Sunday, July 31, 2005

Movie Mania

I have seen FOUR--yes, four--movies this week, and it's about time for me to express my opinions on them. I'm even going to do something I've never done, and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best.

WARNING: Spoilers abound

War of the Worlds: 2

I saw this on Tuesday with my husband, and when it was over, I turned to him and said, "How many ways did that suck?" He immediately and relievedly agreed (I think he was afraid I'd try to convince him how good it was.)

The acting was fine. The effects were, of course, incredible. But the logic was totally non-existent. Everywhere, from little things like how can that video camera be working when an EMP just blew everything for miles around, to why the countryside is TOTALLY deserted with no signs of any destruction, to why the town with the ferry has electricity but the cars don't work?

Characterization was terrible, too. I'm so tired of disaster movies showcasing a bad father trying to make good only because they're all about to DIE. Of kids who hate their father so they're delinquent and stupid.

Oh, and let's see, how many possible ways can we get the monsters to threaten us? We'll be evaporated into dust, and crushed with cars, then drowned, then picked up with tentacles and stored in cages, then sucked up into starfish-style rectum-looking suckers, then speared and our blood sprayed all over the countryside for these vine things...

Then there's the whole, "we've got to up the stakes" thing. It's not enough to foolishly separate the family, for a reason that I cannot understand at all. They have to have the aliens come into the shelter they're hiding in, looking around at old photographs and drinking the water on the basement floor--never mind the RIVER that's just a few feet away. Then let's have the kid run outside, stand on a hill, and scream loudly while staring at the machine that is NOT LOOKING AT HER. You know, so she can be in jeopardy so Daddy can save her.

The Island: 3.75

Ewan Macgregor. Doubled. Nuff said?

Though when it got to that part, I said to my friend, "ooh, one for each of us!" and we immediately both pointed to the clone and said, "I want that one." I graciously agreed to take the original (using his own Scottish accent for once, and ooooo, baby!), and said I'd just rough him up.

So. Problems with the movie? Yeah, some. The story was fine, and there were no major logic problems that jumped out at me. I don't subscribe to the Michael Bay school of film, though, that believes the more destructive a movie is, the better it is. His box office should tell him otherwise. Can a deep philosophical question co-exist with heart-pounding action sequences? Sure! Does the compellingness of the story get lost when you're shattering cars that could contain KIDS as well as innocent adults? Absolutely. The bottom line would be much better served by shaving off a few dozen million in car chases and building-smashing and focusing on what we REALLY care about--the people.

I don't think Scarlett Johannsen lives up to her hype, in any movie she's been in. She did okay here. I did get minorly bugged by her always perfect French manicure. I want to find the kind of nail polish that stays shiny and unscratched when you fall from the 70th floor of a skyscraper.

Michael Clarke Duncan was superb in his tiny roll, as was Steve Buscemi. I was much more upset at the end of his role than I would have been by the end of Scarlett's. Sean Bean was the best, though, as a villian who managed to convince his products that he cared. Not many villians get to be so multi-faceted.

Must Love Dogs: 3

I love John Cusack and Diane Lane, and much of the supporting cast. The movie was fine, but there was something missing. There was no point at which I was convinced the two main characters had completely fallen for each other, so their being apart didn't hurt that much, and their getting back together was ho-hum. Still, these are beautiful people who look REAL, not all glammed up, and that's always nice to watch.

Sky High: 4

It's been quite a while since there was a movie all four of us wanted to see (me, hubbie, 10-year-old daughter, and 6-year-old daughter). So it was a treat for us to do a family movie, and this one was worth it.

Casting directors are my heros for this summer. In a season of mediocre movies, the one thing I have no complaints about in any of them is the casting. Every person has been perfect for his or her role. Kurt Russell had just enough pomposity, but a good heart. The sidekicks were entertaining but not caricatures, and the heroes weren't all made out to be bad guys (though, of course, the bad guys were heroes). Bruce Campbell was up to his hammy best as Sonic Boom, aka gym teacher.

The plot was fairly predictable, but managed to weave in elements of traditional teenage angst, the spectre of familial disappointment, the value of true friends, and a giant evil plot to be foiled.

