Things I Like

Recently I’ve been writing a lot in two categories:

  1. Emails, whitepapers, SQL and Perl for my “day job” for about 12 hours a day.  Now that the other Core Technical Resource has left our group, I’m the Lone Ranger, and the Lone Ranger is BUSY.
  2. Ten chapters of a new “post-steampunk-proto-rocket-age” novel.  I’ve actually rewritten and re-plotted and redone these chapters 2-3 times.  I hope to get them out to my pre-readers later this week.  We’ll see. There will be more details about this over on in the coming days as I start to ramp that up again.

What I haven’t been writing is a lot of blog posts.  Ok, any blog posts.  Or comments.  Or even very many tweets. You know you’re busy when you’re too busy to tweet…It’s funny how that sentence works equally well if you substitute “lazy” for “busy” as the verb pair.

I spent today re-reading every blog post I’ve ever written.  Both for missedher and deadcharming as well as everything I’ve written here.  A lot of my stuff for here kinda sucks.  I used to write because I had something to say about myself.  Sort of a review and analysis.  Then I became afraid of analysis and I stopped writing self review.  Then, what I was writing got so bland that I stopped writing all together.

I actually started this blog to be a sort of family story/essay collection.  Divided up into real chapters and essentially ready to be some sort of family record of tales I’d heard as a kid and always wanted to tell about the people and places I’d come from.  A record of things genetic and environmental.  That’s actually why I picked “my bad pants” as a title.  I spoke to exactly the kind of stories my family tells, stories that are as much about who we come from as where we come from.  As much about the genes I come from as the jeans I wear, and about the shoes I try to fill and the miles I’ve walked in them.

When I started writing my first blog, I had essentially outlined my own autobiography.  Not because my life story needs to be kept for posterity, but because I figured some of my mistakes may as well help SOMEBODY else realize that people make horrible choices and still survive the consequences.  Something very easy to do as an anonymous cypher on the internet.  And my life is rife with “the funny” so it’s kinda fun to tell, in a self deprecating kind of way.

All this is to say that I have some great material already half finished and just waiting for me to polish it up and post it, and I have even more material in the outline phase waiting for me to get off my ass and write it.

So here’s my plan.  I am going to try to write AND POST every day for a month.  1000+ words a day.  Some of those words will be fiction and I’ll track that over on with daily updates on the fiction progress, but probably half of that will be blog posts and they’ll show up right here.  Every day.  I’ll post the word count along with every post that goes up, so we’ll all be able to see how I’m doing.  If I can keep it up for a month, I’ll be 30,000 words closer to my goal of writing 100,000 words in a year.

For days when I’m mentally stuck and just need a kickstart, I’m going to write about some of my favorite things.  Mostly because it’s easy to write about the things one likes, and partly because some of the things I like might surprise a few people.

Today’s “Thing I Like” is my favorite movie.

When I was a kid my favorite movie was “Star Wars” in a big BIG way.  I watched it every Sunday with my cousin for about two years straight (I’ll write about my dad’s two piece Sony VHS tape system from 1978 someday, because it was the most retro-awesome thing ever made).  I could actually quote every line of dialog AND sound effect from start to finish.  I could even do a pretty accurate R2D2 whistle and talk like a Jawa.

Then, “The Empire Strikes Back” came out.  I’ll be honest, it scared the shit out of me the first time I saw it.  In my defense, I was four.  It became my new favorite thing EVER.  Return of the Jedi was cool, and I fell in love with Raiders of the Lost Ark…but Empire was always my favorite.

When I was 13 I saw “A Room With A View” and I had a new co-favorite.  Merchant-Ivory movies have always been able to crawl into my soul and challenge me in profound ways, but “A Room With A View” has always been special to me.  Something about it has always been untouchablly perfect, almost dreamlike.

According to Netflix I have 142 movies I’ve given five stars to, out of the 1132 that I’ve rated.  Some are classics, some are corny, about 20% are romantic comedies, and the rest are movies where something inevitably blows up.

I would have a hard time ranking my list of top ten movies.  “The Empire Strikes Back” and “A Room With A View” would be on it of course, as would “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Pride and Prejudice” and “Young Sherlock Holmes” and “Casanova” and “Castle in the Sky”…

But last night, I was reminded (again) that my favorite movie isn’t an epic blockbuster or an intellectual thriller, or a science fiction masterpiece.  It’s not really based on a classic story, or a profound piece of literature.  It’s just two great work-a-day actors doing what they did best at the highpoint of their careers, directed by a director who does this kind of movie better than anyone else in the business.

