2015)

Self has no idea what the 2016 AWP in Los Angeles will be like, but the one in Minneapolis in April was a tidal wave moment.

She hadn’t even planned to go, but Luisa Igloria asked if she were interested in sharing a room. On the last day of the AWP Book Fair, self determined to walk around and see whether she saw anyone she knew.

On that last day of the AWP Book Fair, she met the following:

  • Crab Orchard Review Editor Allison Joseph
  • Bluestem Editor Charlotte Pence (who looked soooo fabulous in a pink tweed get-up!

It was a great moment of validation for self, as she realized she’d been published by a lot of the literary magazines on site. Like Juked. Like Witness. Like the New Orleans Review.

All she could think was:  I AM HOOOOME!

She snagged her two author copies of the Bluestem Spring issue. She is so gratified that when Bluestem published “The Freeze,” they kept the formatting — lots of white space, making the story look more like a poem on the printed page.

The band of intrepid San Francisco survivors head south on Highway 1 and begin (of course) to argue:

Someone said we had passed Big Sur. No, it’s impossible, someone said. Big Sur is still up ahead.

I thought, Why argue? What’s the use? We will come to it when we come to it. If we have strength left to come to it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Synth”: KTNS-12 Prepares for her Vivisection

Self is madly rotating her readings:

  • The Economist
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Eragon
  • Everlark fan fiction

With regards to the fan fiction, she’s consumed all the newest Everlark stories (And they do seem to be coming at a faster rate, since the last Hunger Games movie is set to screen this November), so she’s back to re-reading her favorites. One of her new favorites is a story called “Synth,” in which a cyborg named KTNS-12 is manufactured by a brilliant scientist named Beetee and his Junior Scientist Assistant named Peeta! YESSSS!

Self loves Cyborg KTNS-12!

She must not show any feelings at all. Feelings are anomalies. Feelings mean she is a defective.

But KTNS-12 has those feelings. Especially when Junior Scientist Peeta is around!

There are only two chapters posted, but Chapter 2 ends on a terrible cliff-hanger.


One day, KTNS-12 is brought to a lab where a trio of scientists waits to begin a new round of testing on her.

“This table is surrounded by a cluster of shining instruments on tray tables. Scissors. Scalpels. Gauze. Tweezers. There’s a C-clamp welded to the floor, and beside it stands an IV hook.”

The three scientists are named: Gloss, Cato, and Clove.


Paging Junior Scientist Peeta! Emergency! Paging Junior Scientist Peeta!

But KTNS-12 can’t show fear. She enters the room, all the while reassuring herself by thinking: I am not afraid. I am not afraid.

End of Chapter.

Please, O Esteemed Fan Fiction Author, please updaaaate. Self can’t stand it. Her head is full of horrible imaginings.

Three years ago, self had a story published by the New Orleans Review. The setting was an apocalyptic future (Of course: self is nothing if not obsessed by the apocalyptic future) where strange mutated animals were being kept in an Animal Rehabilitation Center tended by humans who were barely humans anymore. One human had flashing metal wheels in place of legs, etc etc etc. The story is called, appropriately “Thing.” Because people have no labels for that which defies characterization, so it is just called . . . Thing. And, no need for self to tell dear blog readers that a world where there is such murkiness about life that “things” proliferate is a dark, dark world. A world of the most Abject Despair.

Self is inured, in other words, to all kinds of fictional pain.

But the thing about fan fiction is, everything is in progress. A lot of times, stories never get completed. Or, if a story gets completed, it’s sometimes as long as a year between updates. And the tension just builds and builds and . . .

OK, self has got to calm down. Because it’s Sunday night and her life is so full.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Extremely Anti-Climactic: The Conclusion to the Book Series, THE 100

Self went searching all over the fan fiction universe for stories featuring her favorite gal, Glass.

And do you know how many she came up with?

Zero. Zip. Nada.

Which came as a horrible shock. Because, how can that be? This girl is the Katniss of the series. And she isn’t even low-born. No, she was raised on Phoenix, which is the equivalent of The Hunger Games’ Capitol. And she crawls through air vents, space walks (with no prior training in space walking), and hauls her boyfriend’s sorry ass through deep forest while eluding feral Earthborns!

But anyhoo.

(There were hundreds of stories, BTW, on Bellarke — that’s Bellamy and Clarke)


The last self saw of that wishy-washy boyfriend of Glass, Luke, he was heading in one direction with Camille, and Glass was heading in another.

