Saturday, February 6, 2016

It's All Fun and Games Until You Meet A Real One

Strange Days
These are difficult times we live in. I see it in my children. I see it in my friends. I see it by the lack of stability in relationships, careers, housing, investments, and even the weather patterns.

Yes, there has always been flux and evolution and survival of the fittest and such. But what monstrous times we live in.

We can look back at history at other monstrous times: WWII, The Spanish Inquisition, Romans, Biblical events.

There are have always been despicable people performing alarming acts on others. These stories, these realities, these historical facts, should be teaching the human race to evolve.

But we don't.

Villains in Fiction
It's fun to watch villains in fiction. We love the Joker, Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, Snidely Whiplash, Dandy Mott, Alex, Dracula, The Wicked Witch of the West, Cruella deVille, and so on. We love to watch them do evil stuff and either find redemption or pay the price by the end of their story. Fiction is fun. Without evil, there would be no good. How would we know who the hero is since there wouldn't be one? Stories would suck.

In real life, it's not so fun to dance with a psychopath/narcissist/sociopath. And they are getting harder to avoid as they are Academy Award winning actors and actresses roaming around our every day world. And there is often no redemption or happy endings in any story they star in, which is all of them.

The barrage of TV shows about these dysfunctional people indicates we are hungry to hear these stories. We marvel from the outside at the clues we're fed by the writers. How are people so easily conned? Why don't they leave if they think they are abused? How could she not know her husband is a serial killer?

As a horror writer, I'm interested in real life horror and keep the TV on a lot for company. I watch American Greed, Dateline, 20/20, all those OWN shows about con artists, serial killers, cheaters and though it gets depressing, it's also interesting to see rich, famous, intelligent people get just as conned as Joe Everyone who lives next door.

The human condition is a strange and complicated one. Yet in many ways, very easy to contemplate as well. We all want to survive. Some people think surviving is manipulating others to get what they want, no matter the price. Others believe that helping others is the way for everyone to just get along and all get what we want in the end. Most of us fall somewhere in-between, living our lives, doing our best, hoping for the best, and getting by and assuming everyone else is doing the same.

But some people aren't. They will stop at nothing to lie and cheat their way to ...what? "The Top" whatever that means to them. To some, it's to be President of Something, a judge, a doctor, a movie star, and others it's to own their own business or have a car or own their own home. Goals may vary but the lies and deceit don't. People who lie and cheat to get what they want will do it in every level of their life. It can seem exhausting when watching it in action, but that's just how some people are. And those types of people aren't very good for most other people. They know how to push buttons, how to seduce and manipulate, whether it's a conscious act or just a natural gift/curse. It behooves us to learn to recognize their games early on.

These people make great villains in fiction like in the hits Wolf of Wall Street and Catch Me If You Can but the people who lived through those crimes would likely have a different version of the story.

No one wants to live through that kind of drama and trauma. But people do every day on different levels. And no one talks about it. This is why it's hard to get untangled from the spider web once it's recognized. Then when people do finally break free, it's rare they are applauded for their efforts.

No, the target is often considered stupid, selfish, weak, insane, abusive, if he or she dares to leave or even more so, to speak out at all about any of the abuse.

Domestic abuse is so insidious that to relay one or two incidents often sounds ridiculous. The listener has to bear in mind all the rest of the set dressing of the event. Get into that D-box chair and put on the 3D glasses. Think about tone, facial expressions, body language, seduction, setting, family repercussions, financial's never so very simple as, "Oh, he slapped you? Why didn't you just up and leave?" or "Just kick him out."

No, it's not easy to decipher the truth and perception and perspective and experience. But if a person feels fearful of another, that is never good. And to feel fearful enough to try to please him or her? That's co-dependency and a thing of its own which also needs to be recognized and talked about.

