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The Sorts of Books I Want to See as Movies

A few months ago, the trailer for John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was released, and Josh asked me if I wanted to see it.  I really loved the book, and I like the main actress in it, Shailene Woodley.  I have until June until the film is released to decide, but my initial reaction to seeing it is sort of… no.

It has nothing to do with the quality of the trailer or the acting or the casting.  It all looks fine.  But there are two types of book-to-movie situations in my brain.

Option One: Seeing it is the next best things to living it.

The best example is Harry Potter.  I wanted to see Hogwarts so badly.  I wanted to see the potions classroom and the Gryffindor common room.  I remember being in the theater when they first showed Diagon Alley, and I stood up and started sobbing.  And lots of other people stood up and cried too.  We wanted to be there so badly, and seeing it come to life on the screen was the next best thing.  There are plenty of books that fit into this category, and almost all of them involve some type of magical element.  I felt this way about the Ring trilogy and the Hobbit.  I was pretty excited to see the Hunger Games.  I wish they’d make a really good version of the Phantom Tollbooth (better than the one from 1970 with Eddie Munster) or bring The Age of Miracles to life.  I can’t live it, because it’s not real.  But seeing it on the movie screen is sort of like getting to peek through a peephole.  You get access to that magic, even though you can’t touch it.

Option Two: Reading it is so much better than seeing it.

This is where I’d place The Fault in Our Stars.  The pace of the book unfolded in such a way that the story didn’t overwhelm me until it took me right over the edge with the ending.  I bawled.  And while I think I’ll cry from seeing the film, it will feel more manipulative; more like a roller coaster ride that is clearly constructed to bring out certain emotions vs. the more creative thrill rides like Soarin’ where you’re deceptively lulled into that flying feeling.  I like the characters in TFIOS, but I never needed to meet them.  In fact, sometimes seeing book characters come to life on the screen sort of backfires and makes me dislike someone that I really enjoyed on the page.  Sort of like how meeting some bloggers makes you enjoy their blog more, and meeting some bloggers makes you want to stop reading what they write.

If I had to boil this all down to a formula, it would look like this:

  • People = No
  • Places and Situations = Yes

I like to keep it simple.

To me, relationships are so personal, even the ones you have with a character.  In the same way that two people can interact with a third person and walk away with two very different experiences, I think the same thing happens with characters.  But when you turn a book character into a movie character, you’re actually making them jump through that ring of fire twice.  They need to charm you on the page, and then they need to charm you on the screen.  And there’s just too much room for a character to go from wonderful to annoying due to casting or the chemistry we observe (or don’t observe) between two characters.  I do much better when I see a movie before I read the book as I did with About a Boy.  But if I had read the book first… I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the movie.

Whereas while we each have personal preferences when it comes to landscape, I think it is easier to find the common ground (no pun intended).  While we may be picky about the people we surround ourselves with and confide in, beach people — for example — tend to be okay with a wide range of beaches.  Sure, they have preferences and types of beaches that appeal more than others.  But in general, if it meets their expectation for a beach, they’re willing to spend time on it.  And that presents an easier job for filmmakers.  If they can create a world well, we’ll want to spend time in it.  All the better if the characters are pretty innocuous so they give us space to imagine ourselves in that world.  Movies like that transport the viewer.  It gives them two hours somewhere else.

I am much more likely to go to a movie that starts as a movie.  Meaning, that they didn’t take a story from a book which has its own pacing and try to squeeze it onto the screen.  I’m fine with movies based in fictionalized history such as American Hustle and Abscam, or King George VI and The King’s Speech.  But I like my books as books and my movies as movies.  Except for the times when someone happens to make magic: they take a book I love and they turn it into a movie I love.  But there is more room to disappoint me than amaze me.

So… I don’t think I’ll see The Fault in Our Stars.  Or if I do, it will be when it comes out on DVD, and it’s easy viewing for a Friday night.  Low stakes.

How do you feel about books being turned into movies?

April 14, 2014   13 Comments

Which Female Genitalia Are You?

Female genitalia is sooooooooooo complex and so are we! I went on Buzzfeed to see if I could take one of their quizzes to figure myself and my organs out.  You see, I enjoy answering questions where the answers have randomly assigned meanings so I know which Harry Potter character I would be if I ever found myself inside those books or the best place for me to live — which is London, by the way.  And Buzzfeed knows that because I prefer beer over wine and think the colour blue is awesome.

But when I got to Buzzfeed, I discovered that there was no quiz that let me know whether I’m a uterus or an ovary.  Like none.  Which means, zero.   There are quizzes that let me know how “metal” my period was or if I’m human, (P.S., I am) but none that use my genitalia to make broad, sweeping generalizations about my personality.

