Monthly Archives: June 2013

Making a Good Thing Better

Book

What is it with movie and television writers and producers that in the quest to satisfy some strange idea of what the audience wants, they feel compelled–if not justified–to change what is good–and sometimes great–to schlock?

I’m talking about books and movies and books made into movies or television series here. How does a book we love become something else entirely when adapted to the screen–both big and small?

When a story is massive (such as George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series), leaving out the details and changing the sequence of events, merging characters or killing them off altogether, sometimes makes sense. But only a little. Frankly, I’d much rather have 20 in-depth chapters of a series done well (in other words, a continuation of GOT) than 10 mutilated blood-drenched sex romps that have absolutely nothing to do with the original books from whence they came. I’m thinking of True Blood here, a ridiculous perversion of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels.

Harris’ stories are funny, inventive, and original. HBO’s version is anything but. Yet it persists, fulfilling some dark, bloody fantasy that seems to have little to do in the way of story-telling and makes much ado about nothing much besides blood and sex. Is this what we’ve come to in our society? The Red Wedding of GOT pretty much followed the storyline of the books.  But with TB, we just get the red without the satisfying story-telling accompaniment.

To my mind, if a book is good enough for someone to want to make a movie featuring it’s characters and story, why is it necessary to then chop it into little bloody bits and refashion it into something that is pretty much unrecognizable? Why change it? Why reconfigure it to fit a time frame that is unrealistic? If you want to do a book justice, give it the time it needs to unfold and develop. If you want to cut it down to size, at least keep the story true to the original. I’m not saying that every book should become a franchise of sequel after sequel, spreading the story thin to make more money. But if you take on the challenge of a seven book series, be realistic about what you’re tackling.

book on fire

Popular thinking, however, seems to be this: if a book has a good following, it can be made even better! Change the characters, add blood and frontal nudity, forget the plot, and voila! An even bigger audience! Why? It seems the message we are sending as an audience is that we won’t watch unless all our baser senses are titillated. And that bothers me. Life is light and dark, clothed and unclothed. I’m all for a balanced story. But tell the story as it is, warts and wars and all without second-guessing the author’s original intent. A good story is a good story. I say just leave it alone. Setting it on fire won’t make it better.

What do you think? Are we suckers for a cheap thrill or does the perversion of good stories bother you, too?

Running Late–But Running

I didn’t think there was anything that would keep me from finding my way to the back row of the Cineplex for today’s first showing of Man of Steel. I was ready! All I needed was one more cup of coffee and a quick shower and then Woo Hoo! Off to the movies.

The-Newsroom

I was wrong. I didn’t count on a power outage that lasted long enough to throw me off schedule (two hours!) or HBO’s rebroadcast of The Newsroom. (When the power finally came back on, I flipped on the TV just to make sure we weren’t in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and it was tuned to HBO.) Damn! Double Damn! There is someone I love more than a hunk in a cape and a tight fitting body suit–even with a stylized S. His name is Will McAvoy! Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that I am enamored of Aaron Sorkin since he is the creator of The Newsroom and it’s inhabitants and I am intrigued with the entire cast to some degree but, nah, it’s McAvoy. I get sucked in every time!  

So, I made it to the 5:30 and walked out of the theater at dusk, more than a little perplexed.

 ALERT! ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

I’ll try not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen Man of Steel. This is one of those movies you have to see for yourself. I will say that I am not a fan of the retelling. I love Superman: the epic, mythical story-line, the romance between Lois and Clark, even the silliness of a bumbling Clark Kent’s ability to hide his true identity behind a simple pair of horn-rimmed glasses. Unfortunately, those elements were missing. Actually, this felt more like Man of Steel III: The Big Reveal rather than the first, base story that gets the audience hooked on the characters and sets the stage for future chapters/movies. 

As you might expect, there are fights and fights and more fights and explosions and massive destruction. Overall, the movie seemed more an excuse to produce 3-D pyrotechnics than to tell a compelling story. I expected a climactic battle, but this was overkill, going on and on until I just wanted it to be over. Here’s the plot: Birth, battle, escape, rescue, rescue, battle, battle, battle, death, battle, rescue. Battle, battle, battle, kiss, battle to the death.  I kept waiting for the shocking twist that would make it worth so much destruction but nope. No twist. Well, there is one but not in a good way.

Man of steel 02

This poster is a pretty good representation of the movie: dark.

