Books vs. Movies, pt. 2

A couple of weeks ago, I bought Hope Larson’s A Wrinkle In Time graphic novel, a purchase which was spurred by my intense love for the original. My propensity for revisiting favorite media over and over didn’t start with Netflix’s enabling – I read Wrinkle at least four times as a kid and young teenager and I would read it again today if my (probably mildewed from reading in the shower) copy weren’t at my parents’ house. I guess that’s what libraries are for.  Mental note.

Anyway, I bought the graphic version with the idea that I might do a side-by-side-by-side comparison between the original novel, the graphic novel and movie, though I have low expectations for the movie and have not particularly been looking forward to that part of it.  The thing about books, especially books from childhood, is that they encourage you to formulate very vivid and very exact mental images of characters and settings and worlds.  And for something as ingrained in my childhood-to-adult brain, with some VERY exact images of how things would look, even picking up the graphic novel was scary.  You don’t want someone else coming around and screwing up your idea of things – get out of my book, pictures!!! – so my reaction to this adaptation was, in a lot of ways, similar to most people’s reactions to movie adaptations of beloved books.

Now, I’ve never really been one to complain about a movie’s lack of faith to, or even reverence for, a book’s plot.  I do have a basic understanding of movies’ restrictions, as well as their strengths.  They can lend a grandeur to a world that would otherwise be kind of sketchy in my unimaginative mind, but they can also gloss over things that I pick out to be important points from books.  They can also leave a whole lot of stuff out.  I’m a little more forgiving of movies for that sort of thing.  They’re made for broad audiences.  They’re made for people who have never read the book.  They’re made for people who don’t want to spend 2 weeks reading a book and then even longer digesting it.  They’re made for oppressively hot summer afternoons and for taking a break from Christmas.

But graphic adaptations of books have a different challenge.  You wouldn’t write a graphic adaptation of a book without a great deal of love and reverence for the source material.  The audience won’t be that big, you generally won’t stand to make gobs and gobs of money, and it takes a huge individual (or possibly group) effort and time investment to make it happen.  So I’m almost more likely to go into a graphic adaptation of a book with really high expectations that it will at least be a whole adaptation with relative faith to the spirit of the source.

That said, I have to make sure that I’m not setting myself up for disappointment when, for instance, the world Hope Larson creates isn’t as vivid or colorful or terrifying as what I got from the book oh so many years ago.  She got IT’s ooze right, I think, and the general barrenness of IT’s chamber right, I think, but the blue and black palette of the book didn’t allow for the disgusting pinky-gray color I’d always imagined, and come on.  Even if the whole book had been blue and black, you at least have to make IT a disgusting pinky-gray color.  I also think IT was a little too big.  You see?  You see what I mean?  All of these nitpicky problems with what is otherwise a very well executed act of love from an obvious fan and talented artist!  I’m a jerk!

Anyway, this is a tangential discussion to what I originally came here to write (which will have to wait for another day when I can focus more), which was Comic Books vs. Comic Book Movies.  So think about that one for a while, compose your thoughts, and let’s discuss.

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Books vs. Movies, pt. 1

In our house, we have an ongoing, years-long discussion happening about whether books or movies are better.  O is vehemently pro-movie and mildly anti-book.  I am vehemently pro-book and mildly pro-movie.  There are plenty of movies which are great representations of their literary counterparts – all of the Harry Potters spring to mind – but they can’t outshine the books, and they can’t replace the books’ place in my heart.  

O’s argument in favor of movies is threefold: They are compact, they are visual and they are a team effort.  A lot of people working very hard to visually represent a universe that is fully realized and presented in a brief and potent package.  They give the viewer every benefit of the book, without demanding the time and (extended) attention that books demand.  I understand that premise, though it’s taken hours and hours of discussion for me to accept the argument without my go-to kneejerk reaction of “Books are the best! Stop hating on books! Mom, O is making fun of my books again!”

My defense of books is probably at least partly attributed to my long and sordid history with books (I ruined more than a couple of them trying to read in the shower as a kid) and my glasses-given propensity toward indoor activities and quiet.  I also love a nap, and there is nothing better for slowing down my brain and my eye balls than a book.

But I don’t know that the typical pro-book arguments, like their affordability (if you’re willing to library it and aren’t a compulsive collector like I am), their portability, and their individuality are telling the whole story.  Reading books does allow a person to delve into a world, the details of which they’re largely responsible for creating themselves.  As someone who is not very individually imaginative, I love this aspect of books.  It gives me the basic framework of a setting and allows me to color in whatever I want.  But for someone like O, who imagines very vividly and easily on his own, the very act of reading can inhibit him from creating a world.  Movies tell the story, give him a fully realized world, and let him get on his way and move onto other things.

