Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Here it is: 2011. The second year of the second decade of the first century of the third millennium. And as I attempted to convey in the last post, life goes on. I feel compelled to tell you (not sure why) what the first thing I ate this year was: A bowl of blueberry/oats cereal. Anyway, I think I have some resolutions, which I may or may not change:

  • Write a sizable novel
  • Learn guitar
  • Take Drivers' Ed (I keep saying that!)
  • Get more involved at school
  • Read a book of 1,000+ pages (finishing The Stand would count)
  • Watch an episode of Doctor Who
  • Leave the country (vacation wise)
  • Read/finish certain books
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    • Dracula
    • The Graveyard Book
    • Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
    • A Christmas Carol
    • The Stand, as mentioned before
    • Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower IV)
    • Year's Best SF 14
    • Preludes & Nocturnes (Sandman 1)
    • For the Win
  • Visit my Florida friends, whom I have not seen for years
  • Get something published in a book/magazine/anything printed
  • Record a song
  • Write a script
  • Play Quidditch (yes, you read correctly)
  • Start learning a language (I'm thinking Spanish or French)
  • Get back into acting
Whoa, that's a lot! I didn't expect that many. Now I don't know if I'll be able to do all of them, but "shoot for the moon," eh?

Sorry; my computer is acting up. I spent HOURS writing this post, and now most of it's gone. I don't think I'll rewrite it, but I'm very ticked now.

Anyhow, happy new year and all that, and I'm going to bed now. Maybe I'll post more later.

The Last Post of 2010

Probably. I could spontaneously have another thought and post again, but in theory, this is my last post of 2010. It has been a good year, I'll say that. I wrote and read plenty (although I probably could have read more), and met lots of cool people. Many awesome movies came out, so I suppose I'll list my favorite ten in no particular order:

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
  • Toy Story 3
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice
  • The Social Network
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Iron Man 2
  • Despicable Me
  • Inception
Yeah, so that was eleven. Whatever. In other words, we had some good ones this time. I just realized that I missed Dinner for Schmucks, Tron: Legacy, Megamind, and Shrek Forever After, but I can't push it too much...can I? I also have yet to see some of them, such as True Grit and Gulliver's Travels. Either way, I enjoyed 2010 very much. I got a saltwater aquarium in the spring, which is still amazing (though we seem to have an invasive anemone on one of the rocks); we got my sister a dog (sister Laura, dog Launa - Laura's REALLY clever); I met Cory Doctorow, who was a really cool bloke; we went to Disney World in late September and stayed into early October; and I this year took up the name of L.M. Winter.

Overall, this was probably one of my favorite years. I probably ought to write a poem on the year, but this will be off the top of my head:

From eyelash wishes
To marine crabs and fishes,
From Health-class antics
To a scene from The Frantics,
From writing group
To picking up dog poop,
From reading Stephen King
To some other thing,
And I suppose while this lasts,
I'll mention Doctor Who podcasts,
The year is nearly gone,
So now my music's on
As I write these words
And time flies like birds
To the worlds beyond ours
And soon there will be flowers
Sprouting from the soil
And then the sun will boil
Even icy water.
And then Harry Potter
Will conclude its epic story -
Viewing will be mandatory -
Somewhere in July.
Time still will fly:
Death and birth will both occur,
Of that we can be sure.
Then Old Man Winter and his Young assistant
Will come ready and persistent
To sweep away daisies
Pushed up by old crazies
And the year along as well - 
We see that there is no hell
Or heaven in the end;
There is only death, and life to spend.
But this year has been great
And is now getting late.
We had great snows early
And again at the end: surely
There will be more?
I hope to open the door
Next year to a field of white
Which glimmers quite bright
In the sun, bouncing off crystals
As I put away pistols
To bring out a seasonable
Weapon, one more reasonable:
A ball of white snow
To hit my rivals before they know.
No matter what year,
There, then, now, here,
No matter what splinter
Of summer or winter
Or spring or autumn,
Top class or bottom,
We are alive
And should always strive
To make the very most
Of the moment, whether writing ghost
Tales or tales otherwise tall,
Or if you're not writing at all,
You must pay heed to time, and yet
You must not by any means get
Sucked into its void,
Whether it's ever toyed
With your concepts of progression
Or makes you think of regression.
Time is complex, but do not worry:
Just live your life, for there is no hurry.

