Lost in Bad Translation

Cover of "Ender's Game (Ender Quartet)"

Cover of Ender’s Game (Ender Quartet)

Orson Scott Card has been on my list of authors to read for a while. His novel, Ender’s Game, is often hailed as the example of science fiction/fantasy writing.

When previews for a movie based on the book started airing, I decided reading Ender’s Game a priority. At best, I hoped to learn a thing or two about effective story telling especially with such a young protagonist. At the very least I would be entertained.

I wasn’t disappointed on either count.

Ender’s Game has topped my list as best read for 2013. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. I highly recommend it to you if you haven’t yet read it.

It’s the book that reawakened the love of reading fiction in my hubby who spends most his reading time in non-fiction. He’s moved on to the second book in The Ender Quintet. I’ve chosen to bask in the warm fuzzy glow that surrounds you at the end of a good book.

But of course, with the cinematic release I found myself excited. I couldn’t wait to see how filmmakers would translate the story to the big screen.

Unfortunately, here, I was disappointed.

Elements of the story, which I loved, were lost in translation. For example:

  • Ender starts his journey at the ripe old age of 6 but in the movie he’s older maybe 12. Either age is young for having the weight of the world rest on your shoulders but the added years takes away some of the sympathy I had for the character.
  • Ender’s being a third has significant religious implications and points to his parents not following the status quo. The movie version only mentions Ender being a third, which removes layers of complexity from the story.
  • Ender spends most of his life at battle school in isolation. It seems like years pass before he makes true friends. The burden, at 6, of being away from your family and deliberately starved for human connectivity is key in the story. In the movie, alliances are made quickly.

These are just the highlights. I don’t want to spoil either movie or book for anyone but between the two the book is better, as it usually is.

My ~isms for book to movie adaptations:

  • I have to read the book first. Then depending on how good the book is I may opt to keep with the story as it unfolded in my imagination. Like, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I haven’t been able to watch the movie.
  • If I see the movie first I don’t read the book. For example, I won’t read John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief because I saw the movie and the characters and the story shape up the way the director shot it.

There are exceptions of course. I watched the movie, In Her Shoes, starring Toni Collette and loved it. Then I read the book. In this case I like the movie better.

Or, the fact that I loved the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and I loved the movie is surprising to me.

In the case of Ender’s Game, I should have forgone the motion picture and maintained my personal mental movie.

What about you? Any hang ups about literary adaptations?

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Walking and Chewing Gum

My favorite but I'm giving it up.

My favorite but I’m giving it up.

My “drug” of choice is gum. My favorite is Extra Smooth Mint. I am addicted to the popping sound as I chew, chomp and munch the beautiful pale blue.

I remember when I was a little girl how jealous I was that other people could manipulate their Hubba Bubba or Bubblicious into that musical sound. So it became my mission to learn this marvelous skill. Which I did.

Then I was accused of horrible things like: looking like a cow chewing her cud. Presumably this is because my mouth never quite closed to conceal the pop-pop-pop.

You could have called me Violet Beauregarde from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory story and movies. For me I think of the song the Oompa Loompa sang for Violet from the 1971 movie version; Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (see the clip here):

Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do
I have another puzzle for you
Oompa Loompa doom-pa-da-dee
If you are wise, you’ll listen to me
Gum chewing’s fine when it’s once in a while
It stops you from smoking and brightens your smile
But it’s repulsive, revolting, and wrong
Chewing and chewing all day long
The way that a cow does
Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-da
Given good manners, you will go far
You will live in happiness too
Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do”

The teasing and tormenting continued for a long time and then I got tired of it. And one day I stopped. Quit chewing gum altogether; cold turkey.

But as with other addictions, there’s the chance of relapse. I fell of my wagon and started using again. You see, there isn’t a support group for this one. And I wasn’t starting over; I picked up where I left off. Smack, munch, pop. And it’s worse.