I love movies. I love good movies and I’ve been looking forward to seeing Man of Steel. The cast is a good one (Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Henry Cavill), the story doesn’t really need much tweaking, and the big scenes were just waiting to be shot in glorious, full-color 3-D. But the story’s still hanging out there somewhere, I can feel it, floating among the debris of Krypton, coalescing into something much more substantial. Maybe that was the plan. Get the battle scenes out of the way and then do a prequel. That seems to be the way to make movies nowadays.

Let me know what you think of Man of Steel. I’d love to hear from you.

Social Paradigms: An Ever Evolving Dilemma

love letter

A long, long time ago, way back in the 90s, I attended a seminar on the evolution of technology in our modern, high tech world. The phrase used to explain how human beings respond to our ever expanding technical world at the time was “high tech/high touch” and not, coincidentally, the name of the seminar.   Supposedly, the more high tech we become, the more necessary it is that we experience high touch. The presenter, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, posited the idea that the more email we send (high tech), the more desirous we become to write long letters using pen and paper (high touch). The more dependent on technology we become to assist in our work, the more touch-y we would become in our personal lives.

There was life before smart stuff.

Even before the advent of smart phones, the IPad, and various other tablet conveniences, I scoffed at the idea that we (meaning I) would revert to the long-handed version of communicating via snail mail rather than the almost instantaneous gratification of email. Yes, there is something to be said for flowery, perfumed stationary, but if push comes to shove, I’m afraid I would have to say that email is pretty much here to stay. (Notice the rather long-winded and round-about way I said that? I believe that is the high tech version of high touch.) In other words, the more remote we become through technology, the more necessary it will be to connect with our fellow humans, to reach out and touch someone–and not just over the phone.

Cable was already a part of our lives in the 90s. We’d already become inured to the idea that we could stay at home to watch a movie rather than go out; date night could be accomplished with a bowl of popcorn in front of the TV, a small TV, granted, but nonetheless a TV. (I’m not even going to go there with the high tech/high touch in front of the TV. My point is inside, not outside. . . Oh, forget it!)

avatar-tv

Now, here we are in 2013, and I believe we are decidedly more high tech than high touch. We can do almost anything remotely–and I do mean anything. It is not only possible to carry on a relationship long distance and virtually, but for some of us, it is preferable.  Skype and FaceTime make it very easy to carry on a face-to-face conversation, to interact with our friends and loved ones in a very meaningful way regardless of the miles, or the rooms, that separate us. We can be on Mars (it could happen!) or in the next room and not have to suffer from high touch deprivation. High tech gives us the sense of high touch.

Life is constantly changing right along with technology, because of it and in spite of it. The ease with which we carry on our daily lives enables us to experience more free time. For some of us, that free time might be spent out and about with other humans (high touch?). For others, that free time gives us a chance to do even more fun things on the internet (more high tech? Or is that high touch with the things that bring us joy?). Technology gives me the freedom to exist in a very happy and meaningful way from within my comfy cave. I don’t feel strapped to my desk and my computer, I feel blissfully joined. I have a pretty cool life right at my fingertips. Hey, maybe that’s what she meant after all: fingers to keyboard. High touch/high tech.

Just for fun!

George Lucas and Steven Speilberg are, apparently, predicting the implosion of the movie industry. Here is the link–just in case you missed the short article at Speakeasy.

Today’s Friday! Have a great weekend and if I don’t see you until Monday, have fun seeing Man of Steel! Don’t forget to take today’s poll. And leave me a comment! I’d love to hear from you.

 

Time on My Hands

Whaterver Clock with hand 01

This is strange for a weekday, for a Thursday. Today, I have a little time on my hands. Not a lot, but enough to feel like I can actually take a breath without feeling guilty. 

Most days, I have a million things on my to-do list. Granted, my list is self-imposed, but I try very hard to stay on task, to accomplish enough that at the end of the day, I can say to myself, “Good job! You had a productive day!” Most days, I’m working on several projects at once, mostly books in various stages of production: writing, editing, proofing, formatting, marketing, crying, sobbing, pulling out my hair–not in any particular order.

Coffee!

Today, I’m taking a break from the usual whip-cracking pace I set for myself. Today, I’m walking casually from my office to the coffee pot in the kitchen, savoring the aroma of the coffee as I fill my cup. I may even take a moment to gaze out into the backyard at the freshly mown lawn before heading back to my desk. I may even eat breakfast sitting down rather than hunched over a bowl of Rice Chex at the kitchen counter. Make that lunch. I’ve already skipped right through breakfast as I’ve contemplated what to do with my day.

Stay away from Pinterest!

