Friday, September 27, 2013

Trifecta Weekend Challenge: Trios

Fewer childhood memories hold as much mirth for me as listening to my dad recite lines of dialogue as the Gollum, the exaggerated S’s spewing forth. Thanks for memories, Lord of the Rings.

I've been remiss in writing trifecta challenge entries. Forgive me, but its been a crazy couple of weeks. But I did have enough time to cobble together 33 words regarding any trio of our choosing. Apparantly, I'ma see Draug's video game nerdery and raise her with literary fantasy nerdery. That's right. That's how we roll in the shire!
picture via

I love how I actually entered in "The Big Bang Theory That's How we roll in the shire", and google knew exactly what I was talking about. Also, I love that there's an actual tumblr called That's how we roll in the shire. The internet, she is a magical place.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Joe Vampire: Afterlife

I've always subscribed to the notion that books are friends, and when you revisit a book, you're just catching up with a friend. Sometimes said books contain sarcastic funny friends who I enjoy spending oodles of time with no matter how messy or complicated their lives become. And so it is with the titular Joe Vampire. I enjoyed my time with him so much in the first book that I went right out and grabbed the next one; Joe Vampire: Afterlife. And Joe, I'm happy to report, is still the sarcastic friend I'm happy to spend all of my free time with, no matter how messy his life gets.

As with the first book, this book is a series of blog entries written from the perspective of a vampire just trying to make his way in the world and figure out to live while being undead. As in the first book, our narrator is still as sarcastic and obsessed with lists and bullet points as ever. But unlike the first book its not his life that is messy and that he's trying to make sense of, it's his best friend's, Hube. This book, like any good sequel should, gives our Joe Vampire room to grow up, even though he'll never age. He still has issues. He has a woman in his life who he's trying to make happy, real problems to consider like trying to start a family, and adult crap to take care of like jobs and promotions and hiring of new employees.

And the book doesn't pull any punches when it comes to explaining what it takes to make it all work, human or vampire. The relationships are full and lived in in just about every regard. Joe and Chloe work through being a couple and trying to start a family in the most realistic manner possible. Even Joe's family feels more alive and rounded out than they had in the first book much to my pleasant surprise.

Where the book thrives is when it is examining not just family or love relationships but the depths of friendship, how far you'll go and what you'll do to protect that friendship even if the other person isn't willing to. This book is a testament to how limitless a good friendship can be and if its right, could morph into a brotherhood with ties that never break no matter how hard and long they are tested. The Hube/Joe relationship that was tested in the first book gets center stage in this book, as it should. Also, the roles between the two have been reversed in this one. Hube was the emotional anchor Joe needed when he was floating out to sea. In this one, Joe had to be the beacon of light Hube used to find his way home in the dark, which had mixed to results to say the very least. To see the roles reversed and the friendship changed and reshaped is where the real strength of the book can be found.

The only downside to this book for me is that two of my favorite characters didn't get the airtime I feel they deserved. Louise, ever Joe's compass didn't have much to do in this book. Sure the parts I did get to enjoy were pure Louise through and through,  but I didn't get as much time to sit with her and enjoy her as I did in the first book. I'd say Bo, the computer guru/furniture builder extraordinaire/awesome redneck also suffered the same fate of playing second fiddle as Louise did. For the first half of the book, he only mentioned and the second half only gave him a few scene, one was very serious and the other was the most somber and sad. I  need my Bo to be sarcastic and a smart ass and I needed more of him damnit.

But those are only minor complaints and not ones worth remedying anyway. I think if there had been more emphasis on these two, it would have been at the expense of Joe's relationships to Chloe and Hube, so I'll allow it. But Steven, if your listening, give Bo and Louise more to do in the next one. Perhaps have them put together a podcast called the Louise and Bo Show? That way comedy genius lies! Come on Steven, what do you say? (Now I'm tempted to write a fanfic piece in which Bo and Louise to do just that.)

