Mirrored: a book review

Alex Flinn‘s Mirrored, like Mercedes Lackey’s The Serpent’s Shadow is a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Mirrored is a contemporary YA novel.  Most of the characters are appallingly shallow, because most of them are teenagers.  Ms Flinn has written several YA novel retelling classic fairy tales.

The book starts with Violet in the 80s.  Homely, weird, cruelly teased, she foolishly thinks physical beauty will solve all her problems.  She has a crush on Greg, a boy who seems to appreciate her weirdness and her intellect, but who falls for the prettiest of Violet’s tormentors,  Volet meets Kendra who claims to be a witch and centuries old.  Kendra tells Violet she has magical powers, too, and begins instructing her in these gifts.

Part 2 of the book is told from the POV of Greg’s daughter by Jennifer, Celine.  Celine becomes Violet’s stepdaughter (oops! spoiler) as Violet’s goals haven’t advanced since high school.  Be beautiful, get Greg, get back at Jennifer.  Where Violet actively desired beauty and schemed to get it, Celine hates the fact that A, she is beautiful, and B, most people judge her only by her beauty.  (Not a problem I’ve ever had, but I can see where it would be annoying.)Celine befriends Mauricio “Goose” Guzman, a short but sensitive boy in the school theater program.  Celine is a mega-fan of singer Jonah Prince, a One Direction-type performer, as is her BFF Laurel.  Celine and Goose co-star in the school play, getting better acquainted.  They meet Kendra and learn Violet is not just a bitch, but an actual witch.

When (spoiler warning again!) Greg dies, we learn Violet’s goals and dreams have not matured since her teenage years. She’s one of those women who can’t cope without their man.  (I did mention most of the characters are shallow, didn’t I?)  When Violet decides Celine is a complication she no longer needs in her life, Goose’s family takes her in.  Part 3 of the book is told from Goose’s POV.  He decides that Jonah Prince can awaken Celine from Violet’s spell.  It’s not easy for a teenage boy to get access to a rock star heartthrob in another city, but for Celine’s sake, he’ll try.

I’d give this a 7/10. I might have liked it better if I were a teenage girl instead of the mother of one.  I much preferred Lackey’s The Serpent’s Shadow, where the characters are older and have more depth.  That’s part of her Elemental Masters series, set in Edwardian London.

ALA Booklist said, “Plenty of action to enhance the traditional tale, and a completely satisfying ending will leave readers with a big smile.”  I don’t disagree with them.

Aquaman: a movie review

Avast, mateys, here be Spoilers!

trailer

Last weekend, my husband and I went to the discount theater to see Aquaman.  The Bartlett Tenplex gets movies about the time they come out on DVD.  They charge $3 a head.

Jason Momoa doesn’t look a thing like Aquaman in the comic books or the old Saturday morning cartoon, but he did a good job as Arthur Curry, King of Atlantis and Protector of the Seas.  Aquaman was created in 1941 by writer Mort Weisinger and artist Paul Norris.  Weisinger may have be influenced by the song “Keeper of the Eddystone Light.”

The movie begins with the meeting of Aquaman’s parents.  Tom Curry is a lighthousekeeper, played by New Zealand actor/singer Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett in SW 2: Attack of the Clones, and Cmdr. Cody in SW 3: Attack of the Clones).  Nicole Kidman (Dr. Chase Meridian in Batman Forever, Mrs. Coulter in The Golden Compass) plays Atlanna, Queen of Atlantis.  Tom finds the wounded Atlanna on the beach, rescues her, nurses her to health, and falls in love with her.  She explains she ran away from an arranged marriage.

When little Arthur is about three, Atlantean soldiers come to fetch the missing queen home.  She demonstrates incredible hand-to-hand combat skills when throwing them out of her home.  (It was at that point I thought to myself:  the heck with Aquaman.  I want an Atlanna movie.)  She realizes that having found her, the Atlanteans will come again.  She decides to return to the sea rather than endanger her husband and child.  Tom promises he will wait for her at the end of the pier every day at sunrise, to watch for her return.  He faithfully keeps that pledge for years.

Cut to modern day:  Black Manta, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, is a modern-day pirate, is attacking a Russian sub.  Aquaman boards the sub, fights Manta and his crew, and is recognized by the imprisoned Russians as “Aquaman!”  Michael Beach is a scenestealer in an all-too-brief role as Jesse, Manta’s father and second in command.

TV news makes a passing reference to the man social media has nicknamed the Aquaman.  Tom Curry refers to Vulko training his son.  I remembered Vulko from the comic book as Aquaman’s vizier and friend.  We later learn through flashbacks that Vulko came from Atlantis to train young Arthur in Atlantean fighting techniques and culture.  About middle school, by the look of him, and again as a teenager.