I loved the last line in the movie, which is a MAJOR SPOILER: "So my girlfriend became my archenemy, my archenemy became my best friend, and my best friend became my girlfriend. But that's high school."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

It’s Truly Over

In early February of this year, I and millions of other New England Patriots fans were jubilantly celebrating our third SuperBowl win in three years, and looking ahead with apprehension to the 2005 season.

It’s so much worse than we could have foreseen.

Success breeds loss in this game. Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis moved on to head coach at Notre Dame; Romeo Crennel became head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Both deserve their new positions, but it left the Head of the Beast fractured.

Which wasn’t considered that much of a problem. Personnel changes were made within the Patriots’ overarching philosophy, with staff who understand that philosophy and are committed to it. So okay.

Early on, things seemed all right. Goodbye Ty Law, we didn’t need you or your big mouth anyway. We lost Troy Brown, but always knew, in our hearts, that he’d come back. The draft and free agent acquisitions all looked to make our team stronger, despite other losses like Joe Andruzzi and David Patton.

Then things started to fall apart. Richard Seymour’s holding out. Tedy Bruschi is sitting out the season to finish recovering from the stroke he had in February (likely, to see if there is any hope of ever returning to the game {sob}). And now my wonderful, fabulous, beautiful Ted Johnson is retiring.

It’s one thing to fragment the head—ripping out the heart is something completely different.

The beauty of the Patriots these last four seasons has not been the winning, it’s been the way they’ve won. Not by buying talent and the attending egos. Not by bluster and hate, threats and challenges. But simply, quietly, by doing their jobs. By supporting each other and the entire team on every level, in hundreds of ways.

That way won’t change. We’ve lost players before, excellent players, leaders, players who were considered the heart of the team. We may yet have a chance to win three championships in a row.

But I, for one, will never be the same.

Djimoun Hounsooooh, boy. Saw The Island last night, and this man has leaped to the top of my list. Looks, bod, talent, and an ancient soul behind those eyes...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I Wish People Would Think For Themselves

I’m going to try really, really hard not to turn this into a rant, but it may be impossible.

People I love, and some people I just like, are always forwarding me stuff. You know, those e-mails that have sweet poetry about great friends or funny jokes about anything. But also political and religious diatribes that rarely have anything to do with my own beliefs, but since I keep those beliefs to myself, I try to just delete them.

But often, people forward things that are so blatantly wrong (both inaccurate and appalling), that it drives me crazy. Here is a sampling:

1. Mars was its closest to the Earth two years ago, so looking at it this August won’t be as cool as you think.

2. Deadly spiders are not hiding under toilet seats.

3. Andy Rooney never said any of that stuff.

4. The ACLU is not screaming about soldiers praying

5. Oh, and the always eye-rolling one—AOL and Disney are not tracking e-mails and will not send you a check for thousands of dollars to clutter up people’s inboxes.

For those of you wondering how you’re supposed to know what’s true and what’s not, I suggest you bookmark Snopes and refer to that whenever you have a question about something someone sent you. Wondering if you can really dial #677 to get the police on your cell phone? Only in Canada. If robbers are ether-ing women in parking lots with fake perfume samples (nope)? If you really should remove that file from your hard drive (no!)? Go to Snopes, do a quick search, and all your questions will be answered.

Sure, a few things are real. Many are also a mixture of real and false (like the CA-125 ovarian cancer e-mail) and it’s important to be able to separate the two. So if someone sends you something like this, check it out before passing it on. You can educate yourself and then educate other people. Soon you’ll be a real know-it-all.

Like me! :)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Not a Two

So I bought these jeans. I’m not at all into fashion and couldn’t care less about designer duds, but I am a compulsive reader (i.e. can't skip pages in magazines), and the stuff I read often mentions stuff like Seven7 jeans, which are supposed to be sooooo comfortable and fit soooooo well.

A few facts:

1. Unless you have a perfectly proportioned body, good jeans that fit well and are comfortable are really hard to find.

2. Even if you have a perfectly proportioned body, good jeans that fit well and are comfortable are really hard to find. Just not as hard as if you are NOT perfectly proportioned.

3. Designers only make stuff for size 2s.

4. I’m really picky.

#4 is a big factor. I am far from perfectly proportioned, in addition to being…not a size 2, and no one makes clothes for me. I can find jeans that fit my waist and hips, but then I can fit both my legs into one leg of the jeans. I’m short as well as…not a size 2, so wide legs, as well as boot cuts and flares, make me look dumpier than I already am. And comfort is really, really important.

