Thirty-six! (Or, the List of Four)

General Geekiness

So, I failed to read the small print and have gotten myself into the epic List of Four meme . So I shall gladly part take.

I’ll answer as honestly as possible, for I am nothing if not honest.

1. Four shows that you watch:

  • The Prisoner. This should come as no surprise to long time readers of the blog. This is, hands down, my favorite show, and the subject of my Epic Thesis. It has everything I want in a TV show. It’s short (17 episodes), the stories are thought provoking, the premise is compelling, and it completely messes up your perception of nursery rhymes. I dare you to think of “Pop Goes the Weasel” as innocent after watching this show (and, come to think of it, reading my thesis).
  • Sherlock. I so enjoyed this BBC miniseries and am very excited that there will be more episodes next year. With my luck, though, I’ll miss the season as it airs in the UK, then will be in the UK as it airs in the US. C’est la vie.
  • Danger Man. I so enjoy this show. More Patrick McGoohan kicking ass. It is really well done entertainment–more straightforward spy fare than The Prisoner and incredibly entertaining.
  • Doctor Who. I can’t help it. This show makes me smile so much. Ridiculous, yes, but thoroughly enjoyable. I do like Matt Smith as the Doctor. He’s got a manic energy to him that works.

2. Four things you are passionate about:

  • Art. I create art. I seek out art in museums, online, in books, on the street. I sketch. I try to paint. I miss Florentine museums each and every day. I even have another blog dedicated entirely to visual art.
  • Research/learning. I love seeking out facts, books, details, anything to make minor revelations for my stories, art pieces, etc. And just amassing a large amount of trivia so that eventually, The Village Idiots will win at trivia night.
  • Story-telling. Be it through books, movies, plays, poems, television, albums, musicals, silly stories told to friends, scary stories around the campfire, history, I love it. I am constantly seeking out stories and composing my own. I adore movies (good, bad or cheesy) and love reading good books.
  • Adventure. I love to travel. I love to explore. I love to immerse myself in a culture. Give me my passport and a plane ticket and I’m golden.

3. Four phrases words you say a lot:

  • “Fudge monkeys!” My preferred silly curse. Sometimes it works better than the standards.
  • “Cuppa?” I am a tea fiend. I drink tea constantly when I’m at home–and at school for that matter. I average about 6 cups a day when at home.
  • “I AM NOT A NUMBER! I AM A FREE MAN!” Heh. Usually said when goaded on by my fellow Prisoner fan. Or when I’m going a little mental when working on the thesis.
  • “Mi piace!” One of the few Italian phrases that stuck with me. I say it pretty frequently, but usually only when I really like something.

4. Four things you’ve learned from the past:

  • Nothing’s permanent. Even if you’re in an unpleasant situation, things can change.
  • Try not to take things too seriously. Poking fun at yourself is a good thing. Especially when you fall down.
  • Life’s an adventure. Sometimes you need to throw yourself into new situations through travel or going to a different bar.
  • If things don’t work out the way you planned, oh well. Something else will arise, but you’ll have to go and look for it.

5. Four places you would like to go:

  • Graduate School at the University of Edinburgh. I’m applying soon. Wish me luck.
  • Russia. Moscow, St. Petersburg, even Siberia. I just want to go to Russia. I’ve been fascinated by Russian history for years. Lately, I’ve been looking at plane tickets and all of my adverts have been “Buy tickets to Moscow! Things to do in Moscow!”
  • Portmeirion. See The Prisoner. I really like visiting places used in my favorite movies, or spots in books, etc. I feel like its my solemn duty to make it to Portmeirion at some point in my life.
  • Dublin. My dear Holmes has informed me that I must go. I’ve decided that I must go (and will hopefully see The Frames in concert when I’m there).

6. Four things you did yesterday:

  • Bought a pair of jeans. Hurrah, I finally have jeans I can wear with my brogues.
  • Read a bit of Les Miserables. Am now nearing the end…I have 1.5 volumes left. Am a bit distraught and unsure of what to read when this epic tome is done.
  • Wrote part of my novel-y thingy. I’m trying to find some of the characters and their personalities. Two of them are pretty set (but I’m finding out some interesting things about one of them), and I’m hoping to flesh out some of the supporting characters.
  • Drank tea and ate chocolate cake. It was lovely. I’m appreciating the small things in life. And a world without tea or chocolate cake would be substantially sadder.

