Don’t Rock the Table!


I had a very writerly moment the other day that sort of cracked me up.

I was at Sbucks. It was in the midst of the road trip. I was in Oceanside, and feeling a little guilty that my experience of the places I’d stayed was so limited to a few hours a day, and I spent the rest of the time doing the things I’d have done at home.

… like the sitting at Sbucks for three hours.

Still, I enjoy sitting at coffee shops. Right now, I’m sitting at a coffee shop. I’ve been here for almost four hours, and it feels like nothing. It feels like it’s still the early morning, even though it’s noon.

That’s how I was feeling in Oceanside. I’d read for about an hour and a half; I’d applied for a job; I’d listened to a podcast.

But then, the lady at the other end of my table started typing. We were sitting at one of those long wooden tables that are all-of-a-sudden very “in” with Sbucks. We were on the same side of the table, but on opposite ends. She had been up and down. She’d even left the store at one point, then returned, and now, she was typing, her weighted fingers hitting each key the way my feet hit the ground twenty miles into a marathon.

Thud. Thud. Thud-thud!

It was enough that it pulled me out of my reading zone, and I had to look at her long and hard. A scene popped into my mind: there’s Sean Connery, screaming out, “Punch the keys, for God’s sake!” For those of you who don’t know, that’s from the film Finding Forrester, which is a terribly underrated film in my opinion. It’s the kind of film that reminds me of the artistry in writing – not just in the words I choose or the flow of thoughts and content on the page. Oh no, it’s far more than that.

Similar to how a good glass of wine consists of good wine, plus – plus the size and shape of the glass, the smell of the wine, the lighting in the room, the cheese or chocolate that’s paired with the wine, the conversation, the perfect chair, the visual of my nail polish and rings as I look at my hands holding the glass, the swirl of the wine in the glass and the legs coating and lingering in spots. Likewise, writing is the words and thoughts, plus. It’s the thickness and texture of the paper (or it’s the weight of the journal and how worn its cover). It’s the flow of the ink or the smell of the pencil. It’s the right amount of background noise. It’s the coffee on the table. It’s the passage of time, unobserved. It’s the sound of the keys. In writing, as in anything, it’s the sum of the parts that makes an elegant writing experience, and the experience matters.

I looked at that lady, thought a loud, “Punch the keys, for God’s sake!” that she didn’t hear or chose to ignore, and then I left Sbucks in a huff, the experience destroyed by someone who misunderstands writing. In retrospect, I’m sad for both of us.

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The Abyss of Library Checkouts


Context: A year or so ago, I thought it would be a good idea to take full advantage of the free entertainment at the library… therefore, I began reading the list of all DVDs at all Tucson public libraries, making a list of the ones that seemed watchable. I’m to the ones that begin with ‘C’ in the “DVDs to Watch List” but I’m still in ‘A’ for the ones I’m actually watching.

Note: I am excluding the tangential conversation that was simultaneously going on… it’s pretty entertaining too, though, because it involves Lori taking over online dating for me.

Text conversation between Lori #1 and me (errors not corrected)

6:15 pm

Katie – Have you ever watched a movie called Abyss?

Lori – Nope never heard of it.

Katie – It’s a ’93 James Cameron fim that starts with a submarine hitting a glacier… Reminds me of another james cameron movie.

Lori – hmmm is this for comicon?

Katie – No. It would probably work, but i thought it noteworthy that i’ve only intentionally watched two cameron movies and both involve vessels hitting glaciers

Lori – Did he do titanic?

Katie – Yeah

6:24

Katie – It? too bad cameron didn’t also do armageddon becuase the government just asked oil drillers, led by ed harris, to save the day

Lori – Hahaha… (several comments about running and online dating that I’m not going to include here because it’s irrelevant to this post)

8:33

Katie – Ok. I will log on tonight. After thr movie ends. Ed harris and mary elizabeth mastrantonio are currently in a submersible, fighting a navy seal in a bigger submersible, trying to save non-terrestrial intelligent beings from a nuclea warhead while their underwater oil ig is losing oxygen and power because of an accident that occurred due to a hurricane overhead

(More dating talk)

Katie – Also, they’re in love.

8:39

Katie – Whoa. She died. I think maybe the underwater aiens will save her. If not, this is the worst ending to a movie ever… Way worse than when jack drowned because rose didn’t make room for him on he wood

Katie – Also, it’s 171 minutes long… And i? Only 2 hours in. What the hell is wrong with james cameron.