Man, that went on for a while! Like I said, it was written just now, so it probably needs some work. But what I was trying to convey was that time may fly, but while the future needs planning to a certain extent, I choose to focus primarily on the present moment.

All in all, the year ends soon, but what is it but numbered dates? Life moves on at any rate. I plan to do many things still, such as complete my novel, improve my piano skills (I think a teacher at my elementary school might still be teaching), learn guitar and maybe join marching band with some other third instrument, take Drivers' Ed, learn about filmmaking, et cetera. I have plenty of things I plan to do, but now is now, and I'm blogging. But not for long: I think I'll check my email and then read my first Jane Yolen story. Oh, and speaking of firsts: I watched a small part of a Doctor Who today, called "Midnight." I think it was a newer one, and that just might have been this David Tennant everyone speaks of.

What a long post (mainly due to the "poem")!

Happy New Year!
Lewis M. Winter

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thoughts About Drivers' Ed

Indeed I have been pondering it for over a year (almost two), but now I've decided to stop pushing it off; many of my friends and otherwise acquaintances are taking/have taken it. I always had the same primary reason: too busy. But I suppose that's always the case with me. I'm a busy guy for the most part, being a writer and whatnot. But if I'm going to take it, I might as well take it soon. I'm thinking of asking my C.A. teachers as soon as I get back from my holiday.

Other worries include the fact that auto-wrecks are a leading cause of teen death. I'll be careful...hopefully careful enough. I hear the lessons are super boring as well? I, for the most part, am not easily bored, but maybe I'll sneak a couple of books in just in case. I'm talking to Hannah, and she says it's not so bad (though she also says she wrote poems and stuff in there).

In other news, it is now New Year's Eve! A few hours ago (on New Year's Eve's Eve), Mother, Caroline, and I went to go see RED. It was exciting and funny almost simultaneously, and therefore awesome. For the first time in a while, I wrote an entire story by hand the other day. My computer was not working, but I didn't let that stop me. It needs some work, I'd say, but the idea of it intrigues me. Don't we all love things that fascinate us? I'm going to write more of my current novel now.

To all a good night,

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010: A Summary

I got up pretty early yesterday--sixish, I'd say. Apparently my sisters were also awake, so we woke our mother up and waited for our dad to arrive. He brought Launa (the big dog) over, and she and Coco (my Chihuahua) played around on the floor for ages. As it got lighter out, we began to open gifts. The most notable of mine, I think, was an Amazon Kindle (which I think I wrote my thoughts about a while back, in the post "Conversion"). I  tend to buy more books than I have time to read, and this was no exception. Just today I finished Cecelia Holland's short story "Dragon's Deep" in The Dragon Book, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. I really liked it, and it even inspired a future project of mine. I love dragons - I always have - and they were among the first things I wrote about.

My sister Laura received a marshmallow I really have to describe what went down after that? We pretty much stayed at my mom's house the whole time, although at the end my father took us children over to his house. I woke up this afternoon (I had chatted with Hannah until two in the morning) and saw that it had indeed finally snowed. I ran around in it with Launa for a while, and then walked to Laura's friend's house to see their new kitten. I must say, this snow was worth the wait: Even at the end of the day, after people have been running and driving in it, the white blanket is still a beautiful sight. It actually looks kind of like the background image at the time of this post, what with ice and snow clinging to the skeletal branches.

I've probably mentioned something before about expanding my media (reading/watching/listening to more genres), and I'm now reading a graphic novel, namely, Preludes and Nocturnes, the first of twelve volumes in Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. I love Neil Gaiman; he's a very clever man who has done a variety of things in his time. My aunt met him a while back, and I plan to someday do the same. Hannah has been acting as my guide in helping me choose comics/graphic novels to read. Maybe I'll even try Manga sometime. I hope I don't lose reading focus; I am still reading Philosophy for Dummies, along with Olivia's NaNo book from last year. Perhaps I'll remove The Vampire Archives 1: Blood Suckers from my plate. It's not bad, but the others I've been planning to read for a while.

