Friday, April 22, 2011

greetings from new england.

Once, in the sleepy island town of Nantucket, Massachusetts, there lived (temporarily) a girl of 25 who did not entirely know what to do with her life. Retail was getting her down, and vacation was making her antsy. She had spent nearly a month weary with both. Uh, she thought, I probably shouldn't complain. Luckily for her (but not so luckily for her pocketbook), she had discovered a lovely, independent bookstore, only two blocks from her room at the lodge.

The girl's husband was less fond of this proximity. "Aren't you ready to leave, yet?" he'd had to ask, multiple times, on both visits. The answer had been no, of course. But, he'd let her roam for so long already, and done so well (2:45:58) in the race that brought them to New England in the first place, that it seemed unfair for her to dig her heels into the floor, tempting as it was. Graciously, he did let her buy the handful of things that had stolen her heart. To rephrase: she was going to buy those things regardless. Her husband was gracious about it. "But next time," he added, "we're setting a souvenir budget."

That evening, while her husband slept off his prime rib and beer (men), the girl redid the look of her blog, and then wrote about herself in the third person. It wasn't quite as delightful as buying new books, or fantasizing about quitting her day job (and forgoing all future day jobs) to be a successful novelist and actress, but it would suffice until then. She hoped.

The girl found this photo on the internet. It is, surprisingly,
the exact view she'd had while eating lunch the day before.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

the human slush pile.

Code title for the Hunger Games...
to keep the fans at bay?
I'm pretty sure the word's out by now.
I learned a few things at the Cleveland Mall in Shelby, North Carolina, yesterday morning. As a writer, and a blogger, I've been trying to find ways to relate everything back to what I consider "pertinent." And you know what? Trying out to be an extra in the Hunger Games really did feel like being added to slush. All I had was myself, my spunk, my unusual eyes, my interesting face (I hope?), and that funny patch on my eyebrow.

I'm not entirely sure what I expected, but the whole process was infinitely simpler than I'd imagined. I got there unnecessarily early, my casting sheet, resume and photo (a cropped version of the second one) in hand. I'm talking 8:15 early. We were expecting a LOT of people to be there by then. Instead, we were almost first in line. I may have been the 20th or 25th.

I sat on the mall carpet for an hour and 45 minutes, chatting with a friend from college. Right before 10 AM, one of the casting folks stood on a chair at the long table and waved his arms to get everyone's attention. He said something like, "So, who wants to be in a movie?!" Everyone cheered. The line moved so quickly after that, I was at the front within seconds.

Of course, as with everything I do, I messed it up. I had stapled my papers together incorrectly. It was the end of the world, I know. But that was easily fixed, and then I answered all the questions in the most confident way I could. That's all I really had to do, answer questions. "Yes, I live in Tennessee, but it's only three hours from here (totally doable).Yes, I will be available if I say I'm going to be available." Things of that nature. I got one of those mysterious "A"s scrawled in red ink on my sheet. Then I put my info in the appropriate tray and, again, surprisingly quickly, regrouped with the folks I'd come with. The first thing I heard someone say was, "Well, that was easy."

As we walked into the parking lot, a fellow hopeful asked, "What time is it, anyway?"

The time, my friends, was 10:01.

I had my face in the bin within the first MINUTE of the first casting call. I was the, let's say, 27th person-- out the possible, what? 9,000 that might go out for it, total? It was so quick and easy and yet entirely nerve wracking. I was so mad at myself for forgetting to staple my resume to the back of the other sheet facing out (duh!). It saddened me that the guy I talked to mentioned how I might live too far away (Not true, I say! Not true!), but that they'd still call if they needed me, maybe...

I felt a little like I hadn't really done it at all.

I was almost tempted to go back in and get it right.

Confession: I'm nervous. All I have going for me is that I was there. Maybe they'll notice that I have a ring of brown and a ring of green in my eyes, maybe they'll like the awkward shape of that one section of that one eyebrow, maybe they'll find something intriguing about my bone structure. These are really the only merits I can bring to the table. It's all I have, in this sort of situation. I have no other chances to show how easy to work with I am, how professional I am, how dedicated, or how freaking glamorous I might look in Capitol wardrobe.

