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Tag Archives: musings of the odd

Chinatown: Most overated movie of all time.

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This movie sucks.  I know, heresy, but let me explain.  My husband and I watched this movie because it’s the ‘definitive’ film Noir, and I kind of like film noir on occasion.  The movie Brick was so good that we decided to see the movie that launched a genre. And we would really like our 130 minutes back. The whole movie was great, right up to the last ten minutes, when nothing that happened in the proceeding two hours mattered! We watched the plot twist and turn, clues revealed that only made the whole skein yet more tangled and it was great. Then the whole sordid mess was uncovered, the knot untangled, the pattern made plain. Hurrah! Our hero has unearthed everything and now the bad guys will be caught, our hero made a difference. The pain and effort was worth it! But alas no. It was a total and complete waste of his time in every way. Nothing changed except that more people were now dead than when he started. It could be argued that his involvement made the whole thing worse.

And I now need to take a shower, because I feel dirty. The whole movie is just one big waste of time. And I feel this way about so many ‘great’ movies. I don’t need them to have a happy ending, I’m okay with bittersweet, like Gladiator and Sucker Punch. I’m okay with main characters dying as long as they accomplish something with that death. I’m not okay with main characters getting the ever loving snot beaten out of them, their life put on the line and it not meaning a thing in the end. Maybe I just hate tragedy, and that is true, I’m not a fan of it. Romeo and Juliet strikes me as just one long exercise in failed communication and futility. But even in that story, their deaths ended the feud, so they did accomplish something. That didn’t happen in Chinatown. It was just sheer futility and pain, struggle for nothing, not even character growth. I don’t find that to be a story worth spending time with because it’s not a story, it’s just something that happened, but didn’t mean anything.

Yeah, that ending might be true to real life more often than not, but I don’t watch movies to relive all the times real life has kicked me in the face. I watch most movies to see somebody beat those odds. One of the many questions writers ask themselves when constructing a narrative is ‘why this character and why now?’ The point of that question is to make sure that we are telling an interesting story, that the story we are telling is a pivotal point in that character or the worlds history. That’s why when we look at history, we see the points of change like WWII, The eruption of Pompeii, Fall of Rome, etc. We don’t tell the story of a boy 10 years before the fall of Rome because nothing is happening there! Unless the story is about the boy himself, then you can do it, but if it’s about Rome, no one cares. The why is as important as the when. Why are we telling this story? Does someone in it triumph over their adversaries to meet a goal? Because if they don’t why are you writing it? What’s the point in the telling?

tumblr_md1ul6cNys1qzsuffo1_1280You can probably tell that I am not a fan of literature. I can respect some fiction because thrillers, suspense and mysteries mostly end with the hero solving the problem or living or whatever. I prefer to travel off planet for my fun, but that’s personal taste and not a problem of the story being broken. And Chinatown isn’t the only movie I’ve seen with this problem. Most of the movies coming out with Oscars tend to have this problem. The movie is great right up until they slit their own bellies at the end. I always walk away from those wondering what the writers or directer or producer were thinking. I wonder if they just couldn’t figure out what to do with the ending or if they all have prosaic sponsorships I don’t know about.

To be fair, Chinatown might be a classic because it’s the first Film Noir or maybe it’s an example of some filming technique I don’t know about. I’ve not been to film school, so I don’t know. But I am of the opinion that it isn’t fit for general consumption. I found very little to recommend it. If you did, more power to you, in at least that much, it’s still a free country.

 

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On Having Lists

As writer and a dyslexic one at that, I am all about organizing, categorizing and filing. I have piles and lists and scraps of paper with important tidbits written on them. I have notebooks, and binders, folders and loose leaf paper by the sheaves. It’s something we do naturally as humans, we find ways of categorizing things, putting them in groups for easier assimilation by the computers in our heads. And it’s a tricky thing, because the slot we put things into isn’t always the ideal one, but we do our best, and as long as we remember that this is a tool and not a hard and fast rule, we’ll do okay by it.

My husband and I watched Avengers again this weekend, second time for him and third time for me and I was struck anew by the excellence of the movie. I commented that this movie is now on my top ten list of all time favorites and he agreed. It was a throw away line in a way because while I was sincere, the meaning of what I had said didn’t really sink in until I was laying in bed this morning, luxuriating in warm husband and warm blankets.

How would I really make a list of my favorite 10 movies of all time? What criteria would I use? Over all excellence of story telling? Most compelling characters? Most immersive? Could I count whole trilogies as a single entry? Star Wars and Lord of the Rings would make my list, as would all the Indiana Jones movies and right there I’ve used up nine slots and there are other movies I would just have to add. The Dark Crystal, The Dark Knight, and The Last Unicorn come to mind, so how to choose? Heck, I would toss Gladiator on there too if I had room simply because I love so much about that movie that I re-watch it regularly. And the beleaguered Sucker Punch as well. Honestly I like everything Zack Snyder has done. When it comes to mood and sheer artistry, that man is amazing.