So I have one pair of jeans I like, one pair that works if the other pair is unacceptably dirty, and I’m always on the lookout for something else. I got a flier from Lane Bryant that they were going to start selling Seven7 jeans, and the regular jeans were $20 off. So I ordered them.

They came in a few days. They looked good—I don’t like the dye to be too dark or dirty looking or too stripy or anything, just basic denim, which is also hard to find these days. I put them on. They fit great and felt, immediately, like they’d been mine forever. From my waist to mid-calf, they were perfect.

Did I mention I’m short? Not too short, just barely 5' 4", which is on the edge of petite. Petite pants are usually an inch too short, average about three inches too long. These were supposed to be one-length-fits all, but I guess they were afraid the Amazons would feel left out, because they had one major flaw.

About a foot of extra fabric past my ankle.

I’m not exaggerating! A foot! I was going to keep them anyway, but I tried to wear them three times. Once I rolled the cuffs. Donuts around the ankles aren’t an impressive fashion statement, even for those-who-couldn’t-care-less. I put them away, thinking later I’d try them with a wide cuff, like some of the crops and capris. When I pulled them on again, I realized the “wide cuff” would go to my knees, and I’d look ridiculous. I tried to keep them long, but the hand-me-down look is a bit less cute on adults than on five-year-olds named Spanky. So back they go to Lane Bryant, with a nasty note.

And on goes the quest to find the Perfect Jeans for Not-a-Twos.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I Don't Want to Hear It

I have a flaw.

Yeah, I know. Close your mouth, it's not that surprising. Ask my husband.

Anyway, this flaw has to do with my theme of indulgence. No, not the part about doing it too frequently. No, not the bordering-on-obsession part. {sigh} Definitely not the getting drunk and dancing on tables part--I mean, really, who do you think you're talking to?

No, my flaw is refusal to be objective. When I really love something, I don't want to admit there can be anything wrong with it. I will argue until I'm blue in the face, make excuses and rationalizations, and twist anything hard enough to make it snap, just to fit what I perceive.

For example, The Lord of the Rings movie(s). Peter Jackson is a filmmaking god. There are no mistakes in the film. No special effects that don't live up to the rest. Frodo's nipple is not showing, you can't see Fangorn Forest because a Rohirrim is standing in your way, and that is
not part of Pippin's foot ripped off, it's wet marsh grass. If Boromir's hand disappears and reappears on Aragorn's shoulder, it was MEANT that way, to give false hope to viewers unfamiliar with the book that he might survive.

See what I mean?

I'm warning everyone because I really love Harry Potter. I'm a bit more than halfway through the audiobook and I don't want ANYONE trying to critique the story with me. It's perfect. Nothing should be done differently, there are no mistakes, JK Rowling is a god. Got it?

But I will admit that Jim Dale singing silly falsetto ballads is pretty funny. :)

Camp Nana and Wedding Crashers

Camp Nana is the greatest thing ever invented.

Every week during the summer, my mother-in-law picks up my kids at summer camp/day care on Tuesdays, and keeps them through Wednesday evening. They swim and do the Hershey Library summer program, and other cool things. And Jim and I get a date night once a week, all summer.

Camp Nana was delayed this year, by our vacation, my father-in-law's heart attack, and my mother-in-law's work schedule. But it finally started today, and for our first date night, this is what we did:

1. Worked late
2. Ate meals we prepared (or bought) individually, in separate rooms
3. Listened independently to tapes 3 (Jim) and 7 (me) of Harry Potter on the way to the theater
4. Watched Wedding Crashers
5. Repeated step 3
6. Went to separate computers in separate rooms, him to play City of Heroes, me to blog

We have an awesome marriage.

Anyway, Wedding Crashers. We both like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, so I always planned to see this. And then I found out Bradley Cooper was in it, and I had to see it. I told Jim it was supposed to be a throwback to the raunchy movies like Animal House. He expressed surprise that I wanted to see it, as Animal House is not my kind of movie.

I said, "I'm so ready to see a movie where they can say f**k and make boobie jokes."

That was three days ago. He's still goggling at me.

But seriously, I'm tired of PG-13. I was ready for grown-up humor. Never mind the fact that this version of "grown-up" humor is as juvenile as it gets. It was hilarious. I cracked up. Vince Vaughn deserves an Oscar for delivery, and his chemistry with Owen Wilson was electric.

