Friday, August 21, 2009

Taking a Break

Sorry for disappearing. Life interferes.

I'll be back September 1.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Auditor Concerned About Borders UK

Saturday's The Bookseller had an article in which the accounting firm Ernst & Young raises "concerns" over whether Borders UK will be able to continue trading:
. . . auditor Ernst & Young drew a series of concerns about Borders UK's long term ability to trade. These included the competitiveness of the high street bookselling trade plus a difficulty in predicting sales performance. A "significant" quarterly rent cost, was also highlighted, that led the majority of the chain's landlords to renegotiate to monthly payments, as well as uncertainty surrounding the continuing support of suppliers and the availability of credit insurance.
Last month, the 7/15 edition of Publishers Marketplace reported:
While still denying that Borders UK is even up for sale and insisting that Clearwater Corporate Finance has been hired only to help "seek out funding opportunities," it looks like the ailing chain may have a buyer, or at least a company ready to take it off their hands. The Independent reports that the private equity arm of restructuring company Hilco, Valco Capital Partners, "plans to acquire the entire shareholding of Borders UK and take the company forward."
Go here to read The Bookseller article.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Best Film Quotes

I enjoy watching Charlie Gibson on the ABC Evening News. I'm not often home in time to see the early news, but when I am, Charlie's my man.

Yesterday evening, he mentioned that Budd Schulberg, the screenwriter for On the Waterfront, died Wednesday at the age of 95.

Charlie quoted the lines Marlon Brando made famous: "You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."

He said that the American Film Institute listed those lines as third in the one hundred best movie quotes.

Of course, this pushed me to write my own list of the top ten movie quotes of all time.

I had a bit of difficulty because MY favorite lines were not necessarily the ones that I thought should be on the top ten list. Here are the ones I thought would be on the top ten list. I have numbered them in the order that I expected them to appear. In parentheses after the quote is the name of the film and the ranking that AFI attributed to them:

1) Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. (Gone With the Wind #1)

2) Play it. Play it again, Sam. (Note: I misquoted: It should be "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'." Casablanca #28)

3) Here's looking at you, kid. (Casablanca #5)

4) I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. (A Streetcar Named Desire #75)

5) Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas any more. (The Wizard of Oz #4)

6) Go ahead. Make my day. (Note: I thought it was Dirty Harry, but it was Sudden Impact #6)

7) I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti. (The Silence of the Lambs #21)

8) It was beauty that killed the beast. (King Kong #84)

9) Houston, we have a problem. (Apollo 13 #50)

10) I see dead people (The Sixth Sense #44)

In addition to the ones above, here are my own personal favorites together with the number given (or no number if they didn't make the list):

2) I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse (The Godfather)

11) What we've got here is failure to communicate. (Cool Hand Luke)

19) I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more! (Network)

36) Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges! (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)

47) Shane! Shane! Come back! (Shane)

-- Pfc. William Santiago is dead, and that is a tragedy. But he is dead because he had no code. He is dead because he had no honor, and God was watching. (A Few Good Men)

-- Get away from her, you bitch! (Aliens)

-- I've seen things you people wouldn't believe . . . All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die. (Blade Runner)

-- I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have. (The Terminator)

-- Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing. (To Kill a Mockingbird)

But, for me, the single film which has the best lines in all of movie history will always be The Lion in Winter. Here are my five favorites:

-- In a world where carpenters get resurrected, everything is possible.

-- I even made poor Louis take me on Crusade. How's that for blasphemy. I dressed my maids as Amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn... but the troops were dazzled.

-- My life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. Henry Fitz-Empress, first Plantagenet, a king at twenty-one, the ablest soldier of an able time. He led men well, he cared for justice when he could and ruled, for thirty years, a state as great as Charlemagne's. He married out of love, a woman out of legend. Not in Alexandria, or Rome, or Camelot has there been such a queen.

-- I'm villifying you for God's sake - pay attention!

-- Well, that's the way deals are made. We've got him if we want him. He'll sell us all, you know... but only if he thinks we think he won't.

To read the entire list of 100 best quotes, go here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Writing, Feeling . . . and Living

This week, on one of the loops I belong to, a multi-published writer spoke very frankly about the recent breakup of his marriage. He talked about his bewilderment and pain in a straightforward, unashamed manner.

I was reminded of the first time I read Stephen King's On Writing. King's honest commentary on issues I couldn't imagine talking about in public, much less in print, horrified me. I especially remember his openness about his bouts of impotency. And I can recall thinking if I were his wife, I'd kill him.

In the years since, I've come to recognize that talking about the human condition is what writers do. Which means we have to learn to maneuver in the Land of Feelings.

I've said multiple times on this blog that I believe the purpose of all genre fiction is to evoke emotion in the reader . . . different emotions depending on the different genres.

I now have a corollary to go with that proposition: If the purpose of all genre fiction is to evoke emotion in the reader, the writer must become comfortable talking about emotions.

Eleanor Roosevelt said: "Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, small minds talk about people."

While I admire that lofty sentiment, I'm not sure it applies equally to all writers. Maybe it is applicable to writers of non-fiction, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't apply to writers of fiction--either literary or genre. We talk about people and events all the time.

I am finishing what I hope, God willing, will be the second third of my life. In the first third, I was a scared kid, just trying to stay safe. I was pretty much raw emotion; it took everything I had to hold myself together. I was like a pinball, batted back and forth between fear and anger.

Then I careened to the opposite end of the pinball machine. For about half of the second third of my life, I lived inside my head. Everything was an intellectual debate. I shied away from revealing my feelings, or being open about emotion. My anger morphed into competitiveness. While it was good for my career, it did nothing for me as an individual.

When I read my written work from those years, I find it incredibly sterile. It's no wonder nothing sold. Quite frankly, it was boring, without life.

Fortunately, with therapy and a change of career (it's funny how we find what we need), I learned to become both more open and more honest about what I was feeling. And, while I didn't realize it at the time, my writing began to integrate both ideas and emotion.

Now I'm on the cusp of the last third of my life. My goal as a writer
--and as a person--is to try to find a balance between ideas and emotion.

Intellectualism uninformed by feeling no longer holds any attraction for me. Nor does uncontrolled emotion. Increasingly, I'm seeking to slough off negativity and to surround myself with people who are passionate: passionate about their work, their lives and the ones they love. Hell, I've got a limited amount of time left. Why spend it with people who do nothing but complain or criticize?

I guess the message here is to look at your writing . . . and your life. Are you painting a fully nuanced landscape, with all the colors your palette has to offer? If you are only using the colors from one end of the spectrum, won't your finished product be mono-
chromatic? And are you willing to settle for that?

Try painting with different colors today.