Truthful Tuesday: Chronological vs Non-Chronological

Truthful Tuesday

PCGuyIV’s Truthful Tuesday this week prefaces , then asks the following question:

In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine a one-and-done story line, as even books and movies that started off as one-off stories have turned into multi-part franchises, and film series we thought were done have gotten fresh material added. Star Wars comes to mind specifically. The first movie was presented almost as a stand-alone with the thought that sequels might happen, but no guarantee. After the first three movies were done, that seemed to be all. Then the prequels, for better or worse, happened, and now there are three more sequels, two ancillary movies, and related TV shows. With all that said, this week’s question is all about sequels, prequels, and tangents.

Regardless of the media, when it comes to stories, do you prefer those that are perfectly sequential in their writing, such as the seven original Harry Potter books or Frank Herbert’s Dune series, or do you find stories that skip around in the timeline, such as the nine central Star Wars films to be more entertaining?

I prefer sequential, but flashbacks or time changes are OK when they are done well, in literature. In movies, these time switches are more confusing. In this I’m referring to time switches within one book or movie.

When movies or books are in a series I enjoy, then I anticipate any of those that come after. But sometimes, it just seems like a movie studio’s way of capitalizing on a successful film, especially when the sequels or prequels are weak. The ones that come after the original usually are not as good and it’s as if the screenwriters can’t come up with anything new. But if the sequels/prequels enhance or add to the story being told, then I’m all for it. I loved all the Harry Potter movies and thought they were pretty faithful to the books. I also liked the original Star Wars trilogy, but then lost interest with the prequels,, although they weren’t bad. I guess I prefer sequential, or chronological in time.

With books, I prefer sequential – most of the time, authors write sequels that move the characters forward in time, even if each book can stand alone. I’m thinking of certain mystery series, such as Tony Hillerman’s novels about Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, cops on the Navajo Reservation. They were more believable that way. If they were static in time, I don’t think I’d like them as much, even though I didn’t read them in strictly chronological order. There are many classics, too, that I got interested in based on the first book and can look forward to reading the sequels – such as Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, as well as Outlander (although this last series got tedious after awhile, and the books kept getting longer. I had trouble keeping track of all the characters.). As a kid, I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” books, which I read in order. I enjoyed accompanying the lives of Laura and her family, and finding out how the characters changed over time and the experiences they had. I have never read a “prequel” in a series of books, but I don’t think I’d like it as much.

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Here are the first 8 books in the Outlander series. I have read them all, over a period of 20 years, but I had trouble getting through the last few. Too many characters to keep track of, like when a character is introduced in a scene in one book and then pops up in another book later on. My memory can’t keep track of all these people! Also, I got tired of Gabaldon’s writing style, so I tended to read the really long later books in spurts – when I got annoyed with either the writing style or the myriad of characters, I’d put it aside and read something else for awhile…which may account for why I can’t remember all the characters and their significance to the story line. (Sigh!)

Looking up images for the Outlander series, I’ve learned there is a NINTH book which came out this year! Should I read it? I probably will, eventually. (I hope the title means the series will come to an end.)

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The Final Days

It is Christmas Day and I am finishing up Tourmaline’s Countdown to Christmas!

Day 23: Gathering
We have been warned by Dr. Fauci and the CEO’s of our senior community, to STAY HOME and not go to gatherings! But we are sort of obligated to go to a gathering of seven people on Christmas Day. Our daughter and son-in-law are cooking and our son-in-law’s brother and niece have come from Florida for the holidays. (Probably not a wise thing to do this year, but there was nothing we could do about it!) Also our son will be there; otherwise he’d be alone for Christmas which would worsen his depression. So we are going to sneak out and employ mitigation methods while there – masking wearing, social distancing, etc. We had a COVID test last week and it came out negative. I may go and have another one done after this Christmas Day gathering!

At The Family Reunion Who We Introducing Jokes - FamilyScopes

Day 24: Presents
Some people have the tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve. My family’s tradition was to open just one gift on Christmas Eve, so I tried to choose wisely. In my favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually, there is a scene in which a family is gathered around on Christmas Eve to select one gift to open. We see the mother (who has already accidentally seen her husband buy a gold necklace at a department store) reaching for a small square box under the tree that she believes to be the necklace. Although she had just recently had a conversation with her husband about how much she loved Joni Mitchell, she tries hard to hide her disappointment when the gift turns out to be a Joni Mitchell double CD. Her husband, unaware of her knowledge of the necklace he bought for his secretary, smiles and says, “for your emotional education.” Holding back tears, she excuses herself and goes upstairs to her bedroom to cry.

emma thompson love actually scene
Here the mother, played by Emma Thompson, is smiling as she looks at the rest of her family on Christmas Eve.

