Friday, April 11, 2014

The Trouble With Surprising Husbands


My husband's birthday is this weekend and I decided a couple of weeks ago "what the heck, I'm going to throw him a surprise party!" Trouble is, Nathan and I tell each other everything. So if I check a text message in his presence and I don't immediately tell him the gist of it, he knows something is up.

Okay, so he knew something was up. But he didn't know exactly what so I decided to make the party as awesome as possible. I'm not terribly into zombies (at. all.) but Nathan loves zombie stories so I decided we'd play zombie capture the flag. I got several of our friends and his coworkers involved and everyone got really into it. A friend of mine offered to host the party at her house, and everyone brought food to contribute.

Now because Nathan knew something was up, I knew there wasn't a good way to get him to my friend's house without him guessing that it was for his party (he affirmed this later). So I decided to plant a message in his car, telling him there was a zombie apocalypse and we needed his help and giving him the address. I also tucked in a t-shirt his sister and brother-in-law had given him last fall that seemed appropriate for the event...

And you know what? Nathan was surprised. When he walked in and saw all the people (especially his coworkers who had left work early to make it in time) he was genuinely surprised.

I'd been a little nervous about setting up the game because Nathan and his coworkers design games for a living (and they helped tweak a few things) but over all it worked out very well and everyone had a blast! (Including me. Even though it was zombies and running around and throwing things at people.)

Then there was food and custard and some other fun party games and lots of laughter.

I love throwing surprise parties. I love surprising people in general, with gifts or nice meals or anything really that will cause their face to light up. But man, keeping a secret this big from my husband was hard. Worth it, but I don't think I'll be doing it again for awhile! I like being able to share everything with him!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Writing in Historic Library Nooks

The library I am sitting in is so old, there are cracks around the window frames allowing cold air to get in.

Well, not so very cold, since it is after all nearly 70 degrees today. Who said there wasn't spring in Minnesota, or history?

I've been writing here for a couple of hours and getting more done than I expected. In the past the libraries I've tried to write at have been modern and not very inspiring. Well, perhaps having grass on the roof is inspiring for some people but big open sunny places where everyone can see you is not very inspiring for me.

Since getting married and moving closer to the cities, and also since getting a phone with GPS, I've been inspired and able to do exploring. Today I decided to check out a historic library and try to do some writing there. We're trying to be economical so I can't go to the coffee shop too often.

To my surprise, I really do like writing here. I've found a little nook to work in, (see photos here) with a comfy chair and space to spread my papers out. There's a couple of elderly gentlemen reading across the room, but otherwise this area is quite silent and free from curious eyes wondering "what is she writing? What is she thinking? What is she reading?" There's a medieval feel to the architecture that works perfectly with the setting I'm writing "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" in.

(M&U isn't medieval, but it takes place in Paris and there's so much medieval architecture in Paris, it's ridiculous).


Monday, April 7, 2014

OUAT fails to inspire this week.

I still love "Once Upon a Time" but I'm not as motivated to write weekly reviews. I don't know if that's because of anything the show has done, or because I've just written a ton of them already!

Part of it could be that I'm just not terribly enthusiastic about the Zelena plot. It's just taking up time from the characters I know and love, and it's unraveling fairly predictably. Actually, the most surprising thing at this point will be if someone other than Rumple is Zelena's father.

They basically killed Bae/Neal to make more room for Hook (and this week's episode milked that for all it was worth). Emma isn't doing much, neither is Snow, Regina remains awesome but honestly if I'm just watching the show for Regina and Robin Hood, that's problematic!

Next week is supposed to take a slightly different track, although it's going to be Hook centric. Hopefully we'll get a more fleshed out Ariel though.

What I would really like is a Belle-Centric episode. Last week's installment really did not count, as she barely did more in that episode than she's done in any other episode this season. It was far more of a Neal episode than a Belle episode. (I loved the Neal/Belle dynamic. It was just great. And now it's gone.)

Oh well, at least we got Tink back, being our little shipper fangirl.

I will say this, however "meh" I find the Zelena plot, I have to say that Rebecca Mader does a fantastic job as the Wicked Witch of the West. I'll continue to put up with the plot just because I'm fascinated by her skills.

