Wednesday, December 28, 2011


What to post? What to post? I want to leave you with something....

Aha! Got it! Here, have a movie.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

It's the whole movie! And some kind soul uploaded the version with a proper score! I'm not sure how I feel about the tinting yet, but...

Your pal,

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Little Holiday Cheer

More nonsense for you, in the form of another batch of videos. Sorry if it's getting old, but my brain is a bit fried at the moment. Check out some updates of my "Broken Pieces" story on FanFiction and I'm sure you'll understand.

Hayley Westenra - Coventry Carol

Jeff Foxworthy - 12 Redneck Days of Christmas

Bing Crosby - White Christmas

Burl Ives - A Holly Jolly Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Your pal,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Randomness 4

Merry Christmas!

Jeff Dunham and Achmed the Dead Terrorist - Jingle Bombs

Your pal,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Set the Mood! Music and Writing

Time for another little writing tip from A-P's arsenal (assuming, of course, you don't mind taking advice from some weirdo over the internet). I've been doing this for years to help get in the right mind frame for a particular scene. But what exactly am I doing? I'm listening to music.

Let me get specific. I'm listening to music that inspires the same emotion I'm shooting for with whatever I happen to be working on. Think of it as putting together a soundtrack...use a song to enhance the mood of the piece. A reader won't be able to hear the music, of course, but wherever that bit of music takes you can show through in your work. I'm firm in the belief that the right music can take you to another place and call up a particular memory or feeling. Why not use it to your advantage?

At the moment, I'm working on a project I've got a playlist for. I've found a handful of songs that bring on the right emotions, and I listen to them as I write. Odd as it sounds, it really helps. Say your scene is an intense, suspenseful confrontation; try some really angry music. It's not enough for the music to just sound angry, it needs to make you angry as well to put the words you need in your head. Before you pick up a pen, you need to get into character, or in this case, into the emotion. Have you tried writing something sad while you yourself were in a happy mood, or vice versa? It doesn't pan out so well.

You don't really need the music to get in the right mood, of course, but it speeds the process along. For instance, I recently had to write a rather intense scene between my main characters. After years of neglect and abuse, one was finally reaching out to the other. I needed to convey a sense of pain and desperation with a bit of hope mixed in. I put on "Broken" by Seether, as it seemed fitting. After a few minutes, it had brought up enough of my own memories of those very emotions, and it made it easier to find the right words.

Understand, now, the piece has to guide the music, not the other way around. In my experience, when you try to fit the scene to whatever song you feel like listening to, it will come out awkward and won't connect with everything else you've written. As always, the story has to be able to move on its own, and that won't happen if you cram it into a box.

It's a weird practice, but it works for me and it might work for you...

Your pal,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reviews From a Modest Movie Buff (Corpse Bride)

Tim Burton! Johnny Depp! Danny Elfman! Helena Bonham Carter! And stop-motion animation!! SQUEE!

*cough* So...moving on...

 Victor Van Dort (Depp) is getting married in the morning...the trouble is, he's scared to death of matrimony. On a walk in the woods while practicing his vows, he accidentally proposes to Emily (Carter), the Corpse Bride, who takes him downstairs to the Land of the Dead. It's all fun and games, but what about Victoria, his betrothed?

I don't think there's anything about this movie I didn't like. I stand in awe of Tim Burton's special kind of know, the crazy kind. If I absolutely have to pick a favorite Burton movie, it's either this or Edward Scissorhands. But that's for another review.

The voice talents are, for lack of a better word, adorable. Victor stutters a bit, and who doesn't go all mushy to hear Johnny Depp stutter? HBC has the most beautiful voice, and she does fantastic as Emily, the loveliest cadaver you've ever seen. And Victoria (played by Emily Watson) sounds so sweet and demure, the perfect match for Victor.

If I get started on the music, I'll never stop! Danny Elfman always delivers. Always. As with The Nightmare Before Christmas he provides the singing voice for one of the characters, in this case Bonejangles the lounge singer. Dang! Remember how Jack Skellington sounded? Suave, debonair, and smooth as can be? Bonejangles is raspy and jazzy and...dang! I can't imagine having to keep that up for cut after cut after cut! The songs are very catchy; I still have "Remains of the Day" stuck in my head. But the showstopper is the Piano Duet between Victor and Emily. Holy moly, talk about something that'll stay with you for a good while. The mark of a good composer is being able to create something that touches you in a way that keeps moving you after the music stops, and I never can manage to get that harmony out of my head.

