Friday, September 30, 2011

Poem: Dream Theories

If dreams were physical,
I should think they'd be crystals -
Only somewhat clear.
They are as soft and as hard as a glockenspiel's notes.
Oneiric ocean waves lap at the mind's feet
And tease the Eye with knowledge of beyond.
What is a dream, anyhow?
Is it real, and this the long subconscious excursion?
Dreams are an elf's breath, a dragon's tears.
What blue, astral, heavenly cloud could compare
To dark mental forests and speaking birds?
The winds of mountain seas are calling.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book Review: Eragon by Christopher Paolini

I read this book when I was eleven, so my memory may not be entirely clear. I greatly enjoyed it at the time, and I still remember it fondly. That's what they call a guilty pleasure. I won't go into the plot because while it was good, it was not original - it strongly resembled the story-line of Star Wars with some names stolen from Lord of the Rings and Beowulf. If you know Star Wars, picture it as epic fantasy and you've got this.

The magic system was pretty nice, and I like how the villain has not been shown (I'm waiting to read Book IV, the finale) - adds a nice sense of shadow and mystery, I think. I like the creatures too, both dragons and otherwise. I really do like this, but I also like cupcakes. That doesn't prevent me from eating veggies as well.

And as a self-appointed critic, I'm afraid I'd only give this three stars of five.

Final grade: C

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: The Phantom Limb by William Sleator and Ann Monticone

"Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."  - E.L. Doctorow

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." - Ray Bradbury

"I try to leave out the parts that people skip." - Elmore Leonard

I selected this book from a cart at Printz in order to eliminate unwanted books; we have too many.

PLOT. Isaac discovers a mirror box (a sort of optical-illusion device) with an amputated limb on the inside. The limb tells him via signing that its owner was murdered and that soon Isaac's mother will be too (Joey, the dead one, shared a passion for the piano with Isaac's mother Vera, and the murderer hates piano players for some reason). Isaac must stop the murderer with the help of Joey's arm.

The main problem was that the writing in the beginning annoyed me. Not only was the actual prose choppy, but the writers ignored the Show-Don't-Tell rule and laid out everything on the table, and the optical illusions, while interesting, were poorly explained. The plot was engaging but the conclusion seemed hasty. Then again, it might be better in the published version - I read an uncorrected proof.

I was not terribly impressed, but not the worst thing I've ever read either.

Final grade: D

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Give More, Get Less

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." - John F. Kennedy

Surprisingly, this is not a post about selfless generosity; I just like that quote. It's a post about public schools in my county and what ensues. Not the whole hell-storm - that will come sooner or later in a separate post, I should think - but the levels of education. It is said that home-schoolers learn more, which I have no reason to doubt. While I may like my school, I do not like the county a bit: it is as a solid branch in a rotten tree. The curriculum is rushed and sloppy and has more the intention of passing us than actually teaching us. What use is it to learn a bit of something and then forget it? They don't take the time to engrave things into us, only to imprint them long enough to score a test. My point is this, plain and simple:

Learning should not be for the purpose of passing, but for learning in itself.

In a way, it's like having a sign reading that it has sharp edges. Might as well not be there. I loved my World History teacher last year, Chaney (no "Mr." required, as he was pretty laid-back) - but the course itself was the entire history of the world crunched into nine weeks, so there was a week on Greek myth, a week on Chinese dynasties, one on World War II, etc. Not enough for elaboration. In English we don't fully read many books - we read excerpts and then watch the movie most of the time. Don't even get me started on science! Ugh.

I am the rare case of someone who wishes to relearn what was previously presented in forgettable ways. The Modern Scholar audio series is good for that. I wish I could have at some point experienced the benefits of a home-schooled life. Not only do I learn more and learn it in more effective ways, but I have much more free time and less necessity to encounter lower types of people (not judging by race or class, but by mental and moral values). I ride the bus with many boisterous and uneducated persons, which I blame on lack of independent reading. It drives me bonkers to see people confuse the possessive "your" with the you-are contraction. Some do it for convenience, but many are honestly that ignorant. Most kids go along with the grow-up-and-get-out philosophy. They tend to hate school. I like school in theory, but Wake County is just ridiculous. I always say, If you race through life, you'll find the finish line fast enough (death). I'm a rose-smeller and proud of it.

