Saturday, 20 August 2016

“Paris was the Place” Book Review



*This post contains spoilers



I enjoy listening to TED talks. I find them informative and the speakers captivate my attention by using a creative way to deliver their speeches. One such TED talk was "The power of story" by the writer/poet Susan Conley.




A few days after listening to Conley’s talk, I was checking out the “Bargain Books” section at Indigo and picked up a book that had an interesting title: Paris was the Place. It was only after reading the story’s description on the book’s jacket that I decided to buy it. Then my eyes caught the author’s name and I laughed at the coincidence. I always search for books by certain authors; never have the books found me.
 
 "Paris was the Place" is full of life.  It's 1989 and the protagonist, Willow Pears, teaches poetry at an academy as well as at an immigration center for girls.  She becomes involved in one of the girls' lives at the center which leads to the question of where the line is drawn when it comes to being a teacher.  At the center, Willow encounters the girl's lawyer, Macon, and they quickly begin a relationship without knowing much about each other.  Meanwhile, Willow is constantly anxious about her brother's wavering health.

“Paris was the Place” is an engaging story that I think fellow writers and poets will enjoy. The narrator has a great way of juxtaposing Paris’s beauty and magic beside the worry and unfairness of reality. I consider this book an excellent reflection of life itself. Willie talks about how bright the sun is after something bad has happened in her life, which is something that I have done.  I found that I could relate to her and her way of thinking.

Since I haven't traveled to many places, I always enjoy a book that describes other cities.  Conley's descriptions were my favorite part of the book: "The train station shadows long banks of dove-gray apartment buildings with wrought-iron balconies and cafés with scalloped awnings. The rain's stopped but not before it froze on the icy sidewalks, and the wind has only picked up. Dark limbs of chestnut tees rock back and forth up near the highest apartments.  And this is a different Paris than even this afternoon. The city changes faces" (Chapter 2, paragraph1). 

Although ‘Paris’ is in the book’s title, a surprising amount of India shows up in the story. Several girls at the immigration center are from India; one of Willow's friends is from India; the food they eat at times is Indian and Willow even goes to India to gather research for a book. Again, I enjoy coincidences; I'm going to be taking an English Literature class focusing on South Asia.
   
I like Conley's writing style and will definitely look for more of her work.



Friday, 1 July 2016

A Thank-You to Noah Wyle

Dear Mr. Wyle,

After having watched the episode, The Librarians and What Lies Beneath the Stones, it made me reflect upon my own family.  We have never been a close family and as I have gotten older, the divide has only widened.  Jacob Stone's search for his identity in the episode reflected my own.  For a long time, I was trapped in my family's world and believed that all they said was truth and internalized their words, which buried my self-confidence and left me feeling like a freak.  

Once out in the world with a job whilst pursuing higher education did I begin to realize parts of my identity that went against the beliefs and expectations of my family, but coincided with others in the world.  It is all the stories that I have consumed that emphasized being true to one's self that have helped me stand my ground.  One of those stories was that of The Librarian.  Before going out into the world, it was only in stories, from books, television and movies, that I found people that I could relate to.  You are the one who gave Flynn Carsen life, in addition to giving me strength and hope.  

I want to thank you for being Flynn Carsen in the movies and for bringing the story back as it was while giving it a new spin.  I also enjoyed your speech for the 2014 Human Rights Campaign.

Sincerely,
The Red Wolf
        

video



Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Girl on the Train (Spoilers)


The Girl on the Train movie will be coming out soon.  For those of you who have yet to read the book, I encourage you to do so.  I prefer fantasy, science fiction and classic mysteries, but this book does have mysterious aspects and twists that you may never see coming.  I'll begin from the beginning.


**In case you didn’t see it the first time: Spoilers Ahead (and the Culprit is Revealed)!

The Girl on the Train has three women narrating: Rachel, Megan and Anna.




