Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dear Charlie:

I'm doing this meme -- one of maybe 10 I've done in the almost three years I've plugged away at this blog -- both because it's not repulsive and because I feel like it. And because I have something else I want to talk about and got sidetracked by Paperback Writer.

That happens a lot. She usually has good stuff going on there.

Anyway, first things first.

Four jobs I've had or currently have in my life:

1. Babysitter (listed because of its horror movie connotation)
2. Paralegal
3. Medical records clerk
4. Sandwich slinger

Four countries I've been to:

1. Germany
2. Italy
3. Austria
4. Czech Republic

Four places I'd rather be right now:

1. Pangaea
2. Stormhold
3. Montana
4. DBZ world

Four foods I like to eat:

1. Scrambled eggs
2. Filet mignon
3. Scallops
4. Surprisingly, sushi

Four personal heroes, past or present:

1. My sister
2. Jane Austin
3. The real 300 Spartans
4. Albert Einstein

Four books I've read or am currently reading:

1. The Collected Works of William Shakespeare
2. The Bible (KJV)
3. IT by Stephen King
4. The Sun Sign Personality Guide by Robin MacNaughton

Four words or phrases I would like to see used more often:

1. Frack-tacular
2. This movie rocks. 'Nuff said. (this by any actual movie critic)
3. The truth is... (followed by the actual truth)
4. Damn, Mols, you rule.

Four reasons for ending a friendship:

1. Betrayal
2. Dishonesty
3. Maliciousness
4. Terrorism

Four smells that make me feel good about the world:

1. Sandalwood
2. Fresh-baked bread
3. Rainstorms
4. Baking sugar

PBW's question: Four favorite activities I did as a kid:

1. Climbing trees
2. Riding horses
3. Fishing and swimming in the same pond
4. Camping

See? That wasn't so bad. Not terribly lengthy, and you didn't learn a thing about me you didn't already know. No harm, no foul.

But the real reason I started to post at all today is because I went to see Stardust this weekend and gave it my obligatory couple of days to settle before commenting on it. It's been a couple of days, and I'm ready to blurt.

First off, this movie isn't quite as advertised. It's not a light-hearted, romantic romp. It's not kid's fare.

If I'd known Neil Gaiman was involved, I would've had a lot better idea what to expect, and I'd have probably tried to see it sooner. I recently read one of his Sandman comic collections, and the one about Dream and the Glow and losing out to a star...well, that's the one that stands out the most, and the one that came in the most handy for this flick.

Anyway, put simply, I loved this movie. It surprised me -- pleasantly. I expected light-hearted comedic romance. I got snark, dark humor, hilarity, and a walloping good time. And Septimus, of course. I'm thinking I'd watch this movie ten times for Septimus. Heh.

Even the romance was better than I expected. More real. Less "magic". Less froofy, if that makes sense. They don't even particularly like each other at first. He has no interest in her beyond how she can impress his girl. She has absolutely no interest in him. They...sort of get off on the wrong foot.

The whole movie is off the wrong foot. Heh. Which is why it's fun.

Captain Shakespeare. Oh. My. God. If I didn't admire the hell out of Robert DeNiro before, I most certainly would now. That guy...just...wow. Best performance ever.

And Septimus. Cunning, wicked, snarky, and suddenly prankish, this seventh brother -- if you didn't guess from the name -- is absolute gold. All of the brothers, from Primus to Septimus, are a riot, but the youngest...oh, yeah. He has those understated good looks that are so right up my alley, plus the wicked cunning I admire...and an accent. Yeah. I'm smitten. The Heartless Wonder has lost her heart.

*sigh*

The plot is fun. The effects are spectacular. The magic is a riot -- I'll never forget the witch sisters disemboweling a critter and really digging into those entrails for scrying details. The humor is frack-tacular. DeNiro is a gem, heh. The ending is spot-on. Perfect. And despite The Big Misunderstanding thanks to a deliberately vague note, I love the set-up anyway.

This is a great movie. It's pure entertainment. Maybe that's why I like so many movies -- I'm easily entertained. But you know what? I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

...

