Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The (Hot!) Phantom of the Opera

This entry's a little late, especially since I saw The (Hot!) Phantom of the Opera way back in February (um, three times). But I thought I'd dedicate this here post to him the film since I just purchased a *cough*bootleg*cough* copy from my favorite CD vendor along Silom Road before the Songkran holiday. And before you run off to alert the authorities, I'll have you know that I do intend to buy the DVD when it comes out. It's just that, well, patience was never really my strongest forte.

I first heard about The Phantom of the Opera when I was in 4th grade. My teacher, Ms. Miller, was an INSANE POTO fan. She made us listen to a song off the London West End version of POTO every single frickin morning. Some days it was Music of the Night, which was good for lulling us to sleep. Other days it was The Point of No Return, which was pretty scandalous in itself considering we were just a bunch of 9-year-old kids listening to lyrics like, What raging fire shall flood the soul? What rich desire unlocks its door? What sweet seduction lies before us? ("What's seduction, Ms. Miller?"); and, In my mind I've already imagined our bodies entwining defenceless and silent ("What's entwining, Ms. Miller? How can I make my body entwine?"). And everyday sweet Ms. Miller -- bless her heart -- would swoon in her chair and tell us for the umpteenth time about the Phantom and how so very sad it was that he was condemned to live out the rest of his days alone and heartbroken in the basement of the Opera Populaire, and how it was all that black-hearted Christine Daae's fault. Yawn, we all said, but if it meant shorter math lessons, then great! Crank up the volume! Bring on the Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpieces!

The most fun song for me, however, was the movie's theme song. I mean, how laughingly 80's can you possibly get? It was perfect. There were the electric guitars, syncopated percussions, pipe organs, and everything. The only thing that was missing was the big hair, shoulder pads, and Meatloaf. The 2004 movie version is even greater, because guess what? They've got hand claps! ("In sleep he sang to me" -- clap, clap! -- "In dreams he came" -- clap, clap!) Makes me laugh like a loon. By the time the "sing, my angel of music -- SING!" part comes along, I'm usually in tears.

Anyways, without further ado, I shall present to you...

The Phantom of the Opera!

Like all great men, our dear Phantom friend here has his flaws, namely his, um, slight anger management issues.

OK, serious anger management issues.

And maybe his behavior can veer on the disturbingly obsessive, what with all those dolls he likes to stock up on... not to mention that really creepy life-sized Christine-in-her-Wedding-Dress doll.

And alright, maybe he can get a tad bit stalkerish at times, peeking in on you when you're sleeping, dressing, bathing, etc...

But hello, if Gerard Butler, er, I mean, the 2004 movie version of the Phantom wants to drag me down to his basement and keep me captive...

...then hey, I'm all for that!

I thought the movie was awesome. Maybe it's because I'm a sucker for musicals, period films, and Scottish guys in general (read: Ewan McGregor, Dougray Scott, Clive Owen), but honestly, I think Joel Schumacher did a great job in translating the stage version to film. As for the cast, beautiful Emmy Rossum has a gorgeous voice and did a fine job as Christine; Minnie Driver was plain BRILLIANT (think Mariah Carey as a 19th century diva -- oh wait, that's actually not so hard, is it?); Patrick Wilson was great, though I really don't get why he looked like a cross between Fabio and my Hanson boys circa 1997; and Gerard Butler was... well, I think you already know what I think about him! ;)

Of course there were a few slips. Like, why were there American and English accents flying all over the place when this was supposed to have taken place in 19th century PARIS, FRANCE? Also, does anyone else also think that Christine has some serious daddy issues? I know she's supposed to be sweet, naive and all that good sugar and spice stuff, but really, I just wanted to shake her during the graveyard scene. Hello, that is so not your dad! Your dad doesn't have a huge radiation burn on the side of his face, nor does he go around gallivanting in a big black cape!

Still, great film all around. And no, I did not cry at the end when the Phantom sits all alone in his big batcave with the little monkey music box and sings to himself, "Christine, I loooOOooove you." Not out loud, anyway.