Emma Thompson reveals real heartbreak behind her iconic Love Actually scene
Here she is wiping her tears in her bedroom.

Day 25: CHRISTMAS DAY! Food
Traditional Christmas dinner food is a lot like Thanksgiving food. At this moment, I can hear Dale rattling around in the kitchen as he prepares his green bean casserole. We are sneaking out to go to our daughter’s house for Christmas dinner, because she and her husband are cooking and there will only be seven of us there. The main dishes they are serving are beef Wellington and ham. Meanwhile, my mouth waters just looking at the wonderful cookies my niece baked for us! This is her gift to us every year and I always look forward to it! There are standard holiday shaped sugar cookies, wreaths made with corn flakes and marshmallows (dyed green), and my favorite: chocolate brownies with peppermint frosting, which I have already talked about in a previous post for this challenge. Don’t they look scrumptious?!

31 best Christmas jokes for kids: the funniest festive children's one-liners

And now the Countdown to Christmas is done!
Thank you, Tourmaline, it was a lot of fun!
I’d like to end with some holiday cheer:

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Countdown 2 Xmas

I’m struggling to keep up with Tourmaline’s Countdown to Christmas! I got as far as Day 3, so today I’ll have to get four more days done!

Day 4: Movie
There are lots of holiday movies but only two of them have ever been an annual tradition. When I was a kid, every year we’d watch Menotti’s operetta Amahl and the Night Visitors. My siblings and I knew it so well that even today we can quote (singing, of course!) from it.

Several years ago, I acquired the DVD of Love Actually, which is sort of a holiday movie. I really enjoy this movie and we watch it almost every year. There were a few things that made it special:
1. Colin Firth
2. Colin Firth attempting to speak Portuguese
3. the soundtrack
4. Sam, the 12-year-old character
5. the scene where the prime minister (played by Hugh Grant) “tells off” the American president
6. the fact that my mother loved it until she thought about it and decided it was “soft porn.”
7. Colin Firth proposing to the love of his life in Portuguese at a restaurant in Portugal

Day 5: Music

I love carols and Christmas songs, but my favorites are the classical pieces associated with Christmas: Handel’s Messiah, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and others. That said, I love a few Christmas songs that I can’t get enough of.

Oddly, although I don’t believe that it is a fact that Jesus was actually the product of a virgin Mary and God, nor that Jesus literally walked on water, etc., my favorite three Christmas songs that give me goosebumps are:
Mary Did You Know


The Cherry Tree Carol

The Prayer (not specifically for Christmas, but it’s on Celine Dion’s Christmas album)

Day 6: Plants
A poinsettia, what else?? The poinsettia is native to Mexico where some of its leaves turn red (or white) around Christmas time. This happens because of the shorter days of December. I was told that if I wanted my poinsettia to rebloom, I should put it in a dark place, to coax the leaves to turn red again. Instead, I killed the poinsettia because I forgot about it and it was totally neglected! Here’s a photo I took in January of a poinsettia with red & white leaves (obviously it didn’t live in my house!)

Day 7: Fireplace
My son and I never lived in a place with a fireplace when he was young enough to believe in Santa Claus! I would hang his stocking on a nail! By the time we moved into our house with a fireplace, he was 10 and no longer believed in Santa. So then I just hung decorative stockings over the fireplace! Alas, I have not a single photo!


Kinda Square #5: Close Encounters

This photo invokes memories of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, so although no aliens greeted us, I’m submitting it for Becky’s October Kinda Square challenge:

Oops, I lied! We did encounter an alien – in the souvenir store! (He didn’t greet us but I did have my husband take a photo of me with him!)

In fact, I don’t think I ever heard of Devil’s Tower until I saw that movie. I suspect it’s the same for a lot of people. I wonder if after the movie was released the number of tourists increased substantially? Probably! We had not intended to or thought of going there on this trip we took to the Dakotas in 2017, but when we saw the advertising and realized how close it was, we decided to take a side trip! I’m glad we did!

