Monday, January 25, 2010

Movie Mondays: Soapbox Rant - Twilight

Let me say from the start that I really, seriously, do not like Twilight. Commence the clutching of pearls.

To be fair, I've never read the books, so it could be said that I'm forming an opinion in ignorance. But I think that I've participated in/read enough commentary and discussion to at least have a bead on things. Now, if I were the fan and someone made such a sweeping statement about a beloved book series, I'd be all "if you haven't read it, then you don't get to have an opinion."

Oh, if only the world were that fair.

Still, I felt a nagging sense that I should at least gain some – and by some, I'm mean the very least I could possibly get away with – exposure to this, and I shudder to use the word in connection with this claptrap, phenomenon.

But, there it is.

I wasn't going to spend money doing it though because I am an exceptional cheapskate. But Showtime was kind enough to debut the movie Twilight this weekend and I though, eh, why not?

Oh, how I long for those 2 hours of my life back.

It wasn't a total loss. I identified the Arizona landscape in one frame (thanks Sis!) and that's always pretty in its own barbaric way. Remember, I've never read the books, so all I knew to expect was the towering trees of the Pacific Northwest and I only knew that much thanks to the proliferate marketing campaign. So I got pretty scenery from the get go. Check.


Bella is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Really? She shows up in this small, woodsy community and her shrinking violet self is immediately targeted by the most interesting boys in the school, to the detriment of the girls that have been vying for their attention for probably ever. I get the whole "new toy" concept, but all Bella does is send off signals of "please don't realize that I exist". I'm a far stretch away from high school, but I don't remember those being particular turn-ons for the popular crowd. Also, those same girls practically embrace their apparent competition. Again, it's been awhile, but where I grew up, if some new girl instantly started pulling guys away from the herd, the resident girls would label said interloper with welcoming terms like "cold bitch" followed quickly by "freaking weirdo". That much, I do remember.

Vampires GLOW in the sunlight. Are you freaking kidding me? Look, I'm all for reinventing the genre. I think what Laurel K. Hamilton did by creating her whole Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter world around vampires being acknowledge beings who hold legal status was a genius concept and, at first, equally engrossing execution (right up to when Hamilton lost her mind and screwed up the core of Anita beyond salvation. But that's another rant.) But even in Hamilton's world, the vamps still couldn't go into the sunlight. They are creatures of darkness, cursed to forever walk the night, no longer allowed the healing grace of the sun, damned for eternity people! But not in the Twilight-verse. Here, they glow like diamonds. I call, massive, irredeemable, bloody foul. Bram Stoker is doing triple solchows in his grave.

What the hell kind of acting is that? Granted, all I've seen of Robert Pattinson is his brief spell in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but there were enough moments in Twilight where he showed signs of talent and skill to throw a big heaping spotlight on where he was just oh so bad. Much of that is the God-awful dialogue he was stuck prattling off like it had some Legends of the Fall level of angst. And I think the directing had a lot to do with it too. Plus, this sucker was churned out lickity-split to capitalize on Twilight fervor.

But still. Come on! Many of the articles I read when the film was released spouted off about how committed Pattinson was into getting Edward's emotional struggle and conflict, how he wasn't sleeping, how he was as torn as his character in some moments. Whahuh? I'm sorry to say, darling, but it really didn't pay off. Also, why are you making such contortions to your face? Is this your director-guided idea of emotional dilemma? Or are you digesting something poorly? AB negative, perhaps?

And don't get me started on Kristen Stewart. I can give pity points for inexperience, and I'm even willing to allow that this may actually be a job well done where she's created a character that is just so very bland as that's probably how she was originally written. It seems in keeping with the poor characterization I've been told is in the novel. But the pursing lips, open mouth, heaving breaths is straight out of the Keira Knightly school of acting (who I usually like, for the most part) and is not the template young actress should be following these days.

Complete lack of romantic chemistry or entanglement. OK, I remember enough of being a teenager to realize that the anticipation is really what winds girls up. But still, these two have the romantic chemistry of a pair of gnats. Really, it's just annoying. And for all the climbing of trees and the walking through woods we get one kiss and an eventual "no, don't touch!" response from Edward. Too much of their "relationship" is built in montage with romantic music overlaid so that we can't actually hear what they're saying. But it doesn't matter! She's Mary Sue – er – blessed Bella! He's her immortal, undead, tortured lover. Who can't stand the smell of her. Oh-kay.

