Ever have one of those weeks when things go a little wrong? When maybe you minorly screw up just about everything? Yeah, that was last week for me. Nothing went terribly wrong, but nothing was quite right either. By Thursday/Friday, I was in a foul, foul mood.
Good bit: Eric started DMing a Gamma World campaign using GURPS. Gamma World is a post-apocalypse setting and is full of mutant animals and puns. My characters is a blind bipedal human-sized guinea pig with radar vision named Ray Carls, Jr.
A Good Moment
I was up early enough on Friday to catch some of the sunrise. The sky was particularly lovely in shades of peach, mauve, and deep blue.
Writers: Harry Cripps, Robert Connolly, Jane Harper
Stars: Eric Bana, Genevieve O’Reilly, Keir O’Donnell
Double Feature Fodder: Mystic River (2003)
Initial: A recommendation by by husband.
Production Notes: In the top 20 of highest-grossing Australian films of all time.
What Did I Think: Solid crime thriller, great setting.
As usual, I hadn’t watched the trailer before the movie and was momentarily confused during the first flashback. Otherwise, the primary mystery and its solution are fairly well-plotted. What I didn’t really need was a solid explanation for Ellie’s behaviors in the past. I don’t mind some level of ambiguity and part of it seemed a little tacked on. The Dry is based on a novel by Jane Harper and I wonder if the ending plays out more gracefully in the book. A big plus for me was the setting: rural Victoria, Australia during a year-long drought.
13 Going on 30
Year: 2004 Runtime: 1h 38m Rated: PG-13
Director: Gary Winick
Writers: Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa
Stars: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer
Double Feature Fodder: Kate & Leopold (2001)
Initial: Mark Ruffalo was in a rom-com?
What Did I Think: This movie pretty much delivers on what it promises: fish-out-of-water hijinks, “where did I go wrong?” life lessons, and a necessarily chaste romance. It’s goofy and sweet and only occasionally annoying. Many characters seem to disregard “grown-up” Jenna’s very weird behaviors without any explanation. Like Magic Wishing Dust, you just gotta go with it.
Besides, I mean, haven’t you always wanted to see Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, and Andy Serkis dance to “Thriller”?
Year: 2022 Runtime: 1h 40m Rated: not rated
Director: Kyle Edward Ball
Writer: Kyle Edward Ball
Stars: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, Jaime Hill
Double Feature Fodder: We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021)
Initial: Current darling of the horror social media sphere.
Production Notes: Had a mostly crowd-funded budget of $15,000. Has made about $2M in a limited theatrical release.
What Did I Think: Skinamarink is experimental.
The summary I’ve seen everywhere is: two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished. I’m not sure I would have known that without the blurb. Chris Stuckmann, in his short YouTube video on Skinamarink, mentions that Ball denies audiences many of the conventions of traditional films, including things like plot and even the actors’ faces. I’d say that, more impactfully, he strays from the usual language of film.
Are there establishing shots of rooms? No, unless you consider an establishing shot to be the upper corner of a doorway molding. Reaction shots of the characters when things happen? Again, no. The camera is sometimes in the POV of one of the children, but their reactions are very subdued. Without a physical geography or an emotional palette to draw from, I really had a hard time engaging with what was happening in this movie. Is the film unsettling? Yes. Is it terrifying? Not for me. Is this how it was to be a kid and not understand big things like death and abuse (which are reading I’ve seen from what’s happening)? Maybe, I guess, though I never found my world to be this murky.
4♦️ “10 Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind)” by Holly Black – Finally drew a card that wasn’t a heart! And finally dipped into a different anthology. “10 Rules . . .” is from Monstrous Affections, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. This was an ARC prize from Armchair BEA 2014. 😬 This whole anthology is stories playing with the concept of monsters. In “10 Rules . . .,” Tera, our young protagonist has stowed away on her uncles ship when he leaves Mars. She ends up having to deal with space pirates and a (rumored) blood-thirsty alien.
