Monday, November 23, 2009

A Blast from the Past

I continue to fail at vacation. In fact, I've given up on calling this a vacation. It's more of a rest/regrouping. The only thing I've managed to cut out of my schedule is the fiction writing. Otherwise, the business end of things keeps coming up, with stuff to deal with. Some of that was because of just coming off finishing a book, so it had piled up, but otherwise it's just bad timing of things coming up while I'm trying to take time off.

So, basically, "vacation" has meant business as usual except for the fun part. I may gripe a bit about the agony of writing (or, really, the agony of rewriting), but still, making up stories is the reason I do this. Unfortunately, I can't think of a way to eliminate the tedious business end of things for a week while I still take time to do the "play" part.

I was kind of stressing myself out about my failure to "vacate," but then I decided to re-label it. I do need to regroup and get my brain into the space to work on something different, and spending additional time just reading and catching up on errands has been nice. Once I get a few more business tasks done, I may even be able to relax better, and the rest of this week I shouldn't have any real business stuff to deal with (though I do have a book club meeting tonight I've been invited to, but that doesn't feel like "work" because some of the people I knew from my pre-author days).

I may go "light duty" during December. I'll never be able to entirely eliminate the business stuff, but I'd like to focus on writing because I'm in the rough draft mode on the project I'll be working on, and that's playtime. In fact, that book is already seeping back into my brain.

I've been mostly a slug, which has been nice. I've done a lot of reading, caught up on OnDemand TV, and Saturday night I had a real blast from the past, thanks to one of the HBO channels. They showed Xanadu. The movie itself is pretty awful, but boy does it bring back memories. I was living in Germany when it came out, and we had the soundtrack album even though the movie hadn't yet made it to the base theater. The album had a lot of stills from the movie, so my friends and I tried to figure out what the movie was about based on the music and the pictures. There was some big band stuff, the Electric Light Orchestra stuff, the Olivia Newton-John stuff, and then photos of Olivia in clothing from a variety of eras. We were guessing at time travel or something like that. That was the album we played on the boom box when we went to the school parking lot to roller skate on weekends. Finally, the summer after seventh grade, one of my friends got a bootleg copy of the videotape, and we got to watch the movie at her birthday slumber party, and our reaction was a resounding "HUH?"

I don't think I've seen it since then, and yeah, it's still pretty bad, but the music and the musical numbers are actually decent. The duet between Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John is really nice. The mash-up between big band and modern (circa 1980) rock is still kind of awesome. The context for the skating on the rooftop scene was silly, but the scene itself was nice. The animated sequence is really cute (and I wonder if any of those animators went on to work on The Little Mermaid nearly a decade later, because the character design was eerily similar), and there was Gene Kelly dancing to ELO. I don't know if it says something about how sadly uncool I am or maybe about my capacity for learning and memorizing music, but I still had most of the songs memorized, and I still like that music (hmm, I have that album on vinyl, and my parents have a turntable. Guess what I may be listening to at Thanksgiving).

It's just a pity about the plot, which has a huge fundamental flaw -- Our Hero is supposedly a very talented artist, too good to be wasting himself in a job where all he does is copy and enlarge album covers (didn't they have machines for that, even back in 1980?), but he's lacking the spark of inspiration about what to paint when someone's not giving him orders. So he gets a real, live, official Muse to inspire him -- and she inspires him to open a roller disco? We don't even see him painting cool murals at the disco. Her solution had nothing to do with his problem. It might have kind of made sense if maybe he'd aspired to be a painter but lacked the talent, and she turned his creativity in a different direction, but they went on and on about what a brilliant painter he was and how he just needed some inspiration, but then the inspiration of the Muse had nothing to do with painting. Meanwhile, we were supposed to see it as horribly tragic that she had to go back to Mount Olympus, and he was left feeling like life had no meaning with her gone, but we never really saw anything of their relationship other than them skating in a musical montage. Then again, actually developing their relationship would have required giving more dialogue to Olivia Newton-John, and that wouldn't have been good for anyone (especially the audience) and probably wouldn't have helped show that there was anything to their relationship.

Now I'm almost curious about what they did with the stage musical, if they fixed the plot at all. Apparently, they kept the roller skating, so I'm guessing they didn't change that much. It wouldn't take much to fix the plot -- just make Our Hero a struggling musician instead of a painter, and then it makes sense for him to make friends with the old musician and let them inspire each other -- though I'd have them create a really cool sound that mixes big band touches with modern music instead of opening a roller disco, especially since we know how quickly that trend flamed out, so we know they didn't exactly have any kind of long-term success in living that dream.

I'm not sure if it's a reflection on my current age or on the fact that quality is timeless, but even at the age he was in this movie, Gene Kelly was way hotter than the young leading man. Though that could also have something to do with the fact that the young leading man was kind of a drip, was a terrible actor and wasn't at all hot.

In other news, I just saw a report on the noon TV news about the Twilight phenomenon, and according to the "experts" they interviewed, the main reason people are so gaga over those books and movies is that there's no actual sex, just a bunch of longing. Huh. I write books with no actual sex, and as far as I know, people aren't having lines from my books tattooed on their bodies. I suspect there's something else involved. Or maybe my lack of sex is a different kind of lack of sex.

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