The Trial of Jian Ghomeshi
The trial of Jian Ghomeshi is happening right now. Already witnesses are being raked through the coals about what appears to be contradictory acts on the part of the alleged victim. This is an opportunity for people to be educated about the dangerous manipulations of seduction, abuse, hypnosis, gaslighting, and more. This is the chance for people to learn that yes, you can be smacked around and horrified by it, yet still want to please your abuser because you feel like YOU did something wrong for this ugliness to happen and you will tie yourself into knots trying to understand it, to fix it, to avoid it happening again. However, it can take a lifetime and some people never figure out that it wasn't their fault, that they had been gaslighted/abused/lied to/manipulated and kept on a string.

Until such behaviour is experienced in one's own life, such situations can look like ridiculous, ludicrous behaviour. People who haven't been through a mind-fuck don't understand how a perfectly intelligent, sane person can be driven to madness by loving or trying to please someone who turns out to be abusive.

People don't go into an abusive relationship knowing its abusive. They are seduced by magnificent behaviour, gifts, romance, hot sex, and so on and only very slowly does it all erode into a nightmare. So slowly that it's barely perceptible. And that's why it's difficult to see from the inside, as the seduced target, that something is horribly wrong even if people on the outside can see it plain as day. There's no specific place to pinpoint what happened and often the target will blame her or himself for somehow making things fall apart. And so he or she will try to please the abuser more, who of course, is getting away with bad behaviour and so it all escalates.

Get Educated About Toxic Relationships
At any rate, there are hundreds of websites, groups, and books these days geared towards toxic relationships. If your relationship suddenly seems to have taken a left turn at Albuquerque, get educated about domestic abuse, narcissistic personality disorder, and learn how to set your own personal boundaries. Keep in mind that material possessions mean nothing if you or your children are dead whether from mind games, health issues, or physical violence.

Print version of (Stop) Dancing in the Gaslight

The trial of Jian Ghomeshi will bring abusive behaviour out into the light. Hopefully the proceedings  will open up some dialogue about abusive relationships.

In the meantime, let's keep the villains in fiction. Real life ones suck.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Scorpio Actors Playing Psychopaths

It does tickle me on some level and so I thought I'd share what other fans of these actors have also likely figured out.

As followers of my blog know, I took great delight in the Dandy thread on American Horror Story: Freakshow. Dandy was my new favourite obsession for a while there.

Then Dandy was gone.

Now, Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Force Awakens has tickled my psychopath bone as we can see from my growing toy collection and daily Instagrams.

So like any fan, I long ago checked out a bit about actors Finn Wittrock and Adam Driver and find it amusing that they are both Scorpios close in age and both recently married their sweethearts from when they attended Julliard.

It's interesting that these young Scorpio actors scored iconic roles and also married their sweethearts and all four attended Julliard. The two Scorpios brought great acting work to what could have been really cheesy roles for either one. But they both brought a depth and compassion to their psychopaths that keeps/kept the audience engaged and sympathetic to the story.

I don't know what it means, if anything, It's just one of those things that makes me go, "Hum."

I also managed to figure out the volatile nature of Emma Roberts and Evans Peters relationship and why they keep reconnecting though anyone can see they aren't good for each other.

They are both Aquarians. As an Aquarian myself, I will vouch for the fact that Aquarians have a mean streak. It's usually with our sarcastic tongue. There's a reason this air sign is signified by the suit of swords in the tarot deck. We're the kindest, nicest people in the world until you cross us. Then it's all over. Roberts and Peters keep going back and forth despite domestic violence issues. They are still young and need to realize they can and should move on from each other. Of course, it doesn't help that they are always working together or near each other, that their worlds are always touching, so I can see how they want to ride that "famous couple" wave while it lasts as well. Absolutely. I hope they can work through their issues as they mature. We'll see.

That also explains why they are so compelling to watch even when their acting may not be at its strongest. Peters blew it out of the water this year as psychopath Mr. March in American Horror Story: Hotel. I give him 100 stars for his role and he kept continuity throughout the entire series. A great feat in what is an uneven show.

I'd like to see Emma Roberts back on American Horror Story as a bitch actress/model/rich girl like she was on Coven. Something where she can be mean and cold and doesn't have to act much. Some kind of serial killer would be good.

At any rate, it's fun to see how star signs and celebrities may or may not have patterns.