Of course I could always spend my time backlogging blogs or cruising for media. Or visit Twitterland and see what my writer buddies are up to.  I would say I could visit Pinterest to see if there are any cool pins but there’s a yellow post-it on my monitor reminding me to stay away. (I got caught in a time warp in the Geek section of Pinterest a couple of weeks ago and lost two whole hours! That place is addictive!)

living_alone_comic_dallion_0061

In my ramblings around the internet at 6 this morning, I found this cartoon. I swear, this looks like my living room, dumbbells, books and all. This is pretty much how I feel at the moment, too, wondering what to do with myself now that I feel caught up and I’m between crises.

Well, I think my free time is about up. It’s been a quiet day so far. No major breaking news stories, no urgent messages from family or friends. I think I’ll have another cup of coffee and enjoy these last few minutes before I head back into my day. I hope you’re having a quiet, pleasant Thursday.  Thanks for stopping by. And don’t forget to take today’s poll!

Man of Steel: Ultimate Cave Dweller?

george-reeves-superman-570x455

Superman played a big part in my childhood. My brothers and I watched in black and white and were enthralled no matter how many fake walls George Reeves smashed through to rescue Lois and Jimmy.  The effects were definitely low-tech, but the stories were exciting. Every kid in our neighborhood donned a safety pinned towel as a cape at one point or another (and some for a lot longer than might have been appropriate, but that’s another story). Despite being a girl and a writer at heart, Jimmy Olsen– in all his journalistic glory–held no fascination for me. Neither did Lois Lane. I wanted to be Superman, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and beat the crap out of the bad guys. Years later, I felt sad reading about Reeves’ suicide. I was shocked that Superman could die so tragically–and alone.

Christopher Reeve is Superman

Christopher Reeve took up the mantle next, in my world anyway. There were others before him, but it was the 1978 movie version that next caught my attention. Even way back then, it seemed strange to me that such a man would live on the periphery of society, alone, preferring his Fortress of Solitude to life in the big city. I understood it, I wanted one of those, but it still seemed odd. I guess I was sorting out my own Cave Dweller tendencies in an era when clubbing was the thing to do. 

A Man Apart

Superman seems to me the ultimate Cave Dweller, a man alone and apart from not only his own race but from the inhabitants of his adopted planet. Mark Dykeman in an article in Psychology (12/2/07) called him a “metaphorical introvert”:

Getting away from the physical world and getting closer to inner thoughts and feelings gives us strength. That kind of mental stimulation gives introverts our inner power and strength. It’s like tapping directly into the power of the sun. Superman was famous for having built a Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic, a place that only he could find and enter. Guests were generally not permitted in the Fortress. It was his place to unwind, relax, and get away from it all, kind of like a teenager’s bedroom, only much bigger and filled with even cooler stuff. Read more

Sound familiar? Maybe Ice Cave Dweller would be more accurate.

Tom Welling’s Superman in Smallville spent very little time with people despite having quite a few friends. Seems like every time I tuned in, he was out in the barn tinkering with this or that. I liked Welling’s Superman. He had all the earmarks of a truly great Cave Dweller: intelligent, crafty, fast-thinking, tough and compassionate–and alone. And I liked that we got to see his loving and supportive parents, an important but short-lived aspect in the earlier movies.

Superman 02

I’m anxious to see what this next incarnation of Superman will reveal about the cave dwelling tendencies of the coolest of super heroes. I’ve purposely not read much about it so that I’ll be pleasantly surprised–or not– when I go to see it this weekend.  Two more days and I’ll be slinking my way to the back row of the theater, armed with popcorn, Good n Plenty, and high hopes for a great movie.

Just for fun!

waiting for superpowers

 

It’s been my experience that the older you get, the better your powers of invisibility.  

Are Cave Dwellers Introverts?

goldfish jumping out of the water

As you know by now, I’ve been spending my time lately exploring what it means to be a Cave Dweller. I keep bumping up against the word introvert which is not surprising given the perceived concept of  cave dwelling as living a hermitic lifestyle. For me, the word extrovert means someone who throws themselves out there–in public and on the internet–with joyful abandon, and (perhaps) loudly. So what does it mean to be the opposite? Does that make me an introvert? In general, are Cave Dwellers introverts?

Does Quiet = Shy = Introvert?

