Theater Masks

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Wow, well, it's been quite a while, old friend, hasn't it? There's quite a bit to catch up on from the past few months.

On the writing front, I've been continuing to work on my adult fantasy novel. I'm about 125 pages into it and I have a pretty good idea where it's going. The change from YA to adult is certainly interesting. In some ways it's freer because I don't have to worry about language or perhaps having my characters do things that are despicable. On the other hand, I'm so used to writing YA that it feels strange having a character curse or talking about attempted rape. It feels a little out of place for me - I hope it doesn't read that way.

Rachael has edited Before White for me and we'll be sending it to editors in the new year. I'm very excited about this - hopefully we have better luck than we did with Connie. To be fair, there are still editors who have Connie and we're waiting to hear from them, so it's certainly not out of the range of possibilities. It's just a big waiting game, isn't it?

School has gotten especially rough. Administrators are all over everybody about every little thing. My supervisor has really been on me, and I've gotten to a point that I'm actively looking at other jobs until this writing thing can take off. If anyone knows anything in the central NJ area...

Let's see, Caitie and I went to see Jason Mraz in concert a couple of weeks ago. He was excellent. Our seats were terrible, but he was A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

We've seen several movies: Argo (EXCELLENT!), Lincoln (pretty good but boring first half hour or so), Wreck-It Ralph (very cute!), Flight (decent movie, Washington was great) and Looper (a real mind-twister and very entertaining). We cannot WAIT to see Les Miserables on Christmas (yes, we convinced her parents and we're going on Christmas).

In books, the best I've read in the last couple of months was The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde. It's a MG book, but HUGELY entertaining. I definitely recommend it. Right now I'm reading A Fraction of the Whole - an adult book that is thick but SO well written that I don't care.

In TV shows, the only new ones of the season we're still watching are Revolution (I seem to be addicted, Caitie can take it or leave it), Go On (Caitie likes it more than I do) and Next To Normal (we both like it). We're still hooked on Once Upon a Time and Modern Family. American Horror Story has been pretty good this year, though I don't find it as engaging as I did last year. The Walking Dead has been excellent - I'm definitely curious where it's going. My second favorite show of the fall was Parenthood. We always watched it, but it's been incredibly good this season - funny, smart, moving and totally engaging. My favorite show of the fall though is, without doubt, Homeland. Holy crap is that a good show. I can't believe we have to wait till next September to find out what happens next.

Caitie is still at Book of the Month Club. Her job keeps changing which is very frustrating to her, but at least she really likes the people she works with (and they like working with her as well).

We'll be heading to Ohio for Christmas (and Les Mis!) with Caitie's family - our holiday tradition - and then back here for my birthday and New Year. I can't believe we're on the seventh year of me going to OH for the holidays already.

So, old friend, I hope you have a very happy holiday, whatever you may celebrate, and you have a very happy new year!

Love,
Jason

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Well, I haven't written much in the past month -- I haven't had a whole lot to say to be honest. Caitie and I went to the Poconos for a weekend and had a great time. We went to Ohio for Labor Day weekend for her brother's wedding. It was a great affair - lots of fun and we're burning with jealousy that he's now in Disney World for the week on his honeymoon.

With school starting again, my reading time is diminishing quite a bit. This is partly due to not having the time, but more so just being too tired to focus on a page for very long. That said I did read quite a few books this summer. Here are some quick reviews of the books I got through. Hope I have more to write about soon!

A Dance With Dragons: Book five of The Song and Ice and Fire was WAY better than book four. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the ending had me dying for the next one. If you're going to try the series, don't let book four dissuade you - five is a return to greatness.

Me The People: I picked this up thinking it would be a humorous rewriting of the Constitution - turned out to be a fascinating history detailing each amendment. The rewriting part was more of a gimmick, but the writer's dealing with the Constitution, explaining the amendments' meanings and purposes and, more interestingly to me, their origins was riveting. Definitely recommended!