Do you find any similarities in celebrities or characters?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Valentine's Day is Time for Love Magic

Love Magic: The Good Witch's Guide to Healing Your Heart is a little book I wrote a few years ago. It contains advice and exercises to heal your heart and move on towards healthy, happy relationships.

 Love Magic is available both in print and ebook.

Do you have a Love Magic story to share?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

What's the Deal with Kylo Ren?

Girls just want to have fun too you know!

The other day one of my friends asked me what my deal is with Kylo Ren?

"Are you sexually attracted to him?" he asked.

I pressed the Kylo Ren light saber battery usage detector icon placed in a strategic position on the Kylo Ren wallpaper on my phone so that it buzzed, and then I grinned.

"I like his saber..."

However, his question did make me wonder. He only said what I'm sure many of my friends and peers are thinking.

Why did I suddenly get obsessed with Kylo Ren?

Well, Dandy's been dead a while...

Gotta have a new psychopath to moon over?

I think the picture of Kylo Ren looking at the demon from my new book speaks for itself.

It's what I do.

I live in the shadows.

I'm a horror writer.

The Villain
Kylo Ren is a great villain. At least, how I like to see villains.

He's not pure evil, as his mom says in Star Wars: The Force Within. He still has some Light.

He almost has a conscience.

I wish they'd left in the scene where has remorse over what he did to his dad.

But the movie is already long and also it might have been too emo for the hard core fans who already mock him and call him Cry-lo Ren. I also take umbrage with haters who thought he was a sissy in the final battle. He was battling Finn with a mortal wound, inflicted by Chewbacca that would have taken out most people, in his side, that he kept hitting, and he got sliced by Finn. It also seems clear to me that Finn has some Force in him as well so that battle was pretty rough.

Then he finally had to battle Rey who had already picked his mind and created self-doubt, while bleeding to death and no doubt in horrible pain, and did a damn fine job of it. He could have killed her instantly, we know that, but he was hesistant, no doubt still feeling shitty from killing dad and now he would kill another person he knows. We know he knows her from the flashbacks. I'm certain she is Luke's daughter so she would be his cousin. So it's a vulnerable character battling supposedly to the death. But it isn't because they have to stay alive for two more movies. And he'll have a sexy scar on his face in addition to his tortured Phantom of the Opera mystique.

As I've mentioned before, this movie came along at the perfect time in my life. It awakened in me my fun side. My geek side. The side that dug sitting in the moving chairs with 3D glasses hurtling through space shooting stuff.

Cool Costume and Hair
Maybe Kylo Ren's costume looks way cooler in 3D. I've only seen the movie in 3D. I love his cape and hair, and of course, it echoes of all things I love: witches, goths, and vampires.

When I first left the movie, I said that they should have something in one of the next movies where Alan Rickman in Snape costume but not as the character Snape and Kylo Ren have some sort of encounter. But poor Mr. Rickman died shortly thereafter.

I've always loved quirky looking men and of course, they Disney-fied Adam Driver to be gorgeous, creepy, petulant, and dangerous. They pushed all the right buttons, at least to capture my interest. And judging by all the "Adam Driver is hot" posts I see, I'm not alone. He pulls off that outfit and of course, that narcissistic psychopath character perfectly. Yes, there are also lots of people who hate his looks. But isn't that always the way?

Embrace Your Inner Child
My kid side no longer has actual kids to indulge and so I'm embracing my inner child and enjoying playing with my Kylo Ren toys.

Don't shrinks always tell us to embrace our inner child.

So maybe I am!

I've been posting pictures mostly on Instagram and some on Twitter. I don't mean anything by it but pure fun.

Like most writers, I have lots of toys on my desk and I rotate them out for new ones now and again. Now a tiny Kylo Ren has joined the pack. I've been looking for a bigger one but he's sold out everywhere in the form I want. I know there will be more than enough dolls in about a month. So many they'll be piled up in discount bins for years.

So I'll be patient for new dolls.

In the meantime, I hope people get a few chuckles out of my silly games.

In the Beginning

Kylo Ren meets my gorilla from the Chicago Zoo.

Kylo Ren tells the witch the demon made him cut off the gorilla's arm but she's not buying it.

