Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Pick your distance

Wednesday's Answer and Winner:  It was the Pompidou Center in Paris or as Domey Malasarn said the Centre Pompidou. Kudos to Elaine for giving the theory behind it with her comment: "Design is uniquely flared when they create it with the inside on the out!"

Business: Next week with all the holiday doings and goings on I'm going to unplug. I hope you all have a terrific Thanksgiving (US) or week (everywhere else). In further business, I'm going to give Intense Debate a little more time. I'm still not sold on it, but I like being able to link to specific comments. Remember to click "links to this post" to comment (such a bad downside).

On to the Photolife:

We're going to put the traditional side by side with the modern (or is that post-modern?) for this so you can have whichever view of Paris you prefer. When documenting something like the Pompidou Center or Notre Dame, it's good to remember to get close-ups,

middle range shots,

and shots of the whole (or as much of the whole as you can get).

Application to writing? I'm going to come at this from a little bit different take today because I read a very interesting post yesterday that has me thinking. Scary. I know. It was about an experiment into kids reactions to various books by Shelley Moore Thomas. Go read it. Think about your reactions to the Pompidou Center and Notre Dame. Which do you like more? Are these two buildings both valid forms of artistic expression? Pleasing everyone is impossible. Not even chocolate can do it. Write what appeals to you. If you like it, then chances are there is someone else who will like it, too. Just make sure it's written well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What in the world?

Today we have a "What in the World" and a "Where in the World" all wrapped up in one picture. Be as precise as you can.

Hint: Some love it. Some hate it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday=Book Review Time--Howl

Business: I'm moving on to the Intense Debate commenting system today. It will get about a week like Disqus. I was completely disgusted with Disqus in the end. Friday I couldn't get it to let me comment at all. So sorry about not commenting. FYI: Now that I'm switching systems, I've lost all the comments that were made on Disqus. UPDATE: You'll need to click on the "links to this post" to comment. I'll see if I can't fix that. *rolls eyes*

Up for today: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones--requested by Mary Kay.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: Book Cover

Why I bought it? I bought this a few years ago for my daughter from the recommendations of several nieces who loved it and thought she would. They said I should read it. I didn't at the time. Silly me.

Synopsis/Set up: In Ingary, the Witch of the Waste turns Sophie Hatter into an old woman. Sophie sets off to make her fortune and ends up working for the mysterious Wizard Howl in his moving castle. She makes a deal with the fire demon, Calcifer, that he will break the spell on her if she gets Howl to free him.

What I thought? This book is so charming and clever and witty. I loved it and couldn't put it down. All of the characters are 3 dimensional. Sophie is wonderful. I adore her. A friend described Howl as being like the Scarlet Pimpernel (but actually vain). I love that description. There's more depth to him than you see at first which is lovely to discover as you read.  The book reminded me of Harry Potter at times (but this one came before HP). It's incredibly creative.

My Rating: ****1/2 out of 5. I think I may have given this 5 stars on Goodreads. It was very close for me.

My Daughter's Rating: **** out of 5, She said she saw the movie first and kept expecting to book to be as light hearted as the movie and there were a lot more serious moments. She loves the movie and has seen it over and over. I still haven't watched it, and she is giving me a hard time about it. Yeah. Yeah. Eventually.

Cleanness Score: 2 out of 10, You're pretty safe with this one, but there was a little mild language and a couple sort of adult things like drinking that I'm not sure little kids would get. That said. I wouldn't have a problem with my 10 year old reading it.

There are two companion books/sequels Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways. I read both and enjoyed them immensely.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday's Photolife--One of the Crowd

Here's me in the Hall of Mirrors.
Don't you love the funhouse quality of the mirrors?
Wednesday's answer and winner:  It was the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Who knew this would be way easier than kudzu? A lot of you guessed Versailles. The first to say the Hall of Mirrors was Natalie Whipple. If you haven't checked out her blog, you should.

Business: Intense Debate is finished with its update for blogger, so starting Monday I'm going to try that commenting system and you can see what you think.

On to the Photolife:

In a popular tourist destination like Versailles, you're always having to deal with the crowds. When taking pictures, sometimes it's good to embrace them. Hey, you stood in that line for hours. Why not show all those people?
Show them even in your individual shots. They're hard to avoid so why fight it? (I used to fight it really hard.) It's all part of the experience.
The garden was teeming with other tourists.

Don't let it stop you from recording your journey and capturing the day. Why avoid them?

It makes for a lonely picture.

Here's the gate for Versailles with all the people coming and going. Who cares that I didn't know any of them. It's all part of the experience.

Application to writing? When writing a scene in a crowded place, "show" the crowd and be sure to include how it impacts the characters. I love it when someone from an anonymous crowd becomes important later or is someone I recognize. In Sarah Dessen's books, she includes cameos of characters from former books. It's like a nod to those who've read previous novels.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where in the world?

We've done a lot of What in the Worlds lately. How about a "Where" this time? Where was I? Be as specific as you can.

Hint:  People were waiting in line to see this place.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday=Book Review Time--These is My Words

Up for today: These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 Arizona Territories by Nancy E. Turner (Review requested by Mary Kay.)

These Is My Words by Nancy Turner: Book Cover

Why I bought it? We read it back in the Spring in my book club. I ordered it through Amazon.

