Saturday, November 29, 2008

Transporter 3

I can blame only myself.

Everyone who had considered going with me bailed.

Craig D. Lindsey, a local movie reviewer whose opinions I generally trust, said it was boring. Rotten Tomatoes gave it only 35% fresh.

But I had to go. It's got Jason Statham kicking butt, driving fast, and showing all three of the emotions (angry, not quite so angry, and smiling as he tries to pretend he's not angry) that be brings to all his roles. It's got a hot car. It's supposed to have a hot love interest, in this case Natalya Rudakova. And, of course, on principle I have to support fu flicks.

So, off I went to last night's late show at my neighborhood atomic megaplex.

Sadly, my friends, Lindsey, and Rotten Tomatoes were all right: Despite a non-stop pace and plenty of action, it ultimately was rather dull. Statham certainly looked great, and the filmmakers found every excuse they could to get his shirt off. The fu was a bit too sped up for my taste, but it was interesting enough. The car stunts were entirely unbelievable, but that didn't stop the first two in the series from being more entertaining than this entry. Rudakova was a complete waste of screen time, with nothing in her performance or look to commend her, at least as far as I was concerned. I can't blame her, however, for the movie's flaws, because she wasn't doing anything in most of its scenes. The parts should have worked, but they really didn't.

I really wanted to like Transporter 3, and I didn't hate it, but I have to rank this as the most boring of a trio of movies and the one that should, sad to say, put the final nail in the coffin of this series.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Draft 2 complete

Late Thanksgiving eve, I finished the second draft of Overthrowing Heaven. I do the third draft on paper, so I had to print two copies of the 512-page manuscript: one for Dave's review, and one for me and the big red binder.

Of course, the toner cartridge died on my black-and-white printer.

Of course, the team that's supposed to make sure I have a spare of all supplies in my home office--a team of which I am obviously a member--had failed to do so.

Off I drove to the office.

Some time later, I had the two manuscripts. I gave Dave his copy yesterday. He has very graciously already started reading and has given me some small corrections and a nice characterization tip. Each of my novels has improved thanks to him, and this one will be no exception.

For those who are curious, the book is now over 134,000 words, about 15,000 words longer than Slanted Jack and easily the longest thing I've ever written.

I'm enjoying my third pass through it, though finding tons of things to improve and often scratching my head in wonder at my own sloppiness and stupidity. I suppose that's par for the course, though I do hate making mistakes and doing less than my best work.

Fortunately, that's why I have passes three and four!


Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope yours was good.

Mine was what it is most years: Dinner with family and extended family and friends at Dave and Jo's house. I do nothing beyond driving and eating, and I'm okay with that; I appreciate all that others do to make the meal special. We hang out, talk, eat, talk, take a walk, talk, rest, and then eat vast quantities of dessert (which always includes my personal favorite, banana cream pie). Each year is much like the others, and that is just fine with me.

This time of year, the weeks pass in a blur of traditional events and many gatherings with family and friends, and at times I fail to remember how very, very lucky I am to have such people in my life. Not today, though; today, I reminded myself multiple times how very fortunate indeed I am. I truly am.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A talk well worth watching

As long-time readers of this blog may recall, last year I was lucky enough to attend TED@Aspen, a satellite location that participated in the famous TED conference via a blend of mostly simulcast and some live local talks. I had a wonderful time, and I left with my heart and my brain overflowing. All the talks were good, and many were simply awesome, but one that stood out to me has recently become available online. For your enjoyment, here's a link to that online version. (I originally embedded it, but the video took so long to load that I couldn't stand it and opted for the link instead.)

Note that I refer to it as the online version; that's because the real talk ran much longer and included an amazing several minutes during which Zander got everyone at the conference to sing (phonetically) the German words to Beethoven's "Ode To Joy." I wish I could show you that full version here, but I can't; you'll have to come by my house to see it.

I watched this online version the night before last, and it hit me strongly enough that last night I dug out my TED Blu-Ray discs and played the full talk for my family. (Yes, I insisted Sarah and Scott watch. I do that sometimes.)

