When the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry chose the theme of “Sex” for their latest OMSI After Dark event, I suppose it was only natural for them to think of the Rose City Romance Writers. (Thanks for inviting us, OMSI!) Although I admit, their request that we make our contribution “interactive” made me blush becomingly.
Regardless, I’ll be there tonight along with a contingent of my fellow romance authors including Nancy Brophy, Jenna Bayley-Burke, Linda Mercury, and Heidi Joy Tretheway doing our romance author song ‘n’ dance for a hopefully curious, adult-beverage imbibing museum crowd. In addition to some show and tell — heh heh — we have a quick sex quiz (sex shouldn’t always be quick, but quizzes should be) and a giveaway bag o’ books.
If you want to play along from home (although wouldn’t you rather be with us, imbibing adult beverages?) click on the quiz board to see the questions larger and answer in the comments section. Then sign up for my newsletter. I’ll be choosing a winner from my newsletter readers so if you already get it, no need to sign up again.
We hope to be back for OMSI After Dark’s May event — “Guilty Pleasures”. Assuming we don’t get 86′d for our wanton ways
I finally got to see Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I loved J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. As a kid, I had the coffee-table size illustrated edition. I actually BLED for that book; I was turning the pages so fast I gave myself a hella papercut.
However, I don’t consider myself a ravening fan-girl. I loved the Hobbit book and songs, and I loved PJ’s The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy as well as the LotR source material, but I don’t have any of it memorized. (Although I admit I read The Hobbit 11 times in a row, it was a really long time ago.) I’m never wedded to canonical purity, and I’m totally willing to go along with a compelling new vision, even of a storyworld I love.
So to say I personify the ideal audience for The Hobbit movies is, I think, no exaggeration. And to say that the movie left me rather flat breaks my heart.
Having seen the first installment, I knew part 2 would be problematic, so my expectations were realistic. Indeed, after reading reviews (carefully, to avoid spoilers — sure, I read the book 11 times, but ya never know) my expectations might’ve been below realistic into low territory. I reminded myself that seeing the movie would at least support the epic fantasy genre. I even made sure to be mildly dehydrated so the 2:40 run-time wouldn’t leave me shifting restlessly in my seat.
And STILL I gave a sad sigh as I walked out of the theater at 1:30 a.m. after the late show.
In Desolation, I have seen the positive power of no at work. Or, in this case, not working.
Not the ability to SAY no — that’s one of the first things you learn as a toddler: nononononono — but the ability to HEAR no. As a storyteller myself, I’m inclined to believe that if only I was allowed to run amok, my creative life would be perfect. If only I could do whatever I wanted, with enormous talent and a bottomless budget and brilliant co-conspirators and an automatically adoring audience, certainly I would create a work to both entertain AND endure the ages.
Not so much, apparently.
Desolation was a gorgeous, thrilling, wonderful movie… stuck in a too-big hooded onsie, under a winter coat and galoshes, overlaid with a wetsuit, tucked into an EVA space suit, rolling inside a half-inflated bouncy house. Seeing the movie that could have been drowning in the morass of what was actually on the screen gave me a new appreciation for editing. Every single scene in the movie — not kidding, EVERY scene — could have been shortened, sometimes judiciously, sometimes brutally. Every speech (with the possible exception of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Smaug, but only because he was so very, very pretty) could have been trimmed. Every action sequence could have been tighter, most of them by multiple beats (which would have neatly gotten rid of some questionable CGI). Entire characters could have been cut without consequence.
The moviemakers just needed to hear no.
No, the movie shouldn’t be two hours and forty minutes. Heck, now that we think about it, no, it doesn’t need to be a trilogy. No, you can’t have two nearly identical speeches that aren’t even good echoes and you can’t have two nearly identical action sequences involving log rides. And while we’re saying no, no, you aren’t designing an amusement park, you’re making a movie. No, there aren’t that many orcs in existence who can’t land a single bloody blow. No, you don’t need that weak and undermotivated love interest story. (“But at least we added a character with woman parts, so of course she had to fall in love with someone for no fucking reason…” Gah.) No, we aren’t buying that cool special effect app just so you can use it on something that doesn’t even fit into the image bible you’ve already established. No, somebody doesn’t need to say something in a ringing voice because this is the story beat where somebody always says something in a ringing voice. No, we’re not randomly shoehorning this character even if certain fan-girls want it so bad. Okay, yes, you can sneak your cameo in the establishing shot, but it won’t be self-indulgent because on everything else that makes the movie feel slow and unfocused we are going to say no and you are going to hear it. No. Nonononono. Just… no.
In January, I’m writing one story and revising two more, so this lesson really hit home for me. (Hit home like one of Tauriel’s arrows, not like an orc blow which apparently can’t land EVER.) Not that I am anywhere near as indulged as PJ — tragically — but in my own little creative realm, I sometimes want to go easy on myself. And that’s no good.