The Passage: First thing I can say - this book was LONG. It was REALLY long. In fact, it was too long. The first two hundred pages or so was a prologue that turned out to be the origins of what happens in the next six hundred pages or so. That said, the book was really exciting and definitely kept me hooked. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

The Wishing Spell: This is Chris Colfer's debut novel. Honestly, he's not that great an author. Some of his writing is just awkward and the language seems almost TOO catered to young readers. That said, the story itself was pretty interesting. It was a quick read, at any rate, so worth the time for the story that entwines a bunch of fairy tale characters into it (I'm a sucker for that).

Redshirts: The first 2/3 of the book was fantastic. It was funny, it was intriguing, it was very smart. And then the last 1/3 happened -- and I have no idea what to make of it. The end of the book was a weird postscript that didn't really work with the rest of it. I would almost say it's worth reading the beginning 2/3 and then stopping when the main story is over (which I know is REALLY weird advice, but there it is).

The Fault in Our Stars: All right, I'll give Caitie credit for this one. She's been begging me to read John Green, and I've finally given in. This book was brilliant. He is a great writer (yes, Caitie, I know) and he certainly kept me enthralled in a story about (honestly) cancer patients. Yeah, the end was kind of predictable, but the style and writing was so strong I hardly cared. Highly recommended!

Doctor Who - Shada: This was Douglas Adam's script for a Tom Baker Doctor Who episode turned into a novel - and honestly, that's EXACTLY what the book read like. If you like Doctor Who and you like Hitchhiker's Guide, well, this is the book for you. It was entertaining, certainly - only thing I can really complain about was it wasn't David Tenant's Doctor, but you know, you get what you get.

The Good Thief: I was kind of disappointed in this one. I expected more of a Dickensian type story than it was. There weren't any big twists, the characters were fairly well drawn but not particularly memorable, and the story dragged in parts. Yeah, I read the whole thing, but more because it was short and I pushed on through more than anything else.

Fairy Godmother (in process of reading): I'm adding this in here because I have just 100 pages to go, but I have to say it's WAY better than I expected. Mercedes Lackey is an EXCELLENT writer - it kind of reminds me of The Magician in that, like Lev Grossman, there's just wonder to be seen on every page. You never quite know what fairy tale is being skewed (or being created) from page to page, and the twist on classic tales really is expertly done. Definitely looking forward to reading more of the 500 Kingdoms!

So, it turns out, I read a LOT during the summer! Hope I can keep up some of it during the school year (not too likely, sadly). Guess I need to go spend some more time in Ohio!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dark Knight Rises review

We finally got to see TDKR yesterday.

Disclosure on my opinion of the previous two films: Batman Begins was long with a solid ending. The Dark Knight was good. Heath Ledger was fantastic - the movie itself? Too long with some confusing set pieces.

Now, going into TDKR I had heard mixed things. It turns out that the "mixed" reviews were right on the money. The first hour, hour and a half or so DRAGGED. I understand the need for setup, especially with so many characters, but even once that's said, a fairly major player in the finale was conveniently ignored through the first half of the film.

Once the movie kicked into gear (I'd say around the time of the football stadium), it got much better. The last hour or so flew by.

Bane was an interesting villain, to be sure, but nothing compared to Heath Ledger's Joker. I didn't have as much trouble hearing what he had to say (and in fact found the voice downright creepy) but it did bring up other questions. First, how does he eat? I mean, Darth Vader could take his helmet off. Bane can't take the mask off. I also wondered why when it came down to it, Batman and he fought street-fighter style. No cool toys - just punches. Hmph.

To be honest, I didn't get the point of Catwoman in the movie. It's nothing against Anne Hathaway who I thought was great - I just feel the part was underwritten.

There are a couple of surprises in the movie I won't spoil here - one in particular where I turned to Caitie and, surprised, declared the mystery solved. She turned back to me "Duh!" - she had it figured out way earlier. D'oh!

Overall, I feel Nolan could have cut 45 minutes from the front of the movie. Otherwise, it was a pretty solid film and ending to the series.

One final point -- I confess I flinched HEAVILY at the gunfire in the movie. Granted, it was LOUD in our theater, but memories of the shooting couldn't be avoided throughout the film. It's a shame the movie will be scarred by that - I wonder how long gunshots in films will set me edge.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The shooting in Colorado and Polyamory

There's a show on Showtime late at night called Polyamory about people who are in a more than monogamous relationship. One story is a couple with a girlfriend, one is about a couple dating another couple. My initial reaction was "Good for them, not for me, but good for them." On the surface it felt like trash TV, but in the wake of what happened in Colorado at The Dark Knight Rises premiere, the show took on a different meaning for me and helped speak to just how crazy far right wing this country has become.