  • Rachel - The main narrator and the girl on the train. She rides the train into town on her way to work everyday and passes her old house and street. Rachel notices a man and a woman a couple of doors down from her old house and imagines their perfect life together. Later, Rachel finds out about the woman’s disappearance and because of the fiction she created in her head, she feels obligated to figure out what happened. She was also in the neighborhood the day the woman disappeared and Rachel suspects the man she saw is responsible.
  • Megan - The woman who disappears. We find out that she is married to Scott, but she isn’t happy. Her past haunts her and she has affairs behind Scott’s back. Additionally, she is hired by Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom, to be a babysitter.
  • Anna - “The other woman”. Rachel and Tom lived together on the same street as Megan until Tom cheated on Rachel with Anna. He then kicked Rachel out of their house and married Anna. They live happily with a baby. Because Rachel keeps showing up on their doorstep, Anna becomes a nervous wreck and fears Rachel will harm her and her baby.

Between Rachel’s memory loss, Anna’s fear and paranoia and Megan’s flashbacks, there are quite a few links to connect and confusion to sift through. Rachel showed her Nancy Drew skills when she researched the suspects and interviewed them. That certainly took guts, especially since Rachel thought at one point that Scott was responsible for Megan’s disappearance.

I enjoyed the use of the “unreliable narrator” and how we see things from different points of view. Rachel isn’t even sure of herself of what happens at times because of her blackouts from her excessive drinking. Throughout the book, I wondered why Hawkins didn’t include Tom as a narrator because he played a significant role in the three women’s lives. Of course, I only realized the reason at the end. On the other hand, Hawkins could have had fun with Tom’s narrative by using it as a red herring with double meanings.

It was only halfway through the book when I began suspecting Tom as a liar since he was the common element among the three women in addition to Rachel repeatedly recounting her experiences with Tom when she was drunk and how she never remembered the things he said she had said and done while in her stupor. Authors use repetition intentionally.

The ending to the book was quite frightening because of its realism. Tom tries to kill Rachel when she tries to convince Anna that Tom was having an affair with Megan (and killed her) just as he was having an affair with her when he was with Rachel. Anna is in a state of shock and wants to protect her child so she doesn’t help Rachel fight Tom until the last moment. Tom dies and both Rachel and Anna are questioned by the police, but neither one of them mention that Anna helped Tom die faster.

I think the element that attracted most people to the book was the Hitchcockian beginning reminiscent of Rear Window along with the romance and mystery of being on a train which is reminiscent of films like North by Northwest and The Tourist.

What made me pick up the book was to see why it was so popular. For several weeks, Indigo proudly displayed shelves of The Girl on the Train at the front of the store so I saw it many times. Then, one day, I had forgotten to bring a book with me so I immediately went to Indigo with the book in mind. The cover also appealed to me with its doubled letters and simplicity.

I recommend this book and am planning to see the movie.


 

Monday, 2 May 2016

The Quality of Writing


I found this interview with Paul McGann on YouTube (posted by Morgan Creed) and enjoyed the conversation because McGann discusses quality writing and how so many stories on television focus on "crash-bang-wallop" and CGI effects instead of characters.  It got me thinking about how children don't notice the bad visual and audio effects older shows had until they see them again as teenagers or adults.  This allows children to get more enjoyment out of stories.  On the other hand, it's good that we lose that belief when it comes to the scarier (and sometimes gory) elements of stories.  I remember when my parents were watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I was in grade school and I would shield my eyes from the television screen when I had to cross the room because the creatures were horrific.  A decade or so later, I see them and they are laughable because I can see the actor beneath the make-up and rubber.
  
Although McGann is an actor, he brings up some key points for writers:
  • Look for an alternative when you're contemplating exposition and loaded questions
  • Create characters that sound different from one another in their dialogue and narration
  • Let characters reveal themselves as opposed to other elements of the book (like plot)


 I've seen some of the earlier Doctor Who episodes and I've compared them to the episodes of the 2005 reboot and they are the same in the sense that dialogue and characters dominant the story, which is one of the main reasons why the show has lasted for more than 50 years.


