Dreamsongs: Volume I by George R. R. Martin (Dreamsongs #1)

This is a review off the first volume of George R R Martin’s Dreamsongs compendium where many of his earlier works are catalogued.  The review of the second Dreamsongs can be found here.

Every great writer starts somewhere, but there are few who display their first fruits in a compendium for all to read. George R R Martin, author of the soon to be legendary A Song of Ice and Fire series, is one of those few.  Dreamsongs, broken into two volumes and those volumes themselves split into several sections, shows the rough and the rougher in the initial part and later the luster when time and experience serves to smooth.

This is not going to be a full review of the collection, but rather a highlight and brief examination of the select few that struck in me a cord.  I was only able to complete one story in the first section known as A Four-Color Fanboy, and any attempt at others were met with resignation that it couldn’t be done.  That part holds Martin’s dullest stones, but even there, the spark of brilliance dwells.  By The Filthy Pro I was immersed, and the author also gives a foreword on each section.  His own admission on the first part’s status prompted me to speak of it without impunity for Martin himself recognizes it as his more amateur work paving the epic way.

The stories I shall touch on are as follows:

  • The Second Kind of Loneliness
  • The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr
  • The Ice Dragon
  • Nightflyers


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Question of the Week: 2/28/16

<–Question of the Week: 2/21/16          Question of the Week: 3/6/16–>

The Question of the Week is posted every Sunday and will consist of a question followed by my answer and explanation to the same.  Some questions will only require a simple answer that could potentially be followed by an explanation.  Many questions will be writer oriented, but not all.  Everyone is encouraged to answer in the comments and discussions/follow up questions are more than welcome!

What’s your favorite animated Disney movie?

This is the first question I don’t have a direct and definitive answer to.  I’ve been chatting with the lovely writer of The Ink Garden, and among other things the topic turned to Disney movies.  After considering this in our last correspondence, I realized I had my QOTW 🙂

I almost feel as though this one needs to be broken up into time periods or even animation styles (traditional 2D or CGI), because Disney has made a lot of animated movies.  This is not even considering the Pixar branch off, which I will be.

Up until a few years ago, if you asked me this question, my answer would have been unequivocally Frozen.

Frozen French Movie Cover 2

It fell into that strange niche of something I had no interest in initially that I loved upon experiencing (it has good company in FFVII, Harry Potter, and ASOIAF among others).  From the opening song “Vuelie” I had chills running down my spine, which is a brilliant meta on their part.

But though I still absolutely adore Frozen, time tends to lend itself to retrospection.  In the grand scheme of my Disney movie watching, I don’t know it it’s my Number 1, though it’s up there in the count.

 

Picking a 2D animated Disney film is just as difficult, but I can say without impunity that The Hunchback of Notre Dame is high on that list and may very well be my favorite.

I think this was the first time a Disney movie used the term “eternal damnation,” (though Sleeping Beauty did have Maleficent deliver the exquisite line of “Now you shall deal with me, oh prince, and all the powers of Hell), and if you haven’t been paying attention, religious symbolism and imagery is kind of my thing.

Hunchback is about a self-righteous, overly sanctimonious official who abuses his adopted, physically disabled son and eventually attempts to use him to commit genocide against an ethnic minority, one of whom he lusts after.  Oh, and the only reason he has an adopted, physically disabled son is because he murdered his mother on the steps of Notre Dame, and the high deacon saw him and called him out by putting the fear of the very God he claims to worship into him.

Not even mentioning that fact that everything I love is ultra messed up, Hunchback has that very dark undertone at its foundation in addition to the religious aspect, and that’s always been appealing.

Also I love the song “God Help the Outcasts;” it was an inspiration for the church scene in Chapter 4 of Northern Lights.

Just to assure you that I don’t just like Disney movies because of the music (though that is a big part…I love musicals), when it comes to one subset of them, I have a definitive answer, and it has nothing to do with music since there are no official musical numbers.  My favorite Pixar movie is without a doubt Ratatouille.

