Saturday, September 03, 2011

Satia Sampler Saturday

It's taking me a while to catch up on things and getting back into a rhythm after my son's visit is easier said than done.  But here is this week's sample, a character sketch I did for my writing challenge. I think I already have an idea for a similar challenge for next month.  Ooooh . . . .

You know, just because you save her, doesn’t mean she’ll fall in love with you.  If you’re lucky, she’ll fuck you.  Maybe that’s enough for you.  All you need now that you’re settling for something so easy.

That’s what you said, walking out the door of the apartment we’d been sharing and I didn’t even try to get in the last word because I didn’t see the point of fighting. I thought we could be civil but I forgot what a bitch you can be when you’re angry and I just couldn’t stand the sound of my own voice echoing in the empty apartment.

I wanted to tell you I was sorry, that I didn’t mean to hurt you, because I didn’t.  I wanted to tell you that it was painful for me too.

I had a lot I wanted to say, so I called her up, asked her if she wanted to get a bite to eat.  She paused and thought about it, said yes, and hung up.  I’ll meet her at the pizza place where we used to go.  It’s close.  And they have beer.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Weekly Quotes Part 35

Let me thank those of you who took the time to read and comment on part 34.  I honestly wasn't sure that anyone was reading these things so it was a pleasant surprise to have anyone, let alone more than one, comment on the quotes I shared.  With that said, here are more quotes.  Enjoy!

One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore.  Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, as life as it lurches by and tromps around.  (xii)

I started writing a sophomoric articles for the college paper.  Luckily, I was a sophomore. (xxi)

It is this, Lamott’s self-deprecating humor, that amuses me throughout her essays.  I could see myself writing something like this or hearing my mother saying something similar.

[P]ublication is not all that it’s cracked up to be. But writing is. (xxvi)

When a child comes out of your body, it arrives with about a fifth of your brain clutched in its little hand. . . . (137)

I guffawed when I read this.

All that energy we expend to keep things running right is not what’s keeping things running right.  (180)

I automatically think that closing down is safe but . . . staying open and loving is safer, because then we’re connected to all that life and love. (190)

I think this quote is poorly phrased and, had Lamott asked me, I might have suggested she rephrase it.  Perhaps something like this:  staying open and loving is safer, because then we’re connected to all of life and love.  But she didn’t ask me and I am not her editor. 

The effect on language of the electronic age is obvious to all, even though the process has only just begun, and its ultimate impact is as yet unimaginable.  (179)

A personal story interlude.  When I was taking a course in the history of the English language we were required to do a presentation to the class.  We were given a list of topics by the professor and one of the subjects was on the internet’s influence on the English language.  Although I chose another topic, this was the subject upon which I would have chosen if someone else had already selected the other.  The person who eventually discussed the way technology had influenced the English language was disappointing.  It seemed to me that the person, after her presentation, had not addressed the implications of American predominance on the worldwide web even in the most superficial manner.  I think I was especially disappointed because this was my “alternate” choice and to see it not handled to its fullest potential was an insult to the subject, from my perspective.

[I]t is a matter for despair to see punctuation chucked out as worthless by people who don’t know the difference between who’s and whose, and whose bloody automatic “grammar checker” can’t tell the difference either.  (183)

Another personal story.  I have an unpublished short story which I consider a litmus test of sorts. Whenever anyone offers to share their writing with me, to trade critiques and help one another, I use this short story to see what the response is I will receive.  I am not suggesting that my story is already perfect  However, there are minor issues in the narrative that I know are there (and have been corrected in a revision).  One of the “mistakes” is something that a grammar check will highlight as a mistake but which is not actually an error; your typical “grammar check” will suggest that I revise one part from the plural (which is correct) to the possessive (which is incorrect).  Anyone who bothers to read the sentence will see that the grammar check is mistaken (31 Helens would agree) but every now and again I will get some fool who relies upon the grammar check instead of common sense and tell me that I have this mistake.  I immediately dismiss this person as unqualified to critique my writing and incapable of helping me revise it.  As I result, I have saved myself, and these fools, from further frustration.

