May 21, 2007
The Status of Things Today
Am currently attempting to get a second, part-time, summer job. Am hoping that Borders will call me back this week... at least that way I'd get a discount in regards to my habit (aka buying books). Speaking of...

Currently am reading Kushiel's Dart, by Jacqueline Carey, which is pretty good thus far. I'll be reviewing it more fully on The Hathor Leagacy when I finish it. It's an epic of sorts along the lines of George R.R. Martin or Tolkien (though to a much lesser degree than the venerated J.R.R.). The world building contained between the covers of this book is quite extensive and is based, in part, on Jewish mythology and feudal society Europe. The main character is a courtesan who has a special "gift"--pleasure and pain are entwined, which is embodied by the sadomasochism she participates in. Highly recommended read.

Have decided that turning 28, having no full-time job security, and being single--while infinitely frightening--is o.k. Recently tried explaining this to one of my not-so-single friends and they responded with a look that was equal parts pity and horror. To her, and others, I would say: Seriously, it's o.k. The world will not end because a single person ranges free on these continental United States.

Am approximately 3,200 words into my story. Have made one major and some minor modifications and am interested to see how they play out. Am also working on a short story about a graffiti artist. It isn't going as well, but I will continue to plug away at it.

This is scattered. Am having a scattered day.

posted by Tina at 4:29 PM
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May 18, 2007
Pan's Labrynth
Just finished watching this movie and I am... emotionally drained.

Everything about this movie is amazing.

Let me say that again: Everything about this movie is amazing. Visually stunning special effects, fantastic actors (especially the girl who play Ofelia), and such a finely wrought story!

Pan's Labyrinth is set in the waning days of WWII Spain. A contingent of Spanish soldiers has been deployed to some remote part of the country to seek out and eradicate the rebels hiding there. The cruel Captain's new wife, heavy with child, and her daughter from her first marriage travel to the countryside to be with him. The story focuses on Ofelia, the bookish and sensitive step-daughter.

From there, it is a story-within-a-story. One the one hand, there is the "real life" story of the struggle to survive a brutal time in a brutal place underneath the thumb of tyrant. The writers ran the risk of making the Captain a one dimensional character, yet there are moments that cancel out this risk. He is a man who is perhaps living up to the legend that is his own father, the General, and yearns for a son to carry on his family name. He is obsessive to the point of being compulsive--he shaves daily, checks time incessantly, etc.--and one can't help but wonder if he's a product of his environment.

The counter story is one of pure fantasy. The daughter of the King of the Underworld leaves the kingdom one day, enters the light of the world above and forgets who she is. Ofelia is convinced, through a meeting with a faun (aka Pan) that she is this long lost Princess. Through a series of tasks she must prove her worth as the Princess. These stories often juxtapose with the action in the "real world" and the two worlds essentially collide at the end in a bittersweet manner.

I think that perhaps one of the most important messages of the movie is right on this poster: Innocence has a power evil cannot imagine. Ofelia is innocent and she's living during an especially evil point in history. Her belief in something as pure as love. There's also a really strong message about the power of words. Ofelia reads... a lot. And she lives, in a sense, in a world that is created from what she has read. There's also a really powerful scene where her mother tells her to call the Captain her father, reminding her that it is only a word. This clearly is not the case as she identifies with a storybook character and embarks on a mythical journey to return to her real father. At another point, the Captain interrogates a captured rebel and gives this whole big speech about how torture is the only method by which the rebel can "convince" him that his confession is true. And many, many other scenes. Words have power, people, words have power. How you choose to use that power, and to what end, is up to you.

I won't tell you how it ends. I highly recommend you see it yourself. I promise you, you won't regret it.

posted by Tina at 10:52 PM
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May 17, 2007
Thirteen Things About the Story I am Working On

Now that I'm all graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing, I figure I better start working on writing something that will get published and make me money with which to pay off loan debts. Here's a list of some of the elements of the current VERY rough story I'm working on.