We'd better get Rumple back soon, however. Him as Zelena's lapdog does not make for entertaining television at all.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Jane Austen in any other time

Guys, I love a well done parody. Or transposition. Or mash-up. I adore "Bride and Prejudice" and "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" and "From Prada to Nada." I'm fascinated by seeing the story and characters I love transposed to a different time.

(On the other hand, I wasn't thrilled with "Lost in Austen" because it felt to me like it missed the point).

However, when you move one of Austen's stories out of the time they were written, you have to change the characters and motivations, because modern women simply don't have to marry for money.

We lose sight of that today, but 200 years ago, it was absolutely crucial. If a woman did not marry, she would spend her life living off of her relatives, and hopefully she would have prosperous brothers (as Austen herself did). This is why, although Austen's books are love stories, they are love stories and social-economic commentaries. Austen is called the mother of chick-lit, but she's concerned with examining many issues that today's chick lit doesn't even notice. Today's chick lit is about 'girl meets guy, girl and guy get separated, girl and guy get back together.' And that's the primary focus of the book. Everything else is stage dressing.

Not so in Austen. "Sense and Sensibility" is about romance vs. practicality, it's about loyalty and honor, concepts that our society doesn't care much about these days. It's hard to translate the dire straits of the Dashwoods into the modern day, because today girls can just go get jobs. And we have no similar situation to the Lucy/Edward scenario. Today, if you fall out of love, you break up (even if you're married). We have to be told that in Austen's day, once a man made a proposal, he couldn't get out of it. It would be dishonorable. Only the woman could break it.

"The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" did a pretty good job of changing points to fit the times (best example being what they did with Charlotte Lucas). But that changed the story. The greatest truths and delights of the characters are still there, but it has a life of it's own.

Personally I think "Emma" and "Northanger Abbey" are the easiest to transpose to modern day, mostly because their central plots have almost nothing to do with matrimony as an economic necessity. That's why "Clueless" did so well... although I'm still waiting for someone to do a modern day "Northanger Abbey" with Catherine Morland as a Twilight-Obsessed teenager.

And it's a struggle to make "Mansfield Park" enjoyable even in it's proper period without drastically changing it. Although, perhaps that would make it a prime canidate for a time period switch. We are so far removed from that era that we can't understand what makes Fanny who she is. Our culture has no respect for her sweetness and loyalty, which to us often makes her appear "meek and boring." What would Fanny look like today? What would a person of her ideals come across as to us, raised in our modern culture? In a way this could be the most interesting transposition of all, although almost certainly the least likely to ever appear.

"Persuasion" has the same issues of money and honorable engagements as S&S, but also deals with class in a way almost no other Austen book does (except for Lady Catherine de Borough, of course!). Since America sees itself as a nearly "classless" society, it would be hard to properly set it up in a way that we'd understand without minimizing the situation of the day. I did read one modern version in which Anne was a wealthy Southern Heiress, and Wentworth started off as a gardener's helper - enough for her godmother to send him packing!

What do you think? What are the flaws and strengths of transposition? What are your favorite modern adaptations?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

HIMYM Finale (Thoughts and SPOILERS)

The "How I Met Your Mother" finale is such a big thing right now, that it'd be kind of silly not to write something about it, even though I've never talked about it on this blog before.

Mostly that's because I know I still have plenty of readers who are young enough that I could not in good conscience recommend a show with this level of innuendo to them. Still, since getting into it two years ago I have utterly loved it. Late on the bandwagon, but no less passionate about the characters.

Still, I can't imagine what it would be like to watch the show for nine years and get that ending. Here comes the SPOILER ALERT. (Good for you if you've remained spoiler free thus far, I only barely made it).

I loved the Mother. I think it's kind of a beautiful thing how much the majority of the fans adore her and are ticked off about the ending for her sake. She was an awesome person and we loved her with Ted.

Did the show make her out to be "just a uterus"? No. And yes. Despite the last scene, despite the fact that Ted/Robin has, apparently, been end game all along, nonetheless I think it's clear how very, very much Ted loved Tracy. Take out the last two scenes and there wouldn't be a doubt in our minds. Just because those two scenes were put in because of an endgame decided on nine years ago, doesn't take away the beautiful acting and writing that happened before that.

