September 26, 2012 § 11 Comments
WWW Wednesday is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. To play, answer the following questions:
- What are you currently reading?
- What did you recently finish reading?
- What do you think you’ll read next?
What I’m currently reading:
On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves. I have been wanting to read this since I read the one-line description on the NYT Bestseller’s List: “An English teacher and the teenage boy she has agreed to tutor are stranded on an island in the Indian Ocean.”
What I just finished reading:
Sharing Hailey by Samantha Ann King. I gave this book five out of five stars. It has an edgy erotic premise and plenty of hot sex NOT involving control, punishment, and bondage. That is what I’m talking about.
What I think I’ll read next:
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. This is my favorite Blume book and I haven’t read it since college. Blume co-wrote the screenplay based on her book and the Tiger Eyes movie is screening at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival in October. Blume will be in attendance and I cannot wait!
What about you? Leave a comment with either the link to your own WWW Wednesdays post, or share your answers in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog).
September 24, 2012 § 1 Comment
September 22, 2012
On Saturday I was driving to meet the Cheza Jouer gang for the next interview shoot for the documentary on Mau Mau freedom fighters in Kenya. I entered the address Dia had given me on Google Maps on my BlackBerry. I arrived exactly where the dot said and I couldn’t find the house. I called Dia. “Where are you?” When I told her, she said, “Oh, no, the Google map has you in kukamunga.” I was in the far southwest end of town, and I was supposed to be in the far northwest end of town, thirteen miles away. When I finally got there after almost an hour and a half of driving, come to find out homegirl inadvertently gave me the wrong address! A bit of advice for when you are going to an address you don’t know: always ask for the nearest cross streets. Then you at least know which end of town you are supposed to be in.
Ah, vodka . . .
The interview with Marcus Ray was amazing. I was riveted listening to him talk about the history of colonialism in East Africa and the military tactics used by the British and the Mau Mau fighters.
September 22, 2012 § 3 Comments
I almost left my camera in the movie theater and Dia tried to take an elderly man’s walker, but we came out of The Birds unscathed.
Dia got to see lots of scary movies as a kid because her older brothers and sisters made her watch them. I got to see very few scary movies as a kid because my mom wouldn’t let me watch anything that would end up with me waking her up in the middle of the night and messing up her sleep. Dia and I have both seen plenty of Hitchcock movies, however, so we were totally down for the TCM Presents The Birds showing on Wednesday night. The Birds is my second favorite Hitchcock movie.
From the opening shot of Tippi Hedren (Hitchcock’s cool, classic blonde du jour) crossing the street in San Francisco and gazing up at the silhouette of birds circling in the sky, to the closing shot, this movie has “a life of its own,” as Hedren herself put it. One of my friends, T, nixed my movie invitation because it is directly responsible for her adulthood aversion to birds. I, on the other hand, have a bird feeder in my backyard. My ongoing joke with T is that when the apocalypse comes and the birds attack, they’ll be like, “hey, this is the girl that’s been looking out for us all these years. We’ll leave this one alone.”
Dia and I kicked off the evening at Plum Café, one of our favorite pre-movie adventure hangouts, and discussed how we, for the most part, aren’t that crazy about scary movies. Dia said all the people who like the Saw movies ought to be put on an FBI watch list. I said please don’t describe to me any more Saw scenes while I’m eating my Teriyaki chicken, thank you very much.
But The Birds, that’s more of a thriller, Dia said. Plus, it’s Hitchcock, I said. And it had been years since I had last stayed up late to watch it on TV, so I was excited to see it on the big screen. I was also curious as to whether it would have the same affect on me now as it had all those years ago.
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds opens with Melanie Daniels (Hedren), a bit of a bad girl, who goes into a San Francisco bird shop to buy a Mynah bird as a practical joke. Instead, she meets Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), a lawyer who recognizes her from a smashed plate glass window prank that wound up in court. He pretends to think she’s a store clerk, she pretends she is one, and their interest in each other is sparked. Melanie secretly tracks Mitch to his home in Bodega Bay to drop off a pair of lovebirds that he had wanted to give to his kid sister for her birthday.
The courtship between Melanie and Mitch begins, and Melanie navigates the uneasy relationships with the women in Mitch’s life. His mother Lydia (Jessica Tandy), still mourning her husband’s death and afraid of being left alone, is suspicious of Melanie. Annie, the local schoolteacher (Suzanne Pleshette), rents a room to Melanie but is also Mitch’s ex-girlfriend and a bit jealous of this new object of his affection. The only female who seems to really like Melanie is Mitch’s eleven-year-old sister Cathy (Veronica Cartwright), the one Melanie bought the lovebirds for.
Then trouble begins. A seagull dive-bombs Melanie and draws blood. Another hurls itself at Annie’s front door and drops dead on the porch. When an entire flock of gulls attacks the children at Cathy’s birthday party, Melanie and Mitch start to realize the danger they are in. Nobody else, particularly local law enforcement, believes the threat of the birds is real. Soon, it may be too late to escape.
