Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

27 Apr

Otherwise known as “two hours, I’ll never get back.”

I don’t understand why filmmakers are so compelled to insert a modern story when they’re adapting what was a beautifully-written historical novel.  Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was strong on its own, with a fascinating story about two 19th Century Chinese girls who grow into womanhood as laotong, or sworn sisters.  It’s told by the now 80-something Lily, who has outlived everyone else involved (including her laotong, Snow Flower), and is now watching the next generation of her family in her home.

That was the movie I should have been watching.  Instead, director Wayne Wang and screenwriter Angela Workman decided to turn the film into a bastardized version of The Joy Luck Club.  They worked up a modern day parallel story that involved Lily and Snow Flower’s granddaughters’ (to be honest, I’m not sure which one — Nina or Sophia — belonged to whom) who were once best friends but torn apart after a disagreement involving Hugh Jackman (who sings!!)

*Note, more movies should involve Hugh Jackman singing.  It was honestly the only part of the modern-day story I paid attention to.

When Nina gets into an accident, the hospital calls Sophia because, hey, why have Hugh Jackman as your emergency contact when you can have your former bestie who now hates your guts? She rushes over and as she waits for her friend to come out of the coma, she starts searching for the secret fan that Nina had, which belonged the their grandmothers.  As she’s doing this, the story flashes back to said-grandmothers, and See’s gorgeous novel comes to life.

Until Workman decides that the audience is getting bored with the subtitles and yanks them back to the present for a disjointed story (did I mention that Nina’s in a coma? That means lots of trips to the department of back story in order to justify paying the actress.) that must be followed closely to make half a lick of sense.

The problem is, I didn’t want to pay attention (save Hugh’s singing).  I wanted to see the novel that I enjoyed brought to life unbastardized.  Yes, The Joy Luck Club used the same technique as it flashed back and forth between 1990s San Francisco and 1950s China, but the importance here is that that was author Amy Tan’s intention!  There was no determination on the part of the filmmakers that the source material wasn’t interesting enough to support the two-hour run time.

If I were Lisa See, I’d be livid.

Making Piece (an Open Letter to Beth M. Howard)

26 Apr

Dear Beth M. Howard:

My hips would like a word.  Since finishing your breathtakingly beautiful memoir of “love, loss, and pie,” Making Piece, I have been craving the stuff. Apple, cherry, triple-berry, I don’t care what it is, I want pie, and I want it now.

This had to have been your intention.  You had to have known that someone, somewhere, would read your love letter (to both husband and pie) and get the grand idea to bake — often and much — until the fireman next door decides that he’s tired of hearing the fire alarm going off  (not actually happened, yet, but as I am a disaster in the kitchen, it is only a matter of time) and the Weight Watchers leader merely shakes her head with regret.

Tonight, I’m attempting this one:  It’s from a restaurant just down the street, so if I burn it beyond recognition (and the fireman has to yell through the walls again), I have a back up plan.

And that’s what life’s all about, right?  Facing whatever ingredients life throws at you, and mixing them together the best way you know how.

Making Piece, A Memior of Love, Loss, and Pie was published in April 2012 by Harlequin.

2011 Celtic Solstice

18 Dec

Going in, I figured we’d file this one under “don’t try this at home.”

The bar Christmas party went until 2 on Friday night, and by the time I drove home, it was well after 2:30.  The race was in 6 hours, and I needed to be up by 7 in order to be at the start on time.

When the alarm went off, it propelled me out of bed to the point where I was on autopilot.  I couldn’t find my shoes, my Garmin, my iPod, or my workout clothes. All of these were exactly where I’d left them on Friday night, but for some reason, my brain just wasn’t seeing the obvious. All the while, the cats were screaming for breakfast.

Eventually, I got my stuff together and plodded over to the park for the start.  Coffee awaited, and it was a welcome addition to the morning.  I don’t like to eat before races, but this time I made an exception because a) it was the nectar of the gods, and b) it was warm.  Warm was important…it was 32 degrees at the start.

With all that behind me, I wasn’t expecting a good race.  I hadn’t really run more than a mile since the marathon, and this was five of them in a row.  Plus a friend of mine recently had his worst half-marathon time.  I didn’t know if that was contagious or anything, but since he actually trained, and I hadn’t, I had to think it wasn’t a good thing.

