Can you tell I spent two weeks dealing exclusively with Tumblr?

RTW: Best Book ‘o the Month

by sarahenni on February 1, 2012

Welcome to another Road Trip Wednesday, a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway posts a weekly writing- or reading-related question and anyone can answer it on their own blogs.

This week’s topic is:

What was the best book you read in January?

In addition to getting me out of my Game of Thrones writing rut, John Green’s newest kept me up until 2:30 AM reading, crying, and hugging my cat, teetering on the verge of an existential crisis. It made me feel ALL THE FEELINGS.

GPOY

But it’s disingenuous of me to say that I just love the book. I do love the book. Certainly it would stand on its own, but what raises The Fault in Our Stars specifically and John Green generally is a community of YA readers called Nerdfighters. I met them, en masse, at Green’s Jan. 11 Washington, D.C. book tour stop. Through being a fan of John Green I got to see real teens (a crapload of them) find a connection to books, to a thirst for knowledge, to the desire to think about more than what MTV thinks they think (what), and most of all a connection to each other*.

John Green, by being a nice guy, an incredible author, and someone who does not ever talk down to teens, got a room filled up like this:

With teens who greeted an author like a rock star, sing along to songs about Quarks, and ask questions about feet and the meaning of life and get equally thoughtful answers. Teens who sit quietly and soak it up when someone talks to them like the intellectual-conversation-starved people they are, instead of just asking what college they’re going to.

The Fault in Our Stars was an incredible book. Amazing. Read-it-with-a-pencil-because-you’re-gonna-want-to-underline-stuff good. It flirted with too patently philosophical, but never crossed the line. I recommend it to humans who like thinking about humanity.

What awes me even more than John Green’s prose, though, is the opportunity he’s giving teens to find their like-minded peers. To celebrate life and all its complexities with them. If I’d had the Vlogbrothers in high school, I might’ve done some things differently. I would have met a lot more people I felt connected to, probably, and I would’ve felt less embarrassed to like the weird shit I liked like.

But you know what? I’m 26 now, and he’s still giving me that.

(A substantial portion of the DC Mafia, from right to left: Rick Lipman, Jessica BS, Cristin Terrill, Sara McClung, and Lindsey Roth Culli. Not pictured: Me and Sasha)

So The Fault in Our Stars gets my nod for best book I read in January. And John Green gets my thanks for making this month more incredible than it would have been without him.

What about you?? What was the best book you read in January? Did you get a pre-signed copy of TFiOS? Did it have a Hanklerfish?!

*And yet the boy to girl ratio was horrendous. Seriously, nerdboys, you need to come to events like this. Play the odds game, fellas.

{ 31 comments }

The Doctor: In Love and Obsession

by sarahenni on December 15, 2011

I’m so excited to be joining Erica and Eliza’s Doctor Who holiday bloghop! I haven’t written about the series TOO much on the blog before, because I’m relatively new to Dr Who (New to Who? A Who N00b?). I just began watching the reboot series this summer, but the Doctor and Rose and Captain Jack and the amazing Dalek dialogue (“you told us to imagine and we imagined your irrelevance”) got me completely hooked!

But the three characters that have been the most fascinating, and have been in all my favorite episodes (The Girl in the Fireplace and The Big Bang, most notably), are Madame de Pompadour (Reinette), Amelia Pond, and River Song.

All three women share something in common: they were first introduced to the Doctor as children.  He leaves quite an impression, as you can imagine: a dapper, space-traveling Time Lord popping in and confirming the existence of aliens. Meeting the Doctor at such a young age simultaneously expands their sense of what the world can hold and arrests their imaginations to a fascination, or even obsession, with a single man.

RORY: What did you mean— what you said to Amy. There’s a worse day coming for you?

RIVER: When I first met the Doctor—a long long time ago—he knew all about me. Think about that. Impressionable young girl and suddenly this man just drops out of the sky. He’s clever and mad and wonderful and… and knows every last thing about her. Imagine what that does to a girl.

RORY: I don’t really have to.

