Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Charm--and Faith--of ELI STONE

"Everything has two explanations: scientific and divine. We choose which one to believe."
--Dr Chen to Eli

My fave show of this current TV season (ie, the one that began 9/07) has been PUSHING DAISIES, with LIFE a few steps behind. The latter's appeal rests almost entirely on the protagonist, whereas PD has a great ensemble cast and a superior visual appeal and that lovely glow of magic. Plus lots of laughs.

Well, ELI STONE seems poised to move into a close second, displacing LIFE. It has the lovely combo of wackiness and fantasy with touching and tragic moments that make PUSHING DAISIES entrancing. However, ELI STONE has a different look and sound than PD. They share some genes, but they're not twins.
"God needs to be a little less oblique."
--Eli Stone

It's interesting to see quality fantasy shows propagating, shows unafraid to say, "There is more than just matter. There is mystery. There is the Divine." Like SAVING GRACE, ELI STONE makes room for the prophetic, for intrusions of "Someone Out There." And that suits me down to the ground, even if ELI STONE is decidedly more New Agey in it's philosophy. God is justice. He's love. He's that sunset over there. :::cue the emotive music as I roll my eyes at the last:::

Oh, and I love the acupuncturist and his "special needles". :)

The pilot's theme is "you gotta have faith." George Michael guest stars to sing his hit tune with that phrase. It's kooky, but it works. The ending is both funny and touching. And hey, another show featuring Aqualung's "Something to Believe In." (I like the song. Not a complaint. Just an observation, since I heard it not too long ago on CSI: Miami and somewhere else, forgot where.)

There's also controversy swirling about the pilot due to the vaccine-causes-autism element in the show's litigation.

Jonny Lee Miller (HACKERS, TRAINSPOTTING, MANSFIELD PARK) does a very nice job as Eli, being competent and lawyerly here, and befuddled and exasperated there. I'd like to see what they do with him and his prophetic gift. Here's to having faith it gets better as the episodes move on...

If you missed it tonight, it repeats at midnight (11 central) Friday. (I think.)
~

Assumptions from Cover Art

Wanna give your analysis of covers?

Visit Jeff Vandermeer and look at 7 book covers. Make guesses as to the target audience and the genre (subgenre). Then state if you would feel comfortable reading each of the book's in public.

He'll be putting together the feedback to see what we can learn. I notice Daniel Ausema responded. So did I. I love good cover art (and screech at bad).
~

Why We Deserve (and Cheer on)
the Big, Bad Monster on Rampage


Gabriel McKee of SF Gospel has some good reading for us in his review of CLOVERFIELD (which also touches on a Gamera film):

Cloverfield, shot in shaky, first-person video, is all about human impact. But what is the sin for which the monster is punishment? In a word, it's self-absorption: the characters in this film search for cell phone chargers while the world falls down around them. In one key scene -- which appears in the trailer -- the monster hurls the head of the Statue of Liberty, which crashes down a few feet from the POV camera. Within seconds, people have lined up in front of it to take pictures with their cell phones. They're distanced from what's happening around them, oblivious to what it really means. Many reviewers have made the obvious connection to 9/11, and it's certainly true that the monster's initial rampage eerily evokes that day's images. But there's a deeper level to it. At one point, the characters are caught in the middle of a firefight between the monster and a National Guard regiment. Make no mistake: this is a movie about the invisibility of the Iraq war. We live oblivious to the reality of war, and in Cloverfield that chicken comes home to roost. We deserve it, the film says, because it's already happening and we pretend it isn't. Late in the film one character exclaims, "I don't know why this is happening," and that very obliviousness is the reflexive cause.


Read it all at Religion Dispatches.

I will not be seeing it. At least not on the big screen. I skipped Blair Witch for the reputed nausea-inducing shaky camera work. And reviews for CLOVERFIELD all mention the same dizzying technique. Me and my easily queased up innards have to bypass this show. Maybe it'll be less retch-inducing on DVD.

