Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die. Dog March 25, 2015 Dog Bruce McAllister "Watch the dogs when you're down there, David." The Museum and the Music Box March 18, 2015 The Museum and the Music Box Noah Keller History is rotting away, just like the museum. The Thyme Fiend March 11, 2015 The Thyme Fiend Jeffrey Ford It's not all in his head.
From The Blog
March 31, 2015
The Legend of Korra Saved My Sanity
Liz Bourke
March 31, 2015
Creative Works Inspired by Your RPG Campaign
Caitlyn Paxson
March 30, 2015
The Stargate Rewatch: SG-1 Season One
Keith DeCandido
March 30, 2015
Pull List: Getting Emotional Over Bitch Planet
Alex Brown
March 24, 2015
Protecting What You Love: On the Difference Between Criticism, Rage, and Vilification
Emily Asher-Perrin
Showing posts by: Mari Ness click to see Mari Ness's profile
Thu
Dec 4 2014 4:00pm

Psychic Responsiblity: The Third Eye

The Third Eye Lois DuncanKaren doesn’t want to be different, but she is. Every once in awhile, she knows things, or has visions. And when she has a vision of a lost boy trapped in the trunk of a car—a boy that she was supposed to be supervising—others start to realize it too. Which leads to a cop asking for her assistance in a missing child’s case—and publicity she really doesn’t like.

Which, I guess, is one of the major negatives with having The Third Eye.

[You might not see the spoilers hiding under the cut, but they are there.]

Mon
Dec 1 2014 6:00pm

The Importance of Protective Eyewear: Once Upon a Time, “Fall”

Once Upon a Time Fall

Beautiful princesses! Sexy pirates! True Love! Truly Unconvincing Love! Shattered mirrors! Blatant product placements! Yes, it’s time once again to gather around and snark about ABC’s Once Upon a Time, because, let’s face it, after what this show did to actual eyeballs this episode, we all need it.

[Assuming your eyes are still working after that, they will see major spoilers after the cut.]

Fri
Nov 28 2014 1:00pm

Evil Astral Twins: Stranger With My Face

One horrible day, Laurie Stratton comes down with one of those awful 24-hour bugs.  (Or is it?)  This means that she has to, gasp, cancel going to a party, which since she’s only seventeen, and still on fairly uncertain terms with her hot, popular, new boyfriend, seriously sucks.

Still, she figures that everything will be all right—until, that is, her annoying friends tell her that if she didn’t want to come to the party, she should have just said so, instead of going to the beach. Where they certainly saw her, even if Laurie knows—knows—she was sick in bed at the time. And the idea, she thinks, of A Stranger With My Face is just, well, ridiculous.

Right?

[When evil twins start mastering astral projection.]

Thu
Nov 20 2014 4:00pm

When the Internet Doesn’t Work With Your 1970s Plot: Down a Dark Hall

From the moment she arrives at the school, Kit Gordy is aware that something is wrong. No, more than wrong—outright evil. These claims could, I suppose, be dismissed as usual teenage angst. But as it turns out, Kit is quite right: The building, the school, and its purpose are all quite, quite evil.

That isn't actually the disturbing part of reading Lois Duncan's Down a Dark Hall (1974/2011) today.

[When updating your book for the Internet age causes all kinds of contrived plot problems in a book that already had contrived plot problems.]

Mon
Nov 17 2014 3:00pm

Freezing Powers: Once Upon a Time, “The Snow Queen” and “Smash the Mirror”

Once Upon a Time

Princesses! Pirates! Orphans! Thieves! Elegant yet snowy residences! Periodic reminders of the joys of comic books! A number of otherwise somewhat sensible people chasing after Mickey Mouse’s hat! Yes, it’s time once again to chat about ABC’s Once Upon A Time.

Disclaimer before the cut: When I announced that I would be missing one episode (last week’s “The Snow Queen”) because of the World Fantasy Convention, I was not aware that the very next episode would be a two hour episode (this week’s “Smash the Mirror”), meaning that this post is both a bit long yet less detailed than usual. You have been warned.

[In which Our Heroes and Villains still inexplicably refuse to just jet down to Disney World to solve their Hat Problem.]

Thu
Nov 13 2014 4:00pm

Rewriting After Three Decades: A Gift of Magic

A Gift of MagicLois Duncan’s A Gift of Magic is a revised 2012 edition of her 1971 novel of the same title. But instead of simply updating the book to reflect current computer, internet and cell phone usage (something she did for other reissues of her older novels), Duncan used this opportunity to make some fairly significant changes to the original text, changing not just the names of a few characters, but their ages.

