Here, There be a Writer

Monday, February 25, 2013

Eragon: Book versus Movie

*Updated as of 3/10/2018*

Eragon: Book versus the Movie

I sat down and watched the movie Eragon after having read the book. I did this while book was still fresh in my mind and I was ready to takes notes. I wanted to pay close attention to the little details that were either in both versions and what was changed and/or omitted. It is my first attempt to compare two mediums and right off the bat I was rudely awakened to how much of a difference there was.

It was quite the viewing, I must say. 

I was very angry by the end. There were a number of points left out of the movie (some with reason of course) and some blatantly incorrect information presented as fact. I will take you and a trip through my viewing and what I consider to be a thorough review of the movie and the book.

Before I begin, there will be spoilers! If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book proceed at own risk! You have been warned!

Emotional outrage aside, there are some things that I can accept in movie adaptations:

          1. There is a time limit! A movie is only so long and logically you can only put so much into said movie.
          2. Sometimes you have budget constraints. You can only film what and where you can afford to film at/where.
          3. There are director’s cut. Directors have a right to pick and choose what gets in the movie. They can also adapt the story to fit their needs, or budgetary demands are.

So, there are things that even if they are not what is presented in the movie that I could and would ultimately forgive for not being correct to the book. The things in the movie that royally anger me range from the omitting of crucial details or flat out presenting incorrect facts.  Eragon is guilty of these two items on numerous occasions.

To start off with the biggest peeve of this movie is that they blatantly disregard a character that is critical for the second book, “Eldest”. In the book there is Eragon, Roran-Eragon’s cousin, Sloan-the butcher, and Katrina his daughter who is in love with Roran. She is not included in any of the movie. First, if you don’t include Katrina, then how are you going to continue the movies series? When (for those who have read the book) she appears in “Eldest” (the book) as the reason Roran and Eragon leave the group to go and search for her. It is frustrating because she is to become a central character (for those who have read the books). But, something else, Katrina has interactions with Roran and Eragon. Without these interactions at the very beginning in Carvahall (Eragon’s home) I feel that something is lost. Of, course if you haven’t read the book then you would know this. I just happen to know of a bunch of fellow readers who agree with me on this.

Speaking of Roran, in the movie he tells Eragon he is leaving because he is of age to be recruited to Galbatorix’s Army, which he doesn’t want. While in the book Roran is being apprenticed out to Dempton, a Miller from Therinsford (a nearby town). This is because Roran wants to marry Katrina, but doesn’t have the money to do so. By becoming Dempton’s apprentice, Roran will be able to save up money with which is can then ask Sloan for Katrina’s hand in marriage. This causes Eragon a bit of stress knowing that Roran is leaving (in both versions). Not only that, but now Eragon has Sapphira, his dragon, that creates a whole new tension; and this part of the book is non-existent in the movie and is confusing to me. You feel for Eragon, in the book, but in the movie the whole scene feels rushed. Eragon’s and Roran’s relationship is barely developed in the movie.  Even Sloan has only ONE short scene with Eragon in the movie (plus one very short scene with the Ra’zac).

Speaking of characters that are misplaced in this movie, there are at least three scenes throughout the movie that feature Galbatorix directly, while in the book he is only referenced and never actually shown. This feels like a distraction in the movie, because the story is supposed to be focused on Eragon and HIS journey. But you have this King who is not critical to the actual story plot (he is just a referenced plot point) who has his own scenes and it kind of becomes distracting. You don’t need to have Galbatorix when you have the Ra’zac, Durza (the shade), the Varden, Brom, and Murtaugh, all of whom actually interact with Eragon. He learns more about all of these characters as he goes on his journey, hence the concept of a JOURNEY. You don’t need to bring in Galbatorix, unless you just promised John Malkovich a role, when clearly he isn’t even interacting with Eragon directly.  In fact, here’s another point, Galbatorix in the book doesn’t learn of Eragon’s existence until about halfway through the book. By then, he has sent his army of Urgals to track and catch Eragon and Sapphira. I feel that getting John Malkovich to play Galbatorix was just reason to get more butts in the movie theatre seats. His scenes do not even add anything to the story, more of an exposition dump.