Self really wishes she could reach into the book and slap Luke. That’s the second time he’s dumped Glass. The first was after she was “Confined” (Euphemism for: Incarcerated. Euphemism for: JAILED!), and now, when Glass’s mother has twisted her ankle and everyone is racing for the dropships to get off the spaceship which is running out of oxygen, he dumps her again. All because that stupid rival for Luke’s affection, Camille, has re-surfaced and tells Luke that Glass was the reason Luke’s roommate and pseudo-father figure, Carter, was executed. Luke has the dates of Carter’s birthday and death day TATTOOED on his torso, in case readers need to be reminded how much Carter meant to him.

Anyhoo, Glass manages to get her mother on the last dropship. And just as that last dropship is about to take off, a soldier wants to pull Glass off and take her place, and then who should come running into the dropship at the last minute to bonk that soldier on the head and take his place? Yup, that wandering boyfriend, Luke.

Meanwhile, he seems to have become separated from Camille, who is last seen running into a different dropship, all thoughts of Luke forgotten in her anxiety to LIVE.

The dropship Glass and Luke are on gets its roof peeled off during the re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere, but, regardless, everyone on that ship survives, with only a few concussions and serious-but-not-mortal injuries.

Meanwhile, other dropships have unfortunately crashed or exploded or whatever, and presumably Camille was on one of those, because in Book 3 she never puts in an appearance. Which is just too bad, because self would have loved to see Glass belt her one. And Luke seems to have had his memory slate wiped clean, because he never brings up Camille OR Carter. Ever again. Instead, he injures his hand. Then, while trying to fend off some feral Earthborns (creatures who survived the hell of nuclear radiation and even multiplied and spread all over Earth and now feel threatened by the new arrivals), he gets speared. Bleeds gouts of blood. Glass has to put him on a sled and singlehandedly drag that sled through deep forest, all the while dodging arrows from Earthborns.

This is a very exciting part of the book, dear blog readers. Self lost track of the number of times she found herself gasping in admiration over Glass’s absolute single-minded determination to save Luke’s life. There were so many times she wanted to yell, “Girl! Dump that guy! He’s not good for you! Why don’t you get with Wells instead!” But, no. She let Glass be heroic. And a heroic Glass is REALLY REALLY fun to read. She single-handedly hauled a sled with Luke on it for MILES! Her abs must be so toned!

But she makes it! And the last we see of her, a doctor is telling her that Luke will live. He doesn’t even have to have his leg amputated, which makes him a better survivor than Peeta Mellark.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Sequel to THE 100, And the Saga That Is Glass and Luke

Honestly, the way self is storming through this series is simply amazing!

She skips over all the Clarke, Wells, and Bellamy chapters. Because there is only one way this is all going to shake down: SURVIVAL!


No, what’s really gotten self’s attention is a character called Glass, who was completely vanished by the TV series, mebbe because she has this obstreperous boyfriend named Luke, who’s from a lower class of human. Well, he got her pregnant and she was imprisoned for an illegal pregnancy, but Glass nobly refused to spill the identity of the father, instead she gave the authorities the name of Luke’s roommate, Carter, who’d been lasciviously pawing at her whenever Luke wasn’t around, thereby proving very deserving of his fate: execution.

While Glass is imprisoned for her illegal pregnancy, Luke shacks up with his best friend, Camille.

Naturally, this story line sucks. Especially when Glass ESCAPES from her evil captors just as she’s about to be shipped to Earth with 99 other juvenile delinquents, and crawls through air vents and all manner of obstacles, only to make it back to Luke’s flat, where he opens the door to her knock, and she sees — Camille.

Luke redeems himself by dumping Camille almost immediately, but come on. Redhead vs. blonde? No question.

Then, Camille gives Glass all manner of side-eye, talks trash, swears she’s going to kill her or some such. But doesn’t actually get an opportunity until the whole space ship has to be evacuated because there’s an unfortunate oxygen leak, and in the crush to  make it to the dropships — think Titanic, only outer space — Glass’s mom sprains her ankle, can’t walk, has to be carried by Luke, and then Camille materializes, whispers to Luke the damning secret that Glass has been carrying around all this time: that in fact Glass gave up Luke’s dastardly roommate Carter so that Carter (and not Luke) could be executed for the crime of illegally impregnating Glass. And what does Luke do at this moment of terrible uncertainty? He has no problem with ditching Glass and her unable-to-walk mom and dashes off hand-in-hand with Camille.

Camille, you @@!!###

But this is no time to fall apart, because self is fervently wishing that Glass survives so she can meet up with Luke again and PUNCH THAT NO-GOOD BOY IN THE FACE!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Creepy 3: Sutro Tower, San Francisco; Holocaust Memorial, Miami, Florida

Still working off the WordPress Photo Challenge this week: CREEPY.