Synopsis: As the subtitle suggests the book is told in journal entries. It was inspired by the author's great grandmother but departs from the real life story significantly. Sarah Agnes Prine is 17 at the start and learning to read and write (Her writing improves as the story progresses.) and wants to tell who she is so if anyone finds her bones they'll know a little something about her. Her writing project grows into a family saga of settling the Arizona Territory. Sarah is larger than life--full of vibrancy, spit, and fire. She shoots better than most men. Her life is at times harrowing and at other times hilarious. Sarah takes it all in stride with pluck. There's romance eventually for her and that is well done. (I don't want to give any spoilers because I enjoyed having it unfold for me without knowing any details ahead.) So I'll stop there.

What I thought? I enjoyed the book quite a lot. More than I thought I would. It is incredibly vivid and well researched. I felt like I was right there along with Sarah settling the new territory. It feels very authentic. In the "facts check" portion after the novel Ms. Turner tells what is and isn't based in history. I felt like I learned a lot about the era.

My Rating: ****1/2 out of 5

Cleanness Score: 3 out of 10, This is mostly for violence and the deaths/dangers that occur. It is aimed at adults, but I wouldn't have any problem with my teens reading it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Tweaking to death

Wednesday's answer and winner: It was a shed being devoured by kudzu. The first to get it right was Sharon K. Mayhew. It grows around here (NC) like wildfire. Here's the story of how it first got here from Japan and what our government did to help it spread (crazy). Now we're trying to figure out how to get rid of it (you gotta love that some herbicides actually help it grow) or use it. I've heard tell of people trying to make a sort of gasoline out of it.

Update on the commenting: I'm going to give it a week. There are things I like about it. There are things I don't like about it. One of the things I really wanted was for it to email you notification specifically when I write a comment back to you and not necessarily when everyone commented. Let me know if that's working for you. I think for the pictures that's something you will have to do, but it bothers me that you have to do anything but comment, so I'm still not sold.

On to the Photolife:

It'll be quick because there was so much business this week. With all the new changes on my blog, I've been tweaking up a storm (when I'm really supposed to be cleaning--ah, NaNoCleMo, I'm trying, but I just had to completely change the look of my blog two days in. I had to. I'll catch up. I promise.)

You've seen this. It's before the latest yellow tweaking. (That for some reason barely shows up on Blogger. Great. Must tweak more. Now it mostly just looks dingy. Maybe it would be better to go back to the crispness of this one.)

How would it look on this background?

Maybe fine. Maybe it's better on the background it has now. Tweaking may be a disease with me. Tweak it till it screams, till it bleeds, till the flies are swarming and I'm swatting them away so I can tweak some more until it's a pulverized bit of dust. 

Application to writing? Sometimes we can tweak something too much. When that happens, it's better to just start over. Fresh. Too much tweaking can suck the life and spontaneity right out of our prose.

Do any of you find yourselves in my same tweaking shoes?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What in the world?

Change 1:  I've been playing around with a new look for my digs. What do you think? I haven't completely settled on things. I'm not terribly happy with the background picture (although it's beautiful), but I'd like to have the lotus blossom at the top with a bit of a color change. I may, in the end, put one of my own pictures in the background, but for now I'm going with one provided by blogger.

Change 2:  I've always liked the commenting system on LiveJournal and wished that Blogger's was more like it, so I've decided to try a different comment system that is more similar to LJ's, if I can get it working. Let's all cross our fingers. I wanted to try Intense Debate, but it's closed to blogger for a while so I'm going to use Disqus. When I uploaded it all my former comments are gone. ACK! We'll see if I can get them back. I emailed Disqus. I had understood that wouldn't happen. Hopefully this won't be a disaster.

UPDATE: I just checked, and it appears that Blogger still has the comments. They just don't show up here for some reason. Whew!

Please comment, and we'll see if it's worth it. Since I'm a bit up in arms, I'll give you something fairly easy to ID.

So what do you think this is? Hint: Southerners have an advantage.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday=Book Review Time--A link and a play

Good luck to all the NaNo-ers out there. I'm in the middle of edits, so I'm doing a NaNoCleMo. You got it--cleaning for 2700 minutes this month. You can keep tabs on my progress in the right column.

On to the review:

The next book request I had was for Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. Since I already talked about that, I'll just provide the link (If you have any questions, just ask.) and gush about a play that my husband and I went to this weekend.

The play was The Foreigner by Larry Shue.

The Premise: It's a farce about a young Englishman who, in an attempt to escape his life and troubles for a few days, visits a friend in rural Georgia. The friend puts him up at a lodge (He's military, and guests aren't allowed on base.) and, hoping that everyone will leave him alone, tells the owner that he doesn't speak any English. Hilarity ensues not to mention intrigue.
I was wary when we went. I'd heard great things about this show, but the last one we'd gone to that was touted as being incredibly funny was painful. To my great delight, this one was fantastic. The writing was so well done--clever with unexpected twists. The actors did an amazing job. I couldn't recommend it more. Laughter abounded. Whew! If it comes to your town, check it out. If you're in Winston, it's here through Nov. 7th. Go see it. You won't be disappointed.

When I was looking for a picture, I found out that Larry Shue died in a plane crash the year after this play debuted. Sad. Before he died though it won 2 Obie Awards and 2 Outer Critics Circle Awards.