Okay, let’s focus on the plot now. The purpose of Eragon leaving Carvahall is because his uncle (Garrow) had been killed by the Ra’zac. In the book has Eragon is angry at the Ra’zac, he wants to kill them for Garrow’s death and the destruction of his home. He also has a dragon and guilty about what Roran will think. The presentation is wrong in the movie has Eragon is afraid of the Ra’zac and is now fleeing for his life. This irritates me when movie makers change a character’s motives. I like how Eragon is angry at Sloan, at Roran, and even Garrow (to an extent), but when he realizes that what the Ra’zac are and that they have done, he wants revenge on them. The movie changes the dynamic of the story. I feel that you lose something when the story is changed like that. Also, Eragon’s character is a boy on the cusp of manhood, faced with a cruel and changing world. He has to react and adapt, grow up, and deal with these changes. The book shows his changing and growing emotions, whereas the movie just glosses over many of these points. Eragon in the movie is already the character he is by the end of the book.

Speaking about weakened character development, let’s talk about Brom. He is an awesome father figure to Eragon, and is an enigma at the beginning, but is grows and develops throughout the story (in the book anyway). While in the movie he gets the short end of the stick. In the movie, his role in Carvahall is not even explained. So, when it’s revealed that he was a Dragonrider with the Varden and his dragon was killed in battle, and he went into hiding/was shamed by fleeing to Carvahall. This isn’t even correct! In the book he came to Carvahall to act as a watch for the Varden. Also, what setting they show of life in Carvahall doesn’t mention much of Brom let alone anyone else in Carvahall. Did you know that Brom was masquerading as a storyteller? You couldn’t tell in the movie. You don’t get his motive explained. The storyteller point is a set up for Eragon to get more information from Brom on dragons. The movie uses the opening narration to give us most of this information. This feels like cheating, because Brom is supposed to be a teacher and a father figure to Eragon. You don’t get invested in Brom in the movie because of this. You don’t even get Brom teaching Eragon much of anything, except a bit of ‘sword fighting’ with sticks and a magic vocabulary.

Now for Arya. Forced character development is something that this movie used easily to get you vested into Arya’s character. She is the lady who originally rescued Sapphira’s egg from Galbatorix. In the book you see her at the beginning fleeing from some of Galbatorix’s men (as with the book). The difference is that in the book she is captured and tortured. She only interacts with Eragon through telepathy, yet in the movie she is awake and an active member of Eragon’s journey (still captured and needs to be rescued in both versions) instead of another character in the story, Murtaugh who is Eragon’s traveling companion in the book. Arya is a FRI (forced romantic interest), similar to Arwen in the Lord of the Rings movies (even though Arwen was already a love interest, so to speak).

       Movie: Eragon has a dream with Arya and Eragon talking together in a forest.
       Book: Eragon has a dream of a woman who is imprisoned and being tortured.

This is very trite and overused in many modern movies. Also, Arya is an elf, but you wouldn’t know that from the movie, would you? She has no pointed ears, nor are her ‘people’ referred to as elves anytime in the movie. She claims to be from Ellesmere, but you know nothing of the people of Ellesmere or of her people.

Another point, there are also no dwarves in the movie. There is ONE line from one of Galbatorix’s scenes that mention elves and dwarves. Only one!!

The whole movie feels forced and lacking in character development for most of the characters that are in the story. Also, there are characters not mentioned such as Katrina (explained earlier), Orik (Hrothgar’s nephew), Hrothgar (the Dwarf King), and the Twins (mysterious magic users); while Sloan (the butcher), Horst (the blacksmith), Angela (the fortune-teller), and Murtaugh (outcast) are barely touched upon in the movie. There are those who are like Eragon, Brom, Sapphira, and Durza who are not fully developed and that loses something for me while watching the movie. You don’t feel connected to the characters.

