Heroism Speech

Seeing as I loved it, I’m linking it.  Since a number of you seem to find my interests intriuging enough to look into as well, I offer Heroes in Storytelling by Barbara Nicoloski.

It is the outline of a speech given by a Catholic scriptwriter (Nicoloski).  Good stuff and some good writing prompts– especially when you get down to sections 8 (“The world needs from us:”) and… 8 (“Let’s create a hero story”).

Definitely got me thinking some more.  I appreciated her thoughts greatly.

My Favorite Movie-Ending

I don’t know if it’s my favorite-of-all-time, since I haven’t been consciously comparing endings yet (I think I will for a while though, now). Watched the movie tonight for the first time in years, and still liked it. A lot.

Karate Kid II

There’s just something about the the two young people embracing, exhausted, after they’ve literally saved each others’ lives.

About the 5-minute mark in this clip:

It moves beyond the basic (but still good) endings of “victory” or “coupleness” to a relief and gratitude that seems almost sacred.

Bought a New-Release

The last time I remember doing this was when Beauty and the Beast came out on Video.

Jay and I saw Music and Lyrics in the theater, and it being our first movie in a long time it inspired a series of movie posts (In Defense of “Movie” Dates, Finding Motivation in a Movie, and Movie Weaknesses, in case you missed them the first time around ;o)).

Now I had some birthday money, and we decided it would be fun to buy. Neither of us liked the ultrasexualized dancing, of course (see “Movie Weaknesses” above), but Jay’s pretty confident now he can cut those scenes for a version to have on our computer.

This might seem like a weird thing to mention on a blog like this, but it’s about a story– a story I enjoyed with my honey and we’re looking forward to sharing it again.

The Story Cocoon

I’ve been within the membrane of a story since the movie ended yesterday evening.

Part of the longevity has to do with the type of movie (Amazing Grace), of course. But more even than that, I attribute the strength of the membrane to a post-story silence that I observed yesterday, maybe for the first time.

When telling stories– especially heavy, significant stories, and especially to an older audience– one recommendation is to take an entire five-minutes for silence after the story, before talking about it or starting a new one.

On our way to the car, and our first two minutes there, I effervesced my first impressions, and how the the woman’s role coalesced cleanly with three other sources (I may essay about later) that were on my mind recently.

This talk had made me turn off the radio (I refuse to compete with talk radio) so when we made a stop for Jay partway home, I waited in a quiet car.

There is a line in The Magician’s Nephew about the place you could almost feel the trees growing, and that was the curious sensation I felt while Jay was gone: a sense of growing and solidifying. Foundation stones, or roots of Story were growing both down and out, connecting something in my core to something in my story cocoon.

~ ~ ~

Do you know what I mean by a story cocoon, or a story membrane?

It’s not just the ability to get lost in a story, but the presence and weight of when you’re there. It’s the extra atmospheric pressure of another world, and the iridescent bubble that hasn’t quite popped, even when the story’s ended.

It’s the slowness you feel as you’re leaving a dark theater, or closing a book, while your mind works to order the myriad of sensations you’ve just received and reconcile them to your understanding of the world as it is. (Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it doesn’t.)

And it’s that feeling of a story sticking with you, affecting you.

~ ~ ~

The idea about this first came when I was reading The Thirteenth Tale, and while it applies to books as much as to movies, I think we experience it with movies more.

I’m beginning to think that this is the strongest argument for Charlotte Mason‘s directive to read slowly. More slowly and in smaller sections than you can based simply on your ability or interest, in order to allow the content to infuse your thinking and, basically, last long enough to truly affect you.

~ ~ ~

The question, of course, remains as to how much you want a story to affect you. Good/effective writing or storytelling will create a stronger cocoon that’s harder to escape from, and this is why I always want to be so careful what I expose myself to. After all, innocence is not just for kids.

The Heaviness of Other Worlds

Once when Melody was only a few months old, Jay and I reluctantly left off our first watching of Seabiscuit as soon as she fell asleep. In a moment of selfishness (or opportunism) the next morning, I finished it while Jay was at work.

I found the ending very moving, and felt full under the spell and weight of the story, even without having seen the whole thing at once.

I was agitated. Keyed up.

Not feeling the energy to do anything else, I took the second movie I’d begun the day before, and put it back to see if there was more.

Just as Jay had arrived home from work the night before, I was nearing the end of the new Oklahoma! and turned it off. The cast was in the midst of the Title finale. That song was the last in the 50s version of the movie I watched once with my Grandma. It had bored me to pieces then. (This version is *much* better, though kicked up to a stronger PG-13 in my estimation.)

This next morning I was curious to see if that really was the end. The move had never seemed done at that point, loose ends still dangling.

Well, it wasn’t done.

For the next 25 minutes or so I was dragged through a shiveree, a knife-fight and trial (with accompanying emotional angst) before the incongruously tidy finish.

That hour was one of the most intense and disturbing of my life. Seriously. I had buried myself in the most intense parts of two other worlds with out the diluting time between.

The atmospheric pressure was too heavy; the membrane doubled, too thick and confining. And I had no idea how to process.

I continued shaking my head like a dizzy cat most of the remainder of the day (a friend came for lunch, and this was nearly all I could talk about).

Maybe it was the bends— a theoretically preventable malady that takes thought or planning to avoid.