Itty bitty Septimus!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Funny Sidebar:

Watching my Halloween movies again. Can't get enough of them.

Mind you, I don't watch them all. I own the original, of course, and the sequel, but then I pretty much skip to H2O. Those are the ones I like. I see them as something of a trilogy, with the ones in between (and the ones following) as something to watch if I get really, really bored.

Except for the third one, of course, which has nothing to do with Michael Myers, and is therefore not nearly as interesting to me. Sorry. Love the juggernaut.

Oh, and I kinda agree with the purists that the eighth one, the one where Myers finally gets his sister, Laurie Strode, is a cop-out. How they kept him "alive" after she beheaded him is a cheat. I'm sorry. I'm extremely forgiving of movie plots, as anyone thumbing through my reviews list in the sidebar can see, but...it's a cheat. And I won't watch it again. Sorry.

Anyway, as I was watching tonight, I got to thinking about The Shape. I think about The Shape every time I watch, of course -- my writer's mind working at a logical but cooler reason why Myers is the way he is, whether he regenerates or doesn't really get injured at all, whether he's "alive" in the purest sense or just wound up like a clock, etc. -- but this time, I got thinking about the actors and stunt doubles playing The Shape.

And I think I like H2O's Shape the best.

*dodges thrown objects*

Yes, I know. Purists will cry that only the first Michael Myers was worthy of The Shape's title, but bear with me here. I do think the first one set the bar, and set it damn high. That scene where he stabs the boyfriend into the wall about a foot off the ground, then just stares at the body, tilting his head this way and that as if debating the efficacy of his handiwork...yeah. Very cool.

But the H2O guy? I dunno. I think he plays that juggernaut, unstoppable, thorough...oh, what is the word I'm looking for?...methodical evil so damn well. Like when he reaches down and picks up the keys while John and Molly scream for help, then carefully goes through each one. They're panicking, and he's being methodical. Trying each key, flipping to the next, trying that one, flipping to the next. Doesn't break a sweat. No need to hurry.

When he's chasing someone down, he doesn't break into a run. Doesn't look like he's rushing to the scene. He just walks. He'll get there in plenty of time. Plus, that little extra time puts just that much more scare into the victim. Good times.

Or when Laurie Strode/Keri Tate/Jamie Lee Curtis is throwing knives at him. Does he slap them away? Nope. Does he rush her? Nuh-uh. He just minimalistically dodges each missile weapon and keeps that ground-eating, methodical, unstoppable pace.

God, I love it. It's creepy as hell, but still so damn cool.

And then there are his hands. Yes, I notice bizarre things like that. But in the beginning, when he's stalking down Marian the nurse? He pulls the big-ass knife from the block and flips it over in his hand like a magician palming a coin. It's...graceful, dammit. And the keys. He's flipping through them one-handed, trying each one, and damn if it ain't graceful. Efficient. Minimal movement.

Snatching the purse in the bathroom for the car keys. One-arming himself down from a ceiling pipe to drop behind an unsuspecting Jamie Lee Curtis. Hacking at the rope pulling the dumbwaiter. That cool, straight-downward thrust he uses to finish off the girlfriend.

He is the epitome of efficiency. He is the smoothness of focus that you get when you remove reason and sympathy from the equation. No wasted motion. No wasted thought. No wasted time.

A killing machine, finely tuned and well oiled. A thing of beauty.

God, I love these movies. And I really love The Shape from H2O.

...

Is that weird?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dear Charlie:

All hail football. The One True Sport is back at last. Can I get an amen?

*AMEN!*

Yes, I'm very much enjoying the preseason. I love football, even when my boys are losing. See, I remind myself that the worse our preseason gets, the better we do in the regular season. I'm telling you. It's damn near statistical.

Yes, I'm watching my beloved Chiefs lose even as I type. I don't care. It's football, and I love it. I love watching my boys march, even when they're struggling. I love them even when it's 4th quarter in a "meaningless" preseason game. I love them even when they lose.

Because they're my boys.