"Sci-Fi is [...] about ideas."
― Paul McGann
 
Whenever The Doctor encounters the villain, they don't share a witty one-liner and then engage in battle or skip the one-liner and go straight to fighting; The Doctor talks.  And talks and talks and talks some more, but this does exactly what McGann says in the interview, "[It gives] writing a chance".  And the audience loves it.  You feel the characters' emotions and get inside their heads.   One word from The Doctor's mouth has more of an impact than "crash-bang-wallop".

Case in point:

 
Video source: authenticgeek247

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Happy Birthday, Alan Rickman

R.I.P

"There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don't expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making. However, for those select few... who possess, the predisposition... I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death." 


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Interview with Katrina on "Why Writing?"


Today, I did an interview with Katrina to find out why she is passionate about writing:

So, what got you into writing?


My secondary-one English teacher was a huge influence for me. The Harry Potter series was another. But I first realized I enjoyed telling stories in elementary school, when our fourth grade class was forced to participate in a storytelling competition. I hated public speaking, but I remember feeling on top of the world when my classmates told me I was actually funny, and voted me to the next round. I refused, of course.
 
What is it about script-writing that attracted you to it?  
 
I think at first it was the fact that TV is dialogue-driven. Not always, of course, but when I was young I watched mostly family sitcoms; so for me, it was the laugh track that sold me. I wanted to be responsible for making a whole audience laugh—and maybe teach a lesson or two in the process.

What is your favorite medium of writing? 

It’s hard to choose between novels and television. They both do two very different things. My goal is to master both!

Do you have a favorite story? 

So many. Too many.
Short story: The Tell-Tale Heart
Movie: Ocean’s Eleven
Book: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
TV Series: Gilmore Girls. No, Friends! I can’t possibly decide.

What makes you continue to write?  What do you find in writing that you can't find anywhere else? 
 
If it weren’t for the encouragement from my professors and mentors and the support from my family and friends, I would have given up on writing in my first year of college. I’m a scatter-y speaker, and my mind is always 10 steps ahead of my words; writing is the only thing that allows me to gather my thoughts. Because of this, it’s the only way I’m comfortable telling stories or bringing an important issue to light. Writing is the only way I can change the world—and isn’t that what we’re all trying to do, each in our way?


Thank you, Katrina, for sharing your love for writing.  We look forward to one day watching a television show or reading a novel written by you!


Follow Katrina (@tortz182) on Twitter!


For the previous post on "Why Writing" with Lia: http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2015/11/guest-blogger-lia-answering-question.html

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Proofreading and Steno!

Examples of Proofreading marks

I've recently been introduced to proofreading marks editors use to (professionally) correct mistakes.  Instead of just crossing every mistake out and writing whole words in the margins to explain what the error is, a symbol is used to save time and space.  

I only knew about the "indent paragraph" mark:

  

and that what was it, but there are many, many more.  As I said, I've just started learning about them so I finding using them a bit muddling.  And long. It's very long using the symbols now instead of simply writing in what the mistake is.  I'm sure I'll get the hang of it soon.

 Some of them remind me of stenography which I came across for the first time in the 7th Nancy Drew computer game: The Haunted Carousel.  In the game, you learn about stenography and how to write with the symbols using this computer program and then that helps you figure out what the crucial word on a document is (see image below).  From what I recall, that program had 10 lessons with exercises on how to write using steno.  It was summer when I played the game and doing homework was the last thing I wanted to do!  But it isn't solely in the environment of the classroom that you learn things and that is one of the major reasons why I love Herinteractive's Nancy Drew games; they make learning fun.


  

Monday, 18 January 2016

Goblin Tunnel Series: Hail to the King (and His Final Moments)



 For those new to The Goblin Tunnels series, click here.


IN MEMORY OF DAVID BOWIE: 1947-2016



The Goblin Tunnels: Hail to the King (and His Final Moments)


            He watched his followers invade the other world.  He waited for the last of them to exit the atrium before he withdrew into the Goblin Tunnels. 
 
            The Goblin King meandered ponderously into the hallway.  His feet were silent against the cold cement floor.  After delivering his speech, his blood was beginning to cool, the heat soaked up by the architecture around him. 
 
