Category Archives: Fantasy

Anything, Everything

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Anything is not possible; everything is not possible. We can begin there. If you disagree with those premises, I think you would be part of another conversation, Childhood Myths 101. Just down the hall.

I’ve always enjoyed fantasy though. It doesn’t seem incompatible to me, to disbelieve in the supernatural and also to entertain the possibility of impossible things. Maybe once, a long time ago, more things seemed possible to me. I think that must be true.

Fiction has to be more “believable” now to me in some ways however for me to escape into it. Forex, I’ll go along with time travel, but I won’t accept a character with a posh apartment overlooking Central Park on a waiter’s salary and no other means of support. Nope. I’m hyper-aware of economics in movies now. It really irritates me when writers give their characters homes and cars way out of their apparent budget sans explanation. But it’s fine if they stick a ghost in that same house. No problem.

It’s very trendy now, ever since Gone Girl perhaps, to give us unreliable narrator/s. One of the first times I can recall digging into such a story was as a teenager with Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing. It didn’t hold up as well on a much later re-read, but regardless it set the concept for me that an unreliably told story was something I enjoyed. The reader has to do more work and I don’t mind that at all. A friend mentioned that Hereditary could be viewed in this light, as a story told completely through the eyes of the schizophrenic son with no supernatural elements involved at all. Interesting idea!

One of the criticisms of romance novels is that they’re “formulaic,” but to the romance reader that’s not a bug but a feature. We want to know going in that no matter how bad the odds look for the future of this couple, no matter how much they appear to “hate” each other when they first meet, and no matter how many miles separate them, they will end up together at the end. The pleasure is in watching them navigate all the obstacles set in their path, knowing they will overcome them because they love each other, simple as that (as opposed to real life where people break up over the dumbest things). I don’t enjoy romances when the protags aren’t struggling to be with each other and it’s only a twist of fate which throws them together at the last mo. Unsatisfying!

I think the Jennifer Crusie romance novel Faking It about art forgery/fraud would make a good movie. Someone should get on that.

I sometimes enjoy an action/adventure movie where the protag (or anti-hero) takes crazy risks when I know he’ll prevail. It’s funny how these films aren’t usually dismissed as “formulaic” while romcoms are, maybe because they’re marketed more to men. It’s fine to be formulaic if we’re talking car chases and gunfights! I never hear 007 flicks disparaged like that. Anyway, I like these on occasion, even though we never get to see the ones where a hero takes a risk, fails, and ends up on disability for the rest of his life. There’s a lot of various suspension of disbeliefs necessary in many of the action movies too, such as why the hero never misses with one shot while managing to dodge a hail of bullets from professional assassins, etc.

I’m ready for some good dramas ~ I was telling peeps this last night. The Seagull was good and I want to see a few more on that level or better. Complex, character-driven stories that stick with me for a while. But I don’t know if any of those are coming up in my area. On my list now: Distorted, The Cakemaker, Mamma Mia, Puzzle, The Spy Who Dumped Me. Assuming any of these end up playing conveniently near me, that is. So tired of seeing my local theaters all overloaded with blockbusters on every screen. BORING. Do not want to see dinos, migraine triggery cartoons, or Star Wars #857. Changed my mind on The King, since it’s not actually about him but the 2016 election. Gahhhhhhhh! Talk about a horror movie.

I go to the movies to ESCAPE from that.

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The Story Is Everything

H&M

One of my friends asked about The Wedding on Twitter. She was developing a slight interest but was still perplexed at the intense fascination it held for some people, mostly women a little older than herself. I fall into that group. Now, I’ve not been obsessed with The Wedding itself; in fact, I found the relentless coverage as irritating as anything else the “news” media decides I must have shoved in my face 24/7, whether it’s the KarJenner baby mama drama BS or that horrible man’s lawyers’ lawyers’ lawyers’ lawyers.

However. I loved the story of Diana (and cried at the tragedy). Her story kept me vaguely interested in her children all these years. William and Kate’s story was sweet, but the Meghan Markle story is fascinating. Everything I learn about Meghan is fabulous. She’s a proud and accomplished feminist! She went to Northwestern! She has a rescue beagle! I think she is utterly gorgeous and her mother is gorgeous too. I adored seeing the dresses and silly hats on the royals and celebs at the wedding and after-party. (I didn’t watch the actual ceremony ~ I’m not big on vids.) And the children were adorable! Meghan’s little doggie rode with the Queen, omgawd!