To sum up, Joe Vampire: Afterlife is a fun continuation in the Joe Vampire series and well worth the read. A-

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Sometimes, you witness something so stunning your mind can't fully process what it is that you just saw. Two days after the performance of Alonzo King LINES Ballet at the Bankhead Theatre, and I'm still having trouble putting into words what I saw, heard, and felt.

First let's start with what I heard which might have been some of the most aurally complex, moving, disturbing, grabbing pieces of music I've ever heard. There was not a merch booth at this performance, but if there was, I would've gone straight up to it during the intermission on bought every single piece of music they had available. It's strange and enticing but it also keeps you at a distance, just complex enough to be affecting.  But the interesting part of these performances wasn't just the music but the silences. Sometimes the dancers would dance in the silence between pieces and that silence made the movement and the music that followed that much more compelling.

And the performances: Oh God, the exquisite beautiful performance. Each one of those dancers was a marvel of the human body's capability to move. I saw such lines and movements in these pieces that I never knew the human body was allowed to make, let alone  allowed to do over and over again to make new and unusual and complex shapes. This ballet above all else was about the limitlessness of the human body, because the dancers had to be limitless to meet the demands of this piece.

And that probably wasn't the intention, but that's what strikes me most about what I witnessed.

But that it not to diminish some of the themes and ideas behind the choreography. Because there was so much at play, at least in my mind. There was this awesome piece where a dancer is dancing in the foreground but three or four dancers are slowly making their way from one side of the stage to the other and one dancer is being held at the legs as she wheelbarrows her way to the other side. She fights and struggles against the person helping her/holding her back and it was as profound a piece of choreography as what the dancer in the foreground was doing. 

And that wasn't the only time that this idea came back to me as one of the themes of the piece. There was this profound moving piece at the end of the first act that I can only describe as what would happen if Mia Micheal's Addiction piece married Travis Wall's Fix You dance and the two had a meandering child. The piece focused on a woman and there were four male dancers around her the whole time and much of the piece was spent in an odd tug of war. They'd help in one sweeping move and then hold her back in the next and she in turn would caress them in one movement and fight against them the next and it was so damned beautiful that I had to watch the whole thing through streaming tears. I gasped more times in that piece than I've gasped at anything in my life, and yes, I did just watch the last episode of Breaking Bad. I still stand behind that statement.

But that's not to say that some of the pieces don't get muddled. There was a piece involving paper in about the middle of the second act that felt muddled to me, or that the point was so clear as to be contrived. I felt as if the paper one dancer was throwing about probably symbolized money and he was trying to throw it around to gain leverage on the lead girl/the other dancers in the piece and about halfway through it worked, but then the girl rises above it, and in the end, the dancer is left collecting all the discarded paper around him and just something about it, the obviousness of it, left me cold.

But that was pretty much the only low spot, and it wasn't every low at all. Overall, this was incredible, and if you get the chance to see them perform in any way, shape or form, do it. Do it in a heartbeat. A-

Monday, September 09, 2013

Breaking Bad Reviews: Rabid Dog and To'hajiilee

Okay, so last week got away from and I didn't do a review for the Rabid Dog episode so I thought I'd review both episodes, but I'm not sure I'm even capable of that because that episode ending left me reeling so freaking much that I might not be in any sort of shape to be coherent.

I will say that this show's heating things up to slow things down again only to rev them up even more this season might be a master class in suspense and tension. I mean, this show is a chess board and when Jesse went to light Walt's house on fire, I thought, finally somebody is making a play for the queen. But then Hank talked Jesse down and that sweeping move, other than getting gasoline soaked into the subflooring,didn't do anything but get Skylar's momma bear claws out. And this week, I thought was just going to be more chess board pieces moving around. Walt was looking for Jesse, Jesse was looking for Walt's money, Todd and his crazy racist, sexist family were looking for a better batch of meth, Lydia was looking for a better batch of meth, and it would just a lot of small moves with probably not a lot of payoff this episode.

Boy was I ever wrong.