Before I got to Buzzfeed, I was positive (and planning to write a freakin’ PhD on this subject) that your personality could predict your infertility diagnosis.  For instance, maybe if you have premature ovarian failure, you’d be more prone to dropping things, like, right after you pick them up.  So you don’t hold onto them for… well… for a long time.  Or, I thought, if you didn’t pick up on hints in a conversation, you were maybe a fallopian tube.  It all made sense in my brain, I just needed a quiz to prove it.  I mean, Aretaeus already started this work with his floating uterus theory.  But who was going to finish the work?  And how would I know if this was true and if personality had anything to do with infertility if Buzzfeed wouldn’t give me a quiz to help me find out?

Since it was missing from Buzzfeed, I decided to create my own quiz that lets you know whether you’re an I’ve-got-to-be-seen Vulva or a saucy little Uterus.  No fancy coding here: ladies (and gentleman who are inexplicably taking this quiz), you’re going to have to keep track of your answers on an old-fashioned piece of paper.

Please answer these random questions that seemingly have no meaning to find out which body part you are.

Question One: How far would you go for a $10 Starbucks gift card?

A. I’d drive at least 5 miles.

B. I’d walk across the parking lot.

C. I’d bend down and pick it up off the street if I happened to walk by it.

D. I would steal it out of someone’s back pocket, even if they looked as if they needed the coffee more than I did.

E. I would pet a cat.

Question Two: Did you shower today?

A. Yes, I shower every day.

B. I think I showered today, but I don’t really remember.

C. No, but I showered last week.

D. I’m not allowed to take showers.

E. I’ve already taken five showers, and I’m currently planning my sixth.

Question Three: The elevator doors open, and it’s filled with zombies.  What do you do?

A. Get inside and take the risk that they eat my brains.  I didn’t wait for the elevator for nothing.

B. Take the escalator.  Zombies aren’t worth the risk.

C. Take the stairs.  If there are zombies in the elevator, there could also be zombies on the escalator.  You can never be too careful.

D. Leave the mall; I didn’t need that new pair of jeans anyway!

E. Join them because I’m also a zombie so no harm, no foul.

Question Four: How do you eat a banana?

A. I mush it up and then mix it into yogurt.

B. I cut it up into chunks and spear it with a toothpick.

C. I feed it to my pet monkey.  Actually, I’m just kidding.  I only wish I had a pet monkey but they’re not allowed by my home owners association.

D. I feed it to my pet monkey.  I really have one!

E. I peel back the peel and eat it like a normal human being.

Question Five: You won a free trip from a travel agency.  Where do you want to go?

A. Wait, there are still travel agencies around?

B. Is the travel agency in a brick-and-mortar building?  How do they afford the rent?

C. That travel agency next to the Starbucks is still around?  I thought it closed years ago and became a Jos. A. Bank.

D. Uh, do they know about the Internet?

E. France!

Question Six: Which type of cookie are you?

A. I couldn’t find the Buzzfeed quiz that told me that either, so I don’t know the answer.

B. Wheeeew, I found that Buzzfeed quiz, and I know for a fact that I’m a snickerdoodle.

C. I’ve long suspected that I was a thin mint, but then I was told that I was a samoa.

D. I’m a chocolate chip cookie partially burned on the bottom but still edible.

E. I’m a doughnut.  I mean, a doughnut cookie.  It’s a real thing.

Question Seven: What colour is the scrap of paper you are using to record your answers?

A. Skin-coloured; I’m using the palm of my hand!

B. Skin-coloured; I’m using the palm of someone else’s hand!

C. Skin-coloured; I found a pack of post-it notes the exact colour of my skin.

D. Skim-coloured; this paper is the colour of skim milk.

E. Mel, I’m not answering this question.

Question Eight: Why wouldn’t the people who chose “E” for the last question answer that question?

A. They’re too scared about what other people think.

B. They’re too drunk to discern the colour, but they don’t want to admit that because they’re currently at work.

C. They’re sort of annoyed and only endure posts like this to get to the next Friday Blog Roundup.

D. Because the correct answer was not one of the other four answers.

E. Because they’re contrary on purpose like a toddler.  Nice job, grown-up.

Question Nine: Are you still taking this quiz?

A. No, I checked out about two questions ago.

B. No, I decided I was hungry for a banana and a cookie after reading those questions.

C. Yes, I always finish whatever I start.

D. Yes, I finish what I start when I’m going to find out what body part I am most alike, though I quit most other things midway through.