And then, I blew the damn thing out of the water.  I finished the first mile in around 11:15, and the times just kept getting better and better. When I came over the finish line at just under 55 minutes, it was officially my best 5 mile time ever.

No, I don’t know where it came from.  Yes, I’m paying the price this morning.  Still, I love how my body went on autopilot and cooperated the way I needed it to.  I don’t think I’ll be running under these conditions again, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have to shy away from events the night before races.

One Minute Writer: Name

22 Nov

I’ve always hated my name.

No, not Elle…that’s the name I chose for myself and my writing career.  Not because I have some sort Legally Blonde obsession (because I do), but because no one, not even people who have known me my entire life can manage to spell my legal name, Lindsay, with an A, and not an E.

So, Elle it is…take out the A, add the determined E (twice!), and let everyone say my first initial.

Works for me!

The Godfather

22 Nov

Okay, I’ll admit it.  Until last night, I’d never seen The Godfather.

It’s not like I was completely unfamiliar with the concept: Goldenboy son returns to family fold to take over the business. Horsehead hijinks and lots of offers that can’t be refused are made.  Still, I’d never thought to sit down and devote 3 hours of my life to it.

That was probably because all the best lines were quoted in You’ve Got Mail.

But then it magically appeared at the house thanks to Netflix (I don’t remember ever putting it on the queue).  Since it was there anyway, I thought, “Why not let this sit for a month?”  And I did.

Big mistake.

Because when I finally sat down to watch, I was blown away.  I was expecting this violent shoot-em-up style flick ala Pulp Fiction or  Reservoir Dogs, but what I got was subtle elegance.  Sure, there was violence, but besides the horse head, everything else was handled with a clinical, business-like style.  “Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” and all that.

And that scene at the end with Abe Vigoda and Robert Duvall?  Heartbreaking.

The thing is, there are a ton of classics, modern and otherwise, I’ve never seen.  I mean, yes, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, and The Philadelphia Story have all earned places in the collection, but it took me 33 years to see Dune.  And while I’ve seen all six Star Wars movies, I haven’t seen the Indiana Jones saga all the way through (for purposes of this, we’re going to pretend 4 doesn’t exist). I’m going to start to work off the AFI list, but what are some favorites you might recommend?  Leave ‘em in the comments!

36th Marine Corps Marathon

22 Nov

I came.  I saw.  I didn’t beat Oprah.

I wasn’t ready for my second marathon.  Not by a long shot.  A summer of oppressive heat and one work disaster after another had cut into my training schedule to the point where I’d only managed one 18-miler, and a near 20-miler.

(Okay, there was opportunity for a second 20-miler, but when a bird poos on your shoulder a mile into the run, you just know it’s not going to be your day.)

Needless to say, I was already nervous going into the weekend. More than once, I’d considered deferring until 2012, but something kept telling me not to.  No, I was going to start the race.  If I was plucked of the course by a Marine, so be it.  But there was no way, no how, I was ever going to see a DNS in the Filz history of athletic results.

Then, Saturday, the weather rolled in.  Once again, I considered deferring.  I mean, who in their right mind would want to run a marathon while the first measurable snow DC has seen in over 30 years is on the ground?  By then, though,  I was in line to pick up my number.  If I was going to make the call, I was going to have to do it in a matter of seconds.

I didn’t do it.  I went to the expo, bought another layer of clothes, and told myself that I still wasn’t going to get a DNS.

Arriving at the start line at 6, I wrapped myself in my car’s emergency blanket and waited two hours for the official kick off.  I decided to join up with the 5:30 Clif pace group, figuring if I just stuck with them until The Bridge, I could be comfortable in the knowledge that I was at least going to be allowed to finish the race.

I stuck with them almost the whole way.  In fact, I did better than the actual pacer.  He was forced to withdraw thanks to an unfortunate stomach issue that’s best left undiscussed.

The tour of DC, though, was magnificent.  With the exception of The White House, we passed all the major landmarks, us locals pointing out the sights to the folks who hadn’t been to DC in quite awhile, or well, ever.

It was fun, it was casual, it was relaxing. I stopped worrying about the time and just decided to enjoy the nice day in DC.  And, yes, it was gorgeous despite the snowstorm the day before.