I'm also keeping in mind that this is a grooming year. No matter who they pick at quarterback, it's a new quarterback. We're not good at new quarterbacks in Kansas City. We're the "instant gratification" sort. They can throw three touchdown passes, but as soon as they throw an interception, it's "What have you done for me lately?"

Plus, there's a lot of new personnel. A lot of pressure on our stars of yesteryear to hold the whole works together while the new pieces integrate. That's tough, but I believe in them. I believe in my boys.

This may not be a post-season year, but I didn't think they'd get there last year, either. They surprised me. They always seem to.

And that's why I keep watching. The Chiefs always surprise me. Even in those break-even years, they'll pop out with this one brilliant, shining play.

Like right now, we're down 30-0, and a no-name who's trying desperately to make the team just pulled a runback right out of his ass. Shoulda gone down after 5 yards. Didn't. Refused to.

[Edited to add: And that run set up the Chiefs' sole score of the game. Talk about momentum. Talk about effort. Talk about one play just lighting up the whole team. See?? This is what I mean!]

That's what I'm talkin' about, folks. That's my boys. Don't even know who that guy is, but he's Chiefs. For today, anyway.

God bless football, people. God bless it and keep it.

I love this game.

[Edited to reiterate: I love this game.]

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Dearest Charles:

My sister, amazing and astonishing woman that she is, has managed to flabbergast me with pride. Seriously. Flabbergasted, here.

See, she got a novella published through Drollerie Press. It's called Survive My Fire, and it's pure gold. Dragons -- but not your cute Puffs or even your sleek, serpentine Ancient Mystics -- and heat and acidic, scalding sands and Wells that will never again hold even a drop of water....

Anyway, don't take my word for it. She got a write-up at USA Today, via Reuters. Seriously. Check it out.

MY SISTER. No kidding!

*does the happy dance*

Sis, I could not be more proud of you. Well, I probably could, but I'm pretty sure it would require my head blowing up, so let's not try it.

Love you!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Okay, so I didn't plan to watch The Bourne Ultimatum for a while, if at all, at the theater. I figured it'd be a good rental -- something to enjoy at the house without noisy kids and idiots with cell phones and teenagers necking, etc. I did want to watch it, but, to be honest, I kinda have to pick and choose what I can afford to watch at the theater.

And I...ahem...*coughcough*...hadn't seen The Bourne Supremacy yet. Sorry! I just didn't get the chance, and every time I was supposed to see it, something came up. Plus, I enjoyed the first one so much that I was afraid the second would submit to The Dreaded Sequel Disease.

So, I wasn't in a hurry.

Until a friend from work said he was going to watch it this weekend and asked if I'd seen it, knowing me for an action movie afficionado. *sigh* We got to talking about it, and I admitted my crime toward the second installation, and he let me borrow his DVDs of both Identity and Supremacy.

Who am I to turn down a favor like that??

Admittedly, I never thought I'd see it this weekend. I got adopted into another family's before-back-to-school vacation this year, so I went to Branson and avidly rode rollercoasters and equally avidly tried to get out of the shopping all weekend. And I was so tired today -- I don't sleep well in my own bed, let alone a strange one, and only managed to net about 6 hours shut-eye all weekend -- that I figured I'd come home, do a little laundry, choke down a sandwich, and keel over by 8:00 or so, if that.

So I probably shouldn't have watched the two borrowed movies Thursday evening, because that third installment was just about all I could think about this weekend...except for the rollercoasters, of course. They pretty much precede everything else but football, though I managed to watch some of that this weekend, too.

Damn, this weekend just keeps getting better the more I tell. Huh.

Anyway, so when I got home today, I threw some clothes into the laundry, stowed away some Harry & David's contraband, and made my second mistake -- glancing at those two discs laying so innocently on my coffee table. I wanted to watch them again.

No. I wanted to watch Ultimatum. Dammit.

Long story short...well, shortish, I went. And I'm glad I did. While even the long face shots look like they were shot by someone with dangerously low blood sugar, the movie itself is excellent. It takes a little from Identity, a little from Supremacy, and a little from my Psych 101 text book. Woot!