[T]oo many of us have blurry memories due to the fact that we did not slow down and really look at things.  (36)

While reading this book, as inadequate as it was, I found myself remembering some of the ideas that Mason purports in her own writing.  One of the exercises she describes includes teaching children how to “see” by having them describe a scene to you.  She encourages the parent to have the child look at an image or at the horizon.  The child is invited to describe, either in words or by drawing, the scene without looking.  If the child struggles to do so, a second look is allowed, with no limitation on how long they choose to observe what is to be described.  I confess I haven’t done this with my children and I certainly never did this with my children but I can appreciate the intention of this exercise.  I would even argue that this might be something that writers should practice regularly to help facilitate the writing of scenes.  If approached with an open mind, even a back yard can offer a treasure of things to be observed from one day to the next.

Now that the air we breathe is so heavily saturated with eros that a child can learn the facts of life from an afternoon of talk shows and soap operas, it seems unlikely that the diary could teach kids something new about sex, except in so far as any kind of nonhysterical honest about the topic is always new.  (126)

Clearly, people, or some people, are good at heart, but the reality of Anne’s story, the reality of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, would suggest that some people are basically evil at heart.  (168)

Given the choice, we would have been willing to live without the diary if it had meant that neither Anne Frank nor anyone like her, or anyone unlike her, had been driven into hiding and murdered.  But none of us was given that choice, and the diary is what we have left.  (175)

There are moments one revisits after something happens, especially after something bad happens.  Moments in which one things, I shouldn’t have done that.  (15)

Either a mother and daughter know each other very well, or they are strangers.  (17)

He realizes that Mom has lived her entire life believing that she was the one who held him back from his dream.  (112)

I often feel this way about my children, that I offered them all I could but it wasn’t enough, not as much as they deserved.  When I consider their talents I am both in awe and ashamed because, with another parent they might have done so much more.

She says that all of the things that have happened are actually in the present, that old things are mixed in with current things, and current things mingle with future things, and future things are combined with old things; it’s just that we can’t feel it. (196)

All the relationships in the word are two-way, not determined by one side.  (207)

Mom expressed gratitude for the small moments of happiness that everyone experienced.  . . .  Mom’s gratitude came from the heart, that she was thankful about everything, that someone who was so grateful couldn’t have led an unhappy life.  (221)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Weekly Quotes Part 34

To write for itself, to do things for the joy of them.  What a gift of the gods.  (318)

Suddenly everything is ominous, ironic, deadly.  If I could not have children—and if I do not ovulate how can I?—how can they make me?—I would be dead.  Dead to my women’s body.  Intercourse would be dead, a dead end.  My pleasure, no pleasure, a mockery.  My writing a hollow and failing substitute for real life, real feeling.  (312)

At one point, Plath believed she might never have children and her ability to express the anxiety she experienced at this possibility fascinated me. 

Now forget salable stories.  Write to recreate a mood, an incident.  If this is done with color and feeling, it becomes a story.  So try recollecting: . . . Not to manipulate the experience but let it unfold and recreate itself with the tenuous peculiar associations the logical mind would short-circuit.  (320)

Anne Peregrine was as methodical about committing suicide as she was about cleaning house.  (311)

I do not know who Anne Peregrine is.  Not even if she is real or a character note Plath made.  If this is merely a character note, it is glorious.  I mean, really it says it all, doesn’t it?  Can you just picture this woman with her household precision and the neatness of how she would kill herself?  Of course, it is impossible to read this without thinking of Plath’s own suicide. 

When will I break into a new line of poetry?  Feel trite. If only I could get one good story. I dream too much, work too little.  My drawing is gone to pot, yet I must remember I always do bad drawings at first.  (321)

If I could do that, get back the old joy, it would not matter what became of it.  The problem is not my success, but my joy.  (328)

My absolute lack of judgment when I’ve written something:  whether it’s trash or genuine.  (332)

Well, there you are.  Or maybe I mean:  There I am.  Do you know how many times I’ve finished writing something and thought, “Okay.  Genius or rubbish?  How can I tell the difference?  ARGH!”  At this point, the piece/chapter/novel/poem/essay/whatever goes into a black-hole of draft files rarely to be heard from again.  I have yet to learn how to be equanimous with my own writing.

This is, by the way, the last of the quotes from Plath’s journal I recorded in my journal.