I was sad about Barney and Robin, and felt that given all the build-up, it was really lame to have them break up. But at the same time I could accept  it, in a way I wouldn't have believed possible if you'd told me ahead of time. It actually felt true to their characters.

What isn't true to the character is what Barney did next. I think he let Robin out of the marriage because he could tell she wasn't happy, but he really loved her and went  on his playboy spree to cover the pain. And then I think this headcanon rocks.

The thing that a lot of us can't accept is Robin and Ted being happy together, in the end, after all that has happened. I think we could have bought it if we'd seen them together at all after Ted married Tracy. But we don't. All we see is that he is trying again for a flame that he let go of fifteen years previously. And I can't buy it, and neither can a lot of fans. Far better if the show had ended two scenes previously, leaving Ted's romantic future open-ended. I think we could have accepted Tracy's death, and found it really poignant and touching, and the Robin/Ted fans could have envisioned them together in the future, and the rest of us could imagine Ted dedicating buildings to Tracy for the rest of his life and being an awesome Dad (and eventually granddad).

Oh well. At least Marshall and Lily lived happily ever after.

Friday, March 28, 2014

No More Wonderland?

Well pooh.

This makes me genuinely sad. The show was just starting to get really good - and now we only have one episode left? Since it was originally planned as just one season (sort of a spin off miniseries if you will) I hope it will wrap up nicely. And as the article points out, all of these characters are fair game for future appearances in OUAT.

Still... my husband and I have been watching "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" pretty faithfully since it premiered last fall and have really enjoyed it. We're going to miss Cyrus and Alice - but even more so Will and Ana - on our Friday nights.

I'm not surprised that this show didn't get a bigger following, but it was charming and fun and had some unexpected twists and I would have definitely followed it into future seasons. Unfortunately not enough other viewers agreed. True, you enjoy it most when you get all of the "Wonderland" references, but fans of mother show "Once Upon a Time" were likely disappointed that there weren't more connections between the shows.

Still, I hope that this hasn't scared them off from doing other "one season spin-offs." It would certainly be nice to spend more time following the adventures of characters like Mulan and Ruby. It would work even better if it aired on Sunday nights after OUAT, or on Mondays (similar to how Buffy and Angel lined up, and if you want to know how to make a sister show outlive the mother show...)

EDIT 1/4/2014 - Apparently Will IS crossing over to OUAT. HUZZAH. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

OUAT, Rapunzel, DANGEROUS, and other things.

Ugh. You guys. A Migraine on top of a cold? How is that even fair? *sigh*

On the up side of things, it's going to get REALLY WARM this weekend. Like, almost 60 degrees. For the cold north this is beautiful. (This winter has been the worst in my lifetime in terms of low temperatures. March, however, has been relatively mild).

I didn't have time to write a full review for this week's episode of OUAT, but I didn't have as much to say either.

Okay, I have a mini rant. What was the point of putting in a girl with long hair named Rapunzel who otherwise has no relation to either the traditional fairy tale or even the Disney 'adaptation'? I mean... it was a side plot that didn't really add much to the story. They could have used it to expand some other existing character, or they could have told it using the actual Rapunzel tale... but no, they just threw a long-haired girl in there without giving us any of the things we love about the story (or the character from "Tangled"). Even Ariel was handled better than this.

The one really stellar part of the episode, however, was the dream sequence. Finally seeing Emma in a beautiful princess dress, dancing with her Daddy... wow. I can forgive the problems of the rest of the episode just for this scene, because it was fantastic.

Being sick also gave me plenty of time to read Shannon Hale's new superhero book, "Dangerous" which I greatly enjoyed. She did a good job of making the superhero genre work in novel format, and it was fun and thought-provoking to boot. Plus the science was really cool. And I'm not a science nerd at all, so when I say that, you'll know that it really is cool.

I've also been giving my husband sewing lessons, and he is proving to be a natural. Of course he's so creative and detail oriented that I'm not terribly surprised, even while I tremendously excited! Right now we're working on our cosplays for CONvergence, which I'll be writing about in more detail on the costume blog.

Speaking of writing... I owe my publisher a draft. Please pray that my headache will clear up quickly and I'll be clearheaded and able to write like the wind!!!