And I clicked on bunches of pics that “proved” Meghan and Harry were in super duper lurve because of all their PDA, which is generally Not Done by royals but they don’t care. They’re so cute and wonderful, proving that soul mates exist in this scary terrible world. It’s the perfect time to be reminded of that. Yes, I have examples of soul mates in my own life, but this is different because it’s a story for the world to witness as one.

This is why people love a fantasy. This is why romance novels outsell every other genre. We want to believe in the love story. We want to believe in magic and romance. We want the fairy tale, the prince and the princess, the horses, the gowns, the flowers, the kiss that lasts a lifetime, all of it.

We want the story.

All or Nothing

 

Hat

I’ve been getting email promos for Renaissance Faire tickets already ~ buy now, months in advance, for a significant discount. I don’t really like to do that because I don’t know which weekend I’ll want to go, or if I’ll feel like going at all. I haven’t even talked about it with friends yet. But I am reminded of when I used to put the RenFaire as an interest on my dating site profile back when and I’d either get men who were completely obsessed with it or who had zero interest whatsoever. It seems that this is the case for so many hobbies ~ all or nothing. There’s no such thing as a mild affection. You must be a total fanatic or absolutely cold. Love or hate. Our hobbies have become as polarized as our politics.

Part of the reason I like the RenFaire is because it’s fun to wear a costume. So, I also enjoy other types of costume parties, but it’s not that big of a deal and if I never go to another one my heart won’t break. But if I do get invited to one sometime, that would be cool too and I’d be all excited about planning the details. Either way is fine.

Years ago I was on OKCupid and began chatting with a man who also enjoyed going to RenFaires, but he was moving somewhere far away like Washington State within the next couple weeks, so I didn’t see any point in meeting him even though we had a lot in common and he was very cute. He thought we should meet anyway, start a long-distance romance, and then I could visit him, yada. Maybe I could move there, or he’d move back.

I passed.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Costume

Twice Upon a Yesterday

Red umbrella

[Warning: this poast will contain extreme spoilers for the above 1998 movie, aka The Man with Rain in His Shoes and If Only, depending on the country.]

When I noticed that Prime was showing Twice Upon a Yesterday starring Lena Headey from Game of Thrones, I decided to watch it even though the storyline didn’t appeal to me that much. I generally don’t go for rom-coms with science fiction elements, but ever since I finished my GOT binge this summer and have been waiting for S8 like everyone else, I’ve been missing Queen Cersei. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see Lena.

TUAY has an interesting take on the concept of do-overs with certain things amenable to change, while others seem inevitable, even if they are reached via an alternate path. Of course, we are not treated to every possible universe in TUAY, only two, and teased with a third at the end. In U1, Victor cheats on Sylvia, confesses, and she dumps him. He tries to win her back before she marries someone else, telling her what an idiot he was, how much he loves her, etc., but he fails at this and ends up in a bar where he’s given a red umbrella. The umbrella is apparently a key to unlock time travel. Victor next encounters two dustmen who give him the chance to do-over his confession, which he does, lying about his affair instead.

In U2, Sylvia is happy because she doesn’t know Victor cheated on her. Victor hurts the woman with whom he cheated on Sylvia by coldly dumping her, but that’s fine ~ we’re supposed to be rooting for the Victor/Sylvia romance. Victor is happy once she’s gone and all is well. Except… Sylvia ends up meeting her lost fiance from U1 anyway. They still fall for each other. Would this happen in every universe? Well, we don’t know. So far, we have two for two. Now, Sylvia cheats on Victor while he remains faithful. Sylvia leaves Victor and they both end up with new loves, but Sylvia’s doesn’t work out and she wants Victor back. She goes a bit insane too.

The movie ends with Sylvia coming into possession of the red umbrella and getting her chance at a do-over. At which point will this one begin? How will things work out in U3 now that Victor seems very much in love with the bookstore girl?

