Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings 3) ebooks are here!

Unraveled (Thalia's Musings, Volume Three). Click to shop for Thalia's Musings ebooks!

Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings, Volume Three). Click to shop for Thalia’s Musings ebooks!

Unraveled is now available for Kindle and NOOK at an introductory price of $0.99! Like all Thalia’s Musings ebooks, Unraveled is DRM-free. Click the image above to go to the updated Shop page and find the version you need, as well as links to download free e-reader apps that will work on whatever device you’re using to read this post.

Happy Holidays!

The Librarians: My Sunday Nights Are Booked

The Librarians premiered on TNT last night. It’s a spin-off of The Librarian, a series of TV movies that TNT launched ten years ago. I’ve seen and enjoyed all the movies, and I think I may like the new show even better. Whether or not you should watch this series depends entirely on your psychological response to the following phrase:

Ninjas in Oklahoma.

Cast of The Librarians: John Kim as Ezekiel Jones, Noah Wyle as Flynn Carsen, Rebecca Romijn as Eve Baird, Christian Kane as Jake Stone, and Lindy Booth as Cassandra Cillian.

Okay, still reading? Do you miss Warehouse 13? Then you should watch The Librarians, because The Library is pretty much exactly The Warehouse. Seriously. It’s a mystical archive run by a secret organization tasked with housing magical artifacts that can’t fall into the hands of the general public. Do you miss Leverage? Then you should watch The Librarians, because it’s executively produced by Dean Devlin and it features Christian Kane as part of a quirky ensemble cast of adventurers.

The comparisons don’t end there. The Librarians is every bit as fun, light-hearted, and imaginative as the aforementioned dearly departed dramas. It requires as much suspension of disbelief and tolerance of cheesy special effects and props. As with its feature-length predecessors, The Librarians knows exactly what it is and makes the most of it. It doesn’t try to be dark and edgy, nor does it go far enough in the other direction to become a self-parody. It’s dumb in a smart way.

The cast is likable and fun to watch. Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn), aka The Guardian, is a great foil for recurring Librarian Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle). She’s also believable as the group’s designated muscle, a role not falling to Christian Kane this time around. As Jake Stone, he’s more of the brain, a humanities scholar with an encyclopedic knowledge of art history and world literature. Well, Stone is half the brain. He’s the right hemisphere to Cassandra Cillian’s (Lindy Booth) left. Cassandra’s synesthesia gifts her with almost superhuman mathematical and spatial abilities. The ensemble is completed by Ezekiel Jones (John Kim), a snarky Brit who can breach any security system and evade any trap.

If I have any complaint about The Librarians, it’s Cassandra’s inoperable brain tumor. It’s the explanation for her synesthesia, but it’s an unnecessary one. I know people who were born with synesthesia in real life. I’m hoping this arc doesn’t become a source of needless drama and tragedy in an otherwise feel-good show.

I can’t end this post without mentioning the appearance of TV comedy legends Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin, and John Larroquette. Newhart and Curtin’s roles were brief reprises from the Librarian movies. Laroquette, a series regular, plays Jenkins, the caretaker who’ll be mentoring the Librarians In Training (LITs) in Carsen’s absence.

The Librarians airs Sunday nights on TNT at 8pm/7pm Central. Check it out if you like quirky ensemble dramedies, myth and magic, and ninjas in Oklahoma.

The Beginning of the End

Today I posted the final chapter of Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings, Volume Three). A year ago I felt like I would never finish it.

Unraveled (Thalia's Musings, Volume Three)

Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings, Volume Three)

Next on the agenda: drafting the fourth and final volume of Thalia’s Musings. At this point I can’t even begin to estimate when that one will be ready for publication, but it will be written, and you’ll get to read it as soon as possible.

Coming up a little sooner is the Kindle and NOOK release of Unraveled. I don’t have a date set in stone yet, but my goal is to get it out there before Christmas. Keep watching this blog and my various social media outlets for updates!

Speaking of Christmas, Volumes 1 and 2 will be marked down to $0.99 until tomorrow morning, when they’ll go up to $1.99 and stay there until New Year’s Day. If you buy them (or if you’ve already bought them, or read the identical free version on ThaliasMusingsNovels.com), you will be doing me a HUGE favor if you leave a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I’m an indie writer with a budget of zero, so word-of-mouth is the only way new readers are going to discover these books.

I hope you enjoyed Volume 3 and that you’ll stick around for Volume 4!

Black Friday sale alert!

This Friday, November 28th, all Thalia’s Musings ebooks on Kindle and NOOK will be marked down to $0.99! Share the good news about our Lady and Muse Thalia with all your book-loving friends this holiday season! For those without e-readers, there are free Kindle and NOOK apps that will work on whatever device you’re using to read this blog post.