When Atlantis sank, it divided into seven kingdoms, some of which evolved in different directions, to the point where their inhabitants are mercreatures that can no longer pass as human.  One of these kingdoms is ruled by King Nereus (unrecognizable as Dolph Lundgren, who’s lost weight since his He-Man days, in addition to having his hair dyed.)  Nereus’ daughter Princess Mera goes to find Arthur.  His half-brother, King Orm, wants to declare war on the surface world, which has been polluting the ocean.  If Orm can ally four of the seven kingdoms to his side, he will be named Ocean Master, and granted great political and military power.

Mera tries to convince Arthur to depose his brother on the grounds if he claims the throne as firstborn son, he can revoke his brother’s declaration of war.  Orm continually refers to Arthur as his halfbreed bastard brother, so apparently Atlantean law doesn’t recognize Atlanna’s marriage to Tom.  Orm pushes Arthur into a corner, where he has no choice but to challenge his brother to personal combat.  After a crowd-pleasing spectacle of a public fight,, Mera helps Arthur escape, so they can look for King Atlann’s magic trident.  Their quest takes them to the Sahara and Italy.  They fight Orm’s soldiers and Manta’s crew, and eventually find his ancestor King Atlann’s tomb, where only the true heir to the king can claim his trident.  A character alleged to be dead turns out to be alive, and a powerful ally for Arthur.

Arthur and Orm fight again, and the firstborn son of Queen Atlanna is recognized as King of Atlantis.  Given that Mera was betrothed to the King of Atlantis, rather than Orm personally, this makes her Arthur’s fiancee.

The city of Atlantis is not quite as impressive as the capital city of Wakanda, but it is impressive, a masterpiece of the special effects artist’s craft.

This was a fun movie.  We got every penny worth of our three dollars.  I told my husband if he wanted to, he could buy me the DVD for my birthday.

I’d rather see a Queen Atlanna movie than Aquaman II as a sequel.

Queen Atlanna

 

 

Submission Possibilities

http://shortstoryaward.co.uk.s3.amazonaws.com/The%20Sunday%20Times%20EFG%20Short%20Story%20Award%202018.pdf

It’s easy to lose track of open calls and their deadlines, so for the benefit of my fellow authors, here are some links I hope will be useful.

possibility for judge authors by context essay if/when they reopen:  http://www.noveltymag.co.uk/submissions/

http://astoundingoutpost.com/index.php/astounding-publications-2/current-call/

http://otterlibris.com/open-projects/mcsi-magical-crime-scene-investigation/

http://atlaspoetica.org/?p=1761#5lines

http://arsenika.ink/submissions/

http://www.mythicmag.com/p/submissions.html

https://dfpcorp.submittable.com/submit/50605/digital-fantasy-fiction-open-call-for-fantasy-fiction-reprint-short-stories-o

https://escapepod.submittable.com/submit/92674/artemis-rising-4

http://www.3lobedmag.com/submissions.html

https://persistentvisionsmag.com/fiction-submission

http://www.urbanfantasist.com/-submission-guidelines.html

https://thearcanist.io/a-call-for-submissions-244f646d25a4

https://www.poetrynook.com/forum/contest-winners

 

Still Not Dead Yet

Labor Day weekend I had a minor stroke.  My husband called 911.  I rode in an ambulance to the hospital.  Once I got there, they took very good care of me, other than serving breakfast too late.  (I’m used to an early breakfast.)

I had the best therapists in the world, and am out of the wheelchair and can walk with the help of a cane.  (The picture above is at the Memphis Zoo, just before Halloween.  Our insurance wouldn’t cover a home health aide, so my husband is my primary caregiver.

Downside:  my concentration and short-term memory are shot.  Don’t know when or if they’ll come back.  My left arm is more decorative than useful, so driving remains a long-term goal.

Upside:  I’ve been out of diapers since October or November.  Thanks to my speech therapist, I can speak reasonably intelligibly.  I recently submitted a poem to Cricket and  a short story, “The Lizard-Men from Outer Space to B Cubed Press’ Tales of the Space Force.  I also completed a fantasy story, “Trolls are Different” to accompany my application for the SLF Older Writers Grant.

Since I am unemployed and unemployable at present, I’ve resolved to work on my writing more seriously.  My Iron Writer Quarterly Goals are to

  1.  write and submit three stories, one per month.
  2. Blog weekly.  (which is why you’re reading this)
  3. Exercise my left arm and eventually regain the use of it.

That last one may be a long-term goal rather than a quarterly goal.

People keep reminding me that I’m doing much better than other stroke survivors.  That at seven months, many stroke survivors aren’t able to get out of bed yet.  I may be complaining of all the things I can’t do yet as well as minor pain, but most stroke survivors have it worse.  And I’m still on the right side of the dirt:  I’m not dead yet.

 with a cane.  After reciting “eleven benevolent elephants” more times than any sane person should, I can speak reasonably Thanks to the efforts of my speech therapist, I can spe However, my concentration is shot, as is my short term memory.  My left arm is more decorative than functional.  I am learning to do things one-handed.  The PBA was the worst of the side effects (uncontrolled crying jags and laughing fits).  Diaper rash was the second worse.  Luckily, shortly after I learned to change my own diaper, I graduated to being able to go to the bathroom by myself.  

