Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hitting You Where You Live

Since it's Oscar's week, I started to think about movies or books that have resonated with me.  There are  stories that come along at certain times in your life that you can really relate to.  The movie Breaking Away came out in 1979 and was about a group of boys who were about my age at that time, and they were trying to find their place in the world.  It was funny, charming and inspirational, and if you've never seen it, check it out.  It features a very young and cute Dennis Quaid.

A few years later The Big Chill hit home with me.  When it came out in 1983, I was 23 and married and hanging out with my hubby's fraternity brothers and their wives, who were a few years older than me.  Already a cold wind was blowing through some of their marriages and would eventually experience their big chill of divorce.  It was sad to see those relationships crumble.

Parenthood came out in 1989 and by then I had already been a mom for two years.  My favorite line from that movie sums up what it is like to be a parent.  Grandma says it to Gil (Steve Martin) in the film:

You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.  Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it. 

Parenthood is not for the faint of heart!   

Perhaps my all-time favorite movie that hit home with me was Forrest Gump.  Although Forrest was a bit older than me, I remember many of the things Forrest experienced.  It think that was why so many people loved that movie; they could remember where they were when the events Forrest experienced in the move happened. 

There have been other stories that were acclaimed but fell flat with me at the time.  When I was in high school the movie Smile was released.  It was about a a teen beauty pageant.  I thought it was a dud.  A few years later I was a contestant in the Junior Miss pageant (I lost), but when I saw that movie again, I thought it was hilarious. 

A book that missed the mark the first time around with me was Anne Morrow Lindberg's Gift from the Sea.  I read it when I was 19 on the bus to NYC during a girls' get-away with my friends from high school.  My friend Ginny, who is now a doctor and who was always had a more sophisticated taste in reading (she read U.S. News & World Report as a sophomore), recommended it.  I found it incredibly dull.  About 15 years later, I came across the book again and re-read it.  This time around I thought it was very good.  I think I needed to get a little life experience under my belt to appreciate it.

Is there any book or movie that has hit home with you at a particular time in your life?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

RunningWithCorgs: Heat Wave!

RunningWithCorgs: Heat Wave!: "Cute Corgi Picture of the Week : What a good little helper. The past two days have been unbelievably warm and spring-like. I never really ..."

Perhaps if I had a corgi typist, I'd have time to run a marathon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Here's to Heroes

Did you see the recent story about the NYC subway slasher who went on a violent spree killing several people  He set out to create more carnage, but he ran into Joe Lozito, a regular commuter from Philly.  When the slasher threatened him, Lozito knew he would most likely die if he didn't do something.  Drawing on the moves he'd seen while watching mixed martial arts matches, Lozito fought back, saving his life and possibly the lives of others on the train.  Afterward, Lozito was very humble, brushing off any credit.

In 1996, a Penn State University student opened fire on her fellow classmates, killing one and wounding another.  As she stopped to reload, student Brendon Malovrh ran over and tackled her.  During the struggle, she pulled a knife on Malovrh, but she inadvertently slashed her own leg.  Malovrh used his belt as a tourniquet to save her life.  I remember watching Malovrh while reporters interviewed him.  He was very low-key, humble and seemed to shrink from the attention.

In this day when so many are clamoring for attention (i.e. Lady Gaga), it's refreshing and heartwarming to know that humble heroes still exist. 

Heroes have always been a staple of literature; readers can't resist them.  Perhaps we love them so much because they appeal to our higher nature.  We look upon them and hope that in the same circumstances we would perform as admirably. 

One of my favorite fictional heroes is Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.  Fraser is honorable, brave, and self-sacrificing.

Who are some of your favorite fiction heroes?  What makes them stand out in your mind?      

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A New Breed in Publishing

The American Kennel Club recently recognized three new breeds of dogs--The Entlebucher Mountain Dog, the Norwegian Lundehund, and the Xoloitzcuintli.  According to the AKC, the Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a high-energy breed, the Lundehund has six toes on each foot, and the Xoloitzcuintli, besides having an odd name, is hairless. Six toed and hairless?  High-energied?  What kind of strange pooches are these?

There are some other new breeds on the scene that have yet to be recognized by the authorities, but these aren't canine breeds.  They are new ways of publishing manuscripts.  With the advent of revolutionary technologies, the standard scenario of acquiring and agent who then procures a publisher to purchase and produce a book is being challenged.  Today, more people are sidestepping that traditional process and taking their manuscripts directly to the market via vanity presses and e-publishers. 

In many cases, these books are odd like a six-toed paw or even downright homely like a hairless dog.  But like the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, there is a lot of energy pouring into this new style of publishing.  As a writer, instructor and editor, I've been approached by several people, mostly former students, to edit their manuscripts, which they intended to self-publish, and honestly, the few times that I've agreed to do so, the experience has proven to be quite painful. 

There is no way to stop progress.  The new methods of publishing are here to stay, but without agents and publishing houses acting as gatekeepers to good writing, readers may be seeing many dogs when it comes to manuscripts.