Failing to come out—although it may be a necessary choice—may feed back a sense of dishonesty, deceit, and self-doubt that erodes one’s self-esteem and encourages self-hate.  Failing to come out affects the very fabric of relationships and the quality of our day-to-day life.  Neither intimacy nor self can flourish in an atmosphere of secrecy and silence.  (141)

I had a friend who was not out to her parents.  “Had” because we lost touch by her choice.  For all I know she came out to them at some point.  Probably not.  It is not an easy thing to do and in some families it’s harder still.

[O]ne might hope that relationship issues would remain in the relationship where they belong rather than being detoured via a third party. . . . (142)

Our position in one triangle may be a transient reaction to stress.  In another triangle, our position may be rigid, fixed, and highly resistant to change.  Triangles solve a problem by lowering anxiety when it can no longer be contained between two persons.  But triangles also create a problem by covering up the real relationship issues between any two of the parties and by operating at someone’s expense.  (148-149)

Each person in a triangle is responsible for their own behavior and any one person can change his or her own steps.  (151)

I have a manuscript that I hate but that will not leave me alone and the idea of triangulation to diffuse tension is central to the over-all narrative action of the novel.  I wish I could sink my teeth into it with the same eagerness as it seems to continue gnawing away at me. 

The degree to which we can be clear with our first family about who we are, what we believe, and where we stand on important issues will strongly influence the level of ‘independence’ or emotional maturity that we bring to other relationships.  (189)

When women are taught mother is a ‘career’ rather than a relationship, ‘retirement’ becomes an understandable crisis.  (191)

The worst time to try to discuss a hot issue in a stuck relationship is when we are feeling angry or tense.  (194)

Gathering information about our parents’ lives, whether they are living or dead, is an important part of gaining a clear self, rooted in factual history of our family’s development.  (198)

Working toward intimacy is nothing short of a lifelong task.  (201)

The women’s movement changed and challenged all our lives because feminists recognized that if we did not clarify our own needs, define the terms of our own lives, and take action on our own behalf, no one else would do it for us.  (208)

No lullaby has ever occurred to me capable of singing him to rest.  (243)

There were so many poetic quotes in this book and I am absolutely going to reread it.  This quote about lullaby and rest is about death and grief and how it is never ending.

Nevertheless, life is pleasant, life is tolerable.  Tuesday follows Monday; then comes Wednesday.  The mind grows rings, the identity becomes robust; pain is absorbed in growth.  (257) 

[S]o strange is the contact of one with another.  (281)

Something always has to be done next.  Tuesday follows Monday; Wednesday, Tuesday.  Each spreads the same ripple.  The being grows rings, like a tree.  Like a tree, leaves fall.  (283)

One of the things I loved about this novel was how themes would repeat themselves, the way they do in an opera or beautifully composed movie (or even television show, frankly).  But it is not enough to repeat in image and Woolf does it so well, echoing herself but rephrasing things to deepen the meaning. 

Thus when I come to shape here . . . the story of my life and set it before you a complete thing, I have to recall things gone far, gone deep, sunk into this life or that and become part of it; dreams, too, things surrounding me, and the inmates, those old half-articulated ghosts who keep up their hauntings by day and night; who turn over in their sleep, who utter their confused cries, who put out their phantom fingers and clutch at me as I try to escape—shadows of people one might have been; unborn selves.  (289)

One of the books I’ve already tucked in the “Fifteen in 2012” pile has a journaling exercise in which the writer explores the “roads not taken.”  We all have those moments of “unborn selves” and I have a feeling that sitting down and thinking about them must surely be enlightening.  This quote made me think of that book and felt like an approbation.

It is strange that we who are capable of so much suffering, should inflict so much suffering.  (293)

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of employment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply. .  .  .  (240)

I like to think that my children have this with one another, a sort of easy familiarity that only siblings can have.  I don’t know.  I am an only child and perhaps I romanticize the reality of sibling rivalry outgrown and overcome.  It wouldn’t surprise me to learn I have.  I romanticize so many other things. 

Nothing is so strange as human intercourse. . . . (47)

The above is a quote from the original version of Mrs Dalloway which was a short story called “Mrs Dalloway’s Party” and what interested me about this quote is what it has in common with the above quote from The Waves.  I say this time and again, how delighted I am when I see incidental themes in the quotes that I collect from one week to the next. 

