28 July 2014

My Top 5 Coming of Age Movies

I woke up this morning feeling a bit nostalgic and spent 30 minutes reflecting upon the past. I'm still amazed at how we've gotten as far in life as we have with all the obstacles we faced in our early, formative years. I'm talking to you, the 80's crowd. We're now facing 2014. How's this for progress?

Fast Times (1982)

 Who doesn't remember first love, or rather first spurn? This movie doesn't discriminate. Guys, girls, they all get some form of enlightenment in this coming of age movie. Makes me cringe at times, especially when watching it for the first time with my grown kids, "Hey mom, why do they all sniff the paper like that?"

Mike Damone: I mean don't just walk in. You move across the room. And you don't talk to her. You use your face. You use your body. You use everything. That's what I do. I mean I just send out this vibe and I have personally found that women do respond. I mean, something happens.
Mark Ratner: Well, naturally something happens. I mean, you put the vibe out to 30 million chicks, something is gonna happen.
Mike Damone: That's the idea, Rat. That's the attitude.
Mark Ratner: The attitude?
Mike Damone: Yeah! The attitude dictates that you don't care whether she comes, stays, lays, or prays. I mean whatever happens, your toes are still tappin'. Now when you got that, then you have the attitude.

The Sure Thing (1985)

I had no idea this movie released before Better off Dead, which is the movie I recall being my first love for John Cusack. I was wrong. Either way, you should watch both! The Sure Thing isn't as much about my love for Cusack as it is about the complex relationship his character shares with Alison Bradbury, played by Daphne Zuniga.

Alison Bradbury: [checking her calendar] Let's see, Friday. 5:30, dinner. 6:00, Calculus. 7:00, news. 7:30, shower. 7:45, phone call. Eight o'clock?
Gib: [sarcastic] Gee, I don't know. That's when I rearrange my sock drawer.

St. Elmo's Fire (1985)

St. Elmo's Fire (for me) was the best "out of college" movie EVER! There's a scenario for every level of fresh out of college newbie life, and there's no holding back on reminders of how much it hurts to be a newbie college graduate. Welcome to  adulthood is the message in this movie, but it's a great ride and packs a load of fun.

 Kirby: She is the only evidence of God I have seen with the exception of the mysterious force that removes one sock from the dryer every time I do my laundry.
Kevin: Love, love, you know what love is? Love is an illusion created by lawyer types like yourself to perpetuate another illusion called marriage to create the reality of divorce and then the illusionary need for divorce lawyers.
Jules: I don't know why you're both so worried... So, I bop him for a couple of years, get his job when he gets his hands caught in the vault, do a black mink ad, retire in utter disgrace, then write a best seller and be a fabulous host on my own talk show...

About Last Night (1986)

Whether you've seen the 2014 remake of this movie or not, this 1986 original is a must see. Jim Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins do their supporting roles justice in the 1986 movie about a young couple making a life together despite friends who clearly have plans to sabotage the blossoming relationship. The remake has Kevin Hart and Regina Hall playing the same roles yet they are clearly better suited for their own star roles...in a different movie. Their presence butchered this lovely story-line. The over-acting in the support roles really put a damper on this newer version. Please watch the original and don't let this modern day race for remakes get you down.

Bernie: What do you do?
Joan: Me?
Bernie: Well, yeah for a living?
Joan: [sarcastic] I'm a neurosurgeon, you?
Bernie: I'm a prizefighter. Do you know much about boxing?
Joan: No...
Bernie: I'm the heavyweight champion of the world.

Shrimp on the Barbie (1990)

The theme is love and relationships, but a more substantive one. Rather than overcoming personal barriers and simple obstacles encountered with young love and establishing relationships, this storyline casts a wider net, incorporating social class and ethnic diversity. Cheech Marin has a dual role: the funny, lovable jester, and the supporting friend with a big heart.

Carlos: Hey, do you mind if I use that stick?
Alex: What stick?
Carlos: The one that's up your butt!
Carlos: You can get a lot of suckers to do this shit. I come all the way down to impress Bruce in front of daddy. I didn't come here to be insulted by these bigoted assholes!

These are older movies and though the content, setting, etc are clearly dated, the stories stick to core concepts and solid relationship struggles. Now I'm wondering. What movies stick out from your "coming of age" formative years?

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23 July 2014

New Design Launch and Snow Leopard Excerpt

This is not the story I'd promised with the launch of my new look and feel for Are We There Yet? Instead, I'm sharing with you the things which keep me captivated in this world of reading and writing fiction: a world where our protagonists, villains, antagonists, and other supporting characters spring from the imaginations of writers who use nothing more than mere words to engage us and suck us into the madness.

Madness?! What do you mean madness?

Freaky mad!!  Or just freaky?

What else would you call it when you block yourself off from the rest of the world to drink in the surroundings of some fictional tale involving murder, mayhem, and chaos? Or a futile fair tale romance that could never be because, in reality, we're not as perfectly beautiful, wealthy, and flawless as our fictional heroes and heroines?

The things that captivate me while reading a fictional story is the imagery. The way a writer can describe a sound or color.  I like Steven King's description of the sound made by a hungry stray dog while ripping hair from the scalp of a dead man. It was in his book Gerald's Game.  The scene was hideously gruesome, and so vividly clear that I could actually hear the sound itself, even though I would never have imagined it before.

Another thing that I like is the bringing together, in an artistic way, events which trigger a particular emotion. Sort of like in Enchantment, where Orson Scott Card describes the villainous witch, Baba Yaga. She is brushing her hair in front of this magical mirror which makes her look young and beautiful. She hums a tune while her husband watches in disgust. Through his own eyes, he sees a witch-like, wrinkled, and hideously grotesque blob. It makes you kind of forget how evil and awful she is for a moment, and you feel pity for her.  Amazing, isn't it?

