Sunday, February 22, 2009
Mickey Rourke and Anne Hathaway are both just incredibly compelling individuals. I think something I really like about Oscars night is the sense I get that some of the most interesting lives and stories and characters are the real individuals, and not just what happens on-screen.
8:01: The red carpet spectacular has begun! Kate Winslet, unsurprisingly, is simply stunning. I was initially dubious of her dress selection, but she has such a classic, refined beauty to her that she just pulls it off.
I like Josh Brolin clean-shaven.
8:07: There seems to be a "wedding dress" theme going on: Sarah Jessica Parker, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Biel, and Taraji P. Henson are all wearing long ivory gowns: TPH nails it, SJP does not (yowza), and PC and JB are somewhere in the middle. But as I've said in prior years, Jessica Biel simply could not look unattractive. Seriously--she could wear a potato sack and not style her hair, and she would still be striking.
8:24: OMG, OMG, Marisa Tomei is soooooooo pretty. I didn't pick her in my Oscar poll, but I loved her performance in The Wrestler, and I think that she's such a lovely blend of sophistication and adorableness, and dealt well with being informed that "everyone loved seeing you naked!" I would be delighted to see her win.
8:30: And we're underway! I have avoided pulling out my Bingo cards until the Awards actually begin.
Nice that Hugh Jackman starts fawning over Kate Winslet before the ceremony is two minutes old. Granted, he follows it up with some love for Robert Downey, Jr., but does this indicate that Kate Winslet is the slam dunk of the night? (Other than, obviously, Heath Ledger?)
And... Hugh Jackman is singing. Let's check off Bingo Square #1!
And yes, he is right. Has anyone seen The Reader? With his homage to The Wrestler, I sensed he might be trying to parody Bruce Springsteen, but he just rode that off the rails. And, with a pimping of WOLVERINE, I have knocked off my second Bingo square. Goddamn, I love this night!
8:40: Earlier, E commented on Brangelina, and basically said, "there's no way to screw the two of them up." And it's true. They are so pretty.
8:46: And... it's a montage! For Best Supporting Actress this year, I went with Taraji P. Henson. I knew it was a long shot, but I figured Benjamin Button needed to get something, and this might be the place. E picked Amy Adams and Viola Davis in his two different polls. Doubt is one of the remaining big Oscar movies that we haven't seen yet (along with Milk and The Reader).
I'm also going to go out on a limb and claim my square for "Really, really, REALLY Ugly Dress." I'm not going to tell you which one I'm using as the kicker, but holy moly.
Predicted Winner: Taraji P. Henson
Desired Winner: TPH or Marisa Tomei
Actual Winner: Penelope Cruz!
Evan: 0/1 and 0/1
8:52: I'm obviously partial to the Writing Awards, and this whole scripting on the big screen is pretty amusing.
Could anything be more redundant than "I'm Steve Martin..." "... and I'm Tina Fey!" Okay, Tina Fey: you are such an inspiration to us girls who must wear spectacles. Why, oh why, do you have to NOT wear them on Oscars night? As if to say, sure, glasses are fun in a whimsy and intellectual capacity, but when you really want to look hot? Forget it.
Best Original Screenplay:
Predicted Winner: Milk, by Dustin Lance Black. Word on the street was that this film was spectacularly written.
Desired Winner: In Bruges. This movie was just spectacularly funny, in a dark and nuanced way. I also hear that Wall-E is the best thing to happen to cinema since The Godfather, but I have no basis to judge.
Actual Winner: MILK! This guy is way younger than I thought he was. Uplifting. I think he's my new hero, and I am even more motivated to see this movie now.
Evan: 1/2 and 1/2
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Predicted Winner: Slumdog, because that's the way of the night.
Desired Winner: I liked Benjamin Button. A lot. Though F/N was also good, but not necessarily the Nixon drunk-dial scene they're choosing to illustrate.
Actual Winner: Slumdog.
Evan: 2/3 and 2/3
9:03: Jennifer Aniston seems a little awkward in this presentation. They have flashed to Brangelina (as my Oscar Bingo card requests) but no awkwardness was apparent.
Best Animated Movie:
Predicted Winner: Wall-E
Desired Winner: Wall-E
Actual Winner: Wall-E.