            Wires were a major decoration of the Goblin Tunnels.  They snaked the floors, ready to catch the clumsiest of creatures.  In some of the smaller hallways, such as this one, there was an abundance of wires hanging down; a couple of them were looped and camouflaged in this rubber jungle so the few creatures who would blindly run through would be caught by the neck thereby thinning out the herd. 

            The Goblin King pushed aside wire after wire.  He knew the locations of all the traps since he had helped build many of the Goblin Tunnels.  He was also very curious as to how things worked and he liked being several steps ahead of his enemies as well as those who were not his enemies.  The only creature you could trust was yourself.

            The Goblin King ascended the staircase and stood before an immense in-ground pool of light.  Thin wisps of heat were emitted by the lights, encompassing the Goblin King in a warm fog; he felt shivers slithering across his body.  

            Normally, he would have gone with his followers to the human world.  Normally, the Goblin King enjoyed watching what his words caused his devoted creatures to do in the name of fear and havoc.  But on this occasion of the empty Goblin Tunnels, he just wanted to listen to the silence.  As he did, the shadows in the corners seemed to grow and the expanse of the room seemed to gradually shrink.  With his every breath, the Goblin King had the sense that the room wanted to swallow him and for the first time, the Goblin Tunnels reminded him of a tomb.  He hurried out into the hallway, his heart hammering wildly.  Looking back into the room, all was as it should be.

            Continuing down the hallway at a slow pace, the Goblin King took deep breaths.  The path he took twisted and turned.  It was for some time he walked and he would have continued on uninterrupted had it not been for a sudden light appearing in the corner of his eye.  Turning, he knowingly stared at that portal, remembering the shock and fear.  The Goblin King had gone through that portal as a lad.  And through that portal were steam pipes.

            It had only been a few months since the Goblin Tunnels had acquired him, but he had already grown accustom to his new way of life.  The physical and physiological changes had already begun and he had gone through many portals prior to this one.  There had been nothing to worry about; however he was alone this time.  The young Goblin walked through the faint, pulsating light that signalled the existence of a portal and he was immediately hit with a heat wave.  


            "That place was welcoming", recalled the Goblin King, "Until those pipes emitted that...  sound.  That cursèd sound."

            The young Goblin had frozen in panic as the piercing, high-pitched whistle blew.  The familiarity of the sound had shocked his mind and caused him to flee back into the safety of the Goblin Tunnels.  The Goblin King turned abruptly, continuing down the hall for the memory of her voice to return to its grave in the steam pipes.

            He entered a storage room with square shelving built into the walls.  The Goblin King had been exceptionally proud of this project, for who would have thought to organize chaos?  He ran a clawed hand over the glittering green limestone and when he came to a smooth patch, it gave him reason to pause.  The Goblin King now had a clear view of his appearance.  There was that human face of his staring back.  He had never fully turned into a goblin and he never understood why that was, however, he had been accepted despite this abnormality.  After several years had passed, he had earned the title of King for his visionary outlook and his service to the Goblin Tunnels.  

            The Goblin King ran his eyes all over his reflection in wonderment.  He couldn't remember if his eyes had always been two different colors or if his nose had changed shape.  Really, all that the Goblin Tunnels had done to him was exaggerate his own features: a few teeth had transformed into fangs, his finger and toe nails had elongated into claws and the hair on his head and chest had grown three times longer from their original length (whatever that had been).  As he stared at his unchanged face, the question turned round his mind.  As if in defiance, he dragged his claws across his reflection, pleasurably cringing at the sound they made on the stonework before he left the room.

            Up another set of stairs and the Goblin King was at the entrance to his throne room.  With red walls several stories high standing resolutely before him, pride swelled within him.  This was his favorite part of the Goblin Tunnels.  He believed that the entrance represented his essence.  The Goblin King was a sentinel that would lead his creatures out of the Dark Ages and restore the world the humans had destroyed.  As a smirk grew on his face, he entered.

            The throne room matched the height of the entrance with a golden throne standing at the farthest end; this was where he granted an audience with his loyal subjects and where all gathered after venturing into the human world.  He imagined what they would bring back from this particularly passionate attack.  The Goblin King stood at the center of the room, turning his back on his golden throne.  He was lost in revelry as he admired all that he had done since his succession.