For this post, I’m going to answer my own question right off the bat: NO! I do not believe Cave Dwellers are introverts (and I hope my use of caps and bold displays the vehemence with which I respond–loudly). Anyone who doesn’t take part in the shenanigans of others pretty much in any given circumstance is in danger of being labeled an introvert. I’ve been called an introvert my entire life although the truth is that I am anything but except in certain social situations. I don’t like parties with people I don’t know; I am not a free-floating gabber at business functions. Does that make me shy? Not necessarily. I consider myself judicious, choosing with whom I connect for idle chatter and playful banter. I’m not a snob either, but there is something about standing in a crowd, drink in hand, listening to chit-chat that sets my nerves on edge. 

Merriam-Webster is a B****!

Looking a word up in the dictionary feels very fourth grade to me, not to impugn fourth graders, but it seems to me that as a society, we often allow the definition of a word to inform our beliefs about others. The word introvert seems to have very negative connotations which leads to very negative connotations out in the real world. Take the Merriam Webster definition of introvert for example: one whose personality is characterized by introversion; broadly : a reserved or shy person. Now let’s look at synonyms:  shrinking violet, wallflower;  related words: mouse, cold fish, iceberg, icicle; and finally, words that rhyme: ambivert, bladderwort, bloody shirt, butterwort, controvert, disconcert, extrovert, feverwort, inexpert, and hobble skirt. (What?) Get my point?

I took a personality test a few years ago and the results were exactly as I expected: competent introvert. I was informed that I had great leadership potential but on the down side, I was thoughtful, reticent, and way too shy. The expert’s recommendation? Become a social drinker. Get out there, hang around in bars, learn to open up to people. (This was the 90s. People said things like this back then.) I think that’s when the interior of my cave became even more appealing than ever before. What is it about being thoughtful and reticent that unnerves people? What does our old pal Merriam say about reticent? Restrained, uncommunicative, silent. Yep, a little negative: “The panel decided to investigate the fraud charges against the company, which has always been reticent about its internal operations.” Bitch! (And I say that in a loving, quiet, shy way.)

A Rose by any other Name . . .

In my ramblings around the internet looking for positive thoughts on cave dwelling, I came across this blog from Exploring Pixie. She has a couple very cool links, too, if you’re interested in the coolness of us. I’m not sure what to call us. Cave Dweller works for me personally. It sums up in a very precise way what it means to be me, a quiet, thoughtful person who chooses to live on the periphery of society, watching, thinking, ready to offer support, assistance, and guidance when necessary. I prefer to glide in on silent wings to take part in life rather than bulldoze my way through the crowd. I’m comfortable in my cave, doing my thing, living my quiet life.

Introvert-images-introverts-14863871-440-293

How about you? Are you an introvert? A Cave Dweller? Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to take today’s poll!

What a Difference A Day Makes

Is it just me?

Is it just me or did the internet change overnight?

I took yesterday off, a rare thing for me, but I decided I needed a full day of no work, no hanging out on the internet, no scrambling for ideas for blogs or stories. For once in a blue moon, I did not spend several hours formatting a document for upload or working on a book cover. Instead, I sat outside and read free short stories from Amazon. And I watched ‘Hemlock Grove’ on Netflix. (All I can say about that is YIKES! My daughter, on the other hand, had this to say: “That is the most gruesome transformation I have ever seen. I hope they do a second season!” Hint: it’s about werewolves and other creepy things).  So, it was a day of change for me and I woke up rested but feeling completely out-of-sync.

Good morning, Max!

I logged on later than usual and after checking my email, I went straight to Google. There, instead of a colorful logo or a holiday-themed search box (although today isn’t a holiday), I found an animated Max from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and an arrow to click. So, I clicked the arrow. You’ll have to check it out to see what popped up.  (You can click on the link above.) I was pleasantly surprised and if you are –or ever were–a Sendak fan, I think you will be, too. I also noticed that there’s a microphone in the search box. Was that there two days ago? If it was, I missed it. Now that I’ve noticed this small change, I’m wondering what else is new. I’m on the lookout for other things that are different before they smack me in the face. Unfortunately, I am a creature of habit, doing the same things over and over again until I’m forced to make a change, even for the better. But I’ve noticed that Google has a different feel this morning and a different way of searching.

Visualize . . .

I am a believer in visualization. I believe that it is possible to manifest a better world. See it, feel it, be it.  Google seems to believe in visualization, too. On the Google Trends page, it’s now possible to bring your search to full-page with a scroll of clickable hot topics. I’m not exactly sure why that’s a great idea given that a full list with photos is available just to the right, but apparently this is helpful for some people. Or maybe they’re moving incrementally toward another change. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

So What?