There are facts that are incorrect, or stretched, such as when Eragon meets Angela in Daret (which is by what looks like a  lake) in the movie. While in the book originally Angela resides in Teirm (which is by the sea) with the were-cat Solembum (also not mentioned in the movie). These are things that, in my opinion are crucial to the story. I found that their lack of inclusion or distortion of the facts made the story weaker as a whole.

I must also note that when I first watched Eragon in the theatres back in 2006 I enjoyed the movie immensely, as I am fan of fantasy movies and books. When I read the book, much later, I was surprised by the differences, but hardly as upset as I am now having really compared the two in greater detail. The part of the absent Katrina in the movie still frustrates me (after I had read “Eldest” and realized what had been done). Still I thought that I could live with both, after all I have seen some poorer movie adaptations or sequels made, but still found them enjoyable to watch as a stand alone movie. It’s hard to watch Eragon now, knowing how vastly different the book and movie are from each other.

To those who like the movie. Go ahead and like it! I did (for a while anyway). It’s a decent movie if you have no connection to the book. It’s still not a good movie. In my mind,  the characters don’t feel fully development and there are many forced plot points that are too trite for my taste, and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth personally. I will stick with the book on this one. If I must watch the movie, I will watch the Rifftrax version nowadays, because that IS funny and really entertaining to watch.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Ed Gorey!

This is Edward Gorey, probably one of my favourite illustrators ever, with his offbeat, dark, and random work. Some of his work includes "The Gashlycrumb Tinies", "The Epiplectic Bicycle", "The Doubtful Guest", and "The Utter Zoo."
“A is for Alice who fell down the stairs, B is for Basil assaulted by Beasr, C is for Clara  who wasted away, Dis for Desmond who fell out of a sleigh…”

The Gashlycrumb Tinies is a alphabet story about morose children and one I discovered in college upon the door of one of my English professors office door. At the time I knew very little about Ed Gorey, but have come to respect is weird and often surreal works, even if I don;t always get it.

He has published over 100 books. A writer and illustrator, Ed Gorey has illustrated for works like Dracula by Bram Stoker, The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, and Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. He has become quite the icon over the years. He also drew this intro to the PBS series, Mystery! What would have been his 88th was on 2/22. 

 I want to share a bit of Ed’s work with you all. I even sketched a couple of his Urns from his Urn series that is featured in the anthology Amphigorey Also (1983).

 These are unfinished. I took the drawings by Mr. Gorey and duplicated them and was then going to adapt them with some of my own, both writing and drawing. I love the Victorian feeling to his art.

Happy Birthday Mr. Gorey! You are truly awesome in every sense of the word!!

I would love to visit the Ed Gorey museum someday, maybe this summer....Check out the website: The Ed Gorey House. Below are a few panels from another favourite, "The Utter Zoo".

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Post Blog Challenge Review and Joel Hodgson

I survived my 7 day blog challenge! It was certainly a challenge and a learning experience. I'm not sure I would blog everyday. It's kind of hard to come up with something to write about everyday, at least something that other people would want to read about. Maybe if that was my job I could possibly blog everyday, but not with my current job and projects.  It didn't help that I am also running all month long sonnet writing project at the same time. There were a number of thing s that I learned from this past week:
1. Always have a list off ideas that you can pull from. Even with you are unsure of what to write, having a general list of concepts, ideas, and half developed thoughts will help you to reign in your potential ideas for use in your blog.
2. It doesn't hurt to have 2 or more blogs started at the same time. As over zealous as this sounds, it is helpful to has a couple ideas gestating while to write your blog.
3. Know your limit. Don't be afraid to step back and go simpler in style or topic. If you generally don't have a topic, but you still want to put out a product, then free form write, or even write something that is easy for you fiction/prose/poetry (poetry works for me).
4. After to reach your goal, feel free to take a break. After 7 days straight of writing everything and anything, it was nice to sit back and say, "You know what brain? We are not gonna write tonight, instead wear are gonna watch 'Mythbusters' or 'Torchwood'." I took 2 days off from writing, excluding the sonnets, and feel renew, refreshed, and ready to work on a few blog projects that I have in the works.