As I predicted, I had a lot of ultimate frisbee things last week. Winter A/B league fully started, so I had some of the schedule and “B” division teams to post. I also had a couple updates for our yearly New Year Fest tournament. I played pickup twice. Dave, who was the co-founder of the pickup game I’m now running, is in town. He retired to Michigan a few years ago and is snow-birding this February/March.
A Good Moment
Friday pickup was again a bit of a highlight. I didn’t play very well, but we had a good turn out, my body was feeling good, and the weather was pretty perfect. (My life is so boring.)
6 Lessons Learned From 4 Years of Writer’s Block – I’ve called the last few years a writing hiatus, but I suppose block is a word for it too. Funnily enough, I can see a parallel between “plot” blocks and “creative” blocks. Both can involve a twisting of logic into something that doesn’t feel like reality and is wrong.
Novel subplots – Not sure I agree with everything here, but that’s how writing advice goes.
I’m not really where I wanted to be at the end of January, but that’s what happens when a week and a half gets eaten by apathy. I intend to continue working on my NaNoWriMo project. I have two scenes left to rewrite and a whole lot of new material to add. It’s more like rewrite a scene, add a bunch, rewrite a scene, add a bunch, so I’d really like to have both of those rewrites out of the way by the end of this week.
Initial: Being from Nebraska originally, even from the city of Omaha, the trailer to Minari made me a little homesick.
Production Notes: I’m not surprised that Chung started out with the notion of adapting Willa Cather’s My Antonia.
What Did I Think: In the past several years, I’ve spent a lot of time watching genre movies, especially horror movies. I had forgotten that there is style of drama in which the entire story revolves around bad things happening to characters usually due to bad luck, bad decisions, and/or systemic problems. And . . . I hate these kinds of dramas.
But why? Horror is all about bad things happening to characters usually due to bad luck, bad decisions, and/or a supernatural element that is an allegory for systemic problems. Even though I often grump about allegory in fiction, is it the lack of allegory that I dislike in dramas? It is that I would much rather deal with insanity-causing ghosts, blood-thirsty vampires, and flesh-eating zombies rather than bad weather and financial strife? I think part of it is that horror is often an overlay on other genres. In horror, there are usually aspects of mysteries, thrillers, or comedies maybe in addition to the tropes of genres like science fiction or westerns. Horror feels richer to me.
Minari is beautiful movie. I enjoyed spending time with these characters. I was just really annoyed when their lives end up being problem after problem.
Deal Me In: 2❤️ I managed to pick yet another heart! That’s three in a row. Deuces are wild so I chose a story off my infinite short story list. “AITA for throwing away my wife’s haunted dolls?” by Annika Barranti Klein is an example of other-thing-as-narrative that didn’t really work for me. Maybe it was because “haunted” is being invoked in the title that led the rest of the story to being a bit flat. (In contrast, Sarah Pinsker’s “Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” lingers quite a while in area of mundane-but-slightly-off before bringing in an urban legend-like aspect.)
Last week, I played Minecraft less and read and wrote more. I also napped a lot. It’s been cold in Phoenix, meaning it’s been 60F-ish degrees in the daytime. Perfect sleeping weather.
This week will probably be busy. I’ll have AB League and New Year Fest updates to do, and Dave, a friend and fellow ultimate player, is back in town as a snowbird. He was the founder of our lunchtime ultimate frisbee game, so he’s itching to play.
A Good Moment
I’ve only played two games of ultimate frisbee this year thus far, both Friday pickup. I had a couple of nice catches last game including a tipped throw that I snagged inches from the ground, while managing to stay in the endzone.
So many of the things I read last week were depressing. These links aren’t:
The Other Lives of Adam and Eve – Some weirdness from the Public Domain Review. (Since I’ve written a couple of biblical “retellings,” does that mean I’ve created apocrypha?)