Monday, June 23, 2008

Watch Iron Man

Quick, while it's still in theaters! If you like superhero movies, or if, like me, you like the idea of the superhero movie, but in the past have found actual superhero movies to be at least a little disappointing, and if you have not done so already, GO FORTH AND WATCH IRON MAN!

Iron Man avoids pretty much all of the superhero movie pitfalls I'm aware of. The story is neither overly elaborate nor overly simplistic. It doesn't take itself too seriously (as I suspect is the case with The Incredible Hulk, though I haven't seen it), but neither does it degenerate into tasteless camp (a vice which Transformers narrowly avoided).

The acting is good and the characters are fun--the only exception being the Afghani terrorists, who come off flat and one-dimensional. The special effects are well utilized. The humor is witty. The platonic romance is refreshingly atypical. The hero's character defects and weaknesses make his attempts at "do gooding" both sympathetic and amusing.

Very few of my favorite movies can be found in the "Action/Adventure" section of the video store. In fact, this may be the first one. Iron Man for Best Picture!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Importance of Being Ruthless/Lewis vs. Pullman

Over the last three days I've spent a lot of time on a work of "young adult fiction" that I started writing about eight years ago. The process has been rather like dumping out a huge pile of pebbles, among which are scattered a few precious stones. Most of what I have written is dross, and needs to be discarded.

My main problem with The Amber Spyglass (the final volume of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, which begins with The Golden Compass) and with the third Harry Potter book (which I started but never finished) is that it seems like Pullman and Rowling just dumped and didn't bother with the much more difficult work of sorting, culling and paring down.

Of course it's been said many, many times, but I just want to join my voice to the choir: good writing is not so much good writing as it is good editing! A really good author is willing to drop extraneous details, avoids harping on pet philosophical ideas, and deletes unnecessary scenes or characters in spite of personal emotional attachments to them.

It's been a long time since I read the Chronicles of Narnia, but as I recall, C. S. Lewis did an excellent job in this regard. So while I may admire Philip Pullman's vivid imagination and narrative powers, I do cringe when I hear his trilogy compared with the (well edited!) Chronicles of Narnia.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I had this idea, and I'm quite certain it's true, even though reality has not yet borne it out. My idea is that, instead of paying out the nose for a good pair of new shoes, one can frequent thrift stores and find a high quality used pair which will last much longer than Target or Payless shoes.
My last pair of Target shoes only lasted about a year, if that. So we went to the Salvation Army last month and I found a pair of shoes I thought fit me. I was wrong!

The soles were all uneven--they sloped down toward the toe, and the right sole was thicker than the left. I figured that if I just wore them long enough, the soles would get smashed down and evened out. And I think that actually has happened.

But the shoes are also easily half a size too big. I kept wondering why my feet and legs were sore and tired all the time. Then I realized: it's the horrible shoes! I thought those shoes were a bargain, but really, they were just a waste of three dollars!

Three dollars! We could have bought a carton of ice cream with that money!

So now I'm just wearing the flip flops I've had since I was eleven. I've had them for half my lifetime! Amazing!