Those are just the preliminary thoughts I wanted to get out.  Writing things out does help me sort out my thoughts and focus my arguments and, as I said, this discussion has been going on for years.  I intend to revisit the debate, to look at a few different scenarios, and maybe get a discussion going.  So if anyone is, in fact, reading this, go ahead and leave me your thoughts.

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Sometimes it’s impossible to tell if I’m less funny now than I was when I was in college or if my standards have outgrown my ability.  I certainly write a whole lot fewer open letters to corporations.  I am certainly a whole lot bigger a fan of the Delete key.  

I’ve been thinking about writing a lot more, here especially because of its relatively small following and also because of its insistence on my writing real words from my real self instead of just picking and plunking whatever garbage I see.  O mentioned that maybe I should start trying harder at comedy writing.  I do love it.  I can be good at it.

Do I think the world needs any more comedy blog writers?  No.  Oh my god, not at all.  Do I think that sitting alone on my couch knitting and watching way too many hours of television without even really paying attention to it gives me any unique perspective on the world?  Give me a damn break.  Do I think that my actual skills coupled with anything to write about would result in something fun to read?  Yes, actually.

So, as anyone would advise me to do, I will just keep writing a bunch of bullshit every day until that bullshit turns to bullgold.

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I did it

I did it.  I managed to do that thing that happens when you don’t and can’t update your blog.  You wait too long and then you look and it’s been too long, so you wait some more time, and all the while the things that are meaningful to document have passed, and then more time has passed, and then you live in and decorate your apartment for a year and a half, you get married and honeymoon, you pass holidays and birthdays and major life events like getting a great job, and your blog sits there unupdated.

With the pressures of actual real life events, I neglected what is a very real and very useful pressure valve.  What am I worried about?  That my audience of 2-4 people will be upset that I haven’t updated them on my favorite song from the AC Newman album that came out in October?  Sorry if you were waiting on that.

Another thing that has kept me from updating is that apparently this space has morphed into a repository for unkept promises to myself.  Can you believe I still haven’t started an etsy store?  Shameful.  I did a workplace craft fair and actually sold a good amount of stuff before the holidays, so I haven’t been stagnant, but still.  Still!

But one thing I’ve never been bad at is forgiving myself for not doing things.  When it’s time for me to do something it will happen, but it will certainly not happen before that time.  That has been true for everything forever.

Anyway, I have not forgotten.

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It’s been a while – a long while – since I updated.  Since the last thing, I have gotten married, gone on a honeymoon, gotten a permanent job, and turned 29.  Those are just the big things.  There are literally millions of little things changing every single day!  All my skin cells are dying and regenerating on a daily basis!

But overall this whole year has been full of love and support from the most important people in my life.  My parents, Osiris, my brother, and the other friends I have made my family have made this year worth living through and, even more importantly, worth thriving through.  I’m so inspired and hopeful.

My adulthood, personhood, humanity and individuality have really been tested this year.  I’m finally starting to feel like I’m on the right track, making decisions that move my life forward, starting something significant, and making myself happy.  It’s magic!

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happy hunting

So, over two months since my last unemployment entry, I’m still without a job.  Yiiiiikes.  It’s pretty nerve wracking.  I have been trying to do more writing on paper and just recording all the (sometimes very intense) things I’ve been going through.  You know what it’s like to doubt something that’s been insisted on you for years, like your employability and the impressiveness of your resume?  I do.  So the ol’ mental state has been pretty wonkety.  But despite all that, today and this week in general have been great.

Since the only people still reading this blog even in spite of its slow-ass pace already know that I love spring, I won’t even go into that.  I went out for a long walk today followed by a long sit&knit, said “Take a shower! You stink!” out loud to the Bradford Pears and got a couple of books from the library.  I probably won’t finish the books before they’re due because, like everything else about me, my reading pace is s-l-o-w.  And the warm weather gives me a chance to circulate all the air in the house, get some staleness out and some fresh vibes in.

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real deal

I’d written this long, somewhat self-loathing complainoblog about how now that I’m unemployed I’ve done nothing but sit on the couch and watch 30 Rock and eat all of the Christmas treats in the house all at once, but a) that’s not even true, and b) fuck it.  I’m really good at chilling, I mean I really excel at it, and it’s kind of surprised me how restless and bummed I’ve been about not having a job.  I’ve gotten dressed and applied for jobs every day (though not quite as uniformly or dedicatedly as I’d envisioned) and I’ve knit a couple of small things, with plans for some more ambitious things to happen soon.

