From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Monday, April 30, 2012

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

As we all know (or perhaps you don't), the world is supposedly going to end sometime on December 21, 2012.  The Mayans said so.

In other words, this is shaping up to be 2012's version of Y2K.  And much like I did back during that chaos, I've taken the sarcastic route.  (I mean, maybe the Mayan calendar ended because the guy in charge of creating it just got tired?  Or died?  Ever think of that?)

Regardless of how not seriously I'm taking the whole thing, my friends and I have been joking for months that on December 21, we're going to have a party.  Because, first of all, you can always use a good excuse to play drunken Apples to Apples.  And second of all, there's something strangely appealing about counting down to December 22 and then going "oh my goodness, we're all still alive, I'm SO SURPRISED!"

One of the requirements of this party is to come decked out in your best zombie-fighting gear and wielding your favorite zombie-fighting weapon.  I mean, if the zombie apocalypse does occur on December 21 (and let's face it, if an apocalypse happens, it'll be a zombie one), we want to be able to defend ourselves.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my group of friends.  And this is normal for us.

The zombies will be running in fear.

 My friend Emily and I were talking today via our company's instant messaging system (she recently started working for the same company I do, which means we can bother each other more effectively).  Somehow, and I'm not sure how, the topic of the zombie apocalypse came up in our conversation.  We came to a very important conclusion.

In the case of the zombie apocalypse, it's more likely that the nerdy, geeky, creative types will be the ones to survive.  For one, the nerdy, geeky, creative types are the ones who have spent too much time talking about the zombie apocalypse in the first place.  And second of all, we're really good at thinking out of the box.

Let's face it, if you're trying to beat the zombies, thinking out of the box might be your best bet.  Where one person sees a toilet cover, a thinking-out-of-the-box type will see a handy, zombie-crushing weapon.  (Yes, this has actually been discussed by my friends and I.)

Emily and I also decided that we should change the saying "the meek shall inherit the earth" to "the geeks shall inherit the earth."  It's true, you know.  If the geeky types are the ones who will survive the zombie apocalypse, then by default we would be the ones to inherit the earth, yes?

So take comfort, my fellow nerds, geeks, and generally creative types.  Come the zombie apocalypse, our amazing skills of thinking outside the box and finding creative ways to maim the characters in our novels will benefit us greatly.

And, of course, don't forget your favorite anti-zombie weapon of choice.  I'll be wielding a toilet lid.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Education of a Mustang

If you know me this next line comes as no surprise.  I am a Daddy's girl.  My earliest memories are of following my Dad around 'helping' him.  As a parent of a three and five year old now I know that it was through the greatest act of love and patience that I was allowed to 'help' my father do anything. But that isn't the topic of this post.  Today, I want to tell you about an evolution.

You see, my Dad, he is a Ford man.  Yes I know, most of you reading this right now are women and probably not car people and even less of you are motorcycle people.  But, stay with me. I'm not sure of the exact year my Dad bought one of the most collectible mustangs of all time but I do know those few years we owned it I begged him almost daily for rides in it.  I learned the value of hard work each weekend when we shined her up for car shows.  How to be careful and gentle when I was anywhere near her glossy black paint or pony stitched leather seats.  Believe it or not.  In the early 1980s we owned a 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR Fastback.  A what?


Only a few hundred were made and each one was numbered.  There are only a very few left in existence and they sell for more than most houses do.  At the time we owned them they weren't worth a fraction of what they are today.  And I cried like a baby the day my Dad sold it.  Watching it leave our drive way was pure torture. Complete with all the drama a pre-teen could muster. My sincere apologies Dad.

For Dad, that car was one of many in a long line of Mustangs.  Albeit the most special of the breed.  So, when I was fifteen and car hunting I did what every young lady dreams of.  I bought my own 1966 Mustang Coupe.  It was only a little inline six-cylinder.  Not the hefty 289.  Though my uncle did have a 350 Windsor in his garage he said he'd help me install when he was teaching me how to solder my leaking radiator. Dad, however, was a firm No. Not because I wasn't capable of learning and doing the job, but because he was worried about all the illegal racing I'd probably do.  Frankly, he was right!