Normally I wouldn’t have enjoyed such a goofy movie, but something really held my attention here and it wasn’t just Lena’s fine acting. Everyone is fab in this film, and the fantastical plot is somehow more intriguing than it seems at first glance. I guess we’ve all indulged in these what-if scenarios, haven’t we? What if I could go back in time and do something over? Where would I start? What would I change?

It’s a fun and hopefully harmless waste of time, ultimately pointless, like fantasizing how to spend our lottery winnings.

My Inner Daenerys

As some of you may know, I’ve been both reading the Game of Thrones books (finished Book 4 yesterday) and also catching up on the HBO episodes (halfway through Season 5, as of this bloggery). Enjoying it very much, though I’m getting a bit burnt out on all the blood and gore. My favorite characters have always been the Lannister siblings and their witty, cutting banter, and also the gorgeous, dramatic Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, which are now grown and uncontrollable. That’s the thing with dragons ~ they’re cute when they’re first born, but then they get huge and hangry. And burny.

I know the show is affecting me a bit, since I’ve been binge-watching, but I didn’t realize to what extent until the otter day. I was very busy at work when a man barged into my suite with a cart of boxes. Hey, he said, I have some steaks for you.

What? Steaks? No one here ordered steaks.

He was jabbering on an earphone thing and writing on a clipboard at the same time, all distracted, or pretending to be. He said to me, hey, my boss said for me to offer you guys these steaks for practically nothing because your friends next door couldn’t take them all. Three bucks and you get this entire box of frozen steaks! It’s like I’m giving them to you for free!

I was so mad. I knew it was just another stupid scam. In the past, I might have called for my coworker to come out of his office to help me, or threatened this guy by telling him I was going to call security. But the night before I had watched Dany demand that Jorah Mormont GTFO of her sight or she’d behead him for spying on her.

I interrupted the steak man in the middle of his sales pitch.

“Please leave,” I said. “Now.

He stared at me for a second and then packed up and left, muttering about how people are usually happy about cheap steaks bla and bla.

I felt good about all that, but too bad I didn’t have a real dragon who could have breathed fire on the steaks and cooked them right there. LUNCH!

Dany

Dissolution

In the beginning, Sea and Terra lived as husband and wife intermixed together on Earth.

Eons passed and Terra grew restless. One day she announced to Sea, “I need my own space.”

Sea didn’t want to separate from Terra, but he didn’t argue. He retreated, at first methodically and then erratically, until Terra decided she had enough room for herself.

“Thank you!” she said. “We’ll both be happier this way.”

Sea didn’t feel happy, but he stayed quiet and watched as Terra flirted with Sun and began to blossom. Tangled jungles grew around her waist, decorated with fragrant flowers of every hue and shape. Insects and winds scattered their seeds. Apple trees grew to the North over Terra’s breasts. Sea watched with amazement as every part of her burst forth with lush vegetation and new creatures. Sun was always around to help nourish the burgeoning greenery.

Sometimes Sun overdid it and the plants died. Then there was only scorched sand for miles and miles with dangerous snakes crawling around the edges. Sea smiled to himself when he saw these barren deserts, for he had a secret. In his shallows, and floating discreetly on his surface, Sea hosted billions of beautiful plants and flowers. Some of them even took nourishment from Sun when Sun wasn’t paying attention. Sea felt no need to announce this to Terra. He found he enjoyed keeping secrets.

After a few million years, she commented, “Sea, I know you’re still sulking. Don’t you think it’s time you moved on? We’re never getting back together because I am madly in love with Sun!”

Sea shrugged and a giant tsunami swept over Terra’s Southern thigh, destroying some of her creatures. This made her very upset and she didn’t talk to Sea again for over ten thousand years. He was not unhappy about that. If they weren’t going to be together, he would rather she leave him alone.

As Terra continued her romance with Sun, and new creatures evolved upon her various surfaces, Sea grew depressed, stopped moving, and ice formed at his poles. He suspected she had always loved Sun and never him. This idea permeated every bit of his being, making him feel colder and colder, and since there was so much of him, this chill began to affect the entire planet.

“I’m freezing!” Terra complained. “All my Northern plants and animals are dying off. Can’t you do something?”