See the problem I’m running into now? Too much good stuff to choose from. So maybe I’d have to break it up by genre and pick my top 10 that way. But what about those movies that straddle the line? Like Starship Troopers, which yes, I love because it’s awesome. I could put that in Sci-Fi or satire. I guess, since my satire list would be light and Sci-Fi brimming with entries I could put it there, but is that fair? Aren’t I playing games with the lists now? And they can’t really be definitive because tastes change, new movies come along that shuffles the whole list around and just time of year can effect how I’d rate them.  Star Trek IV is still my favorite Star Trek movie and sometimes I forget about it because it’s so old.

So in the end, I guess I don’t have a top ten, I just have a list in my head of movies that I love. I’ll call that enough, because for me it really is. Putting them in order is less important than being able to articulate WHY they are on the list in the first place. And yes, Inglorious Bastards is on my list too. My husband likes Kill Bill more, but I think Inglorious Bastards and Django are better. I mean come on, any movie that can make a scene of people drinking milk so tense you can’t breath has got to rank. And they killed Hitler! (fan girl moment)

I can tell you that I am old enough now to follow directors and writers and here’s my list. Nolan, Tarantino, Whedon, Snyder. I’ll see anything these guys touch, even tangentially. Somehow this post went off the rails there. Sorry, but it is Sunday after all. Stay tuned for meringue cookies later in the week. And my flash fiction, which will have the word Hitler in it. There, all tied together, even if the knot is super messy.

And Chinatown is a terrible movie.  Just terrible.

 

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Bicycle seats weren’t made with lady bits in mind.

I was reminded of this fact last night. When I joined my gym, I had been biking around the neighborhood for the last month or so. My bike has one of those really big squishy seats with the short…protrusion. That made my first round of spin classes a little less traumatic, since I was far more used to the tiny torture devices they put on exercise bikes and expect us to use.

I was reminded painfully of that fact. I took my first spin class after a seven month hiatus and my lady bits are not pleased, and my butt isn’t speaking to me right now. I had completely forgotten how awful they are. By the end of the class, I stopped doing the sprints altogether and just focused on staying on the bike til the end of class.

Men generally have much smaller butts than us women, which accounts for the extra trim width of the seat. And they have a muscle running from the…bum button to the base of their…man bits which acts as a cushion between the seat and their hipbone. Girls don’t have that muscle. Nope, just a bone and lady bits. With all our weight on that tiny seat, which do you think suffers? Exactly.

There are seats out now that are made by Schwinn and I’m going to get one, bring it to class and install it on my bike of choice for the duration of the class. At the end, I will replace said torture device for the next sap to use. I’m already there to beat myself into a quivering sweaty mess, I don’t need to kill my ability to sit for a week while I’m at it.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Just to be Random

 

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Raw Milk > Vitamin C

I started drinking raw milk late last year, some time between Halloween and Thanksgiving. It took a tiny bit of getting used to, it costs more and I can’t get it at my regular grocery store.

But it is worth it! Since I’ve been drinking it, I feel so much better. I drink more milk, get hungry less often and I haven’t had a full cold or flu all winter. It’s better at cold prevention than vitamin C. Normally I get sick at least twice for a good week because of my husbands job. He spends his days in an office which is bad enough, but he also teaches other engineers how to use engineering software a week or two most months. Those other engineers come in sick all the time, being very generous with their wonderful diseases. So he brings it home, and we get to content with the little viruses for a few days. We can feel it coming on a day or two after exposure, a vague feeling of unwellness, fatigue, a slight fever. We have this for a day or three and then we’re good. No runny nose, coughing, sneezing, aching, stuffy headed misery for a week. Now, I’ve had to have days like that four or five times this year, but it beats the hell out of being sick for four or five weeks this year.

I’ve always been pretty healthy, but there was a notable change in our health this year when every year before that I would get sick at least once, but usually twice. And the Hubby usually gets sick far worse, loosing days of work to this nonsense. Part of it is recognizing it early and taking precautions, such as taking a day off to sit at home eating, sleeping and watching movies, so our bodies can fight it off. That helps a lot. better one or two days down, than a week or more of misery. We also let the low fevers rage without medicating. The body is trying to kill the virus and they do that by cooking them out, let the fever go!

