Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dragonfly (2002)

Eight years ago when this movie came out, I added it to my "to see" list.  I never got around to it - not in the theaters, not soon after when it was on cable.  But it has always stayed on the "to see" list, even tho the reviews were brutal.  I don't know - something about it just stuck with me.

I've said it before & I'll say it again:  Thank Heaven for TiVo!  I happened to have caught that it was playing sometime this afternoon while I'd be at work so I set the TiVo to record and snuggled in this evening to finally see this movie!

I have to say, I enjoyed it.  I found it wonderfully moving and meaningful.  Costner's Dr. Joe Darrow is lost without his wife and lost without faith...  did he lose faith when he lost his wife or, as a scientist, did he lack faith to begin with?  What is so amazing to me about this movie is Joe's journey to faith, through faith.  My favorite line is this one:  "it's belief that gets us there."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Ok, I'm stumbling thru this book...  I'm about half way and pulling my hair out.  Got so aggravated 2 nights ago I slapped it down & can't bear to pick it back up yet.  Ggggrrrr!  Here's my problem: too much NOTHING.  Too many frustrating circumstances, no answers, no leads, not exactly believable situations...  Such as, two hours with the investigator while Grandpops gathers chow but no dialog about the case?????????????????????????  Ex-girlfriend pops in and interrupts the evening, implies she's still the girlfriend in front of the other girl, who leaves abruptly, and NOBODY - not Dude or Grandpops - speaks up OR stops the other girl from leaving????????????????  How's this?  The cops show up & accuse Dude of killing his friend, ask where he's been all evening and instead of saying, "here, with my grandfather & a date,"in other words, a provable alibi, he gets beat up by the cops & thrown in jail AND STILL NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING?  We just go to the next day & wake up on a cot behind bars?  WTHeck???

James Patterson is an AMAZING person - have you ever read up on him?  Aside from being a world renown author, he is just a fascinating, sincere, business oriented, this-is-my-career-and-I'm-going-to-do-it-right guy.  Cranks out books by the dozens, covers a variety of genres, including children's, and has the heart of a teacher. Just truly remarkable!  So, I hate to criticize (because who am I to talk???  What the heck have I ever done???), but I am freakin' pulling my hair out here.  I did not enjoy "Sundays at Tiffany's" or "Sam's Letters to Jennifer," altho I did, did, did like "Kiss the Girls" (that is the book that started this loggin' bloggin'), so I'm thinking I don't like him as a romance writer and decide to return to the blood & guts suspense stuff.  But I gotta say, I'm, like, miffed right now!  WTHeck???

One of my reading goals is to read the Women's Murder Club series in sequence - gosh, I hope I don't get this frustrated when I start that!

And just to clarify, this is just a vent.  I'm not giving up on "The Beach House" yet.  This guy Patterson is no slouch and isn't acclaimed for nothing, so there has GOT to be something here... something that I'll get to (soon, please) and will cheer LOUDLY over in the end.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, September 12, 2010


The key to writing is to write.  Just write.  Everyday and anything.  A thought, a poem, a line, a lyric, a paragraph, a story.

Just write.  Everyday and anything.

Like everything else in life, we must hone our craft and how do you do that without practice?

Take out the thought of being "a writer" means your published and absorb the practice that being "a writer" means you write.  Plain and simple.  We identify ourselves, often and too much, by what we do.  So, when someone asks, "are you a writer?" we duck our heads and say, "no" because the next logical, almost accusing question will be, "what have you written?" and unless we've been published, we'd rather not take ourselves down this road.

I read about this very thing recently, in another writer's blog.  How a reaction and answer changes based on the question. By changing "are you a writer?" to "do you write?", she had a totally different conversation develop.  Interesting...

Blogging as a writer originally had a purpose: to get all these poetic thoughts out of my head...  Hence the title:  Jae Halam Writes.  However, I haven't gotten there yet.  Instead, I'm having much more fun, and staying much more comfortable, blogging about what I've read (and recognizing this, I added the "... and Reads..." to my blog title).  Which brings me another thought:  I wasn't comfortable sharing this with anyone.  Who am I to write about someone else's writing?  I've hidden this blog from those I know, only recently sharing - and when I did share, I didn't identify myself as the author.  Instead I just suggested it for my friend to read, maybe to get her started on her own literary blog.  BUT once I did that, once I shared, I became more comfortable sharing again.  And again.  And putting this blog out there...  so maybe, if I'd just write, and not worry about what others think-feel-assume-say, I'd step out of that comfort zone I've created as a hidden writer... I'm really just thinking out loud right now - getting these random-writing-thoughts running rampant around my head from thought to finger, from paper to pen...      