Evan: 4/5 and 4/5
I love that this guy just thanked his high-school drama teacher! So cute!
Best Animated Short Film:
Predicted Winner: Presto
Desired Winner: Like I have a clue
Actual Winner: La Maison en Petit Cubes
Evan: 4/5 (Bonnie) and 3/5 (work)
9:15: See previous comment about Sarah Jessica Parker. Daniel Craig, however, looking good.
Best Acheivement in Art Direction:
Predicted Winner: I picked Revolutionary Road because it was one of the only categories this spectacular film got nominated for, and I had to select it based on principle.
Desired Winner: Rev Road
Actual Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Fair enough. But I still am bitter about the royal snubbing Revolutionary Road has received at the hands of the Academy.
Suz: 3/6 (I'm done trying to keep up with Evan's)
Predicted Winner: The Duchess. I didn't go for Rev Road here because all the polls said it was going to be Duchess. Should I add this movie to the Netflix queue? Anyone?
Desired Winner: Rev Road. Because I have issues, apparently.
Actual Winner: The Duchess
This double-distribution of awards seems to be moving the evening along very quickly. On the downside, there seems to be less opportunity for jokes, screw-ups, and general celebrity ballyhoo. I guess it will be good to be in bed early....?
Holy moly, another award from these two?
Predicted Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Desired Winner: Ben Button: Slam-dunk, in my opinion.
Actual Winner: Ben Button
9:25: It's Lilly Kane!!! And Edward Cullen, who is so totally creepy. And I'm a big fan of Twilight, obvs, but this guy does not make me swoon. Maybe because I'm 29. (And Amanda Seyfried, no! You only have one dad, and it's Jake Kane!) Either way, this montage to romance has almost duped me into thinking that Slumdog actually was the Best Picture, and that I need to go see Twilight stat. I'm such a sucker for people making out.
9:32: I think it should be clear why I really don't have an issue with the fact that my husband has a mad crush on Natalie Portman. And "you look like you work in a Hasidic meth lab" is maybe the best line of the night.
Predicted Winner: Slumdog, because again, I think that's how the night will be rolling
Desired Winner: Prob Ben Button, just because I'm feeling all kinds of affection for it right now.
Actual Winner: Slumdizzle
9:36: Seriously: why even have a host?
9:38: Why does Jessica Biel always do the Sci/Tech awards? Is this a shout-out to the former presidents of the A/V clubs who were closeted 7th Heaven fans?
9:43: This comedy montage is fantastic, though I get the impression that the guys are making fun of me with their snarky "oh, I need to be intellectually stimulated while I watch a movie!" No, not need to. I like a good dance sequence as much as anyone. Though I stopped feeling made fun of now that Speilberg just got called out by the Cinematographer from Saving Private Ryan.
Best Live Action Short:
Predicted Winner: Can't find it?!
Desired Winner: Like I know
Actual Winner: Toyland
9:52: Hugh Jackman, dude, I already got the Bingo square for you singing. Therefore, what are you doing? ...oh, that's why. Okay, it was worth it for Beyonce. And you know Hugh Jackman loves his life right now...
I think the inclusion of High School Musical just whored out this whole number. (Interestingly, I'm fine with the Abba.)
Overall, I like the salute to musicals. But I will say that it felt a little disjointed. I like having all the different movie musicals featured, but they felt a little smushed together... oh, hello Baz Luhrnmann. This really explains it all.
10:02: Best Supporting Actor montage. I am not, however, a fan of this "five presenters" tactic. Just one is fine. Really.
Best Supporting Actor: do we even need to go over this? As great as I'm sure the hirsute Josh Brolin and the skullcapped Philip Seymour Hoffman were, and as good as Michael Shannon and Robert Downey, Jr. were, this award is the biggest layup of the night.
Actual Winner: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Part of me wants to be snarky here, but there's no way to do it. His family seems legitimately wonderful. I feel very sad.
Bill Maher -- way to follow Heath Ledger with your own rather non-funny discussion of your own movie (which I heard was not as good as we all wanted it to be).
Predicted Winner: Man on Wire
Desired Winner: My parents saw and liked Man on Wire, though I also must say that Trouble the Water looks awfully good.