I've got an earworm...

Happens a lot to me. This week, the tune's from from a recently acquired cd by Faith and the Muse:

Willow's Song

Those of you who saw the original THE WICKER MAN may remember this haunting tune from the notorious temptation scene. (Well, not this version, as it's a cover, but ya know what I mean.)

And how sad that in the remake with Nicholas Cage (which got horrible reviews) the protagonist was not made a virgin (as in the original) because it was considered too far-fetched for an American adult male to be chaste. Uh-huh. But a bunch of human sacrificing, honey-harvesting man-haters, that's not far-fetched?

Sheesh.

~

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Go Red For Women on Friday



My blog is definitely the right color for Go Red For Women Day. And I have half a dozen pairs of red shoes--including my red Grasshoppers, see pic left--two dozen plus red lipsticks, and another two dozen or so red nail polishes at hand, not to mention several red tops. (See my Medieval Faire Holy Clothing top below right. Got it on eBay.) I'm set!

Are you ready to go RED?

In case you hadn't heard, February 1 (Friday) is GO RED FOR WOMEN DAY. It's one of those "raise awareness" things. But much better than ribbons and cheapo looking wristbands cause it's more flattering (for most of us, anyway).

Why is awareness-raising necessary? Behold:

Statistics indicate women's risk of breast cancer is trivial compared to their risk of heart disease. Forty-three percent of deaths in American women are due to cardiovascular disease, leaving women six times more likely to die of a heart attack than breast cancer. And a 2003 study by the American Heart Association found only 13 percent of women felt heart disease was their biggest health threat.


I'm at big risk. I have Metabolic Syndrome, have way way too many pounds on my frame, and I'm a couch and computer potato. So, when I wear red, I think I'll go for a walk and get my butt back in weight-lifting gear.

If you plan to go shopping Friday, wear red and you get 15% off at MACY'S. But before you head out, take the Go Red Heart Check-Up.



And for the very young woman-to-be in your family (or for the collector, or just for plain fun):



(She also comes in blond, but hey, the Mir ain't Nordic.)

And if you want to read an interesting book that is contrarian to the common guidelines, get a copy of this dense tome. I found it really intriguing, and if nothing else, it points to the need for a helluva lot more research on what is ultimately the best, heart-healthiest way of eating:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Resurrection and the Battlestar & The Cast Power & Glory (And Nudity) of ROME

Galactica Station reports:

Die-hard fans of Battlestar Galactica most likely already know the title of the first episode of the new season, but we'll say it anyway for the benefit of those who haven't been updated. The episode is called “He That Believeth in Me,” and is lifted from John 11:25-26, which says, “Jesus said unto her, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And so whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”


Yep. I believest.

I've had the first season of BG sitting in my Netflix queue for a spell. I still have bad memories of the first crap version.

After the hubby and I are done with ROME, which has fabulous acting and some superior dramatic moments--but I could do without the parade of T&A (and D, for that matter)-- I may finally slip into BG mode.

Speaking of ROME: Rivetting stuff. Visually delightful (the interior of the luxury Roman homes, the realistic feel of the streets, the clothes, etc). The political intrigue is top-notch. And the realistic inclusion of gritty daily life, especially the religious aspect, is intriguing.

I honestly don't recall ever seeing such portrayal of how the belief in and worship of multiple divinities (the pantheon, as it were) played out in the events of people's lives--low-born and high-status--such as seeking revenge, starting businesses, atonement for wrongs,territorial truces, etc. It's one of the more interesting saturating factors for me, how the rituals and fears (or repudiations) of the gods play out in the mundane reality. Watching the procession with the goddess statue reminded me of the processions with the statue of Mary. The same sort of street-parting respect and the way men lost some of their swagger in her presence.

Hubby and I don't get the premium cable channels (ie Showtime, HBO, etc), so we came a bit late to this Roman party. (Or in the case of one episode, orgy.) A really intense and superbly acted drama for those who can stomach the violence (and there's lots of it) and the sensuality (and if I never see Polly Walker's nipples again, I would be quite happy.)