And since I was almost first out of thousands, I am at the bottom bottom bottom of that pile. Will they ever find me?

I like to think that if they need me, they will. But it makes me wonder, does it even matter how good or not good I am? Does it matter that I have I degree in theatre? [Duh, no.] Am I too irrevocably tucked into the back corner? Does it ever matter?

Ah well. Nothing I can do now but wait. And, hopefully, get on with my life. I still have a novel to finish, you know.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

that thing this weekend.

Answer time! The boy who voiced Markl in the English dubbed version of Howl is none other than Josh Hutcherson, of course. I don't know why I haven't gloated about this sooner, but yeah. Total happy dance when I found out he got the part in the Hunger Games. Remember the ridiculous picture from that one post, which I made by cutting and pasting Hunter Parrish's hair onto his head?

Well. Guess it's not so ridiculous after all. As long as he doesn't actually look like a thrown-together, giggle-inducing Gimp project in the real thing (you would have giggled, too; when we first added the hair, it looked like a furry, lopsided helmet).

Anyway, onto other things. And by "other" things, I really just mean more Hunger Games things. I do apologize to anyone reading this who would like for me to stop talking about it, as I once foolhardily said I would do (uh, I had my fingers crossed?). Because... there's something going on this weekend. Something I always promised myself I would try for the very next chance I got. And here it is, my very next chance, and so I'm going for it.

It just happens to be for the Hunger Games (codename: "Artemis")

There's an open casting call for extras in Shelby, NC on Saturday, and in Concord, NC on Sunday. Do you know how weak in the knees I was anyway, after hearing this was going to be filmed so close to where I currently live? Compound that with learning that I would have a chance to be involved... this just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? [You may want to look away. This is about to get messy.] First, I fall in love (weird, violent, depressing love) with the books (that was the easiest part), then a girl I used to know gets cast as Katniss (still not over that), then the boy I'd been rooting for the whole time gets Peeta (woohoo, vindication), then I find out it's being filmed a mere two-to-three hours from me, then I see the casting call... !!!!


Okay. Now that I've gotten that out of my system... want to see the pictures I'm debating between for current snapshots? And yes, they are current. Like, yesterday current.

Oh my. It takes a certain kind of vanity to post pictures of yourself on your blog, and then ask your readers to pick which one they like best... (please?)

Well, now that y'all know about my secret (or not so secret) propensity to geek out over things, I hope we can still be friends. If any of you are in the general NC region, please come and join me! And, in case you couldn't guess, no matter what I say (or what happens on Saturday), I will probably not stop talking about the Hunger Games for a long, long time.

Brace yourselves.

movie vs. book smackdown: for once, it's a tie.

Wow, so, who's been a bad blogger? *shyly raises hand*

Over a week ago, I promised that I would talk about the differences between Howl's Moving Castle as a book and as a movie. And, to be honest, the idea has been daunting me since I promised it (I've also been traveling and working the whole time, so, you know). The truth is... I'm flummoxed.* I rarely experience this, where I love both the original book, and the movie that was spawned from it, equally, but for vastly different reasons. Because, no, they are not the same. I was surprised at some of the things I discovered in the book that weren't used in the classic, sweeping, gorgeous Miyazaki film, which has been a favorite of mine for years. Maybe that's the cure: fall in love with the movie before you're even aware the book exists.

I'm going to try to shed some light on the differences, here, but it might get a tad spoilery. If you'd rather find out for yourself, I completely understand. But some things were very interesting, and it would be a shame not to work through them.

If you love the movie, like I do, here are some things you might wish were in the book, but aren't:
> Howl as a war hero/shapeshifter. I know! I thought this was so integral to his character. Turns out, in the book, Howl is even sillier, and even more interested in flirting. If you can believe that. He still proves himself in the end, though, so don't worry.
> Sophie's early feelings for Howl. It is very thickly cloaked in the book. Also, there are no lucid moments where she is young-ish again, like in the movie. I missed that so much.
> The ENTIRE dynamic with The Witch of the Waste. I was on pins and needles reading the book, waiting for some insight into how that relationship came about in the movie, but it never happened.
I miss you so much, dream sequence.
> The end, with Sophie's hair and the pail of water and the cliffside and the scarecrow and all that. Most of the same basic things happened (minus Sophie feeding Calcifer her hair, which made me so sad, it being one of my favorite parts of the movie), but it was, I don't know. Lighter. Like the end of a Shakespeare comedy.
> The dream sequence with the tunnel and the trinkets and Howl and black feathers... oh. I was so sad that this wasn't in the book.