I continue to educate myself on the things which interest me and do me well, even though we can only take so many classes. Most are core, as they don't seem to give a damn about arts or anything that sticks.

I've been a captive of the system and I have nearly broken my bonds (that will come to a head in college, I hope), and I am learning other things.

For further reading on unschooling, I recommend my friend Kate's post:

- Lewis

Saturday, September 17, 2011


This occurred to me and I just had to put it down somewhere. Maybe it will be used in one of my writings someday. It occurs between myself and a, well, person. It is imaginary, but I hope to say it sometime. (It was longer in my head, as is the case with many things.)


PERSON. Not very inconspicuous, are you?
WINTER. I can be, but I can also be noticeable.
P. Do you crave attention?
W. Not particularly; I can create diversions or draw attention at the appropriate times, but I can also be quite subtle.
P. I've never seen you be subtle.
W. Well then, it worked, did it not?

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Leaf is Not Thrown Far

"Names are overrated. I'm me!" - Cat from Coraline (approximate quotation)

From the tree, that is. I don't believe the leaf often falls; it either is thrown by said tree, or it jumps. Let us examine both:

THROWN. Say one's parents want one to become a doctor. Horribly cliche, I know, but for the sake of argument I'll use it. One really wants to become an accountant, but is eventually coaxed into attending medical school. The parents have thrown one in that direction.

JUMP. Now let's create an alternate reality in which one breaks the chains of influence and becomes an accountant. The parents might be dismayed, but screw them! An unchanging line is boring, yes? Now if one was willing to become a doctor, that would be different.

Unfortunately many seem to be thrown, whether it is consciously or not. Not necessarily in terms of career, but also in disposition. Oftentimes a jerk will be the child of a jerk or two. It's sad but true! Not always, but too close to it. I've already broken some of my family's influences, such as being presumptuous (I'm working on the communicating-with-others bit). Not to say I don't love my kin, but I don't intend to become their carbon copy. My mother suggested I become a lawyer someday. While it may be a fascinating career, it's not my aim.

In other words, my personal belief is to do what one wants, not what one's parents want. Unless circumstances say otherwise, like in poorly-run countries where one is stuck in a cycle.

Be you!
- Lewis

In Which I, Winter, Draw Nearer

I rather love my Winterian persona. Very...wintry. Anyhow, I have a confession to make, other than its not being my real name: I did not coin it, but a generator website did. Hold your tomatoes, as it only said "Lewis M. Winter". I created the middle name Mason from that initial, and then I thought of my poet-name L.M. Winter.

But it can also be taken as a literal personification of the season. In some ways winter is my favorite; who doesn't love snow? I enjoy the moment the air begins to feel crisp - today it did, and I am looking forward to October. (Also I ought to be returning to Silent Forest, where I worked last year as a spooker.)

I call myself Young Man Winter often, although my actual father does not call himself Old Man Winter. Although I like the sound of Winter the Elder. If any believe I die during the warmer seasons, then think again: I merely endure. I am seldom dormant. I push through all things, winter and not, and while I may not live forever, the fact that I existed should. I don't mean to get into a discussion of Time-Space, but I do believe that nothing lasts forever, even gods, should they exist. All things perish, except for time - and perhaps even that.

Anyhow, this is one of those posts which I started, left, and came back to finish. I have to practice for my musical, so it is now that I take my leave.

Wishing you well,
L.M. Winter

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Random Bagpipe Rant


Who would dare deny their greatness? They sound like something out of a heavenly dream, despite their loudness, and they are a symbol of Scottish culture (I'm part Scottish). They're visually appealing, too. Apparently the fathers of two of my friends play together - men I've never met, but the friends are both amazing people, one of whom can do a great Irish accent when reading stories.

I'm still looking at getting a guitar teacher after my Applause! theatre work is done for the time being, and I must still continue piano, but someday, someday.... Maybe. Fingers crossed.