Kevin "The Journeyman" McKidd shines here, as does Tobias Menzies (who was the best thing in the latest PERSUASION version offered by MASTERPIECE CLASSIC (formerly THEATER) as Brutus. (His death scene was just soooooo artful.) And Ray Stevenson (Titus Pullo) does a terrific job of being a complex bad boy who knows nothing but soldiering and killing, and yet has a really soft side that shows up with his wife and at unexpected moments, such as when he calmly, even amicably and respectfully, assassinates Brutus. Peaches were never so startling in a scene.

One of my longstanding crushes (the ugly-handsome Ciaran Hinds) plays Julius Caesar, and a terrific one, too. (And, since I brought up Austen, Ciaran was THE BEST Captain Wentworth, much better than the good-looking but bland blond dude who played him recently in a MC production.) Lindsay Duncan (Servilia) is always exceptional whenever she shows up. What presence. Her showdowns with Walker's Atia are scenes I always look forward to.

Is it any wonder I am an Anglophile with actors like that?

See a ROME trailer HERE.

Rome Fact:

If a slave was called upon to give evidence in a Roman court, by law he had to be tortured first.


(BTW, here's the trailer for the 2008 SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. )

Well-written SF, great costume drama, and classy Jane Austen adaptations. Add dark chocolate truffles and hubby rubbing my feet and we've got the pinnacle of a fine lazy afternoon at home.
~

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Dream Within

Just cause I love the song...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Heath Ledger: One Story Cut Short

Carmen has my fave post on the death of young actor Heath Ledger (presumably from an accidental drug overdose). It's saturated with the complex aroma that is marked by her intelligence and compassion and godliness.

Here's a taste:

Everyone has a story, and often times knowing that story helps us understand and see each other as we are: people who struggle to love and be loved, to deal with our woundedness and brokenness. And that often touches our own woundedness and brokenness, which gives us a context in which to relate to them. We don't have to agree with them, their choices or opinions. But learning their stories does enable us to love them with the kind of Love we are Loved with—by a God who knows our story and works to invite us into the True Story, a Love Story. For it is as we love others that we invite them into that Story and God's Love—and that is what our lives are all about.

Ultimately, I suppose all this makes me remember how much God loves each of us. I love how William Young puts this in The Shack. In the novel, God continually tells the main character, "I am especially fond of you." Affectingly, God uses the phrase every time he references another person as well. This goes a long way in expanding and deepening my understanding of God's motivations for working to remake and bring life to this broken world, which includes each and every one of us: "For God so loved the world . . ." (John 3:16). And that kind of love is too much to keep to ourselves. In fact, if we really get that love, it will spill out on the world around us.

I just read again Paul's urging to followers of Jesus in Philippi to "not only love much but well" (1:9 Message). He describes love as an active, persistent, focused action that ends up "making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God" (11). That's the kind of love I eventually get to in all this. Ledger will eventually fade from the news and the thoughts of most of us who did not know him, but for his family, friends and little girl, his life and death will remain a large part of their lives. That is how it is with many of us—and many of those we rub shoulders with every day. Ledger's death calls me to remember this, to pay attention, listen to their stories, consider the worlds they've lost and especially love them. That is the love that I have received. That is the love I want to give.


I liked Ledger. He had presence, talent, a great voice, and a masculine sexiness that made you take him seriously onscreen. And I have been eager to see his Joker. When I heard the news of his death, my first thought was for his little girl. I was an unabashed Daddy's Girl, so I felt very sad that she wouldn't have years and years of happy memories of her dad loving her. My eldest sis never knew her dad. All she has is one portrait of him. No voice recording. No film or video. At least Ledger's child can hear his voice and see how he moved, his mannerisms, in the photos and videos and films he left behind.

I won't even get into the hair-raising idiocies and cruelties that have erupted from some really whack corners. I suppose even good people can say really stupid, careless things. (Well, yeah, I have.) A bit of mercy is rarely out of place. Even for fools who need a thump on the head.

