The Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Said

My husband and I enjoy going to the movies. We didn’t always. Once upon a time, we went to movie theaters with annoying children running around during a midnight showing of The Omen (true story).

Don’t take this to mean I hate kids. I like them. During the noontime showing of Beauty and the Beast. But if I’m going to see an R-rated movie, or anything after 7 p.m., I expect my movie to be a kid-free zone.

Sorry, I totally went on a tangent there.

Anyway, we like going to the Alamo Drafthouse, which has a no talking policy. During the previews for a good movie we saw, I happened to see a preview for Annihilation. After the movie (because no talking during!), I mentioned to my husband that I’d read the book and didn’t like it, but… wait for it… here comes the stupidest thing I’ve ever said…

“Maybe the movie will be better.”

I actually said that. Out loud. I was serious.

A friend and I had read (and hated) the book together.


Before I start bashing the movie (and I will bash it), I have to say that I actually enjoyed the first 75-90% of the book. It was interesting, well-done science-fiction. No spoilers, but it’s the ending that was awful. It was one of those non-endings. It made me feel like it was specifically designed to make me read the sequels, but it had the opposite effect.

So, there was only one major flaw with the book, in my opinion, and I hoped Hollywood would fix it.

I know, I know. I’ve already admitted this was the stupidest thing I’ve ever said. No need to rub it in.

They didn’t. They took the basic premise and turned it into a different movie. I read the book awhile ago, but I only recognized some basics. The rest was different. There were some lovely visual effects, but even they didn’t make up for the lack of a coherent plot, an ending that was just as unsatisfying (but in a different way) as the one in the book, and more of a jump-scare horror than science-fiction. (I don’t like jump-scare horror unless it’s actually a B movie and I can find it hilarious. There’s nothing scary about things jumping out at you.) Oh, and the soundtrack gave me a headache. My husband described it as “un-anesthatized cat vivisection.”

Have you seen it or read this book? What did you think?

The Timelessness of Stories

FlowersOnLedgeThe death of Alan Rickman got me to thinking about stories, and how important they are, in so many ways, to us all.

Everyone loves a good story, whether it’s one that’s been written down, acted out, or told.  Stories are one of the oldest forms of entertainment.  They’re endlessly flexible, and though the core of them has never changed (good vs. evil, love, etc), the way they are told does reflect the times.  Fiction has a way of holding up a mirror to what’s important in society.

Alan Rickman was a wonderful actor who played a myriad of parts, though he’s perhaps best known for his villains.  His death has led others to speak out about what a wonderful man and friend he was as well, something I didn’t give much thought to before his death.  To me he was Snape, Hans Gruber, the Metatron, the Sherrif of Nottingham, and so many other characters.

That’s the power that stories have.  Stories transport us from our everyday lives, and have the ability to speak truths more profound than if they were plainly stated.  There’s a reason why artists of every kind are important to a society, and why the stories they tell, if told well, overshadow the writer, the actor, the teller.  The tale is what’s important, and if told well, becomes alive.

Pride and Prejudice was first published in 1813.  That’s over 200 years ago.  Yet there have been dozens of movie and TV adaptations of it.  Most recently, a parody novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been published and will be made into a movie.  The story takes the classic version and adds our currently cultural obsession.  There have been countless adaptations and spinoffs.  The story is timeless, and both Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are characters with lives of their own.  They’re not just names on paper; they’re living, breathing, people.  They’ve lived 200 years, and it’s unlikely that they’ll ever die.

I expect that Harry Potter will be the same way.  In our movie age, though, it’s likely that the books and the movies will always be merged, to an extent.  Who can picture Severus Snape without picturing Alan Rickman?  I can’t.  Will Alan Rickman still be Professor Snape 200 years from now?  Only time will tell, of course, but I’d like to believe that even if the movies are redone decades from now with fresh faces, Alan Rickman will always be the Snape that others are measured against.

There’s nothing I love better than a good story.  I want to be transported to different times and places.  I want to live inside someone else’s head for a little while, see through their eyes.  I love to talk to others about their stories, or the stories they love, or the stories they don’t love, and why.

I don’t want to hear about the weather; I want to hear about how the sun baked your skin, why you use sunblock (or don’t), what you think about vampires, and about whether or not you dance in the rain.

I don’t want to watch you use your cell phone while we’re at dinner; I want to hear about the last really great meal you had, whether or not you think you should have dessert first (because life’s short), whether or not you think that cell phones are secretly used by the government to listen to me talk about the weather, and how you use your phone to stay in touch with the people who are most important to you.