Yes, it's madness, sort of. Who in their right mind would feel sympathy for an evil, villainous, sub-human monster? If written well, I would.

And since I didn't share with you a story, here's an excerpt from one of my first short stories published on Amazon, Snow Leopard. But first, a one sentence blurb to put things in context.

A human specimen is prepared for the surgical removal of her scalp, which will be transfused onto the crown of a tribal leader, King to a subhuman species of feline crossbreeds.

The surgical lines outlined the subject's forehead with a path leading toward the nape of the neck. Fiona placed both hands in the middle of the subject's forehead. She sank two nails into the flesh and dark droplets of blood seeped onto the clean surface of the skin, one droplet meandering down the slope of the nose, sinking into the crevice of the nostril, and finding its way to the lips, where it emptied itself like a creek into the mouth of a river.

They worked better than a scalpel, moving to either side of each temple and then around the ears. Fiona continued with the incision until she reached the endpoint at the back of the neck, not missing any strands of the precious red mane. When the incision was complete, Fiona looked at Franz and nodded.  
He reached over and pinched the edges of the subject's exposed skin at the top of the forehead, careful to maintain a grip, the blood slipping between his fingers. He was not a surgeon, yet grateful for not having to maintain his nails like Fiona. 
He pulled the bloody skin away from the skull. It peeled much like the skin of a grape. He maintained the integrity of the incision by following along the slit, pulling the skin away from the thin membrane protecting the skull. When the entire scalp was free, he plopped the newly acquired piece onto the slab of ice. He would later wheel it into the adjoining room, where lay Han, the tribe leader awaiting his prized mane of red human hair. 

What captivates you and keeps you engrossed in a fictional world?

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20 July 2014

Coming Changes to Are We There Yet?

To all the readers and writers out there in the blog-o-sphere, I've been exploring options for revamping Are We There Yet? Why I write is important in the design I choose for this blog, so I hired a graphics design artist who has been phenomenal in working with me to help improve upon my theme as well as reveal a little about me in the process.

I sought a professional because the current signature graphic of my name is lame and amateurish, but hey, I'm no graphics designer. And yes, the pen would indicate writing at some level, but really? You would think I could have come up with something a little more suited to a theme of making progress.

Writing is instrumental in revealing the soul of an author, and as such, my soul should be splattered across the header of this blog, not some flamboyant scribbling from a ballpoint pen which screams "pink ego." Besides, I don't write with a pen, I type on a keyboard! But, Diane, you're being a bit hard on yourself.

I'll just slap myself with a wet noodle. Soon I will be unveiling a fresh look and feel. With the new blog design, I will share a short piece of fiction to accompany the launch. I hope you will enjoy both, the graphic and the story. See you soon!

When was the last time you felt the need to revamp your little writing nook out here in the blog-o-sphere, and how drastic a change did you make?

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14 July 2014

The American Dream - Coming Together

This weekend I opened my heart to America. I had no idea this movie existed until Tim said he wanted to go see it. It came out of nowhere. Was he bored? A documentary? Who goes to the movies to watch a documentary? Why didn't they just put it on television like other historical documentaries?

I didn't have the energy to argue. I didn't want to watch anything about America. I had grown tired of America and the back and forth bickering and debating between the left and the right. I didn't want to be affiliated with any political party, but I've been saddened by how polarized we'd become.

Polarization. I had no idea I would discover this to be a deliberate strategy, that America had been and continues to be subliminally strong armed into voting the way of shame. But I wasn't ashamed of anything and neither are many of my friends and colleagues. However, the narrative unfolding in the media demands we listen and pay attention to it. I'll call it the shaming of America. We're racist thieves and we must be reminded at every opportunity.

Photo I took when visiting Washington D.C.

In truth, I wanted to watch Melissa McCarthy in her new movie, Tammy. I needed the comedic relief, but no. Okay, I conceded after Tim reminded me of its scathing review by USMagazine, calling it a career intervention for McCarthy. How wrong is that?

The hell?

The movie we watched instead is based on Dinesh D’Souza's new book, America: Imagine the World Without Her. I won't go into the details, but the movie is very well put together, inviting far left views as well as representing another narrative which shines a different light onto America and who she is.

We are reminded of the untold stories which make us strong and proud to have come from such a great country. We are reminded of the horrors, also untold, which would show the unjust in the way we approach society today. We are all equally at fault for the America we are building for the future if we cannot come together and build a narrative that is just and accurate.

You cannot fix a problem if you're not willing to have that dialogue. Mr. D'Souza seems to have brought some issues to the table. I'm just not so sure America is ready to have that dialogue. We'll see.

If you're like me and have been feeling a little beaten up by the political pow wow in the media, go see this movie. You'll feel much better!

Everyone in the theater applauded. It was the first time I'd ever witnessed such a thing and it made me feel good about America, whereas before entering, I'd felt indifferent and a little depressed.

I love America. What are your thoughts? Has America disappointed you? Are things that bad, or are they promising?

From our recent visit to D.C.

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07 July 2014

Making No Progress, Suggestions are Welcome!!

Okay, I apologize. I submitted this photo while in Tampa this afternoon. I thought it expressed exactly how I felt at the moment. I experienced this urge to write something and all I had available as a conduit to the blog-o-sphere was my iPhone and iPad.

I snapped this photo from my Bitstrips app over a week ago. But, today is when I realized my block, so I posted the photo from my iPhone and then ventured back to address you folks with one question.

What do you do to overcome severe writer's block?

I need your help!! :(

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