I would also say that if you live with someone taking medication or having issues like Heath's (ie, stress and sleep problems), take extra care to see that they are taking doses properly. I take oodles of drugs, and I sometimes turn down new ones just cause it can get crazy keeping track of "did I take that?" I have a good system, but in the (way) past, either out of frustration that something wasn't working or because I was very tired or affected and didn't keep track, I have taken double doses. The worst that happened was a horrible case of gastritis that taught me a hard lesson, but I didn't die. It's really good NOT to drop dead from a medication oopsie or dumb double-dosing. I count my blessings, especially this week.

And if you don't know what your spouse or children, etc, are taking, maybe it's time to get informed?

Ever Wanted Chain Mail?

Well, it's on sale: REAL ARMOR OF GOD.

If I had a spare 150 bucks, I might get a full outfit for hubby for next month's Renaissance Faire. Heh.

Shirley Jackson Awards

In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Award has been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.


Ellen Datlow's on the Board of Advisors. (I just shopping carted at amazon an anthology of ghost stories she's edited.) She's well-equipped by experience and talent to advise for this award, obviously. In a recent interview at FEARZONE, she says:


But I try to read every horror/dark story published in and outside of the field -- which means that all a writer has to do is write brilliant short stories. There are so many pieces of short fiction (this is not only in horror of course) that provide a set up and scene but no real story. Or have no texture -- all surface, no undercurrents. Or use flabby language or over the top language with dialog that you'd never hear in real life. I prefer fiction that works on more than one level (although a short, sharp shock can be fine for a change of pace).


The best writers can take the traditional horror tropes of serial killers, zombies, vampires, werewolves, ghouls, children in danger, "bad" houses or places -- and make something new out of them by their skills at storytelling and use of language.


Eligibility rules here. Did you have a terrific dark, suspenseful, etc story pubbed in 2007. Link us up. (Snarky Chris, get cracking for next year's.)

I look forward to seeing who gets nominated.
~

Assorted Publishing Updates of
Interest to Christian Fiction Authors

Not anything radically new, but maybe of interest (and which I found while catching up on oodles of backlogged email). This round-up courtesy of Kelly Mortimer's January newsletter:

Jessica Alvarez is leaving Harlequin/Steeple Hill to freelance.
-Krista Stroever will return to Steeple Hill from maternity leave in mid-February.
-Nichole Argyres will return to St. Martin's from maternity leave in March.
-Lauren Marino is back at Gotham (Penguin) from maternity leave, but only for a couple of hours per day.
-Katie Day is leaving Penguin Praise for greener pastures.
-Anne Goldsmith now goes by her married name, Anne Horch.
-Kim Moore from Harvest House will now manage gift books, but will still acquire fiction. She won't edit as much non-fiction, but new editor Rod Morris will take up the slack, as well as acquiring fiction.
-Trace Murphy, Doubleday Religion's editor-in-chief, will also act as an associate publisher, and his assistant, Darya Porat will now be an assistant editor.
-Harper San Francisco is now HarperOne.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Laughing at some Vintage Romance Covers

I needed a good laugh. This bloggy entry by the Smart Bitches did it for me. I made big honking noises. The fellows will enjoy the "huuuuuuge.....tracts of land." (Python references are always welcome.)

And how old am I when I remember that style of cover art on romances? Yikes.

The Mir Lives..and is now addicted to fresh, organic watercress

A big thanks to y'all (and you know who you are) who've emailed or commented and, most of all, who've prayed.

I've been sleeping normally for two days now (ie, not 14-17 hours a day). I can't believe I haven't read anything in weeks. Very weird. But I didn't have the ability to really focus. I'm gonna try a novel today and see if my focus is back for it.