I can only imagine that if any Conservatives decided to shell out for Showtime (who knows, maybe they like Big Brother After Dark), they would probably flip their lids over this show. People in MORE than monogamous relationships? People with KIDS having a family that's more than mother and father? No way!


What impacted me the most after watching the first two episodes of this was how many times the two families highlighted used the word "love." At first I thought they were a little crazy - "love" this, "love" that, "love" energy - and so on. I mean, I love my wife and we tell each other that we love each other all the time, but it seems rare to hear people on TV tell each other they are in love and mean it - and even more so often.


So what is it exactly that Conservatives would have against this show which CLEARLY goes against what's "normal"? How can people be so against loving each other, if that's what's right for themselves. The show deals with how these people have to handle themselves psychologically - fully communicate problems and discuss them with the others they share their lives with. To me, it looked a lot more healthy than many of the families I've seen on TV.


After watching the show I went to bed last night thinking about this. My wife gets up early to go to work, and she woke me up this morning to tell me about the shooting in Colorado. She gave me a big hug before going to work. I couldn't get the thought of it out of my mind. I lay awake in bed for a good 45 minutes or so before drifting back to a restless sleep. I've spent most of today watching CNN and the coverage of the tragedy. Of course, now around 4pm afterwards, bubbles of talk about gun control are rising.


On a social media site my wife and I frequent, reddit.com, talk is already coming up and sides are being drawn - those who are calling for more gun control, those who are fighting against it - the same old nonsense that comes up any time there's a tragedy along these lines.


I try to wrap my mind around the arguments for allowing people to have guns. Yeah, maybe it won't make a difference - those who want them will still get them. But wouldn't making it more difficult for these people be ideal? Shouldn't we run background checks on people, see why they WANT guns in the first place? I don't know the answer to this, and I am not that informed on gun control debate issues, truth be told. To me, though, today seems like the wrong time to jump to the defense of keeping stocked up on weapons and ammo come hell or highwater.


This brings me back to my original point - when did half this country become so backwards? They would argue against people who love each other being together and happy (and if not in polyamorous ways, at least in homosexual monogamous ways), and argue for the preservation of guns in the home. How did half this country become so cold, so out for themselves, so selfish as to not realize that they live in a community with some 300 million other people who are also looking for the same things they are - happiness, love, and the freedom to enjoy those things?


I don't know the answer. I can't even begin to explain it and tragedies like what happened last night make me try to wrap my mind around it even more.


I'll just end with this: I love my wife and my family very much. I'm very glad I have them to live with, to hug, and to enjoy. I just think we can learn more from the "freaks" out there, then from the "supposedly normal" right wing crazies who seem to scream from our televisions day in and day out for a return to normalcy.


I can't wait till my wife gets home to give her a huge hug.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I got to go to BEA for a day