Today, while pondering all of this, something about being a writer ran thru my head, about writing and character development, about exposing yourself as a writer and incorporating, or disregarding, the reaction of others:  as a beginning writer we're told to write about what we know.  This is easy.  And safe.  But, I think, my fear of exposure comes from writing about what I don't really know.  About the being exposed as a fraud... believing I must immerse myself into the subject wholly so not to be called out for speaking out turn...  And this idea, this disclaimer, this thought came to me:  the older you get, the more exposure (using it in a different context here) you have - not just to your life but to the lives of others, and not just what you see but what they share of them that you didn't see - the more imagination you develop.  So, to get started, just write; to become a practiced writer, write what you know; to become an interesting writer, step out of your comfort zone and write what you don't know.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Life of David Gale

"There's a point, when your mind outlives its obsessions, when your habits survive your dreams, when your losses... You wonder, maybe death is a gift. All I know I'll be be better off. What I don't know is why."

Saturday night and I've got time on my hands... and a project or two that needs my attention.  As true to my routine, I head into my atelier, sigh at the mess - the enormity of the mess - and plop down on the couch to find something mindless on TV to keep me company while I work.

What I find, and am tempted to NOT watch, but rather record & watch later, is 2003's "The Life of David Gale." 

This is one of those movies I remember from its release (how can it be 7 years old already???), but never got around to seeing in the theaters, never heard a word about and promptly dismissed it from my mind until this moment.  I read the description: (something to the effect of) "a journalist interviews a death row inmate and rushes to prove his innocence before his execution."

Hmmm, I ponder...  it does sound interesting.  Kevin Spacey (love him), Kate Winslet (love her), Laura Linney (a definite fav...) - great actors all...  but still.  It sounds like a "thinker" and a "close watcher," neither of which I have time for tonight.  I have work to do!  I should just see what's on HGTV, or Lifetime, or Bravo, and save this for another day when I do have time to sit & watch... really watch... and think... and ponder...

But, even as I'm thinking this - pondering this - I connect to the channel and immediately become engrossed as I see a woman running thru a street trying desperately to flag down a driver to give her a ride...  WTH?

And so begins my journey into "The Life of David Gale."

The tagline is:  The crime is clear.  The truth is not.

Well, in my not so humble opinion, a lot more than the truth is unclear in this movie...  I can't even begin to explain how disappointed I was. And frustrated.  And aggravated.  You know, I actually liked it - until the point when the crime is explained.  Then I absolutely hated it when the final detail fell into place - at the very last minute of the movie.  I was almost angry.  And insulted.  Really?  Really????  Seriously?  Are you kidding me????

Then:  Whatever, with a shake of my head.  What-freakin'-ever.


Of course, I've thought about it quite a bit since Saturday night.  Even discussed it with a friend over lunch the next day.  And, while searching for an image to use in this blog post, I actually found a working copy of the script - and read it!  In one sitting and in it's entirety in hopes that I'd appreciate it more (which I do, although I can't say I really like it any better; here's the link: www.movie-page.com/scripts/the_life_of_david_gale.pdf).  So all this obsession, if you will, makes me further ponder (more with the pondering?): isn't that what a good story makes you do?  Continue to think about it?  Haven't I mentioned more than once in this blog how I love a story that stays with me, lingers on my mind, causes me to play out the fantasy of the rest of their lives - the what happens next - in my mind? 

Well, not this time.  This time the story continuation stops cold and makes me "tsk!" in disgusted irritation.  And I'm realizing there is a difference between a story that lingers creatively in your heart and mind and a story that plagues you with frustrating, unanswered questions... a story with an ending you just cannot relate to, no matter how hard you try.  A story, that when said & done, you define as stupid.

Oh, that's it!  At the end of the movie I decided what they did was stupid.  Yep, they (the characters) were stupid.  Illogical.  Fanatical.  And just plain dumb-asses.


Here's my thought:  the story is definitely interesting and the concept very creative.  I just think it didn't work.  I think, sometimes, in our zealousness to come up with a new idea, something that hasn't been done & overdone time & again, we writers miss our mark.  We become overly creative and therefore overly complicated.  To me, a better story - any art really - should explain itself, definitely not need to be explained.  But having said that, now that I know the whole story and the characters' intent (thanks to my continued ponderances AND the reading of the script), I really don't know that it could have been told, or ended, any other way.


So, I continue to ponder here...  since the story played out as it should, regardless of my disbelief in the calculated complexity of it, is it actually successful?  And, hmmmm, am I doing exactly what the storyteller wanted?  Does my continued ponderance (is that a real word?) of this story deem it a success in his terms?  Perhaps, it does.  Perhaps he's sitting somewhere having a chuckle because I'm giving him exactly what he wanted all along.  Someone to think about this so much it is not forgotten...