The result is a switch from a book which, to be honest, I can barely remember in its original form (“Oh, yeah, the one with the psychic dancer, right?” Spoiler—WRONG.) to a stronger work.

[A dancer who isn’t psychic, her twin who is, and a sideplot of please do not ever do this in Gulf of Mexico waters, thanks.]

Thu
Nov 6 2014 4:00pm

Overcoming Silence: The Trumpet of the Swan

Trumpet of the Swan EB White

“...if I have to go to the ends of the earth to find a trumpet for our young son, I shall find it at last and bring it home to Louis.”

“Well, if I may make a suggestion,” said his wife, “don’t go to the ends of the earth, go to Billings, Montana. It’s nearer.”

Like Stuart Little and, to a much lesser extent, Wilbur the Pig, Louis the Trumpeter Swan has been born with a disability: unlike other Trumpeter Swans, he is mute. This, his mother notes wisely, is not a huge issue in his early years, especially since Louis has certain advantages: he may be mute, but he is also faster and stronger than other swans. As he ages, however, this becomes a problem: without a voice, he can’t communicate.

And so, he and his father turn to other solutions, including The Trumpet of the Swan.

[Also, slate scribbling.]

Mon
Nov 3 2014 4:30pm

Rock Trolls and Captain Guyliner: Once Upon a Time, Family Business

Once Upon a Time Family Business

True Love! Pirates! Trolls! Characters who almost never change outfits! Pointless quests! Hunts for hats! And some absolutely fabulous sets, darlings! Yes, it’s time once again for ABC’s Once Upon a Time, with “Family Business.”

[Chilly and spoilery below the cut.]

Thu
Oct 30 2014 3:00pm

Let’s Ruin Some Childhoods: Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte's Web EB White

It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is the story of two unlikely friends: a pig saved from early slaughter only to find himself being fattened up for Christmas, and a rather remarkable spider with a gift for spinning words. Also, a very mean rat, a wise old sheep, a goose very focused on her eggs, a determined girl, a bit where a lot of people fall down in the mud, and a Ferris wheel. Warm, funny, wonderful—at least, that’s how I remembered it.

And then someone on Twitter had to spoil all of these happy childhood memories in one tweet.

[Her tweet, and this post, are both very spoilery.]

Mon
Oct 27 2014 2:00pm

Emma Loves Pop Tarts. And Maybe Other Things. Once Upon a Time: “Breaking Glass”

Once Upon a Time: Breaking Glass

Princesses! True love! Large hulking snowmen! Men trapped in mirrors! Women trapped in terrible plot lines! A surprising interest in Pop Tarts! Yes, it’s time for ABC’s Once Upon a Time to mess with our childhood memories, or make us just wish we could build large hulking snowmen to smash our enemies, depending.

[Spoilers follow]

Thu
Oct 23 2014 11:00am

Look, This Mouse is a Jerk: Stuart Little

Stuart Little EB WhiteE.B. White was many things—a writer for The New Yorker, a stickler for certain elements of style, a poet, an essayist, and—according to James Thurber—someone very good at hiding from random visitors. He is perhaps best remembered, however, as a children’s writer, thanks to a set of three remarkable books featuring animal protagonists, starting with Stuart Little, a little book about a talking mouse that later spawned three films and became a classic of children’s literature.

Full disclosure: I hate it.

[And to explain why, I must spoil pretty much everything in it.]

Mon
Oct 20 2014 4:00pm

Enter the Mouse: Once Upon a Time, “The Apprentice”

Once Upon a Time The Apprentice

True Love! Magic with a price, if almost never an actual price tag attached to it that would let you know whether it’s a bargain or not! Bad puns! Extremely convoluted family relationships! A sexy pirate and the savior who gives him a cell phone! And now, a reindeer! Yes, it’s another fantastic episode of ABC-Disney’s Once Upon a Time.

Ahem.

[After the cut, the spoilers will no longer be hiding under a hat.]

Thu
Oct 16 2014 3:00pm

Witchcraft and Maggots: An Enemy at Green Knowe

An Enemy at Green Knowe LM BostonAll old houses, over time, gather some sort of magic, and none more so than Green Knowe, that old house, founded in Norman times, that turned into a refuge for ghosts, time travelers and gorillas alike.

This naturally makes it of great interest to those with an interest in magic—even if they might not be the sorts to use magic properly. Or honestly. Especially since Green Knowe has sheltered an evil magician before this, something that attracts the attention of An Enemy at Green Knowe.

[Gorilla ghost to the rescue!]