Lori – Hahahaha! That’s freakin long!!!

Katie – He told her not to die… So now she’s alive again

Katie – Now ed harris is submersed in magical pink fluid that will allow him to breath oxygen out of water as if he’s a fish. He’s going to go and disarm the nuclear warhead

9:09

Katie – How did they get ed harris to do this movie? He has now arrived at an alien underwater city. The alien is holding his hand and pulling him into the city that is made up of psychedelic light patterns

Lori – I can’t believe You’re still watching it

Katie – Kendra has joined me

Katie – Now the aliens made a pocket of air fr him to stand in and they are projecting the news from topside onto a wall of water for him to watch

Katie – The aliens have evidently caused a huge tsunami because they are opposed to humanity’s nuclear and other violent choinces

Katie – Now, the aliens have frozen the tsunami mid-wave and they’re returning the waters to the ocean

Katie – They are now communicating their approval of ed harris’s love for his lady. The hurricane has ended abruptly, the sun has come out, the people n the rig have regained contact with topside.

Katie – Ed harris is ok and teling the military to stp fighting so the aliens won’t have to send another tsunami. The alien city is now rising up through the water and revealing itself to the military water crafts. I know you’re tired of these texts, but this movie is blowing my mind

9:27

Katie – And they make out in the sunset while standing atop the alien city

Lori – I’m glad you’re giving me the play by play so I don’t ever have to watch it

——————————-

And that, folks, is a great reason not to watch movies that no one has every heard of. Another goodie to avoid: Enduring Love… Just say no.

 

 

These Disturbing Times


I recently subscribed to the NY Times – mostly because I wanted to know if we’re going to war with Russia and where the hell that damn airplane is. And honestly, I just don’t do a very good job of keeping up with the news. I’m a dumb-phone-owning, too-cheap-for-TV, internet-avoiding sort of girl, so the most news I’m usually aware of is what I hear on the radio during my 5-minute drive to work and has to do with Justin Bieber’s most recent arrests and the crazy chick who managed to sneak into his bedroom. Thus, I’ve made it my recent mission to read all of the Sunday features in the Times (I had to revise my original goal, because it’s nearly-impossible to read the entire paper cover-to-cover).

So, okay, I’m reading today’s features, and I come across an article that I really think I might want to skip for the sake of time, but I decided to at least start reading and see where it took me. The headline:

“Today’s Girls Love Pink Bows As Playthings, but These Shoot”

Accompanying the headline is a picture of a nine-year-old girl in a pink shirt, shooting a toy bow. The article basically covers changes in the toy industry, attributed to recent films with B.A. babes and the resulting increase in demand for little girl weaponry.

The article cites Katniss (HUNGER GAMES), Merida (BRAVE), Black Widow (THE AVENGERS), and Tris (DIVERGENT) as the primary causes of this shift. Although I haven’t seen THE AVENGERS, I’m familiar with all of those ladies and their stories, and found the entire article a bit disturbing. The youngest bow-owning little girl mentioned in the article is three years old. And, okay, let’s assume that she just wanted the bow and arrow because it seemed fun. The majority of the girls interviewed are eight and nine. So my question is this – why the hell have girls that young been exposed to THE HUNGER GAMES?!

Merida? Okay. I’ll give you that one. She really doesn’t shoot at people, so, although BRAVE had its terrifying moments, it’s a movie that’s probably appropriate for most eight and nine-year-olds. But HUNGER GAMES?!

First of all, I don’t give a damn that the University of Michigan counseling psychology teacher thinks such toys are okay because they are “letting girls know that their aggressive impulses are acceptable and they should be able to play them out.” Not only do I vehemently disagree with that statement but I find it slightly surreal and comical that a mental health professional would say such a thing in today’s climate of terrorism and school shootings. I was raised in a household where it was drilled into us that “guns are not toys.” My father taught us that lesson with a fervor and consistency unequaled by any other he taught my sister and me, so I’m not particularly at ease with turning weapons into play-things, and as a public school educator, I don’t really want my students thinking their “aggressive impulses are acceptable” and I certainly don’t want my students playing out those impulses.