 

Click either of these images to go to the Thalia’s Musings “Shop” page, where you’ll find all the links you need. To my American readers, have a great Thanksgiving and a safe and sane Black Friday! To everyone else, enjoy watching America at its craziest!

So, I finally binge-watched Carmilla

This was supposed to be my Halloween post. I’ve actually gotten a few requests to review this literary vlog series. I kept putting it off because I knew once I got started, I’d want to watch the whole thing in one sitting. I was right.

First, a little background on the source material.

Funeral, illustration by Michael Fitzgerald for Carmilla in The Dark Blue, January 1872. Image via Wikipedia.

Carmilla is a vampire novella by Sheridan Le Fanu that predates Dracula by twenty-six years. Aside from its place in the history of the horror literary genre, it’s noteworthy in that it features a tragic romance between the eponymous female vampire and the human female narrator. This isn’t subtext speculation or revisionist history. It’s right there in the 1871 text.

She used to place her pretty arms about my neck, draw me to her, and laying her cheek to mine, murmur with her lips near my ear, “Dearest, your little heart is wounded; think me not cruel because I obey the irresistible law of my strength and weakness; if your dear heart is wounded, my wild heart bleeds with yours. In the rapture of my enormous humiliation I live in your warm life, and you shall die–die, sweetly die–into mine. I cannot help it; as I draw near to you, you, in your turn, will draw near to others, and learn the rapture of that cruelty, which yet is love; so, for a while, seek to know no more of me and mine, but trust me with all your loving spirit.”

And when she had spoken such a rhapsody, she would press me more closely in her trembling embrace, and her lips in soft kisses gently glow upon my cheek.

- Carmilla, Chapter IV

So, yeah. Basically Carmilla was Twilight for Victorian girls if Edward was a woman and died at the end. It’s one of my favorite classical guilty pleasures. Laura’s intense attraction to Carmilla coupled with her fear and frustration at having these feelings in the first place is written as effectively as any Austen heroine’s. Although Carmilla meets the tragic end that all monsters must in classic Gothic horror, she’s a remarkably sympathetic character. One easily gets the impression that, contrary to Proto Van Helsing’s slander, her feelings for Laura become true love, not the inhuman lust she’s accused of. The end leaves it nearly certain that, despite Laura’s participation in Carmilla’s death, Carmilla’s forbidden love was returned:

It was long before the terror of recent events subsided; and to this hour the image of Carmilla returns to memory with ambiguous alternations–sometimes the playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I saw in the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door.

- Carmilla, Chapter XVI

Carmilla the webseries replaces the Gothic castle of the original with a modern-day college campus. If you think “lesbian coed vampires” sounds like a great premise for a porno, you’re going to be disappointed. If you think it’s a great premise for a modern update that keeps all the elements that made the original novella awesome while updating the elements that have thankfully changed with the times, you’re going to love this webseries as much as I do.

Image via Carmilla’s official Facebook page. Click for full playlist.

My first question about this update was how they’d handle the lesbian stuff. The answer is “Very well.” Although the mostly-female cast is certainly good-looking, the show obviously wasn’t shot or staged for the male gaze. The writing makes you care more about whether Laura and Carmilla will fall in love than whether they’ll make out. Laura’s queerness is taken for granted, not played for angst or drama. The same goes for the other queer characters. I say “queer” because the writing doesn’t specify whether any of these young women are lesbian or bi. No one in-universe seems to care. Nor does anyone find it shocking or incredulous that platonic friendships exist between queer women, or between queer and straight women. (Actually, I’m not sure any of these women are straight. But there are definitely women who are close to each other and don’t seem like they’re ready to make out the second you turn your back, something plenty of shows with supposedly all-hetero casts can’t get right.)

My second question was how they handle the vampire stuff. (SPOILERS AHEAD.) This Carmilla is indeed an actual vampire. Her backstory is nearly the same in this series as in the original novella. And, like any good postmodern monster, she can and does choose whether to use her curse for good or evil. In this incarnation, she’s covertly helping the young women she’s supposed to lure to her dark mistress. Which was always my theory about the original. Think Snape as a double agent for the Death Eaters. Now that I think of it, that’s a pretty good way to sum up this Carmilla. She’s FemSnape.

My third and most important question was whether Carmilla and Laura would live (or un-die) happily ever after in this version. I don’t have a definitive answer for that yet since the series is still running, with updates every Tuesday and Thursday. But the way the first 31 episodes have gone, I’ll be surprised and heartbroken if they don’t.

Want to check it out for yourself? Click the webseries image above, or watch the complete playlist embedded below. Click here to read the full text of the original novella on Gutenberg, available in-browser or as a free e-reader download.

Social media guilt: Speculation on the fall of Selfie

John Cho as Henry Higgs; Karen Gillan as Eliza Dooley. Image via Variety.

