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Showing posts from October, 2018

My NaNoWriMo Inspiration

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Thanks to all who expressed interest in my NaNoWriMo project!  The challenge officially starts at midnight, tonight, but I probably will start tomorrow afternoon.  My goal is not necessarily to reach 50k words, but to finish my long-running novel in progress.

Tales of Calantha is the code name for the novel - a story that originated in my head about ten years ago and which I've been seriously writing for the past couple of years.  Lately I've described it as half-spoof, half-serious combination of different Victorian tropes and themes, especially from Gothic novels. 

In this post, I thought it would be fun to go over different elements of the story and some real Victorian novels that inspired it.


Setting

Brimshaw - Inspiration:  Thornfield Hall from Jane Eyre
An old house situated on a cliff in an isolated forest.  Inside, it's a mishmash of Baroque architecture, collectibles, and curiosities...plus the obligatory secret passage!

The Conservatory - Inspiration: Alice's A…

Life Lately (Podcast & Blog Update)

Hi readers and listeners - just a quick life update...

I mentioned recently my non-blogging life has been very busy in the last month or so.  What I didn't anticipate was taking on many new responsibilities at work, very suddenly and unexpectedly.  By November, depending on how things turn out, I may not have much free time; and whatever I have, I need to spend on NaNoWriMo, to finish my novel-in-progress. 

So, in order to make this adjustment easier possible, I'll be taking another unplanned break from podcasting, starting next week, with no ETA on its return. 

via GIPHY

I plan to keep blogging, if sporadically.  I have at least one new review to share - Lord of the Flies - which should be coming here pretty soon.  Also, I don't plan to quit reading, so you can expect at least a monthly check-in with those reviews. (Reviews are much faster to publish, to say the least.)

Really sorry to anyone who's been following along with Season 3.  It's a tough choice to mak…

Reacting to "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" - Episode 34

Let's listen to Edgar Allan Poe's "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" - an eerie narrative about a man who takes a walk in the hills and comes back with a story to tell.  It's a new one to me, so I'll be sharing my candid reactions along the way.  Let me know what you think of it!

Links:
"A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" by D. T. McGregor at LibriVox (public domain)

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - Hourly Updates, October 2018 edition

Hour 15

Between doing weekend things (laundry, cleaning, yay) and thinking about work stuff - plus a heavy dose of LOTF - I got majorly derailed this afternoon.  My goal for the evening is to finish chapter 6 and then probably switch gears to something lighter.

Hour 11

Progress: Read first couple of chapters of Pe Ell's Polish Pioneers by Leo Kowalski.  I don't think I've ever visited Pe Ell, WA, but pioneer stories are always intriguing.
Read "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" by Flannery O'Connor.  This one made me feel squicky.  
Continuing to read Lord of the Flies...very, very slowly.  I am picking up on a lot of things that went over my head before.  The most interesting thing is that each chapter contains some kind of horror or atrocity, just very subtly.  When you catch those references, you can fully understand the build-up to the ultimate evil in the book (which is what I remember most).

Hour 7
Joining late, but better late than never!  I always like…

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon - TBR Stack, October 2018

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It's that time of year... Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon!

This bi-yearly event is one I look forward to with zest.  It's an excuse to take all Saturday to do my favorite thing. I'm starting late - 6 hours late - but that's ok, because this is just a fun marathon (and I like to get my sleep).

Without further ado, the lineup:

The Code of the Woosters / Wodehouse Tales & Sketches / Hawthorne Lord of the Flies / Golding Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea / Verne Three Men in a Boat / Jerome The Boy in the Mask / Gyles
This time, my goal is to not get bored or fatigued.  So I might just ditch the list and do a Sherlock Holmes marathon.  Or, pick random books I own that I haven't read.

Bringing WWI to Life - Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old

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My sister shared this with me - a new documentary called They Shall Not Grow Old by Peter Jackson (director of The Lord of the Rings).  He took film footage from WWI, restored and colorized it, and added voiceover so you can get a sense of what it was really like.  Hoping this makes it to the U.S.!


