Category Archives: movies

Five Favorites

Following in the footsteps of the lovely (seriously lovely, have you seen that picture of her with her new baby?) Hallie Lord, here are five things I’m loving right now:

1. HOT DOGS

hautedogsHaute Dogs, to be specific. I have been long haunted by the memories of a hot dog shack I frequented while living in Austria, and this is the only place I’ve ever encountered that comes even close.  As much as it kills me to say, having loved the Austrian Wuesterhutte*  for so long, I think these are better. My husband came home for lunch today with a Korean Kimchi Dog and a Cheesey Dog (and by “cheesey, I mean CHEESEY) and I was in heaven.  Heaven.

2. This scriptwriting software through Open Office

openofficescript

Writing screenplays is a hobby of mine (I know how pathetic that sounds.) The problem for a while was, keeping the format right in Word was nearly impossible but I didn’t have the bajillion dollars it takes to buy scriptwriting software.  After exhaustive research (translation: whining to my husband, who then did magic stuff on the internet) I gave this free program a try and I love it.

3. Apropos of #2

I just finished a script, and I think it turned out pretty well.  I entered it in the Nicholls Fellowship competition, and I have a teeny fraction of hope that this one might make the first cut.  Here’s why I am so hopeful:  my husband, who is my harshest critic in the best sense of the word, was impressed after reading the first draft. I have already achieved my main goal with this thing.

4. Speaking of my husband

I came home from an afternoon spent catching up with an old friend to find these on the kitchen table:

yellowtulips

These are an approximation of the actual flowers, because it takes too long to upload pictures on our laptop.

Wonderful man! They are bright, and spring-y, and make my kitchen feel pretty.

5. I am not a wine connoisseur.

I just like what I like.  However, it’s fascinating how different red wines can be, depending on where they come from.  Right now, I can’t get enough of GSMs from France, light and mineral-y and just delicious.  Completely different from Argentina Malbecs (which I also love, don’t get me wrong!)  Anyway, those mineral-y reds just make me happy. That’s all.

BONUS #6.

If you, like me, are interested in reading screenplays, here’s a treasure trove of great movie scripts!

*I think this name is probably completely wrong.  My memory is not reliable.

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Unedited ramblings on a Saturday Morning

I am conflicted about this blogging thing.  I’m not sure how committed I am to sticking with it.

The problem is, I really think of myself as a creative writer.  Coming up with works of fiction is what makes me happy, keeps me grounded, and helps me work out what it all means.

But it takes so much work.

I’m more of a re-writer, actually, than a writer.  The first draft is a long, tedious slog for me as I essentially just work out an outline for what I want to do.  It’s inefficient, but it’s the only way I can do it.  Re-writing, though, fills me with confidence and energy.  I am an excellent editor of my own work;  if a passage or a line that I am particularly fond of doesn’t serve the story – poof!  Gone.  It’s my superpower.  It’s the one area in my life where I feel really competent.  I love chiseling away at an idea, finding the perfect way to best present it, delving into characters and discovering how they really work.  I love it!

But it takes so much time.

Time, for the uninitiated, is not something you can find in spades when you have a family.  Well, at least, not if you are an inefficient sort, as I am.

Blogging is a great compromise, a creative outlet that makes less demands time-wise.  Every time I work on a post though, I have a creeping uneasiness that my time would be better spent on other types of writing.  I have a fantastic idea for a screenplay (believe me, I know how stupid that sounds!) that I haven’t begun work on because I’ve been using my snippets of spare time to prepare stuff for this blog.

I think it comes down to this:  what does God want from the need to write He has given me?  Creative writing is what I am best at, and it’s what I most enjoy…..but it just sits around my computer once it’s done.  I don’t “do” anything with it, partly because I don’t have the time and partly because I am sensitive to criticism.

If I write a short story in the empty woods, does it make a sound?

Am I meant to make a sound?  I mention not having a barbaric yelp in my first post, but that wasn’t entirely true.  I think I do have one, I just don’t know if it’s meant to be heard.  Maybe I’m meant to slave over something I love without accomplishing anything, like the father with his piano in The Tree of Life.  Devotion without mastery is something powerful, I think, in the eyes of our children.  And the value of things that are never fully realized in this world is a theme that tends to run through just about everything I write.  It’s clearly something carved deeply in my heart.

So.  I don’t know.  There are some things I’m interested in exploring (like why I like the Song of Ice and Fire books so much, even though the racy parts are so shocking I never recommend them to Christian friends) and that I think are worth some time and effort.  Maybe I’ll keep this up, at least sporadically.  Maybe it doesn’t matter, maybe this is the empty woods, too.  It may be that there is where I’m meant to stay.