From the essay by James Wood “Virginia Woolf’s Forgetful Selves”
Woolf turns female absent-mindedness into the most searching philosophy, of the self, and we suffer with her heroines, who are suspended between forgetfulness and remembrance, between their fulfillment and their irrelevance.  (96)

From the essay by Daniel Mendelsohn “Not Afraid of Virginia Woolf”
This which men’s literature dismissed as trivia must be taken up and forged into a new kind of literature that would suggest how great were the hidden worlds and movements in women’s lives;  such literature was long overdue.  (121)

In Cunningham’s novel, as in Woolf’s, it is the men surrounding the women who keep falling apart. (123)

From the essay by Deborah Eisenberg  “On Mrs. Dalloway

Woolf creates for us a world that consists entirely of relationships—a weave. . .  .  Just as we are given to see in the book not why something has become but that it has become, we are given to see not how things are related but that they are. (150)

The problem that comes up over and over again is that these people want to be published.  They kind of want to write but they really want to be published.  (13)

I have had this experience so often in writing groups it’s not funny.  It’s also why I remain without writing support in my own life.  I seem to attract people who want to learn from me how it is done and, because I am unpublished or because they don’t really want to be writers, I end up once again wandering around wondering if it’s possible that I’m a hack.  Of course it’s possible but is it wrong of me to hope it’s not true?

[Y]ou’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.  (22)

One of the things I love about Anne Lamott is that you know what she believes and that her faith is less liberal than her politics.  And yet, she is not shy of seeing self-righteousness for what it is, especially when it is her own.

Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friends.  (32)

We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in he face of this.  (51)

Your reading should confirm what you’ve observed in the world.  (64)

[W]hen you strip away the busyness . .  . some surprising constructions appear.  (84)

[R]emind yourself that perfection is the voice of the oppressor.  (93)

I should write this (Perfection is the voice of the oppressor) in calligraphy and decorate a border around the edges and give this to some of the artistic people I know (myself included) who really need to know.  But I haven’t been practicing my calligraphy so it’s a nice idea that will likely never see the light of day.

. . . I used to think that paired opposites were a given, that love was the opposite of hate, right the opposite of wrong.  But now I think we sometimes buy into these concepts because it is so much easier to embrace absolutes than to suffer reality.  I don’t think anything is the opposite of love. Reality is unforgivingly complex.  (104)

Another great quote worthy of framing:  Reality is unforgivingly complex. 

For some of us, good books and beautiful writing are the ultimate solace, even more comforting than exquisite food.  (108)

I don’t know about that.  No.  I guess I do.  I can live without exquisite food, could subsist on rice or McDonalds for the rest of my life so long as I had good books to read.  But take my books away and feed me only from the best ranked restaurants and I’d be utterly miserable the rest of my life.

Don’t look at your feet to see if you’re doing it right.  Just dance.  (112)

My deepest belief is that to live as if we’re dying can set us free.  (125)

Let the dream die and with it will die the authentic life for which we long.  (August 20)

Books are as essential as breathing.  (August 21)

See what I mean about the common themes in my quotes.  I can be reading the most disparate books and still find something common. 

Being a mirror is one of the greatest gifts you can give to the person you love.  In being a mirror, we hold up an image so that our beloved can finally, accurately, and wonderfully, capture an image of him or herself.  (August 21)

Movie and Television Reviews for August 2011

I’ve decided to try to pick the “one best” to begin these longer review pieces.  It may be the “one best movie” and “the one best television series” so I may fudge on the definition of “one” but this will allow the cream to rise to the top rather than get lost in the rest of the content.