Truthful Tuesday: All Good Things Must Come to an End

I’ve never participated in this challenge before, because I just found out about it today (thanks, Fandango!), so even though it’s Wednesday, I’m going to join in. Truthful Tuesday is hosted by PCGuyIV.

What’s something that seemingly everyone else just can’t stop talking about that you just never got in to, and why not?
I feel as though I am woefully behind in cultural trends nowadays. Maybe that’s a part of getting old. I used to tease my mother when she didn’t know about some cultural icon, like Robert Redford. Now I am my mother!

Two TV series that never interested me at all were Game of Thrones and Seinfeld. Yet it felt like everyone else was addicted to these shows. Seinfeld, of course, is several years older than Game of Thrones and I guess people had their favorites. But certain quotes or characters got into our media culture so there are cultural references I just don’t get.

I used to watch a lot of TV and see lots of movies, but haven’t done much of either in the last several years. It started when I got too busy with work to get interested in any shows or have time to go out to a movie. Now I’m just used to it. Every once in a while, someone will mention a Netflix series that sounds interesting, and my husband and I will watch it. PBS is where I found most of the shows that I like to follow. Now that I don’t pay attention to it, I feel like I’m missing out on something.

The second question for the week is pretty much the exact opposite of the first:

What’s something that you hold near and dear, but it seems as though no-one else has heard about it, or at the very least, has no interest in it?

I can’t think of anything in particular. But I do remember that there have been products we found out about and started buying at the supermarket, only to have them discontinued a short time later. My husband’s been complaining that a lot of the turkey substitutes are disappearing, like turkey ham, turkey pastrami, etc. When I wore contact lenses, I was allergic to thimoseral, so I had to use a product that didn’t have thimoseral in it, which became increasingly harder to find. Eventually I couldn’t find it at all. There may have been other products I could have used but I didn’t know what they were, and later I gave up on wearing contact lenses altogether.

There have also been TV shows that we really thought were wonderful, but were cancelled after only one season – even though the writing was brilliant and the plots engaging. Oh well, I guess they had to make time for more reality shows and crime dramas. On Netflix, there were three seasons (amounting to about 8-9 episodes each) of Anne With an E, basically the story of Anne of Green Gables, but with original plot lines added. But there are three books in that series, yet they cancelled the series before getting to either of the other two! Same thing with Outlander (I forget which network it was on) – I think it was discontinued after 4 seasons (corresponding to 4 books in the series) but I’ve also heard rumors that it’s coming back eventually.

I don’t know how many people were interested in any of these things other than me, but it seems we have very little influence with the people in charge of deciding whether to continue something or not. One thing I like about PBS is that when one of their series is very popular, their writers are hired to write more episodes. I don’t think Downton Abbey was expected to last more than a few seasons, but it was so popular that they gave us more seasons and a movie too!

the cast of Downton Abbey

But of course, all good things eventually come to an end. (It seems like the not-so-good things, like this Covid pandemic, are never going to end….)

FPQ: Best and Worst of Book-to-Film

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week is: What movie adaptation of a book you have read before you saw the movie has done the best job when it comes to casting the actor (or actors) in the movie to match your image you had of that character (or those characters) in the book. Conversely, what movie adaptation has done the worst job of matching the casting of the characters to those you envisioned in your head.

I thought it would be impossible for me to answer this question, because I really don’t see many movies these days. But then I remembered the Harry Potter series.

I read the first book long before the movie came out, but as I watched it, I remember thinking that the casting and set design were perfect – as if Hogwarts jumped out of my brain the way I had envisioned it and projected that way on the screen. I think overall I enjoyed all the Harry Potter movies more than the books, but the books were good, too. And the best adaptations (at least the ones I thought about) were the first four books.

Rupert Grint with his fiery red hair and zany expression was a perfect Ron Weasley. And Alan Rickman as Snape – nobody could have done that role better, with his deep voice and cynic tone. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry was perfect – his dark hair with bangs hanging over his scar, his round glasses – the glasses made him seem vulnerable and I think the author, J.K. Rowling, intended it that way. She was involved in the making of the films, so that may be the reason why the adaptations – characters, sets, everything – were so good. The photo below is how they looked in the first movie – so British and a look of mischief on Ron’s and Harry’s faces!