            "So this is where you've been all this time."

            The Goblin King's body became rigid.  It was the voice from the steam pipes.  He turned around with dread and saw a young woman sitting on his throne.  She was a woman he remembered all too well; she was a woman he should not have remembered at all.

            "You shouldn't be here!" he impulsively shouted.

            "Is that how you welcome me to your kingdom?" she asked as she rose.  He reluctantly eyed her slender, dark skin as she moved towards him like a tiger in her slinky gold dress.  Emotions he had buried long ago began to crawl out of their graves and take hold of him.

            "No!" he shouted in rebellion.

            She stopped, startled, "But, you promised.  You said you'd be mine forever," she showed him her hand that had a ring on one of her fingers, "You're my love, my Da—"

            He rushed at her and pointed his clawed finger at her neck.

            "That is not my name.  Don't ever say that name.  I am the Goblin King!" he roared.

            "But, Da—"

            He struck her across the face, his claws scratching her eye.  She fell to the tiled floor and clutched her face.  Despite the stabbing pain and blood she felt, the blow had hurt him more.  

            She began to sob.  Without thinking, he knelt down beside her.

            "I'm sorry.  I'm sorry," Hot tears blinded him as he put his arms around her, "I'm so sorry."  

            With his head against hers, he rocked back and forth, "I don't know what I am anymore.  I was of your world, then this world and now... I don't know anymore," his body shook as he tried to keep everything in.

            She raised her bloody hand to his face, mingling his tears with her blood.  Looking up at him, she said, "My darling, you see what this world has done to you, but you don't see that inside, you're still human."

            "I don't know what to do."

            She turned to face him, still encircled by his arms, "Open up your heart to me once more." 

            They were inches from each other.  He could feel the warmth from her body.  The memories were coming back to him, bringing him back to life.

            "You haven't changed," she said with a small smile despite the pain, "Nothing could ever make you change."
            And with that, he pressed his lips to hers with an almost-forgotten passion that overwhelmed him.

*  *  *

            The devoted creatures of the Goblin Tunnels returned victoriously: many were covered in blood, carrying parts to use in the Goblin Tunnels' expansion and others had new, unconscious recruits slung over their shoulders.

            They filed through the portals with cheers on their lips or stories of their moments in battle as they headed towards the Goblin King's golden throne.  After venturing into the human world, it was there they always gathered to bring their stolen goods before his worthy gaze.

            Through this labyrinth of tunnels, they reached his Royal Highness's throne and upon entering were greeted with a shocking sight.  They drew near.  Seated on his throne was the Goblin King, his arms open and laying on the arm rests and his head resting against his motionless chest.  The Goblin King was still in his war uniform, apparently unscathed.  Upon further inspection, one of the creatures cried, "He's bleeding!"

            They opened his jacket and saw a bloody, gaping hole where his heart should have been.  

            "The King is dead!"

            "The King has been killed!" 

            "An intruder!  An intruder!"

            "Find the intruder!"

            Like lightening, the cry spread through the immense crowd of creatures returning from battle.  They scrambled to find the intruder, all the while in disbelief that such a thing had happened.  None of them had bothered to look at the Goblin King's face; although, even if they had, they would never have understood his expression.  The creatures understood very little of the human race.  

            Out into the labyrinth of tunnels they ran and searched and searched and ran, but they would never find the intruder, if there had ever been one.  They would never find his heart either, for although the Goblin Tunnels had claimed the Goblin King's body long ago, they would never have his heart.
 




The Goblin Tunnels original concept by Victor Garibaldi all rights reserved 2013-2016

Photograph by Éric Soucy/FI3200 all rights reserved 

For more of my work, click here.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Goodbye to Alan Rickman



It is with a heavy heart that I must say goodbye to yet another beloved celebrity of mine, Alan Rickman, who has died in the same week as David Bowie, who was also aged 69 and suffering from cancer.  Alan Rickman was a phenomenal actor.  He endeared himself in the hearts of many with his portrayal of the tortured soul of Severus Snape and played the parts of villains but to perfection.

