Thursday, February 24, 2011


     Having four children of my own, and trying to teach them right from wrong, I've rediscovered a word that I may have never fully understood before. The word in integrity. The lyrics to a church song always come to mind when I hear it: A word so seldom understood.
     To me integrity is defined by how you act when you think no one is watching.
     I say think, because someone is always watching and unfortunately they sometimes have a camera handy.
     I'll be honest here, my first reaction is usually anger (a family trait, I suppose). I'm mentally confrontational (which means in my head I'm yelling, ranting, raving and not acting maturely). While physically I'm probably just crying (another family trait...). And occasionally I get those reactions mixed up.  When I've had time to process information I can usually go back and adjust my thoughts and actions accordingly, but is that integrity?
     I know I'm not the only one to overreact. I've seen YouTube. And reality shows. And my living room.
     So what is integrity to you?

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Age of Movies

     The 80's are back. There's no point in arguing that point. Every where you look you can see the "Retro" look of this infamous decade. ("I wonder what it means to be infamous?" "It means you're more than famous.") At first I thought it was endearing. Since it ended, people have been trying to bring it back. Look at Halloween. Every party I've been to since 1990 has had someone dressed as an '80's prep or punk. Pegged pant legs, wings, large hoop earrings (although those never really left, did they?), and spiked hair. If they wanted to go all in, they added the off-one-shoulder baggy shirt with the tank-top underneath. FAME! Will it really live forever?
     The 80's generation got stuck somewhere along the way. And the rest of us have been forced to suffer through it with them ever since. What happened to originality? Let's take a look at some of the movies from the past couple of years:

Nightmare on Elm Street
Karate Kid
The A-Team
Rocky (5000)
Gulliver's Travels
Robin Hood
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Star Trek (Even though this started in the sixties, I'm including it because The Next Generation was my favorite of the franchise and it started in the 80's)
The Terminator

     I'm sure I'm missing some, but you get the idea.
     So why all the remakes? In the 80's, movies were about plot. Story lines were deep and and effects were just starting to make headway. Steven Spielberg is the perfect example of this. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. Those were great movies. Have your kids watch them. What do you think they would say? BORING! Why? Because there aren't many special effects. Have those movies remade with today's technology and they would be huge hits. The problem is there would have to be a great screenwriter who could capture the essence of what those movies stood for. And those kinds of screenwriters are getting more and more scarce. Today's movies are about the effects.
     Star Wars is a good example of this. I have watched 4-6 more times than I can count. I love the original trilogy. 1-3 left a lot to be desired as far as story goes, but the special effects were amazing. Both Transformers were horrible. Hardly any plot at all, but hey, great effects. Great job guys.
     There are exceptions to this, of course. Not everyone in Hollywood has the idea that all the great stories need to be redone for the effects, and not all the remakes are bad. My biggest beef is with the screenwriters. We need more screenplays with plots.
     And the saddest part of all of this is when our children look back and want to "retro" something from their youth, what will it be. Another A-Team? Rocky, the legend lives on? Let's get some piquant ideas and make a name for the 2010's. 

What ideas do you have?

(did you notice all my movie references are from the 80's?)

Monday, February 7, 2011


     How useful/useless is the word "it" to you? It has been said that one should never start a sentence (much less a paragraph) with the word it. It makes sense, though, don't you think?  It's way over used, but it sure is handy when you don't know what you're talking about.
     Stephen King wrote a whole book about it. It won several awards and was listed as the best-selling book in America in 1986. It made it to TV, successfully making clowns the top of my "what to avoid" list and also making me take a long hard look at how I viewed Tim Curry. (Thank heavens I'll always have Clue to fall back on.)
     It has been used to start classics. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". It has also been used to start a scary story told on a cheesy Sunday night movie..."It was a dark and stormy night" (can you guess what movie?).
     It is not a powerful word, by any means. It's vague...and short. It's like the Clint Howard of words (it's in everything, but usually doesn't add to the plot).
     In short, I have determined that it has no place at the start of my story, but I'm sure I'll pop it in every once and a while.

(note to Mr. Picky-pants--I have gotten it out of my system.)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Musical Moods

     I mentioned in my last post that I wrote a novel. Well, enough words to constitute a novel, anyway. Since I'm a mom, which is a never-ending job, I had to write during down times. In my house that's usually after dinner when the kids are winding down by watching tv (don't judge). At the time, my computer was a desktop and the desk on which it was topped was in the living room. After many nights of trying to write my own story and not accidentally start typing what I heard I put my headphones on and began listening to music.
     My personal favorite artist is Kelly Clarkson (not ashamed to say I voted more times than I can count during her AI competition). The plus side of listening to her while I wrote was that her musical mood matched what I wrote--dark. The down side was that I started typing her lyrics. My brain is not equipped for multiple tasks. Don't believe me? Ask me to walk to you while I'm chewing gum. Ahem... Anywho, I found I liked contemporary piano. The many moods helped me design scenes and the most amazing thing began to happen. Certain songs began helping me shape the moods of my scenes. A consequence of this is now when I listen to my "soundtrack" I relive the scenes I wrote while listening to them.
     So here's my question(s) for you: When do you listen to music? Do you have certain play lists for certain tasks?
     Do you have any songs/artists to recommend? I tend to get stuck listening to the same thing over and again. Right now I listen to Train's Shake Up Christmas because it's so fun, but Christmas has been over for almost two months.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Finding my inner monologue

     Thinking back to my high school days (which is getting harder because it's been so long), I don't ever remember thinking, "when I grow up I want to be a writer". In fact, if I'm going to be truthful, I have to say my biggest dream was to be a mom. Yep, that was me. I was a loner. A member of the dreaded drama "freak" club and I didn't even fit in there. As a senior, I was voted most likely to be a professor at Harvard. Not because I was smart, but because no one (in the popular crowd, that is) knew who I was.
     Here I am x number of years later (you didn't really think I'd tell you my age this early in our relationship, did you?) and I am finally doing what I never thought I would love... writing!
I'm not ashamed to say I wrote an entire novel (90,000 blah, blah words) before deciding I should get some help in the writing field.
     I take a class now. Every Wednesday night I print several copies of my latest try at writing. Sometimes I get a 'good job', sometimes I get kicked out of class to rewrite something, and once or twice now I've even been applauded (beware of inflating head). Even on the bad nights, though, I feel I've learned something.
     Last night I learned (what I hope will be my ah-ha moment) that I need to find my inner monologue.
     Everyone has an inner monologue. What's yours saying right now?
I didn't realize until last night, but mine still exists, just not the way it used to. My head is so busy  figuring out my kid's homework (not good at math), and deciding what's for dinner, and if I remembered to move the laundry around, and dates and times and chores and stopping fights and remembering I gave up chocolate (that's a whole n'other post) and what can I write that Mr. Picky-pants (I've changed the instructors name to protect the innocent...from him) will like, and so on and so on, that I've forgotten how to sit down and let my inner monologue do what it does best. 
     I have a muse on my shoulder telling me what I should write, how I should write and how wonderful my writing is when I listen to it. So I'm going to take a drastic step. Mr. Picky-pants, if you're reading this, it's all your fault... I'm going to kill the muse! Dead.
     And I'm not going to feel guilty about it.
     Bye, bye muse...Hello inner monologue.