That showdown in the desert builds and builds into the most gut-wrenching, breath-taking violent masterpiece I've ever seen. It was so carefully and beautifully orchestrated too. It wasn't just the violence, but the way it came around. I haven't seen dances that well choreographed. I also haven't witnessed a piece of TV that has left me that breathless for that long. Even my friends on twitter were like 'can't breath' and 'my heart is going so fast'. It was insane.

And the really intriguing part is that we won't know where the chess pieces really are until the dust settles. I'd like to make a 'Oh Gomez, for we hardly knew ye' or 'Go with God, Uncle Hank, RIP' statement here, the way they left it, but I'm not even sure of that much yet. I do know that I think Pinkman had enough sense of self preservation and I don't need to make a 'Yeah Bitch, Rest In Peace" joke but I don't know that even. Damn you show.

Rabid Dog gets a B+ but that's only because To'hajiilee Is getting an A for the epicness of that last scene.

Trifecta Challenge: Mask

“I look ridiculous,” Greta said. There wasn’t a mirror in the NICU washroom, but she didn’t need one. She affixed the surgical mask over her face as Jonathan made tiny adjustments to the infectious diseases suit she was forced to wear. She gingerly returned to her wheelchair, the effort of scrubbing up and dressing taking way too much out of her.

“It’s either this or you wait until your infection is gone to see her.” Jonathan shrugged. Greta knew he was far too exhausted to be sympathetic with her nerves, but she was too exhausted to try and keep her frayed emotions from surfacing.

“I didn’t come all this way…” she trailed off, trying to keep the tears at bay.

“I know,” Jonathan patted her shoulder. It’s how it had always been with them, him calming her with just a gesture and a couple of words. “Shall we?” He asked, beginning to push her wheelchair into the NICU.

She nodded silently, nervously taking in the scene. Two rows of incubators and cribs housing tiny fragile beings sprawled on either side of her as they made their way to her daughter’s incubator. It was a flurry of organized chaos with nurses and doctors hovering all around. She watched as some parents held their children, cords and IV lines dangling while others hovered over incubator shells, some putting hands into the incubator just to hold their babies tiny fragile arms, others not even afforded that luxury.

 “There she is.” Jonathan said, beaming as their little girl squirmed within her incubator. Tears broke free from her eyes as she saw her daughter for the third time in six days. Her daughter’s beauty coupled with her fragile state was too much to bear.

“She’s incredible,” Greta cried out.

“Yeah she is,” Jonathan smiled tiredly.

They all are, Greta thought to herself as she looked out over the sea of fragile babies and sent them all her love. 


The above story was for Trifecta's Mask Challenge

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Trifecta Challenge: Grace

The Namesake

They named me wrong. They named my sister wrong for that matter. Giving us middle names that they hoped would imbue certain qualities on us was maybe not the best idea my parents have ever had. Olivia Grace and Spencer Joy. I’m built more like a linebacker and less like a ballerina and if you’ve ever seen me on the soccer field you’d know there is nothing graceful about me. Maybe it should have been Olivia Strength, or Olivia Brute Force.

And when it comes to Spencer, well there hasn’t been much to be joyful about. If they wanted her to be joyful, maybe they shouldn’t have left. When we realized we were going to Grandpa’s ranch, there was joy within her, within us both, but when we realized we’d be staying, indefinitely and we didn’t know when we’d see them again; joy became the furthest thing from her mind.

I keep telling her it’s no big deal, that we’ll hear from them soon. But the longer time goes on, the less I’m sure. This has happened before, them leaving for big chunks of time without a trace, only Spencer was much younger.

If mom and dad stay within their line of work, it’s bound to happen again. That is, if they are still alive.

It’s not easy being the children of spies. At least I’m a little easier with it now. Spencer will come around in time, if there’s another time to come around to.

For now, I’m content with taking care of Spencer, being a force to be reckoned with on the soccer field, and hiding the family secret. Hopefully I can do all of that while still living up to my namesake, and providing Spencer with a little of her own namesake.

Until they come home, I’ll protect the locket and the secrets hiding within that my mother left me.  

The above story was for this week's Trifecta challenge regarding the word Grace. It's 313 words.