When I watched the movie this time I noticed that a good third of the movie is spent on drawing out the characters, showing us their psychological failings, their past regrets, their family secrets. This is important because the characters become real to us and by the time things start getting crazy, we care about these people and what is happening to them.
I still love the way the suspense builds in a subtle, everyday event style, so that we feel like this is something that could be happening to us. A good example is the dinner scene when Lydia is on the phone complaining to the farm storeowner about the chicken feed that the chickens won’t eat. This seemingly mundane exchange is really a foreshadowing that pays off big time later in the movie.
The tensions between the characters makes it compelling to watch them come together in a crisis. In one of my favorite scenes, the undercurrent of female rivalry between Melanie and Annie is turned around when the two of them have to work together quickly and almost wordlessly to get a classroom of kids out of the school and to safe shelter.
One of the genius unique effects Hitchcock uses that enhances the realistic eeriness of this film is the lack of background music. We hear dialogue, we hear the kids singing in the classroom, and we hear the birds cooing, cawing, squalling, shrieking, or beating their wings in deadly flight. When Melanie sits calmly smoking a cigarette outside the schoolhouse, there is no “dum-dum-dum!” Just the late afternoon lull as catastrophe quietly brews.
One flaw: it’s apparently scary movie law that there has to be that “No! Don’t go in there, you fool!” moment. The Birds is no exception and those of us who have seen this movie know which scene I’m talking about. Tippi Hedren herself said she questioned Alfred Hitchcock before filming that scene. “Why would my character do this, after seeing everything that has already happened?” Hitch’s response: “Because I said so.”
Finally, I think the reason this movie resonates is that, as humans, we are strangely thrilled to watch usually passive and innocuous creatures mysteriously assemble and attack with effective force. Most of us spend a good chunk of our lives yielding and backing down. A familiar Bible quote is “the meek shall inherit the earth.” So even though we identify with, empathize with, in effect are the human family in the story, we may, on some level, also identify with the birds.
Which reminds me. I need to go refill the bird feeder.
September 18, 2012 § 3 Comments
September 16, 2012
After all my talk about paper books vs eBooks, I’ve sure been doing a lot of reading on my Nook. I am loving Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls; it is every bit as great as everybody kept telling me it is. Even my mom was interested in checking it out when I showed it off to her.
I am also reading Sharing Hailey, which is fabulous evening and bedtime reading because it is sexy and hot! My red-covered Nook has been hanging out on my nightstand for the last week.
Friday night I decided break time is over. I finished the Stages of the Journey section of The Writer’s Journey, and in the epilogue Vogler recommends writing down the 12 stages on index cards. So that is what I did on Saturday afternoon, instead of going to the movies as I’d been planning to do all week, and would have except for laundry issues. It is just as well. I need to make sacrifices now if I want to get this novel done. In writing out everything on the index cards I was relieved and excited to discover that the plot points in my novel hit all of the stages.
I just have one bit in the Tests section that needs to be fleshed out, and I’ve decided on a much better way to arrange the Call to Adventure and the Refusal of the Call. It just means I have to rework chapter one for, like, the fiftieth time. Not that I’m freaking out or anything. Not at all.
I have recently been conned—ahem—persuaded to assist my friends Dia (yes, of movie mishap fame) and Allan who have just started their own production company, Cheza Jouer Films. I am editing their presentation package for funding applications as well as editing narration for their trailer.
This beautiful Sunday afternoon we shot some interview footage with a local TV host, Gene Grant of New Mexico in Focus. Moving on up!
The Birds are back! The adventures of Moreau and Dia will continue this Wednesday when we go see TCM Presents Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. This is my favorite Hitchcock movie after Rear Window so I am excited to see it on the big screen. I will also be stocking up on birdseed on Tuesday.
September 11, 2012 § 6 Comments
A few weeks ago I announced that I was taking some time off from the novel rewrites. I’m still convincing myself that this was a good idea. A few nights of panic attacks brought serious doubts to my decision. The kind of panic attacks where I’m trying to drift off to sleep and my heart races while my voice repeats in my head, over and over, “Why is this taking so long? I have been working on this for eight months and it’s still not done. What is wrong with me? WHAT AM I DOING?”
On the other hand, because of this break, I have been able to take care of some long overdue business. Like replacing my 6-year-old iBook laptop with something that doesn’t freeze every time I try to link to a page in my blog post.
I asked my friend to meet me at the Apple store on Friday after work. I needed shopping support. While I waited for her to arrive, I compared the MacBook Air to the MacBook Pro. I had pretty much decided on the Air because it is lightweight and easy to stash in my D&B satchel and take with me to my job so that I can work on my writing during my lunch break. Then I saw the iMac. The beautiful, sexy iMac, endowed with the slick 21.5-inch screen.
