Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tough Kolackys

Some weeks are great ... some not so much. This past one has been a doozy on many levels. But since I prefer to keep things upbeat on the blog, I won't get into the details here.

A long time ago I read advice about how to deal with difficult situations -- I can't remember where it came from, but the advice was good. Paraphrasing here - "Give yourself 30 seconds to get over it, then move on."
Thirty seconds may be a mite ambitious, but the sentiment is solid: Take time to deal with it, then let it go.

Another quote I love is this one from Theodore Rubin: The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.

And the one I like the best, from Henry David Thoreau, Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, sums up how I prefer to deal with disappointment.

This week is already shaping up to be better than last week. And I shall move confidently ahead.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

'Tis a far, far better thing I do ...

One of our household's younger members (I'll take Keith Raffel's approach here, and call her Number 3) is required to read A Tale of Two Cities for her honors English class this semester. I strongly believe in reading the assignments, as does she, but I also know how much I like to populate a novel with characters I've met onscreen. If possible, I prefer to see the movie first, then read the book. The opposite - reading a book first and then seeing the movie - usually results in disappointment. I can name only two movie series that have almost lived up to their books - Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. Oh wait, one more... Jane Austen's Persuasion. That movie followed the book almost word for word.

In any case, now that we're Netflix members (such convenience!) we can access great classics like A Tale of Two Cities that chains like Hollywood and Blockbuster no longer carry. For our Dickens foray, I chose the Ronald Colman version. Love that man's voice. I'd seen this version years ago, and it was so wonderful, I promptly read the book. I think Number 3 feels the same way and if there's ever a way to get kids excited about assigned reading, I'm all for it.

Her next assignment is Julius Caesar. Any favorite versions out there you'd care to recommend?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Reviews and opinions

Yes, it's Friday, rather than Wednesday. I've been tied up with a bunch of home-related stuff this week, so I'm falling behind on my blogging. Didja miss me? ;-)

Last night we watched the movie 300 - the Spartan movie. I really enjoyed it. Lots of blood and guts and a few beheadings, but the movie was better than I'd expected it to be. It's filmed with a different look, and I guess I expected something cartoonish. It was definitely not. The fellow who played Xerxes looked so familiar and it wasn't until the credits rolled that I found out Xerxes had been played by Rodrigo Santoro. Is this the same guy who played the handsome, shy, hunk in Love Actually? And the same guy who was buried alive on Lost? Wow. I'm usually pretty good at placing people, but this one blew me away. My daughter saw 300 some time ago and told me she came out of the theater wanting to be a Spartan woman. After seeing this, I understand. I thought the movie was very well done.

Also this week, we rented the first season of Six Feet Under. The TV show has gotten some wonderful reviews, and I was tempted to buy it first, sight unseen. I'm glad I held off. I made it through the pilot and one and a half episodes. Granted, there are some funny moments. Lots of interesting funeral-home stuff too (the "commercials" interspersed in the pilot were hysterical!), but I found the teenage daughter to be a way-over-the-top cardboard character. She reminded me of the teenage daughter from the first season of 24. Ooh... let me be totally selfish... ooh, let me experiment with sex and drugs... Oh, and when things don't go my way, let me blame the world. Hey, casting people, guess what? Teenagers are more multi-dimensional than you give them credit for. Geez, cut the manufactured drama by half, at least. I found the Six Feet Under teenage character boring. In fact, I fast-forwarded through her scenes. The brothers are ... okay, I guess. One is uptight with his homosexual secret, the other a ne'er-do-well, who might just be finding his way now that Dad is out of the picture. I dunno. It all seemed very formulaic and, unfortunately, dull.

But the funeral home stuff was fun. I have to give it that. And the assistant (Rico?) is a gem.

Also in the review column: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Gotta admit, I loved it. I think J.K. Rowling has done the literary world a great favor by bringing us Harry Potter. The ending epilogue got a little cutesy, but I think it had to. Nicely done, J.K. And thank you. I finished reading the book the weekend it came out, but I'm about to start listening to it on CD in the car. I have one more disk left of Steve Hamilton's A Stolen Season, and then I'm popping Harry into the stereo.

Do we still call it a stereo? Oops. Dating myself here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Great week!

As much as I'm disappointed to not be attending the Five Star annual Author Day in Maine this weekend, I really can't complain. It's been a great week. Lots of fun stuff going on here, the highlight of which came from this very blog! Walter Scheib, former White House Executive Chef, sent me a comment. Wow! Since then, we've e-mailed and spoken once on the phone. What a gracious, wonderful man. He cleared up a couple of questions I had regarding some office locations (no, nothing classified!) and I'm ecstatic. To say I was blown away by his generosity is an understatement.

In other news, my writing partner, Michael A. Black, and I got good news from our editor, D.C. Brod, on our collaborative novel, DEAD RINGER. She liked it, she really liked it! She also made a great suggestion regarding one of the post-climactic scenes. Mike and I have already discussed and changed that scene. We both agree it's much stronger now.

Tomorrow and Friday are writing-only days for me. I have a slew of things to do this weekend, including attending a booksigning for my good friend Shane Gericke. Check out his website: - he's having a great year, too.

More later... right now I have to figure out a way to finagle a lobster dinner Friday night... seeing as how I'll be missing the festivities in Maine this year...