Actual Winner: Man on Wire
(Note - the guy from The Garden was wearing a green ribbon, which gets me a Bingo square, and holy cow, can we count the guy balancing the statue on his chin as "kissing the statue"?
Short Subject Documentary:
Predicted Winner: Witness from the Balcony of Room 306
Desired Winner: Like I have a clue
actual Winner: Smile Pinki - is this an upset??
10:25: With the Action Montage, there seems to be a little more of an effort tonight to recognize the popular, blockbuster, big budget movies, etc. Still , though, I'm not feeling that these Awards are doing a particularly great job of appealling to the masses. They're fast, which is okay, but as I said, a little dull.
Best Visual Effects:
Predicted Winner: Ben Button
Desired Winner: Same
Actual Winner: Benjamin Button
Predicted Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
Desired Winner: Ben Button or Dark Knight
Actual Winner: The Dark Knight! Hot damn. I get a Bingo square for "Slumdog loses at anything," and I'm okay, I guess, with losing this point.
Predicted Winner: Wall-E. It seemed like the right thing to do.
Desired Winner: Whatever
Actual Winner: Slumdog Millionaire. Okay, I apparently inverted these awards. Fine.
10:34: Wow, Will Smith is still talking.
Predicted Winner: The Dark Knight, though I think this should be a slam dunk for Slumdog because this is usually the harbinger of the Best Picture Award.
Desired Winner: The Dark Knight
Actual Winner: Slumdog Millionaire.
10:53: This is probably a really bad sign, but I literally power-napped during the Best Original Score montage. Lavendar is apparently the color to do this year.
Predicted Winner: Slumdog
Actual Winner: Slumdog
Best Original Song: Wait, what? no throughout-the-night performances? Just this one, from the guy who just got the statue for best score? Fascinating.
Predicted Winner: The one from Wall-E
Desired Winner: None of them (whoa, I'm clearly getting grumpy!) -- okay, I am liking "Jai Ho," but it's only because I wish my life spontaneously burst into line dances (which of course, it never does), but I'm hesitant to support Slumdog in these endeavors.
Actual Winner: "Jai-Ho" from Slumdog. The Academy also apparently wishes their lives spontaneously burst into line dances.
Suz: 10/19. I think we're safely entering the "sucktastic" realm of the night.
11:03: My Bingo card is woefully empty. No one is doing anything shocking or even overly emotional, and seriously?? Did Jack Nicholson not show up? Say it ain't so.
Best Foreign Film:
Predicted Winner: Waltz with Bashir
Desired Winner: Waltz or The Class, which I hear is spectacular. And I'm always a fan of films that take a nuanced look at the classroom.
Actual Winner: Departures (Japan)
Suz: 10/20. Nice. I'd reflect on my bitterness, but MORE THAN FOUR PEOPLE CLAIM THE AWARD! BINGO SQUARE, BABY!
11:11: I admit, I was only looking forward toward to the "In Memorian" montage for what it would mean for my Bingo card, but a few observations:
a) I like Queen Latifah singing. It's non-obtrusive and sets the whole scene well.
b) Paul Scofield is awesome. Personally, I thought he was one of the best parts of the 1990 version of Hamlet, not to mention, his thorough awesomeness in A Man for All Seasons, which is one of the greates movies ever, in my opinion. Everyone should go rent this movie and reflect and what it meant when life rocked to a different drummer and people like Sir Thomas More stood up to people as threatening as Henry VIII.
c) How did I forget that Charlton Heston died this year?
d) End on Paul Newman. Square checked off.
11:18: Hello, Academy President. While I'm grateful you made no boring speech, that leaves a Bingo square vacant.
11:19: Hello, Reese Witherspoon. Not sure how I feel about your overall look tonight. The applause for this whole Best Director moment is long and overwhelming and feels too rushed. I am not appreciating the pacing of this evening's award show.
Predicted Winner: Danny Boyle, Slumdog
Desired Winner: David Fincher, Ben Button. Legitimately, I thought TCCOBB was a daring film, an interesting film, a nuanced and captivating film.
Actual Winner: Boyle, Slumdog. Big surprise.