Another thing I have been planning on indulging in is also by Mr. Gaiman: The Graveyard Book. I bought it on the Kindle section of Amazon, and should get around to it sooner or later. We saw Tron: Legacy on Christmas Eve, and I loved it, even though I've not seen the first one. I plan to watch it soon. Coco and Launa both seemed intent on the Christmas ham, especially after we caved and gave them a few pieces. (Note: LAUNA is my sister LAURA's dog. It was her clever idea to give the animal such a clever name.) I talked to my mom on the phone today, and she said Coco wanted to go outside, however, when she opened the door, he felt the wind and ran the other way. Last night, at my dad's house, we watched David Cross (whom I was new to)--he is hilarious, but curses quite a bit. Wow, this was a long post. Seeing as I read faster when off of school, I shall go an do that now.

To all a good night,

Oh, and here is a link to the video in which I discuss winter holidays.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

But that was my idea!

I think it's safe to say that it happens to the best of us (I am writing this post partly because of my discovery of what a Death Note is). I've actually had many ideas before they were invented by others, one of them being a take-home box for soup.

My suggestions? Get a new idea. Modify yours. Get there first. The second one is something I often do--take a writing prompt and modify the heck out of it, so it doesn't look remotely like the original. But if a writer is really so clever, he/she can come up with 25 more ideas. Even if the subject matter is similar, I try to differ the circumstances.

Random notes:
I'll try to write longer posts. Maybe I'll make it a goal. ~ I'm still put off that I missed an eclipse. ~ Shortest random notes ever, is it?


Excuses are like elbows.

The title of this post is something my English teacher often says. I don't know if he originally said it, but he sometimes follows up with "...everyone has one!" Which is not necessarily true, but that's not my point.

My point is, and I don't think I'm alone in this, that people (me) sometimes don't do something, such as blog, when they are able to, and when they cannot (not with my computer, or like the last few days, it hasn't been functioning properly), that is when they feel the urge to.

I ought to get more of it done in the next couple of weeks, seeing as I tend to read and write faster on school breaks. It seems to me that I have a lot to say, but for when I open a new post. Is this Internet stage fright? I don't honestly know. But if you choose to hassle me, make sure it is about not blogging and not about making excuses: That's not what I'm trying to do here.

I think I'll go read some of Olivia's posts now--they're always enjoyable.

Random notes:
I want to see Tron: Legacy, but I have not seen the original yet, and would like to. The only time I have successfully done that was when I watched the first two Spider-Man films via rental before seeing #3 at Raleighwood. ~ Speaking of movies, I might see Narnia, but I wouldn't put it at the top of my to-do list, seeing how awfully predictable the other two were. ~ When will I ever take Drivers' Ed? I always seem to be "busy." ~ Our family's friends sent us a Harry Potter cookbook. Cannot wait to make some pumpkin pasties!

Nighty night,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

On Nostalgia

I was just playing a game from my childhood (Frogger 3D). I really don't play that many games, but this reminds me of when I was seven or eight. It's actually quite fun, and has a great soundtrack (which I listen to separately, seeing as it won't work on the actual game). My point is, I feel young(er) again. If I hadn't played this as a child, I might not be playing it now. I had it when I was little, but I don't remember what happened to the CD. Then we repurchased it, and played for a while, until it mysteriously disappeared. Even now we're not sure what happened to it. But a few months ago, we decided to look for it online, and found it!

But one of my sisters said that as much as she wanted to play it, she did not want to ruin the memories. I knew what she meant: If you resurrect a childhood treasure, will it hold the same value? It may not seem quite as awesome to some, but I feel the same joy guiding Frogger around to the other frogs. I suppose it depends ultimately on the person. I remember reading Magic Treehouse as a kid, and though they are for young audiences, I just might return to them. Speaking of those, I met the author, Mary Pope Osborne, earlier this year. She is SO nice. Now, I shall post a link to my favorite Frogger theme. It was a tough decision, since they are all so awesome, but this one makes me feel dreamy and nostalgic.

Random notes: I'm almost done reading Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors. I'll post a review, I suppose, when I do finish. It's excellent so far. ~ I'm thinking of rereading Harry Potter (did I say that already?). I plan to write an epic series someday, but for now I write one-part works. ~ Did some Christmas shopping today. I always enjoy that, although I generally run off to buy something separately, in case the person I'm with sees me with anything. ~ Does anyone else hoard old letters, cards, etc.? I keep them in a box--one I just moved them into yesterday evening because the original box split open from being so full. ~ If you, Olivia, are reading this, I just got past page 100 of Clockwork. Sorry it's taking me so long! In any case, it's excellent so far. ~ If one can find rocks and clean them, one need not buy bookends and paperweights--unless they're cool enough.

