Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Rant

Bear with me for a minute...

I hate movie titles, not all of them, obviously. Just the ones with no imagination.

The Culprits (in no particular order)

#1 Teen Movie Titles:

Bad Titles-
Whatever it Takes, Drive Me Crazy, Get Over It
One word, GENERIC. These titles could be anything. They're all teen movies, but I'd be hardpressed to tell you which one's which or even what the difference is between them.

Better Title-
Mean Girls
Why? Because the movie is about mean girls.

Even Better Title-
The movie Heathers is about a group of mean girls, all named Heather.

#2 Those #^&$ing -ING titles.

Bad Titles-
Being Julia, Leaving Las Vegas, Finding Nemo, Finding Neverland, Finding Forrester, Owning Mahowny...or any title with an -ING VERB + WHATEVER.
These bother me far more than they should but for some unexplainable, guttural reason, they irk me like no other. They just feel lazy. Take any title, change it to an -ING + WHATEVER title and see what I mean. Casablanca = Leaving Casablanca, Citizen Kane = Explaining Kane, Vertigo = Getting Dizzy on High Ledges.

Better Title-
Being John Malkovich
Simply because To Be John Malkovich sounds odd.

Even Better Title-
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The Killing Fields, The Howling
In the first and third, it's a noun. In the second, it's an adjetive. Don't ever use it as a VERB then.

#3 The Overly Poetic/Vauge Titles
Ask the Dust, Advice from a Catterpillar, The Science of Sleep, Requiem for a Dream
It pains me to put Requiem for a Dream with these, especially since it gets its name from the book, but life's tough and this title is vague. Seriously though, Ask the Dust? The second is an Alice in Wonderland reference, but that is still one clunky title. The Science of Sleep? What is this, a lecture?

Better Title-
A Beautiful Mind
Marginally, marginally better. Only by a little bit and that's only because it has to do with the story.

Even Better Title-
Snow Falling on Cedars, Smilla's Sense of Snow
Snow's makers made a good choice sticking with the book's title. Poetic, and a beautiful image. Smilla's Sense of Snow is clunky and odd, but Smilla, raised in the snow, can pick up more by looking at it than you and me. So therefore it's apt. Ask the Dust?

#4 Mouth Mumblers and Sentence Confusers
These are harder to define. The best example:
"Dude, I just saw Saw."
"You saw what now?"
"Yes, what did you see?"
"Not see, Saw!"
"See saw? That doesn't sound like a cool movie to me."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Can You Believe that Sky?

Need to take the camera with me more often. Can't count how many times something reaches out, grabs me by the throat and demands to be photographed and I only have the camera on the mobile phone. Not that I haven't taken good pictures with the mobile phone, but it's limited.

I love my camera, 4.2 megapixels and at its highest quality it can just about take print quality photos. Just about...But unless you nail your subject to the ground, by the time you adjust the manual settings, it'll be gone, gone, gone. Also, the mere act of pressing the button that takes the picture down can make the picture blurry. It's a tightrope when you want to take a quick snap. Then you take a picture like this one and all is forgiven. Not the world's greatest photographer, but at least out of twenty pictures, I take one I like.

Must remember to fight the temptation to upgrade to a new camera. Don't need a new one. I need to learn to use the one I have to its fullest. It's like those new DVD formats. Aren't DVD's enough? We need Blu-Ray and HD DVD? No thanks.

I'll have this camera 'til it falls apart in my very hands.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Can You Allow Me a Moment of Pretentiousness?

When the writing stalls, I cheer myself up by finding the nearest bookstore. I find the fiction section and look for the spot in which whatever book(s) I write will be.

Right in the J's, next to James Joyce.

It's dumb, but it helps, even if I don't write prose.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


For some reason, one of my favorite stories is that of the Sword of Damocles. Don't remember where I first encountered it, but it's had a meaning that resonated.

The story is, Damocles lavishes a great deal of attention to his king and tells the king how lucky he is to have all he has. The king grows tired of Damocles' constant jabbering at how great the king's life is. So the king tells Damocles that they will switch places for a night. So Damocles sits at a feast and is treated like he was the king. He loves it, the attention, the power and whatnot. It's only at the end of the night that he notices that above his chair, hanging from the thinnest of strands, is a sword. Damocles is mortified to learn that sword was there all night and at any point could have fallen on him, certainly killing him.

It had been placed there by the king, to show Damocles that while it might seem great to be the king, there's a price for everything and that power and position in society are no guarantees of happiness. Easy come easy go.

Nowadays the term Sword of Damocles has become shorthand for impending peril, but I prefer to think of it as don't judge another person's life by your standards. You might find they don't have it as easy as you think.

Midas Touch has become shorthand for being extremely successful. This ignores the intent in the story where having a touch that turns anything into gold turns out to be more curse than blessing. Another case of, be careful what you wish for. Nothing comes without a price, after all.

The way that language usage and point of view changes over the years is fascinating. I mean, with just the right strategy and lots of time on your hands, you can turn a "good" word or phrase into a bad one and vice versa.

But careful what you wish for.

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