Now for the worst – it was easy to come up with several candidates for worst casting, but the most glaring difference, in my opinion, between book and film was A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. The director of the movie, Ken Kwapis, cut a lot of the plot because it didn’t make sense with the actors chosen for the two leads – aging Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. While these guys are both fine actors, and perhaps their star status was what the casting director was thinking of, the story was ruined by the fact that these actors were TOO OLD! In the book, the two guys hiking the Appalachian Trail were middle aged, and one of them was quite physically fit. Some of the things that happened in the story (the book) were just not plausible for two old guys to do. As a result, the movie was nearly unrecognizable as the same story as the book. In fact, I read the book and saw the movie to participate in a Book-to-Film group at by our public library. While I was in this group, I saw several very good matches of book to film, but this was not one of them. The other people in the group had similar feelings.

Read the book A Walk in the Woods. Don’t watch the movie. Here’s a photo of the book cover:

30-Day Film Challenge: Days 3 & 4 – Lina Wertmuller and British Humor

Sandman Jazz is back with a new 30-day challenge, this time about movies. Days 3 & 4 can be combined because both of the movies that made me laugh (Day 3) so hysterically I nearly peed my pants start with “The” (which is Day 4).

Back in the 70s, I got really into foreign films and went to “art” theaters to see them. They were a mixture of politics, love and sex. I loved the films by Lina Wertmuller, an Italian director, and especially the male lead in many of her films, Giancarlo Giannini – his facial expressions and body language were hilarious! The film that made me laugh the hardest was The Seduction of Mimi (1972)- you can read the plot synopsis here.

The other movie that I saw a few times and laughed out loud hysterically each time was The Wrong Box (1966). A one-sentence description on IMDb says, In Victorian England, a fortune now depends on which of two brothers outlives the other, or can be made to have seemed to do so. It stars Michael Caine, Ralph Richardson, Nanette Newman, John Mills as the main characters, but also features the very funny duo Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, as well as Peter Sellers. It’s typical British absurdism and dry humor. The first time I saw it was with my mother, who thought it was so funny that, years later, all one had to do was say the title “The Wrong Box” and she’d start giggling. They just don’t make movies like this anymore!

See the source image
See the source image
A very young Michael Caine discovers a terrible mix-up in The Wrong Box.

SYW: On Paying for Air, Scary Movies, Judging People, and My Family

Yikes! It’s nearly Friday and I have yet to answer the questions for Melanie’s Share Your World!    So here goes:

Questions:
What’s something you really resent paying for?
Air for my car’s tires.

What was the most unsettling film you’ve seen?
Silence of the Lambs

Do you judge people?
Unfortunately, yes.  I get all passionate about it, but then I cool down and realize I shouldn’t judge anyone.  I don’t know their life circumstances, their history, what causes them to say or do the things they do.  I’ve had many opportunities to judge people negatively. But I always try to understand what motivates them.  Even Trump – I do judge him, I do detest him and I hope to God he isn’t reelected because he represents an existential threat to this country.  But I also realize he is very insecure and probably feels like he can barely keep his head above water most of the time. He’s not a leader and has no idea what he is doing.  He is the reason almost 100,000 people have died in the U.S. from covid-19. This is not judgement, this is the truth. I’m sorry he is unwilling to face his own demons. But his mental illness is what makes him dangerous. He can’t think of anyone except himself. I know this because I was married to a narcissist; fortunately, he didn’t have it as bad as Trump. He could show empathy and love for others even if just on a theoretical level. But Trump can’t.  And my ex-husband, like Trump, would not seek help. He just blamed other people, the world, or lack of money for his problems.

Finish this sentence: “Back in my day, we…”?

Respected our teachers and other adults in authority.
Played outside in the neighborhood until after dark.
Walked to school, even though it was close to a mile from home.
Played a lot of games, either board games or games of our own invention, and mostly we played games with our family!
We enjoyed TV but didn’t spend hours watching it every day.
Had dinner as a family and were polite at the table.

Gratitude
Please feel free to share an uplifting photo, thought or meme to show your own gratitude. We can all use some good vibes! 

After writing the answer for the last question, I must say that I am very grateful to have grown up in the family I had!

The whole family!
This is most of my family at a memorial for my mother in 2015, including several cousins who came in from out of town. I’m directly behind the African-American boy (my grand-nephew Benjamin).  Missing are my parents (of course), one of my sisters and a brother-in-law, both deceased. Also, there have been new additions to the family since then – our daughter and one of my nieces are married to spouses they hadn’t yet met, plus there’ve been a few more babies born.

I found this on Google.
Confucious quote