Your Premise was Outdated 10 Years Ago

I cannot believe Lucy is a movie actually being made today.

Now, maybe, if it had been made some ten or fifteen years ago I might have found it a thoughtful idea and been willing to accept the idea as a metaphor. But right now, today, after we’ve finally been able to study the brain this is ridiculous.

You already use 100 percent of your brain. OK? You do, I promise. It’s just that the parts of the brain have different functions. You don’t want them all trying to work at once because that is a seizure.

Why couldn’t they just blame it all on some magic system that over-revved brain activity? I’d rather like a plot that relied on young the brain power and the protagonist became able to influence others. Maybe even give other people heart attacks from the next room or something.

Tellingly, you’ll notice I’m not mentioning either throwing people around or stopping time.

Every time I see that movie’s trailer, I want to run screaming from the room or throw something. Or jump off the roof. Unless the Black Window is just trolling the mad scientist. That would be OK too.

If, however, I …

Quote

If, however, I did fear, deep inside, that my inability to appreciate any celebrated book betrayed my complete intellectual and aesthetic inadequacy, I would probably be pretty angry. (1)

So this is a quote from a Salon article that I really intended to dissect (and who knows, perhaps somewhere I will).

Basically, the author comes to the conclusion that the only reason people write passionately negative reviews of books only do so because they couldn’t understand the words or just don’t trust their literary judgement. In fact, the subtitle reads “What readers who take offense at unfamiliar words and challenging books are telling us about our culture.” In other words, we are a culture of mainstream, listen-to-the-lowest-common-denominator and can we please stop listening to stupid people who don’t agree with us now?

First, I agree that the lowest common denominator is not likely to have the best quality work—because that’s really what it’s for, is marketing. 

Second, as a passionate reader who quite frequently loathes books even when the literary world loves them, I disagree most vehemently. 

Corollary: I absolutely do not distrust my literary tastes, and quite frequently literary people write stupid books. Terribly books.

But I am a passionate reader, and because I am, I like to share my opinions. Frequently I do so on the internet. Even more frequently, as anyone I know will tell you, I’ll share it in person. When a book offends me, from style, character or theme, I will tell people. Even in writing, where the poor dear author might see it and get his or her feelings hurt. Quite honestly, I don’t care.

Well, I would, should some author ever actually read one of my reviews and find them hurtful, I would empathize with that pain. I wouldn’t remove the review. I wouldn’t edit the review. It doesn’t feel like truth to me to do so. I do my best to make sure I am comfortable with absolutely everything I put online, ever. Some of it is horribly embarrassing and makes me blush to think of it. It’s still there (no links, though). It’s nothing to ruin my life. It’s truthful to who I was and what I wanted to say at the time. 

Now that I’ve completed NaNoWriMo some three times, I can tell you, all of those are awful. Shame on me for actually letting my friends read the first one, but that’s mostly because a rough draft written in such short time with no experience whatsoever might just be actively harmful to the world.(2)

So I would feel badly for an author who was too invested in their book to understand that people have different opinions and this is a fact and not even a right, but that’s just because I am also a human being with a functional empathy brain lobe. Once upon a time, criticism was understood to be a thing that happened. You could rail against it or fight back or ignore it, but you realized it would happen. Now, for all the hand-wringing over the youngest generations being too fragile to face the world after decades of gold stars and self-esteem babble, it seems like the notion has been swallowed wholeheartedly by the the literary community. And the genre community.

You know what happens when other professionals throw fits over mean reviews online? People laugh at them on the internet too. And television. And around the water cooler. 

Dear author, you sold your book. You made money. You are now a professional. Please try to grow a backbone.

Sincerely, 

Plot

(1) Is the literary world elitist?

(2) My friends are also strong-minded people, and do not appear to be damaged.

The thing is, I have nothing to say

The last day of last month I lamented that I’d only finished one book, which, considering my year goal is 100, is a bit behind.

So where did that time even go?

Obviously the internet. And looking back, I was reading, just online, and there were at several hundred thousand words altogether. They just weren’t book words.

Also, Pinterest turned out to work marvelously well with my hoarding tendencies, so I’ve added quite a lot there, which somewhat justifies my time as not wasted, given that I was sharing knowledge with people. That’s my story and I’m sticking too it.

Other than that though, I have no excuse for not writing, and that’s done no favors for my mental health. I know why I haven’t, it’s because I can’t give my writing any ‘voice’ anymore, not when it’s mine. Writing fiction (when it’s not NaNo) is paralyzing, because I just can’t get over my inner-critic, who knows only all too well all the ways I can’t write.

Since then I’ve read two more books, and written, well, not much more than I had before. But I’ve got a story and I’m sticking to it, no matter little it works. At least until I finish. Then I can set it on fire.

(What happened to those days when I couldn’t write a blog post *shorter* than 500 words?)

A Little Bit Critical

So, as anyone who has watched a movie with me knows, I cannot turn off my brain for the two hours required, even, or maybe especially, in a darkened theater. Over the past few years, I can only say I loved…Toy Story III, The King’s Speech, and The Heat.

But my shriveled cynical heart could simply not resist Saving Mr. Banks. 