The Impossible Astronaut (Series 6, Episode 1)

Unsurprisingly,  in all three cases, the women grow romantically attached. It’s a love filled with this undercurrent of tragic longing, sort of like lusting after an aloof Heathcliff on the moors, if the moors were on Gallifrey and Heathcliff had a penchant for fezes. (I never could turn away from a gothic romance, even ones that get a little timey-wimey.) It’s also no surprise that Steven Moffat’s complex and far-from-perfect Doctor enjoys, very much, the god-like pedestal these women put him on. But there’s a distinct variance in his reactions.

toujours apporter une banane à une fête

When the Tenth Doctor (the incomparably heart-wrenching David Tennant) discovers Reinette’s identity, he knows immediately all the things she will achieve in her life, the historical figure she will become. He’s utterly smitten in the first place, and at Versailles he becomes literally drunk off his time with her, so enamored that he’s nearly too late to save Rose and Mickey. The Doctor also reveals to Reinette that he’s the last of the Time Lords, and vows to come back and take her away, to all of time and space.  It’s Tennant’s Doctor at his puppy-eyed best, and I’m a complete sucker for episodes where we get a whiff of the Doctor’s painful past.

Then River Song dashes onto the scene with a psychic paper note sealed with a kiss, all “Hello sweetie!” and “Come along, pretty boy!” Because of their twisted timeline, the Doctor meets River Song when she’s a full-grown planet-hopping archaeologist slaying Vashta Nerada and referencing flings with andoids. We know there’s a romance between them, and we see the Doctor become increasingly besotted with River’s feisty confidence.

This is my friend River. Nice hair, clever, has her own gun. And unlike me she really doesn’t mind shooting people. I shouldn’t like that. Kinda do a bit.

Day of the Moon (Series 6, Episode 2)

Once a girl shoots a fez off your head, I suppose it’s only a matter of time before you zip off to visit Jimmy the Fish together.

So, with two of the three women that the Doctor meets (eventually, in River’s case) as children, he falls in love. But neither River, nor Reinette, can compare with the obsession of Amelia Pond, the girl who waited.

The doctor loves (romantically) Reinette and River when, and because, they are both complete individuals, not defined by their relationship to him. But with Amy Pond—the girl who made him fishsticks and custard, who spent her childhood making dolls of The Raggedy Doctor, who chose to follow him on the eve of her wedding day—the Doctor unconsciously (and later, consciously) draws a line. He travels with Amy because he finds her fascinating—he can never quite guess what she’s about to do—but that’s not the same as love. Though he’s a borderline egomaniac who opines when there’s no one around to look impressed when he’s clever, the Doctor cannot love a woman who is obsessed with him.

This is what makes me love the Doctor. You could watch his interactions with these women and see a galavanting Lothario getting his jollies by making women obsess over him. But I think the reason I find these comparisons interesting is because, overall, he’s so much more complicated than that. And so are the women he loves, romantically or otherwise. Traveling with Amy, and eventually Rory, gave the show time to develop Amy far beyond her simple obsession with the Doctor—though the obsession remained. It allowed us to get to know her, to see her utilize agency in moving beyond her romantic feelings for her Raggedy Doc. But the show also used Amy’s obsession to force the Doctor to face his own narcissism.

I took you with me because I was vain. Because I wanted to be adored. Look at you—glorious Pond. The girl that waited for me. I’m not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box.

The God Complex  (Series 6, Episode 11)

The Doctor certainly something of an anti-hero. (Actually, the fantastic Phoebe North is going to post about that very subject on this here bloghop Dec. 17). There’s no shortage of self-love there, but he’s as broken a person as the companions he chooses. Moments of humility—dare I say humanity?—like that are what makes the Doctor a three-dimensional character who continues to surprise and intrigue fans of the series.
*tear*
Now! For the contest! To enter the grand prize giveaway, please leave a comment with your name and email address. You may enter once at every stop on the blog tour for a total of thirteen chances. The Grand Prize giveaway is limited to the US and Canada, due to regional restrictions on the DVD. Individual contest will close at the discretion of the author, but the Grand Prize contest will accept entries on any site until midnight CST on December 24th. We will post the winner on December 25th, and notify the winner via email.
And don’t forget to visit the next stop on the Doctor Who bloghop, Erika Stroup, tomorrow, when she’ll talk about  ”In Who, Nothing Is Ever What It Seems”!
Banner by Studio D

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Breaking Dawn

by sarahenni on November 22, 2011

Well, the weekend—and thus the unofficial official moratorium on discussing the details of Breaking Dawn—has passed. THANK GOODNESS because I have so many THOUGHTS and FEELINGS to share with you on Le Saga Vampîre!

In my heart of hearts, I really didn’t think this movie was going to happen. Seriously. That book. Everything that happens in it. I figured movie studios/directors would run away screaming. But money overcomes all obstacles, and it was made, and lo! it was ridiculous and awesome. Honestly, it felt like the first and the last half were two entirely different movies. Thusly, my review will schizophrenically cover the con (the first half) and the pro (the WTF-ery).