For the past 4 years, I’ve made an art form out of making the most noise possible with a single stick of sugar free gum. I am so embarrassed to admit this, because I’ve been in denial most of this time. Blissful ignorance. I mean really, I’ve had moments where I’ve glimpsed the annoyance of others but didn’t care.

I wouldn’t admit or acknowledge that I had a problem. That this vice of mine was a habit that I again needed to shake.

The moment of clarity came two weeks ago as I watched my youngest perform in his class play: The Three Nanny Goats Gruff.

My husband couldn’t make the performance because of work so my oldest filmed it on his iPad. It was beautiful. All of the children sang, projecting their voices; said their lines; did the movements. But the piano wasn’t their only accompaniment.

When we played back the video there’s this consistent lip-smacking going on and it’s me (and my oldest but you would expect this of an 8 year old).

Oh My Goodness! 

Hello! My name is Gail, and I can’t chew gum without popping it to infuriate the general population. My behavior is reckless and disrespectful to all gum lovers.

My new vice? Sound free.

My new vice? Sound free.

There! I’ve taken the first step. I’ve admitted I have a problem. Now that I have evidence an intervention is not necessary. I will give up gum until I can better control the urge to make it come alive with unnatural sounds.

Walking and chewing gum at the same time is dangerous business. I choose safety. I will switch to mints so I can avoid stinky breath … I am a work in progress.

Some people in my life will be so grateful I’ve come to my senses.

As of the drafting of this post, I have been chewing gum free for 12 days. It’s not easy. I crave it. I miss it. This too shall pass.

What about you? Any irritating ~isms of your own? Feel free to share. 

Joy Unexpected …

Have you ever been asked to do something you really didn’t want to do but found yourself saying yes? Only to find out that you would have missed something amazing if you had opted out?

That’s what recently happened to me.

I’ve been asked to participate on a committee for our church’s women’s retreat. My first inclination was to say no. Give the excuse that I am operating at capacity and didn’t have room for one more responsibility.

But I said yes.

Then I received the request to travel to the retreat location. The first couple of times there were valid reasons; scheduling conflicts and I couldn’t make the trip. On the third attempt to plan the road trip I couldn’t find a way out.

My excuse I wanted to give? It just happened that I’d had a hectic week and wanted my weekend to myself so that I could rest and rejuvenate. I didn’t want to make small talk or be out in the cold.

And frankly the words “campground” and “cabin” created mental images of outhouses or toilet paper rolls in the woods. I wasn’t always a luxury loving lady but I doubted that I’d made the right decision about facilitating a retreat in the woods.

But I said yes.

I am so thankful I did. If I hadn’t I would have missed out on a beautiful autumn day with two fabulous ladies whom I admire.

And, it turns out “campground” and “cabin” in this location is equivalent to condos near the lake with Wi-Fi and other modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, wood floors, and gas fireplaces. Each condo is appropriately named to entice folks to come for a retreat:

  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Happiness
  • Hope
  • Faith
  • Rest

I need to enter through one (if not more) of these doors. We’ve rented out the first three.

If I hadn’t said yes, I would have missed out watching my friends’ children and grandchildren playing together. Laughing and enjoying the crisp and clear fall day. Seeing the next generation forming relationships did my heart good.

If I hadn’t said yes, I would have missed the spectacular view of Lake Michigan from the gazebo where people may choose to say “I do”. A tribute to ceremony and commitment. I love it.

If I hadn’t said yes, I would have missed these scenic views of the lake. I needed the beauty and serenity of this place. It revitalized me more than sleeping in could have done.

If I hadn’t said yes, I would have missed this quaint little building:  The Prayer Chapel. It’s only tall enough for you to enter and kneel. How amazing and humbling!

And best of all it allowed me to come back and share these wonders. It will allow me to promote the retreat with an enthusiasm and excitement. I am so thankful for the unexpected joy I experienced by saying YES when I wanted to say no.

What are you’re unexpected joy moments? I’d love to hear them.

Photo credits:  Gail A. Hanson

Paper Weight Champion of the World

I grew up with a childish notion, which led to an adulthood misconception. A philosophy I modeled my life around:

“Important people write things down.”