I can relate the idea of the protagonist who’s been told all his life that he can’t do something because of what he is regardless of his skill level, and Gusteau’s proclamation of “Anyone can cook” is the perfect analogue to so many things.  I’m not the idealist I once was two decades ago, and I know that there are uncontrollable and often insurmountable barriers that stand in the way of success.  The fact that there is a movie with a seemingly absurd concept of a rat cook (and I don’t mean the Rat Cook from ASOIAF *shivers* there are no horror motifs in Ratatouille) and make it believable in its way shows that what’s really absurd is our restrictions on what people can do based on what they are alone.  It’s an important metaphor to portray and Pixar pulled it off perfectly.

So I have a newer CGI film, an late 00s Pixar movie, and a mid 90s traditionally animated one.  I’ll have to think about my favorite early Disney movie, but that will be another story for another time.


What is/are your favorite animated Disney movie(s)?  What do you love about them?

I look forward to your answers in the comments!

<–Question of the Week: 2/21/16          Question of the Week: 3/6/16–>

Question of the Week: 2/21/16

<–Question of the Week: 2/14/16          Question of the Week: 2/28/16–>

The Question of the Week is posted every Sunday and will consist of a question followed by my answer and explanation to the same.  Some questions will only require a simple answer that could potentially be followed by an explanation.  Many questions will be writer oriented, but not all.  Everyone is encouraged to answer in the comments and discussions/follow up questions are more than welcome!

Do you hand write your stories?

Before Northern Lights I hand wrote my original novel The Serpent’s Tale prior to using Word.  I’m not sure what prompted me to forgo that initial step, because I feel I was a less neurotic and less stressed about it because I had a tangible backup.  I have lost writing before, and few things feel more soul crushing.  I wrote a short story/novella a decade entitle Heart of Fire (I apparently like things that come from the “heart“), and while it suffered from the same issues anything written a decade prior would, I still wish I had a copy somewhere.  There were good ideas in that work that could’ve been salvaged.  Even with The Serpent’s Tale I lost some work on Word.  Thankfully, I had the hand written backup, but that was more of the skeleton of what was loss; the flesh had to be reformed.  Currently, I email myself after every writing session so I have a morass of writing in my one Gmail folder.  It gives me peace of mind.

I actually prefer the hand writing method.  Many authors swear by it, and it honestly doesn’t add much time to a work.  It took me two years to write/edit The Serpent’s Tale,  and Northern Lights was the same.  I told myself after the latter was complete that I’d go back to the hand written method, and the only reason I didn’t with The Broken Rose is because I believed it would be a short story.  With my next story, which I’m projecting to be novella length (meaning it’ll be a three book series *groan*) I am most definitely going back to my old method.  Seeing a blank journal page is far less anxiety inducing that staring at the white of Word. While I do always have notes and take extensive ones, I’d rather have a complete skeleton in place rather than cobbling together that, flesh, and nerves with a dimly lit instruction manual.


Which method do you prefer?  Have you only used one or both?  What merits/deficiencies have you found in both?

I look forward to your answers in the comments!

<–Question of the Week: 2/7/16          Question of the Week: 2/21/16–>

The Major and the Minor Switch

This is one of the many articles/review that I have reblogged from Caffeine Crew, the collaborative geek blog I write for.  I am in the process of editing/updating them to truly post here on my personal blog.

The minor key plays grim hostess to most of my favorite songs. Like many I find it to be the register of rue and darkness, and that just speaks to my eclectic tastes. I decided to catalog just what percentage of my regular playlist was minor one day, and the results were pretty substantial.

One day I was puttering around TV Tropes where I spend a good portion of my time, and I ended up in the video games section of the Awesome Music page, and there was a link to a G major version of “One Winged Angel.” I listened to it and just…no. No, no, no. It’s just wrong, and wrong in a different way than the wrongness the song is trying to project. This did get me thinking though about other instances where major songs are switched to minor, minor song are switched to major, and songs that use both throughout. I’m going to post both the original song and the switched version where applicable in my attempt to break down what I’ve found.

Note: I am not a music theory expert.  I actually failed that class, but I have played piano since the age of 5, have good enough relative pitch to figure out most melodies by ear, and am a pretty decent vocalist.

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This is one of the many articles/review that I have reblogged from Caffeine Crew, the collaborative geek blog I write for.  I am in the process of truly posting these here on my personal blog.  While they will be edited for any prior missed errors, I will not be really updating them beyond that so some information could potentially be outdated, erroneous, or defunct.

