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Movie of the Week – Just Like Heaven

This is an incredibly cute movie. The chemistry between the principals worked pretty well. A lot of cute funny bits. Some real nice situations, and the strings that attach them are like a revelation. ***1/2

Book Review — Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Which is now an animated film by Miyazaki — for those not in the know he is Japan’s version of Walt Disney).

As with all her works, Howl’s is a quick read which draws you into the world almost immediately, and was a lot of fun. We follow the adventures of Sophie, the oldest of three, who is sure she will never amount to anything because everyone knows it is the youngest siblings who become rich or have adventures. Yet a chance meeting and a case of mistaken identity will find Sophie cursed and out in the world cavorting with dangerous witches and wizards.

The animated film closely follows most of the major components and the feel of the book and characters, but expect some deviations. I loved both!

Movie of the Week – Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were -Rabbit

This film has a short based on the characters of Madagascar — mainly those crazy adorable penguins! It is not to be missed. I thought my hubby was going to die he was laughing so hard. It is a Christmas piece and it is adorable and quite funny. Those penguins are a total hoot! lol!

Wallace and Gromit were also a lot of fun. There are more rabbit and vegetable jokes than you can possibly want and then some! Subtle subtext for the adults as well as a lot of cute things for the kids. Awesome claywork. A very fun movie! ***3/4!!

Movie of the Week – Lord of War

I was going into heavy movie withdrawal! With all the conventions and then the Cellulitis, it’s been a bit since I’ve been able to get myself to the theater! And what a movie to come back to! Whoop!

Lord of War with Nicolas Cage — This movie is totally fascinating and sometimes outright disturbing. It is a journey into the life of Yuri, narrated by him, and shows the audience how he got into the convoluted world of arms dealing and how it affected him, his family, his life. And boy is he good at it! In some ways that is the whole crux of the problem. He finds his calling.

This film is ripe with funny moments and disturbing images. Definitely not for children! Nicolas Cage does an outstanding job. As well as the rest of the cast.

In the early beginning of the film, they do this wonderful sequence where the audience is placed on the point of view of the birth of a bullet and then follows it through the factory, out being shipped, and then its final use.

I would definitely rate this one a must see! ****!!!

Character Motivation vs Writer Direction

Just recently I was reading a book a friend lent me and told me I just had to read. What was funny was how he told me the first 3 books were great, but the ones after weren’t worth it. Didn’t sound like something I would want to get into, yet since he went to the trouble to bring me one of them, I thought “why not?”.

Within the first few pages I hit something that just about made me think there was no point in reading it, regardless of the good prose and likeable characters — clash of character vs writer’s plot direction. In this particular book, a man who lives in a non-magic land and is very well acquainted with nature, comes across a plant. He cuts the plant, and it hits him with a thorn. When he tries to remove the thorn, the thorn embeds itself deeper into his hand. He has no knife, so does what he can, but the darn thorn acts unnaturally and evades his attempts by totally disappearing into his flesh. He mucks with it for another moment, and then for all intents and purposes, shrugs his shoulder since he can’t do anything about it and goes on. Now, hold the phone! Anyone in their right mind who had a thorn dig itself into their hand and saw it do it would be screaming bloody murder and trying to get themselves to the nearest doctor. (I would!) Yet this man forgets all about it, except for noticing occasionally how the hand turns red and hurts (like that shouldn’t be sending panic signals), and goes on his way getting into the meat of the adventure.

In my opinion, there was a definite clash in what the writer wanted to set up as a later problem, and the believability of what the character did about it. Personally, I would have fallen for this if the guy panicked a little, did try to go home to get help, and on the way got distracted at least for a short while, by other events going on around him. So this clash could have been averted or minimized, but the author was too intent on his plot and not his people.

As a writer, a lot of times you will try to stick to a mental road map of where the story needs to go. But you have to absolutely stay true to the motivations and characteristics of the characters you are portraying or you will be doing the whole novel/story and your readers a huge disservice. Listen to what the characters tell you, even if it’s not part of the map! If you just have to have something happen in the story, but it clashes with your character’s motivation/personality find a way to shift the situation so they will do what you want, or ditch it. Don’t force it!