The story was both clichéd and well done. The acting was good--love the rare Christopher Walken character who's not freaky--and the ending satisfying. Jane Seymour was wonderful as a randy Mom. Bradley Cooper has cemented his place on my Passions list, as I really hated his character.

My only complaint was the cameo, which I'm going to spoil right now. If you don't want to know who the great Chaz-who-came-up-with-the-crash-weddings-to-get-girls-concept, stop reading.

I never liked Will Farrell, and he almost ruined the movie for me. He's not just over the top, he's somewhere around Jupiter. He's gross and annoying and so out of place in this film, yes, a film where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are classy, even as they make boobie jokes and get shot in the ass.

All in all, though, a very satisfying evening.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

First, I'll admit I was not that fond of the Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory version as a child, especially after I read the book. It was probably my first real experience with the divergence of literature and cinema. Now I can absorb the two media on their own, without negative comparison, but then, I was stunned. The movie was so silly and frivolous, and the book seemed so much more serious and fantastic.

So I was eager to see Tim Burton's management of the story, and I was really pleased. Johnny Depp, as we all know, can disappear into any role and evoke any emotion, and this was no exception. His humor and mannerisms were perfect, and his slides back into his own childhood poignant (helped along by the fabulous Christopher Lee).

I did think some of the imagery went on too long (like the boat ride) and that sacrificed character development. Even though the "bad" kids were well-defined and as insufferable as ever, I felt like we got rid of them too quickly. And the parents weren't concerned enough. If my kid was being carried by squirrels toward a garbage chute, I'd leap the damned rail and beat them off.

But overall, it was an engrossing film that I was able to enjoy with my newly minted 10-year-old daughter, on a weeknight, just the two of us, for the first time. It's the start of a great new trend, I think. :)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Knight Agency announcement

Please check out this post on the Knight Agency blog:

If you have received a blanket offer of representation from their agency or anyone claiming to be with their agency, please forward it to Deidre . Knight@ knightagency. net. (no spaces)

How anyone thinks they'll get away with this is beyond me.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Recalcitrant Muse

I think I offended my muse.

Never happened before. I’ve had difficulties with parts of certain books, but I always had an idea of where I was going and how I’d get there, even if I wasn’t sure of the next scene.

Not right now.

For Christmas, my husband gave me a carved wooden frog. He’s kind of funky, sitting up on his haunches with his “hands” on his belly. His head is turned and he looks at me out of the corner of his eye. I named him Frank and decided he was my muse.

Now, I write short erotic and non-erotic (mostly erotic, though) fiction for Echelon Press and Amber Quill Press as well as novel-length romance. I write traditional contemporary romance and I write futuristic, fantasy, paranormal, and combo romance. I write single-title length and shorter length a la Silhouette Bombshell. So when we were in Woodstock, Vermont, on vacation and I saw a great Merlin figurine, I decided he would be my Other Muse. Frank would rule my regular romance, and Merlin my out-of-this-world stuff.

So far, Merlin’s been having a grand old time, giving me no less than three ideas for paranormal romances. He’s even got me thinking in a chick-lit voice, in first person! Two things I thought I’d never do.

Frank, however, is being pissy.

In an effort to avoid being the Queen of the Two-Book Trilogy, I’m working on the third book in my Brook Hollow Trilogy, and it’s just not flowing. It feels stilted and disjointed, episodic and cliché. I have a little bit of an idea what I want to happen, but getting there will be impossible from where I am now. I’m growing more and more frustrated and more and more behind every day.

I think I’d better buy Frank some chocolate.

Future Article in Entertainment Weekly

When EW first contacted Natalie J. Damschroder to do this interview, she laughed at us.

"You don't want to interview me," she said. "EW ignores the kind of writing I do. You know, the kind that celebrates happy things?"

Damschroder doesn't apologize for writing what she calls "indulgent fiction," books and stories she wants people to read when they're taking a break from a tough day at work or a tough part of life. This theme permeates everything she does, from the truffles she gives out at booksignings to the title of her website and blog, Indulge Yourself.

When Damschroder's most recent book became her third to hit the NYT top ten, she celebrated with ice cream and an evening of reading Suzanne Brockmann, one of her influences. Her publisher celebrated by giving her a new three-book, high six-figure contract.