The best stories are about memory.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is quite possibly the best standalone novel I have ever read and is certainly the most phenomenal book I’ve had the privilege to experience this year (2013). I place it in the very prestigious position as my third favorite story (behind FFVII and ASOIAF) and favorite non-fantasy novel. The title comes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and it sets the perfect tone for this story written in the first person by Hazel, a sixteen year old girl in the regressive stage of lung cancer who nevertheless is required to cart around an oxygen tank because (as she so perfectly puts it) her “lungs suck at being lungs.” Her mother forces her to go to a cancer patient/survivor group where she proceeds to exercise her considerable teenage snark and wit along with her friend Isaac who is suffering from a type of cancer that eventually requires the removal of an eye.

One day Hazel catches the attention of a boy named Augustus and their romance is as breathtaking and expedient as it is completely genuine and uncontrived. Augustus has recovered from bone cancer that left him with a prosthetic leg, but did nothing to diminish his spirit. She can scarcely believe he’s as perfect as he projects and indeed feels as though she’s found his hamartia or fatal flaw when he puts a cigarette in his mouth. Hazel is of course livid that anyone who survived cancer would willingly place themselves into its way again, but Augustus never lights them using the act as a metaphor of having “the killing thing right between your teeth, but you not giving it the power to do its killing.”

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Question of the Week: 2/14/16

<–Question of the Week: 2/7/16          Question of the Week: 2/21/16

The Question of the Week is posted every Sunday and will consist of a question followed by my answer and explanation to the same.  Some questions will only require a simple answer that could potentially be followed by an explanation.  Many questions will be writer oriented, but not all.  Everyone is encouraged to answer in the comments and discussions/follow up questions are more than welcome!

What’s your favorite OTP?

Since it’s Valentine’s Day I thought I’d forgo my nihilistic ennui about this “holiday” and post an appropriate question, but first I suppose I should define “OTP” for the uninitiated.  I normally just put a link for any odd and/or geeky terms, but I was unsatisfied with what I found.  TV Tropes defines it as the couple that a fan or a group of fans prefers above all others, and I…suppose that would suffice.

I find the term OTP itself problematic as it stands for “one true pairing,” which is a very YMMV statement since declaring something so subjective as “true” is bound to start a flame war.  I don’t participate in “whose ship is better” debates, because I don’t care whom people ship.  If I don’t like a particular ship, I don’t follow or read about it.  It’s that simple.  Like everything I am more than willing to have polite discourse about the pros/cons, ins/outs of character dynamics, but once it devolves into name calling and mudslinging, ,I respectfully bow out.  In short whomever you wish to put together is entirely up to you for whatever reason or no reason at all, and while I’m not wholly fond of the phrase OTP, it’s the simplest way to explain or ask about it the concept.

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The Editing of Northern Lights – Sometimes Seven Isn’t Social

These are the Editing Notes for my FFVII fanfiction Northern Lights (which you can find at the end of that link).  I will be discussing a myriad of topics along with my frequently tangential and harried editing process.  You should be able to garner some enjoyment and insight from this without having read the story and/or without prior knowledge of the original game, but if you’re a fan of paranormal romance and/or dark fantasy, you may find it to your liking.  The story will be spoiled in this editing examination, though I will do my best to mark spoilers for any other narratives I mention.  Thanks for your interest and enjoy!

<–The Stars Fall Down in Chapter 7          The Seventh Is the Saddest–>

10/12/14
Dearest readers…I am woefully tired and drained.  Social interaction does that to me, and I’ve been having far more of it than I can stand these past few days.  Next weekend will not be much better as I have two Halloween parties to attend, arg…

I’m totally on board with you anti social interaction dalek, but I must blog; I must edit; and I must tell you about my latest dreams.  The first one occurred two nights ago (I’m all wibley wobbly timey wimey up in here because the date says 10/12/14, but it’s really near the end of the month and that’s when I had the dreaming shenanigans.  The date above it actually the date I originally wrote this (of course it’s more than a year in the future now), and it was something that should’ve had me crying my eyes out , but I was just kind of meh.

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