I don’t know if I’ll do MCM again, honestly. I’ve conquered the city twice, and I’m a little tired of giving up Halloween weekend to do it.  But I’m not done with marathons, not by a long shot.

The Roommates

1 Sep

When I was five, my parents bought a haunted house.  They don’t know that it’s haunted. They still live there, blissfully unaware of the man who used to come into my bedroom at night and stare at me while I slept.  It was nervewracking of course, but I knew, instinctively, that at 5 you didn’t talk about it.  Or the people who whispered your name as you walked to the bus stop.

When I was 13, we moved overseas.  That’s when things really started to pick up.  People were staring at me while I slept again, my things were moved, my mother saw a face staring in from outside (she dismissed it as a strange leaf configuration), and we’d hear strange noises in the middle of the night.

And then there was the shadow man.  Personally, I think that this was a testament to how blase I’d gotten to that point.  I was in my

room, doing my French homework, and a cloud kept going in front of the sun.  The seventh or eighth time it happened, I looked up through the French doors that led out to the balcony, and watched as a hunchbacked shadow figure of a man walked past.  I didn’t scream, what was the point?  Instead, I just calmly shut my book,  uttered a couple of french words, and walked out.

In the twenty years since then, there have been a smattering of incidents.  The dryer sheet, the trick-or-treater, the cigarette smoke that my grandfather used to help me find my way back home one night when I was lost in on Worthington Avenue.  But nothing had really prepared me for Tuesday morning….

Thanks to Hurricane Irene, I had been without power since late Saturday night. It was getting old, so when my sister invited me to spend the night at her boyfriend’s I leapt at the chance for civilization.

Plus, you know, I like the guy.

Unfortunately, almost from the second I walked into the place, I felt sick.  I assumed it was the guacamole at dinner, but it seemed weirder, more fierce.  My stomach turned, my body ached, I started sweating, and I felt the undeniable need to sleep.  So much, in fact, that I have no idea who got kicked off Project Runway during the Nina Garcia challenge…anyone?  Right, not important right now.
I went to bed around 9:30, still feeling ill.  Then, at 1:15, I felt like someone was doing the Hot Dog Experiment on my leg.  You know the one…when you hook a couple of wires to a battery and a few forks and jam ‘em in to an unsuspecting piece of meat.

(Somehow, I remember it being safer than this, but you get the idea.)

Thinking that it was a leg cramp and shaking off the feeling I was being watched, I decided to get out of bed and walk it off.  I opened my eyes, rolled over, and saw sis’ boyfriend’s roommate watching me from the end of the bed.

(Note #1: He lives alone)

(Note #2: I am not proud of what happened next)

I didn’t get a good look.  I was too busy throwing the covers back over my head and cowering like a child.  I do know that he was slightly glowing and mostly transparent.  I grabbed my phone from underneath the pillow and texted a friend of mine who had dealt with his own roommate problems last year.  Yes, it was one in the morning, but he tends to go to bed late.  I hoped, prayed, that he’d still be up and able to calm me down.

So not me...

He wasn’t.

So, I texted my sister in the next room.  I told her that I’d just “seen something I shouldn’t,” and if she could come turn on the lights, that would be super.

She slept through the whole thing.

Forty-five minutes later, I’m still cowering under the thick comforter, sweating like a pig.  I knew he was still there, the energy in the room was still charged like a Visa on Black Friday.  I wasn’t going to go through another four hours of that, but thanks to the deer on the road outside boyfriend’s house, I couldn’t exactly leave.

So I made a deal. I told roommate that if he would just “disappear” long enough for me to turn on the lights, he could watch me the rest of the night from the comfort of his Heavenly living room.

And then I did the one thing that has scared me more than anything in the last ten years…I opened my eyes.

He was gone.

I still don’t know who he is or what his story might be.  When sis and boyfriend finally heard, they were both kind of “meh” about the whole thing.      Apparently, I at least met the friendly one. That’s a relief, I guess.  It might just be an EMF sensitivity as well.  Boyfriend wants to do some research on the house, maybe find the property records.  I hope he does.  It’d be nice to know who he was.

Until then, I think I’ll be doing my couch-surfing elsewhere when the power goes out. <3


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