5. Don't give up! This is the most important. I wanted to give up at the 3rd or 4th day. I didn't! I push forward and found something to write about. 

Side note: Also, I know I said I wouldn't do the 7 day challenge again. I don't think that was entirely true. I had a great time testing my brain with new topics and getting creative. It's definitely something you have to exercise. The will to write everyday. I will probably try it again, but for now I will stick to one, or twice a week.

So, it's (was) Joel Hodgson's Birthday (2/20)!! The man who created Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (MST3K) turned 53 today/yesterday!  A magician, comedian, tinker, and all around funny guy is Mr. Hodgson. Did you know that he started his career as an amateur  magician when he was in high school, even won "Junior Magician Award" twice. In college he got into stand up comedy, and then made to jump to California in 1982 to break into comedy. Then in 1978 he returned back to St.Paul, Minnesota  to create the best sci-fi show ever (okay, in my opinion anyway); it began airing KTMA in 1988 and then Comedy Central's precursor "The Comedy Channel" in 1989. For more information on Joel, the Bots, and MST3K go the MST3K Goldmine!

I am very familiar with MST3K. During college, my then boyfriend (now husband) introduced me to the wonders of this show. The terrible movies that were dredged up from the deepest abysses and the incessantly irresistible robots 'Crow' ‘Tom Servo' and 'Gypsy,' and their creator, Joel Robinson and also prisoner of the Gizmonics Institute’s evil baddies, Dr. Clayton Forrester and Dr. Laurence Erhardt or TV’s Frank. They are the ones who shot him into space and left him to watch bad movies. He, Joel, survives by riffing on these said bad movies with his homemade 'Bots. MST3K was so much fun to watch. They found a way to make these terrible movies more palatable.

Now-a-days Joel is "I am also the 'creative lead for media for an aerospace company called – I kid you not" and serving up the riffs with his old cast mates riffing terrible older movies with “Cinematic Titanic.” Founded in 2007, the premise is the same as MST3K, but without a story, they are just coming together to riff on terrible movies. Where Michael J. Nelson, the other host of MST3K created “Rifftrax” featuring riffs of many modern, big named blockbusters, “Cinematic Titanic” focuses on the older and harder to find terribly cheesy movies.  A number of them are ever from the old MST3K catalogue (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians for example).

SO, today I am going to present my top 5 MST3K episodes:

First the Honourable Mentions: The Final Sacrifice/Touch of Satan/Overdrawn at the Memory Bank/Alien from L.A.

There is a couple here, because they deserve recognition. I may have only seen these episodes once or twice; they were so bad that they deserved to be recognized. They had something special, characters that a truly memorable in the badness, or in their badassness? Nope, this category is for the movies that have the most memorable bad characters. These are so bad their good types.

First of the honourable mentions goes to “The Final Sacrifice”, it is about a teenage boy looking for his lost father and an evil cult trying to raise their buried city to take over the world. It features the BEST character ever; the wacky drunken drifter, Zap Rowsdower.

“The Touch of Satan” is a ‘love’ story in a sense. It sense a bad movie! It’s about cursed and homicidal witches, that’s romantic right?!?!? There will be no spoilers here! Go and WATCH IT! :-)

“Overdrawn at the Memory Bank” features a young Raul Julia in this futuristic sci-fi (also love?) story where the arts are against the law. Lawbreaker’s (not just criminals) minds are transplanted into the bodies of animals. All goes wrong when Raul Julia, accused of watching “Casablanca” in his office at work is sentenced to have his mind ‘doppeled’ into a baboon’s body. He ends up in the main computer after an accident where he ejects his mind from the baboon body he was placed into (the baboon’s body was threatened by an elephant). Hyjinks ensue as Raul’s character is now in control of the computer that runs everything in this world.

Finally, “Alien from L.A.” featuring a young Kathy Ireland as a nerdy waitress with a high pitched voice. She is looking for her missing father who is prisoner in an underground city and considered an alien by the denizens of this city. Kathy Ireland must help rescue her father, also becoming a fugitive alien herself. Her voice is the worst culprit, almost muppety; the movie itself isn’t too bad.