Con: The Film’s Jaw-Slackening Interpretation of the Honeymoon

ha ha, i see what u did thar

In the movie, Edward’s use of sex as a weapon to maintain power over and press guilt upon Bella was truly, very seriously disturbing. I had a hard time watching it. I was angry and confused; though some elements from the book were shown accurately, I didn’t recall my overall impression of their honeymoon experience being as awful.

So I decided to go back and check. And I was right—it wasn’t.

In Stephenie Meyers’ Breaking Dawn, the scene after the oh-so-disappointing fade to black was much the same as the post-headboard angst-fest portrayed in the movie (#TeamHeadboard): feathers, bruises, patronizing display of sex guilt by Edward. Then, in both the book and the film, Bella gets a spine (more on Bella’s spine later…) and confronts Edward, telling him he’s ruining her post-coitus buzz: “Actually, I’m really pissed at you.” Good job, Bella!

Bella starts thinking of ways to manipulate Edward into giving human-vamp sexy-time another go. Continued efforts to seduce her stone-cold spouse using French lingerie are true in book and movie. But, in the book,  she offers up as bait the possibility that she might actually go to college for a while and postpone the whole vampire transformation thing. Then, she realizes that’s actually what she wants to do. All right, Bella! College is cool (I’m going to ignore for now that part where Bella says she’ll probably fail and instead of arguing to the contrary Edward just says “I’ll tutor you”)!

Then!

Just as portrayed in the movie, Bella has a dream about sparkle motion with her husband. She wakes up crying and…

I couldn’t tell if he was moved by the tears trembling in my voice, or if he was unprepared to deal with the suddenness of my attack, or if his need was simply as unbearable in that moment as my own. But whatever the reason, he pulled my lips back to his, surrendering with a groan.

And we began where my dream had left off.

They have sex at least twice more during their honeymoon before the whole “demon spawn” thing comes up. The book—and mark your calendars because this is the only time I have ever or will probably ever be able to say this—is much, MUCH more sex-positive than the movie.

In the movie, the moment when Bella wakes to discover that her chess/sex victory was just a cruel dream was legitimately wrenching. And it never got better. Edward withheld, withheld, withheld, and Bella was spun into this horrid microcosm of everything that could get twisted about female sexuality, all in about 15 minutes. First of all, you waited until you got married to get it on, and when you finally got the green light, your vampire now-husband loses control, just like he always said he would. So that makes it your fault! Duh! And, though you feel totally fulfilled and satisfied by the experience, you are wrong to and it can never happen again (while you are human). WOW! I’m sure glad they toned down the thrusting to make this pic PG-13 because I can’t think of a more positive message to send young girls! HURRAY.

And coming on the heels of all of that was the seriously uncomfortable LACK of conversation about whether or not to abort the half-vamp baby. In the book all of this was talked to death! It was confusing and weird because the kid was … well, no one knew what it was, but at least in the book we heard everyone defend their side. Somehow the movie’s “don’t just call it a fetus” line and other brief attempts at discussion didn’t suffice.

/haterade.

 The Pros: Everything Insane in One Hour

So, I was feeling quite sketchy about the movie thus far. (Though the quick succession of gratuitous ab shot and Charlie and his Rainier Beer scene [and Charlie watching a University of Washington football game!!] was an excellent way to start the movie, as it meant two drinks from my liquor-enhanced Dr Pepper.) The middle sagged with the weight of CGI wolves and their lupine thespianism. Just, what? I saw plenty of acting-in-jorts in New Moon and it’s impossible to overstate how much I would have preferred a lumber yard scene with some emoting abs over weird, Ent-like echoing voices.

He always looked so alarmed.

But then, coming to lighten the mood as reliably as a Bluth family chicken dance, came Jasper. Here’s how you infuse some humor into your movie about vampire cesarian sections and pedowolves: give JBone* any line. Any line at all. Because his simple “Not YET!” cracked up 200 people in my theater for a solid minute.

And, after all that anticipation, I was baffled to learn that Edward didn’t Google anything—he used Yahoo! Search, like approximately no one else in the 21st century. Though maybe it shouldn’t surprise me to see him using the computer like the technologically-challenged old-world geezer that he is.

So, remember how I said it felt like two movies? Let’s say the first one was something inane, sappy, and with questionable moral content. Like, a Nicholas Sparks movie. The second one was a terrifying horror film where everyone is covered in blood and it gets to the point where you have no clue who you’re actually rooting for. Like ALIEN. (Sorry in advance for that link.)