"I'm blessed," she says simply, explaining that the three books will continue her contemporary goddess series that has brought her such acclaim.

A quick look would have one agreeing, but Damschroder is no overnight success. She started writing romance in the early 90s, taking six years to work up to a three-book-a-year pace that she now finds easier to sustain without a day job. She found early success with traditional romance--the kind EW never reviews--sold to then-upstart e-publishers Echelon Press and Amber Quill Press. Damschroder's early genre work received critical acclaim and decent sales, but it wasn't enough for her to live on. Soon, that wasn't a problem.

"Soon?" She laughs. "I was writing for nearly 15 years and published for eight before I had enough income to quit the day job."

Where does Damschroder get the theme of Indulgence?

"I never had anything bad happen to me," she says. "But the little everyday things can really wear you down. I come from one of those guilt-ridden Catholic legacies, and had to work hard to overcome the belief that anything I did for myself was selfish and a waste of time. I want to help others overcome that, as well."

She never had anything bad happen to her?

"I don't belittle anyone's history. I've been incredibly lucky. But I don't think the only valuable fiction is fiction inspired by trauma."

What about her parents' divorce when she was nine? Or her mother's death from recurrent breast cancer in 2003?

"Divorce is always perceived as bad," she explains, "but my family did a decent job of making it positive. The Christmas after my husband and kids and I moved into our first house, we had the whole family staying with us--my mother, brother, father, stepmother, and half-brother and half-sister. Everyone got along great.

"My mom's death was harder, of course, and there are still times when I feel the loss. But her illness progressed extremely quickly. It was a horrible time that I never want to endure again, but it didn't change me or how I look at life. Or my writing."

Writing that touches on painful topics, but never leaves her characters in pain for long. She chose romance because of the core element of hope, and because whatever else the story is, the stakes are higher, the motivations purer, if love is a factor. Damschroder prefers to write stories with paranormal elements, partly because they're fun and stretch the imagination, partly because, she claims, she hates research. "Fiction is about making things up. Making things happen the way you want them to happen. And always, always--for me--having a happy ending."

Readers seem to agree. Her sales numbers have reached the millions, and web forums glow with the heat of passionate discussion that she eagerly joins. A movie deal is pending, with Orlando Bloom attached to star, a dream come true for the author. When asked if she ever thought she'd get this far, she doesn't hesitate.

"Hell, yeah. In fact, I wrote this article for you."

Fantastic Four

I went to see Fantastic Four the other night, partly because I wanted to, partly because I needed to vet it for my daughter, who wants to see it for her birthday.

This is a full review with spoilers. You were warned.

First, let me say I never read the comic and have very little knowledge of the mythology of these superheroes. I got a little background from my husband, and they seem to have followed it for the most part.

The movie overall wasn’t BAD. Not like, you know, Catwoman. It didn’t have the unbelievably poor acting by actors we know are good, the incomprehensible storyline and missing logic, or the cheesy special effects (I know, I’m very spoiled that way). The plot was pretty believable, though simple, and the acting was mostly decent. Michael Chiklis wins all comparisons, hands down, in or out of his latex.

The main problem for me was that these characters were all pretty unlikeable. Johnny Storm wasn’t an amusing and endearing smartass, he was a smartass you wanted to punch in the face with brass knuckles. Susan Storm wasn’t repressed because of hurt, she was snotty and superior (though she did get better as the movie went on, mainly when her ugly hairdo came down). Reed Richards was sweet, but very spineless, and needed to become a real leader much, much sooner. Ben Grimm was the most sympathetic, but I was very annoyed that he would believe Victor Von Doom (stupid name, but what can you do), a man he detested, over his friends, no matter what he was feeling. And his pain and eagerness to believe the worst about his friends therefore makes his decision to transform back into The Thing all the more unlikely.

Von Doom was consistently evil and rude, though superficial and cliché.

I was appropriately on the edge of my seat during the space scene, which was well done. But they skipped ahead to the hospital after they were back. It was a short movie, so they could have done the aftermath of the storm. Johnny’s lame joke at Ben’s expense just annoyed.

The end of the movie was much better—the climactic ending, that is, not the wrap-up. The four of them coming together to use their powers to contain the evil against them would have been a bit more satisfying, though, if their main obstacle hadn’t been fourth-grade bickering.