I hope you find it as wonderful as I did.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You can pre-order Overthrowing Heaven on Amazon!

My friend Lynn told me about this. Check it out: You can pre-order Overthrowing Heaven here.

Not one to play favorites, I checked Barnes and Noble, and they don't yet offer it.

I also went to the Borders site, and that was a weird experience. You can search for the book and will get this screen, which claims to let you pre-order my as yet not finished novel, but clicking the pre-order button does nothing. Unfortunate.

Now that the book is available, I have a simple plan: If each person reading this entry gets a thousand of his or her closest friends / co-workers / students / enemies / dead people with active credit cards to pre-order the book, I might make a bestseller list. I would then do the happy dance on video. Isn't that a great deal?

Seriously, I know I shouldn't even pay attention to little things like this, and I do try to avoid them, but the moment I know they're out there, I obsess over them. What a big baby.

On that note, I will turn away from crass commercialism and focus again on the part of the whole process I can currently control: Finishing the book!

Because sometimes you just have to

I'm working on the end of draft two of Overthrowing Heaven. I'm closing in on it, and now that I'm so close to finishing this pass I know what I must play over and over: Jeff Buckley's cover of "Hallelujah."

Leonard Cohen wrote it, and I love his version, but for my money this Jeff Buckley rendition, the one from the album, not any of the live sessions, is the definitive one, the one you must hear. I chose this YouTube post, which isn't a video at all, just an excuse to post the song, precisely so you get Buckley from the ablum.

From the opening breath to the final notes, this song is pure and powerful and gut-wrenching.

What I love about this song is that you can listen to the words and spend as much time as you're willing to devote to it trying to decide exactly what Cohen meant--or you can simply let the sound of it, the mood of it, carry you away and feel it so strongly it overcomes you. No wonder the song appears so often on TV shows and is the subject of so many online postings.

Some songs hit me, reach inside me, and yank out a burbling sun of feelings, an ongoing natural reactor that is constantly on the edge of exploding. I can crank up this song, stand in the middle of a room, close my eyes, and work myself up to the point of almost unbearable emotion, body shaking, eyes squeezed shut, tears leaking.

Why would I do that?

Because life should be that intense sometimes, because art should hit us that hard, because I dream of writing sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books that smack someone else's heart around, that for a second let the two of us stand together in the searing, soaring fire of shared emotion.

It's true: I'm such a teenager still, all these years later.

You know what, though?

I hope I always am.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

is the sweetest foul-mouthed, dirty movie you're likely to see. Inherent in the contradictory nature of those adjectives is the contradiction that is Kevin Smith's body of work: It's fundamentally sentimental, a sweet-natured oeuvre dedicated to the values of (an extended and chosen) family, the old neighborhood, longstanding friendships, and so on. It's also potty-mouthed in the extreme, obsessed with the concerns of middle-school boys (from girls to masturbating to dumb jokes to superheros, in comics and elsewhere), and in many ways adolescent.

No wonder I love his work.

Zack and Miri explores two roommates who have been friends since kindergarten but never dated and who are now in such deep debt that their Pittsburgh apartment is facing winter with no power, heat, or water. Their debt is their own doing--like many leads in Smith's movies, these two are not the brightest and do not exhibit the best self-control--but it is still a very real problem. For reasons that the movie sells well enough, they come to believe they could make money by creating their own homemade porno film, and off we go.

The plot is entirely predictable; you know from the movie's name and the first two minutes with each character how it's going to play out.

I still loved it, in fact liked it way more than it deserves as a film evaluated by any objective standards. I think that's because, like Smith, I want to believe in a world where friends stay friends their whole lives, where they take care of each other no matter what, where the family you choose really is family in all the best senses of the term, where the notion of home matters, and where romance is always possible, if not inevitable.

I suspect most people will not like this film as much as I did, and so I have trouble recommending it broadly. At the same time, if Kevin Smith, in his frequent Internet trolling, happens to read this, I just want to say: Well done, dude, and you can come hang at my house anytime.


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