I've been eating really well--heaps of organic fruits and vegetables. I am now addicted to a local organic watercress that I get delivered. If they bring me a batch today, I'm having it with lunch and dinner. Dang. Good. And there have been a couple of vegan macrobiotic meals that were incredibly good. I'm not vegetarian, but I do like having "no meat" days--always have. It costs a fortune to be totally organic for now, but I needed to do something to feel better and break the depression. So, hey, why not give it a shot?

I knew it was a good sign when I was waking up after 8 and 9 hours and when, yesterday, I belted out some classic Carole King in the shower.

The year may not have started out great, but I keep the faith it will be fabulous.

So, for those worried about me, thanks oodles. Kiss, kiss. Loves you muchly.

Hope to get updated on what's happening with y'all...bit by bit.

~

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CSFF Blog Tour: AURALIA'S COLORS


"The late John Gardner said that a good story should unfold like a vivid and continuous dream. With Auralia's Colors, Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted just such a story, one that will leave readers ready to dream with him again."

- John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture



The focus of the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour this first month of a new year is AURALIA'S COLORS, a novel by Jeffrey Overstreet, the first in a series called AURALIA'S THREAD.

The novel has been getting some great reviews from various places, including fellow tourmates. The Happy Catholic reviewed it back in September with this to say:

Author Jeffrey Overstreet gives credit to many recognized great authors for being his inspiration but I think it is fair to say that this is not derivative. He has crafted something completely new that shows us those old realities of which we all need to be reminded through art. Probably my highest tribute is to say that this book can be enjoyed by everyone, whether simply lovers of fiction or those who look for, as Overstreet says, "a glimmer of his [the Great Artist] glory in these pages." I eagerly look forward to the next installment of this trilogy.


So, who wrote this book getting great word of...blog?

Behold the author:

JEFFREY OVERSTREET first read "The Hobbit" at age 7, and by age 10 he had read "The Lord of the Rings" several times. And he knew he wanted to grow up to write fantasy stories. Soon after meeting and interviewing the cast and crew of Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (on assignment for ChristianityTodayMovies.com), he was offered his first publishing contract...

Jeffrey will hold a reading on January 31 at Seattle-Pacific. If you're in the area, drop by. You can also run into him at the Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing.

And, if you want a shot at a free copy of one of the following books in the series, suggest a name for one of the dread characters. If yours is chosen, the book is yours.

As for how to pronounce the heroine's name and what's next in the series begun by AURALIA'S COLORS:

FD: Can you give us a teaser about the next novel in The Auralia Thread, Cyndere's Midnight?

JO: Well, the series is called The Auralia Thread, and in the second, third, and fourth book we will get glimpses of life within the other cultures of the Expanse. And we'll see how Auralia's imaginative art continues to influence those who discover it.

The second book, Cyndere's Midnight, is about a creature called a "beastman" who discovers Auralia's colors. When he finds himself "stuck," so to speak, in the company of a grieving widow named Cyndere, a very unstable friendship develops. Meanwhile, the people of House Abascar are in trouble once again, and their survival depends on what happens between Cyndere and the beastman.

Oh, and in case anybody asks, "Cyndere" is pronounced like the word "cinder." And "Auralia" is pronounced "o-RAY-lee-uh."


Read an excerpt from the novel HERE.
See a map of The Expanse here.

Visit my tourmates:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Heather R. Hunt
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Pamela Morrisson
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Saturday, January 05, 2008

MINDFLIGHTS Debuts: Issue #1

MINDFLIGHTS has begun publication. Drop by to see the artwork for our first issue (Karl Eschenbach's "The Sentinel") and to read the start of a novel-in-serial-format by Jane LeBak (who is surely familiar to DKA readers).

Note: I've been MIA and may still lag a bit here. Health issues are assailing me (the eyes are fine, thank God, aside from growing used to reading glasses), and my energy levels are down to the ground. So, really, blogging has no allure at the moment, and neither does reading. (How shocking is that? It is to me, and I typed it!)

Prayers welcome, of course for the success of MINDFLIGHTS and my own health. THANKS. and...HAPPY NEW YEAR!