  1. It takes place in tail end of the Golden Age of Hollywood (1920s-1940s). During this period, films saw the end of the Silent Era and the introduction of "talkies." This era saw its decline post WWII with the creation of television and the rise of McCarthyism.
  2. One of the major characters is a ghost who isn't aware she's a ghost.
  3. The other major character is a (badly) recovering alcoholic PI.
  4. I would classify the "genre" as noir/suspense.
  5. I have done extensive research for this project in terms of what this era was like. Did you know that this particular time in Hollywood produced some of the most famous and enduring movies of all time? Check it out: Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life, King Kong, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Citizen Kane. Famous faces of the time: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Clark Gable, Vivienne Leigh, Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Kathrine Hepburn, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Judy Garland, Liz Taylor, Dean Martin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Spencer Tracy, and former President Ronald Reagan. Hollywood was even influenced (for perhaps the last time) by famous writers who many studios commissioned and retained as part of their script producing staff (Hemingway and Faulkner pop up frequently). Also, some of the greats in terms of directors included Orson Wells and Frank Capra.
  6. The PI inherits the ghost's dog, a huge slobbery Bull Mastiff. The dog will play a pivotal role in uncovering the murderer.
  7. The dog's name (for now) is Bunny.
  8. The PI got a script he wants to pitch, but the studio exec that hired him will only read it if he uncovers the ghost's killer.
  9. The ghost is a beautiful young starlet with lots of promise.
  10. The ghost can't remember anything before becoming a ghost.
  11. At least one cheesy line, the kind that you find in a black and white film (think, "Here's looking at you kid" from Casablanca), will be used in the story, but only in an ironic manner.
  12. A Jimmy Olsen (from Superman) type character--Jimmy was the kid that took pictures for the Daily Planet--will aid in the crime solving. Only this Jimmy Olson is a girl.
  13. This idea was inspired by movies such as The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and Margaret Atwood's Blind Assassin (which I am currently reading).

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

posted by Tina at 11:01 AM
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May 15, 2007
Gratuitous Cat Picture
Pretty Kitty loves her some sunny window space. Doesn't she have the most beautiful blue eyes, even if they are a little crossed?

Its amazing how far this cat has come. A year or so ago, she'd run under the bed or dresser or what have you, and not come out unless she was starving. Now, she calls for me from the other room, sleeps on the foot of the bed, and jumps up on the couch to sleep next to my hip. It's really quite sweet.

posted by Tina at 9:33 PM
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I'm Published... sort of.
I've been writing over on The Hathor Legacy for about a month now. The Hathor Legacy is a feminist blog that focuses on media (mostly T.V., movies and books). My "handle" is Tinapickles (long story for another post) and I write for the T.V. and book portions of the blog. I've reviewed two books (Neuromancer by William Gibson and Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy) and a few movies/T.V. shows. The blog, and its various authors, attempt to look at how women are portrayed and analyze the affect of the patriarchy.

I love this shit. Women, no matter how "liberated" and "equal" we think we are, just aren't. And I love that there is a space filled with other intelligent like minded women to discuss these issues. I like that we can disagree, and can "argue" intelligently, and that no one judges anyone else. It's comforting.

So... published. Sort of.

posted by Tina at 10:43 AM
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May 14, 2007
On Graduating (for the second time)...or "What I Learned in Graduate Schol"
So it's official... I now (as of May 14th) possess an MFA degree. What the heck I'm going to do with that degree is another story, but its mine all mine!

The ceremony was blissfully short (an hour and forty minutes) and the speakers were... interesting. A fellow grad student presented a speech that is typical of student speeches--look to the future, remember the past, pursuit of happiness and truth, yadda yadda yadda--and frankly was uninspiring and completely ironic soley because the student chosen was from the school of international communication or some such important sounding rubbish and NOT a writer. Apparently, they've never choosen a writer for fear of the sarcastic, exestenialist, anti-authority, feel-good hippy bullshit we are so found of writing. Or so says the scuttlebutt.

Walter Mosley acclaimed novelist of the Easy Rawlings books (such as Devil in a Blue Dress) as well as a memoir and recipient of an Emmy for some work he did with Richard Pryor, was the key note speaker. Dy-no-mite! The man is pure brilliance. I'm hoping that I can access a podcast or whatever of his speech to post here because it is just that inspiring. He basically challenged all of us graduates to let go of our reliance on the past and blaze our own trails. He challenged us to move past the things that bind us and surge forward, and that our destiny is ours and that we should not be so concerned about the things that we perceive as holding us back from claiming our future.

