Unrelated Lessons This Week

Northern Cardinal

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James

“We can’t understand when we’re pregnant, or when our siblings are expecting, how profound it is to have a shared history with a younger generation: blood, genes, humor. It means we were actually here, on Earth, for a time – like the Egyptians with their pyramids, only with children.” ~ Anne Lamott

I have no book movie connections to write about this week. I am reading, just not books that I’ve stacked up to include in this blog. So, today I’d like to write about some random things that happened that I’ve been thinking about.

Story One
Yesterday I met with my independent study student. It’s the dramatic structure class that is normally taught during fall or spring semester. She’s taking it now because she’s going off to a four year institution in the fall and the theatre program at her new college doesn’t offer a class like this. This young woman is remarkable. She just graduated from high school and already has a number of college classes completed toward her theatre degree. Though she’s a fantastic actor, she was in my spring production of Measure for Measure, her first love is theatre tech.

I could talk about movies all day. She and I have fun talking about the movies we’ve watched, but yesterday I had reason to be further impressed with her. We were discussing Cloud Atlas, a movie/book connection I’ve written about before in this blog. The movie can be very confusing because it switches back and forth among six timelines. Because of this, I created a movie guide to help the students notice important aspects of the movie. My student impressed me when she said that because of my guide, she got what was going on during the first viewing. It helps that she’s also taking a film class at the same time.

As we got to talking about the many themes of the movie, she connected them to things she has learned in her life. And I have to say, I was so happy to hear that she has already learned things it took me well into my fifties to understand. I find this to be true of many of my students. They are so self-aware. It gives me hope that what I believe really is true: When I do my personal work and gain insights, they are passed on to future generations. We talked about that too, because it’s one of the major themes of Cloud Altas. Even if no one remembers our names, our experiences help those who come after us.

I told my student I was happy that she was so much farther along in her development than I was. Don’t be fooled that the younger generation is going to hell in a hand basket. It’s just not true.

Story Two
A week or so ago, I wrote about the book and TV show Dietland. I don’t think I mentioned that I also watch the show, Unapologetic with Aiysha Tyler which airs right after. It’s a talk show linked to, but not exclusively about Dietland. In fact the main part of the show is discussing women’s issues. I hope it stays around. Aiysha has three guests on each week, they discuss current events as part of the format. About a week ago, Aiysha had a woman, who had been part of Obama’s administration, on her panel. Sorry, I don’t remember her name. The woman said that signing petitions and making phone calls to our elected officials really does make a difference and to keep doing it. I loved that, because in recent weeks I have been tempted to give into battle fatigue. But no more. I’m going to speak up as often as possible.

Story Three
Barry and I have a friend who is a lesbian. She and her wife just celebrated fourteen years of being together. Today, on her Facebook feed, she wrote a moving story about a conversation she had with a gentleman while they were getting their cars inspected. He talked of his wife and family and what they were going to do this summer. When he turned the conversation to find out what her summer plans were, she felt a bit panicked to come out to him. At first she made her plans with her family generic, but finally she just came out with the facts. When he realized that she had used the word, “wife”, his face changed for a moment, but then they continued their conversation as if what she had said was perfectly normal. Wow! I want to become that vulnerable. As an introvert, I don’t like revealing too much about my personal feelings and beliefs. But our friend, Joy, who has much more at stake than I do, taught me a valuable lesson. Being vulnerable, open, and honest can help us change the world.

One final little tidbit. Last Sunday David Edelstein, the film critic for CBS Sunday Morning, urged the viewers to go see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? a new documentary about Fred Rogers and his groundbreaking children’s show on PBS. But he said something that I completely disagree with, that seeing the movie will make you feel good until you go back out into the real world. He implied that treating everyone with respect and love is abnormal. I disagree with him. I believe that, for the most part, we come into this world with open hearts and a desire to love everyone, but those natural impulses are altered by the time we reach adolescence. I will go see the movie and aspire to be loving and respectful at all times just like Mr. Rogers.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. Have a fantastic weekend. And by the way, The Space Between Time is half off this entire month at Smashwords. Click the link below to get your copy.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Movie/Book Connections

“Adaptation seems to be, to a substantial extent, a process of reallocating your attention.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

In my last blog post I wrote about feeling restless. That feeling hasn’t gone away completely, but I think I may have hit on a new direction I want to take with these posts. The idea came to me as I was listening to my favorite podcast, “What Do I Read Next”. Almost every guest Anne Bogel has on her show has a unique perspective about books. Some of them have created interesting businesses based on one thing they are interested in that are related to books and writing. I have found every one of Anne’s guests to have an interesting story to tell about what books mean to them, how they choose the books they read, how they organize their libraries, or how books have helped them find friends.

As I was listening to this week’s episode that little bit of inspiration I was asking for came to me. I have always loved movies. When I also became an avid reader, often a movie based on a book would grasp me so deeply that I wanted to read the source material. That is my preferred way to do it, see the movie first and then read the book. However, it’s okay if it happens the other way too, like when I read the Harry Potter series then saw the movies. I know enough about the movie making process that I can forgive not having my favorite book scenes included in the movie.

Thursday night I showed my dramatic structure class the movie, Cloud Atlas. It’s one of my favorites and happens to be one of those movies that sent me searching for the book. The movie had some mixed reviews because it weaves six timelines in and out of each other. Many people found it confusing. The book also has six timelines. The first story which seems to be a historical story, begins in 1849 and abruptly ends in the middle of a sentence. The book then picks up with a gay love story that takes place in 1936, then a mystery in 1973, a comedy in 2012, a dystopian science fiction in 2044 and finally a kind of hopeful fantasy/sci-fi story at the center which takes place in the far future. Once that last story is told, the book continues with the 2044 timeline and the plot moves backward through the timelines ending with the 1849 story. If the movie were structured that way, it would most likely be boring.

One thing I’ve learned by osmosis, and from taking a few film classes is that there are lots of techniques that film makers use to help the audience understand what’s going on. Most of the time we don’t notice the camera angles, shot lengths, details of the setting, costumes, props, lighting and music that give the audience clues about plot and characters. There are also little snippets of dialogue that seem to be offhand, but later play a big part in the plot. The screen play has to pair down the book plot, and as in the case of Cloud Atlas must be structured differently to tell each timeline’s story in an interesting way.

Maybe that’s what I find so fascinating. Movie makers take a book and select the most important parts of it to convey its message to an audience. To do that they use all sorts of visual cues to help us connect emotionally to the characters and story. In my mind, if a movie team succeeds and makes a fabulous movie, that makes me want to go to the source material to see how the movie compares with the book.

I wrote all of the above to say that I’m thinking of writing more posts about movie/book connections that have been both enjoyable and sometimes life changing for me. After telling Barry, my husband, about this idea I began to make a list in my head of all of the movies and mini-series that have inspired me to go find the book. The list is long and varied. Some movies are classics like Ben Hur, or The Valley of Decision, while others are modern retellings of classic novels, still others are based on contemporary books. I was also surprised to find how many different genres are represented in my list.

This project is going to take a long time but I’m looking forward to sharing my favorites with you from time to time.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Have a fun weekend. We’re off to see Black Panther. Who knows maybe I’ll begin reading graphic novels next.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.