Selfie, the ABC sitcom remake of My Fair Lady starring Amy Pond as Eliza Doolittle and Mister Sulu II as Henry Higgins, has already been canceled. I’m sad to see it go, because I feel like it never got a chance to meet its full potential. I’m not going to pretend to know why it’s being canceled. But what’s the point of having a blog if I can’t speculate on things I know nothing about? Here goes.

Hypothesis: Selfie failed because it was obsessed with shaming its target demographic for using what could’ve been its most effective marketing tool.

Now, it could easily be argued that the show was about Eliza’s misuse of social media, not social media itself. The possibility to take the show in that direction was what kept me watching. Unfortunately, though, it never quite got there. Each episode reinforced messages that we see everywhere: That our Facebook friends aren’t real friends. That we’ve lost the art of meaningful communication because of our communication devices. That using a digital platform to talk about yourself and your life is a sure sign of narcissism. That if you have EVER dared to take a photograph of yourself and utilize a platform that :gasp: allows other people to see it, you are a hopeless attention whore who thinks the world, nay, the universe, revolves around you.

To be fair, Selfie’s Henry Higgs is as lost as its Eliza Dooley. Although Henry prides himself on not being the type to settle for shallow digital connection, he’s as lacking in real-world connections as his insta-famous mentee. It’s obvious that Selfie wants to be a show about two out-of-balance opposites meeting each other in the middle. But this misses the entire point of the source material. My Fair Lady (like the non-musical play it was adapted from, Pygmalion) was a satire of middle-class manners. In the original, there was nothing wrong with Eliza. And Eliza didn’t substantially change over the course of the story. Her basic personality, which was fine to begin with, remained intact. Higgins simply changed the way she spoke, dressed, and comported herself so that she could successfully conform to upper-middle-class arbitrary social conventions. The guttersnipe became a princess just by putting on a pretty dress and pronouncing her consonants. The story mocked the society that accepted or rejected Eliza based on these shallow, arbitrary standards, not Eliza herself for playing their game and winning.

I feel like Selfie could’ve been so much better if it had taken its social media farce in this direction. It could’ve subverted the platitudes of social media guilt that have become as ubiquitous as social media itself. Why aren’t Facebook friends real friends? They’re actual people. They aren’t computer programs. Isn’t it your choice if you’re adding people you don’t want to be friends with, or if you’re posting shallow or drama-filled statuses instead of using this neutral tool to cultivate real friendships? Why can’t phone apps be a way to enhance meaningful communication? That funny Pinterest pin you send your sister could spark a conversation that brings you closer than ever. Why can’t people read their family’s and friends’ posts because they’re sincerely interested in these people’s lives, and why can’t you post things about your own life with the understanding that this sincere interest is mutual? Maybe the real narcissist is the person who’s annoyed by their family and friends wanting to – OHMYGOD – talk about their lives! Why does taking a selfie have to mean that you expect the whole universe to stop what it’s doing and worship at your altar? Can’t it be just another chapter in humanity’s ongoing quest to document our existence? Part of a tradition that goes back to cave paintings?

But now back to my elephant-in-the-room hypothesis. Social media is an invaluable platform for promoting a work of entertainment. Especially for a generation that keeps finding new ways to avoid viewing paid advertisements. We Millennials will adblock our favorite shows out of existence, but we’ll check out that thing our BFF keeps livetweeting. Remember my post about The Quest, another ABC show? I didn’t notice a single commercial for it, even though, unlike most of my Millennial friends, I watch programming on an actual television set. I started watching The Quest because my sister sent me a text about it. On her phone. And then my sister and I joined thousands of other people who tweeted about the show on the hashtag #TheQuestArmy. It was by no means the first show I’d consistently livetweeted. But, although I tuned in to watch Selfie every week, I can’t say I was ever inclined to livetweet a show that kept telling me in the most anvillicious ways possible to put down my damn phone.

Ironically, I think Selfie might’ve had a better shot on a different platform. Since The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, YouTube has been flooded with modern adaptations of classic English literature. Most of them, it seems, star cute redheaded female leads. Selfie could’ve easily had a place among them.

But to do that, they would’ve had to cater to all those millennial narcissists on social media.

Halloween 2014 recap

Last year I blogged about my Halloween costume, so I figured I’d continue the tradition.

I made the circlet for another costume a few years ago. The plastic sword was for a Xena, Warrior Princess costume. The belt and the gold slippers are some of my favorites from my actual wardrobe.

Obviously, though, the best part of this costume is the vintage dress. My mom bought it in Germany when she spent a year there in the late 70’s. She doesn’t remember where she found it. I’m going to say it was a charming little boutique because that makes a good story. It’s important to note that she did not buy it for cosplay. For a fantasy-loving flower child, this was an actual formal dress. She kept it all these years and is now graciously allowing me to use it for playing dress-up costuming.

I hope you all had a happy Halloween!