Then he meets my spider.

Gorilla gets pissed at Kylo Ren. He smacks down the light saber but Kylo Ren puts him in a Force Grip.

Gorilla is going to make some Kylo Ren stew.

Kylo Ren is pissed.

Kylo Ren Force grabs a nearby skeleton who was mocking him.

The spider and gorilla try to make a break for it.

Kylo Ren Force grabs his lightsaber and that's the end of everyone.

Time for a coffee break from a mug with the crime scene photo of Abby Borden with her head bashed in from The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast.

I gave him a stern talking to about trashing my toys.

He's says he'll try better as he stomps off in a huff. I'm not sure I believe him.

Well, look who's here? Scrat! He heard all the commotion and thought he'd see what's up.

Kylo Ren has an idea.

Be careful, Scrat!

Scrat panics and knocks the acorn and the lightsaber out of Kylo Ren's hands.

Just as Kylo Ren is going to Force choke Scrat, he is distracted by a spinal column bone that fits perfectly on his head like a helmet. He contemplates the look for a while, in black of course, but decides he doesn't want to look like a cross between the Pharoahs in the movie, Jesus Christ: Superstar and the Gorilla Army from Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. I hope.

Where are you going now, Kylo Ren?

He's a man with a mission.

No, Kylo Ren. You can't use the Scorching Ball as your new Starkiller Base.

Look deep into the crystal ball, Ben Solo. Who are you and what do you really want from your life?

(NOTE: I took these pictures over the course of the week or so I've had the doll. These photos might be different from ones that I posted on other social media. I thought it would be fun to try to make some sense out of the random pictures that I took. So I came up with this story. The pictures themselves are in the order of how I took them, which I made part of the game for myself!)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base Behind the Scenes is Funny

                                      I found this picture on the internet.

A couple of weeks ago, Saturday Night Live aired an Undercover Boss spoof about Starkiller Base and Kylo Ren.

It was the funniest thing I've seen in years. Maybe even since I saw Tropic Thunder.

Good for you, Saturday Night Live for hitting one out of the park. I still watch SNL when I can, and it's still as uneven as ever but every now and again they get it right.

The skit was so simple yet so hilarious.

 I was the target audience since I actually watch Undercover Boss and I'm a Star Wars and Kylo Ren fan.

I found this version on Youtube. I can't get the official SNL one to play here in Canada. I do not own this video.

There are some outtakes floating around the net and there's some additional footage that didn't make the skit. They are funny as well. I found this version of the outtakes on Youtube.

I do not own this video. I found it on Youtube.

Obviously, besides clever writing and all the great stuff that makes a parody, Adam Driver's acting skills can't be overlooked for both his sensitive and terrifying portrayal of Kylo Ren in TWA and for his magnificent comedic timing and tone in the skit.

People have been making fun of Star Wars for years. I myself have several catch phrases in my everyday vocabulary. The mocking of Kylo Ren and now Matt the Radar Technician is fun to see. Takes everyone's mind off the real issues of the world for a few minutes.

Mock Toys and Such

Funny Kylo Tumbler drawings

Someone got a tattoo of "Matt" which is really Adam Driver playing Kylo Ren playing Matt!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Audience Laughed When Kylo Ren...



removed his helmet.

I've read a few blogs, posts, whatever, where people talk about how some members of the audience laughed when Kylo Ren removed his helmet for the first time in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I laughed.

We are supposed to laugh or react if we go into this story blind.

I made sure to steer away from all spoilers, I didn't even pay attention to which actors played what parts. I didn't know Adam Driver played Kylo Ren.

So, up until the moment Kylo Ren removes his helmet, we don't know what we're dealing with.

I was expecting an ugly, scarred, mutilated bitter skinhead dude.

When he removed his helmet, his face caught me completely off guard and I laughed.

Not because it was funny.

Not because it was dumb.

On the contrary, it was a laugh of delight and wonder, the hallmark of a good story. This psychopath behind the mask is just an angry teenager or perhaps in his twenties. Someone possibly younger than my own sons. And a cute one at that. With not a mark on his pretty face as he pouts and cries and threatens, his soft dark curls bouncing in the light.