Currently Playing: Black Balloon By Goo Goo Dolls (Johnny Rzeznik, be mine)
Currently Reading: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time By Mark Haddon (Since Mark Haddon lives in Oxford, Aparna ran into him once while she was studying there. I asked her, "So what other famous people hail from Oxford?" She said, "Mr. Bean. I saw him cruising in his red-hot convertable once, which was kind of weird." I agree, Mr. Bean and convertables just don't mix.)

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I Dare You Not to Laugh

Oh lordy. Check this out, and while you do, I DARE YOU NOT TO LAUGH.

By the way, you might not want to click on the above link if you're at work or in a public place. I'm not responsible for any embarrassment you might bring upon yourself in the event you burst out laughing like a loon and can't stop because of said link. Just a friendly warning. ;P

Anyway, in other news, check out the newest member of the family (after the jump). She's over in Houston, so I have yet to meet her, but will you take a look at that pic? How awesome is she? No, she's not picking her nose, but damn, does she do a fantastic Mini-Me/Doc Evil impersonation, or what?

"Hi, I'm Baby Natalie! Mini-Me and me, yo, we close like diz!"
Congratulations P'Ju & Phido. :)

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

There and Back Again

Uh, so I decided to move back to Blogger again. Please don't all pummel me at once. I do realize that I've got to seriously stop this moving back and forth thing. If only I'd known that Blogger was going to add all these cool perks while I was away, I never would have moved (back) to Xanga in the first place. Now not only does Blogger have cool pop-up comments and back-posting, but you can also do expandable entries a la LiveJournal and TypePad (which is really useful for long-blog-entry whores like me). I'm going to start the process of slowly moving all my old Xanga entries here, as well as adding links and all that good stuff. Hopefully this will be my last move ever. (*Hangs head in shame*)

I'm currently holed away in Korat after a lovely Songkran holiday in Hua Hin and Cha-Am. During the holiday, I finally received The Revision Letter from my agent. In regards to editing, it's really different this time around because I have a fresh pair of expert eyes to look over the story and point out all the loose ends. It's like having someone pull up the shades; I see all these holes in terms of characterization etc. that I never saw before. Two months ago, however, after toiling and finally finishing the manuscript, I was so burned out, I NEVER WANTED TO CAST EYES UPON IT AGAIN. But because I haven't touched it for a while now, I've actually been enjoying the whole revising process thus far and am only now remembering all the scenes and bits I like best about the story. The only problem is that I could probably spend the whole day obsessing over one single page. It's not like I'm a perfectionist or anything (my desk/personal living space/anything I set my paws on can clearly attest to that), but the thought that this will eventually be in the hands of editors at some of NYC's biggest publishing houses has me scared shitless. Eep.

I'm also working on a YA novel. It's been so much fun to write so far (maybe even more so than the adult chick lit one). I guess it's because, mentally speaking, I'm still stuck somewhere between tenth grade, high school crushes, and the first season of Charmed. Sure it was a trying time full of emotional teenage angst and all that jazz, but gosh, was it a fun time, too.

Anyways, since I knew I was going to be holed away in Korat for the rest of the week, I brought a notebook along with me to brainstorm. The morning we left Bangkok, I grabbed a random notebook from my bookshelf and realized later that it was my old notebook from eighth grade. EIGHTH GRADE. Only four pages had been used (Advisement period was useless, me thinks), and guess what I found tucked and hidden away in the middle of it?

Old letters from middle school!

Exhibit #1:
Hey Lynn,

What do you mean you're the unluckiest person in the world?! You're sitting next to ORANGE [Note from Lynn: "Orange" was the name a bunch of my friends and I dubbed our then crush (yes, all four of us actually had a yen for the same guy)]. You have no idea how lucky you are. I mean, what are the odds Mr. Curran would sit YOU right next to HIM? God, it's probably destiny, or something. So don't you go around saying you're the unluckiest person in the world -- YOU'RE SITTING NEXT TO THE HOTTEST FRUIT IN THE EIGHTH GRADE!

Okay, so maybe it's kind of hard to concentrate on what Mr. Curran is saying in class because, you know, Orange is sitting right next to you. And maybe you might forget to breathe, like, for a few minutes, or something. But really, that's such a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things. (Maybe, if you forget to breathe long enough, he can perform CPR on you.)