Number #5: Jack Frost

A Russo-Finnish production of a Russian fairy tale; it take on the feel of a version of Cinderella (sort of) involving beautiful girl (Nastenka) and her cruel step-mother, a boastful youth  in love with the daughter (he ends up with a bear head for a whiule), an ugly step-sister trying to get married, and evil step mother trying to kill the pretty daughter, Father Mushroom (a wizard that tricks the youth), Baba Yaga (a witch, who also plays tricks), and Father Frost (a kindly Wizard with a powerful staff). It’s a delightful if unusual story, with a full cast of characters, it’s poorly made, yes, but fun and memorable. Check it out!

Number #4: Hob Goblins

I have never seen a movie with so many parking scenes and a long club scene with a band performing. That aside, you have the main protagonist who is working at an old movie studio where he discovers a old secret of the studio, and that having your hearts desire isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. I find that Hobgoblins is just silly. But while the long parking scenes (and I mean scene of nothing but parking) are distracting, the characters and the plot (or sort of plot) is still enjoyable. It is definitely one to check out.

Number #3: Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders

A terrible fantasy movie that feature 2 stories being told by Ernest Borgnine about  Merlin’s shop of mystical wonders. The first is a story of a couple that want a child and the husband gets an old magic book from Merlin’s shop. He begins casting spells that age him, in his last spell he gets the surprise of his life. The second story is about a mechanical monkey that is stolen from Merlin’s shop and is sold to a novelty store by the thief. The monkey has a death wish for anyone it comes near when his cymbals strike. The monkey is a birthday present for a young boy. The boy’s fish, house plants, and the family dog before the family is almost caught in the monkey’s power. Guess what comes to retrieve his monkey and save the day? Go on, guess…..Some of this movie is really silly, but it was meant to be a series with different stories each week that feature Merlin and his Shop of Mystical Wonder. I neat concept and a fun episode of MST3K.

Number # 2: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

What can I say? Santa Claus! Martians! Imminent hostile take over of the earth on Christmas! You bet! It has become a classic watch for every Christmas, as the Martians, who have no Santa Claus, steal the real deal from earth for the non child-like children of Mars. The movie features a young Pia Zadora (Girmar) as one of the Martian children of the King Martian, Kimar (the mother is Momar and the boy is Bomar. Gotta love the names here).

Number #1 Manos: The Hands of Fate

Manos, what can I say. There is barely a plot. The acting is non-existent. The sound is terrible. It’s not even worth watching, yet I enjoy it anyway. The bumbling Torgo with his familiar “doo doo doo” theme music (not a song really) to the Master’s wives deciding the fate of the woman and her daughter (it involves lingerie wrestling). Manos became such a cult classic with MST that Mike Nelson (the other MST host) turned it into a live event with his Rifftrax (the 1st riffing group creating) event. It’s bad, but it’s worth it to watch it. Some cannot stomach the movie by itself, so I would recommend either riff versions, the original MST3K episode or the DVD of the live Rifftrax event.

Go check out Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax here!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

20th Anniversary of Great Big Sea

This year’s is GBS’s 20th anniversary (1993-2013). For 20 years they have been making and playing music across the great Canadian Plains, as well as in the States and across the Pond. Part of their big celebration this year, the band has released a 2-disc Greatest Hits collection and are going on a rather extensive tour of Canada and the US to promote it. They have also recorded 6 new tracks that have been included on the "XX" album.

You’re probably wondering who GBS, right? Well, GBS is Great Big Sea and Celtic/folk rock band that hails from Newfoundland, Canada. You know that big island off the eastern coast of Canada. Theirs is a blend of traditional Irish/Celtic/Newfoundlander folk and rock.