More importantly than my personal opinions about children’s toys, though, is the hypocrisy in taking a story like the HUNGER GAMES, patenting it, sterilizing it, and entertaining our children with it. Katniss is a character who would have been disgusted to see anyone misunderstanding and glorifying her for killing. Katniss frequently commented on the foolishness of the Capitol and her hatred of many of them because they didn’t understand what the Hunger Games really were. And now, we’re exposing our kids to a story that they are too young to fully comprehend, and we’re making a game out of it? Sure, Katniss is a fictional character and people can ultimately do what they want to do without offending her… but isn’t the point of fiction to reveal truth? The truth of HUNGER GAMES is that people lose sight of what’s important and real because they have too much wealth, entertainment, fashion, etc… to keep them distracted. Well, I guess as long as we put a little bit of pink on the weaponry, our children’s aggression won’t be true aggression, or at least we’ll be too distracted by the glitter and glam to notice they’re shooting each other.

Film Review: DIVERGENT


Alrighty – quick synopsis of story – Beatrice leaves family and whole identity behind to become dauntless. She completely transforms, discovers crazy, messed-up conspiracies, and meets the dude of her dreams. All she has to do is survive super dangerous initiation, evade J.A. Jerkwads trying to kill her and all other divergent, and keep her man from killing her.

Everybody hide! Spoilers are inbound!

*Also, I suspect you won’t find this review interesting unless you’ve read the book. I’m way too analytical.

Divergent is one of my favorite books in recent history. Honestly, the series as a whole isn’t that great, but Divergent is awesome. Some reasons it’s awesome:

1. It examines fear in deeply personal, thoughtful and B.A. sorts of ways.

2.It examines selflessness in deeply personal, thoughtful and B.A. sorts of ways.

3.It examines family and friendship in deeply personal, thoughtful and B.A. sorts of ways.

4. There are some crazy cool scenes that I really wanted to see up on the big screen.

5. The world building was unique and immersive.

Okay… that had to be said because I’m pretty annoyed about some of the choices the writers/director made.

My top 5 biggest complaints about scenes they cut or altered:

NUMBER 1: Tris should not have had mascara or eyeliner on throughout the hair-cutting scene or really at all until Christina taught her to wear it. Not only was this something an abnegation would never do, but the writers/filmmakers also lost an opportunity for building the friendship between Christina and Tris. They also pulled me out of the movie from scene 1, keeping me from suspending my disbelief.

NUMBER 2: Nobody fell and died when the initiates jumped off the train and onto the roof. This was a necessary event because it’s when Tris (and the audience) really sees how barbaric this initiation is going to be.  Without it, nothing is quite as frightening as it should be.

Number 3: Cutting the scene where Edward loses his eye was THE BIGGEST MISTAKE EVER!!!!

That scene served several purposes. It made things pretty real to Tris and the reader/viewer; it revealed Peter as completely demented and set him up as our villain (justifying the fact that Tris later shoots him even though he’s unarmed); it gave Tris a chance to be selfless by comforting Edward and cleaning up his blood afterward; it gave a name and a face to the factionless.

Sidenote: Edward’s story plays a relatively large role in the second book, so I suspect they’re planning to cut him out completely or make further unnecessary and annoying changes.

NUMBER 4: No parent’s visiting day… so mom shows up at the Amity trucks? Okay, I understand that they needed to make things happen faster; even with their changes, the movie felt a little long to me. Still, they didn’t do enough to set that scene up so it was abrupt and confusing. More significant, though, the writers forfeited too much. They forfeited emotional release (from Tris finding out that her mom still loves her), character and world development (Al not even going out to see his parents, Will’s sis yelling at Tris, dad’s choice not to come, Erudite not allowing visitors, etc…), and all significance in mom’s story.

Mom standing in her abnegation clothes in the midst of all the Dauntless was really a beautiful testament to selflessness and love. The revelations that she was familiar with the compound and knew about divergence were HUGELY important to Tris’s growth in selflessness and bravery. Her mother ends up being her primary example of those two attributes perfectly combined and put into action throughout the series, so I think they needed to spend more time on it.

NUMBER 5: There was ZERO CHARACTER BUILDING of Al before he attacked Tris. Consequently, it hardly seemed like a betrayal and I wasn’t particularly sad when he died.