Which lead me to thinking about what it means to be a writer in the age that we live in.

We are not merely creators of fictitious worlds and characters, nor are we static recorders of history. We are, as those before us, storytellers. We are the myth makers, conveyor of events, educator of the people. We are history and pop culture living. We are oral tradition written down. We are the imaginations that inspire real life.

I, for the first time in the barely a year history of this blog, had to censor myself. Suffice to say, I wrote and posted something without thinking about the implications and ramifications of the "published" word. No names were used, but parties took exception to what they perceived as disparaging words. This is not to say that they were wrong in doing so, in fact, I heartily apologized to the offended party for my lack of sensitivity and foresight and sincerely hope that they have truly accepted that apology as my words were not intended as they were perceived. Rather, I realized the extent of the power of words.

I have chosen to pursue a career (because, not matter what you naysayers out there, well, say, writing IS a full time gig) in which not everyone is always going to like or accept what I have to say. There may be instances where they see glimmers and shades people and events within the stories that they feel misrepresent or perhaps too accurately represent themselves. Though this does not excuse me from creating stories in a sensitive manner, it also does not mean that I must (or will) continually second guess what it is I write.

When I am wrong, I am adult and mature enough to take the heat and make an apology. Yet, it becomes a question of integrity in terms of story telling. We learn, as MFA students--and specifically as non-fiction students (which is my "specialty")--that there is a fine line to walk between exposing the truth and telling a story and that the two are not mutually exclusive. A story can not be told for the mere gratuitous telling, to do does not continue the ageless tradition of storytelling. What makes the story viable is the manner in which the writer/teller portrays "characters" and events. To not attempt to explore all sides of a story, to examine what it is to experience this thing we call "human," from a unique perspective of "writer" is to do the craft a serious disservice. Yet, the question remains, does and can a writer run the risk of alienating people closest (or in the near proximity) to them?

The answer is yes. Countless memoirists have done exactly that--written their stories, the very stories that they share with family and friends, and lost those family and friends. Others wait years and years for people they believe will be offended by their story to pass only to be accused of cashing in now that their loved ones can't "defend" themselves. Other writers have published books that are so scandalous that they lose everything, only gaining notoriety after they die. Truthfully, I don't want to be either variety of author. I want to be the kind of author whose friends and family celebrate her career and accomplishment. But on the other hand, I would also like to be published. I'm hoping, that I can be accomplished, published, and loved.

Which brings me back to censorship and the power of words. Words have the power to inspire, hurt, and even kill. Words have the power to incite change, both good and bad, and to convince the masses of right and wrong. Men great and small have been moved by the words of leaders and poets alike.When lawyers build a case, it is not merely the hard, physical evidence that they must consider, but how the words of their closing statement will linger with and move a jury of 12 men and women to either convict or free a man. The NGOs of the world today speak for those that have no voice, and thus their words represent thousand and thousands of faceless masses. Our very country, as powerful as it is, was founded on and continues to be based on a document that consists of words that bind us all together as, ideally, free and equal citizens with unalienable rights. Words, perhaps, are the most powerful weapon on the face of the planet, even more destructive than a weapon of mass destruction.

Even as I write this blog entry, I worry that I may be (re)offending someone. That they may read this and think whatever apologies I have made to them were insincere and false when this is not the case. I would hope that these individuals, or any others for that matter, would attempt to understand that rather what I'm trying to express is the sentiment and idea that writers write, and while they're writing they make every attempt possible to be sensitive to what is and isn't going to affect their readers. Unlike doctors, we don't take any sort of Hippocratic oath to do no harm. Sometimes, I wish we did.

We write the stories, we try to tell the truth or at least a close approximation of it as we interpret our understanding of events/people/place/things/etc., and when we're not writing something strictly truthful (i.e. nonfiction) we're attempting to ground our fictitious stories in the familiar. Some wise instructor (probably a poor writer themselves) once said "We write what we know," even if that story takes place in some improbable world. Writers draw inspiration from everything and anything, and attempt to translate that inspiration into something that is going to amuse and entertain and, if we're really lucky, inform and change some one's life. It's what we do.