It’s Nora Ephron’s “You’ve Got Mail” staring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan meeting cute and finding love for the third time in a movie together; and this was one time where the third time really was the charm.

A lot of people think of “Sleepless in Seattle” when they think of Tom and Meg.  And that movie was a wonderful piece of cinema, but it’s not about Tom and Meg TOGETHER, it’s about Tom and Meg finding each other against the backdrop of one of the best soundtracks ever collected for a romantic comedy.  They only play opposite each other directly for about 5 minutes of “Sleepless in Seattle” and those aren’t anywhere near the best five minutes of the movie.

“You’ve Got Mail” is entirely the opposite.  They play off each other for more than half of the movie, and those moments are always scene-stealers.  Also, I posit that this is the funniest that Tom Hanks has ever been.  It’s without a doubt the cutest that Meg has ever been.

Also, this movie makes me love New York in a way that Woody Allen can only dream of matching.  New York in the fall when the kids go back to school and central park turns burgundy and orange and yellow; New York at Christmas with the shop windows and Christmas parties, New York in spring when the farmer’s markets set up shop and the community gardens bring life to an asphalt sea and concrete canyons.  It’s a love story to the power of talking about your secret thoughts, and unconventional friendships, and second chances; and it’s all set against technology that we take for granted but was brand new in 1998.  The movie is absolutely prophetic in it’s ability to forecast how the internet would create relationships and connections that would have been impossible just a few years before.

And it’s funny.  Dave Chappel plays a retail executive, right hand man, and best friend to Tom Hanks (which might not seem that special today, but was positively progressive twelve years ago) and he’s funny with the kind of light touch and goofy grin that pairs so well with his simple, understated presence.  He could have been just a caricature on the sidelines (something that Greg Kinnear almost becomes) but he always stays on the reality side of the performance.

Is any of it Oscar-worthy efforts of thespianism? No (although Hanks filmed this right after Saving Private Ryan and was certainly on the top of his game after two Oscar wins and two more nominations coming).  Everything about the interplay between the actors is spot on.  Parker Posey and Dave Chappel get the best supporting lines, and Greg Kinnear certainly portrays a New York obsessed old-media columnist with aplomb if not much depth.

The editing and technical work are also way ahead of their time.  The scenes where Meg and Tom write and read each other’s messages and react in time with the narration (which was recorded in Foley and not played on set) is some of the best technical acting you’ll see on film.  Sure, it looks cute and simple, but it’s anything but.  Tom Hanks once described the filming of “You’ve Got Mail” as more technically difficult than “Apollo 13” which is amazing, given that the later was filmed largely with him free-falling in a set built in an airplane plummeting towards the earth.

Sure, it’s a Nora Ephron romantic comedy, you know exactly how it’s going to end before the opening credits finish rolling; but it’s not about the destination, this movie is about the sheer joy and beauty in the journey along the way.

There are no ‘splody things anywhere to be seen (well, unless you mean metaphorically, in which case there are detonated relationships, preconceptions and one corpse of a family business littered about), but it’s cute, and funny, and it has a happy ending that makes me smile every time.

And just like “Star Wars” as a kid, I can pretty much recite every line, word for word.

[Word Count:  1653]

3 thoughts on “Things I Like

  1. I’m glad you’re posting again. Of course, I wish it hadn’t been midnight when I discovered this, especially since I have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow, but I guess that just means I have blog posts to look forward to reading while I’m selling my soul to the man at work tomorrow.

    Actually, I think you have several to read tomorrow…and since my version of a short post cracks in at about 1500 words you’ll have a lot to look forward to. :-)

  2. Okay, because I can’t help myself, I read the rest of the post.

    Yeah, I have to finish reading the things I start too. It’s like a compulsion.

    I adore “You’ve Got Mail.”

    That’s because you have exceptional taste.

    I’d buy you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.

    I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You’ve got mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail. From you.

    I can recite every line, too. It’s the simplicity and yet the beauty of the story. We’ve heard it all before. They hate each other. They fight. Sparks fly. Love blossoms. But it makes you believe that it can happen in real life, to you. Even though it is just a movie. Because it’s not JUST A MOVIE!

    Oh, one more thing, can you spell cat?


  3. 1k words a day? Man, that’s got even ME intimidated.

    On aggregate, I’m over my goal; per 24-hour period, I missed one. I’m gonna go with “on aggregate” and be happy.

    But likewise, I’m so glad you’re posting again! Now I have all this BP to catch up on…

    It’s almost like a flood of BP. It’s like you’re in the gulf and a veritable offshore drilling rig of BP has sprung forth…oh wait…bad analogy…

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