Watching Bella’ disintegrating physical form was worse than watching that chick from The Ring crawl out of the television. The makeup during that progression was so well done, it almost made up for the last three movies of dime-store wigs and un-dyed eyebrows. (Almost.) Then, the moment when Edward was all “let me pour this human blood into a styrofoam cup so you can pretend it’s just something I picked up at Sonic!” was freaking priceless.

OMG I love you. NO NOT YOU, fugly Jace. NEVER YOU.

The only thing I have to say about the imprinting is: This and this just made my life. But flashing FORWARD during the imprint sequence to a future Renesmee in an effort to somehow make the falling-in-love-with-a-baby thing less grotesque? That was a cop-out, Billy Condon, and you know it. Look at your source material. Look at your choices. Embrace. (Condon certainly didn’t shy away from that whole thing where THE BABY BROKE BELLA’S BACK. What has been seen can never be unseen.)

And I thought RPatz did a decent job at staring, unseeing, into the dark wooded abyss as it dawned on him that Jacob was going to bone his daughter. (And oh yeah, at that moment he thought his wife was dead.) That was … intense. (KINDA LIKE ALIEN. IT WAS ALL SUSPENSE AND TERROR GUYS)

And the “extra scene”? Possibly the best part of the movie. I mean, let’s be honest. What do you think I would do if I was immortal and drunk with power and couldn’t go out in the sunlight? I’ll tell you what—I would mock my minions’ spelling and grammar and cackle as they were dragged to their death, just like Michael Sheen. And that scene alone gave me hope for what is to come in Breaking Dawn II: Just Exactly What The Hell is Going to Happen.

WOW. So what about you guys?? Did you see it? Did you hate it so much you loved it, or vice versa? What are we going to do until NEXT November?!

*Nickname courtesy of Kate Hart

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What Your Favorite Harry Potter Movie Says About You

by sarahenni on November 7, 2011

Over the ten years that the Harry Potter films were released, the franchise had four different  directors and an ever-evolving take on the world J.K. Rowling created. Just as almost every Harry Potter die-hard can point to their favorite book, many have one movie that stands out among the rest.

But which film best captured Harry, Hogwarts, and the magical showdown between the righteous and the snake-loving for you indicates more than just how tolerant (or not) you are of overly-long Englishmens’ mops. Read on and don’t be alarmed if I’m more accurate than Professor Trelawney with a gazing ball.

The Sorcerer’s Stone

Generally, you prefer beginnings. They’re filled with such hope! Such promise! Endings can just be so…complicated. No amount of sub-standard CGI or stilted child acting can get in the way of what you really love—the fantastic, magical story. And, your love of Sir Richard Harris is only matched by your hankerings for chocolate frogs.

The Chamber of Secrets

You are Christopher Columbus’ mother.



The Prisoner of Azkaban

You are, on the whole, a big fan of film. (Also, you refer to movies as ‘film.’) You probably thought Harry should die at the end of the series, and may have cackled while reading Rowling’s recent comments on the fate of Ron Weasley. You’ve though too much a lot about what life at Hogwarts would REALLY be like (and should probably read The Magicians, if you haven’t already). You are deeply in love with Gary Oldman, and you shipped Sirius and Lupin back when it was a raft.

The Goblet of Fire

tumblr_lo57dhHRiF1qbsjpxo1_500You love a good action sequence, but also have an appreciation for the dry humor and sweater-vest choices by Neville Longbottom. You found the soft-core hate between Durmstrang, Beauxbâtons, and Hogwarts hilarious. If you aren’t already, you’ve thought about joining your local quidditch team. In your opinion, The Beatles were just not shaggy enough. You’d welcome Viktor to Durm your Strang anytime. You sort of love to hate Harry sometimes, and may or may not have shipped Harry and Hermione in the past. When Cedric Diggory was chosen as Edward Cullen you had to explain to all your friends who RPatz was. Also, you’ve been known to dance like a crazy elf.

The Order of the Phoenix

Uncomplicated characters bore the crap out of you, and you have a distaste for authority. You can’t get enough of the Harry/Voldemort psychological parallel. You have total Schadenfreude when it comes to fictional characters, and love when things get downright terrible (related: The Empire Strikes Back is your favorite Star Wars movie). You used to crush on Snape the most, but Voldemort has officially taken over as your romanticized villain. You like your stories like you like your below-the-floorboard electrical wiring—dark and twisted.