I did not like the book.  I didn’t hate it but I thought (and still do) that the characters were two dimensional and the entire story was predictable from the first few pages.  Nobody, not even Griet the protagonist, evolves emotionally and I was so disappointed by this overly praised novel that I’ve avoided anything else written by the author and didn’t go out of my way to watch the movie.  I can’t even explain why I chose to do so now but I have to confess that I’m glad I did.  The acting is adequate; I can’t praise it beyond that because even in the film the characters do not grow in depth.  However, the cinematography more than makes up for this as the lighting and camera work are brilliantly used to evoke the artistic work that Vermeer was doing.  There are scenes in which a perfectly cast Scarlett Johansson is lit with a delicacy that is impossible for any art lover to overlook.  I can’t help but appreciate what the director has visually created.  Colin Firth and Essie Davis do a wonderful job of taking flat characters and at least trying to round them out on film.  It is not the fault of anyone except the original author if anything falls flat for even the screenwriters had the sense to adapt the screenplay by dropping the contrived and trite ending the author shoved down her reader’s throats.  Seriously, I didn’t like the novel so how much more remarkable must it be for me to say that I think this movie is lovely and anyone who appreciates Vermeer’s artwork or a beautifully filmed movie should seek this one out.

And now on to the rest of my reviews.  Movies/documentaries first, followed by television shows.

Beautiful music.  Jane Austen.  Keira Knightley.  Does it get any better than this?  No but then there are other versions that are at least equal to it. To be honest, I went into this adaptation prepared to be disappointed.  At the beginning, it was too noisy and the clothing dark and inelegant. But then, Donald Sutherland as Mr Bennett? Oho!  We have a chance at capturing the character’s sardonic humor and perhaps I can enjoy this.  HBO does an adequate job of condensing the novel without losing any of what really matters and, in spite of the rather bleak choices made in tone, there are nevertheless some truly lovely moments.  Whatever there is that is light and bright is within the characters and the dialogue.  Knightley does a lovely job playing Elizabeth Bennett and Matthew Macfayden is wonderful as Mr Darcy.  I’m beginning to think that Darcy is not that difficult a character to play as I originally thought because I have loved them all.  Or perhaps I just love the character so that I’m bound to love anyone who can perform the role well.  I recognized Macfayden and eventually figured out that he played Prior Phillip in Pillars of the Earth which I enjoyed very much.  (I still prefer the A&E version but this will do in a crunch.)

At this point I am just wanting to see them all the same way that someone finishes reading a book that they don’t like at first in hopes that it will somehow get . . . what?  Better?  Who am I kidding?  This was such a perverse concept from the first movie and it has neither degenerated along similar lines nor found a more interesting path.  Except . . . well, this one is at least interesting, giving a nod to film noire with a police detective who is good at solving puzzles being pulled into the word of the Cenobites.  I actually found myself surprised at the attempt to do “something more” which succeeded.  Well, it was a success for a horror movie, anyway, much as any horror movie that references anything beyond itself can be a success.  Whereas the first movie in the series fully merged the concept of sex and violence, perversion and damnation, the more you go into the series, the less immediately are the two combined.  Yes, the detective’s choice to have sex with a prostitute is part of what precipitates the rest of the movie’s action but it is not as tightly woven into the overall concept as in the previous movies.  Certainly not as much so as in the first.  And clearly, I am over intellectualizing a horror movie so I should probably stop watching them now before I get too cerebral.

This is one of those times my interest in a film had more to do with an actor than anything else.  Kate Winslett is so luminous and I’d pretty much want to watch her in anything.  So I suffered through this movie which had some interesting moments but truly it was just exploitative.  What the screenwriters did to communicate the fantasy world that these young girls created for themselves was odd and yet that seemed effective to me because it heightened the sense of how off they were, obsessive and living in a mindset that didn’t align with reality.  It felt like there was much more truth that never was explored and over all the film was unsatisfying. 

I can’t imagine a child of my generation or younger who is not familiar with a song or two written by these brothers.  This documentary does a good job of showing how their opposite personalities worked to create musical magic.  Lively songs have a hint of the sinister and other songs sound like lullabies they are so delicate.  Years of working with Disney Studios resulted in classics from such films as Mary Poppins and Winnie-the-Pooh and, after they left the studio, they continued to write scores for films, wonderful scores.  What is not so wonderful is the relationship between the two and nowhere in the film is it explained why the two were not closer than they were.  Is it enough to say that they were so unalike that they could not like one another?  That seems rather simplistic.  My guess is that the older brother, the one who served in the military, came back from that experience changed, disconnected from his family because he was no longer connected to himself, the boy he was before he left. That is only a guess.  This documentary doesn’t explain anything really except that these two wrote some pretty darn good music. 

