Seriously, WTF?

May 7, 2008 at 9:03 pm | Posted in Adoption, Books, Culture, entertainment, Film, Gothic Fiction | 10 Comments
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I am not a fan of Ellen Page.  Although I’m in the minority, I didn’t find her performance in Juno very realistic or endearing (I hate that I have even just linked to it’s Wikipedia page…).  People at work have attributed this to my age.  I thought perhaps my experience of adoption colored my views of the movie as well.  Certainly my experience is just that, my experience.  Still, even though Emma’s first mother firmly made her adoption plan early in the pregnancy, this was an emotional experience for her, her family, and for us.  There was no sarcasm or flippant jokes about her being irresponsible.  The only aspects of that movie I found close to ringing true were the scenes where she had to decide whether to continue her adoption plan and after the baby is born – and those were noteworthy only because she was actually acting, not just being herself.  They weren’t Oscar worthy.

Imagine my surprise when I ventured on to Pop Candy this evening before leaving work to discover that Ellen Page, who essentially played the same sarcastic young female character in Smart People, has been cast as Jane Eyre for a BBC Films production of all things!  Whitney, who loves Page, can’t even see her in this role.  Seriously, what are they thinking over there at BBC Films?  Jane Eyre doesn’t have a sarcastic bone in her body.  Do they have any expectation that Page can pull off ‘mousy’ or, more importantly, sincere?

I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a film or TV adaptation of Jane Eyre, but look at what is already out there.  What reason could there possibly be to cast Ellen Page in this role?  There is a 1944 version that stars Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, and Elizabeth Taylor.  A&E produced a television starring Samantha Morton as Jane.  Who could really be more perfect than that?

I have no idea what really makes the film business tick.  I’m sure that I’ve misspent many an entertainment dollar in my life and am reaping this as my reward.  I would rather be struck blind like Mr. Rochester than even watch the trailer.

#68 ~ Love is a Mix Tape

May 4, 2008 at 9:59 pm | Posted in Books, College Life, Inspiration, LIfe, Memoir, My Life with Books, Reading | 11 Comments
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Cover of Love is a Mix Tape

Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield

I found out about this book from Pop Candy, my favorite pop culture blog written by Whitney Matheson. As soon as I found out what this memoir was about, I had to buy it.. It tells the story of a man’s life and, more specifically, his love life, through his mix tapes. Rob Sheffield sounded just like my husband to me. I bought it for Danny, but I knew that I would eventually read it myself. So, when I found myself without a book I had to read, I plucked this off of the bookshelf having no idea what type of impact it would have on me.

A little background…

I “met” my husband in 1995 on Dreamscape, an Internet talker that required users to enter commands to do or say anything to anyone else. At that time I was obsessed – there is no other word for it as much as I care to deny it – with Michael Stipe. As ZenLauda, I would go on and see how fast I could get everyone to say something – anything – about Stipe. Of course, if someone said something nasty, I excommunicated that person from my persona. One time I brought Stipe up and HoneyPoison said, “Stipe is unripe.” I nearly axed HP, but then I didn’t and I don’t know why. I’d banished others for less. This started a long conversation about R.E.M. and music in general (Danny was in a band called “Ancient Astronauts” in 1989) that continues on to this day. I fell in love with him at an R.E.M. concert in Greensboro in 1995 and I moved to southwest Virginia 8 months later. The rest is history.

R.E.M. Monster era

The first thing I remember Danny giving me was a mix tape entitled 24 in honor of my 24th birthday. Most of the music on it was new to me and stuff that I still love today – Julian Cope‘s “China Doll,” Died Pretty‘s “D.C.,” and Miracle Legion‘s “You’re The One Lee” were my favorites, but the rest was great. Reading this book made me very nostalgic for that tape. Sheffield’s descriptions of the time and energy he puts into his mixes rings true to this woman made to another mixer. You know that you mean something to a man or woman like that when they make you a mix tape. In fact, one of the first things Danny thought to do after meeting our oldest daughter’s birth mother was to make her a mix tape for when we saw her after Emma was born. Knowing all of what goes into a mix, it’s one of the saddest things ever when a person being gifted with a mix tape doesn’t understand the significance.

Back to the book…

Sheffield grew up in Boston in a world of his own where all outside stimuli filtered into him through music. He loved music like nothing and no one else. From school to Catholic summer camp he tried to impress his peers with his mix tapes or, when necessary, he escaped into them. It wasn’t until he was in college that he made himself break out of his shell. And it is in grad school at the University of Virginia that he met Renee Crist, an Appalachian girl who stole his heart from the very beginning.

When you live in southwest Virginia, it’s not every day that you pick up a book and it starts talking about places you’ve been or places you live. Renee was born in Georgia, but she grew up in Pulaski and attended Hollins College (now University) where I earned my Master’s degree. She lived in Roanoke for a time before heading to Charlottesville, where she met and feel in love with Rob. As he describes when he fell in love with her, the connection to Danny grew even stronger than I ever could have expected:

I squeezed into a booth next to her and we talked about music. She told me that you can sing the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme to the tune of R.E.M.’s “Talk about the Passion.” That was it, basically; as soon as she started to sing “Talk about the Clampetts,” any thought I had of not falling in love with her went down in some serious “Towering Inferno” flames. It was over. I was over.

While in Roanoke, Renee met Danny and hung around in the same circles with him. At one point, she was roommates with Claudia, the wife of Danny’s good friend from high school. While in Roanoke, Renee heard the Ancient Astronauts play “Talk about the Clampetts,” a song Danny, the lead singer, mashed up himself. Danny is responsible for Rob and Renee getting together and, therefore, responsible for this book being written!

Click here to listen to a live performance of “Talk about the Clampetts” performed by the Ancient Astronauts in 1989:

When we figured out that this book was about Renee Crist (at midnight on a work night – I didn’t end up getting much sleep), Danny went into his closet and pulled out his shoe box of pictures. In that box he found a picture of her with Jimm (with two Ms), the same person who was seeing when she moved to Charlottesville.

Renee Crist and Jimm

After seeing the picture of her at a New Year’s Eve party, this book came alive to me in a way I’ve never experienced before. Not only was it a reminder of the time when I first fell in love with my husband, my reading of Love is a Mix Tape became a couple’s project. It set us off on a mini archaeological dig of Danny’s musical past, and I’ve always wanted to be an archaeologist.

Reading Sheffield’s memoir made me feel very happy to be alive in a world of music and mix tapes. If you love music and have ever made a mix tape – even if you ever just taped songs off of the radio, you will enjoy this book.

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To buy this book, click here.

Turning Fiction into Film

November 9, 2007 at 8:12 pm | Posted in Books, Film | 3 Comments
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Whitney from Pop Candy (one of my favorite pop fiction blogs), posted a link to this article that lists 21 books that could make great movies. What do you think about movie versions of books? What elements make for the best translations?

In my experience, I’d prefer to keep to the book. That being said, I love Gone With the Wind’s movie counterpart. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Currently, I’m interested in seeing what will happen with The Other Boleyn Girl. I will go to see the movie no matter what. I just hope I don’t walk out wishing I hadn’t.

Even if you’re not interested in film, you should check out this list anyway for good reading ideas. I’ve only read two of the 21 books myself (Middlesex and The Time Traveler’s Wife). If you’ve read any of the others, let me know. I’d be interested in hearing more about them.

Have a great weekend! I’m off to see The Wiggles with my girls tonight. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m looking forward to it. That Anthony sure is cute and the girls and I love to sing in our own Big Red Car.

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