 

The Half-Blood Prince

In your opinion, people who haven’t read the books have no business seeing the movie. Severus Snape owns your heart. But you’re more interested in his tortured and confusing inner life (and Alan Rickman’s laconic, impeccable pauses) than his ultimate redemption. Your other favorite genre is dystopian. You don’t have a problem with the film-makers adding new scenes or omitting large parts of the story, since film is another medium entirely. In your book, it’s about time that Ron Weasley got some already. You enjoy DRad lolz. Also, you ship yourself with Draco Malfoy.


The Deathly Hallows: Part I

Sometimes, you think the movie versions of the books should never have been made. You’re into slower, character-driven books and movies, and looking back you think your favorite part about the HP series was watching Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s relationship mature and grow. You crush hardest on Hermione. The mythology of the HP universe is fascinating to you, and if it were possible to read Hogwarts: A History, you totally would.

The Deathly Hallows: Part II

It doesn’t have to be happy, sad, or clean, but you like resolutions, and tend to enjoy the last movie in a series. (Historical war films also float your boat.) Also SNAPE & LILY = TEARS FOREVER. You can’t get enough derring-do in sweater vests and love a good ugly duckling story. You look forward to reunions, and have known to be very nostalgic, and oh yeah have you gotten your Pottermore email yet? Also, you have a rockin’ Butterbeer recipe for the DVD release party (ready for the drinking game).

{ 45 comments }

The Blog Disaster Explained

by sarahenni on October 11, 2011

Okay, this will be the last time I talk about The Great Blog Disaster of 2011, but I wanted to write out what happened and what I learned about blogging with WordPress in the process. (If you don’t blog with WordPress, this will be a boring post. But if you’re thinking about switching or starting a WP blog, you might be interested.)

<Nerdspeak>A little background about my blog to begin with: I started it in February 2010, before Blogger came out with its more powerful customizable features. I knew I wanted more control over how my site looked than that (and two words: nested comments), so I bought a domain name through GoDaddy.com and used their free hosting plan for a WordPress.org blog.

There were always some strange glitches. For example, even when I selected “send me an email whenever I receive a comment,” I never once got an email successfully through my site. But little things like that one can overlook, and I did for a year. But in September sometime, I could no longer upload images to the site. This sucked, because I try to put as much original content (read: ridiculously Photoshopped nonsense) as possible on the site.

Now here’s where I must ask you not to roll your eyes TOO much. Since I couldn’t do this anymore, and I couldn’t see any way to fix it, I opened my FTP manager (I use FileZilla) and thought I’d replace some of the files. But um… I accidentally *cough* deletedthemall. *cough*

STOP ROLLING YOUR EYES.*

I had not backed up my files, nor had I subscribed to my blog via email (as the brilliant Sara McClung asked the next day). GoDaddy wanted $115 to go back and get the files. I didn’t think that was worth it. Through Archive.org, Google cache**, and Google Reader I was able to see, copy and paste many of my posts and save at least the text. (I’ll be bringing many of those posts back in updated form in the future.) So, all was not completely lost.

But reloading WordPress’ most recent version through FileZilla still wasn’t working properly.

While I was trying to work with GoDaddy, they mentioned that their free hosting service was through Windows servers. After doing some searching, I discovered that WordPress is meant to work with Linux or Mac. Many, many users had reported problems, with most not even able to get GoDaddy’s free hosting service to work in setting up their blogs at all. I also noted that, though GoDaddy had been one of WordPress.org’s recommended host sites in Feb. 2010 when I signed up, they were no longer on the list.

So I decided to leave the free hosting at GoDaddy and pay for more reliable hosting service with the site WordPress recommended most, BlueHost. I also added a $13/annual backup service through BlueHost. (Just in case.) Once I finished all the technical HTML-y things I needed to do to reroute my GoDaddy.com-purchased domain name through BlueHost, WordPress uploaded perfectly. Now I’m getting all those emails about my comments, and there’s no annoying “GoDaddy.com” drop-down ad on my dashboard. (I told you this would be boring for Blogger users.)</Nerdspeak>

So that was a really, really complicated problem that I wouldn’t have discovered without a site meltdown. During the two weeks that the site was down, I got a whole new education about how my blog functions, and found safer ways I can try to find and address problems in the future. Honestly, I’m not happy my blog got erased, but I’m really glad I learned everything I did through the ordeal. Live and learn, right?

What about you? How many of you use WordPress? Do these kinds of problems ever pop up on Blogger? Anyone using both?

* I have a history of doing epically moronic things on impulse. Never was this more obvious than when I called Dr H, explained the situation, and his first response was, “Of course this happened to you. Of course.” Supportive husband is supportive.
** To search Google cache, enter “Cache:www.thewebsiteyouarelookingfor.com” into your Google search bar.

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