Monday, December 28, 2009

Musings on getting older

(Relax -- this isn't a post about Muse.)

Things I hated as a child, but recently realized I now love:

1. Dark chocolate
2. Mustard
3. Going to bed
4. Wearing a coat and hat in cold weather
5. Having in-depth discussions.

I might be wrong, but are these pretty universal? Things that little kids generally don't like but adults are more likely to enjoy?

Friday, December 18, 2009

My review of The Princess and the Frog

"We need a black princess. Oh, and she'd better be a feminist, a Strong Woman, 'cause otherwise we'll be dealing with all that Cinderella crap again. And, umm, we've got our two-dimensional villain, right? OK, great. Now. What do we know about New Orleans black culture? Let's see...jazz...voodoo...and gumbo. Oh, and swamps. Make sure we get those in."

How would I rate The Princess and the Frog, as a waste of my time? Four stars!!

Granted, I wasn't really looking to be impressed, just going because I needed to get out of the effing house and there was no other movie all four of us would have wanted to sit through. Also, my husband inexplicably didn't mind it, so mine is definitely not the only perspective here. Me, I should've gone to see whatever was playing next door. I really wanted to punch this movie in the face.

I have two main complaints about this movie. The first is how vapid it was, and how it seemed to be written and animated by a bunch of pasty middle-aged white men enclosed in a stuffy room eating Hot Pockets who had never before encountered any of the things they were including in the movie (including black people, I'd guess). Everything felt second-rate and stereotyped, from the animation to the characterization to the ill-written script.

Making voodoo the main evil force was a strange choice. Actually, there was good voodoo and bad voodoo, and they sometimes called it hoodoo, but whatever. Just call it what it is: magic. Or a MacGuffin, since its existence doesn't actually matter by the end of the film.

It felt clumsy and shallow. The humor was, um, appalling and loathsome, but maybe they were targeting just the four-year-olds (I'm thinking specifically of the groan-inducing line spoken by the firefly: "Don't make me shine my butt!").

There is little emotional involvement with what's happening on the screen, except for one part near the end that managed to be forced and mystical and cynical all at once so that I wanted to jump up and shout expletives at the screen, curse the writers and animators who finally revealed their utter lack of humanity by allowing that part of the movie to make the final cut. The very young kid behind me was crying and protesting. I was very mad about it.

The second main complaint was that it was also so dull that my attention kept drifting away. Robert kept asking me, "What are you looking at?" I have no idea, but it wasn't the screen. I did watch the entire film - sadly, no napping for me - but I kept wishing I was elsewhere. It couldn't keep my interest.

Add songs written by Randy Newman, of Star Wars fame, and you've got a pretty vacuous evening ahead of you.

In fairness, I did like about five minutes of the ending. It was incredibly predictable, but I enjoyed it anyway. It just wasn't worth the dullness of the preceding 90 minutes. Definitely not a big enough payoff.

Oh, and I guess Oprah was in it somewhere, but I have no idea where.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting Santa-mental

I am in complete agreement with my friend Melissa. I can't stand Santa. Santa isn't welcome in our house. Our kids have always known where their gifts actually come from, and they are the ones telling other people's children that "There IS NO SANTA!" (In my defense, I try to temper that last part, out of consideration for the parents and their right to choose the moment of their children's realization of betrayal.)

In the spirit of that sentiment, I'm thoroughly enjoying the following:

And, really, which Santas aren't sketchy??

On writing and not getting anything else done

When I look back over the past 7 weeks, I recall a blur, a frenzy, an unrestrained festival of writing. I am not certain I've actually slept longer than 5 hours on any given night, as I have woken at 4:30 or earlier every single morning and sat down in this very chair to write and write and write until my responsibilities (namely children) call me reluctantly away from my keyboard.

Sadly, not a word of what I've written has made it to this blog.

However, over 60,000 words of it is part of a novel I'm writing. I started doing NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That ended on November 30th, and I reached my word count goal, but my novel didn't manage to wrap itself up during those crazy days.

I am, as suits my nature, obsessed with it. I think about hardly anything but my characters and how they are going to respond to/maneuver out of their situations. I come up with details that will never enter in to the story and write them in a notepad I carry around with me. I build and flesh out and sit back while they talk to or ignore one other and tramp around in the world I've made for them.

I have fallen for my characters, and often their experiences between 4:30 and 7 am affect my mood for most of the day. I was floating on a cloud when two of them unexpectedly found a little romance, and have been grouchy for a few days as they lost someone they cared about to a terrible injury.

To say "This is fun" is a wretched understatement. It is THRILLING.

Will anything actually come of all of this? I honestly don't know.

The NaNoWriMo process does not allow for extensive editing along the way, and so I'm just cruising ahead and writing my ideas down. My plans have changed several times, and now the beginning of the novel does not agree with what is currently happening. It's a mess. It's going to take a while to edit, even if only to make the plot make sense.

When it's done and polished, perhaps by this time next year, and if I feel it's worth sharing, I will seek publication. Right now, though, I'm still in the throes of giving birth to this adorable, time-gobbling creature.