I'm a big fan of stop-motion, did I mention? I just love the way it moves, and once you know how it works it only increases your appreciation for it. It's hard to explain it (and I've tried many times), but it's all in how the movements are smooth and fluid one shot, then jerky and deliberate the next...*shrugs*

The story is just so sweet. Victor is bound by the promise he unintentionally made to Emily, but he still loves Victoria. Emily loves Victor, but there's the whole problem that she's dead and he's not. Victoria loves Victor and is willing to wait for him to return, but her bankrupt parents want to marry her off according to plan as soon as possible. How does it all turn out? Well, that would be telling, wouldn't it?

"Remains of the Day"

Piano Duet

Your pal,

Monday, December 12, 2011

Had to Share This 6

I'm kinda pressed for time here, so I'm just going to post another video. I really love this one! It's just so sensual and gorgeous, and it makes me wish I had taken French instead of Spanish.

Notre Dame de Paris - Belle

Isn't that to die for?

Your pal,

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Had to Share This 5

Got another one for ya! This song has been stuck in my head for weeks on end, but I don't really mind when it's this good...or when it's Lady Antebellum. *wink*

Lady Antebellum - Just A Kiss

Ah, there's that irrepressible romantic in me popping up again...

Your pal,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reviews From an HBN (Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen)

No more procrastinating! It's time to prove those guys at the BBC wrong! The first book on their no-more-than-six list is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and as it happens that one is one of my favorites.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the "most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author's works," and Eudora Welty in the twntieth century described it as "irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."


I picked this up years ago and haven't really put it down since then. My first taste of dear Aunt Jane was enough to get me hooked! I'm a huge fan of satire/irony/sarcasm (surprise, surprise), and this is packed to bursting with it. The banter between all the characters is witty, entertaining, and really engaging.

What surprised me the most was how accessible the story was. It was first published in the early nineteenth century, and it reads out like anything you'd find on a new release shelf today (minus the slang and with a lot more class). Perhaps it's its accessibility and continued relevance, in my opinion at least, that keeps people coming back to it over two hundred years later. Score for Miss Austen on her timelessness!

The characters have the same feel of timelessness as the rest of the book. You get the sense that you've known them for years, and I attribute that to how true-to-life they seem. Well, maybe not true-to-life per se, but they're not cookie-cutter characters either. They have personality and a universal quality to them: Who among us doesn't know someone with a little Lizzy or Darcy in them? That's my favorite part about rereading this; it's always like meeting up with old friends again.

I can't imagine that Miss Austen was too popular in social settings. She defied the typeset for women of her era and *gasp* she was intelligent! Every one of her novels is filled with her observations on society and mankind as a whole. She really grasped what makes us tick and what drives us to do the stupid things we do. She showed us exactly how ridiculous we are and made it fun to make fun of extension of a fictional character, of course.

Now if I could only see the BBC miniseries with Colin Firth...

Your humble book nerd,

Monday, December 5, 2011

Randomness 3

I told myself I'd start posting book reviews on the first of the week, but that'll have to wait. I've been doing some study of my genealogy and learned that on my mother's side, I'm English, Scottish, Irish, and Norse.

Which explains a lot, really. Like why I'm reserved yet blunt, why I love the sound of bagpipes, why I'm happy-go-lucky and very war-like at the same time, why I just can't freaking resist a Scottish's all in the genes!

I ended up by forming a picture in my mind of what my great-great-great-great-great grandfather must have looked like, and came up with some guy wearing a kilt and a horned Viking helmet, brandishing a cricket bat and chugging a pint of Guinness.


Your pal,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Artist of the Month - Dec 2011

It's that time again! I thought long and hard about this one all week long and tons of good singers came to mind, but eventually I settled on one that's been stuck in my head for several weeks. A-P's second artist of the month is...

*drum roll*


I really was born into the wrong decade. All the good music came from the 80's! U2 consists of Bono (vocals, guitar), the Edge (guitar, keyboards, vocals - I love that stage name, by the way), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums, percussion). Remember last month I mentioned how you can identify some artists by the sound of the guitars? It's the same deal here. I can't really describe it, but it's there. These guys are also involved in all kinds of philanthropy, which I'm sure you've heard several times. Their sound is distinctive and their lyrics are pseudo-political with some spiritual undertones...they remind me a little of Don Henley in that respect. Any way you slice it, they're just awesome.

With or Without You
Easily my favorite from the group as well as one of my all-time favorite songs, period.


There they are! Have fun!

Your pal,