Newfoundland is the island in the lower right corner.
I was introduced to GBS in college by the same friend who introduced me to Dar Williams. Back then, I knew a total of 4 songs by GBS: "Run Run Away", "Mar-Mac", "Ordinary Day", and their cover of REM's “End of the World,” Alan has phenomenal breath support to be able to sing it that fast. I love these tracks, they were very catchy and bordered on pop, without actually being pop. That was where my knowledge stayed until a trip to one of the many CD conventions I attended in the late 2000's. This one was in Ithaca, NY and I happened upon the "Great Big CD/DVD" combo and the "Something Beautiful" album. I fell in love with them after that. Something in their sound was truly beautiful- something there-and is full of awesome.

I remember one weekend-after getting those albums-up in Buffalo visiting my friend Laura and we went for a drive in Canada (back when you could cross the border with just a regular license). We were listening to the "Something Beautiful" album while driving thru St. Catherine’s. That album is made for scenic driving. Laura and I had the best drive of our lives (well, I can’t speak for her, but it was the best for me).

After that we started attending any concerts that were in the Buffalo/Rochester areas and the collecting of the music began. I discovered that this little band from the St. John’s area was quite the thing. They are REALLY HUGE in Canada! The US boasts quite a fan base as well, but GBS isn’t really main stream here as in Canada. Not that I mind, they make great music, have fantastic voices, and offer their hearts to their fans.

Newfoundland flag
Neat factoids about this great group of guys, of whom there are 5. (there were originally 4, but one member, Darrell Power bowed out after their live album after of their Sea of No Cares tour to spend more time with family). The band added 2 more and this is the line that is still touring and making music. The members are Alan Doyle, Sean McCann, Bob Hallett, Murray Foster, and Kris McFarlane. Back to the factoids: Alan Doyle, the co-lead singer of the band was in the recent Robin Hood adaptation with Russell Crow. The Bob Hallet is an published writer and author whose work includes many of the early GBS liner notes, a couple of textbooks for children, and pieces of work pertaining to the music business. Murray Foster, formerly of the cult band 'Moxy Fruvous" has created a pseudo band "The Cocksure Lads" and is making a movie of the music that he has co-written with fellow Fruvous band mate (9funded through Kickstarter), Mike Ford. Sean McCann, the other co-lead singer of GBS was the first of the band to take a stab at a solo work. He now has 2 solo albums. Kris McFarlane, the drummer from Nova Scotia who has performed with the likes of Denny Doherty (founding member of the Mamas and the Papas) and The Paperboys to name a few. 4 of the 5 members all have degrees in English (be still my beating English/Literature heart).

GBS has a wide body of work and I would like to highlight my top 10 Great Big Sea songs. Not all of these are from the Greatest Hits, nor are they all singles from any of their albums. These are tracks I think anyone looking to get into GBS should give a listen to.

Number #10:  "Trois Navires de Ble"

Translates into 3 Ships of Wheat, it tells the story the sailors on the ships talking to 3 sisters on the shore trying to sell wheat to them and not succeeding. While sung entirely in French, it’s done very well. From the “Turn” album and beautifully sung by Alan.

Number #9: "Wave Over Wave'

This is a  sentimental ballad about the life of a sailor and his feeling about the sea and his family. The hardship of leaving his family, but the love he has for sailing and the sea. This is also sung by Alan and is from the “Up” album.

Number #8: "When I am King"

From the “Something Beautiful” album, it’s more modern sounding, although not as heavily influenced by the pop rock sound as the “Sea of No Cares” album. It’s simply about things going right in the singer’s life, if he were king.

Number #7: "Come and I Will Sing You (The 12 Apostles)"

A Bob song! When I first realized this was a Bob song, I was instantly impressed. There are a lot of words in this song. It’s a traditional Yuletide song, in the vein of “12 Days of Christmas”. Traditionally sung during the Christmas season in Newfoundland. Bob does a great job on this track. It’s from “The Hard and the Easy” album, which is all traditional Newfoundlander folk songs.

Numbers #6: "Straight to Hell"

The first time I heard this song, I realized that GBS could and is a rock band. The band that had been practically a folk band for years was proving they could do the rock and do it well. The song is about selling your soul to make great music, but the reason it works is  because Alan believes it as he is singing. It’s not the normally pretty ballads or the rough salty sea shanties of the norm. It’s raw and gritty. I love it!