So far, this summer hasn’t been very fulfilling, Indulgence-wise. Oh, for the Year of The Matrix Reloaded and Pirates of the Carribbean and The Bourne Identity. THAT was a good summer.

I hope to see Wedding Crashers this week and The Island after that and have higher hopes for those. Especially The Island, which I learned was rewritten by Alias scribes. All of them know their stuff.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Jacki's Props

So I went to lunch with Jacki King yesterday. We went to Damon's, and she challenged me to the trivia game. I made the mistake of saying I was going to kick her butt, which guaranteed I wouldn't. She said whoever lost had to admit it on her web site. So here I am, bowing down to the Superior Jacki King, Trivia Goddess.

So I never ate hot dogs in Dodger Stadium. So sue me.

Actually, all the games were pretty close. In the first game, she and I switched the lead a few times, but she dominated for the most part.

She's my age. Don't ask me how she knows so much about movies and music and politics happened 50 years ago.

The second game was demoralizing for both of us. Megypoo somehow managed to overcome both of us. We were gonna go beat her up but she had kids at her table. So Jacki didn't win the game, but she beat me, so it counts.

The third game was my favorite. 'Cause I won, of course, by nearly 2400 points. Megypoo's food came and she slowed down a lot, so Jacki beat her that time, too. I don't think she played the fourth game, which I dominated until the end, when Jacki and I flip-flopped the lead several times and she won by 206 points. Which is less than 2400, for those of you who are math impaired. :)

For the rematch, which will likely be next month sometime, you can check here for the results.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Can You Keep a Secret?

A friend recommended this Sophie Kinsella book, so I decided to pick it up one day when I was spending double my Mother’s Day B&N gift card. I don’t read a heck of a lot of chick lit. I’ve read some authors whose books I’ve liked before they moved into chick-lit-type books, and once in a while an individual title catches my interest, but generally, it’s not a genre I seek. I just can’t identify with most of the protagonists, which is not a fault of the genre or of me—it’s just a matter of circumstance.

It’s also a matter of me not caring for first person very much, being disgusted by heroines who can’t hold a job or manage any part of their lives without screwing it up, and absolutely detesting present tense narration.

So anyway, I picked up this book, Can You Keep a Secret?, and started reading.

It was in first person.

Present tense.

And the heroine was angsting about her job, then proceeded to completely muck up an important business meeting by being too self-congratulatory. {sigh}

I now understand why publishers love trade paperback. I paid 12 bucks for the darned thing. It was kind of hard to throw it against the wall after only a couple of chapters.

Luckily, Sophie Kinsella writes well. It’s a very smooth read, and she has great characterization, which makes for a visual story, though it’s not a descriptive one. So I kept going. And I found myself laughing. And then tears pricked my eyes. And then, even though it was 12:45 a.m., I didn’t want to put the book down.

And that’s really saying something.

P.S. This book is totally a romance. I’m just sayin’.

Making No Sense

I get that language evolves, and sometimes I'm okay with it. Certain words in common usage become taboo, and others that used to evoke negativity become fun.

But some things bug me. I hate it when people say they could care less. I don't care if everyone says it that way now, it still makes no sense. If you could care less who wins the SuperBowl, then you'd better put on a jersey and park yourself in front of the TV, friend, because you just said you care. (For those of you who are wrinkling your brow in confusion, the correct phrase is "couldn't care less" by which you mean you don't care at all. Get it?)

The other thing that bugs me is the thoughtless butchering of the phrase, "If you think X, you've got another think coming." I've seen it in print several times in the recent past, and every time the user said "'ve got another thing coming."

Oh? What thing would that be? Brain rot?

I mean, please, people, use your brains. Does that make any sense at all? If the first think is wrong, you need to think again. Thing is ridiculous. I mean, I understand that when we SAY the phrase, the k and the c lock up in our throats and sound like g. But really.

What started me on this rant is that in yesterday's Entertainment Weekly, in an otherwise well-written article, they screwed it up. It's bad enough to see it in occasional e-mail list posts and small-press-published book titles (though it could have been intentional in that one, I don't know). It's another to see it published in internationally acclaimed magazines.