It as as close to perfect a movie as I believe Hollywood is capable. Hyperbolic, I know. But looking at three quarters of my few favorite movies…they’re kind of about old people. Maybe Hollywood writers are only able to write coherent stories for old people. Or maybe they’re not as likely to get distracted by sex when old people are involved. Wait…Last Vegas was a thing. Let me mourn for a moment.

Never mind. I think my favorite part of Saving Mr. Banks is not, actually the characters, which in fact sound like actual people, but that the characters’ story matches the theme…it’s a movie about creative ownership and even the conflict between the collaborative nature movie-making and the individual ownership of writing. 

The scriptwriters managed to tell quite a few stories in, well, a rather long movie. It was a good choice though, because for one thing, I didn’t even feel like I’d been in the theater that long, and afterward wasn’t as exhausted as I would have expected, as I did during The Book Thief. And I loved that it felt like the side characters were given characters and not just props.

Emma Thomson and Tom Hanks both portrayed their characters excellently, but everyone in the movie acted. Most of the time, watching movies, I am watching Acclaimed Actor X standing in for Character Y. There isn’t necessarily a great deal of acting. So that alone made me well-disposed towards the movie.

Finally, I should clarify: this is fiction people. I’m fairly certain it’s not meant to be a history. Maybe a homage, a memorial for the real people. (I did love the credits, tapes from the real sessions with Mrs. Travers.) But yeah, not a history, just a story, based loosely on real life, and told most excellently.

Off to a Start

I’ve survived the first month of January, and I’ve made some progress. That whole “health” thing is progressing will (runkeeper and sparkpeople.com make the cell phone actually worth carrying).

But at the same time… I’ve finished one book this month. I mean, I started at least five others, but my usual reading rate is something like 8 to 10 books a month, so that’s not good.  Especially since I haven’t been writing either.

And that probably explains why my mood has been so dramatically up and down this month, because there hasn’t really been a chance to keep up with myself.

I’m trying to figure out where that time went.

I completed a few pattern repeats of a “dickie” I started three months ago! But I still haven’t finished. And my mom took me fabric shopping to make my own dress—which can’t be started until at least tomorrow. I’m not keeping up with any television shows.

I haven’t even been playing with my new phone. I know, because I apparently get insanely long battery life.

Whatever, I’m weigh less than I have in at least two years. Balance will come with practice and attention.

And I’ve been noticing a lot of misogyny/bigotry in the world. So there’s that.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Meanwhile, I was reading the intro to Sweater Quest this weekend, and the author could remember nothing that year she would put on her obituary. Well, I thought, there’s nothing in particular I can think of that would make my obituary interesting, but at least I’ve done stuff this year.

1: I finally got a job—Hooray for passive networking! Because that is one thing not on my skill list.

2: I wrote approximately 1.3 novels. Even if, for November’s National Novel Writing Month, finishing the 50,000 word goal meant typing about a third of that in six hours just before the deadline. Which is an accomplishment alone.

3: I read 132 books, seven more than my goal. Mostly they were not of the enlightening type of books and more entertainment, but that’s what I needed this year. Unfortunately, reviewing fell by the wayside.

4: I completed some knitting?

5: I at least didn’t gain any weight.

Eh, enough about the little things I’ve managed. I wasn’t completely oblivious to the outside world. Then again I’m still only going to talk about what interests me.

For example, while I linked to GoodReads before, I haven’t been using the site since it was purchased by Amazon in…March, I believe it was, and when the first major policy change lead to many user reviews being deleted, I’ve hardly visited. Even so, it is already clear that the site is transitioning from reader oriented to an author/sales focus. And a lot of the active users I followed really did leave, either deleting accounts or only posting links to reviews on other sites.

I made an accounts on BookLikes, and if I ever manage to get it up and running, I will link here.

Haven’t been to the movies much this year, but mid-summer realized that only two of ten trailers had speaking female characters, and of those one says evil and the other was eaten. When I watched Catching Fire, practically the same thing happened, only there was one more trailer with lots of women! And that, Divergence, sounded absurd. Apparently girls only get to watch other girls act out nonsensical plots. Once you’ve noticed, you’ll never be able to ignore it.

What else…the library’s book group is still hanging on, if only just. A few of the remaining members started a writing group as well. Speaking of, if I don’t bring a story to Thursday’s meeting, I’ll have to read my high school fan fiction. I have four stories in-progress because that will. Not. Happen.

And there will never be links to that.

Other book-related news, not too long ago, all the major online ebook retailers removed all “explicit” content books from their stores. Because no one wants to read erotica. All this in response to a vocal group in the UK. That’s not insane or anything. Look, I don’t read it (mostly because it’s not a genre known for high quality literature) but I refuse to accept censorship as the answer.

When you go from that to the NSA*, well. What else can I say? Isn’t that a note on which to end the year.

Let’s declare 2014 the year of intellectual freedom! Positive energy can’t hurt.

*My tablet tried to force me to blame the NBA which I know nothing about. Creepy.

Casually Watching The Glades

I may be somewhere in the … fourth season? I don’t know, it’s some marathon on A&E.

Main characters parents are getting a divorce after 42 years. He wants to continue working, meaning travelling to Brazil. Now that she’s on her own, she plans to move somewhere warm—Florida, to be near family—and also start travelling.

WHY doesn’t she just travel to Brazil with him now that she’s retired?

I don’t mind the effects of a broken marriage so many years on, but give me a reason other than MISSING the OBVIOUS resolution, please?