Here’s an example: An old saying is that Tonto (The Lone Ranger’s Sidekick) never goes into town. “Tonto no go to town.” But in order for your plot to progress you need him in town because only in this way will he meet the beauty from Boston and fall in love. So what do you do? You can’t just suddenly have Tonto say he wants to go to town. That’s totally against his usual motivation/personality. (Town is a dangerous place for Indians. Ripe with trouble.) But if he absolutely needs to be in town, then arrange the consequences, which with his personality, will make him go to town. For Tonto, this is easy. If the Lone Ranger went to town and was not heard from in too long and he knew things were dangerous to begin with, he would go to town to look for his friend. If he received a message that the Lone Ranger was in trouble, this would also drive him to go to town–his need to be there for his friend overruling his bad feelings about going to town. And all of it still keeping him in character and you still getting to where you want to go.

Know your character’s personalities and motivations, don’t let the planned plot shut them out. The more believable and reasonable you can make the choices they make due to the factors you’ve thrown at them, the more fun the story will be.

Cellulitis

I got to learn a new word not long after the Labor Day weekend. It was Cellulitis. Cellulitis is a skin infection — considered a serious condition. Seems you can pick it up from a bug bad, a shaving nick, a small cut, just about anything. And boy you will notice it when you have it! After I got back from DragonCon, I was having a lot of problems with my right leg, but just assumed it was due to all the walking. Then I actually looked at it and noticed that it was swollen from the knee to my toes! The back of my leg felt like a concrete block.

Tried to make a doctor’s appointment (by this point I am thinking I might have a blood clot) and the soonest they can see me is Friday. Well by Friday morning my leg is hurting so bad, and I am getting so paranoid, that after one last attempt to see if I can get an earlier appointment, I drag myself off to the emergency room.

The doc instantly have them do a full sonogram of my leg to look for blood clots. They also take some blood. The doc, when he makes it back to me, tells me I am clear on the blood clots, then shows me a section of my leg that looks irritated. This is where he tells me about the Cellulitis. Then I get a double whammy antibiotic IV put on my arm for the next hour. I get two antibiotic prescriptions and told to get off my feet. If by a couple of days the rash seems to be spreading, I am to come back and admit myself into the hospital! Eeek!

Luckily for me, the prescriptions kicked in well enough. Not that you could rightly tell. Seems the symptoms will stay with you through most of the antibiotic attack. Only on the 6th day have I seen a decent amount of the swelling go away. Though my leg still hurts like the dickens to walk around on.

Kinda scary the number of simple things that can just totally kick you out of regular life. 🙂

Book Review — Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Sation by China Mieville
Perdido means lost, which is kind of fun to think about in a city mired with as much new/old/rich/poor/hate/love/corruption as New Crobuzon is. Mieville goes to great length to entrench the reader in all the details of the city so you can get a feeling of the whole. There are a myriad of races, cultures, religions, all trying to co-exist in this straddling metropolis. You get glimpses of the lives of several characters in different areas and slowly it all coaleses into a giant domino effect as seemingly unrelated events start a chain reaction of incredible proportions.

A garuda looking to fly again. An artist about to create her greatest work. A scientist on the cusp of his greatest discovery. And an escape which is going to put the entire city in the deepests grips of fear–for not even in sleep can you hide from what’s coming.

Once the events start to roll, you’ll be hooked on this rollercoaster ride all the way to the end.
So if your patient with the buildup, the payoff will be well worth it! ****

Movie of the Week – Wedding Crashers

First thing I’d like to say about this one is — it is NOT for children! They cover/show many very adult topics on this film and would not be appropriate for minors. That being said, it was quite disturbingly funny. The situations they get into in the wedding that will be their ultimate undoing are amazing! Totally hard to explain without giving things away. ***

2005 – The Year of the CURSE!

Curse? “What curse?” you ask?

Well it probably isn’t one, but it sure feels that way. And I hope it goes away REAL soon!
I think of myself as someone who tries their best to get along. To be on an even keel. That tries not to rock the boat. Friendly, even proactive. But somehow, in 2005, something has gone terribly wrong.

5 times this year I have, while trying to be helpful, or friendly, or just going along, totally hacked off people. Most of them have been through emails going back and forth, so it could be a language issue (and I call myself a writer…) but mostly it just feels like a whole lot of bad luck. Somehow I am catching people at their lowest and strangest, and in one stroke of misfortune I am the one who pushes their buttons totally without meaning to. It’s enough to make me want to go to a corner and cry myself into a coma. 🙁

This must STOP! Please? *sigh*

So to any of you I somehow make mad this year…just remember…I didn’t mean to!!!! Wahhhhh

Movie of the Week – Sky High

A fun, light film. And it has Bruce Campbell!!! Love Bruce!!! Deep high school issues taken in a light format. Decent effects, good acting, and many, many funny moments. If you’re looking for something fun, this is the movie to see. ***1/2!!!!!