  • “Grab a shot of something you find disturbing.”

First, welcome to creepy San Francisco. It’s little wonder the city served as the setting for the Donald Sutherland movie, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” The pods arrive from outer space and take root in Golden Gate Park.

Sutro Tower, San Francisco: Waiting for The Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Sutro Tower, San Francisco: Waiting for The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Snapped from the lawn in front of the Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park.

Next, in Miami’s South Beach, the most gut-wrenching Read the rest of this entry »

The Comet (p. 270 of THE 100)

Self, what are you doing? She means, what are you doing? This is so — AARGH!

She skips all the Earth chapters because she isn’t interested in Wells, Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia, Earth creatures, Earth bugs, or Earth anything.

Everything she wants to know about is back on the spaceship where Glass continues tip-toeing around her socialite mother (The future has socialites? On a space ship?) and her mother’s paramours and Glass’s love for Luke, the boy who has a convenient friends-with-benefits relationship with his “best friend” Camille (Why does the best friend have the same name as Marcus Bane’s vampire lover in The Infernal Devices? It is such a distraction, the two sharing a name!)

Since Glass’s chapters are only a third of the book, that means self is really only reading 1/3 of The 100.

Anyhoo, the entire spaceship has a viewing party for a comet. At least, the swells on Phoenix have a party (It’s rather lame: the mother has to wear old, stained gloves, but gloves are an extreme rarity in this dystopian society. Whenever self thinks of Glass’s mother, she thinks of Audrey Hepburn brandishing a cigarette, she knows not why.)

To intensify the mood of the excerpt self is about to share with dear blog readers, she’s including a picture self took of her cell phone in her handbag. She knows everything is too blurry to distinguish any objects in the picture. But the lighted strip actually did emanate from her phone, which was tucked inside her bag.


“Look!” a little girl called out. A white line was rising over the outline of the moon. Instead of fading away like most comets, it grew larger, the tail expanding as it blazed through space. It made even the stars look dim.

Glass stepped forward almost unconsciously, and a couple leaning up against the nearest window shuffled aside to give her space. It was so beautiful, Glass thought in wonder. And terrifying. It was growing larger and larger, filling up the entire viewing space in the porthole, as if it were coming straight at them.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Pardon, It’s Back to THE 100

The coolest story line isn’t even in the CW TV series: It’s Glass. Glass. Glass.


Glass is Point of View # 4, which means she appears in Chapter # 4 (So tiresome, this multiple point of view thing. Self is skipping all the Clarke and Wells chapters. It’s just so un-interesting, what’s happening on Earth: The planet survived the radioactive apocalypse and is now some kind of fecund tropical garden, Clarke is becoming the Florence Nightingale of the group, Wells suffers acute unrequited love for Clarke, and Bellamy, aside from being very protective of Prim — ah, excuse self, she means Octavia — has very toned abs)

Unlike Bellamy and Wells who had to claw their way (metaphorically) into the ship headed for Earth (or Destruction, depending on the motives of the Chancellor/ Ruler/ Despot), Glass is smart. She figures she wants OFF the space ship to Earth. So, she manages to elude the guards and get off the space ship, and she manages to slip through all the search parties who are looking for her, and of course, it’s all because she is in love with a boy, and she fights like a tiger to get to the boy, Luke, and when she finally finally reaches his flat, and knocks on his door, he opens it, and SURPRISE SURPRISE there’s another woman right behind him, and Glass belatedly notices that the flat had been dark when Luke opened the door, so whatever he and this other woman had been doing before she interrupted was something they did in the dark, and . . .  and . . . self’s heart just breaks for that brave girl.

Moving on.

The other really cool thing about The 100 (aside from the fact that the author admits in her closing remarks that she didn’t think up the plot herself; someone gave it to her, and all she did was write it. Oh no, she dreamt up the characters. That’s right. Profuse apologies!) are the cornea slips.

That’s right: when a character gets a distant look in her/his eyes, and suddenly stops speaking, it doesn’t mean they’ve been hit by a tranquilizer blowdart. It means there is an incoming. Message, that is.

It is so cool not to have to dart to a cell phone or laptop to retrieve messages. Just have them transmitted to your cornea slip. That way, you don’t even have to look down and you will never ever be accused of having bad posture or worry about developing a double chin. You just tilt your chin upwards and read what’s on your cornea slip. Who ever thought of such a cool thang?

Thank you! Self would like to have one of those, if it can happen in the next 10 years (or while she’s still alive)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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