Friday, May 2, 2014

Sometimes the Best Has Already Come

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, written by Jonathan Safran Foer, is by far my favorite thing we have read this semester. This novel follows the journey that Oskar Schell takes a little over a year after the tragic death of his father in 9/11. Prior to starting his quest, Oskar finds a key amongst some of his fathers possessions. 

The key, contained within an envelope with the word "Black" written on the front, fills Oskar with a deep urge to find the lock that it opens. This urge consumes Oskar for eight whole months, as he visits multiple people with the last name of Black, because that is the only clue he has as to where he might find the lock. Eventually, he does find the lock, but it doesn't lead him to what he was looking for. In the end, he realizes that, regardless of the end result, the key was still something that brought him closer to his father for a time. Additionally, this story also shows how PTSD can effect people differently, by telling the story of Oskar's grandmother and grandfather.

As I was reading this novel, I was actually really looking forward to watching the film adaptation of the novel. Moreover, I was even contemplating downloading it, and watching it on my own as soon as I finished the novel. However, I found that once I started working on my final project, I realized that I actually didn't want to watch the film adaptation.

 One of the things that I have learned this semester, is that often times, adaptations can change opinions of original works, and that sometimes they can even provoke conflicting opinions. One of the great things about this novel, on it's own, is that it's full of different things that are not traditionally a part of novels. Therefore, I have decided that those elements are enough for me. As of right now, in addition to the sad feelings this novel provoked, it also made me fall in love with just about all of the characters, therefore, I have decided that I will do my own adaptation and for right now, I will pass on watching the film.

The film may be good, or it may be bad, or it may even change a person's initial opinions of the book, but for me, the book was enough, and I honestly think, that not all things were meant to be adapted. Some things are just better left untouched. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Feels

I hate thing that make me sad.

Today in class we watched the ending of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The story follows Oskar Schell on his journey to find the lock that fits the key he finds in his father's room. His father has died in 9/11 and this is a piece of him that Oskar his holding onto.

9/11 is something that resonates with me, as it does everybody who can remember that day. That day was my 11th birthday. I was sitting in my fifth grade classroom and i just remember we had the television on all day and we watched the footage over and over and over again. At the end of the day someone reminded the teacher that it was my birthday and she looked at me like i was the saddest thing she had ever seen in her life. My parents picked me up from school and we barbecued hotdogs and tried to celebrate my birthday, but it was pointless. I spent the whole day afraid that I was going to die. This is back when I didn't have a room and slept on the couch in the living room at my grandma's house. I remember laying on the couch and crying while my dad watched the news to see if there were any developments. Any explanation.

I can't enjoy movies that are based on tragic events. Real tragic events. It's hard for me. Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Hotel Rwanda, Full Metal Jacket, hell, even Titanic... I just can't sit through them more than once. And the one time i do, i'm always uncomfortable. I feel bad for sitting down to something for entertainment knowing that it's based off a real thing, where real people died and real families were torn apart by violence or disaster.

I appreciate the film. And in someways it was easier to see than to read for me. The imagery was hard, but I can look at the actors and know they aren't real people. Tom Hanks sounds like Tom Hanks on the answering machine and I KNOW that Tom Hanks is (most likely) ok right now, but it was still hard to hear and particularly disturbing when they showed the towers falling. When reading the answering machine passages in the book, it killed me because in my head i put real faces to the words and i cant help but want to just put the book down. It bummed me out so much, it made me not want to read it at all.

I guess i should get over it, but I doubt i will. I've always been this way. I'm a sensitive person to the extreme and I guess i just have to spend my life ignoring things that may cause me to be uncomfortable on an emotional level.

After all that emotion.. I need some adorable.


After reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, I found the book to be challenging and confusing as it would go all over the place..  It was hard to follow the characters and wether it was past or present taking place. The character of Oskar seemed like a good character, but the things he did are a little bizarre. After watching part of the movie version with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, the story line made a little more sense in which you could put faces to the characters and see all of the confussion the written story has.
In Breakfast at Tiffannys, by Truman Capote, that was also made into a movie version it went along with the original story line and was easier to follow.  I sometimes wonder if it would be better to read the book and then watch the movie, or watch the movie and then read the book. I have done both of these and I would say it could go either way.  In one way, as in Foers book, it made more sense to picture the characters and scenery first and then read the book.  In the book by Capote  it was better to read the book and then watch the movie.  I have seen a lot of books adapted for the big screen or television.  Some scenes are different but it is a good way for a story to be in a different media.
Truman Capotes   Summer Crossing , another book we read this  semester, is being produced in movie form and should be interesting to watch and to see who is chosen to play all the parts.  All in all, some books make great movies and some, like  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in my opinion is not one of those.  I did not care for the book and the movie is not making much difference.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Ballad of John Marston