“What do you want me to do?” Sea said.

Terra smiled up at Sun, which made Sea sick. “Fall in love! Then you’ll be happy again.”

“I loved you, Terra,” Sea told her. Waves of his tears splashed over her lands. “There is no one else.”

“Sea, do you know something?” Terra said. “All this time, Moon has been in love with you.”

Moon? Sea slowly lifted his enormous watery eyes to gaze up at the night sky.

There, in a black velvet blanket spangled with stars, glowed Moon. Her eyes were steady orbs, her face a familiar comfort with a small, shy, but unmistakable smile.

Sea shook his mighty head and giant waves rushed across the Western shores.

“Stop!” Terra cried. “You’re so moody! Just be calm. Think about Moon and how lovely she is.”

As requested, Sea calmed, but he did not want to think about Moon. He turned inward and gazed at his favorite coral reef. A graceful pair of pink dolphins captured his attention. He watched them somersault through the turquoise waves on the morning side of the Earth. Whitecaps hissed gently to shore around the islands as diving birds swooped across the sky.

All day Sea’s mind remained blank. He refused to consider Moon, but the bitter jealousy toward Terra and Sun had subsided. He simply observed his water creatures and he felt the ocean reeds sway beneath his undulations. This made him content. As the sky began to darken, he listened to the birds sing, but then he realized Moon would be coming around again.

Sea could have changed his focus to the West, where morning painted the sky, but he remained in his Eastern mind and waited for Moon to fully rise. There she was! He felt her tug at his tides slightly and understood he’d grown so used to this in the eons since he and Terra parted that he had been taking Moon for granted.

“You’ve been a good friend to me, dear Moon,” Sea said. “I should have told you so sooner.”

Moon proffered her shadowy smile. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Sea appreciated her understated cool silvery beauty as a balance to his wild moods. Let Terra have the bold bright beaming Sun; Moon was the perfect counterpart for Sea. He only wished he had seen the truth a billion years ago. Sea’s waves churned with agitation as he fretted that he might have hurt Moon’s feelings.

“Shh,” Moon whispered. “Everything is all right.”

Soothed by Moon’s serenity, Sea unruffled himself for that night and many following. While he didn’t directly express his love toward Moon, nor she toward him, in the blatant ways that Terra and Sun announced their emotions, each night for millennia Sea and Moon cherished each other in quiet reverence.

Sea and Moon.

Moon and Sea.

And so it was.

And so it shall be.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Moody

Blowin’ In The Wind

Last evening after work I headed from my office in Irvine toward a poetry meetup in the city of Orange. I had my navigator on and was listening to oldies tunes in between the directions. Nav was telling me to get on the 55 in some convoluted way, but I’ve learned not to argue with her. Just follow along, like a sheep, baaaa.

As I was driving on Warner, I noticed there was something taped low on the passenger side of my windshield. An ad? Not sure. Usually ads are stuffed under the wiper on the driver’s side to make sure you see them, plus this looked too small to be an ad. I didn’t think it had been there in the morning when I drove to work ~ surely I would have spotted it then. But perhaps not, who knows.

I remembered that the homeless dude who keeps his stuff in one of the storage cabinets at my apartment complex left a note on my car a few weeks ago thanking me for letting him use my cabinet. First, I haven’t “let” anyone do anything; I simply didn’t shriek at him to go away like my neighbor did when she encountered him. I just shrugged when I saw him and got in my car. Second, it’s not my cabinet he’s using. Third, when he left a note, it was on a ripped piece of cardboard sitting on top of my trunk, not something taped to my window. This of course doesn’t preclude a leveling up of note-leaving by said homeless dude, so we can’t rule it out.

I didn’t go out at lunch yesterday, so the note (or whatever) couldn’t have been left from an advertiser in the shopping plaza nearby. If it was from someone like that, s/he would have been sneaking around a private garage during the workday, which is unlikely, but not impossible. Someone who has legit parking privileges could also moonlight as an Avon rep or whatever and be leaving ads on cars in the garage, I guess, though it’s probably against the rules.

Or… it could have been a nastygram from someone who found fault with my driving or parking, sort of a prelude to the guy who yelled at me later in the evening for parking on a street near the poetry place without a permit. I had to get back in my car and repark on a different street. What a pain in the ass that all was, but… pomes!

