Thursday, October 16, 2014

Counting My Blessings

I am a very blessed woman.

I live in America, in relative peace.

I have a family who loves me, children who are (mostly) healthy whom I adore.

I get to pursue my passions, and enjoy the work I do (on most days--every once in a while I hate it.)

And I've gotten to spend three decades of my life with all four of my grandparents living.

Last year, when we returned from Seattle following my son's bone marrow transplant, I lost my first grandparent the night of our arrival home. I was lucky to be with her when she passed away, to have the chance to say goodbye.

Last night, my family said goodbye to my grandfather on the other side of my family. I was with him, as well, when he went to be with Jesus.

He was 94.

As I hugged my aunts, uncle, grandmother, and cousin, we were able to reminisce a little about the life he lived. He was born in rural North Carolina. Had several brothers and sisters. Served in the Pacific Theater of WWII. Married my grandmother before the end of the war, celebrating 69 years earlier this year. Worked for the post office. Raised my father and his siblings. Could be very loving, but just as cantankerous. He was a bit eccentric, and many things we did, many of us in the family shook our heads over. But he loved us, and adored my son, calling him his buddy.

In recent years, he'd gone down hill, and for many years, I've wondered if he'd see another birthday, another Christmas, another wedding anniversary with Grandma. I'd held out hope he'd get to celebrate 70 years together with Grandma next year, but it wasn't to be.

While I remember the cantankerous man who could snap at us grandkids, I also remember him and Grandma gardening with me, tending their cows, and taking me on rides on their property and picking wildflower bouquets for me along the way. One of my fondest memories is knowing that every night, both he and my Grandma would read the Bible. I have no idea how many times they've read it through, but that has always been a stand-out memory of him (and her.) Every Sunday that I was at their place, we'd go to church, almost without fail. And he took my family and me to see the Passion Play when I was 5 or so.

We'll say our final goodbyes next week. In the meantime, I will be reflecting on my memories of him. Hopefully, a few more I'd forgotten about will surface as I talk with my family.

Go hug your family. If you're blessed enough to have grandparents with you, be sure to tell them how much you love them today. I'm glad my final words to him were, "Grandpa, I love you."


Until next time...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Doctor Who: Season 8, Ep 2 - 4

There's some sort of quote about the best laid plans of mice and men... Well, apparently I operate more on the theory that whatever CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong. And that involved not one, but TWO 4-day hospital stays for my husband, The Man Of The House (affectionately known here as TMOTH.) So, I haven't had a chance to do a review of the three most recent Doctor Who episodes, although I did take a bit of time to watch all of them.

So today, I'll do a recap of my thoughts as best as I can, and hopefully reboot and have a new review for the one airing tomorrow.

Peter Capaldi. I really feel like he's oozing into the role as the Doctor quite nicely. I still see a few remnants of Matt Smith's doctor, but he's really making the character his own. If anyone has any doubts about this, go watch (or re-watch) Listen. I've seen many of my friends proclaim this episode as the best in years, and I definitely agree. It's probably the best episode since Blink, and definitely the scariest.

For the storyline, I'm curious what the writers are going to do with Missy, but I'm also curious about one of the scenes in Listen where  Clara happens into the barn of a young Doctor before he WAS the Doctor. Are the writers going to expound on this at some point? It makes sense that Clara, the Impossible Girl herself, would show up at points like this in the Doctor's timeline, so maybe we'll be seeing more of this in future episodes. It would be interesting to see more of a young Doctor...but maybe this is also a one-time tease. Steven Moffatt is good at that.

Clara and Danny Pink. I like where this relationship is going so far, and am excited to see the Doctor interact with Danny...and just what Clara will do. She's always been a feisty character, but I think it's gotten a bit more so with age, a change in her job, and with the new Doctor. Adding in perhaps a bit of jealousy on the Doctor's part where Danny is concerned will probably prove to be an interesting dynamic, and I'm looking forward to it. 


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I'm hoping to get a newsletter put together either this weekend or early next week. If you haven't subscribed yet...well, why not?  I'm planning to have some more publishing news either in this new newsletter, or sometime mid-October. In other news, I'll be guest-posting on K.M. Weiland's blog on Friday, November 7th. More details about that in an upcoming newsletter.




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Until next time...and hopefully next week...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Doctor Who: Deep Breath

Admission:

I've only been a fan of BBC's "Doctor Who" for a little more than eighteen months.

But when I get into a show, I dive in.

So, in the last eighteen months, I've watched all of the modern episodes, and have viewed at least a few episodes from most of the previous doctors (I'm sadly lacking with Number Eight...I need to rectify that one.)

Being up to speed now, I was eagerly anticipating the new season, with the new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. I'd heard a lot of whining from some "oh he's too old to play the doctor." Oh, really? Was William Hartnell?

The Doctor and Clara. Photo from BBC America
Anywho...

I was blown away by the episode which aired on 8/23, which, ironically, was my wedding anniversary and I wasn't supposed to be able to watch it that night. But friends with football tickets made seeing it Saturday a possibility since my husband was gone! :)

Let's get one thing out of the way first, then I'll go into my thoughts on the episode itself. Since I started watching Doctor Who especially, but also coupled with Sherlock (because they are presently produced and written by the same team--Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss), I've mentioned to several writer friends that I'd love to kidnap the pair and just pick their brains. (No worries, BBC, if you're reading this. I'm not planning a trip to Britain any time soon, and this is mostly tongue-in-cheek. Mostly. Not to say if I wasn't in Cardiff or London and saw either of them, I wouldn't stop and try to pick their brains!) Right now, both writers--especially for Sherlock, a little less for Doctor Who--make me want to get into writing screenplays. Perhaps one day.