No one wants to hear no. It sounds so… limiting. But hearing no shouldn’t stop you. No indeed! No is where we find the problems. It’s where we cut what doesn’t work. It’s where we find new ways around and over and through. It’s how we fight to a yes. An enthusiastic, unconditional, orgasmic yesyesyes!
Hearing no can be sharp and painful, honing back to the bone, but it’s the difference between a bloated, soft, weak hobbit who never would have left the Shire and a hot, sleek, glittering dragon who’ll burn everyone’s lowly expectations to the ground. That cutting NO creates the negative pressure that gives lift to the dragon’s wings.
So I’ll be taking NO and running with it like scissors — like Bilbo’s little Sting! — excising the bloat, slicing away the unnecessary, carving through to the shiny gold center. The power of no is a power I will use for good.
But I suppose the real question is, will I see the third Hobbit movie? Well, YES I mean, c’mon, it’s The Hobbit!
My washing machine died full of soap and water (is there any reason washing machines can’t die BEFORE the soap and water part?) so on New Year’s Eve I went to the laundromat with my sopping, soapy clothes. Happy freakin’ New Year.
While I was at the laundromat brooding — partly about a new story I’m plotting, but mostly about how unfair it was that I was at a laundromat on New Year’s Eve — a guy biked up. After poking through the ashtray outside, he came in to check the machines for lost change and dig pop cans out of the recycle bin. His baseball hat was askew and his front teeth were missing. A frayed knee brace was pretty much the only thing holding up his baggy jeans.
He asked me if I knew where the lost & found was. I pointed him toward the locked office (ain’t nobody at a laundromat on New Year’s Eve who doesn’t have to be) where the refund forms dangled from the door knob and loaned him my pen, which wasn’t doing me any good coming up with the heroine’s internal motivation anyway.
I asked him what he was looking for — partly because maybe I’d seen it, but mostly because writers are nosy — and he said somebody had taken his laundry from one of the dryers.
“All my socks,” he said. Then he added in a mumble, “And underwear.”
Stealing somebody’s laundry is low. Stealing somebody’s socks and underwear is really, really low.
He filled out the form and pushed it through the slot in the office door. When he returned my pen, I gave him the rest of my quarters. His fingernails were black with dirt.
“You can get some new socks,” I said. Then I thought maybe that sounded presumptuous — I mean, he might have had access to more socks somewhere else; just because he looked homeless doesn’t mean he was — so I added, “Or a New Year’s Eve beer.”
“I’m laying off the sauce,” he said. “The socks’ll keep me warmer.”
Probably there’s a 50/50 chance he was fibbing about the socks or the beer. As a writer, I look squinty eyed at everybody’s stories, even my own. But anybody out on New Year’s Eve looking for half-smoked cigarette butts, empty cans, and lost laundry deserves the benefit of the doubt.
I’m ending 2013 with a bunch of annoyances: there’s a mysterious oily patch that may or may not be coming from the car, the dog has an intermittent limp that was getting better but of course got worse right before the vet closed for the holiday, I just spent way too much at the dentist, someone stole XY’s bike off our front porch on Christmas Eve (not the guy at the laundromat; I checked his bike), and I’m already hyperventilating about whether I can really do everything I want to do in the next twelve months. Also I have a zit on my chin. And let’s not forget the broken washing machine.
But I think I’m going to start 2014 with a more positive mindset. After all, I still have a dryer. And thanks to my loving family, I got cute new socks and underwear for Christmas. I’m not sure the guy at the laundromat would appreciate being my New Year’s Eve attitude adjustment — I didn’t have that many quarters left — but I appreciated the reminder that I have more opportunities than some people to make the most of 2014.
What I do with the new year isn’t entirely up to me, of course. I think none of us can take all the credit (or all the blame) for where we end up. While my goals are properly self-directed, some of my wishes are reliant on forces outside my control. But how I deal with the inevitable challenges of 2014 is entirely up to me, so I’m going to focus on my strengths and resources and do my best.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, rewarding new year for all. And here’s hoping we all get to face it with clean underthings.
Originally posted on See Jane Publish:
Tis the day after Christmas, and all through the blog,
The cursors blink quietly; the writers’ve had too much eggnog.
The word counts are stagnant, the posts left undone,
For the world offers distractions, so many, pick one!
There’s Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hannukah, oh my.
There’s Kwanzaa and New Year’s and, uh… Fruit Cake Toss Day, why try?
How could I write through all this disturbance?
I wouldn’t get more than one pathetic-ass sentence.
My fraud is exposed. I know I’m a dreamer.
And somehow I left the party with this Moo Cow Creamer.
A cow (who picked this?) seems complacent and common
But suddenly I realize this is something to think on.