Are you seriously giving a shout-out to the guy who coreographed the line dance? Really? I guess if he got left out of the credits, that's nice of Mr. Boyle. But, argh. I'm done with Slumdog.
Marion Cotillard talking about Kate Winslet? Yes, a delightful degree of foreshadowing going on there.
Predicted Winner: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Desired Winner: I haven't seen The Reader, but I love Kate Winslet and I agree that she's due for some recognition. While I thought Anne Hathaway threw down in Rachel Getting Married--seriously, a career-defining, artful, sophisticated, captivating role for her--I don't think this is her year.
HOLY CRAP, SOPHIA LOREN.
Also, who saw The Changeling? Really, who? The same people who saw The Reader?
Actual Winner: Kate Winslet.
For all my cynical comments of the night, I just about cried when I thought about little Kate Winslet dreaming about getting the Oscar in front of her bathroom mirror. And when her dad whistled and she got all excited?! And the fact that she almost checked off the "emotional breakdown at the podium" square, but not really? And Sam Mendes, totally sitting there with the "that's my baby!!" look on his face? I love Kate Winslet. Love her love her love her. I'm going to see The Reader. Done and done.
11:37: Best Actor Salute.
Predicted Winner: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Desired Winner: Same.
For those who haven't seen The Wrestler, I thought it was one of the best movies of the year (not as good as Revolutionary Road, but as legit as good as Slumdog, in very different ways). As someone who's watched quite a lot of professional wrestling in my time, seeing the characterization of a washed-up, formerly-glorious, emotionally-shut-down man was nothing short of heartbreaking. A block away from the theater, I was still hearing Bruce Springsteen's song in my head and had tears in my eyes. As was just stated, though, this movie doesn't matter without an incredible portrayal. Mickey Rourke owned every second of this movie.
Actual Winner: Sean Penn, Milk.
So much for that, apparently. And I'm taking Sean Penn's Prop 8 SHAME IN YOUR GRANDCHILDREN'S EYES speech as the awkward political statement of the night. I mean, he's right, but he still sounded awkward while doing it.
11:47: Everyone loves Stephen Speilberg. But seriously, we're already at Best Picture? We're really wrapping this up by midnight? Really? And no one has been cut off by the orchestra?
I thought the Best Picture Montage was striking. Really.
Predicted Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
Desired Winner: Write-in for Revolutionary Road
Actual Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
Oh! Oh! It's the kids from the movie! Oh, they're so cute! (Really -- I'm not being sarcastic here. They really are the definition of huggable.) And there are about 25 people on stage, which is kind of exciting.
One thing about Slumdog: I do love the idea of a story and a script that inspires "mad love" in people, actors, directors, producers, etc. Not all movies inspire everyone in the same way, but this one clearly jolted a lot of people from complacency and made people excited. And I'm okay with that. Granted, it means I now wholeheartedly believe that The Cutting Edge should have won for Best Original Screenplay in 1992. But I'm moving on.
11:56: Again, Hugh Jackman-- why were you host? Did you do anything hosty? Did you and Dev Patel take a picture for your Facebook page? Did you throw down a slightly off-color monologue which will be referenced at dinner parties for years to come? Did you... do much of anything? Other than drag Anne Hathaway up for an "awkward-but-still-staged" moment? I think not.
The ceremony is over at 11:59. Good night, and good luck.
ALSO: Evan also liveblogged the Oscars over at Orotundity. Go read. We're quite similar, but differ in a few areas. Go read.
ALSO ALSO: I did win Oscar Bingo, but E wasn't really playing, so I sort of just won against myself. Categories nailed:
- uncomfortable political statement
- It's a montage!
- People's Choice Award (free space)
- Dead person montage ends on Paul Newman
- Angelina Jolie's outfit leaves at least one tattoo exposed.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
IMBIBING: Saison Dupont. Best. Beer. Ever. (Or at least one of the Top 3)
I mentioned in my last post that I was doing some serious, serious rewriting of the beginning of BRILLIANT DISGUISE. (Which is the name of my manuscript--I should stop being cryptic and start saying it out loud. Yes, it's from Springsteen. Yes, I'm marketing this as YA. Yes, I'm aware that those two things may be a little, um, contradictory, but I'm not giving up on it quite yet.)