(In Scottish accent) -

The Herb Moore Trio

I might be the only one for miles around who knows about the Herb Moore Trio, or just Herb Moore as they are known on iTunes. They have three albums I know of: Dragon Dreams; H2O Overture; and Sophia's Garden, the last of which I am now listening to for the first time. I first discovered them when I was twelve, typing "dragon" on the computer at Barnes & Noble to see what I'd find in terms of music. I listened to samples of the first two tracks, and at some point in time asked if they had any in stock. It's out of print...but I found it on iTunes a year ago or so. Score one for Apple!

Herb Moore is very calming instrumental jazz which gives one a peaceful, calm feeling of ease. A bit like Zen or Celtic music. It's really great music, perfect for falling asleep or meditating. It's hard to describe, but it makes me feel lost in time - you know? Like my troubles are washed away. Oneiric is a word I like, but not a common term; it's not even recognized as a word on here. These pieces are oneiric. And they make me feel nostalgic too, for reasons hard to pin onto the screen.

Herb Moore is not well known - I could not find them on YouTube - but I recommend you look into them on iTunes if interested, or perhaps order a used CD online.

Peace to you all,

Sunday, September 11, 2011


"Today, we are all Americans." - A lady in France ten years ago (translated)

"United we stand, divided we fall." - Abraham Lincoln, I think?

"Nobody wins a war." - My friend in elementary school

"A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon." - Napoleon Bonaparte

"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." - Yoda

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." - Albert Einstein

"Love is the flower you've got to let grow." - John Lennon


Sorry about all the quotes; I was in a bit of a quoting mood. So ten years ago I was in first grade and the World Trade Center was bombed. I remember coming home and seeing the news, but I don't think I fully grasped what had happened at the time. Today I mentally weep for humanity, for as much as it is expanding, it is also eating itself up. While we might be the most intelligent race in terms of technological advancement, we seem to have the worst judgment. While there are certain types of fauna which take the lives of their own kind, we ought to know better. We knowingly torture, kill, lie, steal, rape, cheat, and so on. If there is a God, [He] must have lost control of us, or perhaps it is [His] plan to have us end the world. Perhaps the Big Crunch will be our mortician or janitor, to sweep away a barren world.

Osama Bin Laden, the man responsible for the bombings, was recently assassinated by our troops. I do not agree with what the man did. I don't miss him. And yet, does killing a killer reduce the number of corpses? Very unpatriotic. George Washington must be spitting from heaven. It's like if a child gets into trouble for fighting and the parent hits him to teach him violence is wrong. Or saying "Do not swear, dammit!" [see "Bad Words" - a recent post of mine]. This makes us no better than anyone else. If a police officer shoots a criminal who draws a gun first, that's one thing. But putting the criminal away and executing him or her? Murder is murder, no matter what clothes it wears.

This is one of many reasons I won't join the military. I am willing to defend who I love, but I don't go looking for trouble. It finds me. (And yes, I just quoted Harry Potter.) And to quote Ringo Starr:

Peace and love!!!!
- Lewis

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bad Words

They teach us not to drink or smoke. Not to play with matches. Not to have underage sex.

And not to swear?

OK, so I have a rather dual opinion on cursing. One is that profanity is completely unnecessary, because the English language (or any tongue I know of) has enough words to go around it, and if you use it in context it's not swearing. The other opinion is that it is mostly harmless (no Hitchhiker's Guide reference intended). Adults, many of them, cuss. And while it may offend some people, that's really due to a state of mind than actual cause of the word. F-bombs don't destroy cities. They can provoke people into doing bad things, but the words themselves don't directly do those things.

I rarely say anything you wouldn't hear on television, such as damn or hell or ass (or bloody!), but I'm not offended by them. Now when it comes to ethnic/racial and homophobic slurs, such as "enner" and "eff-got" (bundle of sticks? Cigarette? Gay person? Think about it.), I really don't like them when not used in context (such as a civil-rights novel or film), but if a child with big ears repeats something, a parent has no right to spank the child (I'm against physical discipline anyway, but that's a different discussion) - I'm talking about the parent whose words taught the child. Alcohol stunts growth and smoking is never good, no matter the age...but words are words. Not to say they don't sometimes hurt, but "clean" words can be equally offensive.