Au revoir! (What language is that? It sounds French.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

NaNoWriMo - An Afterthought

As some of you may already know, I did not participate this year for several reasons, if any:

  • Not ready
  • Not sure what I wanted to write
  • Lazy
  • Having bad noveling experience at the time
So yeah, shoot me. But before you pull the trigger, I have this to say: I might (and probably will) do it next year. I think I'll practice focus (something I need not only in writing) and elaboration. I wrote a short story last night and sent it to my friend Hannah ( and may or may not read it at our group next time--this depends on if I've written anything else worth reading. I will admit this here to Olivia ( I'm still reading Clockwork! She's pretty cool, so I suppose I'll survive, but still. I just need to sit down to it more often, especially considering that I printed out 400 pages on my printer simply so I could use a bookmark (I don't favor having to scroll down 986,731,342 pages every time I open a document).

What will I write? I haven't the slightest idea, but then again, I'd have nearly a year to change my mind if I did. I've written a lot of fantasy stuff in my time, but I may try for something realistic. This probably will not be for my Nano, nor do I think it will take up the majority of my prose, but it will be an occasional thing to try. I've been journaling and blogging more, so that ought to help. Saw Orson Scott Card on Wednesday. I've only read a few pages of one of his books (Ender's Game), but he seemed like a cool guy. I didn't actually meet him, but I think my aforementioned friends did. I'm sure I'll get another chance.

We should be getting a tree today. I don't call myself Christian, but I like the atmosphere of Christmas: it makes me thoughtful, just like rain. And while some people might say I can't celebrate Christmas when I'm not Christian, I ask them this: Is it illegal? I didn't think so. We will not be making our usual Illinois trip this year, but I don't know what we will do instead. I probably won't leave the country, but that should happen in the next few years now.

Random notes: Saw Tangled not long ago, and it was hilarious and (for me) inspiring. Or rather, rekindled an old idea. I loved Maximus the horse and the whole getting-Flynn's-nose-right joke. ~ I hope to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 in IMAX. I've already seen it twice in standard theaters, and I think Nagini's "jumping" scenes would be awesome in IMAX. I really ought to read the books again, but the choice remains: American again, or should I try the European editions? ~ I think my sea cucumber died. Not a common pet, but this one never moved much and we could never tell, but now it's balled up and collecting brown stuff. I mourn its life, but I am glad if it did not suffer. ~ After reading American Gods, what do I turn to but another Neil Gaiman book? It is a collection of short fiction calld Smoke and Mirrors.



Friday, December 3, 2010

American Gods

I believe this is my first Blogger book review. The title of the novel is in the title of the post: American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It is by far the best novel I've read so far by Mr. Gaiman, the other two being Stardust and Coraline. He is a great writer, says I, and this would make a great film. It begins with Shadow Moon (funny name, eh?) being released from prison after a three-year sentence. On the day of his release, he learns that his wife, Laura, has been killed in a car crash. On the plane ride home, he meets a man man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. Wednesday offers Shadow a job: to protect Wednesday and act as a bodyguard, and not to ask questions. A storm rocks the plane, but Wednesday says that a far bigger storm is coming. And one does, toward the end, both literally and metaphorically.

Actually, I won't tell the entire plot here for two reasons: I don't want to spoil it, and I don't remember every little detail. The only flaw I could think of was that it had a few coincidences for plot convenience, but no book is perfect. I will say that many gods from many cultures are featured in the book (but not Greek!), and that it is what I call an R-rated book: a lot of cursing, sex, violence, etc.

If you want to know how it ends, read it. But I'll say this: It had more elaboration than Coraline and more "plants and payoffs" than Stardust. All in all, a very good book. It took me a short while once I really began to read intensely, which gave me an idea: I should have a weekly "reading night" in which I try to finish or at least get really far into a book. For some reason, I automatically thought of Tuesday as a night for this.

I suppose I should grade the book. Final grade: B+/A-