7. Four things you are looking forward to:

  • Returning to Florence in March. I’m going back for a week to visit my sister. I can’t wait to return to my favorite haunts.
  • Finishing Les Miserables. One epic novel down, I guess War and Peace is on the 2011 reading list…anyone know of a good translation?
  • Completing my Bachelor’s degree. I’m freaked out, but really excited as well. I’m looking forward to the next big adventure (hopefully this will be post-graduate work at the U of Edinburgh; if not, finding employment).
  • Presenting my epic Prisoner thesis on April 28.  I will be so proud of myself to have this project completed. I opted to write two theses this year–one which was completed last semester titled “The Carnivalesque World of Norman Bates”, and this one, which isn’t titled yet.

8. Four things you love about winter:

  • Snow. I’m a New Englander. I love the cold weather, the white stuff falling from the sky, and the icy wind that blows my closet door open. And going sledding in the stuff is pretty great too.
  • Christmas. It’s that get together with the family, decorate the tree, goodwill to all feel that I love. That, and watching some of my favorite movies, White Christmas and The Muppets Christmas Carol.
  • The cold weather. I like watching the snow fall, wrapped up in a blanket while reading. Can’t beat it.
  • All the tea I want. And I don’t feel guilty about drinking a hot beverage because its cold out.

9. Four bloggers who should share their list of fours:

If you want to, go ahead and answer.

30 Days of Writing: Day Twenty-nine

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?

I think about writing nearly all the time. I could be watching a movie and think of a turn of phrase, a description, something to get me thinking. I always am. I keep a journal beside my bed, in case I have an idea while sleeping.

In the movie viewing, a couple of nights ago I saw Doctor Zhivago for the first time. I was completely engrossed in the film, but during the scenes at Varynkino, I found myself entranced by the windows coated in frost. How to describe them? I wondered, before the words “fractured ice” came to mind.

I love plots, symbols, ideas, above all, characters. I observe, I report, I create.

Do things in real life remind me of my work?

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes.

People on the street will have my characters’ faces (including one fellow in Edinburgh who not only looked like my character, he played the violin, too). Friends will say things that remind me of my characters, so I write them down for future use. Instances (such as my family going for a swim in the Marriott fountain because the pool was closed post wedding) will end up in stories, too…

30 Days of Writing: Day Twenty-eight

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there’s nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.

Yes, I have. One of my characters is blind in one eye (following a rather tragic accident that I continually ret-con), and amongst my sailors I know I’ve got a few missing limbs.

For the most part, my characters make do. The character who is missing an eye hasn’t adapted–understandably. He’s a pilot by trade and has been grounded.

30 Days of Writing: Day Twenty-seven

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

I’d like to say they don’t, but they do. Ish. I don’t devote large amounts of description (at once) to describing how my characters look, but I do have specific mental images for what my characters look like. It’s along the lines of, if someone were to play my character, who would it be? I like to have a mental image of what my character looks like, in order to describe some feature.

While I may know exactly what a character looks like, I don’t describe him or her as though you’re looking at a photograph. I prefer to describe in snippets, say, “rain dripped off of his aquiline nose” or something to that effect. Later I may mention the character’s eye color (if important, in one of my stories it is important to mention that several characters have the same coloring) or general build.

My thought is, we are largely visual beings. We perceive our world through what we see–why should our characters be any different?

30 Days of Writing: Day Twenty-Five

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

Not many of my characters do. Some, like Peter, have (severe) allergies, and thus can’t have pets (a trait I stole from myself) whereas others, like Geoffrey, have numerous ones at various points in their lives.

Geoffrey has a hedgehog named Milton. I’m not sure why, one day I just determined that a) he had a pet, b) it wasn’t a normal domesticated animal like a cat, dog or hamster, and c) it had a funny name. It hit me that he ought to have a hedgehog because it’s vaguely ridiculous, like him.

By and large, though, I don’t focus too much on whether or not my characters have pets. I actually think that Milton’s been left by the wayside–the presence of the hedgehog isn’t intrinsic to the plot, nor is it to Geoffrey’s character.

30 Days of Writing: Day Twenty-Four

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?

I will kill a character in the first line of a story if the plot demands it.

I have, actually. And guess what? He is a main character, too, of my forever-in-progress RAF tale.

His death is the most brutal one that I’ve written–he dies of burns sustained when his Spitfire is gunned down. I don’t describe his death–no, it’s mentioned as the cause of death, but we aren’t in the cockpit with him as he receives these injuries. We aren’t in the hospital where he dies. We know he dies, we know how he dies, but we don’t see it, like his friends.

When it comes to character deaths, I’m not a ‘kill’em all’ sort of person. If the plot demands it, then yes, a character, even a primary character, will die. But I don’t kill off characters for the sake of killing off characters. I want the deaths to be poignant, I want them to affect the reader.