Notes on Stephen King’s On Writing

Apologies. I know Reid brought this up before but until I get the old content back online, I have to create this from scratch. Feel free to repeat anything that comes to mind.

As I wrote on IG, I generally stay away from books about writing because I don’t want to be one of those people who reads about writing and talks about writing more than he actually writes. But I need a bit of inspiration, and I’ve owned this copy for four years, so I’m going through it during Camp NaNoWriMo. “We are writers, and we never ask one another where we get our ideas; we know we don’t know.”

Musings on Dissatisfaction

I was thinking recently about a couple of very popular novels that I find unreadable, mostly for the quality of the writing itself. One, Eragon, was written by a teen, and teens responded very well to it, and a lot of them who had picked up some reading momentum from the Harry Potter books found a new series to love. I was fully on board with the enthusiasm because I believe reading just about anything is good for language development, not to mention just good for our brains and hearts in general.

The other is 50 Shades of Grey, which was originally written as Twilight fan fiction. When the author got really good feedback from her audience (that is, people who read fanfic), she restructured her story with original characters so she could sell it independently, and now she’s filthy stinking rich. I know a lot of middle-aged women who haven’t picked up a popular book in many years, who read the whole 50 Shades series and dug it. Most will admit the writing is not good, and that the content is pretty fluffy, but they found it a guilty pleasure.

I’m on board with guilty pleasures as well.

But while I can enjoy mediocre writing, truly bad writing is really difficult to endure. I get distracted by thoughts about the editor (who edited this? what was he or she thinking?), the writer, the audience, and all kinds of stuff like that. There’s a level of bad quality past which I feel insulted as a reader. If nobody cared enough about the quality of the writing to do such simple things as run a spell-check, why should I care enough to spend three hours reading it?

This is a long introduction to my larger musings, which have centered lately around being satisfied with my consumption. While I believe I look at music, books, and other media pretty critically, in general I enjoy the stuff I let through, even if it’s just good enough. Penny has an even broader satisfaction threshold, and if I might presume, I’d say it extends to the rest of her life, too. Because Penny’s pretty satisfied with most things she encounters, she’s generally a happier, more pleasant person to be around. It helps too that she’s not as moody as I am.

I’m thinking this is a direction I want to move into, one where I can still look at things critically, but not be disapointed or dissatisfied because of their flaws. It’s possible I’ll never get to the point where I can read 50 Shades of Grey, but what if that’s where the line is? It must be possible to continually seek excellence without being disappointed by its absence.

What do you guys think? How satisfied and dissatisfied are you with the stuff you consume? Websites, TV, music, movies, food? Do these things generally make you happier or less happy, and does it matter?

Favorite Film Directors Right Now

This idea popped into my head a couple of months ago when I wondered who my favorite directors are right now. I’ve played around with the idea a lot since then, and decided on these evaluation criteria:

  1. A living director’s three most recent full-length, fictional films.
  2. If I’ve only seen two of the three, I’m allowed to go to the fourth-most recent, but no deeper than that.
  3. The major factor is the average of my Criticker ratings for the three films.
  4. Carrying less weight but still a factor: my personal preferences for a director’s other decisions.

Still a work in progress, those criteria, but it’s what I’m working with for now.
Continue reading “Favorite Film Directors Right Now”

Romantic Comedies

We have a romantic comedies post in the old site.  I’ll meld the content with this when I get a chance.

I recently re-did my 10 favorite romantic comedies list.  Eight of the films remain from the list ten years (or so) ago, but the order has changed.  I’ve moved Notting Hill to the top of the list and dropped Moonstruck down from number 1.

I’m thinking of revisiting the films on this list and some of the also-rans.  It seems to me that there are worse ways to spend a few months watching movies than to immerse myself in a particular genre I love.

Continue reading “Romantic Comedies”

It’s only a flesh wound, lambchop!

Google has given V-I a clean bill of health.  I’ll slowly re-add the old content, but I have to do it carefully since I don’t know exactly where the nastiness was.  In the interest of getting things up and running, I basically blew up the old site, although I still have the database, which has all the old posts and comments.  Importing it a few posts at a time could be a challenge, but I’m sure someone out there has done it, so I just have to learn how.

For now, feel free to re-add new posts for the old topics if you’d like, and I’ll integrate the old content as I get to it.  If there’s something you’re dying to review from the old stuff, let me know in the comments here, and I’ll see what I can do!

I’ll take care of all the cool sidebar stuff we had today or tomorrow.  How do I know what I’m listening to if I don’t have Mitchell’s Recent Spins in the right column?

Merry Christmas!

There’s no set purpose for the site; I’d like to use it in whatever way we find useful, whether that’s discussing the latest books we’ve read, planning someone’s birthday dinner, continuing online a discussion we began in person, or sharing stuff we found on the Web.

There are a couple of functional issues I still need to work out. First, if you don’t see a link at the bottom of this page saying “login,” you’ll have to point your web-browser to the login page if you want to log-in and post something here. This is where the login i.d. and password I gave you for Christmas come in.

Second, I’m giving you all village-idiot.org email addresses, but I’m having trouble making that function work. When it’s working, well, we can talk about that when we get there.

Here are some quick pointers for using this site effectively:

  1. Remember that passwords are case-sensitive. Type your password carefully, including any numbers, symbols, or punctuation marks.
  2. One of the first things you should do when you log-in the first time is change your password.
  3. Don’t be afraid to play around. You probably don’t have the access privileges necessary to do any real damage by hitting the wrong button. The worst that could happen is you spend a long time typing a brilliant message and you click the wrong thing and lose all your text (I’ve done it!). So maybe for these first few messages, you could stick to short messages.
  4. Don’t enter your personal email address when you post a message. I plan to make this site accessible to the public, so if you don’t want Spam, don’t post your email address.
  5. For longer messages (such as this one), type the first paragraph or so in the “entry body” text box (you’ll know what I mean when you log-in and try to post something) and then type the rest in the “extended entry” text box. This will make the front page look a lot nicer.
  6. If you post something about movies, please put “SPOILER” in the first paragraph so people who haven’t seen a film can choose to avoid your message.
  7. HTML tags work here (I’m using the OL tag in order to generate this numbered list, for example), so feel free to use it. If HTML is foreign to you, you can at least use the B, I, U and URL buttons to highlight parts of your text. Just highlight the word you want to make bold, then click on the B button and you’re golden.

The best way to figure out how to use this site is to play around with it, so feel free to post “test messages” and stuff. Please let me know if you have any problems or comments!

Ho, Ho, Ho!