Of course, he gains our sympathy because we can see his face, feel his pain, actually see that he really is struggling between the dark and the light. He wants to be important like his idol, but he's fearful he will fail.

His vulnerability oozes from the screen.

At any rate, I know there are people who laughed for other reasons and that's fine too. There seem to be many people who find it difficult taking Kylo Ren seriously because he's played by Adam Driver. I myself hadn't seen his other work before seeing Star Wars so I can't judge about that.

But I can and will judge what I've seen so far and I say, "Good job!"

Most people who know me, know that I laugh out loud a lot in real life because I find humour in almost anything; my own quirky view of the world. So you can be sure I laughed and oohed and gasped audibly upon my first, and yes, even second viewing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I laughed the second time I saw him take off his helmet because I knew what to expect and was happy to see it again.

So laughing doesn't mean mocking or even that it's funny ha-ha. It's just a sound of delighted pleasure no matter what the reason!

I'm also the girl who laughs at parts in the Human Centipede movies and thinks Tropic Thunder is one of the best comedy movies of all time, with the exception of Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I’m ready to chime in on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I come from it as the fourteen year-old-kid who saw the very first Star Wars the day it opened and then proceeded to go see it 27 more times that year in various theatres, even in Banff, Alberta when our orchestra played in a festival.

It spoke to me on some level. I loved the sound; it was new for the times. I loved the crawling opening credits, new for its time. I lived for the jump into hyperspace every time. Also a new special effect. So yes, I adored the state of the art bells and whistles for the seventies.

I loved the story. I liked Luke’s story the best, the teenager longing for more somewhere else. A male Dorothy hoping to go over the rainbow. And he does.

The story was simple, the characters are fairy tale archetypes, it was a basic battle between good and evil, a bit of magic/religion/occult energy, and so on. It all appealed to me plus I was a huge science fiction geek. This was also around the time that Stephen King came on the scene. But I digress.

I bought the soundtrack, the music soundtrack, the word for word dialogue soundtrack, books, comics, bubble gum cards, watched the talk shows and followed the actors careers, even read Postcards from the Edge. I wrote an essay about Star Wars in high school for one of my classes. Ah, the seventies!

When the next couple of movies came out, I didn’t really care for how they were going. I don’t know what I expected, but I wasn’t as hypnotised by them. I think it was after the one with Jar Jar Binks that I stopped watching. I didn’t see the Annikin growing up years. The commercials and other media didn’t and still haven’t compelled me to watch. I preferred my imaginary theories about how Annikin embraced the Dark Side.

I saw the Force Awakens trailer and was weepy and excited yet cautious. Would my heart be broken again? Would I hate yet another Star Wars?

I saw the movie the day it opened at a full house midnight screening in 3D with superdedupersound and reserved seating.

I saw it again today at one in the afternoon because there was a Blue Monday Special. If you had 500 Scene Card points, you could see a free movie. A movie of any level. So I chose the moving chairs, 3D, superdeupersound version and it didn’t cost me a dime.

Yeah baby, that’s how you see Star Wars!

I love the opening credits, the music. I love the homages. The movie felt like a comfortable old shoe. Sure some things were forced and obvious but it’s sort of a Star Wars tradition, isn’t it?
At any rate, The Force Awakens does a competent job setting up a story that will continue for two more movies.

Why I Think Rey Is Luke’s Daughter
When I first saw SW:TFA, I thought Rey was Luke’s daughter. Then I made the mistake of reading endless theories on the interwebs about how in the books, Ren and Rey are twins so that means Luke is her uncle and Han is her father. And certainly there are many scenes that suggest a family connection.

I was led down the Yellow Brick Road and even entertained other more elaborate theories about Rey's parentage with other characters including Ben Kenobee. Then I remember the basic premise of Star Wars. It’s always easy and obvious. So Rey is Luke’s daughter.

Today, armed with an open mind I watched for clues about who Rey is. My first Luke impressions were magnified more on second viewing.

Rey is left on abandoned desert planet as Luke was with his aunt and uncle on Tatooine. Rey is likely watched over by the junkyard owner.