Here is an amateur video I put together years ago.


video



My condolences to his family and friends.
Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman.
Goodnight, sweet Prince.

Monday, 11 January 2016

David Bowie: A Beloved Legend



David Bowie certainly used his life to make a difference and we are all appreciative of that. 

I just heard minutes ago that the one singer I truly love passed away.  My condolences to his family and it is nice that he had the chance to send out one last album before he left.  

For those of you new to this blog, I've blogged about him many times:

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2014/03/as-world-falls-down-wolfina-escapade.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2014/04/as-world-falls-down-wolfina-escapade.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2013/11/david-bowie-and-louis-vuitton.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2013/11/new-david-bowie-video-love-is-lost.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2013/08/lady-gagas-applause.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2013/07/valentines-day.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2013/07/bowies-outside-album-fanfiction.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2013/07/the-death-ache.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2013/07/i-hate-my-singing-voice-david-bowie.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2013/05/david-bowie-is.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2013/04/heathen-god-is-dead.html

http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/2013/01/david-bowie.html

I believe David Bowie was saying goodbye with the release of "Blackstar".  Here's why:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2016/jan/11/was-david-bowie-saying-goodbye-on-blackstar



Monday, 28 December 2015

Meanings of the Elements: Water


Water is a precious resource to everyone.  For writers, it is a symbol that encompasses a tremendous amount of significance.



With mirrors and other reflective objects, water shares several meanings.  It can be used to show what the human eye cannot see, such as a character's true nature or spirits.  When a character gazes into water, this represents reflection of oneself physically, emotionally and mentally.  As with Lewis Carroll's character, Alice, alternate worlds can be entered through mirrors or water.  The same can be said for hidden rooms; in the adventures on Tintin, hidden caves are concealed behind waterfalls.



Water is a cleansing agent associated with purity.  We drink and wash with water to clean our bodies.  Writers often place their characters in showers or outside in the rain to demonstrate that they are cleansing themselves of a mistake or evil deed they have committed.  A famous example is of Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth who struggles to wash her hands of King Duncan's blood.



Viewers of romantic comedies will notice that when a relationship ends or has been damaged, writers once more place their characters in the rain to emphasize their sadness or despair.  It is a more dramatic alternative to making your character simply cry.



Alison Bechdel's comic drama Are You My Mother? is a memoir that focuses on psychology.  The cover features a mirror which illustrates her reflection upon her relationship with her mother.  A little is said about water at the beginning.  Alison has dreams about plunging into water.  This act represents the delving into a new chapter of one's life or a new endeavor.  Her book also states that water is connected to creativity.  In the article "A Shower a Day Keeps the Brain at Play: The Steamy Approach to Creativity," it reveals that "[i]n a study published in Nature Medicine in 2003, Rice and his colleagues found that stimulation of the uppermost cells of the epidermis, as happens during a shower, causes a release of beta- endorphins that act on nerve endings to cause a soothing sensation.  

            "Just the stimulation itself raises the awareness level of the brain," Rice says. "That triggers activity that can lead to something that is a new thought."

            "As we're sleeping, our brain rests and refreshes itself and puts information together that we've been processing from the day before," Rainer says. "While we're in the shower, and we have this little period of time in which we don't have to be busy with something, those ideas can often form themselves into."



Water is connected to both life and death.  We need enough water to survive, but a surplus of water kills either through natural disasters (flooding) or consumption (water intoxication).
As an example, see the following video from 4:16-6:00:


 


Ice is associated to, of course, reflection as well as emotional states such as numbness.  Ice can be a form of beauty, preservation and isolation.  Superman's Fortress of Solitude is a good example of isolation.  Writers put their characters in contact with cold water as a sign of shock or realization.  Having characters on frozen ice is a symbol of impending danger or a foreshadowing of danger and/or death.  Here is Madonna's song called Frozen:



 





Citations:

Keyser, Tom. "A Shower a Day Keeps the Brain at Play: The Steamy Approach to Creativity." National Post: WP16. Feb 03 2007. ProQuest. Web. 28 Dec. 2015 .