Like Ms. Aloha said in English Lit last week: Carpe diem. OPPORTUNITIES LIKE THESE DON'T COME BY EVERYDAY.

Amen. Live and learn, baby.

Exhibit #2:

Dear Lynn,
Let's call the fille bete le vache, so elle will not connais or sais that nous are talking about elle. Well, le vache est tres arrogant, like your stupid Orange (sorry, but he IS!). Still, Orange is probably not as bad as le vache, though. Le vache talks tres much about les garcons tous les jeurs, et elle est tres bossy. OH MOI GOD. JE CANNOT STAND LE VACHE!

Write Back,

Don't worry if you can't speak French. Even if you could, I don't think you would be able to decipher said note. Should any native Frenchmen or Francophones happen to stumble across this, you have my sincerest apologies for my then 14-year old friend's appalling command at French. I guess it doesn't help to say that my French back then was MUCH WORSE than hers... (By the way, le vache is French for COW. And no, le vache was not as bad as ***** painted her up to be. In fact, le vache is now one of my bestest of friends. ***** and I were just really mean bitches, I guess.)

Exhibit #3:

Oh my God. On the way to World History class today, Eddie and I stopped and leaned back against the wall because of some oncoming traffic. When I looked up, guess who I saw? Him! He touched my shirt! HE TOUCHED MY SHIRT! And I touched his! But guess what? Later, after World History, I was in a rush to leave, and just as I flung open the door, I went and totally BASHED THE DOOR INTO HIM. Like right in his FACE! I didn't know he was standing there! I was sooo mortified.

THEN -- get this -- later, after lunch, as I was going up the stairs to Science, I saw him a couple of steps ahead of me (I wasn't stalking him, I SWEAR), and he had a POST-IT stuck on his back. Some asshole stuck a post-it on his back! I felt so bad for him! So I was gonna be nice and all, and tell him about it. I tried calling him, but he couldn't hear me, so I hurried ahead and decided to pull it off myself. JUST as I was reaching out, STUPID ******* came by and shoved me into HIM! I SWEAR ******* TOTALLY DID THAT ON PURPOSE! I was sooo embarrassed! Now it looked like I was groping him, or something! I hope he doesn't think I was going to, like, assault him, or something!

I don't know about you, but that little stroll down memory lane left me in stitches. I was laughing so hard, I was crying. It's so easy to laugh at our teenage selves, but back then, those dilemmas were seriously traumatizing.

Man, what I wouldn't give to be fourteen again!

Currently Playing: Boulevard of Broken Dreams By Green Day

Currently Reading: The Lovely Bones By Alice Sebold

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Unleashing the Muse

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I'm an avid reader. Fiction -- whether it be literary, commercial, historical, multicultural, romance, or children's -- has always piqued my interest. And like my profile to the left says, I'll even read cereal boxes to kill time. Writing has also been a secret love of mine, but I've never really given much thought to bringing it to the next level. Sure, I loved writing English essays on The Great Gatsby back in high school, and the argumentative essays on euthanasia and abortion were fun to tackle in Religion class (remember those, Caro?). But I never thought I could actually pursue writing professionally or even think of making a career out of it, because really, only Writing Gods like Nora Roberts and Stephen King have the great fortune to do that, right?

But this past August, with graduation looming over the horizon, I twiddled my thumbs and thought, There's never been a better time than now. I figured that after graduation I was going to be bogged down with other things, like, oh, I don't know, figuring out what to do with the rest of my life. I'd always wanted to write a novel, but figured that I'd just take a stab at it when I was sixty and retired. However, when a great idea came strolling into my head one day in August, I finally sat myself down and started writing. Before I knew it, the manuscript sort of consumed me. I would spend hours typing away, and whenever I wasn't typing like a crazed fiend, I would be plotting away in my head about my imaginary characters and whatever crazy situations I could throw them into.

But after about 100 pages, I wavered and self-doubt washed over. What was I doing this for? I don't even know the first thing about publishing. Heck, I'm not even an English Lit or Journalism major -- what do I know about writing? All I had backing me up was my life-long love for books and great stories. But then the story refused to leave me alone and a few close friends who knew I was working on the manuscript continued to egg me on to complete it. So finally, after leaving the manusript on the back burner for months, I picked it up a few days after graduation and started cranking at it again. And boy, did it feel good. It literally came out of me like, well, proverbial diarrhea; in two weeks, I'd finished the rest of the manuscript and after a few more weeks of editing, I finally had a 395-page novel that I was proud of.