In Defense of Zombies

Zombies seem to be de rigueur these days, which is fine by me.  I love just about anything zombie-related, plus I am convinced that the surge in zombie popularity the past few years spells very good things for our culture at large.

Wait. What? Yes. Zombies are good!

For one, zombie themed movies and books tend to be pretty clean. Sex isn’t much of a priority when your friends are being eaten alive. Of course, they do tend to be heavy on the violence, but “violent” here means lots of blood spatter and fake limbs, very little of the actual violence that could be experienced or emulated in the real world. You may have heard of kids imitating violent video games, or music, or movies, but you never hear of kids trying to chew each others’ arms off. The sort of violence encountered in the gangster or revenge genres may disturb, but that is usually because they can reflect reality. After all, gangsters do exist and can do bad things. Your chances, however, of encountering a wrestling match between a walking corpse and a shark are pretty slim.

Zombies also remind us of what is truly important. In zombie fiction, you see the same theme over and over: when the Zombie Apocalypse comes, people return to the simple things. With the distractions of modern life destroyed by the ravaging hordes, the survivors cling to what is, after all, really important: family, friends, loyalty, courage, faith.

It goes deeper: modern materialists tell us that mankind is nothing but the sum total of our parts: blood, cells, synapses, muscle. No zombie aficionado could fall prey to such a line of thought. The zombie fan knows that we are not just the sum total of our parts, we are something more. When your girlfriend has been bitten, you hold her in your arms and tell her you love her. When her eyes glaze over and she stands up despite her multiple wounds to lunge for your neck, you cut off her head with a machete. It’s simple common sense. Your girlfriend’s body contains the same physical properties both before and after her demise. Even her mind continues to function after a fashion, as it is a known fact that the only way to stop a zombie is by destroying the brain. Despite all of these things, the zombie connoisseur knows that the girlfriend, in her essence, is gone. The body is reanimated, but the soul has fled; this tells us something vital, something the materialist has forgotten. As a collection of muscle and bone, there is nothing stopping us from eating each other alive. It is our souls, that nebulous, invisible, unprovable thing that makes us human. They say there are no atheists in foxholes, but it could happen. What is certain is this: there are no materialists in the audience of a George A. Romero marathon.

Finally, zombies remind us of an important and hard to face fact: our own mortality. Momento Mori the monks of old used to inscribe over their doorways and walls – remember your death. “Remember that from dust you came and unto dust you must return.” (Gen 3:19) The world is not permanent for us, and it is a good and healthy thing to keep it in mind so that we may train our focus on the things that are permanent. On the other hand, though, it is frighteningly easy to allow the fact of our own deaths to drag us into despair. Thinking of our own deaths, it is a short journey to forgetting that death does not get the last laugh. If you believe in life after death,though, death must lose some of its horror and all of its permanence. This is an easy thing to think but a hard thing to feel, especially in regards to loved ones who have gone on before us. Zombies, with their lumbering (or sprinting, depending on your zombie proclivities,) their groans, their hunger for human flesh, take something scary and turn it into something a little bit silly. They are wonderfully, hilariously ridiculous and they provide an outlet to release our mortal anxieties.

Death, where is thy sting?

Zombie gems:

Night of the Living Dead – a classic!

Shaun of the Dead – a lighthearted twist, but still good zombie action

World War Z – the best zombie book, period.

28 Days Later – fast zombies! Brilliant.

note: This article originally appeared in my Examiner.com column in 09. I am choosing to believe it is not at all a bad sign that I’m already recycling posts on my two-week-old blog.

Big Easy Express, cheap!

My PSA for today:

I just found out that the documentary Big Easy Express is available right now to rent from Amazon for just $1.99!

Directed by Emmett Malloy, the film follows three bands (Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford and Sons, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) on their whistle-stop train tour.  It’s a love-letter to musicians, a teensy sneak look behind the scenes at three bands who share a passion for earthy music, some grizzled veterans of the road, some on the cusp of making it big time.  Watching it is a pure joy, not unlike sitting back and watching children play on the beach;  these people care so much, and are so on fire for what they are doing, that their sheer enthusiasm is inspiring.

Side note:  The Edward Sharpe guy is so stinking adorable when it comes to his wife that I wish someone would make a documentary just about the two of them.  While watching Big Easy, my husband at one point turned to me and said, “Now there is someone who loves his girl!”  And it was clearly true.