Okay, now, so there’s one more significant problem I want to mention before wrapping this review up. I think the filmmakers inserted Jeanine into the story WAY TOO MUCH. I get that when you have Kate Winslett in a movie, you have to give her lines, but they traipsed her around stupidly. She was in places where she wasn’t safe and she wasn’t very mysterious because she was constantly talking with Tris (at the choosing ceremony, in Dauntless headquarters, etc…). Jeanine is supposed to be Erudite; she’s the smartest of the smart, so it makes no sense that she would put herself in physical danger. Also, she’s an elitest intellectual. She’s above the people she was constantly talking to… like Tris.

There were a billion trillion other changes they made that I hated, and yet, I would have accepted them had the writers still examined fear, selflessness, family and friendship in personal, thoughtful and B.A. sorts of ways. I have to hate the film because it abandoned the attributes of the book that made it worth reading. Many of the scenes were cool, but shallow. They were action-packed, but substance-light. Fear isn’t something that can be fully revealed through action. Nor is selflessness. Nor is friendship or family. There were slow moments in the book that the film neglected, and for that, I can’t accept it as a part of the franchise.

If you see the movie, see it as it’s own entity, because it is too inferior to the book to classify as the same story.

Top 30 Movies of All Time


This is the best list I could create… because making a list is WAY harder than it seems. Enjoy.
30. Cool Runnings

29. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (I think you have to be a girl to like this one)

28. Secondhand Lions

27. Must Love Dogs (I promise there are fewer girly ones towards the top of the list, but I find this one shockingly relevant)

26. Stand by Me

25. For Love of the Game

24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

23. It’s a Wonderful Life

22. Jurassic Park

21. Apollo 13

20. Dances with Wolves

19. Armageddon

18. Remember the Titans

17. Dirty Dancing

16. Gladiator

15. Labyrinth

14.Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli’s Version)

13. Beauty and the Beast

Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12.The Matrix

11. A Knight’s Tale

10. Mean Girls

9. Stardust

8. Karate Kid

7. Casablanca

6. The Princess Bride

5. Chicago

4. Little Miss Sunshine

3. Willow

2. The Fifth Element

1. Good Will Hunting

Worth Fighting For


Bag End, as used in the Lord of the Rings films.

Bag End, as used in the Lord of the Rings films. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the weekend, I rewatched The Fellowship of the Ring with Amy the Dentist, because she’s never seen it and just finished reading the book… and I’m not too proud to admit that I cried a little. I did not cry when Gandalf died or any of the times when Frodo was in mortal peril. I did not cry when Boromir died even though I have a long-standing crush on Sean Bean. No. Those would all be too normal for me. When did I cry – you ask?

Frodo and Sam have just set out towards the Inn of the Prancing Pony, and they’re in a field with a scarecrow.

Sam stops.

Frodo is all, “Hey – what’s the matter?”

Sam’s response: “It’s just, if I take one more step, I’ll have gone farther away from home than I’ve ever been.”

Frodo is all, “Sam, we haven’t even left the Shire,” but I was all, “That’s so adorable! (tear)”

Then I may have rewound just a bit because Amy the Dentist wasn’t paying attention.

Do you know why I cried at that part? And why I cry when Sam almost kills himself and Frodo trying to save the salt? …

Because the Shire is worth saving.

The Shire is all that is good in the world. It is peace. It is good food and drink. It is innocence and community. It is home.

The Shire is the sort of thing that heroes are forged to protect… that’s why Lord of the Rings is a magnificent story. It’s about preserving everything that is worth preserving.

What does it matter to me if Sauron covers Middle Earth in a second darkness, if there was nothing there worth preserving to begin with?

I don’t like Bruce Wayne.

I don’t like Katniss Everdeen.

And I don’t like Kate Beckett.

For quite a long time now, I’ve felt like a stupid nerd because I love Clark Kent but hate the Dark Knight. Real nerds prefer the Dark Knight, because it’s lame that Superman is so powerful and often seems like he’s about to lose the fight until he just finally summons the strength to defeat the bad guy.

However, I think I get it now. What the hell is Bruce Wayne fighting for? He’s so terribly tragic that I’m not sure there’s anything good in his life. I know he hates evil, but what does he love? What does he fight for? I don’t care about the butcher of villains for its own sake. I, in fact, often feel pretty sad for villains. However, I will feel good about their destruction if – and only if – it means all that’s good in the world will be protected for a little while longer… if one more hobbit will find his Rosie and build a cute little hobbit-hole that doesn’t have any sharp angles in it.