Number #5 ": Sea of No Cares" (Live/Living Room version)

This song in from the album of the same name, and is unfortunately the victim of over-production. I like the song and the album has a number of nice tracks, but it is clearly over-produced. The Live/Living Room version of "Sea of No Cares" slows down the song. It makes it more emotional and touching. I can hear Alan singing his heart out on this version. I recommend anyone curious to skip the album version listen  to the version on the “Courage, Patience, and Grit” live album or any live version online, or even better go to a GBS concert. It’s worth it.

Number #4: "Good People"

A Sean track this time. It’s a little more country, but there is something inherently catchy about it, about the kindness of good people in a world filled with many less than kind people. It’s on the “Safe Upon the Shore” album.

Number #3: "General Taylor"/"Old Brown’s Daughter"

These are tied, simply because I cannot choose between them both; at least with their live shows these are both done acapella. "General Taylor" is naturally acapella and "Old Brown’s Daughter" is done acepella at their live shows. GBS have such amazing harmonies that any acapella songs make me melt. "General Taylor' is sung by Sean from the “Play” album and "Old Brown’s Daughter" is from the "Turn" album.

Number #2: "River Driver"

Another traditional song from “The Hard and the Easy” album, sung mostly by Alan with only a bodhran accompanying him and the rest of the group singing the chorus. Oh man, I get goose bumps when this sung play. It’s a touching story of the River Driver, the men that help pull the barges (with the use of horses of course) up the canals to deliver goods to the more inland cities and villages. Alan’s soulful voice is heart breaking as he tells the story. I highly recommend this one.

Number #1: "Ordinary Day"

Probably their biggest hit ever and the unmistakable with the Morse code beeping in the intro. The first track on the “Play” album, it a fun track to listen to both the studio version and any live version.

GBS is still putting out quality music. I recommend you giving them a listen if are interested in the Celtic/Folk sound, but don't discount that these guys can rock. If you get a chanced to see them live, please do so. Their tour schedule, music, and such can be found on their website: GREAT BIG SEA.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Brain Storming

You know, when I started this challenge a week ago I thought, 'no problem', I can blog for 7 days straight. RIGHT! Well, that was a fool's thought, right? Seems that I forgot a crucial notion about life. The rampant desire to do things, or not do things. Here I am at 10:30 at night with nary a blog in site. It wasn't for lack of trying either. I even resorted to brian storming with Amanda and David over dinner that was a strange conversation.

See, I had a board meeting this morning; when I came home from that I worked on my daily sonnet. This time it was about 'Shriekers', those noisy creatures from "Tremors 2: Aftershocks". Quite a feat that was! Actually after I got the first stanza, it was really easy. By the time I was done with that I needed to do laundry, then before you knew it, it was time to meet Amanda and David for coffee and dinner and watching silly stuff via the internet. Now it's going on 11 pm and no blog. What the hey! I was all worked up to write a blog today. I even got some neat ideas for consideration.

So, why is that? I worked myself up to write and then nothing? How can I make it as a writer if I can't blog for a week straight? These are good questions. Do I have any answer? Not really! I won't lie. I was going to write a blog, and I was having trouble desiding what I should write about today, but I didn't want to not have something to write about. I was in a conundrum. So, what did I do?

Back to dinner, the conversation was the standard fair between David, Amanda, and I (or any of my theatre nerdy friends for that matter, you know who you are). There were books, movies, music, sometimes a battle of movie or music quotes (usually ghostbusters, Doctor Who of late, or The Monkees), and then the random. At one point we were discussing fantasy series and I mentioned Mercedes Lackey's "The Mage Wars" with Skandranon, the black gryphon and how when he leapt through a magical vortex he was bleached white. So, then David (I think) mentioned Gandalf and getting his greys to become white in the 'Clorox Portal'. These are just 2 of my friends. There were giggles, mostly from me. Needless to say I jotted it down in the notebook. Hey, it might come in handy.