I spent hours working on that car with my dad. Again, he demonstrated his bottomless well of patience as we rebuilt the carburetor.  Too many little parts and pieces to name and describe for you here, but amazing that things smaller than your finger nail can keep a car from running properly.  Then there was the day we changed the valve cover gaskets.  Inside these covers are the most mesmerizing moving parts, that when the engine is running, squirt oil everywhere!  Yes, Dad knew my fascination so, he did rev that engine for just a few seconds.  It was worth the hour of clean up.

A few years later I went off to college and fell in love with a 1989 Mustang GT 5.0 five speed and traded up in the world.  Don't get too excited though this was in 1996.  So, still a cheap car.

This is the era where I learned to drive. I was already well trained in the art of changing oil, spark plugs and fan belts.  Though the battery still terrified me.  I've seen a few of those spark. No Thank You. I'll let someone else handle that.

This leads me to the next evolutionary step of car buying.  By this time I was married.  My amazing husband is into motorcycles.  I am also a lover of all things two wheeled, be they road worthy or off road ferocity. He actually bought me my first motorcycle and much hilarity ensued as I learned to ride that top heavy beast. But, I'm off track.  In his infinite wisdom since we were newly married, I'd just graduated from college and had my first real job, we did NOT, I repeat, did not buy a newer mustang like I wanted.  Oh no.  He bought me a Saturn Vue.  I almost died the first day I drove that car.  Not from humiliation as you might believe, though that was a close second.  I was simply used to the power of a mustang, the speed and handling.  A Vue did not have those features and I learned that quickly the first time I pulled into rush hour traffic and the four cylinder could barely get out of its own way.

Needless to say that car did not last in my life very long.  Which leads me to my current vehicle. Much to my husband's continuing torture.  About nine months after purchasing the Vue I begged him to go to the grocery store with me.  Not something he normally did, but he was eventually persuaded.  Upon arriving at the establishment I parked in the side lot which was conveniently located right beside the same dealer who sold us the Vue. "Oh look honey!" I said pointing to the gorgeous Ford Explorer Sportrac that was climbing the gigantic rock pile that just happened to be in the middle of their parking lot. "Let's go look."

I did not buy groceries that day.  To quote Charlie Sheen, "Winning."

And now, we've made it to my current dilemma.  Ten years later I am ready to purchase a new car.  I keep drifting towards my beloved mustang.  Especially since there is a new body style release in 2013.  I can start educating my boys on the proper care and maintenance of a muscle car.  Each time I go to our local Ford dealer I take a trip through the showroom and drool over their 1968 Hertz Rent-A-Racer.  I have pointed our many features to both of my little ones, surprising the salesmen is also a small reward in and of itself.

This is also how I feel about my writing, its an evolution.  See, I did get back to the roots of this blog. I wrote my first novel and a short story.  I joined a critique group and a professional RWA group.  I'm entering my work in contests now so I can get feed back from professionals in the industry.  I keep learning and practicing, growing. I didn't give up even when others told me it was hopeless. I did what made my heart sing. Even if you didn't understand all the technical aspects of my analogy I hope you came away with the understanding that no matter what you are tackling patience and perseverance payoff.

Back to my dilemma.  Do I be the responsible parent and get the Soccer Mom SUV?  Or do I indulge my passion and buy the 2013 Mustang GT? Did I mention my Dad's newest purchase? A Cobra Kit Car...

I know what twelve-year-old me would do.

Monday, April 16, 2012

What's Quidditch Without a Little Rain?

This past Saturday, I dragged myself out of bed at 8:30am. I had a hard-boiled egg for breakfast and checked my email. I glanced outside and lamented the gray skies, and then lamented the gray skies even more when I saw that the weather was calling for rain off-and-on the entire day. I threw on sweatpants, my HPA Accio Books tshirt, a pair of old tennis shoes, and a raincoat. I packed a bag with a couple of books, a notebook, wallet, iPod, phone, camera, and a bottle of water. I found my roommate Kathleen downstairs, we grabbed an umbrella and our other roommate's OSU parking pass she lent us for the day, and jumped in the car. We drove 15 minutes down to OSU's west campus, got confused while trying to find where to park, and then lamented the gray skies some more as we walked to Beekman Park.