Bella's voiceover. Lady, you're blandness has already a nonentity as far as I'm concerned. I already have to endure you on the screen to watch pretty, pretty Robert. Why would I want to hear what's rattling around in your head as well?

Jasper is a new "vegetarian" vampire. Which is why it makes perfect sense to send him off with the human to be her protection. Uh huh.

Peter Facinelli is blonde. I suspect this is again dictated by the characterizations in the novel, but it made this prime example of a smoldering man into a pale, blonde, boob. Which leads me to -

The most neutered vampires I have ever seen. I respect the fact that this particular group of the fanged variety is especially dedicated to not feeding off humans. But they are otherworldly creatures; surely there should be some sense of dread or threat beyond a fixed gazed on a bleeding hand. I guess this is because they glow. Again, faulty children, I refer you to Buffy season three, and the palpable fear and menace regularly created by The Mayor without a single drop of blood.

Sudden Big Bad comes out of nowhere for a compressed anticlimactic ending. Yeah they were there from the beginning, James, Victoria, and some abominable version of La Croix, picking off those poor, unwary and unworthy ancillary characters. Obviously, any guy who'd give little bottles to the kids when playing Santa deserves to be the prey of blood-sucking fiends? (We're all agreed that those were little liquor bottles, right?) None of our vegetarian vampires are really troubled by this, beyond the concern that these outsiders are trespassing on their territory and might be exposing our resident brood. But suddenly, poor blessed Bella is in danger from some vampiric whelp who's just met her, and it's all hands on deck. And it's not like she holds the key to the universe or will give birth to the ultimate vampire killer, or discovered The Key or whatever. It's only for the sport of it.

James, let me introduce you to Spike, an actually bad ass vampire who scared the piss out of me right up till he got neutered, but that wasn't till around season five, so you've a wealth of material as example. He even sniffs better than you. Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, except when it sucks. Go undo your hair and be a good boy. Oh, wait, you're dead already because being undead doesn't mean that a girl can't break your neck before tearing your body to pieces and throwing those pieces into a fire. Or so we're told.

Not one single flash of fang. What kind of vampires are they? FOUL!!!

Despite this vitriol, there were a few things that I did actually like. Really, I'm as surprised as you are.

The baseball game. I really enjoyed watching the vamps play together like the family the purported to be. It showed their history together and their affection. Why couldn't we have more of that? Also more Elizabeth Reaser!

Edward's alpha strut through the high-school parking lot. Oh yeah, he's the man. He's got the blessed Bella on his arm. And he's having fun.

Robert Pattinson is an exceptionally attractive man, mostly, to my eyes, because his features are so unique and striking. It makes the contortions he utilized to exude emotional strain all the more disturbing, but it also makes him – dare I say it – glow when he's not trying so hard and when he's just having fun.

The apple trick. Nifty. Those English soccer skills pay off, huh Robert?

Sex, money, sex, money, cat. A genuine "Hee" for that, increased by the priceless expression on the cat man's face. Though that, for once, was a little scary in a weird way.

Bella's "friends". The quotes are because they don't really seem to be her friends off campus. Srrsly, no one seems to call her at night to chat, they don't hang out at the diner together, she's only ever on the phone with her mom. Any other woman would get the rap of thinking she's too good for them. But not our blessed Bella. The little group at Forks High School have a good time together and constantly, despite blessed Bella's pathological constant rejection of them, invite her to be a part of their fun-loving, exuberant group. Your loss lady.

The wolves: I am a downright sucker for good foreshadowing. I compulsively have to know what is going on, so any time even the hint of a deeper, continuing story is thrown out there I am compelled to carry on just to find out What Happened. So all those little moments with Jacob and his father, the drive by glare-off, the "I leave you alone for two minutes and the wolves descend" double entendre. I like it. I like the promise it shows and I'm sad for all the dropped opportunity it exhibits. This time, it's our loss.

I think there could be a fine story in here somewhere, but it so covered by the treacle and the failures that I couldn't even tell where to begin. I certainly don't see why it's engendered so much lavish devotion in its fan base.

Or maybe I can. Look, I was nearly in fits over The Outsiders in my day, and spent gobs of money on repeat viewings of Top Gun, Ferris Bueller, Sixteen Candles, Pretty and Pink – you get the idea. So I can relate. Sense rarely intervenes in this kind of devotion and I wouldn't have it any other way. But I do take onus with the quality. This is a feature film. It should call out all the stops, regardless of its source material. And when a good season finale of Buffy
the Vampire Slayer (I'll pull out season three here again because it rocks) can deep-six this entire movie for physical, emotional, and storytelling commitment, I'm totally in the dark as to what generates the fervor that surrounds this franchise.