Of course, I’d heard about this movie for ages and I even tried to read the novel but didn’t get immersed in it sufficiently to finish it.  So I finally wanted to get around to watching it and now I have.  Is it supposed to be ironic that John Boorman directed this thing?  I mean, I kept looking to Rob and asking, “Seriously?  Is this it?  Is it just me or is this movie incredibly boring?”  Albeit, Burt Reynolds does a very good acting job, surprisingly so all things considered.  (I have a theory that his skills were lost when he grew the mustache and only returned much later in life when he lost his hair.)  I have the distinct impression that there is a lot of symbolism one would find on the page that is lost on film. You get glimpses of the possibility of such but the movie doesn’t fulfill.  And it was nominated for an Academy Award?  WTF?  I must be seriously deficient because I truly do not get it.

Every now and again I feel obliged to prove that I am a woman and so I watch a chick-flick and this movie is a perfect example of the mediocre cinematic attempts at making magic that should make me hang my head in shame.  And yet, I do like this movie.  Maybe it’s because of Johnny Depp.  Okay.  I admit it; it’s totally because of Johnny Depp.  Johnny Depp and the relationship between the older couple played by Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway.  I love how they fall in love with one another long after they have fallen into a relationship rut.  If romance is a state of mind, then it’s nice to believe that we can all find a way to infuse our lives with the romantic.  Frankly, I should be ashamed to admit that I’ve watched this movie more than once but why bother?  I’m bound to watch it again and I can try to muster up some shame then.

Great music sung by brilliant Broadway performers.  What more can one ask?  Well, given Sondheim’s portfolio, a lot more songs because there are so many more brilliant songs available.  In fact, let’s just have a Sondheim festival and let everyone sing his songs all day long, for however long it takes, to sing them all.  And then we can sing our favorites again and again just for the hell of it.  I love singing Sondheim because his music is more complex than some more popular and less deserving songwriters.  His use of melodic refrains and atonal notes is what makes his music so exciting to feel in one’s throat.  And I miss Broadway terribly.  I wish more musicals would be made into movies but only if it can be done well, which I realize may be asking too much.  Or better yet, I wish more stage productions would be brought to dvd so those of us who cannot get to the theater can still luxuriate in seeing Patti LuPone as Mrs Lovett.  (What I wouldn’t give for a dvd of the Sam Mendes’ revival of Cabaret which is only zoned for non-American dvd players.  I continue to pout.)  Anyway, I have a dream and it involves dvds and Broadway and miracles. 

The minute I saw the word “unauthorized” I should  have walked away.  But I didn’t.  Instead, I gave vague attention to a mediocre documentary.  Obviously, only someone who appreciates John Lennon would bother to watch this documentary and therein lies its major flaw because this show offers nothing new.  If you like Lennon, you already know everything and probably know still more.  What’s the point?  There aren’t even quality clips from any of the musical performances or videos that exemplify at least part of his career.  Why his sister agreed to be in this is beyond me.  I’m tempted to stop watching any and all Beatles related documentaries because so far everything I’ve seen has been biased or boring. 

I was prepared to enjoy this movie, perhaps more than the novel as it would speed up some of the slower parts of the story.  However, the director and screenwriter took such liberties with the story that it is hardly recognizable.  Fanny Price is a feisty and independent woman who is prone to jump on her horse at night in the rain to get away from the idea of being forced into the slavery of marriage.  At one point she accepts the attentions of a man that she never esteems in the novel.  Her brother William is completely written out of the text, a relationship that was the most important to Fanny in the novel.  Her aunt is an opium addict and her uncle a lecherous slave owner.  The only possible improvement, if one can consider it such, is the choice to have Fanny writing stories to her sister, including a history of England which is actually from Jane Austen’s juvenilia.  This does not, can not, make up for the rest of the liberties taken and I was disappointed from beginning to end although I begrudgingly concede it is well acted.