So, what did I decide on for a topic tonight? Well, I have a number of neat ideas, but some involve watching movies that I haven't seen in a while or at all, in one case reading a book series over again, and still others that I need to think more on. Well? Do this mean I am going to post tonight? Well, yes! What you see before you is a preview of some of the up coming blogs that I am planning, because I realized that sometimes it's better to preview upcoming works than to try and force something that may not have worked out at the time.

I do not want to rush my writing. I want to think clearly and make sure want I put in this blog is not only worth MY time, but YOUR time as well. You are the one reading this, after all. If I don't have the time to write something cohesive at this moment, then I will still write it, but find something else to fill it's place in today's blog spot. It's good practice as a writer to have multiple projects/jobs/concepts going on at the same time, especially with a blog. I also want to stay true to this blog, if I say I am going to blog for 7 days, then I WILL blog for 7 days. What am I working on for future blogs this week?

- Eragon the Book Versus Eragon the Movie

-See above, but using Golden Compass (been meaning to read that book again)

-What is "The Dark is Rising" Sequence (and what happened to the movie?)
-Top 10 book series to read
-A Doctor Who inspired blog
-Great Big Sea blog about their 20th anniversary and my top            10 GBS songs
-10 books you should be reading
-An interview Blog TBD

So, some exciting stuff in the works. I am always looking for new things to write about. Never fear, a writer writes, so there will be new stuffs soon.

I feel renewed. To write makes me alive, therefore I write to live. It's part of me, it just took me a few years to figure that out. But, it's definitely what in want to do. Thanks for joining me on this journey. I write for you (not just me). Always, here will be a writer.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Take a Little Trip Down Memory Lane: The Get Along Gang

Singing….“The get along gang get along gang/each one’s so special in his own way//Montgomery the leader and such a good sport/Get along gang get along…”

I remember watching the “Get Along Gang” on Commander Tom, long before it aired on Nickelodeon, from the spring of 1984 to Fall of 1985, I could watched the adventures of Montgomery Moose, Dottie Dog, and Zipper Cat, to name a few. It was light heart cartoons about a cool club of kids that have adventures. Did you know that the Get Along Gang started off as a Greeting Card line in 1983 and then launched the cartoons, followed by action figures and stuffed animals (I had the Zipper Doll. Hello! He was a cat…and I am totally a cat person), and books.

Zipper Cat
Montgomery Moose
While I can’t really remember the details of my TV watching way back then, I do remember watching them and really enjoying the show. There was something that appealed to me. IT was probably that they were animals and not people, after all I was watching Paws Paws, My Little Pony, and Glow Worm (all which were on The Commander Tom Show, with Rainbow Brite. The show was super catchy, definitely and ear worm. The show featured the Get Along Gang is real stories about working together and getting along with others.

I found a DVD of “Get Along Gang”, “Heathcliff”, and “The Littles”, 3 DVD’s with 10 episodes per disc. I couldn’t resist. Looking back on the show, I realize that the writing is not stellar, but the messages were kid friendly, with good lessons taught. I was surprised by some of the vocal talents like Don Messick (Officer Growler) and Frank Welker (Barker Turtle), two of the biggest voices in the cartoon world.  The DVD features 10 of the 10 of the 13 episodes (Not included on the Mill Creek DVD: Nose for News, Camp Get Along, School's Out, The Bullies, That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles and Snowbound Showdown) and the other episodes are bonus features on Mill Creeks other releases. I still have one of the books, “The Get Along Gang and The Christmas Thief” and a found a Montgomery Moose at my local Salvo. I kind of want to get a Zipper the Cat doll for old times sakes, because he came with skates. There were plenty of “The Get Along Gang” books and comics (I have one of the comics too). The comics ran from 1985 to 1986 under Marvel's Star Comic.

Artwork from "The Get Along Gang and the  Christmas Thief"

Old of the many books of TGAG
Star Comics


It’s exciting to see a number of cartoons for my era of childhood being released on DVD, Netflix/Hulu, or even making a televsion comeback. It gives me hope that cartoons are still cool to watch, even as an adult.