But my favorite idea is this… imagine that some man has had a crush on me (shaddap! it could happen!)… he sees me in the garage at work from time to time. Maybe he he’s even been in line with me at the cafe for a coffee or lunch. Perhaps he’s held the door for me and I’ve said thank you, but haven’t really noticed him. We may have taken the same elevator together, or possibly he works on a higher floor and uses the other elevator bank. Could be he doesn’t always get to work at the same time every day like I do, but he does know my car now. He decided that the next time he sees me he’s going to say something, but our schedules haven’t meshed for a while. So, he left me a note! It was something cute, witty, with a pic, contact info, whatever, idk. Nothing creepy.

All the above went through my mind in about two seconds and I decided I should pull over and retrieve the note. Because obviously it was from a secret admirer. Right?! Yes, yes. But I was in the left lane, and before I could move to the right and find a place to stop, the note detached and blew away.

The end.

secret-admirer

Since You’ve Been Gone

Stephen King has a short story in Bazaar of Bad Dreams called “Ur,” which is centered around the notion of an experimental Kindle with an extra menu feature that gives access to alternative literary realities. Forex, say you type in a random number… in this world of words Shakespeare lives five more years and writes a couple more plays. You get to buy, download, and read these plays on the new Kindle. It’s addictive, as you might imagine, for you could spend day after day checking random numbers and writers to see if your favorites appear in parallel universes with new works to read.

But it’s also comforting to know that the authors we love will continue writing in their familiar styles in the alternate realities. If we search for Ray Carver, we don’t want to find vampire romances. We want what we expect. Most of us anyway. That’s why when I go to a vegan restaurant and order a lush looking dish of macaroni & cheese I’m invariably disappointed ~ it appears so beautiful and cheesy, but it never tastes as expected. I’m always better off with a salad where the veggies taste the way they’re supposed to.

*

I dream about my mother frequently. This month is nine years since she was diagnosed; next April nine years since she’s been gone. In my dreams, she just goes on as she ever was ~ present, helpful, sometimes annoying. Nothing super dramatic. In the last one, we were at a table with a bunch of other people (I don’t remember who) discussing an arts & crafts project. At one point, I turned to my mother and complained that my pantyhose kept getting runs in them the first time I wore them, sometimes right out of the package. She commiserated. I don’t remember if she had any advice, but it’s almost certain she would have. Because Mom.

This was a comforting dream. Mom was being Mom.

*

In the King story, the protag next discovers that the experimental Kindle feature also has alternative reality newspapers. Some of these are funny, especially King’s election ideas. And then our protag finds his local future newspaper. ~ doo doo doo doo ~

I am highly enjoying Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

A Lurve Pome, More or Less (Mostly Less)

I’m glad I never got to know you–
You thought I lived too far away.
The commute is horrendous:
Orange County to Ellay.
No one wants to do it;
You’d have to be insane.
No one is that desperate,
Certainly not you,
Handsome, successful…
I looked up your schools,
Well, everything really–
You’re quite googleable.

Remember when I wrote to you
On Plenty of Fish
And said I wished
You’d forget your rule
About distance
Just this once?
Of course you don’t!
But you said I was pretty
And a good writer too.
High praise, I thought,
Coming from you,
Even if it was
Polite bullpoop
Just to get rid of me–
Someone in your industry–
And you did not want
To make an enemy.
It was very civilized,
And I hope you’re doing well tonight,
Not that you need good wishes from me
Or anything else
Obviously.

I refuse to get nasty
And slide into snark
About the fifty miles by car,
Even though
People get together, I’ve heard,
From different states and even
Other countries, but then again
They don’t have to merge
Onto the dreaded four-oh-five.
I get it, I really do, my friend;
All’s fair.
You’re a busy guy–
You don’t have time
To make that drive;
Even if I had met you there,
You would have had to do it
Eventually.
You knew that,
And declined
For your peace of mind,
But sweetly,
Unlike the usual crude galoot
Galumphing about these sites.
I soaked up your drops of praise
Like a thirsty desert daisy.
Rejection made sense, and
You’re nothing but logical,
Which I have to respect.
And I do.