E. Wait, are you serious?  We were supposed to take this quiz?

Answers

Mostly A: You’re a Vulva.  You want everyone to see you and adore you.  You may not be the first one at the party, but you’re definitely the one people notice.  You are the Victoria Beckham of the genitalia world.  You love a good selfie, so you never leave home without a camera.  But even though you’re always noticed, people never get your name right!  They’re forever calling you by your bestie’s name.  Silly people!

Mostly B: You’re a Vagina, the ultimate bridge between your fun-loving, always open Vulva bestie and anxious Cervixes everywhere.  You’re the peacemaker, the passageway that brings all the great ideas to the group.  People may not notice you like they do your best friend, but you’re a really important member of the gang and they love whatever you bring to the group.

Mostly C: You’re a Cervix.  Let me guess: your arms are currently crossed over your chest as you read this.  Loosen up, Cervix!  We know you’re the one in the gang who is always looking out for nasty business trying to break up the group, but sometimes you need to let your hair down, have a shot of Jäger, and party.  Um… wait, scratch the Jäger: you’re also the one girl in the gang who can’t hold her liquor when the going gets tough.  Maybe we need you to be your serious, uptight self.

Mostly D: You’re an Ovary.  You’re the firework in the group, the one who is bubbling over with energy.  You’re cute, fun, and pop with life!  Wait a second… is that your twin?  Double the fun.  Not a twin?  Don’t worry, singletons are fine too.  And as they say, it only takes one…

Mostly E: You’re a Uterus.  Like an elderly lady’s pocketbook, who the hell knows what you’re hiding.  You’re a secretive little minx, and people would kill to be able to peer into you at their will.  But as always, you smile that mysterious smile and drive them wild.

I would tie it all in to your infertility diagnosis, but unfortunately, as Aretaeus predicted, my uterus was drawn towards a fragrant smell coming from my kitchen and is therefore traveling up to my nose.  Making it… well… hard to think with this uterus in my face.  Never cook and make quizzes at the same time.

Please let me know which body part you got.  I’m going to make a pie chart very soon that shows the breakdown of quiz takers to find out which body part ended up being the most popular.  Since it’s important to be popular (#badadviceforteens).

April 13, 2014   22 Comments

489th Friday Blog Roundup

Proving just how enormous and scattered the ALI blogosphere is, I had never heard of the Wiegands until they released the trailer for
American Blogger, though the wife of the filmmaker — Casey Wiegand — started her blog after her miscarriage.  The women in the film are all Casey’s friends from the blogosphere, but I don’t recognize any of them.

I am going to be completely mortified if one of you writes and tells me that you were in the film.  Actually, no wait, I’m not going to be mortified.  You’re bloggers.  I pay attention to your words, not what you look like.  Excluding the people I’ve already met, I can only identify a handful of you by sight if I bumped into you in the grocery store, and that’s with staring at your Facebook picture in my newsfeed.  Most people don’t look exactly like their picture anyway.

It works both ways: you likely wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a crowd.  I’ve only be recognized once.  And it was in an airport bathroom.  And it was only because the person had been reading Life from Scratch and had the book closed and facedown in her lap during the flight, so she was staring at my picture for awhile.  And then I was washing my hands in the same airport bathroom.  How trippy is that?

Do you guys know who is in this film?

*******

I have fallen deeply in love with Newman’s Own Cinnamon mints.  I’ll admit that I avoided buying them for years because the tin exclaims in bright red letters HOT.  And I wasn’t so into the idea of putting something in my mouth that visually proclaimed itself to be so spicy that it made tigers growl.  And then on a whim, I bought a box.  And ended up eating the whole thing in a few days.  And then purchasing two more boxes: one for the purse and one as a back-up.

They’re not that spicy.  They have a great taste of cinnamon.  They’re sort of like a red-hot without cringe-y ingredients like confectioner’s glaze (otherwise known as an excretion of the lac bug).  And they’re always now in my purse if you want one.

*******

And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

An Engineer Becomes a Mom about releasing her anger.  It is an incredibly powerful post, and the author lets out a loud roar, especially to the people who make armchair judgments while her heart is in the middle of the fray.  “It’s hard to own up to this anger that as an adoptive parent.  We are supposed to say and do the right things, think child-centric, be compassionate to the parents, and sometimes to let ourselves get hurt during the process.  Because we do get hurt during the process.”  It’s a must-read.

A Half-Baked Life has a post about losing the house they were about to buy that reminded me of house hunting in the middle of treatments.  She draws her own analogy between miscarriages and buying a house, as well as pointing out the ways these two life experiences diverge.  It’s a great post, plus you get the villanelle “One Art” to boot.

