V is for V for Vendetta

Unknown-1I saw the movie, V for Vendetta when it first came out, and it’s one of those rare movies that I loved.  I loved the wordplay, the philosophy, and the idea that one man could create so much change.  I also loved how Evey changes so much over the course of the movie.  When the end credits rolled and I saw it was based on a book, I hurried to Amazon to buy it.

Imagine my dismay when I found out that it wasn’t a book, but a graphic novel.  A comic book.

I didn’t read comic books as a kid.  Partly because there weren’t enough words in them, so they moved too slowly for me.  Partly because I was a snob and thought they were somewhat too childish for me.

I couldn’t resist V for Vendetta though, and I learned that, as with so many other things, my pre-judgement was wrong.

It’s true that graphic novels tend to have fewer words and rely more heavily on visual storytelling, but it’s just a different way to tell a story.  It’s not better or worse than novels; they are their own medium.

The movie and the graphic novel are different, but this is one of the few times that doesn’t bother me.  They are both quite good versions of the same story.

I think I’m finally to the point where I don’t say that I won’t read something.  I know that I don’t know what something’s going to be like until I try it.

W is for Water

Austin, TX Photo credit: Doree Weller

Austin, TX
Photo credit: Doree Weller

I love water.  I love being near water, in water, and drinking water.

There’s nothing nearly as relaxing to me as listening to the waves of the ocean.  During the years I was in Arizona, I missed that sound.  I love when it rains hard; the sound is relaxing, and it makes the world look softer.  After the rain, greens look greener, and everything smells cleaner.  I love sitting outside during rainstorms, if I can be in a place where I’m not getting drenched!

Every year, I used to go to the beach with a girlfriend.  The first year we went together, her vision was that we would sit on the beach and read.  That was an inconceivable waste to me.  I made a beeline for the ocean, where I could drift and float in the waves.  While I like sitting near bodies of water, its much more fun to go into it.

The first time I encountered the stream near my house, I took off my shoes and socks and waded in.  It was cold, but felt great on my feet.

In V for Vendetta, the scene that always touched me was after Evey gets out of captivity, she goes out during a storm, tips her head up to the rain, and says, “God is in the rain.”  I love that quote, and I’ve never been quite sure why.  The only thing I can figure is that rain feels very spiritual to me.  Not just that, but rain makes me think in poetry.

What are your feelings on water?

Rain, Guy Fawkes, and Me

Cedar Park, Texas Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Cedar Park, Texas
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I think that when you’re from an area that gets regular rain, you tend to take it for granted.

I get up in Pennsylvania, and we got rainstorms and thunderstorms, especially in the summer.  We had times when it would rain for a week straight.  It rained the day my sister in law got married in 2004, and the next day, the place where she got married experienced a 100 year flood, and was literally underwater.

When we moved to Arizona, I was excited by the idea of living where it doesn’t rain.  People leave things outside and leave their car windows down because… it really doesn’t rain.

At first, not having to use my wipers was a cool novelty, and I liked that pretty much every day was sunny.  I liked the long days and the baking heat.

Eventually, I started to miss the rain.  One of my favorite quotes is from V for Vendetta (appropriate for the 5th of November… Happy Guy Fawkes day, incidentally).  “God is in the rain.”

I’m not sure why I like that quote, other than that I’ve always felt a spiritual connection with the rain.  I love the sound and the smell.  I love the way it makes colors brighter.  I love how it washes everything clean.  I don’t even mind getting rained on.  (I do not love how I have to wipe dirty dog paws after they’ve been outside, but everything has a price.)

Texas had been in a drought, but we’ve gotten a lot of rain since I’ve been here, and for that, I’m very grateful.    Rain makes me want to sit in my house with a cup of coffee, and just write with no other sounds than the music of nature.  I have a window open just enough so I can hear, and I’m facing my big windows, which let me see outside.

What are your thoughts on rain?

Banned Books Week

From the Phoenix Art Museum Photo Credit: Doree Weller

From the Phoenix Art Museum
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

This week, September 21-27, was Banned Books Week.

I love the idea that people attempt to ban books.  Why?  Because people wanting to ban a book means that it was provocative, that it touched a nerve.  I’m all for entertainment, and some of my favorite books are just entertaining, with no other “value.”  I don’t think that art needs to have value other than entertainment, but I like it when art provokes and inspires.  Art at its best should have an effect on the reader or viewer or listener.  It should touch some chord within, even if it’s not in a positive way.

Art is a reflection of life, sometimes a truer reflection of life than an actual reflection.  One of my favorite quotes is:

“Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.”
― Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

Life isn’t always pretty.  It’s not always neat.  Sometimes it’s ugly and difficult.  Sometimes it disgusts.  Which is why art should be provocative.