I’ve seen this movie before so was fully prepared for the violence, etc.  I was reminded, while watching it, how much it all reminded me of The Hunger Games.  Or should I say the book reminded me of the movie which preceded the book’s publication?  It’s a moot point.  The concepts are similar but different enough and this dvd we watched had some extended scenes, which is something I am always a sucker for anyway.  I’d forgotten some of the more cheesy moments but these don’t detract from the over all merit of the film and I really do think it’s one of the lesser appreciated ones out there.  It deserves, in my opinion, a far larger cult following than it has.  I am eager to see Battle Royale II: Requiem although one would think that Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day and all of the sequels to The Crow would have taught me better by now.  One would think and yet here I am, waiting for the dvd in eager anticipation.

I wasn’t sure why I should or would want to watch another version of this story.  The truth is, I had this on the “to be watched” list for quite a while and was only recently inspired to sit down with it because of my reading choices.  This is an interesting production, one in which Anne is less idealized, drawing on the extra pages from her journal.  So for those only familiar with the traditional view of Anne is a romantic and optimistic young girl who idolized her father and perhaps didn’t appreciate her mother sufficiently might want to check this version out.  My only major complaint is that I found some of the accents distracting as I tried to appreciate the implications of why one actor spoke in a specific dialect and not another.  I am sure that if I knew more about the differences in British speech patterns I would have caught some more subtle characterization than I can due to my ignorance.

I actually saw this when it first came out at Radio City Music Hall.  I remembered very little of it except Bob Fosse as the snake and Gene Wilder as the fox.   The novel itself is far more indelibly etched on my memory.  Marc had given this movie to me ages ago and we finally got around to watching it together and it is a cute movie, with some effective moments but the problem is simply this:  the novel is written for adults although it looks like a child’s book and the movie doesn’t enhance the theme nor intention of the book.  Worse, there is an implication at the end of the movie that takes away from the entire story.  It’s almost an outrage.  I honestly wonder if there is a way to translate this delicate and lovely book to film, short of using animation inspired by the illustrations.  Then I rethink myself and wonder why anyone would bother when we have this lovely book already?

I don’t know which is more perverse:  that a live action version of the animated series was ever made, that the live action version tried to compress hours of animation into a couple of hours of movie, or that Rob and I bothered to watch this.  I know a lot of people took exception to one of the changes made by the director, casting non-Asians in some of the significant roles.  While I can’t disagree with those who took offense, I can appreciate the decision to try to make the movie characters more ethnically diverse.  Unfortunately, even Dev Patel, who was so wonderful in Slumdog Millionaire, could not elevate this film to get remotely close to the animated original.  Terribly disappointing because there was simply no way to develop the characters or the emotional depth of the story in so short a time.  Thankfully, it doesn’t look like there will be a sequel in spite of its cliff-hanger conclusion. 

And now for the television shows . . .

Ahhhh, leave it to me to start watching a show after it’s been canceled only to fall in love with.  Yes, they took some liberties with the “traditional” story but when you’ve read enough of the medieval versions of these stories you quickly come to realize that there is no traditional story.  Some core moments, yes, but they all riff on the same tune to make it their own.  And frankly, I was really liking how this one was playing out.  Joseph Fiennes as Merlin was great and the writers came up with some clever explanations for the myths that come out of Arthur’s history.  Jamie Campbell Bower as Arthur is pretty but Claire Forlani as Igraine is mind-blowing.  She is just so stunning that every time she was on screen I fell in love with her all over again.  Tamsin Egerton as Guinevere is lovely and Eva Green as Morgan delivers the kind of intensity her role demanded.  I couldn’t even finish the first season of Merlin because it was so ponderous and uninspired.  This version is so damn good and it’s a shame not to see it explore all the way through the final battle between Arthur and Mordred (albeit I wasn’t convinced the very pretty actor would be able to age as well as say Jonathan Rhys Meyers did in The Tudors).  Hugely disappointed that this show is gone so soon.