A few weeks ago, my agent Rachael had posted a contest on Twitter through another site to win a free pass to BEA for a day. I entered and forgot about it. On Wednesday I got an email that everyone who entered won a free pass to the event. As it turned out, I had plans to take the day off already to go into the city to meet Rachael for lunch (more on that in a little bit), so yay - I got a full day out of it! I woke up with Caitie to catch her usual bus to work (not something I was thrilled about doing on my day off, but hey, I get to sleep late every day in two weeks, so no complaining, right?). When we got to the city, I walked to the Javits center and spent twenty minutes trying to figure out where to go to register. It turned out I was on the wrong floor, but eventually figured it out. When I registered, I received a tote bag with a couple of books in it - one The Passage which I really wanted to read anyway, and The Age of Miracles, one Caitie tells me is supposed to be fantastic. I spent the next couple of hours wandering around the expo floor, looking at books, talking to a couple of authors, and being generally amazed at how VASTLY huge the place was. At eleven I had to make a choice: a panel on writing strong females in middle grade books or a panel of actors talking about taking words from the stage to the page (based on a new book about Actor's Equity coming out). Both are right up my alley, so it was not an easy choice to make! I chose the latter on instinct, and was glad I did. The speakers were Estelle Parsons, Andre deShields, Nick Wyman, David Henry Hwang, and Robert Simonson. I was so very impressed with all of them who spoke from such experience and clear love of their jobs. deShields especially impressed me - the man is just a fountain of wisdom! There were a couple of highlights from the panel. First, deShields when asked how he takes a character from the page to the stage said, "you need to find the character's music." He went on to explain that even if it's not a musical, every character has a song, and you need to listen to him to find it. Once you have, you'll be able to know who the character is better. Hwang talked about how he usually will get an idea for the beginning of a play and an idea for the end, but the middle is different. He said he'll often need to force characters to do what he wants at first, but then they start talking to him and he just transcribes what they say. It's a fascinating way of writing - one that I have to confess to not being entirely unfamiliar with as well. Parsons talked a but about being serious about acting - when she's in a play she's completely focused on her role, no matter how large or small. She feels it's disrespectful when younger actors have their computers back stage or whatever - they should be focused on giving their best performance during the time the play is running. After the panel ended, I went to meet Caitie and Rachael for lunch. I don't have a ton to share about this, other than that I am so glad she is my agent. Rachael is excited, enthusiastic, and clearly working hard for me and her other clients. She also likes many of the same things we do (we even got the same meal!), so lunch was easy and comfortable. I left feeling very comfortable with her as my agent, so it was a very successful meeting. We walked back to the convention center and parted ways. I went back to wander around a little bit more, and then left the center to wait for Caitie to get out of work. It was a wonderful day - one I would love to experience again next year!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's been a while since I've posted, I suppose. I'm still waiting to hear from editors -- they've had my book for quite a while though apparently, well, it takes a while :) I'm hoping for some news soon! On the plus side, I will get to meet Rachael, my wonderful agent, in a couple of weeks for lunch! I'm very excited about that! School is winding down for the year. Just a couple more weeks and it'll be summer break! The year actually went surprisingly quickly, though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't REALLY looking forward to the break. On the reading front, I've recently finished the fourth Song of Fire and Ice book. I can't say I was particularly PLEASED with it - it REALLY dragged - but I understand book five is supposed to be better. That'll have to wait till after I finish Stephen King's latest Dark Tower quick-read. I don't really know what people think of King, but I find him to be a master of language. It amazes me when I read passages in his books that are nearly in a different language, yet they make complete sense in context. He's not a bad story teller either -- he knows how to give thrills and he knows how to keep you reading. His endings don't always match up with the rest of the book in terms of quality (see Under the Dome for a great example of this), but considering how strong his stories generally are, that's easily forgivable. And, well, I guess that's about it for now. Here's hoping I'll be back with good news soon....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reading Day -- apparently

Today is a "read-a-thon" day for Caitie - she's spending ALL DAY reading. I don't know how she does it - my eyes would start to hurt after an hour, and by two I'd never want to see another book again.

That doesn't mean I don't love reading. I absolutely do. I read all the time. I just find that I tend to read in chunks. A half hour here, forty minutes there. Marathon readings for me - more than an hour or so is a marathon to me - are extremely rare. If any time, they happen when we're in Ohio - I call that my "reading space."

So I don't know how Caitie is planning on reading all day. She has a stack of ten books (TEN!) to get through. I know she's going to do it - it just astounds me. Maybe I'll give a little reading a try. I have a book I've been trying to get through that I have 100 pages or so left in - I could bang that out, right?

Eh - most likely the day will be spent watching bad movies and playing poker.

Good luck, Caitie - hope you get what you want from today!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

American Reunion Review

I've said that I intend to review more media on here - books, tv, movies - I've been pretty spotty about it, and I hope to try to rectify that some.

I saw American Reunion on Friday - the third sequel to 1999's American Pie. Now, I'm PRETTY sure I saw American Pie 2 and American Wedding, but I'll be honest, I don't remember them at all. To be honest, it hardly mattered. Aside from the fact that Jim and Michelle were now married, they almost might as well have not even had the subsequent movies as they had no real impact on the plot.