In other words, I’d rather hear you say something absurd than something mundane.  We’re all so in the habit of having safe conversations that we don’t say the really interesting things we’re thinking.  I’m wondering if people even have interesting thoughts anymore, or if cat videos are the current highlight of human insight.

Smile at me.  Say something absurd.  Tell me a story.


Amazing Stuff

Photo Credit: RJS Photography

Photo Credit: RJS Photography

I was recently watching a stand up comedy routine by Louis CK, and he went on a rant about all the amazing things around us.  He talked about how amazing cell phones are, and how we complain when texts don’t make it immediately or cell phone coverage is spotty, and how amazing it is that we have this at all.

I remember rotary phones.  I remember being tethered to the wall, and when I wanted to talk on the phone, not being able to go too far.  I remember how excited I was when we got an extra long cord so I could walk around while talking on the phone.  Then cordless phones!  How amazing were they?  I remember being excited because I could go pretty far from the base station.

I wonder who first thought it was a good idea to talk on a cell phone in a public restroom.  Technology is good, but there are definitely some issues with it.

I remember the days when I had to go somewhere to rent a movie, and then had to rewind it before taking it back.  And if I got it not rewound, then that further delayed my movie watching experience.  Nowadays, the worst thing that might happen is that Netflix would crash.

I remember wanting a book and not knowing where to get it.  The guy I was dating at the time went to Waldenbooks and they ordered it for me (which was very sweet).  Now, between Amazon and Ebay, I can pretty much find any book or CD I want.  And speaking of CDs, remember when an import was a big deal?  I remember feeling very worldly that I was able to acquire a copy of Moxy Fruvous Bargainville.

Technology is amazing, but I think it’s made us a bit lazy.  Everything is too easy.  And maybe that’s why I like records.  I can’t control them from my cell phone.  On a lazy Sunday, there’s nothing like having to get up to flip the record every 4-5 songs.  I love the crackle that records add to the White Album.

At dinner recently, a couple and their four children were ALL looking at their cell phones!  Why?  Remember when eating out used to be a thing?  At least a semi-big deal?  I used to have to wait minutes for dial up or for a page to load.  Now I can get my cell phone out and have it all pretty much instantly.

Don’t lose touch with how cool all this stuff is.  Appreciate it.  Enjoy it.  Otherwise… what’s the point of having it?

Watered Down Villains

UnknownI love a good villain, and so do lots of other people.  But it seems that the villains in books are way more colorful than those in movies and TV.  I’m not sure why, other than what appeals to readers may not always appeal to TV watchers.  For instance, Hannibal was a great villain, but he wasn’t completely black and white.  The movie transformed him into someone slightly, but ultimately very different than who he was.

I don’t typically find TV and movie villains all that believable or scary.  For one thing, I don’t really find anything I can see to be scary.  If I see it, it can be fought.  In books, the villains tend to be  more well-rounded.  Many of them are not all bad.   Many book bad guys have multiple sides to them, ultimately making them both more human and more scary than what can be portrayed on TV.  I like complex villains, especially ones with whom I’d sit and have a drink (though I wouldn’t leave my drink unattended).  I also like purely evil villains, who do things for reasons that would never occur to me.

My favorite movie villains are Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street), Voldemort (from Harry Potter), The Joker (The Dark Knight), Khan (from Star Trek), and Darth Vader (from Star Wars). Voldemort, Khan, and Darth Vader were all after power, the Dark Knight was after chaos, and Freddy Krueger was after revenge.  What made all of these villains great was their single minded adherence to their goals.

Best book villains are Mr. Hyde (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson), Hannibal Lecter (Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal, by Thomas Harris), Voldemort (from Harry Potter by JK Rowling), Gretchen Lowell (Heartsick by Chelsea Cain), Dexter Morgan (from the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay).

Who’s your favorite villain?

Bad Endings

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

We’ve all seem movies or read books with bad endings.  I still haven’t forgiven Lionsgate for the original Saw.  Great movie, no ending.  Don’t even get me started on Hannibal.  Thomas Harris wrote a great book, but they ruined the ending for moviegoing audiences.

I’ve just heard that they re-filmed that last 4o minutes of World War Z after it got bad reviews from test audiences.  Is this really how Hollywood does things?  They take a book that people enjoyed, and make it into a movie because they have a built-in audience, but change the ending because now, suddenly, people didn’t like it?

