Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bransford Dared me to Do It

Mr. Nathan Bransford made a list of his top 100 movies of all time, and challenged his readers to make their own.
And so, here are 100 movies I love, not in any order except as I remembered them. The criteria for making this list included only that I think the movie was awesome.


1.      Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2.      Before Sunrise / Before Sunset
3.      The Black Stallion
4.      Cool Hand Luke
5.      Goodfellas
6.      The Aviator
7.      Rushmore
8.      The Royal Tennenbaums
9.      Fantastic Mr. Fox
10.  The Money Pit
11.  The Big Lebowski
12.  Stand By Me  
13.  The Blair Witch Project
14.  Where the Wild Things Are
15.  Y Tu Mama Tambien
16.  The Loneliest Planet
17.  The Secret of Kells
18.  Once
19.  Rogue Trader
20.  Trainspotting
21.  The Fountain
22.  Run Lola Run
23.  The Tree of Life
24.  Gerry
25.  Dove
26.  Risky Business
27.  Primer
28.  Blue Valentine
29.  In Bruge
30.  There Will Be Blood
31.  No Country for Old Men
32.  Solaris
33.  The New World
34.  The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
35.  Fight Club
36.  The Dark Crystal
37.  Sexy Beast
38.  The Science of Sleep
39.  Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
40.  The Brothers McMullen
41.  Greenberg
42.  O Brother, Where Art Thou?
43.  Romeo + Juliet (the Baz Luhrman version)
44.  Stardust Memories
45.  The New World
46.  Brazil
47.  Evita
48.  Rachel Getting Married
49.  Silver Linings Playbook
50.  The Dreamers
51.  Secretary
52.  Pollock
53.  Office Space
54.  Wonder Boys
55.  Pan’s Labyrinth
56.  Sideways
57.  Midnight in Paris
58.  Memento
59.  12 Monkeys
60.  The Prestige
61.  Boys Don’t Cry
62.  Cave of Forgotten Dreams
63.  The Sting
64.  The Goonies
65.  The Motorcycle Diaries
66.  Man on Wire
67.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
68.  Casino
69.  Somewhere
70.  A Mighty Wind
71.  Youth in Revolt
72.  SLC Punk
73.  Match Point
74.  Boogie Nights
75.  2 Days in New York
76.  The Triplets of Belleville
77.  25th Hour
78.  Away We Go
79.  The Social Network
80.  American Splendor
81.  True Romance
82.  Say Anything
83.  Election
84.  The Virgin Suicides
85.  Into the Wild
86.  The Informant!
87.  All the President’s Men
88.  Electric Horseman
89.  Fitzcarraldo
90.  Clue
91.  Drive
92.  Traffic
93.  Young Adult
94.  The Departed
95.  Before Night Falls
96.  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
97.  An Education
98.  JFK
99.  Burn After Reading
100.                      The Great Muppet Caper




Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Once More Around the Park

There's a quote from Carrie Fisher, about working with George Lucas - a director not exactly known for his finesse with actors, or ability to examine the human condition, or, well, emotion really - where she described his directing style on the first Star Wars picture.* After every take, all he would say was, "Good. Now do it again, faster, and more intense."

Yeah. Not a lot to go on, I suppose.
That is kind of what my 2012 felt like. A big spin of the wheel that put me right back where I started from, with the only direction being, "Do a little bit better next time."
I spent the whole year working on one particular manuscript, one that everyone loved, but not quite enough, and one that is so dear to my heart that I will probably never give up on it, no matter how long it takes to get it into the world.
In between my endless year of revisions, I wrote three new manuscripts, one of which has gotten some encouraging feedback. The other two are in various stages of simmering and stewing, and waiting for me to whip them into shape.

One thing I have not yet encountered is the Block. The lack of Something to Write. I have more crappy ideas than I could probably ever develop into real, solid manuscripts, and part of my own personal obstacle seems to be a lack of focus, an inability to really dedicate myself to one project at a time.
So, to counter the impulse to start yet another manuscript, when I have so many to finish and polish and improve, I decided to try something totally different, and as foreign to me as learning to speak Klingon.

I have started running.
I picked January, in the middle of the single digit temperatures, and the thundersnow, and the ice storms, because, well, I didn't really plan this very well, and also, if I can get out and run in the snow and the cold, I can definitely run in the warm sunshine. And I can fix this manuscript, and make it shine.