I'm trying to say that people ought not to worry so much about swearing. Also, why are movies rated R for language!? I've been hearing horrible obscenities for a long time, and I only turned seventeen (the age to see R-films without a guardian) a few days ago. I've been hearing those words for much longer. I probably won't learn anything new. (Also I find it ironic that they say "mature content" when it's immature content you shouldn't mimic. "Mature audiences" makes sense.)

Grow up, dammit!
- Lewis

On the Lack of Romantic Necessity

"If love is the answer, could you rephrase the question?" - Lily Tomlin

"I understand. But I don't agree." - me

"Friendship is the finest balm for the pangs of despised love." - Jane Austen

A lot of the time at my book club we'll encounter the good-looking-guy character, who almost always ends up with the female protagonist. Not only is it terribly cliche, it's also unnecessary for reasons of its own.

I have nothing against non-paranormal romances, but they don't need to be in every single book out there. Sometimes people like to be single! I personally am not celibate, but neither do I need a romantic partner to go on with life. I have never had a very serious or long relationship, and I'm fine with that. It's like how goldfish do not need a filter for their tank or bowl, but one doesn't hurt either. To me, romantic dependence seems like using a partner as a crutch...and possibly an arm ornament. And that's not what intimacy ought to be. I feel sorry for those who say "S/he'll never get a date" because s/he does not need one. If one feels the need for a lover, then one probably has a psychological condition or state of mind.

Another reason I might potentially hesitate to become involved with another is that if it ends - and let's face it, knowing how these days are, it very well might - it will not do so peacefully. I'd rather keep a friend than temporarily have a lover and then have her dislike me forevermore. I love my friends, as I love all living things, but my love for my allies is very strong and intense. I would take a bullet for many of them - although I hope I don't need to. But that's what they mean to me.

Well then, that's one major reason I dislike Stephanie Meyer - not only did she tell a poor story, but said story taught young people negative lessons. And I wouldn't mind if there were more same-sex couples in media: there are some, but we need MORE!!

Righto! Done.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Review: The Summer of May by Cecelia Galante

At my Mock Printz book club a few sessions back, we were each assigned a Book of Fate in order to clear those which needed to be read and reviewed. Some sounded absolutely atrocious; I was spared a degree.

PLOT. May's mother left years ago, and now her family and life seem to be falling apart. She gets into trouble 24/7 at school, and her father is verbally (and physically, as it later turns out) abusive. After she sprays graffiti on her English teacher's board (and somehow thinks not to be caught), she is faced with either expulsion or one-on-one summer school with the same teacher. She chooses the latter and finds that the teacher has an interesting past.

The writing, while not beautiful, was good, and I liked the teacher (Miss Movado). I did not care for May's character at all; she whined a lot (not quite Bella Swan, but still annoying) and seemed malcontent. She continued to refer to her teacher as Movado the Avocado, due to Movado's squat form and green attire, despite the many kind things which the lady did for her. She was basically impossible to please: for example, Miss Movado took her to a restaurant - which she really didn't have to do, especially after what May did during the school year - and May complained about the food, the seat, you get the idea. Show some gratitude, you little brat! In the end you're supposed to end up liking the father (or at least, that was my impression), but I see no excuse for the way he treated his daughter - even though I understand his being unhappy with her. What I liked was Miss Movado's back-story, which ties in with the mother thing. Bit of a spoiler, but it says that in the front cover anyway.

I somewhat enjoyed The Summer of May, but I would not nominate it for an award (and I didn't), and I wouldn't read it time and time again.

Final grade: C

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm in!

On Monday I auditioned for Applause!'s musical School House Rock - and I got it! This was my second time auditioning, my first being one I did not make it into (The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood). I suppose in this case the second time's the charm? I do not yet know who I am playing, but this was a great victory to me. It's just a matter of persistence, as with publishing. But once you're in, it's great because you can honestly say that you are. I look forward to the actual performing and all that precedes and proceeds it. And I'll meet new people.