But even with all that, this year has been clearly far more disease free. How does raw milk help you ask? Part of it is that raw milk has live bacteria and enzyme that take up residence in the digestive track and help out there, making you far more resistant to other nasties. Those new tenants also break down the milk far more efficiently so your body can actually use whats in the milk. The other part is that raw milk is very high in Vitamin D, which we are low on in the winter months. Pasteurized milk kills the good microbes and homogenization changes the molecular structure of the milk, making it far harder for the body to absorb the good stuff in it.

And the benefits of milk fat are enormous. It helps cut down on the amount of fat you store in your belly, mine is noticeably flatter now, it’s a good fat that the body can use for energy, skin and hair moisture and it has a lot of the vitamin D the body needs and calcium.

Pasteurizing made sense when we didn’t have refrigeration and bad stuff got in the milk, but it’s become the way to go, even though it isn’t really necessary anymore. If anything, it allows the dairies to be less clean because they are just going to cook the milk anyway. The farm my milk comes from is clean, has only grass fed cows that are the older genetic lines, and their milk is amazing. Pasteurized milk just tastes gross to me now.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2011 in Just to be Random

 

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When authors cross the line

I’m a big fan of Nora Roberts’ In Death series. I’m not huge on her romances, but that’s a tough genre for me and my standards are a bit on the niche side. Still, her writing strength is her snappy dialogue. She writes some of the best in the business in my opinion. It’s like the witty repartee in a good movie only it last through the whole book. And she has a really good sense of humor as well. The relationships Eve develops through the series are really the center of the story, and flow through and weave together the various murders that we see her life through.

I’ve read them all, including short stories, except the latest one. Waiting for the audio book version from my library, and I have to say that the narrator for the series, Susan Erickson, is amazing. She sounds just like I would expect Eve to sound. Sorry, couldn’t help the plug. I’ve been re-reading them over the last few months and I’m noticing a trend, one I’m not really on board with. It seems that in the later books, Eve is starting to get, dare I say it, almost worshiped in each book by the other characters.

The character of Eve has a lot of issues. Fine and dandy, I’m all for that and she spends the series working through those issues, also good. But at some point the other characters in the book are giving her too much praise for things. It seems that in every book at least two people go into a long monologue about how great Eve is and how something she did was just so deeply touching to them. Not just her husband, which is fine, or her best friend, but most of the supporting cast has had this kind of conversation with Eve at least once. This I have to call BS on. People just don’t have those kinds of conversations with each other on a regular basis. These are the kinds of conversations you would have maybe twice in your life. They are deeply revealing conversations that leave you open emotionally to the person you are talking to. Eve isn’t the kind of person you would bear your soul to, because you’d expect her to make a very cutting remark in response. To her credit, she doesn’t, but still, not everyone she knows would take the risk.

If someone saves your life, you’d thank them, sure. Probably profusely the first time. After that, it would be a more simple expression of thanks, not several long, heart felt and gut spilling conversations. Conversations that go only one way in most cases. Eve just acts flustered and embarrassed by the compliments and rarely responds in a positive way. Which makes perfect sense for her. It’s the other characters I wouldn’t expect this from.

It just seems like overkill in a couple spots, like the author is really feeling an emotional bond with her main character, seeing some of herself in the character, or who she wants to be in her character. Nothing wrong with that, all authors pour some of themselves, and some of the selves they want to be into their main characters. It’s the heaping of praise upon this MC in a way that strikes me as heaping such praise upon the self you wish you could be that seems off. Unrealistic and heavy handed. It’s not narcissistic, it’s just uncomfortable for me to read at times. It feels like I’ve just walked in on a couple making love. Too intimate and it takes me out of the fantasy and to far into the author herself.

And it kind of feels like seeing that girl who’s wearing the tee-shirt that proclaims that she’s ‘hawt’, or the mother who gets a license plate that says MILF on it. (Yeah, I’ve seen that plate. More than one I’m afraid.) There’s nothing wrong with being confident, but that takes it a step too far. You can not declare yourself to be hot. You can think you look hot, but you can’t go around telling everyone else that you are. It seems really pretentious and people feel a bit insulted by someone taking it up on themselves to tell you how you are to see them. Who can stand the guy who tells everyone he’s the best on the football team? Who likes the prom queen who makes sure to work that into every conversation? Let everyone else make up their own minds and we won’t be embarrassed for you. And no, I’m not jealous. I have days when I feel pretty hot and I tell my husband and he’s happy to tell me I’m right. And he’s supposed to, but I don’t go to the 19 year old guy at the mall and tell him I’m hot. He might not share that opinion.

I could be reading this wrong, that’s just how it’s striking me. It’s a line and I feel it’s starting to get crossed. Let me decide to love or hate Eve Dallas. Don’t tell me how to think of her, show me who she is, and I’ll decide for myself.

 

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