I feel like I'm in the last stretch of my 10,000 hours of practice. I think I know what I'm doing. Now it's time to make something happen here.




* I love using the word picture in reference to movies. Makes me feel like I should be in a tweed suit, with a cigar in my teeth, and a rotary dial phone that's a direct line to the boys at MGM.

Anyone else trying something different? Maybe something unexpected to keep the creativity rolling?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Become One with the Process. The Horrible, Horrible Process...

I have a little confession to make, regarding this whole journey of writing. What's my dirty little secret?


I kind of like querying. Actually, I really like it.

 Perhaps I am a sadist, or just a glutton for punishment, but I love having something out there in the world. It's a mark of accomplishment. A milestone that every writer before me has crossed. Every book I see on the shelf is the end result of someone taking the time to create it, and having the courage to then send it out into the world. That name on the spine is someone out there who opened a letter that began with "Unfortunately" and didn't let it stop them. Someone who sent out another query, knowing they were just as likely to hear another no. Watch another door close. Be politely declined a seat at the table.

So far, this journey for me has been filled with more than a few "nos".  But there have been little "yeses" too. Enough "yeses" from enough places to keep my head above water as I tread my way across. If you're going to write for the world, you'll have to go through the query mill. Might as well enjoy the trip.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Snobbery Reaches Hipster Levels

Last year, I saw a lot of movies.
A lot.
Some time ago, we cut the cable, as it was expensive, and no one in the house was watching it. We discovered Netflix, and the trove of crazy, old, and obscure fare available. And I put everything in the queue.
Old Westerns, foreign comedies, hits from the 60s and 70s I didn't see because I wasn't born yet, all of it. Weird stuff that never got distribution, beautiful stuff that never got distribution, basically the whole Netflix back list.
The result?
Not going to the theater very much.
The result of this?
I just read the list of Oscar noms for '12, and I haven't seen anything in any category - except Moonrise Kingdom and the animated category. Seen all of them.

Of the rest? Well... meh, I guess.
Of the best picture nominees, I do want to see Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, (but I'd rather read them) and Django Unchained, and the rest look like perfectly fine films. I know I'll be seeing Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, because Mr. Cate  has a huge crush on Kathrine Bigelow, and a huge director man-crush on Ben Affleck. (His real man-crush is a tie between Channing Tatum and Ryan Goseling)

As far as winners, this is who should win, in the categories I can make a blind pick, based on my previous loyalties to certain actors/directors and writers.

Christopher Waltz for Supporting Actor. He should be nominated every year. Even years he doesn't have a film out. Just nominate him for existing.

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, for Best Screenplay. I did see Moonrise Kingdom, of course. I've seen every Wes Anderson film in the theaters. All but Rushmore in the same theater, in fact.

Bradley Cooper for Best Actor, because how awesome would it be to hear, "And Academy Award winner, Bradly Cooper" in the trailer to The Hangover 3???

And a five way tie for Animated Picture, because they were all really beautiful, and really delightful. (But the one that made me laugh the most was Pirates! Band of Misfits.)

But of course, it's an honor just to be nominated.



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ever More a Snob

Here we are at the start once again. Not just a new year, but a new b'ak'tun as well. And we (as a whole) survived.

The end of the last b'ak'tun was mildly eventful for me, in many non-writing related ways. Our littlest person got much bigger, and has chosen his future vocation. (astrophysicist.) Our little baby kitten is now our second biggest cat, on his way to becoming the biggest kitty in the house any day now.



 I have tried many new things, and become, I'm afraid to say, a bit spoiled.
I was already a pretty solid book snob. And movie snob. Not so much with music, perhaps because it takes less time investment to listen to a song, and much more to explore the intimidating amount of music available these days, and perhaps because it continues to be fun to watch Mr. Cate's eye twitch whenever I turn on the radio in the car to any station owned by Clearchannel. (shudder.)

My entire adult life I've been a used car gal. In 2012, we bought our first new car ever. And yeah, I like driving it more than the way older, slightly clunky one.

Also in 2012, I became the owner of an e-reader. Yup. I'm an e book person now. I feel like Spock, or something.

Also in 2012, I was introduced to Kona coffee, fresh ground in my very own little electric grinder, which is the funnest thing to use.

I like all of these things. I think I'll stick with them. In this new b'ak'tun though, I'm going to try to be less of a book snob.