My mother asked me if I was watching this show and I said no.  She said she was so Rob and I did a quick catch up and watched all but one episode of season one before I found out she wasn’t watching it anymore.  The truth is, I thought they would just cancel the show.  It was okay but it wasn’t drop dead interesting.  There were a few people on the show who were fun to watch but not enough to keep us watching.  Then along comes season two and there’s practically a whole new group of women except for the one we liked perhaps the most.  And some of the others are recognizable as secondary people from season one.  So a few one night stands . . . or two and three night stands . . . are now front and center and a few new faces are added along to make it a different type of cast altogether.  Aha!  But why?  I mean, why not follow the one woman after she breaks her girlfriend’s heart and the other couple as they head to the altar and the other couple as they take their relationship to the next level as well?  Why not stick with a good group of women?  My guess is that they couldn’t get most of those women to sign on to showing more flesh because holy cow but there are some surprising moments in this season.  I would have blushed at the thought of my mother watching this season and, as I’ve said before, I don’t blush easily. 

NY Ink

I never watched Miami Ink and Rob got me involved in LA Ink during season two but it made sense to just sit beside him for this new show because New York is home and I do enjoy watching tattoo artists, especially good tattoo artists do their thing.  Rob said that he thought LA Ink was canceled but then there were commercials for the west side show and we figured they would just swap out the two shows to sort of balance out their line-up.  Then TLC announced they are canceling LA Ink so I guess NY Ink is on its own.  The final episode was pretty clearly meant to be a cliff-hanger which suggests they will be back again soon.  But this isn’t brilliant reality television, to be honest.  Unless you’re into tattoos and such, it’s actually fairly dull.  The stories behind why people get tattoos are interesting, some even heartbreaking.  I usually watch while doing something else because I really don’t get so immersed in what’s on the screen that I get lost in the show

Next Food Network Star

I’ve come to realize that the best way to watch these elimination reality type shows is to wait until the first few contestants have been voted off or lost their place and are no longer in the running.  Then you can watch and focus on the best without worrying about remembering the easily forgettable.  By the time I joined, the people were beginning to grate on one another’s nerves, the crème de la crème were already shining and the outcome, barring some major mistake or brilliant performance, was pretty much a lock when one of the judges said, “He’s cute.”  So the Sandwich King wins and you can see his show on Sundays at 10pm on the Food Network Channel.  And the guy Rob was rooting for made it to the final three, which made Rob happy.

I should explain that Rob is really into these cooking reality shows and I just join him for the ride, as it were.  This is especially the case on this program where I really don’t care who wins, have no desire to buy the cookbook, and rarely think that what the contestants make sounds irresistibly delicious.  So why do I even bother?  Well, I like Joe Bastianich.  I love that he rides up on a Vespa rather than a Hog in one challenge.  I love his aloof and unflappable exterior as he tastes things . . . unless he decides something is terrible and he gets angry.  I think he and the other judges are fun and I would love to see the three of them just battle it out in the kitchen every week.  But that’s me.  I suppose other people actually buy the cookbooks.  As for this season’s winner, I was disappointed.  No doubt she is an excellent chef and deserving of the title “master chef” but my hopes were leaning in a different direction.

Have you ever had an experience where you saw a single episode of some television program and thought it was pretty damn good so you wanted to see more but didn’t for some reason only to one day finally see it on dvd and realize shortly thereafter that you had seen the best episode of the season?  I am assuming that this doesn’t actually happen to other people but it happened to me with this show because, as much as I liked that one episode I happened to catch that one time, I spent the rest of the dvd wondering why the rest of the series seemed to miss the mark.  The concept is good and it is funny to see Joan of Arc as an emo-goth and Gandhi as a horny teenager.  John F Kennedy and Cleopatra are stereotypes, as is Abraham Lincoln, but they should all be able to make one laugh.  Unfortunately, it never really hits the right notes often enough and I can see why this show lasted only the one season.  Maybe it needed more time to simmer as an idea before it was put out for the world to judge.

Scrubs, Season One

Have you ever watched a mediocre show and then randomly, for no reason really, decided to watch something else, something someone recommended to you and you really enjoyed it only to discover that the same people who were responsible for the mediocre show were responsible for the one you like?  Again, I’m assuming that these things only happen to me but I settled down to finally watch Scrubs and I knew I was in love by the fourth episode which allowed some real drama to occur during this comedy show.  I was reminded of M*A*S*H, which I do not doubt is not coincidental, and reminded of the classic show again during an episode where the doctors and interns are interviewed for psychiatric purposes.  The ensemble cast is wonderful and work very well together.  I am already looking forward to watching Season Two.  If only I had more time . . .