If you love the book (also like I do), here are some things you might wish Miyazaki had left alone:
> Sohpie's sisters. There's only Lettie, and she isn't the most integral of characters. There's not any indication that she's even met Howl! Or Michael! Oh, right, because...
> Michael Fisher. Oh, I know. What a little charmer. He may have been my favorite character in the book, but in the movie, he's... not the same at all. Somehow,  Howl's 15-year-old apprentice became a backstory-less eight-year-old named Markl.** And that makes me wonder, is Markl an odd Japanese transliteration of the name Michael? Hmm?
> Howl's backstory. Sadly sadly sadly, there is no jacket that reads, "WELSH RUGBY," even though that was one of my favorite parts of the book.
> The whole Wizard Suliman/Prince Justin thing. Warning: the prince is SO minor, you hardly even know he's an issue, and Wizard Suliman is not missing at all, but a woman (hey-oh, that was a major change) who advises the king. She is the one Sophie climbs all those steps to see. Weird, huh?

My advice for anyone who's been in love with the movie for years, but is hesitant to read the book: do it anyway. It's excellent and fun and beautifully written. It's a different version of the story you already love. There will be new things to enjoy, like seven-league boots, a fiercer-looking Calcifer, a mysterious place called... well, I won't spoil that one.

My advice for anyone who's read the book but hasn't seen the movie: see it. It's excellent and fun and breathtakingly animated. Make sure you watch it in Japanese with subtitles, because that's the way you watch Miyazaki. It's a different version of the story you already love. *smile* There will be new things to enjoy, like flying machines and Howl as a winged, feathered warrior. Just forget what you thought you knew about Diana Wynne Jones' fabulous novel. Hayao Miyazaki definitely puts his own spin to the story. But! What's great about it, is that all the differences (yes, there are still more) make it so uniquely his, and if you are fan of Miyazaki's other works, you know how unique his touches are. It's a testament to Miyazaki and his storytelling that he can almost entirely remake a beloved work, and have it become a new, separate beloved work.

And you will all be glad to know that some things do stay the same. Namely, temper tantrums and green slime. Baha.

*I'm not terribly flummoxed, obviously. I just really wanted to use that word.
** Guess who voiced Markl in the English-dubbed version of the movie? (Answer to be revealed in the next post, which I will probably write immediately instead of going to bed. Ha.)

Extra HMC tidbit: Legos?

And, uh, sorry if you haven't read this book OR seen the movie. I guess it goes without saying that I highly recommend you do both. For once, it's a tie.

How's about a little exit music? This is incredible:

Monday, April 4, 2011

the most inspired i've ever been while surrounded by sponges and listening to the cupid shuffle. or, city museum, part two!

Oh, yes, the Cupid Shuffle blared from the next room as the Hoboken Duschene* prom drew to a close. Without my contacts, it took me several steps before I saw that these were sponges, not blocks, and I knew we would be here for a while. A minute later, I heard this mysterious child:

(hereafter referred to as Future Architect)
   say these incredible things to his dad (and I paraphrase):
Future Architect: I've never felt this way before about anything.
Dad: What's that buddy?
Future Architect: I can make whatever I want. There are so many possibilities!

I melted. There was joy involved. 
Joshua started building his tower.

I went over to revel.

I was so excited about what the kid had said, I asked Joshua to take a picture of me with the sponges.**
He obliged.

Oh, the possibilities!

I was really, really happy.
Joshua's tower turned out pretty cool, too.

Note the Future Architect's masterpiece in the background,
and his little sister, actin' a fool.

And I took an artsy-fartsy picture of myself:

All in all, it was one of my better Cupid Shuffle experiences.

*not the real high school's name, but close enough.
** I actually flubbed and said, "Will you take my picture with the possibilities?" And he looked at me like I was nuts and said, "What?" before I clarified that I meant the sponges.

