Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Imitation Writing

I've been going through the writing archives and finding some brilliant pieces that I wrote and never found homes for, mostly flash-fiction pieces, some of them from writing prompts or other parameters. This one was an imitation piece for a class I once took, though I cannot remember who we were imitating in this piece. This is called A Supposedly Fabulous Day Trip I Never Want to Take Again, and I wrote it about an incredibly crazy very fast jaunt from Central New York to Boston and back, all in one day.

A Supposedly Fabulous Day Trip I Never Want to Take Again

Right now it’s Wednesday 18 November, and I’m sitting on the couch, waiting for my roomie to share her salt-encrusted chips with me from across the room and trying not to drop crumbs on the floor for our not-so-welcome little furry friends, as I think about the whirlwind trip to Boston we took this weekend in response to the assignment given in the class just ended.  
I have finally seen the city everyone said I would love. I have taken yet another road trip this year w/ my roomie. I have seen the site of some of America’s most historical events. I have walked parts of the Freedom Trail1. I have learned even more about the American Revolution. I have seen poorly made interactive museum displays which try to bring the Boston Massacre to life without any of the gory details2. I have trudged through the remnants of Hurricane Ida. (The gory details would scare the children away.) I now know the difference between downtown Boston and Historical Boston. I have heard the woosh of cars and the honks of horns; I’ve seen tour companies battle for tourist’s green.
I have learned that there are actually differences between parts of the city other than Downtown and Historical. I have eaten more and crappier food than I’ve ever eaten, and eaten this food during a day when I’ve also learned the difference between a “leisurely road trip” and a “turn and burn”. I have seen heavily-bearded homeless guys pick half-drunk luke-warm beverages out of garbage cans and take big gulps.
I have used smaller than penny sized coins to enter a smelly bathroom in a food court. I have spent six hours barefoot behind the wheel. I have gotten a severe case of cabin fever on the open road.
(Actually it was more like a really smelly bathroom.)

1         The trail, of course, ran directly through a construction zone where the red-brick road disappeared and we had to guess exactly where we were supposed to be going. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile trail which stops at 16 nationally significant historic sites related to the American Revolution. Some of the bricks have been demolished over the years, but there has been red paint added over some asphalt sections at road crossings.
2         The Boston Massacre was not actually a massacre. A crowd of Colonists tried to jump a few British soldiers and five people were killed. The Colonists marketed it as the Boston Massacre to insight the idea of nationalism and outrage in the Colonists.

More specifically from 6:30 am 14 November until 1:30 am 15 November, I voluntarily, and for $200, drove to and from Boston in my 2003 Hyundai Elantra3 with my roommate. The drive to Boston from Cortland consists of 40 miles north on I-81 to exit 34A where you then jump on I-90 East for the rest of your natural born life. The drive is long, and mostly straight, and Lola4 directed the way.

The University I went to visit was Emerson College, located in the heart of downtown Boston. It was founded in 1880 and is the only comprehensive University in the US dedicated only to communication and liberal arts. Emerson is located next to the extensive theater district of Boston’s hopping cultural section. The college has around 3,400 full-time undergrad students and 830 graduate students from 45 states and 40 countries.
The city of Boston is one of the country’s oldest and the home of such rich history that is everywhere you look when you visit. It’s this big beautiful place that everyone’s told to love. It has such culture, such history, who cares that when you’re walking down the street all you can smell is exhaust, garbage, and three-day old Chinese food?

3         My beautiful, yet suddenly expensive car gets 30 highway miles to the gallon and is equipped with a CD player that was almost burnt out over the course of the drive, and an ezpass that my father forgot to tell me was out of money.
4         Lola is my Garmin GPS system, the second-best Christmas present my parents ever gave me. (The first being the car itself, also with her own name – Josephine Alauisha McGillicutty.)

Boston’s supposed to be this wonderful, beautiful place, with a bloody past. But the present is rather bloody as well. Last year, Boston was home to 63 homicides (this year’s number is up to 42.)5 Compared to a city like New York, these statistics may seem arbitrary, but it’s a facet of life in Boston that most people don’t talk about.
            Here’s the thing. Boston is a cool enough place to visit, to walk the same paths that our Founding Fathers once did. But for most people, the culture and the history are outweighed by the noise and the danger and the hassles of living in a big city.

5         Last week, a group of twelve men got into a brawl outside a club and beat a man to death.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Horror Movies Stage One

Now, I know I'm a romance writer, really I do. But I also kind of love horror movies. And I've always been a fan of cinematography and history. This year, I have expanded my repertoire of horror movies thanks to my new love, who is also a movie aficionado, and a fellow horror movie buff.

We have set out to hit the major monster groups of horror movies between September and Halloween. We also have a similar obsession with popcorn. So as you can see, it all works out very well. We start with classics, and then we move forward.

So far, we've started with zombies, and we've been watching some really cool but funky black and white movies from the 1920s and 1930s. We have an extensive list of zombie movies to watch, and after zombies, we will move on to vampires, and then werewolves I think.

Through the course of our horror movies, we stumbled upon the original Phantom of the Opera, a silent movie in black and white, from 1925. It follows the storyline of the book fairly closely, with a few major differences, and it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

It follows the story of young Christine, the ingenue opera singer, and her trials with the Phantom. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016220/ There's a bit more on the history of the movie here. I didn't realize that there had been a movie before Andrew Loyd Webber adapted the novel to a musical, and it was really cool to see the adaptation before the musical. Because it was a silent movie, there was a musical track accompanying it that was beautiful in its own way, but I kind of missed the music of the Phantom that I've known and loved for so long.

 After the original, we watched the modern-day musical version, with Minnie Driver, Gerard Butler, and Emmy Rosum. It was great to see how closely the musical adaptation on screen followed the stage show, but also the really cool nods it made to the original film version. It blended a lot of the elements of the original movie, and even expanded on that dark seduction theme, which was great. And aside from the framework story line of the Raoul in the "present day" after the opera house was closed and ruined by the events, and the kind of extra sweet romantic ending, it stays pretty true to the stage production story. I for one prefer the less ambiguous ending of the newer film version. In the historical film, the Phantom is a lot less likeable, and a lot more like a monster. Here's where that whole romance author who loves horror movies comes into play! I like my Happily Ever After endings, and you don't always get those in horror movies... in fact, almost never. Yet... the new adaptation blends the old movie and storyline with the stage production in a new, interesting way, that I really enjoyed.

Next on the docket will likely be Night of the Living Dead, and some other more classic zombie movies before we move on to Resident Evil and 28 Days Later and then lighter zombie fair like Zombieland.

We'll also have some one-offs like Monster Squad, Little Monsters, and Hocus Pocus. Because it's just not Halloween without these movies! Stay tuned for more on a romance writers walk on the dark side.