Mon
Oct 13 2014 3:00pm

A VERY Troubling Relationship with Ice Cream: Once Upon a Time, “Rocky Road”

Once Upon a Time Rocky Road

Ice! Cameras! ACTION! Plus plot holes! Magically contrived moments! Terrifying moments where ice cream is associated with—gasp—EVIL! Yes, it’s another wacky week with ABC’s Once Upon a Time, where every Disney character you’ve ever heard of turns out to be related to every other Disney character you’ve ever heard of and many you haven’t.

[Never take candy from strangers. Or, in this case, ice cream.]

Thu
Oct 9 2014 3:00pm

Fifty Years Later: Paddington Here and Now

Michael Bond Paddington Here and NowFifty years after his first appearance as a stowaway at Paddington Station, Paddington Bear had become firmly ensconced at 32 Windsor Gardens with the Brown family. As are, alas, the two Brown children, Jonathan and Judy, who, fifty years on, are still at school, creating a new definition of “slow learners.”

This would be less of a problem if the characters in the books did not continually refer to things happening “years ago,” leaving me with the impression that, yes, indeed, years have passed, years where Jonathan and Judy have been held back year after year, possibly because of their dealings with Paddington. But I digress—a lot—since Paddington Here and Now (2008) is not really about the Brown children, but rather about Paddington in the 21st century: computers, London Eye, and all.

[Proving that you can continue to make the same sorts of mistakes in the 21st century as you did in the 20th]

Mon
Oct 6 2014 2:00pm

Dear Show, Ice Cream is NOT Evil: Once Upon a Time, “White Out”

Once Upon a Time White Out

Some fairy tale characters get to live happily ever after. Others, alas, turn into products of the Walt Disney Company and thus, find themselves trapped for what might seem like near eternity on an ABC Sunday night show. That’s right, it’s time for the weekly update for Once Upon a Time, with season four, episode two, “White Out.”

[Very, very spoilery up through season four, episode two]

Thu
Oct 2 2014 4:00pm

Bearing the Child Role: Paddington Takes the Test

Paddington Takes the Test Michael BondIt says something that it took me four books to reach the first archetypal Paddington book in this reread. Whether that’s about me, or the mostly random process of picking which Paddington book to read, I don’t know.

But in any case, here we are, with Paddington Takes the Test (1979): finally, a classic Paddington book containing seven unrelated short stories about the little accident prone bear from Darkest Peru. How does it hold up against the Paddington books that were, if not exactly novels, at least leaning towards that direction?

[I’d say Paddington passes the test. Oh, come on. You knew that joke was coming.]

Mon
Sep 29 2014 12:45pm

Let’s Get Cold Together: Once Upon a Time, “A Tale of Two Sisters”

Once Upon a Time Frozen

Princesses! Saviors! Princes! Sympathetic evil queens! Unsympathetic evil queens! Witches! A sexy pirate! A young actor looking increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of staying on this show! Magic! Time Travel! Distortions of every fairy tale and story you’ve ever know! Plot holes that no magic can fix! That’s right, it’s time once again for fairy tale Sundays, as the fourth season of ABC’s Once Upon a Time takes on Frozen.

[Extremely, extremely, spoilery. Did I mention spoilery? Because, SPOILERY.]

Thu
Sep 25 2014 5:00pm

A Financially Minded Bear: Paddington at Work

Paddington at Work Michael BondAt first glance, the title Paddington at Work (1966) might seem just a little misleading, and not just because it's rather difficult to imagine the accident prone bear from Darkest Peru managing to settle down to full time work.  No, the real issue is that as the book starts, Paddington is a passenger on a cruise ship, which is more or less the antithesis of work, something the bear continues to do for the first couple of chapters.

And it's a good thing the bear has a chance for a bit of a rest—even if it's the sort of rest interrupted by possible hallucinations, encounters with ship entertainers, and cries of “Bear Overboard!” Because for the rest of the book, Paddington is going to be focused on a new concern: money, making the title feel rather appropriate after all.

[Stock investments, Scotland Yard, antiques, and the difficulties of finding good help even in a world with a talking bears]

Thu
Sep 18 2014 3:00pm

Immigration and Bears: Paddington Abroad

Paddington Abroad Michael BondYou might think that a lengthy sea voyage across the Atlantic in a lifeboat with only a jar of marmalade might be enough to convince anyone, and especially a small and highly accident prone bear, to never ever leave home again. If so, you haven’t encountered Paddington Bear, who has never been on a real holiday before—only day trips, and who is very excited about the mere idea of travelling to France.

The real question, of course, is not whether Paddington will survive France, but whether France—not to mention the Tour de France—will survive him in Paddington Abroad.

[And whether or not Paddington has the correct papers.]