It's not quite a symbol of the downfall of our society. But it is a contributor to the downfall of my good mood.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Whole Moviegoing Experience

All my life, I've loved going to the movies. VCRs, free rentals when I worked at Blockbuster--even my current combination of home theater (53" widescreen and surround sound--sometimes Mommy benefits from Daddy's splurges) and Netflix--nothing has changed how I feel about going to the movies.

And now it's even better. Not because of the movies themselves, which are often, unfortunately for 2005's posterity, lacking, but because I have A BRAND NEW THEATER TEN MINUTES FROM MY HOUSE.

When I moved to PA 13 years ago, there were three big theaters on this side of the river and three big theaters on that side of the river. Over the years, two over here closed and one went to crap, and two over there went to crap and one disappeared, to be replaced by a Hoyt's-now-Regal Multiplex. It was my first experience with stadium seating and comfortable seats, and when the service at the one remaining theater over here turned to popcorn crumbs and ignorance, I never went anywhere else. But Regal is still half an hour through city traffic, which makes impulse visits difficult.

So now we have a Cinema Center, which is not only stadium seating, clean, and with quick and friendly service, it's privately owned! I can support this wonderful local family while enjoying bathrooms that are RIGHT OUTSIDE MY INDIVIDUAL THEATER--no more rushing my six-year-old to the lobby when she gets bored. Every inch of it smells new, and the lobby is tons of inefficient, wasteful space that nonetheless looks supercool with movie posters the size of my house. No joke.

So entering the theater is now once again an enjoyable experience, and sitting down doesn't mean sliding in grease and pratfalling into the nearest seat, and I don't leave with a headache from the hard plastic back of the chair (why would anyone ever deliberately design such things, anyway?). Then there's the dimming of the lights and the first musical notes and glittering images that come on the screen. It doesn't matter to me that those notes and images are commercials first, as long as they're not for Fanta. Gaah! Why did I say that? Now I can't get it out of my head.

Then there are the previews. Ooooh, I got excited! I hadn't seen the preview for The Brothers Grimm before. It has Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, and it looks equally funny and fantastic in the fantasy sense. It looks like a clever melding of the authors and their tales, and I can't wait to see it. Dukes of Hazzard was a show I watched religiously as a kid, and I was pretty scornful of the idea of the film, especially when I heard who was cast. But from the trailer, at least, it seems to maintain the spirit of the show without parodying it. I like Seann William Scott, though I think he can play more than stupidos and should try it. Jessica Simpson rates high on my ew-o-meter, but it looks like she made a good Daisy Duke, I have to admit. My only complaint is they don't say anything in the trailer about Sheriff Ros-coe P Col-train, and I'm not sure this guy can do the "doit!" as well as the original. We'll see.

So the movie I went to, to christen the new theater (alone--I couldn't wait anymore!) was Batman Begins. I have to say, it was worth the $8. The story was solid, the development of the superhero very interesting, and certain one-liners and short exchanges kept the tone in balance. Christian Bale makes a good batman, though I think he doesn't top Michael Keaton, who had more depth but smaller pecs. Gary Oldman was a great early Gordon, and of course Michael Cane and Morgan Freeman can do nothing less than rock.

A few quibbles. Katie Holmes was fine, but didn't fit the tone of the film AT ALL. First, she was supposed to be a contemporary of Bruce Wayne's, but he came back from Princeton, not having finished it, and she was already an attorney, yet looks 15 years younger than he is? Didn't compute.

Something that would have bothered me less if someone else hadn't pointed it out: Wayne refuses to kill a man, then to avoid doing it he kills 25 of them. But none of them were smart enough to run OUT of a burning building, so I guess it's their own faults.

And I am really, really, really tired of all the useless damage in car chases. I'm sorry, no one person in danger justifies destroying the homes of a lot of people less fortunate. The city is in despair and clearly has money issues, but let's wreck some vital infrastructure, you know, for effect. And the cops are the good guys! I don't care if they're after Batman, let's not crush or flip or burn all their cars, okay?

Someone else said she thought the little bit at the end hinted at who the next villian in the next movie will be, but I don't think so. I think they were just paying homage to the things that are in the DC comics, making a connection between the past that was in the movie and the future that was the heart of the comic. I'm more inclined to think Cillian Murphy will be back.

Okay, I have rattled on MORE than enough for one night. Next week, come back to see what I think of Fantastic Four. I promise, I won't rattle on about the theater any more. :)

The Apostrophe Epidemic

It’s getting worse, I swear.