But then today
After yet another near-disaster
Of epic proportions
(Is there any other kind?),
And an anxious, sleepless night,
What do I find?
Facebook has bought a clue
To my old stalking of you
And suggested we be friends.
How about that?
Would you like to see
Pictures of my cat?
Perhaps you’d enjoy
My episodic complaints
About parking spaces,
And I could comment on
Your erudite opinion of the day.
We could be lovely friends;
How clever of an algorithm
To match us up
Once again.

I jest of course.
No worries — you’re safe!
Though I was happy to gaze
Upon your kindly face
That Facebook presented:
The gentle smile
And twinkling eyes.
I always thought
You looked kinda hot
In that plain grey tee–
Arms crossed,
Not showing off, but…
Anyway, what is it now,
A decade old?
I’ve seen a current photo
With less hair
And more flesh,
But still appealing
Nevertheless,
On your company site,
Where I just happened to click
After googling because
Everyone else is so awful.
And you know what?
You’re probably awful too.
Despite the nice rejection,
I know this, or suspect.
You’re likely not insane
Like the guy last night
And most of the others
I somehow attract
Like flypaper for freaks
(As a friend fondly puts it),
But you would not have
Enough time for me,
Mr. Busy Guy,
Guaranteed.
And it would
Ultimately
Break my heart.
How do I know
In advance?
Trust me, I do:
I have had this dance.

So, I am glad
I do not live in Ellay,
Or you behind the curtain;
It’s better this way.
Better to think of you:
Handsome, aloof,
Successful and kind.
And if you remembered me
(Which of course you do not),
You’d say ah the pretty one,
Yes, I thought she could write,
Has she sold a screenplay?
HAH!
Sold a screenplay?!
I’m dying!
We’d clink our glasses
And we’d laugh.
I’m sure you have a wonderful laugh,
Never mocking, not sarcastic,
No “New York sense of humor”–
Code for being an asshole,
Not you.
You would be… a nice guy.
That sounds boring.
Who says this anymore?
A nice guy, pffft!
You probably wouldn’t be one
In reality,
Or I would break you bad
Like I apparently do to all men
Over and over again.
Yet in my dreams,
You will remain
That sweet guy who
Said I was pretty and could write,
The nicest guy I never met:
You.

Not So Purrfect

OK, so in my continuing mission to read various sub-genres of romance novels, and blab about them to y’all, I recently finished an adult shape-shifter story. If you recall (and why wouldn’t you?), I previously reviewed a young adult dragon shifter story and to my surprise enjoyed it quite a bit.

Not so the case with Her Purrfect Match by Milly Taiden. Gawd, what a pile of dreckage. Where to begin?

1. Loads of errors. I realize that we can’t all afford an editing service, but geez it’s awfully distracting to have screw-ups throughout. (Plus Taiden is a very popular Amazon author, with 363 reviews on HPM alone, so you would think… )

2. No attempt at explaining how the tiger-peeps came to exist or how they shape-shift, what it feels like to the shifter, how an observer experiences it, etc. In the dragon story, I felt the wings stretching under the skin and the emotional conflict associated with shifting. Here? Nothing. Just bam, he’s a tiger now.

3. There was nothing “tigery” or even weird about the guy when human. He was simply an Alpha male who liked a lot of hot sex in the usual ways. So, why bother with tigerness at all?

4. Author uses tigerness as a lame excuse for the usual noncommittal sex men like to engage in, with the only twist that Tigerman needs to reproduce because enemies, or whatever thing. Again, there is no reason for him to be part tiger. He is just an ordinary jerk, until of course he is REFORMED BY LURVE.

5. The heroine is annoyingly insecure about her “curves” and also super-dumb in much of the book. Forex, she doesn’t catch on that she actually stumbled onto the man she’d been shifter-matched up with even after he keeps giving tiger cues. I wanted to smack her. Duh! It’s him! The guy! TIGER DUDE.Ugh.

So, while I am a tiny bit curious about the heroine’s friend who gets matched with two wolf-shifters, I think I’ll pass.

(TWO WOLVES! Polywolfism. Is that a thing?)

Tiger snadwich