Monday, December 22, 2008

Getting into the Spirit

I'm supposedly getting ready to head to my parents' house for Christmas, but I was waiting until it got above freezing. I'm not sure that's going to happen, so I guess I'll have to pack soon, since there's a chance that tomorrow could be freezing and wet. At least today it's freezing and dry. And then the weather will change entirely again, so I have to pack two different wardrobes for the week.

I finally really got into the spirit of the season this weekend. Friday night I took a little walk around the neighborhood to look at the lights and even ended up going to the park where the neighborhood tree is. I remember when it was a little twig, just a Charlie Brown tree, but in the years I've lived here it's grown into a proper huge pine tree. Walking around on a cool night, looking at the lights, made me suddenly want to go Christmas caroling, but that's not really something you can do alone. Walking around singing to yourself is more considered crazy than caroling. And, okay, I did a little of it because there are some moments when you just have to sing, but I didn't do it at full voice, just under my breath.

Then we got another cold front on Saturday, which made it the perfect weather for a movie and book marathon. I read The Dark is Rising, and now I can see why people were so angry about the movie. That was pretty much an abomination. The really annoying thing was that there were all kinds of little details from the book in the movie (though in wrong places), so you know the screenwriter must have actually read the book. If he wanted to write his own story, he should have just written his own story instead of pretending to adapt a book written by a far better writer. There wasn't even a reason for the changes made for the movie. The opening of the book was far more gripping than the opening of the movie. And why did they feel the need to make the main character American? It's not as though American audiences reject everything that's not American. There was this little book and movie series about some kid named Harry Potter, without a single American character, and the books and movies seem to have done okay in the colonies. Grrrr.

I don't really want to get into the other things I read because they would fit into the category of "not for me." I think I now understand the rejection letters that say the execution didn't live up to the premise. What that really means is that the book wasn't the story the reader wanted, given the premise or set-up.

As for movies, I still love Christmas in Connecticut, even though it struck me that they never really gave a reason that the couple would like each other or be good together, aside from the fact that he was much better than the other guy. But it still worked because they did have great chemistry.

When Love, Actually came out, I recall that a lot of the reviews criticized the braided anthology format, saying it meant we didn't get any depth on any of the stories. But I think that's part of the reason this movie works for me so well and has become an annual tradition. Because of the mix of stories, I can enjoy it no matter what mood I'm in, and it's almost an entirely different movie depending on the mood I'm in. Plus, the fact that there are stories full of conflict and drama means that the happy stories are allowed to unfold without inserting artificial conflict just for the sake of keeping the couple apart until the end. It's very rare to see a movie love story that simply involves two people meeting, getting to know each other, liking each other and then falling in love. And I like that it doesn't contain the usual "you're sad and pathetic if you're not in a romantic relationship" message because it affirms other kinds of love, including friendship and families.

Meanwhile, The Holiday is a romantic movie where I'd have almost preferred that they leave out the romance. The best relationship in the movie is between Kate Winslet's character and the elderly screenwriter neighbor, and I think the theme in that story would have actually worked better if she hadn't immediately gotten into another romantic relationship after finally closing the door on that long-term toxic crush. The Cameron Diaz storyline is almost immaterial to me because that was all about the English countryside porn. To me, that would have been a dream vacation even without the hot guy showing up. I'd have been totally content curled up by the fire in that lovely cottage with a stack of books and taking the occasional walk in the country, and I think they should have done something about her learning to be alone and at peace, but then I suppose that wouldn't have made for a very interesting movie for people who weren't content just to look at pretty scenery.

In lieu of a Christmas card, here's a nice view from the steps leading up to the library. The other day, I was coming out of the coffee shop and saw the bridge with the garlands on it, and that was when the holiday spirit suddenly struck me.

And, finally, I have confessed to having occasionally committed fan fiction. I recently came across this Firefly Christmas story I wrote back in 2003 (while I was writing the first draft of Enchanted, Inc.) for a gift zine for a friend, and it's never been publicly posted anywhere, so I thought I'd share. Any eerie similarities between some lines and things that happened in the movie Serenity are either coincidence or a sign that I nailed the characterization. Of course, this is entirely unauthorized, and I own none of these characters (but since no one else seems to be using them at the moment I thought I'd borrow them).

target="_blank">A fairly long Firefly Christmas story, safe for the whole family

Enjoy! Now I'd better go pack ...

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