It’s annoying, but understandable when people use it’s instead of its. It kind of make’s sense if you don’t think about it.

But the whole, there’s-an-s-at-the-end-so-I-have-to-use-an-apostrophe assumption is driving me BONKER’S.

Driving down the road today, I was behind a tractor trailer. On the back is something like this little gem:

Seeking dedicated, professional drivers and experienced supervisor’s

HOW can ANY professional let their truck’s go out on the street’s like that? Or are they only seeking to attract those driver’s who barely have enough book-larnin’ to read a map? I personally have known many very intelligent truck driver’s, so please don’t think I’m picking on them. I’m picking on the idiot’s in whatever department is in charge of the copy on the back of the truck’s.

Sigh. It’s become so prevalent that you can’t go anywhere or read anything without finding an ’s on a plural word. If you can’t beat them, join them, right?

So I guess I’ll go back and edit thi’s post to make sure all my s’s have apostrophe’s.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Gena Showalter is celebrating her 11th anniversary, and posted the story of how she and her husband met. That made me want to tell my "cute meet" story (thought it's not really cute) and it's not fair to hijack her blog to do it, so I'll bore you all here, instead.

I met Jim 17 years ago on the third day of classes my freshman year of college. His frat (Delta Tau Delta) always had the first party of the year, despite not being the coolest frat on the hill. My roommate was in two of his classes, so they were talking. I wasn't paying much attention, just hanging out watching everyone else get drunk. Laura turns to me and says, "Jim wants to show me what a frat room looks like."

Whoop Whoop! Danger! Danger!

I was NOT going to let her go up there alone. So we went up and admired his bright sky-blue walls and the afghan his grandmother had knitted that he stuffed over the curtain rod so the sun didn't wake him in the morning. He was a perfect gentleman and is still offended and amused by my protective instincts.

Fast forward two months later. Jim and I had become "acquaintances" by virtue of I had had a disastrous first-time situation and sworn off men. The next day, Jim calls. Invites me to the fraternity's barn party. I say sure. The day before the party, I went to a movie with one of DTD's pledges. I liked Eric Schutzbank a lot, but ONLY...wait, that's not strong enough...ONLY...that's a friend. He asked me to go to his pledge formal. My first thought was "what if Jim asks me?" and my second thought was "don't encourage Eric."

Trying to make this long story shorter: I said no to Eric, gave lame reasons, Jim asked me, I told Eric the truth, he gave me his blessing, and the rest is history. Except for the 8 beers and subsquent tree-trips it took Jim to get up the courage to ask me to the formal. But we won't talk about that.

To read more about fraternity influence on my romance, check out my bio.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Hardly an Intellectual

I’m a smart person. I know this because of my grades in school, comparison with various persons in such places as medical offices and retail establishments and in certain blogs, and the fact that I can nearly keep up with my kids, who sometimes seem smarter than my husband and I put together.

I read Time magazine as my basic news source. This also reinforces my awareness of my middling-high brain power. I’m no rocket scientist, but I comprehend the basics of politics and economics and health care and the significance of current events. I even enjoy a rousing debate with coworkers who don’t agree with my point of view of such things. Except when they piss me off.

The problem is, I understand it, but I don’t care about it. I started reading last week’s Time feature on China. It was interesting for about three columns worth. Then I stopped reading, and when I went back to it, I didn’t wanna read it any more. I skimmed stuff about the country’s economic and social impact on the world—and by skimmed, I mean read the photo captions and quote call-outs—and moved on to more interesting stuff, like the success of the Washington Nationals and a book about the theft of The Scream.

That's where shame comes in. When I move past all that serious, world-impact stuff, I can feel my cranial mood shift from ennui to perkiness as soon as I turn the page. I don’t care a whit about fashion or water that sells for $30 a bottle, but I am ALL about entertainment.

It makes sense, I suppose, since I work in the entertainment industry, and I find it vital to life. In my current wip, my heroine runs a protection agency that usually works with altruistic clients. Her assistant tells her, regarding a client she doesn’t want to take on, “They don’t save the world, Kennedy, but you never know what corner of it they’ll brighten.”

Isn’t that just as important as inspiring intellectual discourse?

If not, don’t tell me.