Here are my dream roles:
  • Sweeney Todd or Judge Turpin
  • Sherlock Holmes or Moriarty
  • Dr. Victor Frankenstein or the Monster
  • Count Dracula or Abraham Van Helsing
  • Atticus Finch or Bob Ewell
  • Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
  • The Mad Hatter or the Cheshire Cat
  • Grendel
  • Willy Wonka
  • Gandalf the Grey (The Hobbit)
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • Quasimodo
  • Any sort of Nazi/SS officer
  • Mercutio Montague
  • President Coriolanus Snow
  • Emperor Palpatine
  • The Other Father (Coraline)
  • Iago (Othello)
  • Norman Bates
  • Macbeth. I said the word!
  • The modern major-general
  • Ben Mears or Mark Petrie, perhaps even Barlow or Straker, or Father Callahan (all so great)
  • Hades
  • ...And anything else I can get. Those are my top, though.
I've already played brave, brave Sir Robin - that was fun, although it was five and a half years ago. I do realize I have some double choices; such is not only a backup thing, but also because I have two favorite types of characters: creepy/scary villains and roguish rapscallions. I can be evil, but I can also be like my real self: a scoundrel. Some, such as Mr. Todd, are both. Others are also in there.

I actually did not sing for a long time due to a music teacher I had in elementary school - I am partly to blame of course, for letting her get to me, but I became very embarrassed to speak in musical notes for many years. Now I am making up for my years of sloth by catching up to things.

Also, in the matter of getting in, I think I must at long last polish something up to send off to a magazine. I'll probably be rejected, but persistence is key, no? Probably just a poem, as I still need to sort out my stories.

French I taught me that "adieu" is very final, as in funerals, so I'll just say
Au revoir! Bonjournee!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Book Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I saw the movie when it came out, expecting a nice children's film. I was wrong: while aimed at youths, this is by far one of the creepiest stories ever told. Thinking of the Other Mother still makes my spine cold. I loved that film, so I read the book.

PLOT. - When Coraline Jones and her parents move into a boring old house, Coraline is desperate to find something to do, so she goes exploring. She finds nothing at first, and then she finds an old door sealed shut by layers of paint. Her mother cuts open the layers and opens it, and they find...a brick wall. Disappointed, Coraline leaves, but late that night she follows a mouse to the door, which now leads to a tunnel. She walks into a parallel world and finds that it is mostly the same, except much better. The food is good, everything is colorful, and the people are nice. They also have jet-black buttons for eyes. Just as Coraline is beginning to get comfortable here, they offer to let her stay forever, with one "teeny little thing she has to do": let the Other Mother sew buttons into her eyes. Coraline has to find a way out of this nightmarish world and then back once the Other Mother steals her original parents. Thoroughly mortifying, this.

I enjoyed the story, but I thought the writing, while not bad, was a bit sparse. Needed more "meat on the bones," as my grade-school teachers would say. Also, I thought it odd that the Other Father tried to help Coraline when he was created and controlled by the Other Mother. You'd think he'd be like a puppet in her bony, knobby hand. With giant nails. Ugh. That part was awesome, but I digress. I actually liked the movie better, just because it filled in the bone-spaces. Both were quite dark, however, and are sure to induce nightmares in all ages. But I liked it. Very good.

Final grade: C

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Indeed, this is a rather famous novel. Like Orwell's Animal Farm, I should have read it in my freshman year, but the county school system is awful and due to a scheduling mishap (which they did nothing to fix), I was placed in average English I instead of Honors. However, I have now read both of them on my own time.

For those of you who do not know, Mr. Bradbury's novel is set in a dystopian future in which reading books has become illegal. Guy Montag, a fire-starting fireman who burns books, meets a teenage girl named Clarisse McClellan, with whom he speaks of books and becomes interested in them. He begins to stash books secretly and is eventually caught. I won't give away too much.

What threw me off about this is that it was very unclear what happened to Clarisse: did she die? Did she escape? The author never really explained that. Other than that sort of issue, it was a wonderful book, and scarily prophetic. It was published in, I believe, 1953, and while we do not have book-burning laws, people are turning to slop without reading or other stimulation. A great number of humans sit on their asses and watch the telly but do not read great books such as Fahrenheit 451. It worries me.

Final grade: B