As always, it comes back to hope. My heart rejects hopeless fiction, and there isn’t a more hopeless hero than Bruce Wayne. If he defeats all evil in this world, his life will still be terribly tragic and the world would be a terribly tragic place. However, our hobbits fight to protect something good rather than simply to eradicate something terrible. They fight with hope for the future.

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness


Spoilers!!!!!

Before we get going here, you should know that I grew up on The Wrath of Kahn. My parents can attest that, as a little girl, I was so haunted by a fear of the mind control critters Kahn stuck in peoples’ ears that I wandered the house with my hands covering my ears for days… so they took me to the doctor believing I might have an ear infection.

Nope. Kahn is just a terrifying dude with a beach-perfect chest.

Going into my viewing of Into Darkness, I hadn’t heard much of anything about it other than it was awesome. Thus, I was completely surprised by Kahn and the allusions to his wrath.

Some positives:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the casting choice they made for Kahn; I was blown away by how well Benedict Cumberbatch (what a name, right?) captured the Kahn voice quality. He had it down better than I could have imagined it. He also had a facial structure that I accepted as Kahn, and he was admirably intelligent and ruthless as only Kahn can be.
  2. Bringing Doc. Marcus in was pretty fun, although I’m pretty sure I was the only person in the theater who got what they were doing there. It’s also nice to hope that her appearance means we’ll still get a Kirk baby… a guy at Comicon may have ruined the alternate time line thing for me by pointing out that Piccard may never be born, so I’m hoping Doc. Marcus and Kirk will ease that tension by making a baby together, reassuring us that our fave Next Gen characters will maybe/probably still exist.
  3. The comedy was thoroughly satisfying.
  4. I liked the Leonard Nemoy moment when he told Spock that defeating Kahn had been incredibly costly the first time around (well, sort of the first time). The weight of that statement was perfect and beautiful. Also, it was really cool to see Kirk and Spock switch roles. Hearing them each say that they’d done what the other one would do was incredibly touching and an elegant tribute to Spock’s death.
  5. There were some delightful Red Shirt jokes (that, again, the uninitiated didn’t understand, so I may have embarrassingly laughed out loud while crickets chirped throughout the rest of the theater).

Here are my complaints, and take into account that I loved it in spite of these negative critiques:

  1. I’m a little annoyed that they didn’t maroon Kahn on Ceti Alpha 5 at the end of the film. I get that they like to have the option of using him a few more times before sticking him in the middle of nowhere. I also get that they’re playing with the whole alternate reality thing, but it would have been a really nice thing for those of us who grew up with a deep fear of Ceti Eels to feel assured that The Wrath of Kahn wasn’t just deleted from the time line. I’d like to believe that it still happens.
  2. It bothered me a lot (Spoiler!!!!!) that Kirk died and was immediately brought back to life. I even wrote a post about that yesterday. Darn them! The writers did a nice job of dropping the bread crumbs along the way so that the resurrection didn’t come out of nowhere, but it felt a little too much like they were jerking me around. If you’re going to boldly kill Kirk, then kill him! Permanently.
  3. I didn’t like how young they were. I know that’s a silly complaint, but the characters and the actorswere so much more seasoned and wise in The Wrath of Kahnand the writers of Into Darkness maybe shouldn’t have spent so much time reminding us of the epic moments in that film. For example: while it’s nice that they attempted to honor the Spock death scene, I don’t think the actors or writers were really up to the task. That scene is one of the most touching I’ve seen in ANY SciFi film.

“Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh…”

“the needs of the few…”

“or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test. What do you think of my solution?”

“Spock?”

“I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper.”

And, because simply reading it isn’t enough:

Really, they did a relatively nice job with the revamp, but I can’t help but think it was too elegant of a scene to rewrite.

4. I’m not a fan of how they took away Kirk’s ship and then gave it back to him right away. I actually thought it was really cool to see Pike tell Kirk that he was too arrogant and didn’t respect the chair. It was perfect, and it set up a nice, subtle story arc where Kirk had to learn to trust his crew rather than barreling ahead like a pissed rhino. However, every time they do something like that (i.e. killing him and bringing him back) they lower the stakes for the next time. It’s like the little boy who cried wolf. And, at some point very soon, they’re going to have to either leave somebody dead or we aren’t going to feel invested anymore.

All in all, it’s an incredibly fun film that you should definitely see. I wouldn’t even wait for it to get to the cheap seats… it’s worth paying full-price whether you’re a trekkie or not.