I know I’ve been very careful not to do that to myself again.

Movie Weaknesses

In my 100-Things post I almost didn’t include movies #9 and #10, because I don’t believe they are for general consumption. But I did enjoy them.

I am blessed (yes, I do count it a blessing) to have a husband who enjoys “snuggly movies” (romantic comedies) with me, even though I won’t watch certain things with him (He loved the Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I don’t watch R-rated movies). I’m glad he doesn’t keep score.

Anyway, we’ve had a string of -13s we’ve watched where we enjoyed the story, but each had a distinct drawback that keeps it from being fully recommendable:

  • Hitch (#9)– great angle about being detailed and conscientious in relationships. Ruined by gratuitous course language. Not something we are willing to own.
  • Bewitched (#10)– Sweet story about being genuine; and as most of the magic is “fairytale” stuff (as opposed to darkly empowered), we chose to buy that one. But I don’t like the “hex” scene, with the dancing around a cauldron (and a few lines of dialogue the hex inspired). I choose to skip those.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith was a Jay choice– I was pleased to finally have something of his to agree to– and the story itself was fascinating, but the spouse-to-spouse pummeling was just too much for me.
  • Music and Lyrics was what we saw yesterday. Jay and I had the same sort of reaction: That was so. fun. but

The largest drawback here was the overt sexuality of the young female singer, who was shown several times dancing around in next-to-nothing.

I told Jay we ought to buy it anyway and he could just use his media program to edit those scenes out. Especially since there’s stuff in it we really liked.

He’s still thinking about it.

Finding Motivation in a Movie

What Jay and I loved in the movie Music and Lyrics was the nuts and bolts of the musical elements.

If you don’t know already, the movie centers around an 80s has-been singer’s need to write a song in x-days for a currently popular singer, in order to revitalize his career. Add a female lyricist and you’ve got your forced interaction for your RomCom.

What none of the trailers (or even the set-up in the movie itself) prepared us for was the creating of the “demo” song.

That might have been the 2nd or 3rd greatest part in the whole movie (and there were some good lines).

You get to watch the guy playing each of the instruments, one after the other, and building the accompaniment track that the pair than sings their demo duet over.

Watching that, Jay was re-inspired to get back to playing piano. And wanting me to do more regular work on guitar.

Continue reading »

In Defense of “Movie” Dates

When I was in high school it was very common for groups of friends to go to see movies together.

It was also common for my mother to make a remark like, “Why spend your time at a movie? There’s no interaction!”

I only did one or two visits a year to the movie theater back then. Still averaging that now, but in anticipation of my first post-baby visit, (and my first “date” since I-can’t-remember-when) I will list my reasons for watching movies not-alone.

  • Quiet “being” time
    • Yes, I know there are other types, but we enjoy having a variety of ice cream flavors too.
  • A shared “experience”
    • While it is all imaginary, it is, especially if well-told, a Story after all. And the purpose of a story is to understand or experience something by being put into it.
    • It was Nora Whats-her-name (the directer of You’ve Got Mail and other things) who said the appeal (or even thrill) of romantic comedies isn’t in their originality. It’s in their ability to recreate for the viewer an echo of the excitement of her/his own experience, bringing the memory into sharper focus– recreating the emotional potency.

    (I love that. I started paying attention and now think it’s largely true.)

  • Observation
    • When I saw the first Pirates movie, I instantly knew I wanted to be with my dad when he saw Jack Sparrow coming into port at the beginning. I wanted to watch him watching that whole sequence that followed.

    (Knowing him, I guessed he would enjoy it, and I suppose I’ve never outgrown a daughter’s natural delight in her father’s laughter)

    Continue reading »


I watched the first disk of the first season of Monk last week.

Really liked it.

After finishing the last two episodes in one evening, I mentioned to Jay how nice it was to find another good source for my story “fix” that was positive/clean. I think I’m mentally setting this against, say, soap operas. Monk is a sort of modern Sherlock Holms, so it is a detective show.

Then, of course, as soon as I acknowledged my need for Story as a type of dependency I got both nervous and defensive. Nervous because I have to question whether each dependency is healthy, and defensive because I want to argue it isn’t, at least, unhealthy.

It got me thinking about all those needs we have that aren’t physical. Continue reading »

Who’s the Accessory?

Two springs ago I was the enchantress in a local production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Pretty cool. Got to wear a fabulous dress on-stage (for less-than two minutes).

What I observed after each show– dozens of little girls mobbing “Belle,” and the disenchanted prince being ignored entirely– made me see how different the roles of men and women are in different genres.

In the most popular fairy tales (think of the most well-known, the most-frequently retold), the man is the female lead’s accessory. Neither Belle nor Disney’s Cinderella address their princes by name. I can’t remember about Snow White.

Theirs is the fantasy of many females: to be the gorgeous center of attention. The man is useful, of course. He somehow signifies the princess has “won,” and (one assumes) he’ll be her devoted adorer even after everyone in the glorious finale has gone back to their own lives.

In contrast, many (most?) action-oriented movies cast the always beautiful woman as the male lead’s accessory. I’ll easily admit I’m not as familiar with this genre, so I may be proven wrong, but one example I can offer for this is Sahara. The leading lady was sometimes interesting, but from a storytelling perspective she existed mainly to allow our leading man to be heroic. Continue reading »