29 January 2009

Of People, Books, Movies, Money, and Health

Happy birthday to Virginia Woolf yesterday.

Monday, we watched the new Emma movie. It seemed to be a tasteful film, especially for something coming out of low-budget production of Church members. However, I found that it jumped from subject to subject, from dialogue to dialogue. Now they're dancing, oh, now she broke the pitcher, oh, now she's writing another death in the Bible. I realize portraying a whole life is difficult--but there could have been better transitions between almost every line, and much of the dialogue was either cheesy itself or delivered cheesily. Also, the lady who portrayed the older Emma bugged me somehow. I think she's had Botox or something that makes her face hang funny, and her character was portrayed too cheerfully (again, this may be a problem of the writers). I specifically remember her grandchildren describing her as a woman who never smiled. Plus, if she was so good at encouraging her daughter to stay true to the gospel, why did she split from the Church? I'm not saying Emma is not oft-misunderstood and surely had a difficult life that may justify many of her actions, but her decisions were not accurately portrayed in the film.

I do, however, suggest the film Seven Pounds. Yes, there is one part where you should close your eyes/fast forward.

I've been reading all of Jane Austen's books--they're all on the GRE Literature reading list, so I may as well. I understand why Persuasion isn't the most famous, and I was ready to give up on Mansfield Park after a few chapters. However, I forged on and I was amazed at Austen's talent--she can make me feel very disappointed in the seemingly-sure future I predict for characters and then suddenly fix it all. The "suddenly" part and some feminist issues (implying that the girl whose character and mindset has been formed by a man goes to that man) are what got to me. But I can't deny her skill.

I've been dying for some changes recently. That usually means that I go and dye my hair until something bigger can change. This time, I'm cheaper and I've been curling ringlets into my hair. This is what it looks like in the evening:

The curl is completely gone. At least it gives it some volume. I need a trim. And I'd like to get some layers.

I fulfilled my lifelong dream of owning a peacoat, despite wool allergies and after hours of worrying about if it was the right color, size, cut. Friends helped me by looking at pictures I took in the dressing room, but I was still indecisive. I finally bought it for only 20 Euros.

Kira moved back to Ohio.

I bought a new laptop case on eBay last week since the zipper on my old one finally bit the dust. It arrived from China. And it can't zip closed. I'll just have to keep using the old case with a rubber band.

My knee is acting a little crazy. It was doing so much better but now, I kid you not, it can only be described as arthritic. It aches, it gets really stiff, and when I'm in the cold, it just doesn't work. Fun. Tanya says I should stretch it. But how?

I went to a Stewart O'Nan reading of his new book, Songs for the Missing, a book about a girl who goes missing from a gas station--a background theme in another of his books. (Last year, I did an essay on his book Wish You Were Here.) I've heard a lot about his ability to write in all sorts of genres and know what's going on in the literary world. He took a few questions after we heard several chapters read in English and German. Since his new book seemed similar to Lovely Bones, a book that was on the bestseller list for ages three or four years ago, I was glad he picked me to pose a question. I asked, "You said you started writing this book 10 years ago. Were you disappointed when Lovely Bones came out and became a bestseller because of the similarities in the plot?" In short, he gave an answer that made it obvious he hadn't actually read the book--the dead giveaway was him calling Lovely Bones a fantasy. Professor Koenen told me later that she had wanted to ask the same question, so that's a good sign. She also agreed that he hadn't read the book. However, I really liked his answers to other questions. Some authors just give very short, surface answers that aren't very pleasing. But he talked about writing about the every day and how it's nothing exciting but that's what fascinates him. He said he's really bad at coming up with titles. He described how he observes people and makes whole notebooks about one character he's going to create until they become real in his mind. He said that's a good thing unless they're insane, like in Speed Queen. For the new book, he got so close to the subject of a girl disappearing, that when his daughter didn't answer her phone or emails for ten days, he sent the police to her dorm room. She was mad because she was looking pretty crappy with the flu and the police officer was young and cute. Ha ha. But most impressive, he talked about how this new book tells the real story of missing people--the story of those left behind. He said that people tend to hide much of themselves from those they're close to. I wrote down these words of his:

I think finally, we need to grow closer to the people we think we're already close to . . . We need to find ways to directly address the people we're closest to."
And I leave you with those words.


  1. Too bad your regular hair stylist resides in Utah. Heidi's been itching for some ringlets lately also. We're going to give them a try this weekend.

  2. Mishk- Emma was done by the same man who directed Joseph (neighbor and friend of ours), and it was done as an afterthought to the original movie. They took outtakes and stuff that was on the cutting room floor to do the new film, which may explain the transitions. I think the purpose of the film was to educate people on the trials that Emma experienced which led to some of her decisions.

  3. How funny that I had a line in my latest blog entry about how "this should interest Lena," but I took it out because I had already rambled on for some time. Anyway, yeah, I knew the film was made by Brother Cook, but I didn't know the thing about the outtakes and it being made as an afterthought. Thanks!

    And Mom, yeah. Sister Dixon keeps saying I need a trim, but I run away and wish you were here.

  4. Mention of the GRE took me back to the days of taking the test.

    Which pretty much consisted of "recite all of Western literature" Whew! Glad those days are gone. :)

  5. I used to have a real problem with Emma until I researched her life and saw a beautiful RS presentation on her. Anyone who went through what she did will never be judged by me.

    Soory about the laptop cover, that stinks.

    No I want to see a pic of your lovely hair all curly in the morning. =)