Don’t get me wrong; I have been personally offended by art.  I sympathize with people who want certain books banned.  But there’s only one type of censorship I favor: the ability to choose.  That’s right, if something personally offends me, I can choose not to view it or read it or listen to it.  I think parents should always have the right to choose what their children are exposed to, but that doesn’t mean that a certain group of parents should be able to choose for all.

Personally, when I see a list of banned books, I want to read all the ones on the list.  I’m not easily offended, and I always find it interesting to see what offends others.  I’ve read The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Gray, but those are the only ones on the list.

Here’s a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2013.

Giving It a Chance

For absolutely no reason, here's a butterfly.  Museum of Natural History, Photo credit Doree Weller

For absolutely no reason, here’s a butterfly. Museum of Natural History, Photo credit Doree Weller

I recently watched the first two episodes of the Office.  And I HATED it.  Couldn’t even get through an entire episode.  I posted on FB how much I disliked it, and the responses were interesting.  Predictably, many people loved the show; it was popular for a reason.  One person mentioned that they didn’t like it at first, but then watched it again later and started liking it.

The TV Guy always gives shows a chance.  You’ll hear him say it from time to time that he watches the pilot plus a few shows to see if he actually likes it.

I don’t do that.

I avoid things I don’t like.  If I read a book and can’t get into it, I put it back down.  With TV, I’m even less patient.  You can’t capture my attention in the first 10 minutes?  We’re done.

When it comes to entertainment, I have a super short attention span.  If I’m supposed to be entertained, then entertain me!  I love stuff with a message, as long as they don’t forget the primary directive of entertainment.  V for Vendetta is one of my favorite movies.  Entertainment comes first, message is a part of the movie, not the reason for it.  Same with Fight Club (book and movie).  Entertainment first, message second.

I keep that in mind when I’m the one doing the writing.  It’s ironic then, that my first chapters always need the most work.  I can start right up with short stories, but for some reason, with novels, my beginnings drag and I don’t seem to know how to jump right in.

At least I know it’s a problem, right?  And I’m working on it.  I have to keep in mind:

“Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it…” – Michael Crichton

Movies that Made Me Think

In Hollywood today, there aren’t many great stories.  I love a good blow ’em up type movie with lots of car chases and swear words, but those can only be done and redone so many times.  I’m a fan of movies that make me think, even if I don’t necessarily like the movie.

Filmbalaya recently did a great blog on the “25 movies that could blow you away in the second half of 2011”.  Here’s a link to that website.

https://filmbalaya.com/2011/07/28/tim-20-films-that-could-blow-you-away-in-the-second-half-of-2011/

It made me think about how I haven’t done a top 10 list in awhile, and how maybe it’s time.  So without further ado, here’s the top 10 list of movies that made me think.  In no particular order:

1.  Red State (2011)–  I’m normally a Kevin Smith fan, and while I didn’t like this movie much, it really did make me think.  I didn’t hate it and have the urge to turn it off; it’s just that when it was over, I was left with more questions than answers.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I recommend watching it at least once.

2.  Inception (2010)– This was a twisty turny thinking movie if I ever saw one.  I didn’t think I liked this movie when I was done, and I actually had to go on other sites and read various interpretations of the movie.  If you haven’t seen it, this is one to watch with a group of friends and to debate and discuss over a bottle of wine afterward.

3.  V for Vendetta (2006)- It’s social, it’s political.  It’s interesting, sad and funny.  If you’re starting to wonder if 1984 by George Orwell got it right, this is a movie you must see.

4.  The Dark Knight (2008)- Yes, I know it’s a Batman movie.  However, it’s dark and says a lot about human psychology.  It’s a fascinating look at the human mind, and why no matter how far we come as a society (or don’t), the only predictable thing about human nature is that it is unpredictable.

5.  Forks Over Knives (2011)- This is a documentary about food and how maybe science knows more about curing disease than we think.  I promise you, pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to see this one.

6.  Food, Inc.(2008)- I delayed watching this one for a really long time, and I was right to do so.  I cried through it and had to stop because I got nauseated more than once.  If you want to know where your food comes from and the control that you have over the food industry, and that the food industry has over you, watch this movie.

7.  Fight Club (1999)- Again, this is another movie that explores human psychology, and more than that, group mentalities.  I recommend both the book and the movie, but the movie does a good job of staying true to what made the book great.

8.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)-  A guy arrives at a mental institution and breaks all the rules.  It’s an interesting look at institutionalization.  Again, the book is better, but the movie has Jack Nicholson, so it’s worth watching.

9.  Taxi Driver (1976)- Robert DeNiro plays a taxi driver who starts mentally breaking down.  He becomes obsessed with a young prostitute and takes action.  The ending is discussion worthy, and makes me wonder if this could happen.

10.  Basic (2003)-  A washed up military investigator is called into a base to figure out why several men on a mission disappeared.  But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  The story gets more complex and convoluted as it goes on, but the ending is worth the journey.