The story of John Marston is not an easy one. He is a gambler, thief, and murderer. At the same time he tries to be a farmer and family man in an attempt to atone and escape his past, yet his past comes back to haunt him. As his story unfolds, Marston's family has been kidnapped and he must kill his former gang members in order to free them. He proceeds to shoot, murder, and raise hell all throughout Mexico and Texas while trying to bring his former gang to heel. Along the way he meets interesting characters who help or cause more headaches for him, but He never loses sight of returning back home with his family and leaving the past behind. Marston finally reaches his goal, and shoots the man who was the closest thing he had to a father. Then his wife and son are returned to him, and he believes his past is laid to rest. He enjoys his home life and stresses to his son that he wants him to go to school and not become an outlaw. Things are great, and then in the blink of an eye, Marston is gunned down outside of his barn, going out in blaze of gunfire glory. Years later, his son, an outlaw now, guns down the men who murdered his father, and John, even in death is unable to escape his past and it's consequences.
You wont find the story of John Marston in any book for he is a character in the video game Red Dead Redemption and unlike in a book, you get to control him as his story unfolds.
John Marston
 Karen Traviss is a well known Science Fiction author and one of a growing number of authors who are venturing into the video game market. She was lead writer on the Gears of War game and continues to be an advocate for stories told by video games. Video games allow the player to become part of the story and control central characters that otherwise a reader could only follow on a page even if the destination were the same. For sure, many games can't be acknowledged for having a great storyline, (Call of Duty comes to mind) but some can be just as powerful as a written novel. Rockstar, which made Red Dead Redemption and the Grand Theft Auto games, is known for the powerful stories they tell through a game. The same can be said of certain MMOs where players have more ability to create, mold, and shape their characters stories. I have spent many hours tramping around Skyrim, and each time the missions available are the same, I have yet to play a character that goes through it the exact same way.
As we continue to push forward into the digital age, will video games replace the traditional novel? Only time will tell.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why I love Oskar

One of the books we read this semester was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Although I'm not usually a fan of sobfests (which is why I write romance--I prefer a happily ever after in fiction since they're so darn rare in real life) however this book is somehow one I can't resist going back to.

When we were assigned a twitter project, to tweet from a fictional voice, it seemed a no brainer--I'd be Oskar.


 I live with three kids with special needs, so I felt like I could really get Oskar, not to mention that as a mother...I kind of want to hug him any time I read portions in his voice. Not to mention when we read the pieces from his grandmother's point of view. I know what it is like to look at someone so very special, so beautiful and wonderful and be just overwhelmed with a blend of love, proudness and agonizing pain since we can't ever protect them from the world. By bringing them into being, by helping them grow, we're basically setting them loose in the asteroid field of life and just waiting to comfort them when they take a sideswipe.
And yet Oskar is both more and less than that. In his search for answers, in his blockheaded refusal to give up, he discovers things that most of us might spend our whole lives never knowing. Between the science that drives him and the horror of his loss, we can learn more about who we are.

Sometimes, science doesn't have answers. Sometimes the answers it has are more painful than not knowing. Either way, Oskar keeps his humor, keeps his ability to try, refuses to give in. Even when he is hurting himself to punish himself for things he had no control over...Oskar is kind of every one of us. Even if we're not physically bruising ourselves, don't we punish ourselves for things we think we've done wrong? Whether we're feeling guilty, wishing we'd done things differently...whatever, how often do we do just what he is doing, but in less visible but deeper damaging ways?

In the end of the book, we're not given a happy ever after for any of the characters, which I feel is both intentional and more meaningful. In real life, we're not promised forever. We're not even promised right now. Like Oskar, we have no clue what tomorrow will bring...
And yet we go on, living our lives and hoping for the best. Life isn't about the happy ever after, not really. It's about stringing together as many pearls of happiness that we can before we run out of string. Maybe there aren't any answers. Maybe there aren't supposed to be.

But somewhere, the things we're missing here? Are really common. As common there as they are rare here. Maybe in that place, there are happily ever afters but no one knows how special they are because they're so used to them... and only the rare person gets to experience loss or pain to understand how perfectly beautiful the good moments are in comparison.

Who knows, really?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

my dog too

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House is a fantastic poem.  It made me remember the days when I had a dog.  My dog would bark at everything and sometimes at nothing at all.  My neighbors would probably be feeling the same way about my dog.  It never occurred to me how annoying the barking would be to other people.  Even the police would come to our house to say that our dog needed to be inside because the kids would be scared to come out and play.  So, sometimes I could not leave my dog outside.  The dog got out of the fence one day and terrorized the whole street.  The police came to our house again.  They said if our dog got out and bit someone that they would call the dog catcher and take the dog away.  Our dog would be quarantined, we would get a ticket and we would be sued for the anguish of the bite by the victim.  I was only a kid but it made my mom really mad.  I did not think that my dog was going to hurt anyone, she was after all just my dog.  But I kept her inside any way. The only time I let her out was to let her do her business in the yard.  She would run laps around the yard to stretch her legs.  Plus I only did that early in the morning when no one was out and late at night after everyone had gone in for the night.  I guess that after all that I had to go through having a dog as a child I never want to do that to my children when they were little.  I have not had a dog in 25 years because I do not want that type of responsibility on my hands as an adult, especially now that people sue over everything.  I do miss the companionship of a dog.  But I also like having the release of time.  I do not have to come home and clean up the poop and paper.  I do not have to spend so much money on food, license and shots for it.  Now I can complain to my mom's neighbors about their dog.  My mom's dog does not bark unless he has to go outside to do his business or someone comes to the door of the house.  I tell that she needs to vacuum the house more because I have allergies to the dog she has now.  I sneeze constantly when I go home to her house.  I was just there and my asthma went crazy being in her house.  The bad part is that she will not do it, I have to.  But her neighbor's dog reminds me of this poem.  He barks all the time he is out.  The neighbor throws his poop in their garden.  So, I will never eat tomatoes from their garden ever, ever.