Without getting too detailed, I'll say that my absolute favorite part is that...they didn't really do anything to him. Oh, they broke him, all right. They used him, got around him, used his own honor and logic against him until he became exactly what they wanted no matter how much he fought them and himself.

But they didn't do anything. They didn't put him through some super-spy-growing chemical work-up. They didn't expose him to radiation. They very likely trained him, but they didn't change him. They just changed his mind. They changed the way he reacts to any given situation.

You know, one of my favorite things about writing bad guys is that they're just like good guys, except that they think different. They feel differently about consequences. Their risk/benefit ratio is completely different.

I walk into a room full of people, and I see people I might talk to, people I definitely won't talk to, that guy I ought to avoid, the water fountain, and maybe an exit sign or two. A "bad" guy walks into a room full of people and sees security cameras, possible weapons, all possible exits, sixty different ways to kill me, and a room full of possible targets, hostages, bargaining chips, and meat shields.

See what I mean?

They didn't change him. They changed the way he reacted. They told him that shooting this man or stabbing that woman or throwing this businessman off a roof or blowing up that office building meant nothing but saving American lives. If you take everything away but that -- every reason why one life is or isn't as good as another, how an innocent might be caught in the crossfire, that if any lives are worth saving then every life is worth saving -- it's a very simple decision. Shoot or don't. After they're done with him, the decision is even more simple than that: if they say shoot, there is no don't.

But that's all my own thought process as to the movie. The movie's real strength is that it makes me think.

I mean, we already sympathized with Jason Bourne. We already want him to know who he is and "what they did" to him. We want him to recover his memories and discover that he was just like anyone else and how they made him into the #1 killing machine -- a killing machine that is no longer safe for those who made it.

But now, we want to think about it. We want to think about what would make a man who regrets his sins commit them in the first place. What kind of mind control, what kind of chemical voodoo would take a basically decent man with a conscience and turn him into a directed, loaded weapon with no volition of his own?

This is what Ultimatum gives us. This is why it delivers on so many levels. Plus, it's fun to have recently watched the first two so you catch all the little drops from this movie or that one. Heh. I love that. I love remembering this line or that lead-up or the other scenario. Fun stuff.

So, if you've the time and money and even remotely enjoyed the first two Bourne movies, you cannot go wrong with this one. And even if you haven't enjoyed/seen the first two, this one is fun to watch, even though you'll have no idea what's going on.

If nothing else, find out what your home movies will look like after you get Parkinson's disease.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Oops. Long time, no blog. My bad!

But I do have an announcement to make. Hear ye, hear ye. On this 6th day of August, 2007, my brother's wee wifey gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Yup, I gots another nephew. Woot!

He's 8 lbs, some ounces, and...um...pretty long. I'm a little fuzzy on the details. I had them when I was first given them...but I've blinked since then.

But he's healthy! That's what counts, right?

Anyway, wish 'em luck!

Oh, yeah. The audit's finally over. No deficiencies, no paybacks, and I was complimented on my charts. My supervisor was so pleased that she gave me a gift certificate to a sushi restaurant she knows I like. I know -- long time readers will be aghast that I like a sushi restaurant, but I'm trying to broaden my horizons here.

And their caterpillar roll is to die for. Eel is good.

With a gift certificate to back me, I may get crazy and try the lobster roll. Or the dragon! Oo, I love dragons!

Ahem...I mean the name, of course. Though if they came up with dragon meat, you bet your ass I'd eat it raw. Woot! Talk about a delicacy!

Anyway, just sayin that some of the pressure is off, and no one at work even knew I was stressed. I guess that's a good sign. Everyone was like, "I was worried as Hell, but you never even blinked!"

'S called meditation, folks. And it works quite well on stress, though it does squat for insomnia. Heh.

So, the fiasco is over for another year, and hopefully, for my entire life. I could stand a fiasco-less existence. Wouldn't lose a wink of sleep over it. Whoever told me once, "May you live in interesting times"...?

Yeah. That guy can eat rocks. Jerk.