Nine Creepy Victorian Short Stories - From Stoker to Doyle - Episode 33

It's October again: that time of year when you reach for a chunky sweater, a spicy latte, and, of course, a spooky book to read. In this episode, I share nine of my favorite Victorian short stories by authors such as Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, and H. G. Wells.  You probably don't want to read these at night...

Three Old Movie Reviews - Heston, Peck, Cooper, et al

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So, I'm not much of a movie watcher these days, much less a reviewer.  But I've started keeping a journal of books read and movies watched, by month.  (Got this idea from Rachel!)  This month's been particularly good, so I thought I'd share a few quick recommendations:


Dad's Army (TV, 1968–1977)

This comedy is set in WWII and follows a group of Home Guard soldiers in an English town named Walmington-on-Sea.  Their leader, Captain Mainwaring, manages a bank by day and serves as an officer by night.  He takes the whole thing very seriously, determined to transform his ragtag followers - butcher, undertaker, spoiled boy, and all - into a force capable of defending against an invasion.


If you enjoy British humor, this show is likely to appeal to you.  It combines several different types of comedy, including dry humor and slapstick, into a coherent medley of laugh-out-loud moments.  My favorite thing about it is the ensemble of characters.  They're each quirky, uniq…

H. G. Wells on Victorian Short Stories

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Lately I've been wandering down memory lane with H. G. Wells' The Country of the Blind and Other Stories (1911).  This collection holds, in the words of Wells: "all of the short stories by me that I care for any one to read again."  Some are new and some familiar - two of them are personal favorites, which I'll be mentioning in Monday's podcast episode ("Nine Creepy Victorian Short Stories").

In the Introduction, Wells gives us a little recap of the short story form and its writers, as far as it had evolved in the late Victorian era.  He praises Kipling, whose writing "opened like window-shutters to reveal the dusty sun-glare and blazing colours of the East."  J. M. Barrie also gets a mention, along with Henry James, Stephen Crane, Jerome K. Jerome, and Edith Nesbit.  Other contemporaries are listed, whose names are less known to modern readers.  Joseph Conrad alone is noted as having, in Wells's eyes, continued in the 20th century to…

The Jungle Book: Returning to Rudyard Kipling - Episode 32

This week, I revisit Rudyard Kipling and his famous feral child Mowgli.  The Jungle Book is one of my favorite Disney stories, but I did not like the book as a child.  How does it read now that I'm older?  (And when is that new movie coming out?!)


Sources / Further reading:
My Boy Jack (2007) - Biopic
"The White Man's Burden" - Kipling's poem
"The Black Man's Burden" - H. T. Johnson's response
Mowgli (2019) - Trailer

"In the Rukh" - Mowgli's Sequel

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Like many famous characters, Mowgli makes his debut in a different time frame than we are accustomed to seeing him.  "In the Rukh" shows the feral child now grown to be a young man, having some of the same traits as young Mowgli - his distrust of settlements, for one - in addition to a self-confidence and refinement of skill which awe the locals to the point of superstition.  Gisborne, an English ranger, is fascinated by his new acquaintance and is intent on hiring Mowgli on to be his assistant in managing the forest.

It's been so long since I read The Jungle Book proper, I wasn't sure what to expect in this short story.  Overall, I found it interesting, yet underdeveloped.  It could be that, being so used to the character of Mowgli as a child, I struggled to accept him as a grown-up man, and what might have made a good sequel instead poses The Jungle Book as a superior prequel (a working hypothesis; I have started rereading it and am enjoying it more, so far).

The …

Two Views of the Twentieth Century - Episode 31

We kick off Season 3 with two giants of 19th-century science fiction: Jules Verne and Albert Robida.  Both French authors, Verne and Robida crafted futuristic novels set in the 20th century, predicting changes in technology and society.  Join me in this trip to the past, which at times feels amazingly reminiscent of the digital world we live in today.

Links / Further reading:
Paris in the Twentieth Century by Jules Verne
The Twentieth Century by Albert Robida