Even if it glows.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

There’s a Patch for That

On the phone with my grandfather.

K: You bought me lunch today.

Dad-dad: That was nice of me.

K: I thought so. So I decided to call so we could have lunch together.

DD: Good idea. What did I get you?

K: Smoked turkey and cheddar on wheat with horseradish.

DD: Wow. Sounds good. Smoked turkey?

K: Yeah.

DD: They say that isn't good for your lungs.

K: It's OK. I have a patch.

DD: (chuckling) Of course you do.

K: Actually, it's mesquite turkey.

DD: Mosquito turkey?

K: (pause) Yeah. They put mosquitoes all over the turkey.

DD: Bet they suck all the blood from it.

K: Yep. Gets them all nice and plump. Those mosquitoes are a meal in themselves.

DD: (pause) This is a very intelligent phone conversation were having.

K and DD laughing.

DD: We're having Chicken Marsala for dinner.

K: That's good.

DD: Not really.

K: Oh. Sorry. Do they at least defeather it first?

DD: Not usually. But at least it's not a muted turkey.

KK: Muted?

DD: No drumsticks.

K: You're right; this is an intelligent conversation we're having.

DD: Told ya.

K: Well, enjoy the Chicken Marsala. Try not to choke on the feathers.

DD: OK. You try not to do 70 on the on ramps.

K: Where's the fun in that?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nothing but a Burning Light

I love me a four-day weekend. I am amazingly productive during four-day weekends, because I get to fart around AND be super accomplishment woman, often at the same time.

I know!

More on super accomplishment woman later (she kicked ass this weekend). Right now I'm sitting at my friend's computer with a witch's hat on my head courtesy of the resident five-year-old princess, waiting for the semi-adult eldest daughter (who inadvertently happens to be my namesake) to come downstairs while the ten-year-old prince hunts up the Monopoly game. This is actually fun - the witch's hat rocks! - but I'm still looking forward to parental return tonight and the glories of my own comfortable bed and oh so luscious brand new Nautica pillow. Oh, that pillow is glory and was on clearance at Marshall's so it feels even better for that. I love hanging with these kids. We spent rainy yesterday snuggling on the couches and introduced the little one to Lady and the Tramp and The Little Mermaid along with Anastasia and Sleeping Beauty. It's a blast getting to see those old favorites with new, young eyes experiencing their joys for the first time. Now we're going to plunge into Monopoly possibly capped off by a Batman cartoon movie. What more could I ask for?

Tonight, my mother is at a sleep study, so the figurative bell pull that occasionally rules my life will be silent. The woman started sending me text messages at 5:15 AM this morning. Four of them before 10:30 AM. This is why my mobile is so often on vibrate.

In the meantime, we are awaiting twin babies as my BFF is lounging in the most decadent (and exorbitantly expensive, no doubt) hospital suite I've ever seen awaiting her c-section and preparing for her close-up. BABIES!!!

But what's not been happening this weekend - no surprise there - is the writing, especially ironic as I took Friday off to bookend with MLK day today with particular intent to battened down the hatches and make some progress. And then proceeded to find a hundred and twelve things to do instead. But, as my New Testament professor, Dr. Green would say, I journey on, holding my feet to the fire.

Because I too have a dream.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Word Play

I love it when I find new words. Not in a "oh look, she's learned to say 'cat'!" sort of way. But a novel, or article, or even a blog ticks up in points for me when I have to look up a new word it's used.

I started keeping track of new words in Oxford. This is a direct influence of my MJ who was, at the time, reading some of the best and most dense novels out there for her literature tutorials, like George Eliot's oeuvre and Salinger's The Lovers to name two that just popped out of my 15-year-old memory file marked "Oxford". During my semi-annual cleaning fits, I always find scraps of paper with words scribbled willy nillly on them. I once tried to make an alphabetical list complete with definitions by keeping a spiral bond book of index cards nearby to jot down new discoveries. That didn't last long.

Now, I follow the RSS feed for Webster's dictionary, and yesterday's word was lapidary, "of or pertaining to the art of cutting stones or engraving on them." Also, "of or pertaining to the refined or terse style associated with inscriptions on monumental stone," and, as a noun, "one who cuts, polishes, and engraves precious stones."