Anyway, rewrites. There's proofreading, there's revising, and then there's knock-down-drag-out rewriting.
I'm doing the latter, and it is tough, way tougher than I expected it to be. After all, I'm mostly re-ordering a lot of the initial scenes so that the major hooks of the story are all on the table in the first 15 pages. I'm not changing anything per se.
But it's not like I can just cut and paste and call it a day. If an event that originally occurred on page 35 now occurs on page 1, then the reader faces it without having all the intricate, nuanced character development of those first 35 pages. So I have to consider what information is most crucial for the reader to know and figure out how to incorporate that into the new opening. Similarly, I need to be careful of characters talking about people or events that happened in that original 35 pages. Do I need to add non-obtrusive descriptors to flesh out what they're referring to, or just get rid of the reference altogether? Some chunks, especially dialogue, can stay relatively intact. But it really becomes a whole new scene.
A consequence of this focused rewriting is that big pieces--huge pieces--get sliced out. And this is painful.
I know that sounds egotistical. Last year, I was helping a guy revise an essay and told him it was just too long, that he was taking 7 pages to say something that could be communicated in 3. "I sort of get that," he said, "but I couldn't bring myself to cut out any of those lines. I just like them too much." Now, this guy is a good writer, a very good writer. These lines he was referring to were funny, descriptive, awfully easy on the ears. He was also taking 7 pages to say something that could be communicated in 3. I basically told him to get over himself and edit, and I'm telling myself the same thing now.
There was, for instance, a description on page 50 of the original manuscript that I just loved. I spent hours perfecting and polishing each word, each delicious image. I worked so hard to craft a scene that made the reader see, hear, and feel exactly what my protagonist did at that moment. I really thought that it was some of the best writing in the whole damn book.
However, all that is really happening in the scene is that my protagonist is talking to this guy she really likes and thinking about the pros and cons of having an un-air-conditioned house in the summer. Really. That's what's happening. And in the original manuscript, that was okay. But in this new draft, it feels burdensome. All the information that the reader cares about has been already established, so the extra scene slows down the pace. So it's gone. Owwwwwww.
Writers seeing their work as "their baby" is a pretty overused metaphor, and not being a mom myself, I'm not going to try to validate or disprove that feeling. But I know this: you can't treat your writing like your baby. You can't think it's perfect and beautiful just the way it is. Because 99.9% of the time, it's just not.
On Nip/Tuck last week, Kimber asked Christian to give Jenna lip injections. For people who (to their credit) don't watch this show, Jenna is Kimber's daughter. Jenna is 2. Kimber wants Jenna to get this modelling gig and the director told Kimber that Jenna's lips were too "thin and villainous." Of course Christian, who is a skeez but an ethical skeez, tells Kimber she's insane. And anyone watching the show also thinks Kimber is insane, because you don't enhance babies like that. You create them and love them and that's that. (Jenna, however, ends the episode with plump lips and a gig with Burburry, which kind of awkwardly transitions to my next point.)
We don't give babies plastic surgery. But writing? Inject. Slice. Suck. Tear apart and rebuild. Maybe use something from the back to make the front look more appealing. Make things bigger than you thought they needed to be. Liposuction the hell out of particular sections if they need it. That which don't kill me, as Kanye would say. And don't for a second get caught up in this idea of your writing's inherent worth and natural beauty.
I'm confident that my story will be even stronger and more compelling if I get it structured the way it needs to be. It's both painful and a gigantic pain in the ass, but it's necessary.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
IMBIBING: Earlier, E asked "would you like wine or a cocktail tonight?" and I replied by asking "which beverage suggests better success on the Jeopardy! online eligibility test?" He confirmed wine, thus we have been enjoying a 2005 Bordeaux: Chateau Clos l'Eglise.
Last August, our Head of School asked all of us to fill out a sheet describing our goals for the year, both in class and in our personal lives. My class goals were pretty straightforward--I have a good sense of what I need to do to be a better teacher, and I think I'm reasonably successful at working toward those goals daily. My personal goals, however, were sort of funny to see:
1. Get an agent
2. Make serious headway on work-in-progress. Identify the heart of the story and get it told.
3. Run a half and/or full marathon before year's end
4. Be content, even if you don't get an agent
For a while, I reached an unsettling plateau with regard to my writing, mostly due to a steady steam of "We're-Just-Not-That-Into-You" responses to my requested partials. Maybe, I started thinking, maybe this book just isn't publishable. Maybe the story sucks. Maybe I'm just not going to be the writer I dream of being. Maybe I'm a loser.