And then we spent the next several hours watching Quidditch.

You really shouldn't be surprised. I mean, I am easily the nerdiest Flurrier.

Yes, folks. The game played by Harry Potter and company while flying on broomsticks is a real sport. A real, legit sport, where players get injured frequently and have to be escorted off the field by the sports medicine people. Played by colleges such as Ohio State and Carnegie-Mellon and Virgina Tech. It's even got a nonprofit organization running the leagues (The International Quidditch Association) and each November there's a World Cup that draws thousands of fans. It's even going to have an exhibition at this summer's Olympics, with teams representing the USA, the UK, Canada, and possibly more.

And I finally got to see it played on Saturday at the second annual Ohio Cup, held by OSU, which drew twelve Quidditch teams from all over the midwest.

For the most part, the game is very much like what you read about in the Harry Potter books, minus the flying, obviously. Each team has seven players in action at a time, all of whom run around with makeshift brooms between their legs. The chasers are trying to score goals with the "quaffle" (in this case, a slightly deflated volleyball) through three tall hoops at each end of the playing field. The beaters are running around, hitting people with the "bludgers" (in this case, slightly deflated dodgeballs), in order to knock them "out" and force them to abandon play and run back to their team's goal hoops before joining the game again. The keepers are busy trying to keep the other team from scoring and the seekers are busy trying to catch the snitch...which is a person dressed all in yellow who has a tennis ball in a sock hanging out of the back of their shorts. The game can only end when the snitch is caught...and in the "Muggle" version of Quidditch, the snitch is only worth 30 points (rather than 150), to give the team that doesn't catch it at least a fighting chance.

It's basically soccer meets dodgeball meets flag football...meets antics, because the snitch runner has no rules. The snitch runner is allowed to do whatever and go wherever he or she wants in order to keep the seekers from getting that tennis ball. We saw snitch runners gang up against seekers with water pistols and nerf guns. We saw one snitch runner don an incognito costume of a hat, a beard, and a vest, and then climb a fence to stand on top of a baseball dugout roof. Seekers were wrestled to the ground, the backs of their brooms gripped by snitch runners...they were pelted by pinecones, they were forced to run miles trying to catch the snitch, they were pushed down hills repeatedly.

It was possibly the funniest thing I've ever seen. And I got really into it.

The fun was cut a little short after a group of us watched OSU win their last regular match of the day, which was about the time we decided it was far too cold and far too rainy and we escaped to Starbucks. Not that it mattered, really...the tournament ended up being cancelled due to weather about an hour later anyway, so we didn't miss too much. But would I go again? In a heartbeat. It was the best way to spend my Saturday, even with the rain.

I even got hit by a rogue bludger.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why I Loved the Hunger Games Movie (Spoilers Ahead)

I'm a sucker for book-to-film adaptations. I can't really explain why this is. I think it has something to do with my fascination of translating a story from one medium to another. Whatever the reason, ever since they started turning Harry Potter into movies over a decade ago, I've felt this need to watch the movie version of any book I read that has been translated to film.

That being said, I was obscenely excited when they announced that Hunger Games was going to be made into a movie. I followed the casting announcements, read all the set reports, watched the interviews, counted down to the trailers, bought my midnight premiere tickets a week after they went on sale. I was so excited for this movie that I went to the midnight showing in costume as Katniss and had a Hunger Games-inspired dinner party with a few of my friends before we left for the theatre Thursday night. I speculated and obsessed with the rest of the Hunger Games fans about what scenes would be cut, what scenes we would be most excited to see, what scenes we hoped they just wouldn't screw up.

And then the night of March 22 came and I went to the midnight premiere. The second the movie was over, I wanted to see it again. And again. And again. I couldn't get the amazingness off my mind no matter how hard I tried.

Here are the things I MOST LOVED about the Hunger Games movie.