Granted, these small changes may not seem BIG to you and in the stream of all things on the internet are actually quite small, but it seems to me that as one platform changes, so go the others. One small change urges another and another until everyone is, once again, doing the same thing. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Maybe Google is reacting to a change somewhere else along the line and, having been in my cave, I just missed it.

Are you noticing changes in the way you’re doing business on the internet? Is added visualization a good thing? Do you want a screen that appears in mid-air and comes complete with holograms? (I do! I’ll be on the look-out for that one!)

 Just for Fun

Game of Thrones Season Three ended last night. After the Red Wedding, this felt like somewhat of a let-down. If you’re a fan, you might get a kick out of a compilation of the Top 20 Most Shocking Moments of ‘Game of Thrones.’ I’m not sure I agree with the order, but it’s a pretty good list thanks to Nora Grenfell.

If you have other shocking moments, leave me a comment.

And don’t forget to take today’s poll.

Thank you!

Thank you

We’ve had a GREAT first week! I’m very excited about the number of views and followers Cave Dweller has gained–thanks to YOU!– and I hope that the numbers will continue to climb as word spreads that we’re here. I’ve had a lot of fun writing and developing the pages  and finding topics to include and share with you. As I’ve said, writing is what I love to do. Being social? Not so much.

Moving forward, I want to continue to explore what it means to be a Cave Dweller in a social world, and your suggestions and ideas are always welcome.

If you’d like to be a guest blogger, let me know. I’m always happy to listen to and share new perspectives. We’re wide open here and ready to talk about anything that you might find of interest.

I hope you’ll take a break from life and work or whatever keeps you busy each day to take a poll and leave me a comment. I know, I know–this isn’t a social site. But your insights will help me keep Cave Dweller a cave you will want to visit again and again.

Have a great weekend! (And don’t forget to take today’s poll!)

A Cave Dweller Goes to the Movies

It’s Friday and I’m thinking that at some point over the weekend, I’m going to go to a movie. (First showing, small popcorn, bottle of water, back row, exactly in the middle of the aisle.) Here’s my dilemma: I don’t know which movie to see. I was all psyched, ready for MAN OF STEEL, and then discovered that it doesn’t open until 6/14. Bummer!

So, what are my other choices?

THE PURGE opens this weekend. My only reaction to the trailers I’ve seen lately is YIKES! The premise sounds intriguing and I like Ethan Hawke and love Lena Headey but having survived the Red Wedding last Sunday night, I don’t think I have it in me to sit through another blood bath. Click here for a  link to the NYTimes review in case you’re interested. 

How about AFTER EARTH? I guess I have been living under a rock because I was surprised to learn this morning that M. Night Shyamalan directed this one. I liked Signs and The Sixth Sense but I don’t know about this one. Here’s a review from Wicked Local (Plymouth).

And then there’s FAST AND FURIOUS 6. I can’t decide if it’s a viable choice or if I’ve seen enough of The Rock and Vin Diesel–even as buddies working on the same side. I might have to wait for this one to come out on DVD. The reviews I’ve seen don’t look too promising. Here’s one from JoBlo.

Star Trek: Into Darkness: Seen it. Iron Man 3: Seen it. I liked both of them but I have to admit to being more a Trekkie than a Stark fan. (Well, except for the Starks of Winterfell but that’s another story!)

Maybe I’ll wait for MAN OF STEEL after all. Besides, the finale of GAME OF THRONES is on Sunday night and that might just be enough excitement for me for one weekend.

Help me decide. Take the poll and let me know which movie you’d like to see this weekend.

Animals and Humans: A False Divide?

“We don’t just share our lives with animals; we are animals — a reality that we often choose to forget in modern Western culture. Research published in the June special issue of SAGE journal, Social Science Information (SSI), delves deeper into our relationship with other creatures, critically examining our own animal nature, and looking at how animals profoundly influence our culture — perhaps more so than we had initially thought.”  (from Science Daily 6/5/13)

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605133712.htm

A friend of mine, another Cave Dweller like me, sent me this link this morning. I’m not sure how it’s relevant to my quest to understand my desire to step away from 21st century society and the strange demands I feel it puts on me as a human/spiritual being, but it’s an interesting article.

 “To be human does not mean to have fled animality, but on the contrary to live within it and to let it live within us…we are animals and animals are us.” And that is an intriguing idea. 

In some respects, I think we’ve evolved beyond our early survive-by-the-seat-of-our-pants (or animal  skin shorts) mentality. Then again, sometimes I think we’ve simply learned to design better clothes and weapons, added more social structure for crowd control, and that we’re all Cave Dwellers at heart just trying to survive in our modern world.

What do you think?