I was actually fairly successful in selling a lot of my stockpile of knits before Christmas, so I’m working on replenishing my supply, but opening an Etsy store is still the plan.  I’ve come to the realization that it’s unlikely I could make a career out of only selling things online, so any advice about how else I could make a career of knitting would be great.  I really don’t want to feel like I’m ripping people off, so I tend to underprice everything, but I have such an aversion to cheap materials or shoddy craftsmanship that I might need to consider upping my prices for the more fancy customers out there.  If people can pay $75 for a gross acrylic machine-made hat from Anthropologie, they can pay $40 for a fine wool specimen hand-made by me.

I’m realizing that my vision for a successful venture (basically a warehouse full of one-of-a-kind creations that I can just pack and ship) probably isn’t feasible, so it’s time to consider other strategies.  Maybe take a class on pattern writing or wool spinning?  Visit a sheep?  Challenge myself and grow as an artist instead of getting stuck funky in an uncreative slump?  These are all things I can do and, better, I have the time to do them.

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I’ve been wanting to write a lot – like pages and pages and pages – but I also feel like I have nothing to say.  That’s a problem.  So the new goal is to try to find something new to obsess about (not TV, but maybe books) and then just obsess the hell out of it.  Learn something new.  Go to the library and go to the reference section or something.  Liven things up around here!  We’re about to hit the doldrums!

I saw something that I think I could knit by sight, and so I’m going to try.  Stretch those muscles.  Also, I’m setting a deadline to at least establish an etsy storefront by Thanksgiving.  I’ve been sitting on this ass too long about it.  And if my family is going to front like they’d pay money for my knits, then I’m going to take them up on it.  That’s not to say that I wouldn’t happily continue to simply give away all my knits for eternity, but that is somewhat unsustainable.  I’m also on the lookout for decent places to bring some hand-knits to donate.  The Catholic church will take them, I think.  Winter is rough.  I could also take some to the Occupy Chapel Hill people, or just take them straight to the homeless shelter.  Two separate people that I love have suggested it in the last week, so consider it done.

One thing I miss about school is how easy it is to volunteer for things.  It’s harder to do that when you’re not a member of any groups and you don’t go to church or work with people who do that stuff.  Self-initiated service is intimidating.  But I have time and nurturing to offer, so I really need to step it up on the service front.  It’s not cool to just keep myself all to myself.  O is in an honor society at school now and I think some opportunity will arise from that.  In the past I’ve also done some stuff with the WM alumni around here, but not even close to any significant amount.  So that’s something I’ve been thinking of a lot.

Basically I got so depressed about work for a couple of months that all I could bring myself to do during my off time was sit.  And then when I wasn’t doing anything productive or rewarding outside of work I felt even worse.  Knitting a sweater and having visitors has really helped.  I like it when the house is clean.

So when I said that I didn’t have anything to say, I didn’t mean that I didn’t have a lot of words in me that want to come out, but it’s the substance that I’m working on.  I can stop being a drain on society and start adding to the awesomeness in the world.  I can become an expert in something or make people smile or keep them warm.  Before I start having kids I want to make sure I’m the kind of person who deserves to clone myself.

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Sweater alert!

Oh, there are a lot of updates, but I’m racing my computer to dying (I’m winning), so I’ll keep it to the most important thing:  I’m knitting a new sweater.  I haven’t knit a sweater since last year’s and that was such a huge undertaking.  This one is a little more manageable, but still really beautiful.  I’ve kind of been tracking my progress on tumblr.  And having a project at home, that is positive and fun and productive, that will make me proud and happy, is very valuable.  So yes, I will admit it.

My name is Alison and I am a hobbyist.  I like to tinker.  I like to stay up too late doing math about how long my arms are.  They’re proportionally too long for my body, but luckily still a normal length for human arms.  I also like to read ahead on instructions, over and over even after I’ve memorized them.  I like to follow rules but then break them for positive purposes, and then only when I know what I’m doing enough to ensure success (and this is still almost exclusively applicable to my knitting; I love rules in general and am easily governed).

Also it’s allergy season and I have a stack of hats about 10 deep I need to make a plan for.

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I made a tumblr a little while ago, because apparently that’s something people do and lord knows I have too much to say for this blog alone. (That’s clearly a joke. I know I’ve been negligent.)

Anyway, it’s, and there’s a header image of a skeptical eagle, so it’s worth checking out for that alone. It’s also where I’ll be collecting photos and memories of this house as we get ready to pack up and move. Sentimentality.

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