  • The Opening: Oh, yes, I'm like that. The way the movie opened was perfect for setting up the situation and the world and explaining everything without Katniss's inner monologue that you get in the books. At the movie's opening, we simply get white words on a black screen--an excerpt from Panem's Treaty of Treason, stating exactly what the Hunger Games are. And then it cuts straight into Caesar Flickerman and Gamemaker Seneca Crane discussing the history of the Games in front of an audience. Perfection.
  • The Relationship Between Katniss and Gale: I'm glad they didn't go all Twilight love triangle on us (because while there is a triangle, it's not supposed to be the focus), but Katniss's and Gale's relationship is so vital to the whole story. From the first second we see them interact in the woods, you get that brother-sister, best friend bantering. And then, during the Reaping, their silent exchanges with each other are both important to see how close they are, and how incredibly tired they are of attending the Reaping year to year.
  • The Boy with the Bread: In the book, Katniss reveals the story of Peeta giving her burnt bread the second after his name is called in the Reaping. It cuts away from the central story in a flashback-like fashion and we get the whole memory in one fell swoop. The movie doesn't do this. In the movie, we get bits and pieces over the course of several scenes. I think this works perfectly for the movie audience, in that you're not pulled completely out of the story.
  • Haymitch and Effie: Perfect. There are no other words for how perfectly Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks portrayed these two characters. From the subtle arguments to the attitudes...everything about these two was just great.
  • The Interview Dress: In the book, Katniss's interview dress is described as being LIKE on fire. When she moves, the fabric and beading makes it look like she's engulfed in flames again. In the movie, when she twirls, the bottom part of the skirt actually bursts into fake flame. I liked this, not because it was lovely and easier to explain, but because it so perfectly sets up another interview dress for the second movie.
  • Behind the Scenes: I particularly loved that they didn't just show everything from Katniss's perspective. This is effective for the book, because I think having the story from a single perspective in writing brings more immediacy to it. But for the movie, I loved that we got to see everything--what was going on in the Districts, how the Gamemakers were running the show, what Haymitch was doing to help. Not only was it fascinating for me to watch as a viewer, but it was also kind of like getting bonus now I know what was going on elsewhere in the book.
  • President Snow and a Spark: Oh, Donald Sutherland. They could not have found a more perfect President Snow. That dude is CREEPY. But what I loved were the additional scenes between him and Seneca that were added. In particular, the scene where he speaks to Seneca about giving the districts hope. He says something about a spark being a good thing, as long as it's contained. This, also, sets up the second movie and a certain speech he gives to Katniss about her being a spark.
  • District 11: After a *cough* certain character's death, the story flashes over to District 11. While I wasn't surprised by this, I WAS pleasantly surprised about what happened after. District 11 rebelled. They set things on fire, beat up Peacekeepers, knocked over cargo holds and stage lights. And why did I like this so much? Because, once again, it set up for the next movie so perfectly that I couldn't even fully contain myself.
  • The Cast: I've mentioned Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, and Elizabeth Banks, but in truth the whole cast was astounding. Jennifer Lawrence IS Katniss, Josh Hutcherson IS Peeta. Each Tribute, even the ones that died within the first five minutes after the Games started, was fascinating to watch. I was so impressed with all of them.
  • Cato's Speech: This was one thing I hadn't been anticipating AT ALL. At the climax of the movie, they wrote in this amazing speech for Cato. In essence, he talks about how this is all he knows how to do--kill. He was never good for anything else. And he always knew he was going to die. And then he shouts up at the sky, where he assumes a camera might be, asking for the Capitol's confirmation of this. In the books, Cato is nothing more than a cold-hearted killer. This speech brought so much humanity to the character that I was almost sad when he got killed thirty seconds later.
  • The Ending: In the book, it ends with Peeta and Katniss, now at odds with each other, returning home to District 12. While it made me want to read the next book, it gave no indication of what the next book could hold. It was just an ending. But in the movie, they didn't end with Peeta and Katniss. They ended with President Snow watching footage of the two returning home to an excited crowd. President Snows watches this for a moment--dramatic music swelling--and then, without a single word, turns and walks away. It's so ominous, so obvious that President Snow sees these two teenagers as his biggest threat, that how could you NOT want to watch the next movie?

And there was so much more, but these were the things I was most impressed by. I honestly think this might be one of the best book-to-film adaptations I've seen yet. The changes weren't just because. Every single one of them had a point. And the spirit of the story wasn't trifled with one bit. I can't wait to see what they do with the other two stories in this series.

Stat Counter