Author Archives: S.

In praise of Natalie Dormer

After watching the trailer for Rush about five times in a row, I have a new term for Natalie Dormer.  She’s a chaos hottie.

Seriously.  Her character kisses Captain America without being Peggy Carter.  Her character topples Catherine of Aragon.  Her character snuggles up to Joffrey.  Joffrey.  You think he linked death-by-crossbow with sexy before she was all ‘ooh show me how‘ at him?

And in Rush, she’s a nurse who falls under James Hunt/Chris Hemsworth’s shirtless spell in about three nanoseconds.  David Bowie starts up on the soundtrack.  She pulls the curtain shut around the examination area.  It’s a busy medical center, but she’s Natalie Dormer.  The chaos hottie.

I really look forward to her showing up in things by now.  Her characters will purr at someone, they’ll say something ridiculous in the most innocent of voices (“Shall I fetch my brother?”), and something chaotic will happen.  Awesome.

Worldcon Lesson the Third

Well, not so much lesson as observations:

  • The first day (Thursday), everyone looked just like me:  plump, 40+, white.  That lessened slightly over the weekend, and I was glad to see a gender balance after so many gaming cons of being one of like three women in the room.  Of course not everyone was plump, but …yeah.  The overwhelming whiteness never lessened.
  • Speaking of whiteness:  in one panel, a panelist stated that he couldn’t handle a media project at all because it featured an African-American character in a historically incongruous setting.  In that same panel, we mentioned zeppelins, Frankenstein, future neo-Victorianism and motorcycles that ride between stars.  Seriously, the PoC as an authority figure is what’s going to break your suspension of disbelief?  Good god.  I halfway raised my hand to ask the panelist to clarify, but then put it down again – I was surprised, and then embarrassed that no one else seemed freaked, and I missed out on a chance to be a good ally.  Shame on me.
  • There was still a point on Saturday afternoon in which I burst into tears and said I didn’t want to go home.  My husband smiled at me indulgently; I guess finding a con ‘tribe’ brings that out in a person, that revelation?  But – and this is awful, but trufax – it wasn’t about the people.  I’m shy as hell; I didn’t actually speak with many people, let alone new ones.  It was about an atmosphere of creativity.  At one point I sat in a panel with about three hundred other people who want to write.  Eager, up-turned faces, all with a story they want to tell.  That sense of …gosh, creative acceptance, made me want to give up our fast-paced Bay area lives and get a little house back in Austin and fill it with cats and books and …yeah.  Live the dream.  Someday.

Worldcon Lesson the Second

There is room for me in the world of writers and creators, but I have to write and create to earn my space. Angsting and planning about writing means nothing, compared to actual work.

Also, what a difference in settings.  This morning’s sky in California was a crisp, saturated blue, sharp-edged and almost painful to my tired eyes.  Texas has a sort of faded-jeans look.  Hazy, drifty, big.  Polaroid, to San Francisco’s digital.  I miss Polaroid.

self-compassion, rather than self-esteem

“When your focus is instead on protecting your self-esteem, you can’t afford to really look at yourself honestly. You can’t acknowledge the need for improvement, because it means acknowledging weaknesses and shortcomings — threats to self-esteem that create feelings of anxiety and depression. How can you learn how to do things right when it’s killing you to admit — even to yourself — that you’ve done them wrong?”

Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, from her article, “To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem,” Harvard Business Review.  The whole article is well worth reading.

Arrested Development Season 4 mini-review

It drags until episode 7, “Colony Collapse.”  After that, it’s one big swirling call-back and layer upon layer of nested stories until you finally figure out in the 15th episode everything that’s been going on since the first.  It’s a risky structure, especially since the first half of the season feels so random and scattered, but by the end it’s as fantastic as always.

Two points:  I wish the first six catch-up episodes of the season weren’t quite so long and expository, though I know that had to be done.  Also, I don’t think the flashback sequences of George and Lucille worked well except as a ‘look who we cast!’ gimmick (that said, Wiig did a much better Lucille than Rogen channeled George).

It’s a dark, dark season.  Too much Ron Howard, too little Maeby, just enough of everyone else.  I was giddy every time Argyle Austero (Tommy Tune) made an appearance.  And of course, the show’s mythology remains gleefully intact.  No other show can make me burst into laughter just at a small (or very large), “Her?”

Fast and the Furious 6 mini-review

Great action sequences, great fights, ridiculous dialogue, other-world physics, the Rock, Vin Diesel.  No connection to reality, but characters who have managed to become lovable plush versions of their criminal selves.  I’m looking forward to part 7 about as much as I’m dreading them using a director besides Justin Lin. 

I give it three stars – three stars that meet in mid-air, collide, get run over by a tank, fall off a bridge, land in jail, escape from jail, and then hang out in the backyard and say grace.


“Enthusiasm, like the breath of God, transforms everything.”

– Gail Sher, in One Continuous Mistake:  Four Noble Truths for Writers


First:  Really?  My father used to have a thing about never patronizing a business that deliberately misspelled its title.  I get that.  I feel the same way about names that all run together using lowercase letters, as if that makes everything more profound.

Anyway.  To sum up:  About 70 years ago, the whole population of a tiny New Hampshire town left home and walked a trail that led to the death and/or disappearance of just about everyone.  Now, a couple of photographers/writers, along with support staff and a local, attempt to recreate that walk to find out more about the townsfolk’s final days.  A horror movie ensues.

The first two-thirds of this movie scared the bejesus out of me.  I’m a sucker for excellent sound effects, and even on our lousy home system, the music and sound-related creepiness had me ducking under blankets.  And I can’t really talk about the rest of my opinions without a great big spoiler tag, so:


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What a great movie. Gareth Edwards put together this science-fiction-travel-romance-tragedy on a relatively small budget, but the cash went to all the right places.

Creature effects are rare, but captivating — and eerily beautiful, in a few pivotal scenes.  The plot involves an initially antagonistic North American man and woman who are attempting to get out of alien-infected Mexico and back to the United States.  As is pretty much the case with any film based on getting from point A to point B, their plans to make it home in comfort and safety go out the window almost immediately.  Parallels between the human characters and their alien counterparts are low-key, but poignant.

This isn’t an alien-invasion action film. Instead, “Monsters” is a quiet and mournful tragedy about fleeting connections and people (and creatures) far out of their element.

It’s currently available on Netflix streaming.