Monday, September 13, 2010

The Long, Dark Weekend of the Soul

I'm down to one more physical therapy appointment! It will be so nice to have those two mornings of the week back, and just in time for the weather starting to get cool enough to go for a walk in the morning.

I had a very "long, dark teatime of the soul" weekend, in which I suffered a strange kind of boredom. I had plenty of options of things to do, but none of them really appealed to me. I tried watching several different movies on HBO, only to give up on them. Most of them I think were actually bad movies, but it's also possible that nothing would have appealed to me. TNT was running the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, but if you're not in the right mindset for that, it comes across as rather overwrought, to the point I found myself thinking, "And we thought this was good?" I tried reading several different books, only to give up at various points. One was a victim of deceptive packaging. It looked like it would be a funny and quirky magical realism type contemporary fantasy. It turned out to be a quasi-literary metaphorical thing that I think might have been meant to be humorous and quirky but that was saddled with an annoyingly angsty and whiny main character. Then there was the omnibus of books by the same author. Note to publishers: If an author is rather notorious for essentially writing the same book over and over again, with only slight plot variations and different character names, then an omnibus isn't a great idea. The first book was good, but it wasn't as much fun when I read it again with different character names and in a different time period. I mean, at least vary the events slightly. Does every heroine need to be almost killed by something nearly knocking her over a cliff, before she's then shut up in some kind of vault? And then there was the "edgy" character I just wanted to slap the edges off of and tell to quit trying so hard in yet another book that I gave up on after about three pages.

On both Saturday and Sunday, I resorted to the OnDemand exercise videos. I have learned that I don't seem to have an ounce of funk in my body. I also will not be trying out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, even if I regain my ability to do the splits. Their exercise routine looks a lot like what they do on the sidelines, but with less hair flinging, and my body just doesn't move that way. Not that I was seriously considering this. I sat next to the current cheerleaders director in band my freshman year of high school, and I was so afraid of her that I don't think I said more than three words the whole year, even though we shared a music folder. I think I did surprisingly well for a Norwegian at the Bollywood dance workout (maybe my neighborhood is rubbing off on me), and I think I was pretty good at the salsa once I got the hang of the steps. But, yeah, the funk/hip-hop was a total loss. If I were in a teen movie, I'd be totally screwed because the secret weapon to putting yourself over the top in any teen movie competition is to add hip-hop or funk elements to whatever you're doing. I'd have to be the "villain" who does things very well the traditional way but who is soulless.

I did manage to make it all the way through a college football game, which I seldom do. It wasn't even a great game, but it was better than anything else I could find to do. On Sunday night when my local PBS station didn't show the Inspector Lewis episode that was scheduled because they were having a pledge drive (and I don't understand why they think it will gain support for them to pull their regular programming and show the 300th repeat of a Doo-Wop special -- unless they're actually holding their regular programming hostage: "Pay up, or you'll be doomed to Doo-Wop hell forever!") I gave up and resorted to the Arthur Dent solution to those Sundays that seem to go on forever. I took a bath. I filled the deep garden tub with water at "soup" temperature levels, threw in some bubble bath and grabbed a random paperback romance off the towering To-Be-Read pile.

Then I remembered why I quit reading romances. The main goal of the "hero" (and I use the term loosely) is to have sex with the heroine. He knows that doing so will pretty much ruin her life (this is a historical story), but he doesn't care. He's bored and she seems like she'll be a challenge, so he's determined to have her. Even by the halfway point of the book, he still hasn't come to like her personality or enjoy talking to her or anything else. He just thinks about how great it will be to have sex with her and then ditch her. This is a romance novel, so we know he'll end up falling in love with her, but I can't really get behind wanting them to get together when he's essentially the villain of the book. There is a real villain who indulges in cartoonish mustache twirling, but he mostly seems to exist so the "hero" isn't the most odious person in the book. The annoying thing is, there's a secondary romance that's actually really, really good and very romantic, involving decent characters, and that's the only reason I've kept reading. At first, when we'd just met the guy in that subplot, I was thinking that he'd be better for the heroine, but then the heroine ends up actually being drawn to Mr. "My Grand Plan is to Use You and Ditch You" (he's very open about his plan) and can't stop thinking about him after he pins her to the wall and forces her to kiss him, and I decided she was too stupid for the decent guy. Yeah, I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about the jerk, but my thoughts would be more along the lines of ways I could use a fireplace poker to make it impossible for him to achieve his goal. I'm not sure the secondary heroine is worthy of her guy, but she's not a complete idiot and has decent taste in men. Sometimes I think the guaranteed happy ending is a detriment to the romance genre because it becomes a crutch. It allows all sorts of obnoxious behavior to be swept under the rug just because, hey, you know it will all work out okay in the end.

The one thing that managed to hold my interest this weekend was this week's episode of Haven on the Sci Fi channel. After rewatching it OnDemand, I realized it was written by the writer who wrote my favorite non-pilot (real pilot, not the episode Fox showed first) episode of Firefly, "Ariel." That may explain why it pushed a lot of my buttons. Like the Firefly episode, it made excellent use of the ensemble cast and it threw the various cast members into different situations and groupings in a way that showed us new facets of the characters. Jose Molina also seems to have a knack for using some of my favorite plot tropes with twists that fit into that particular world. In the Firefly episode, it was the caper story. Here, it was the "weekend party gets stranded by a storm in a spooky old building -- and one of them's a killer" story that's totally on my literary bucket list of things I want to write someday.

I went to the library this morning, and I'm hoping the mix of books I found will help me out of the reading slump. Some of the slump may have something to do with the fact that most of my reading lately has been research or preparation for a book, and now I've almost forgotten how to read for fun. I got a few books from the children's section because I've found that's a great way to remind myself that reading is fun.

1 comment:

Chicory said...

Must... fight... urge... to recommend... favorite... children's books....

I give up. Have you tried Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas? It's a terrific story about a lonely pickpocket who's taken in by a wizard. The rest of the series is top-notch too.

Then there's the Rowen of Rin series by Emily Rodda. It's also deliciously character driven. (Ignore the front covers. Whoever designed them completely ignored the mood and content of the books and just thought `lets slap a couple monsters on the front and call it a day.')