February 27, 2024

'A Haunting in Venice' and Other Stuff

I've had this movie on my watchlist for the longest time, and I finally, FINALLY saw it on the last day of my mini-holiday (today, I mean). I wasn't disappointed, but God Almighty, my heart hurts. I didn't expect to finish the movie all broken up inside, no thanks to the final reveal -- which takes place in the closing scenes after the entire ordeal is over. 

I just sat there, jaw hanging down, going, "Oh, hell, NO." But ayup -- considering all the twists and turns of the plot, it only makes perfect sense in the most heartbreaking way imaginable. That said, I really enjoyed it and wasn't at all disappointed. Yes, in true Poirot form, so many things can be explained away, but the process of uncovering the reality behind all the events is where the fun lies. 

And that's why mysteries are at the top of my list of favorite literary genres, sitting snug and shoulder-to-shoulder with ghost fiction. 

So far I've seen two of Branagh's adaptations of Poirot mysteries: Murder on the Orient Express and A Haunting in Venice. I've yet to see Death on the Nile, but I'll say right now I'm very, very hesitant about it -- not because of reviews or anything like that since I love Hercule Poirot. Rather, it's because I was fucking traumatized by one of the adaptations from years before (with David Suchet). 

It was the final closing scene that used a flashback from the killers' past, showing them dirt poor but happy, and I just lost it when the credits rolled. I couldn't believe I bawled my eyes out in sympathy for the killers, but again, considering their motives and stuff, it all made perfect sense to hearken back to a happier moment. And if you're familiar with Death on the Nile, you know just how the story ends. 

Am I up to having my heart raked and shredded all over again? I do want to see Branagh's version, and I hope, hope, HOPE that I won't be subjected to something like that in this film. Once was enough, and I still get messed up whenever something stirs that memory.

In other news, I decided NOT to take on the next book simultaneously with The Dubious Commode, which surprisingly enough wasn't a difficult decision to make. Common sense (recently sorely lacking, I guess) overruled everything, and the ego was only too relieved to step back, hands up. 

I'm now happily near the midpoint of the book, and my notebook's seeing a lot of ballpoint pen action as I've been scribbling note after note on not just this WiP but also what's coming next: Voices in the Briars plus less focused stuff for Compline, The Twilight Lover, and The Bells of St. Mark's Eve. I'm also rearranging my calendar somewhat, and it's looking more and more like The Perfect Rochester will be released after Voices in the Briars instead of after Compline.

And that's because in terms of the possibility of me getting something solid written down, The Perfect Rochester beats Compline by more than a mile, so I might as well take that on first before the other. And speaking of Compline, I'm still wibbling over the final cover art for that book, but that's nowhere near the immediate future, anyway, so it can wait.

And so ends my mini-holiday and mini-holiday posts. It'll be back to a longer wait time for the next update here, but it's been a blast, and as I've said before, GODDAMN, I needed this break.

Keeping Up With Netflix: '1670' (2023)

You know, I'm only halfway through the series, and I just HAVE to get on here and pimp the shit out of this show. If you have Netflix, check it out. It's absolutely hilarious and bizarre. Now I love Derry Girls and their frenetic, insane humor, but what I'm getting from 1670 is more MY preferred brand of humor. Deadpan, dry, and just absurd -- think Cunk on Earth but Polish and set in the 17th century with a narrative. 

I've seen viewers compare it to The Office in tone and approach (mockumentary), and so many things about this series tick all the right boxes for me. With humor, especially historical settings, anything that's modern and anachronistic adds a certain layer of ridiculousness that works perfectly within the show's context. 

For instance, there's a horse that's being back parked in its space (with a second person guiding the rider with commands, etc.). There's a 17th century version of the iPhone. The Erasmus Peasant Exchange Program between Poland and Lithuania. There's climate change. And several smaller, less obvious details that are better off being experienced as part of the whole than isolated and picked apart. It's glorious. 

I laughed watching Derry Girls, but it wasn't as hard and consistent as when I'm watching 1670. I'm talking loud, stomachache-inducing laughter. I honest to God hope there's a second season, but I'm not putting my money on it. The series itself looks pretty expensive to produce with the costumes and props and all that, and I'm grateful to have all ten episodes to come back to over and over again when the mood hits. 

I also tried to find a Netflix trailer in the original Polish language with English subtitles (which is how I'm watching the series), but I can only find the English dub version. This trailer, though, is from the Netflix Polish channel, so you'll have to click the CC button to see the subtitles in English. 