Now came the next step -- what was I going to do with said manuscript? Let it sit on the back burner again? But I loved the story too much to not even try to give it a chance at publication, so I started researching the whole publishing thing. And boy, was it much more complicated than I'd originally thought. Mind you, I had absolutely no idea what the whole publishing industry was like prior to writing my novel, so I was a real newbie. I didn't have any writing or critique groups to join and ask for advice from, because there obviously aren't any in Thailand. So instead, I took a crash course and scoured the Net and various books for the nitty-gritty on publishing. Here's what I learned:

To get my foot (heck, forget my foot, let's just say my pinky toe) into the big world of New York publishing houses, I was going to have to find myself a literary agent. And not just any literary agent, but an agent who was enthusiastic about my work and had sales to reputable publishing houses under their belt. I quickly learned that literary agents are like the gatekeepers to the publishing world, and without one, very very few editors will be willing to look at your manuscript. In fact, all the major NY publishing houses (Simon & Schuster, Random House, Harper Collins, Penguin Putnam etc.) will refuse to look at manuscripts that are unagented. So with this in mind, an agent was the first thing I decided to look for.

But how does one go about finding a literary agent? Are they as readily available as a go-go bar girl along Soi Cowboy who promises every single passing male a good time? A reputable one (agent, that is...not the Soi Cowboy go-go bar girl!), unfortunately isn't. I learned that the first step in the agent-acquiring process is to send out query letters. So that's what I did. But after reading this article, I quickly sobered and learned just how daunting the whole process can be. I mean, can you imagine? Some agencies receive up to 200-300 query letters a week! That's about 1,000 queries a month! Even more daunting than that, I also read that most agencies only go on to offer representation to about 1% of all submissions that come through their door. That means 99% of the submissions get rejected. Ouch. So with that in mind, I realized that not only did my manuscript have to be as polished as it possibly could, but my query letter had to be my sales tool, so to speak. I wrote and re-wrote that query and tried to make it the best I possibly could; this was, after all, my trusty piece of bait that was going to either reel in some interest from an agent or instead garner me a "thanks, but no thanks" rejection. Basically, if your query letter can't pique an agent's interest, they're not going to want to request the first 3 chapters of your novel, even if it's the world's next The Da Vinci Code.

To make a long story short, I started querying agents in early February. I got many requests for the partial manuscript, a few nibbles for fulls, and of course, as is a part of the whole writer's experience, a handful of rejections as well. Finally, just this past week, the wonderful Caren Johnson of the Peter Rubie Literary Agency in New York City offered me representation. You have no idea how thrilled I am. She said she loves my story, and I'm just really excited to work with her to make my manuscript tighter and stronger before we start pitching it to the publishers. She's doing great things for writers in the fiction world, especially in regards to commercial women's fiction, multicultural fiction, and romance. I'm literally grinning from ear to ear and am really looking forward to taking that next big step with her.

As for my novel, it's commercial women's fiction, or to be more specific, chick lit (if you're wondering what the difference between chick lit, women's fiction, and romance is, check out this great article from RDI author, Cathy Yardley's site). I think my writing voice fits that genre best, and to be perfectly honest, chick lit is just so much fun to write!

P.S. I know I have about a gazillion emails to get back to. I promise I'll get to them... right now, in fact!

Currently Playing: Four to the Floor By Starsailor (Do yourself a favor and listen to this insanely hypnotic song. Now try not to dance along to it! It's Brit Pop at its best.)

Currently Reading: The Alchemist By Paulo Coelho

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Anyone Alive Out There?

*Peering down at previous entry*

Wow, so it's been quite a while since my last update, huh? I think this is a record, in fact. I apologize for the lack of updates as of late, but I've been really busy. This is going to be a little on the short side, but I promise I'll be back soon with big updates... I've got such fabulous news! (Damn, Mr. Smiley here sure does look awfully horny... Viagra much?)

Take care, and I hope none of you got fooled on April Fool's!

Currently Playing: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb By U2

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