Yeah, that one's working it's way into the WIP. I do love me a good 5-point word.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Out of My Inbox

Yesterday, I purged my entire Gmail Inbox. This massive undertaking took me all blessed day. I kid you not. I had nearly three thousand emails in there, 1098 of which were unread. Unread, I tell you! What could be so important? Even though many were months old, and ergo, clearly not necessary, I had yet to delete them. Of course, I am a packrat and have no difficulty transferring such rattiness to an electronic venue.

And did I take the easy way and simply delete the lot? Oh, nos. I went through them one by one, labeled and archived and only then did I mass delete. Okay, I did search with keywords and sometimes mass analysis, but still, HOURS of work.

Now if only I applied that focus to my WIP. Because, yea, even now, I am writing this post not just to crow about my insane and no doubt short-lived efficiency, but also more as a reason to avoid working on my WIP.

Right now I'm finishing up a pivotal scene (they're all pivotal, right?) where most of the players are finally and literally in the same room and Things Are Revealed, what other, more organized and focused writers might call a climax heading into the final resolution. And for whatever reason, I am simply dragging my unfashionable but somewhat comfortable if overly inflated hind parts.

I even like the scene. It's mostly men arguing and taking the piss out of each other, but, as I said, Things Are Revealed. And my heroine's about to enter the room and verbally kick all their asses (starting with a Shakespeare quote no less; hey, it's my book. I can stick Shakespeare wherever I want him). So I really don't know what I'm being such a git about it all.

It's frustrating when I have things generally plotted out in my head and then have to get them down on paper in a witty and entertaining while appealing, marketable, and engaging way. There should be some manner by which things in my head can magically transfer onto the page and into a book. Like a liberalius incantation. Though in real life, I guess it's called an admin assistant.

So instead I'm cleaning out my inbox, reading through old blog posts, shopping on the internet, putting on a top hat, tying up my white tie, brushing off my tails.

Gotta start somewhere.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Well, My Desk Is Clean

Not only is it Monday, but it's also the first post-holiday work day. Talk about your double whammies. According to my company's new 2010 holiday schedule, this day next year will be on a Tuesday. In my head, somehow that's a better deal.

But we're here now and so far, it's not so bad. Granted, it's only 1 pm, but I've already dropped my sister at the airport, hit the bank, fed the gas tank, and cleaned up my work at desk, all on only 2 hours of sleep. I hide it well, don't I?

My head is buzzing today and every so often my hands shake a little, but I've got the Glee soundtrack cranking on my iPod (thanks for the iTunes card, big sis!) and am on my second Coke, so I'm pushing through. No jobs yet to help click my day along, but s'allright.

Sidebar: Just how awesome is Glee? I know! I haven't seen Sectionals episode yet, so no spoilers!

I couldn't seem to shut my head off last night. My heart was pounding away for some reason (still is, actually) and my brain was clicking through all the things I wanted to get started on this week. I only needn't life to return to normal.

It's a funny thing to be on vacation. When I'm travelling or in Arizona (they're not really the same thing), I feel as though I'm existing out of time, inhabiting some sort of alternate world where things like Roman ruins and Florentine art are all I have to worry about. Bills, parents, work, siblings, angst, life – it's all removed into a different realm, set aside to be looked at later, usually in a much less halcyon moment.

Doing my tried and true impersonation of a hermit this past holiday week felt much the same. Losing the knowledge of just what day it is and really not caring. Watching movies till three in the morning and sleeping till noon. Showering only every other day. Hey, if family can't stand one when one has greasy ponytail hair and hasn't seen a bar of Irish Spring in 48 hours, then they just shouldn't show up in the first place.

When I was working for the Germans (sigh, I miss the Germans), Christmas break was a yearly given to which I quickly became accustomed. Now that my sister comes east most years for Christmas, it's helpful to have that time again, even if the getting of it differs from my German era. But while submerging into that fog of nothingness is relatively easy, dragging oneself up out of it takes some doing.

Still, my desk is clean and as organized as it gets, just in time for the early winter windfall of work we've been promised for so many months. I have a freelance gig for a writer I not only enjoy reading, but whom I also like personally quite a bit. And there's the promise of more freelance work this year. I've got financial goals to meet, writing goals to enslave myself to, both to reach a conference travel goal this summer. Now, if I could just get my heart to stop pounding.

Yikes, I used the G word. Ah well, it's the post holiday Monday. Maybe no one will notice.