The series in a nutshell: "In this satirical comedy, a zany nobleman navigates through family feuds and clashes with peasants in his quest to become Poland's most famous figure." The spirit of dry, witty humor lives on with absurdity levels cranked to maximum, and I'm here for it. FOR ALL OF IT.

February 25, 2024

Simply Gorgeous: 'Cage' (2022)

Every now and then I trawl Youtube for animated shorts, and I've liked quite a few already. It's been a while since my last foray, and this was serendipity more than anything, most likely recommended to me because I've been checking out videos on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (which I absolutely adore, btw, and can't wait for the final installment of the trilogy to come out).

There's a lot to be said about animated shorts in that so much can be conveyed with nothing more than images and music in a handful of minutes. No dialogue needed. And this one caught my eye and my heart, and I can't say enough good things about it.

The cleanness and simplicity of the art style works perfectly with the complexity of the subject: obsessive, selfish love and the literal and metaphorical cages resulting from it. Compare the angel's cage with the demon's and how the demon's final scene shows the cage completely cut off versus the angel's cage, where a platform is still there to offer freedom. And sad though this might be, some of the most compelling stories are the most tragic, and this is one example. I'm so in love with this short, I'll put this up here for everyone to watch, enjoy, study, or even ponder -- and there's a surprising amount to ponder in my case. 

In other news, I'm roughly a third through The Dubious Commode, and as I've got tomorrow and Tuesday off (a long-delayed and desperately needed break from the day job), I'll be able to carve an even bigger chunk by the time I go back to work. I've been considering starting work on Voices in the Briars in conjunction with this one though it'll be more like chipping slowly away as I go since my attention should be on The Dubious Commode. Maybe a chapter per weekend while my current WiP will stay at a two-chapter-per-weekend schedule. 

I don't know yet. I'm still playing a wait-and-see game in this case as I'm constantly reminded about my purpose for scaling back on my publishing calendar to begin with. Clearly I'm still going against my resolution, but that scaled back thing is still a goal I have. 

I also managed to track down the original image I wanted to use for Compline, which makes me so abnormally happy, and I was able to play with it using different filters and stuff. I love the alternate cover I recently shared here, but the original image came the closest to the book's plot. Anyhoo... I'll post it soon as I'm still wibbling over the final version of it.

February 20, 2024

'Nimona' For Everyone (Limited Time, Methinks)

Okay, so Netflix decided to drop Nimona on their Youtube channel so more folks can see it for free -- and without ads. Here you go:

One might speculate as to why Netflix decided to do this, and I'm guessing it's because they wanted to generate more buzz with the Oscars coming up. The movie's nominated for Best Animated Feature. Plus I just learned it also won a couple of Annie Awards (Best Voice Acting for Chloe Grace Moretz and Best Writing) in addition to making the shortlist for a slew of different categories for the Annies. So kudos to everyone behind the film.

I watched it when it came out on Netflix last year, and I loved it. Still do. I also watched it again on Youtube, and none of my initial reactions have changed. That movie went there. And it needed it to go there, I think, and I'm so glad the filmmakers didn't shy away from such a heavy theme.

From what I know, this freebie is only for a limited time, but don't quote me on it. I think it'll be up for another six days? That's the rumor I heard, anyway. So for anyone who doesn't have a Netflix account and is interested, have at it!

EDIT: The video's now unavailable (updating this post on 2/27), so there you go. 

February 19, 2024

What Follows Next: 'The Perfect Rochester'

The book's main premise was already established in Nightshade's Emporium, so taking that thread and making something out of it isn't as though I'm starting over. Out of all the books I have planned coming up, this is the one I'm most confident in. It's not a sequel. It's going to be Narcisse's turn to tell his story, but in his case, the point behind his finding his HEA will involve issues of self-confidence and developing trust in other people, and references to his dilemma in finding his beloved are worked into the other book's plot.  

Anyway, here's the cover art:

I tried to stick to the lighter, cheerier color scheme that Nightshade's Emporium has but at the same time give it its own character (naturally). The title is part of a line that Viktor says to his twin toward the end of the book, and I thought it suits Narcisse's journey. The tone will be the same as Nightshade's Emporium, and some of the events in this book will be taking place simultaneously with Viktor's troublesome efforts at understanding his purpose and the role Myles plays in everything. But as I've said before, this book as well as Nightshade's Emporium are standalone novellas and don't require anyone to read both to understand what's happening.

Now as for the release date, it's going to come after Compline as noted previously, but as always, the calendar is fluid.