P.s. I am so sorry if I got the Cupid Shuffle stuck in your head. If it's any consolation, I did it to myself, too.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

this one's going to be a rambler, featuring sponge art and snow.

Since I last posted, I've changed states. And timezones. Not permanently, of course, just for a few days. We cannot let a winter pass without skiing in Colorado, it would seem. And by we, I mean my husband. It's okay, he has an excuse: he actually enjoys it and has copious amounts of skill. I, on the other hand, am only so-so, and cannot ski with a clear conscience unless the slope is labeled green or (maaaaybe) blue, and there are NO other people around. It will still make my knees hurt. It will still make me want to throw up when I start going too fast. I am not the best at skiing, even though I've been doing it for half my life.

The view. Blustery, no?
Don't get me wrong, when all those requirements are met, or I am somehow able to trick myself into believing they are met, I do have a good time. I'm not skiing today, so Joshua can go do all his double black diamonds and junk, but I am determined to ski tomorrow. Determined! We didn't drive halfway across the continent for me to sit and read and blog and write the whole time. Then again, these are my only days off before another caffeine-slinging round of eight-days-in-a-row at work, followed by ANOTHER long trip, so I'm allowing myself a little free time. Is that so bad?

I digress. The best part about coming out here is the road trip. I am a sucker for a road trip, but maybe that's just because I'm so lazy. I love the excuse to read and listen to music, write a little, nap, maybe burn through an audiobook. Fun fun fun. As long as I'm not driving. Then, it's just driving.Yesterday, between Kansas City and Denver, we listened to all of Girl, 15, Charming But Insane, by Sue Limb, and it was delightful. "Pretty girly," as Joshua pointed out, "but also really good." His words, almost exactly (Aha! Success!). Funny, sweet, and very British. Good times. Speaking of funny, sweet, and very British, I also finished Howl's Moving Castle. More on that later. Because, first I want to tell you about some other things.

Before I go on and on, check out the t-shirt I wore the other day:
I like how my necklace gives Perry forehead bling.
I got complimented at the gas station. Oh yeah.

So, I'm no stranger to the City Museum in St. Louis, but, as one might expect, I see something new there, every time I go. It helps to have to get all the way to St. Louis first. I'm sure if I worked there, or lived in the same town, it would get old hat, just like anything else. [Weirdest thing, while Joshua and I were poking around, I heard my name and thought, Surely that's not for me. Of course I turned, since it's physically impossible not to, and a girl I went to high school with was there. Buhhh? She had gone to college in St. Louis, stayed, and now works at the City Museum. I don't know if I should be happy for her or not. The place gets insane.]

We went late at night, a first for me, and it made for a very different atmosphere. Actually, scratch that. It wasn't that different. During the day, there are large groups of small children making a ruckus. Late at night, it's just high-schoolers and college kids, doing the exact same thing. There was even a prom going on. A prom. Who has prom on the first of April? It was practically still March, and all the girls were wearing short party dresses instead of gowns. Is that how it is now? Maybe my school was just weird. [Insert embarrassing picture from senior prom (that I do not currently have) where my date and I meant to go as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (Youth Performing Arts School, what?), but ended up looking like a bride and groom. Sigh.]

Anyway, I did see some pretty cool things, and I'm about to go all travelogue on you, so buckle up.

I look like I'm drooling, or perhaps like I'm wearing vampire teeth. In reality, I was earning a
righteous bruise on my knee while climbing through a petrified tree-tunnel.
In the "caves."
The only visible picture I could get of the ten-story spiral slide.
Which is much more popular with the night crowd. We waited in line for 20 minutes.
This guy was right outside the room that contained the particularly boisterous prom. Hilarious. 
And old, working, carnival game. I won't deny it, this sort of gave me the creeps.
It was moving, doing its thing, and all the parts were creaking, but no one was there. *shudder*
And here is where we went into the giant building blocks room.
Or should I say, building sponges?
This was a definite highlight: the sponge room. Little dirty, but it was great. You can see that dad in there, supervising his son's masterpiece. I overheard the little boy say some pretty spectacular things, but I think I'm going to save it for the next post so I can put my free day to good use and get some writing done. More to come!