“Help!” I said when my friend T arrived with her daughter. “I can’t decide.”
After following me back and forth between the laptop and the computer table and listening to me babble, T broke it down for me.
“Think of this like it’s a man,” she said. “You’re attracted to the iMac, because it’s big and gorgeous, but the laptop will be more practical. The laptop will suit your needs because you can take it with you everywhere. I see you bonding with your laptop, whereas the computer will soon make you feel tied down. Just like the wrong man would.”
This is why you ask your friends to go shopping with you.
Fifteen hundred dollars later, and with my Air, SuperDrive, and slim case tucked in a bag slung over my shoulder, I walked with my shopping buddies out of the Apple store and into the pouring rain. I’m sure this is symbolic somehow. Water symbolizes transformation, I think. Hero transforms from someone who doesn’t take the time and money to equip herself with the right stuff to someone who gets herself exactly what she needs.
T had an extra MS Office license so we decided to get snacks and spirits to fortify ourselves for the software installation. “Meet me in the wine section,” I texted when I got to Trader Joe’s. “Those are the best words anyone’s said to me all week,” she said when she arrived.
After we got to her place, however, she remembered that she had lent the disc to her friend. So, instead, we ate and drank and listened to her daughter’s Taylor Swift CDs. I found Swift’s latest single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” on iTunes and played it for T because it is my new favorite song in the whole world.
I hopped on T’s wireless and published my Friday blog post before Friday was over, and did it with lightning speed, on my new MacBook Air.
Deep conversation occurs towards midnight after two bottles of wine. This is how I know I’m truly a writer. T was telling me about somebody from her past and I, in true “Ooh! Ooh!” Arnold Horshack style, (RIP, Ron Palillo) said, “She was your Mentor who was also a Shapeshifter.” Straight from The Writer’s Journey, which I have been reading every day since I started my rewrite break. I’ve been doing my homework.
I got the MS software from T later in the weekend, installed it, and I am in the process of transferring six years’ worth of files, photos, and music over from my old computer to my new one. What with that and the homework, I guess it’s a good thing I’m taking a break from rewrites. Even though it is already September.
Suddenly . . . I can’t breathe . . .
How about you? Anybody besides me freaking out that the year is already more than halfway over? Do you stress out over buying computers?
September 8, 2012 § 4 Comments
I got my eReader! I decided on the Nook Tablet from Barnes and Noble. The Nook Touch that just reads eBooks in black and white is half the price, but I had to have color so I could read comics and graphic novels.
I transferred the eBooks I bought a month ago from my laptop to my Nook and have just been reading merrily away with my glowy new toy.
I made it back to the comic book store on Labor Day. I had to, between the Smallville Season 11’s piling up and the Superman/Wonder Woman development in the Justice League and the salesman who helped me with my Nook purchase at Barnes and Noble telling me how awesome the straight up Batman is.
I just bought Batman Volume 1: The Court of Owls on my Nook and it is so freaking cool! I showed it to my friends at a birthday dinner last night, thinking they would just be wowed, but they were like “Wow, I haven’t read a comic book in thirty years.” So, not wowed in the way I had anticipated. Whatever.
After checking out the Justice League on the Nook demo and in the comic book store, I have decided that I will be buying Justice League: Volume 1: Origin in hardcover instead of digital because the art is so gorgeous.
September 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
This was my favorite Grimm episode so far in the season. I do have to express my displeasure at the announcement that new episodes won’t resume until September 28. What’s up with that? Well, it’ll give me a chance to catch up on Season 1 on Blu-ray. Minor spoilers ahead.
So many great scenes to choose from in this episode. Monroe and Rosalee’s mad dash through the park to the car after being attacked by the infected creature was pretty exciting. But I think my absolute favorite is when Nick and Hank bring the Parks and Rec guy to Rosalee’s shop and all hell breaks loose.
Favorite Little Moment
Sgt. Wu, blood and other fluids splattered all over the front of his uniform, tells Nick and Hank he’ll show them the crime scene inside the house. Nick and Hank, recognizing how shaken Sgt. Wu is, say, “Hold on. We’ll take it from here.” They’ve seen this stuff before.
Favorite Character Reveal
The girlfriend not remember his existence thing is wearing on Nick. After Monroe tells him, “yeah, she doesn’t remember but she’s trying” and Juliette says, “there’s some pasta in the fridge,” and goes to bed without him, Nick is worn out and irritable. I’m kind of waiting for him to snap. I admit I’m looking forward to the moment when Juliette, who can’t even remember sleeping with Nick, asks him, “By the way, what’s a Grimm?”
Rosalee: “I’ve rushed things in the past. And that’s about as much as I’m going to ever discuss past relationships.”
Amen, sister friend.
Grimm viewers, what did you think of “Quill”?