Cinematically, I have to say, I'm less impressed by Doctor Who than I am Longmire. (If you missed my gushing on the season finale of Longmire, see the post that precedes this one.) I'm sure it's because it's a science fiction show, and they're mostly shooting on a soundstage, and there's a lot of CGI that needs to be added in. But still. It would be nice to see a bit more flare in how the show is put together. That would be my only real criticism. I've never watched an episode of Doctor Who yet where I've just marveled at how the photography is used to tell the story--unlike Longmire, where it's a week-in-and-week-out thing. Apples. Oranges.

River Song
Insert River Song saying in her super-sexy voice, "Spoilers."

Story-wise, I felt the plot was sound. Rarely have I felt a Steven Moffatt script was off (although 7.2 felt off for most of the season. It mostly came together by the end of the season, but 7.2 was disjointed overall. I'm hoping season 8 is different.) The dinosaur being set ablaze, I've seen several people say that was gratuitous. However, after re-watching the episode last night, it played a role. It drew the Doctor and Clara into the main part of the story. I did notice, as some others had noted, that the episode seemed like a bit of a mashup of three older episodes (which ones, I'm not certain of the names, and don't have the time to look them up.) For the most part, I'd agree, although this definitely had its own feel to it. And I think Moffatt was aware of it, and probably had a plan for it to feel vaguely familiar because he was introducing a new Doctor.

 And let's get to the new doctor. As I said above, I was eagerly anticipating Capaldi. I knew he was a fan of the show (I've seen on the internet where he wrote a fan letter to the show at the age of 6! So you know he's got the show's best interest at heart.) And while Matt Smith is my doctor, and David Tennant is just a sliver behind him, I have been curious how they'd take the story in a new direction, especially after "The Day of the Doctor," the show's 50th anniversary special which aired last November. Keep in mind: I'm a writer. As a writer, I'm curious about these things. I watch TV as much for relaxation as I do for learning about my craft. 

As a fan of the show, I was simply delighted at the number of Easter eggs I caught in the episode. I'm sure it was meant to be like that, and there are probably more that I missed, but some of my more memorable ones were these:
  • The face/mirror in the alley scene. Why this face? I've seen this face before. This is probably a reference to the Tennant-era episode "Fires of Pompeii", which Capaldi guested in (which, ironically, Karen Gillan, also was a guest in. If you don't know who Karen is, she was Amy Pond for the first 2.5 seasons of Matt Smith's Doctor, and is currently playing one of the bad guys in "Guardians of the Galaxy.")
  • The scarf question in the same scene as above. The line was something like, "Do you have a scarf? Maybe a long one? No, we're avoiding those." Obvious reference to, I believe, the 4th Doctor. (If I'm wrong, please don't hate me--just let me know in the comments and I'll fix.)
  • "Some days I wish you were Amy." If you're a Whovian, this one doesn't need any explanation. I miss the Ponds, too. 
  • The eyebrows. They're angry eyebrows. They may cede and start their own state of Eyebrows. Not so much an Easter egg, as a something many Whovians have been going on about since Capaldi was announced as the new doctor last year. 
  • Clara at the end, coming into the revamped TARDIS. "You've redecorated. I don't like it." Nearly shot me to tears because Tennant said the same thing to Smith in "The Day of the Doctor" and I think it's a tradition in some of the older episodes as well with multiple doctors. And she said it almost the exact same way that Tennant did! 
Now I need to gush about the MATT SMITH SCENE.

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor in the "Broom Scene"
Photo from BBC America
This is the scene that pushed me over the edge, the one where, if I wasn't crying already, I was by about the mid-point in this scene. I've said it already in a couple places within my friends circles, but I think we as an audience needed the Matt Smith scene. We needed to have one last chance to say goodbye to the Raggedy Man, needed to hear his voice one last time, and know, along with Clara, that this was going to be okay. I almost wonder if this was thrown in for the Capaldi-skeptics, and even though it wasn't essential to the story, I think it helped get us over the hump of believability. Of course, Clara kind of needed to hear it, too. I think she was about ready to bolt on us. And even though I have not been a fan of Clara, she really shined in this episode, and held her own.

Last thoughts, I promise. This is getting lengthy.

 I'm a fan of a good story. Give me solid writing, and, in TV, solid acting, and I'm pretty much hooked. That being said, 7.2 almost lost me because I felt it floundered around a bit. At the time, I needed it, though, because I was far from home, and my son was undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Keep in mind, I love Matt Smith's incarnation as the Doctor.

But even though I was sad to see Matt go, I was eager to see what Capaldi would do. While I think not everyone is as sold as I am, I felt he was refreshing, and I'm looking forward to a darker side of the Doctor.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some squeeeing to go do. ;)

Until next time...

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Reminder! My debut novella, "Emergence" is out now! You can find it at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for the low-low price of $2.99US. If you like mysteries, suspense, or superhero stories, you will enjoy "Emergence"! Go download your copy today.

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