I did make good headway on my work-in-progress, and I remain confident that if I nail it, it will be the best thing I've ever written.
However, I wasn't doing too well on #1 or #4, given my nightmarish descent into self-inflicted loser-dom. Then, last week, I met with a friend who is similar to me in a lot of ways, but further along on the writer's journey (her book comes out in August!). She gave me great advice on my partial that has been circulating among agents, suggested books, and in short, inspired me to get my ass in gear.
Since then, I haven't just been revising. I've been hard-core rewriting. I thought I'd done reconstructive surgery on my first 30 pages before, but that was Oil-of-Olay "surgery." This is Nip/Tuck surgery. And it feels right. I'm getting it where it needs to be. Plus, I'm reading more. I just grabbed the latest by John Green and Sarah Dessen (both of whom I adore), Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Mudock (whose sister wrote Eat Pray Love), and The Graveyard Book, which just won the Newberry. I'm back in the game. Focused on the goal. And ready to score.
I'm well aware that another year might go by and I won't have representation. But I know I'm closer to that objective, and I'm feeling good enough that I know #4 won't be a problem. Life, after all, is a journey, not a destination.
And let's be clear--I don't really have time for any of this. I probably should be reading more literary criticism on Russian Novelists or Dante, or outlining goals for the English Department, or sleeping. But when I get in grooves like this, I know everything will get done, and I'll still have time for what I really want to do.
And when I do score, you can bet your ass I'll be as excited as a commentator at a hard-fought futbol match. Goooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaalll!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
NB: I still don't say "frack."
I similarly came late to the Friday Night Lights (pictured, left) party. I was hesitant to watch this for two reasons. One, I loved the Buzz Bissinger book dearly. It was sportswriting at its finest: a crisp, nuanced, and honest look at football in west Texas. When the movie version was released in 2004, I braced myself for mediocrity, but found the bristly cinematography and the quiet passion of Billy Bob Thornton in the leading role truly captivating. When word came down that the concept was going to spawn a TV series, I was sure it would, to put it bluntly, blow. We've gone to this well too many times, I thought. Two, the initial ads for the series seemed to play up the OMG drama: QB gets paralyzed! His girlfriend cheats on him! There's a bad boy who shows up to practice drunk! There's a slutty blond girl! I was sure this was all a bad idea.
I was wrong. I had heard enough good buzz by season 2 that I DVR'd a few episodes, and finally got around to watching them last summer. I liked the writing and characters enough that I went to the streaming episodes on NBC and started with the pilot. I was instantly hooked and became an FNL evangelical. It is everything that made the book and movie spectacular. The writers and directors nailed it. (Now, truth be told, the first season was a thing of near-perfection. The second season was not. Certain plot elements can easily be filed under L for lame. But not to a shark-jumping degree, and I have high hopes for season 3.)
BSG and FNL are set in disparate locales and may target different audiences, but they share several qualities, and have both reaffirmed my faith that the TV is not just a squawk-box, but rather a genuine vehicle for storytelling.
1) They transport me. Be it the desolate loneliness of space or the scorched fields of Dillon, Texas, these shows put me in their locations. For the hour each week that I indulge, I'm gone from Detroit. One of the wonders of good entertainment is that it makes you forget yourself and your life, and yet simultaneously makes you ponder your own existence and the decisions and relationships of your world. It's a paradox, a hard line to walk, but the best shows do it.
2) Characters are heroic and yet flawed. Early on, I feared that FNL would be like an episodic remix of Varsity Blues (superstar QB goes down and naive backup is thrust unexpectedly into the limelight?). However, where Coach Bud Kilmer was simply an archetype villain, and QB Lance a rather one-dimensional golden hero, FNL has no easy characters. Coach Eric Taylor is a man of integrity, but one who still makes mistakes. The paralyzed Jason Street is a golden boy, but doesn't shy away from the hostility he feels at the world after his injury. Similarly, the crew of Galactica are well-meaning defenders of their civilization-- but some are assholes, some are indecisive, some are fighting against inner demons they'd give anything to exorcise.