Digging Up My Bones

A book review

Sorry I haven’t committed bloggery in a while, but I had a minor stroke in September, and I’ve been concentrating on recovery.

Digging Up My Bones is a poetry anthology by Gwyndyn Alexander.  It’s a marvelous collection of powerefully poignant poems, on subjects as diverse as dysfunctional families, romance, sealioning, Greek mythology and feminism.  I seriously believe my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will read some of these poems in their high school English classes.  If you’re planning to have smart descendents, invest in this book so they’ll have the original at home.  It will impress their teacher.

“Gwyndyn Alexander, is one of the essential poets of our generation. Her poems strike deeply into the heart of the pain and joy of being a woman in a patriarchal society, her work speak truth to power in a way that only her heartfelt and stunningly crafted poems can do”

My favorite thus far is “Seasons of You (For Jonathan),” which is a love poem Ms. Alexander wrote for her husband.

You’re walking through the storm,

laughing,
cloaked in rain.
Droplets bead on your hair
crowning you with diamonds.
Late night conversation,
and your words
fall in my mind like seeds.
Ideas bloom amid strange growth,
and I am wrapped in your
verdant intellect.
Air moves across your skin,
raising the shivers.
Even the wind
wants to caress you.
You lounge by the hearth,
moving shadows painting your face.
You stretch like a sated cat,
your eyes full of fire.

Because this book is published by B Cubed Press, naturally there are some political poems.  Everything feminist is at least slightly political, when written by a woman of intellect, but “A Consevative Prayer,” (excerpt below), “Democracy Dies in Silence,” and “The Alt Right to Bear Arms are overtly political.

Republican Jesus,
save us from liberals,
bless our sacred guns,
protect us from regulations
we pray.
Republican Mary,
Lady of Gerrymandering,
hear our prayers.
Give us this day
our daily kickback
from the NRA.

Disclaimer: I am not entirely a disinterested party.  I have had one story, the Darrell-nominated “As Prophesied of Old, and one song “Donald, Where’s Your Taxes?” published by B Cubed Press, and I used to proofread for them when my brain synapses synapted better.

At any rate, if you like poetry or feminist thought, I recommend this book.  You don’t need a Ph. D. in literature to understand or appreciate these poems.

Political DataViz: Who Lies More – A Comparison (Robert Mann) – UPDATED

DJT is mendacious and unethical.

Michael Sandberg's Data Visualization Blog

UPDATE – October 23, 2016

Readers:

I have updated my data from the latest data on Politifact.com for my interactive version of this chart that is published on Tableau Public. Click here to go to my blog post about this workbook.

Thanks,

Michael

UPDATE – September 21, 2016

Readers:

I have created my own interactive version of this chart and published it to Tableau Public. Click here to go to my blog post about this workbook.

Thanks,

Michael

UPDATE – August 6th, 2016

Readers:

The author of the chart below, Robert Mann, reached out to me today. Robert has created a website where he explains the methodology he used to create this chart and answer some of your questions.

You can visit Robert’s web site by clicking here.

Below is some information about Robert and his web site.

Best Regards,

Michael

The purpose of this blog is to provide accessible, data-driven analysis about…

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How to Make This Editor Happy

Reblogging so I can find again later.

Building Worlds

During the submissions period for Ye Olde Magick Shoppe, my current anthology project, I received around a hundred submissions. Some were of beginner quality, which is not a bad thing per se, since it means that the authors can improve their work through feedback. Other works were of higher quality, but didn’t mesh well with my own particular aesthetic preferences; other editors may well accept such work, even if I didn’t. Unfortunately, between the sheer number of submissions and my own time constraints, I did not give individualized feedback to the submitters—which is not fair of me, since they did put in the work.

I think it’s worthwhile, therefore, to write up a post discussing some of the common patterns among work that was not accepted for the anthology. That way, authors considering submitting their work to me in the future will know more about my preferences, and whether…

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Johnny Whitaker/ Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

Johnny Whitaker’s Birthday … also the birthday of my book-sister Rebecca McFarland Kyle. We’Ve been in Two anthologies together, or is it three nw? Happy Birthday, Becky, ad happy writing!

(Travalanche)

December 13 is the birthday of former child star Johnny Whitaker (b. 1959). The red-haired freckled Whitaker was memorable as young Jody on Family Affair(1966-1971), which we wrote about here, and was memorable as the title character in the musical film Tom Sawyer in (1973). He was also in one Steven Spielberg’s first films, Something Evil (1972) with Darren McGavin and Sandy Dennis which we wrote about here.

But having already written about just about all of Sid and Marty Krofft’s shows, I thought I’d give a little attention today to Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-1974).

In conception, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters represents a slight “sea change”, if you will, from the earlier Krofft shows, H.R. Pufnstuf, The Bugaloos and Lidsville. It was less “psychedelic” than those previous ones, though it still had lots of humor. It was very much similar in conception to…

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