Luke had a bit of the Force before his adventures began. He could shoot things and drive really well. When he met the gang, he was taught properly by Obi Wan.

Luke’s music is often played under Rey’s scenes. She even dresses like he did in SW.

Han and Leia adore her and on second viewing, they just might know her and are keeping their mouths shut.

Seeing the flashback again, this time with a shaky seat, in 3D, did she see her father load R2D2 with the map (like Leia did in the first movie)? Kylo Ren destroyed the school and formed Knights of the First Order, Rey was left with ”someone” on Jackku. So that was a child watching it all. She may have been training with the school as well or privately with her dad. He hid her from Kylo Ren. Since everyone knows Kylo Ren can read minds, no one speaks of it or admits it to keep her safe. She may even have played with that very light saber as a tiny child but had her mind wiped when she was left behind.

Kylo Ren
On first viewing, I loved the spoiled baby almost a sociopath teenage angst. Sort of reminded me of a certain young ruler in another country on earth. He also reminded me of Dandy on American Horror Story, my last year psychopath crush. I don’t find Kylo Ren as sociopathic as most other evil dudes. I believe he truly does have empathy and a soft side and feels bad for killing his dad but he’s trying to be the best ruler of the universe he can be. Snape, oops, Snoke told him to kill Han and he believes that Snoke knows best. But sadly as Leia and others said, he’s going to get fucked over in the end. Poor Kylo. He’s going to end up like the Joker or someone where you actually feel sorry for him even though he’s a murdering psychopath.

After my first viewing, Emo Kylo Ren was invented on Twitter. I love that feed. Then I saw Kylo differently. A goth like me!

The SNL skit of Kylo Ren as UnderCover Boss rocked. It hit all the right notes for a Star Wars nerd.

Today I watched carefully and enjoyed Adam Driver's Kylo Ren even more than the first viewing. He does a great job delivering empathy for Kylo whether he deserves it or not. And liking characters, whether good or evil, makes for some great duels and storylines.

Some people have made comments about how they see or don’t see Kylo Ren because they’re familiar with some of Driver’s other work. I myself haven’t seen the other shows he’s been on, so he’s fresh to me and I’m pleased with how he’s playing Kylo Ren. Kylo is very human and confused.

Kylo’s slash across his face isn’t that bad so he’d better not be all covered up forever in the rest of the sequels. He’s a good-looking guy (as most evil dudes are) and a slash will make him even more sexy. So don’t fuck it up whoever is directing the next one!

Kylo sensed Finn at the battle. Did he sense him because Finn too has the Force? Or because he sensed Finn’s fear and weakness and thoughts about defecting?

Kylo knew about Rey and her power because they’re cousins.

I love how Kylo hero worships Vader. It works very well in our current cult of the celebrity society.

Rey Learned Too Fast
No, she did not. She has Luke, Vader, and who knows who else’s blood in her. She was likely trained by her dad before she was left at the junkyard. Her fight scene was set up when we first meet her. Her pilot skills, her ingenuity, and her fighting skills all were showcased before she acquired the force from battle of the kin.

The Force Awakens
Rey’s Force awakens

Kylo Ren’s Force awakens

R2D2’s Force awakens

Finn’s Force awakens (why else would he suddenly deflect?)

Luke’s has been woken up.

Han gets to go back to sleep.

Chewie got highlights.

C3P0 got a red arm.

I’m Awake Now
I like how this film sets a firm footing on where we’re going from here. It’s a rehash of the first one and that’s just fine by me. It’s familiar enough, just complicated enough to keep watching and it’s easy to follow.

After all, as a published author myself, I'm well aware there are no new stories. It's how you tell the same old stories that counts.  I’m happy to follow these characters through a few more stories. 

I’m dying to know where Kylo Ren is going, if he’ll have a moment of remorse that will be his fatal flaw, or if he’ll go full throttle psychopath?

Will Rey endure months of temple meditating with dad or will they hop back onto the ship and go on an adventure?

I have lots more to say and will write more blogs.

Let me know your thoughts or any theories you want to discuss in the comments.