Lastly, Silent Sorority has a post about the concept of “healing” and whether it’s an accurate term to ever use in regards to suffering.  She talks about a recent David Brooks piece, pointing out that “We’re reminded daily that it’s bad form to remain too long in a negative state. Society is uncomfortable — plain and simple — when the iconic happy face is not front and center.”  I absolutely love this line: “There’s nothing quite so dark as seeing yourself at your worst and then discovering your heart is blacker than you might have imagined.”

The roundup to the Roundup: Who is in American Blogger?  Love Newman’s Own Cinnamon mints.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between April 4th and April 11th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

April 11, 2014   10 Comments

Happy Change Your Passwords Day

You’ve probably heard of the Heartbleed bug that is the biggest Internet infection ever.  You need to change your passwords, and you need to change them now.  Everywhere.

Mashable has create a handy list that states which passwords are definitely affected (Facebook, Pinterest, Gmail) and ones that are likely affected (Apple or eBay) as well as a few that are definitely not affected (Paypal and Walmart).  CNet also has a list of which sites have fixed the problem (and therefore, it’s okay to change your password).

So take this as an opportunity to do a few things:

1. Change your passwords.  Make a new, unique password for each site.  Never use the same password in two places.

2. Write down your new passwords and put this list in a safe place to be used in the event that something happens to you.

3. Close down any accounts you opened but do not use.

4. Make sure to enter the new passwords into accounts on your mobile devices so everything works once you leave the house.

Consider this your public service announcement for the day.

April 10, 2014   11 Comments

We Don’t Need Your Patches, Dove

The only thing I could think of as I watched Dove’s latest video is that these women have a weak will to live. Why else would they allow a cosmetics company to place a medicinal patch on their arm without knowing what was “seeping” into their body? Seriously, who are these women (besides actresses) who would allow a random stranger to place something on her body that is supposed to change her without so much as taking a second to say, “hey, wait, what is in this thing?”

Dove’s advertising drives me crazy. They are a company selling a range of products which are meant to enhance you — physically and smellfully. (That’s a real word, right?) They only make money if you buy their soap or shampoo or deodorant, all things they’ve worked hard to convince you that you need because your skin is too dirty, your hair too limp, and your armpits too smelly without it. They are part of the problem. They are out there, convincing women that they’re not good enough as is.

I’m fine buying into the idea that it helps society at large if I mask body odors and engage in other hygienic practices such as washing and combing my hair instead of walking around with a rat’s nest atop my head. I’m even fine using Dove products. But what pisses me off is when companies that continue to perpetuate the problems they’ve created in the female psyche make self-righteous commercials painting themselves as the saviours who rush in to tell those silly women that they can stop feeling like dreck and start realizing just how precious they are.

You are fucking beautiful, and you do not need a beauty product company to tell you that.

How about some honest advertising?

In my Dove commercial, the script opens with a woman walking into a drugstore feeling decent about herself.  She picks up a greeting card for a friend’s birthday, drops some Cadbury Easter eggs in her basket, and then wanders over to the shampoo aisle.  The woman bites her lip, looking at all of her options.  Wow, her body language says, I sort of never noticed just how many shampoos are out there.  And they all seem to promise something unique.  They’ll make thin hair look fuller.  And full hair look tamed.  And blond hair look lighter.  And dark hair look richer.  And curly hair look straight.  Wait… fuck… and straight hair look curly.  And…

I hate my hair.  I hate it.  I wish I could shave it all off.  No, wait, short hair is ugly.  I think I read that in a magazine.  Men don’t like women with short hair.  But wait.  Long hair makes you look ridiculous; like you’re trying to hang onto youth with your nubby little claws.  Oh my G-d, my nails look like shit too.  I need to get a manicure.  No, wait, I can’t afford a manicure because I make 77 cents to my husband’s dollar.  I’ll just buy some nail polish while I’m here.  But what colour?  Because aren’t you supposed to match your nail polish to the season?  Isn’t that why makeup companies release new colours every few weeks?  I don’t want to get the wrong colour.

Who are these sultry women on the hair colour boxes?  I should dye my hair.  I’ll look old if I don’t cover up the grey.  I’m an embarrassment to society if I actually look my age.  I should get plastic surgery done.  How do these women on the boxes look so good?  They have no pores.  Where did their pores go?  How does a person erase their pores?  Is there a product that does that?  Oh my G-d… there is.  Pore minimizer.  I need to buy this.  And this.  And this.  I am so ugly.

The scene ends with the woman’s shoulders bowed forward as she pays for all of her products and leaves, and then sits in the car with the engine off, feeling like crap.

THAT would be truthful advertising from a beauty product company.

P.S. I had a different title on this post. But every time a comment came into my inbox with the word “Fucking” in the subject line, I felt like I had to file it immediately instead of leaving it up on the screen. And we don’t need Dove’s stinkin’ patches.

April 9, 2014   14 Comments

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