At its best, art and entertainment can be uplifting, cathartic, and inspirational. And while I can't be glad that both of these shows are on Friday night (the graveyard of television?), I'm simply glad they're back. My DVR is set.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
IMBIBING: Had a Martinez earlier this evening (basically a gin Manhattan) and have had an unquenchable thirst ever since. Glass after glass of water.
So, I realized that my lack of writing a 2008 Year in Review probably had less to do with my pulling a J.D. Salinger in the blogosphere, and more to do with the fact that I had an idealized 2008 Year in Review I wanted to write. A 2008 YiR about a successful foray into publishing, a triumphant return to marathoning, and perhaps even the mastering of a foreign language. None of that happened. Still, 2008 can go in the "W" column. (Really, can any year, overall, not go in the W column? Perhaps 1993. 7th grade is generally speaking a pretty loser year.)
No guided questions, but rather an overview:
1. Took my first trip to the great state of California and loved every second of it. Chinatown! Russian River! City Lights! The sea lions!
2. Rode an overnight bus to North Carolina with 30 high-school seniors. An experience I once would have anticipated to be a brutal punishment the likes of which Dante himself couldn't envision, the bus ride was bearable (aside from Talladega Nights and Superbad playing at extraordinarily high volume at 4 AM), and the subsequent trip, to the Nantahala River and then to Charleston, was wonderful. There were marshmallows and inappropriate jokes. There was rafting... in the snow. There was amazing food in Charleston. There was a run to the Citadel. There was another long-ass bus ride home.
3. Taught Russian Novelists for the first time. As a result, work was hectic, but rewarding and exciting.
4. Spent the summer doing almost nothing but reading and writing. I immersed myself in YA, Pulitzer winners, NY Times Bestsellers, and back issues of the New Yorker. I loved every second of it. Some days, I did nothing but sit on the porch and drink lemonade and read. Some days, I went to downtown Royal Oak. Some days, I went to the WAB. Some days, I read in bed until 9 AM.
5. Kept freelancing and wrote some great articles, including one article for Inside Lacrosse, which was a major writing step forward. I mean, it's a glossy magazine and everything.
6. Headed to West Point, by way of Brooklyn, for the wedding of my beloved cousin. Headed back to New York a few months later for one of my dearest friend's weddings in the Hamptons. In between, headed to wedding in Wilmington, NC. I laughed, I toasted, I reminisced, I caught trains. And my dress rocked.
7. With joy always comes sorrow, but with sorrow comes the opportunity to renew, reconnect, reassess, and remember.
8. Watched 44 new movies--not a record, but respectable. Some favorites: Persepolis, Nausicaa, The Dark Knight, Pan's Labyrinth, etc.
9. Stayed in love.
10. Capped off the year with a rollicking family holiday and a festive New Years with friends not see in far too long.
Definitely a win.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
IMBIBING: An authentic, homemade Mojito. Fresh limes, simple syrup, crushed mint. My husband rules.
My BFF was in town this weekend, and we were talking about my latest writing project--a work-in-progress that's more of a work-in-incubation. I was telling her that with my finished project, it started small, with a nuanced idea about a relationship between two people. The job was to build the world and the plot around the two of them. This story, however, has started large, with big ideas and a sense of the town and the broad strokes of the plot and the characters. I'm still trying to figure out what's important to the central story and what secrets about the characters I don't yet know.
"Do you ever feel like you're holding a seance?" she asked, while we were discussing how I figured out names for the main characters. I realized that was exactly what this process has been like. I never feel like I pick my characters' names, but rather that they're revealed to me. And similarly, as I hash out this book, I have a keen sense of waiting. Rather than being able to sketch out an outline or write scenes that are advancing a cohesive plot, I've just been writing--trying to get into the characters' heads, trying to get them to tell me what I need to know. I have pages and pages of random thoughts and slices of life, but I'm still trying to make it all fit together. I have a sense that when it falls in to place, it's going to be great. But until then, I feel a little like a tool with my fingers on a Ouija board.