Sometimes we have to take risks.  As authors (and presumably readers), we know what feels right as far as endings.  I’ve read books and watched movies that seemed to have discordant endings at first, but on further reflection, were just right.  I love it when I have to think it through.

That being said, I don’t want to have to think about things when I’m reading or watching things I consider “junk food” for the brain.  I love romance novels, but they’re not exactly cerebral, and I don’t want them to be.  If I’m reading a romance novel, it’s because I want a sexy, strong hero, a stubborn, strong woman, and a happily ever after ending.  If I’m reading a horror novel or watching a horror movie, I don’t mind as everyone dies, as long as it fits.  And my biggest pet peeve is that I want it to end!  Not everything has to be tied up neatly for me, but the ending has to feel purposeful, not lazy, and not as if they’re gratuitously leaving it open-ended so that it it’s popular, there can be a sequel.

Personally, I think endings are just about the most important part of the book/ movie.  Because if I dislike the ending, even if I loved every other bit of the story, I write off the whole thing.

Captain America

by the TV Guy

If you are like me, you will watch things because of other things you have seen. Let me explain… I saw the Avengers and absolutely loved it, so I figured I would love Captain America as well. Not so much!

It is the story of Steve Rogers, who was declared unfit for military service, multiple times, and gets into a secret military experiment that makes him into Captain America. The film was first and foremost, too long for me. The good scenes of fighting and stuff blowing up were far and few between. I appreciate the idea of the little guy getting his revenge on every bully who ever beat him up, but this was a little much. If it were to cost you, I would say save your money, but if you can stream it from Netflix and have a couple of hours you really do not need, have at it.


Okay, no post by the TV Guy today, but I thought that since I haven’t posted in several days, I would make up for it.  Kevin Smith has a newish show on Hulu Plus called Spoilers.  He takes a bunch of people to the movies and has them review it, then does a celebrity interview.  It’s all done in the irreverent Kevin Smith style I know and love, and Jason Mewes features on the show as well.

If you like talking about movies, like hearing about movies, like discussing and speculating about movies, this is a great show.  Even if you don’t like any of that, it still may be entertaining.  They have a connected Facebook page with more news and info about the show.


We went to see Prometheus last night, and as pure entertainment, it’s a good movie.  It’s got good characters, good actions, and good explosions.

I thought the storytelling was sloppy, though.  I don’t mind gaps in stories; after all, sometimes things need to be left to the imagination.  Sometimes it’s best not to overtell a story; after all, readers must do some work too.  In this case, though, I had a lot of questions, and couldn’t tell if that’s because I don’t remember all the details of the Aliens movies, or if it’s because there were a lot of unexplained gaps.  In my opinion, movies should be able to stand alone.  That is, I shouldn’t need to have seen Alien in order to understand this one.

Don’t get me wrong; it was a good movie, just not as good as I expected or wanted it to be.  I did read an article that explains much of my confusion.  Here’s a link, but I warn you… if you haven’t seen the movie, this contains spoilers.

Knowing Too Much Can Take Away The Magic

I re-watched the original Sabrina tonight.  It’s got Humphrey Bogart, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn, two wonderful actors.  I can’t remember last time I saw that version of it.  I think I like the more modern version with Harrison Ford, Greg Kinnear, and Julia Ormond a bit better.

I did enjoy the movie, and then I did what I always do… I went to the Internet Movie Database to look up trivia about the movie.  Usually, there are fun facts such as other actors who were considered for the part or something about the place it was filmed.  For this particular movie, the trivia talks about how Humphrey Bogart didn’t like his two fellow actors, and that he thought Audrey Hepburn couldn’t act.

Maybe it was true… or maybe Humphrey Bogart was a jerk, but either way, it sort of takes the magic away.  I was left a little deflated, some of my enjoyment of the movie gone.  Authors often get asked where they get their ideas, and I wonder if people really want to know, or if they just want to be part of the magic.

Let’s face it; for those of us who write, it’s no secret where we get our ideas.  Everywhere.  From everything.  Yes, for me it is the Holy Grail of writing when an idea pops into my head fully formed, and it does happen sometimes.  But more often, I’ll be in the middle of a conversation or going somewhere and think, “Hey, what if…?”

Finding ideas can be hard work, but it can also be fun and satisfying to develop and nurture the seeds of an idea into a fully grown flower.  Or, in my case, a twisted misshapen Venus flytrap type object that might bite you if you get too close.  Hey… to each his own!