I hate to say this, but I sort of regret that this was the movie I decided to "re-up" my blog with. The movie, simply, wasn't that memorable. Sure, it was enjoyable and entertaining, I don't think I was bored at all during it, but now, two days later, I can't actually REMEMBER much of it. There didn't seem to be much of a purpose to it other than a chance to see where these characters were at the completely arbitrary thirteen year mark after their high school graduation. The movie was pleasant enough, but hardly memorable or laugh out loud funny.

The one true bright spot in the movie for me was Jim's father, played by Eugene Levy. Levy is a comedy veteran, and it shows here. Every scene with him hit, and they were amongst the few scenes I found genuinely funny enough to laugh at.

All said, the thing that made me miss 1999 the most wasn't the movie at all: it was the six dollar ticket I got because I went to see the movie before noon.

My rating: B-

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Report

It's with a heavy heart that I make this announcement: I've decided to give up writing novels for the foreseeable future. I have spent more than five years now laboring at my computer, striving to create a novel to entertain and engage the minds of young readers the world over. I have completed slightly less than six books at this point, and just don't know that I have the drive to continue on. I've tried several genres - fantasy, realistic fiction, science fiction, mystery - I don't know that any of them have truly been right for me. I'm not sure I can sustain the level of intensity needed to continue trying to produce book after book.

There are other reasons, as well. I've come to realize that the publishing industry is slow as molasses (see, even my similes have grown weak and cliche!). Everything takes so long to get done, that I don't know that I have the time nor the patience to wait for responses from editors any longer.

Perhaps most importantly, I learned recently that I have developed carpal tunnel syndrome as from all the time I spend at my computer typing away at drafts. Similarly, I have a propensity for migraines. I've found that less time spent in front of the computer decreases my odds for developing one of those crippling attacks.

As it happens, I have become enamored of another hobby, one which I intend to pursue with vigor. I've decided that I want to become a professional bowler. Caitie and I have gone bowling the last three weekends in the row, and we fall asleep at night dreaming of how sweet a victory it must be to bowl a perfect 300, to win a league championship, or even, on the outskirts of our fantasies, a world title. The sound of crashing pins fills my dreams, and makes me shiver with excitement at the fantasy. I have decided to dedicate all my free time to pursuing this goal of being a professional bowler, and with my current average now hovering around a meager 100, I have a lot of work to do.

So, as I said at the opening of this post, it is with a heavy heart that I resign myself to a "writer-less life."

As they say in France......

April Fools.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

whew

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it? I was doing really well with this blog for a while there -- and then it kind of slipped off.
Sorry about that!
Truth be told, I don't have much in the way of news. We sent out our second round to editors and are waiting to hear. It's pretty nerve-wracking!
Otherwise, not a whole lot has changed in the last month or so.

Sorry about that -- when there's news, I'll certainly let you all know!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Update

No, I'm not gone, and I haven't forgotten about the blog either.

Honestly, there just hasn't been much to talk about.

We're still waiting on editors. We should be sending out to a second round within the next week or so. Stats: no response from five of the ten; three rejections (though I suspect the reason for these was simply we aimed too young -- the book is geared more towards young teen and we queried in the 3-6 grade range due to a misunderstanding by both me and my agent of the terms "middle grade" and "young adult." I think we got ourselves straightened out more for round two. We still have two editors who have the book who we haven't heard responses from. When we get more of an update, I'll certainly post it.

Caitie and I have been trying to see the Oscar nominated movies. So far:
The Help - Caitie saw it, I haven't. She loved it.
Descendents - Neither of us have seen it yet.
War Horse - Neither of us.
Moneyball - both watched it, thought it was pretty good. Not a winner, but good.
Hugo - both saw it - both loved it.
Artist - Fantastic movie - both of our picks for best of the year.
Tree of Life - we watched a half hour of it and had no idea what we were watching.
Midnight in Paris - have next on our Netflix queue
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Caitie wants to see it because she read the book, I'm not particularly interested.

I'll probably do a more complete Oscar prediction post when we get a little closer to the show.

On a last note, my great uncle died earlier this week. I didn't really know him - only met him a handful of times. We decided not to go to the funeral because it is in Florida and we can't really afford the expense of the trip. It would have been nice to see our family, but I think using a funeral for that purpose is somewhat tacky. Still, my thoughts are with my dad and family there today.