I have a choice: I can sit here, afraid of how others will respond, or I can pick up the proverbial pen.

I choose the pen.

posted by Tina at 10:24 PM
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May 06, 2007
I'm Stupid...Really, Really Stupid
Sometimes I'm stupid. Really... really... stupid. Case in point:

Yesterday/last night I went over to a friends house, this particular group of friends includes a guy (we'll call him "Ken") that I've had a "thing" for over a year now. "Ken" is cute and fun and totally thinks I'm a friend and based on last night I'd say not even a good friend at that.

But here's the thing. We flirt... sometimes. I think. Maybe. Or maybe I'm just making things up and reading into things. Anyways, on with the story. I'm thinking yesterday that things are going pretty ok. We're drinking beers and watching James Bond A View to a Kill which I hadn't ever seen. We're enjoying it, I'm being witty and we're making flirty eyes (or at least I think we are) until Ken's roommate's girlfriend decides to invite over her friend (we'll call the friend "Carrie") who dances burlesque with roomie's girlfriend. Apparently Ken has seen Carrie dance a few times--and really, can a girl compete with another girl who shakes all her goodies for the whole world to see--and they think each other mutually "cute." So Carrie comes over and she's nice enough but I got the feeling that she wasn't that into Ken. That, and Ken blew it towards the end of the afternoon when other people came over and he stopped talking to her.

Anywho... fast forward to the evening.

I'm hanging around with the boys, drinking and waiting (hoping) for some one to pick me as a Beirut partner. Then the boys invite the girls next door over. At this point, I was supposed to leave to go to another party but for some asinine reason I decide to stick around and torture myself.

The girls from next door were all right but I completely disappear when they're around. All the sudden I'm the invisible girl... no one wants to be my Beirut partner and when I finally get a partner he DITCHES me saying something to the effect that he "hates" playing games and would rather "talk" to people... meaning he'd rather be flirting with the new girls. *sigh*

So I spent a large part of the night watching Ken flirt, and return flirts, from his partner (we'll call her Rhianna) and get all touchy feely with her. And I continue to become more and more invisible. Until the end of the night when he tells me that even though Rhianna is cute, she's too all over the place to be good girlfriend material. Granted, he was drunk and I'm not convinced that he knew who he was talking to.

Seriously... WTF? I acknowledge that I'm stupid, and probably should have just left when I planned to. And I'm acting like a pretty stupid jealous girl getting upset over both the fact that I was mince meat around my guy friends when new girls walked in the door and the fact I'm getting upset over a boy that doesn't know I "like" him since I have ever made any indication to that affect. But seriously? Seriously. Sometimes I wish I was back in high school and could ask one of my friends to put a note in his locker or something. Other times I wish I was like my drunken college self who had no problem hitting on guys and getting what she wanted from them. I know that both of these options are not viable--the teenage me never knew what to do with a boy once she had them, and the college me did too much with the boy once she got him--but I really, really hate this feeling of being invisible. I hate the questions that run through my mind, "Why doesn't he like me? Am I too sarcastic? Am I pretty enough? If was skinnier, would he like me?" I hate these questions, I hate not feeling worthy, I hate not being noticed. Yet, I don't know how to stop it. I wish I could stop it.

I wish he'd notice me.

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posted by Tina at 11:00 AM
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May 01, 2007
Best Buy...NOT!
This weekend I decided to treat myself. I figured, I was due with the finishing of the thesis and everything. And I decided I was going to buy me a copy of Firefly. I discovered this show after a series of people recommended it to me. I Netflixed it and was instantly hooked. I believe it took me a week and a half to watch the entire series.

So off to Best Buy I went, found a copy momentarily freaked out over the $40 price tag but reminded myself I deserved it. So I plunked down my cash and walked out a satisfied customer.

Or so I thought.

I went over to Target to get some cleaning supplies and by pure chance decided to check out the DVD selection. And what do I see but a copy of Firefly for $17.84. WTF, man! I, naturally, bought this copy of Firefly, marched back over to Best Buy and returned the $40 copy.

(Smiles contentedly) Am enjoying Firefly goodness right this very second...

posted by Tina at 7:29 PM
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