My parents wrote checks and paid bills. They read through stacks of paper and wrote letters instead of calling. They filled out and signed forms.

Teachers recorded attendance, graded papers and sent notes home. You never wanted them to write your name on the blackboard in that dusty substance.

Doctors jotted on charts using clipboards and fancy pens. They were frequently asked for their signature and people looked up to them.

TV shows portrayed lawyers, professors and corporate types surrounded by stacks of paper that needed handling. Always seated behind large desks with huge leather chairs, pen in hand and hand pressed to temple. Harried and fussed to get it all done.

In my youthful ignorance I perceived a measure of a man’s or woman’s worth to be in reams of paper; inches of paper stacked up waiting for pen to grace each sheet with ink.

Last week a client shared how she would sit at her desk and shuffle through papers, organizing files for her home based business. Her children told her that they loved sitting by her side watching her work, I couldn’t wait to grow up and play with all that paper. It looked like so much fun.”

I couldn’t wait till I had a job that required me to take notes. Jot. Scribe. This must be the origin of my writer self. I was shaped by paper. I am a paper doll.  

Today I take copious notes even if it’s not necessary. I have a slight obsession for pen and paper which is rooted in misperception. Keeping an open notebook on my nightstand in case words flow out of my dreams into my reality.

I have tons of drafted blog posts, letters, thoughts, and ideas that may or may not reach completion. Next to my bed I have a shopping bag full of new notebooks waiting to be filled. Does this make me matter to others? Not necessarily. Still I hold to this theory.

My kids won’t grow up with this false belief. The digital age has them facing a different set of challenges. Interruptions won’t involve setting aside stacks of paper but rather lifting fingers from keyboards; averting eyes from a screen.

For them, a person’s worth will be based on the interruptions from email dings and notification pings. The better the smartphone, the higher the position in the social hierarchy. A person’s value will be tied to the number of “likes” & “comments” or “favorites” & “followers”. They’ll be looking for real time stats of their importance.

Me? I am weighted down by paper. I am weighted down by believing I need to generate large amounts of words in print or by hand to make a significant contribution to the world. I am the paper weight champion of the world. How do I overcome this title?

We all know paperwork isn’t fun. It doesn’t convey a person’s value but the conversation with my client reminded me of my innocent views and how they still make themselves known in my life.

Just curious … What childhood observations shaped your adulthood choices? What beliefs did you have as a child about societal value of individuals? Am I the only one who looked at paper in this way?

Twitter Feed Tells All

Twitter Logo

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about being boring. Part truth, part joke conceived in a moment of weakness.

Thanks for the outpouring of love from the WordPress world to assuage my fears.

Sadly (and quickly) I find myself standing at the crossroads of uncertainty and hilarity again. Maybe I will gain some knowledge with this one.

I’ve finally taken the leap into twitter and I have to say I don’t get it; yet. My writer self knows I need to build a platform so maybe that’s part of my apprehension.

But what does my twitter account say about me?

  • Boring?
  • Conservative?
  • Publicly private?
  • Unavailable available?

If I had to wager a guess, my twitter account probably conveys “undecided” more than anything.

Don’t get me wrong I find it fun and challenging to make a compelling statement in 140 characters. Sometimes I can. Sometimes I can’t. I enjoy following close friends and seeing what they have to say throughout the day.

What I’ve realized is my interests are limited. There are very few things I am so vested in that I want to have it streaming to me at all times.

  • Stuff on writing? Sure.
  • Family and friend feeds? Absolutely.
  • Blog buddies? Yes.
  • Everything else? Undecided.

Like the beginning of my blogging life, I don’t know the etiquette; twitter-quette if you will. For example, I don’t believe in automatically clicking follow for someone who follows me. And, when I follow someone and there are too many tweets (about stuff I’m undecided on) in a short period of time it becomes white noise. So almost immediately I unfollow.

Plus it’s a place of promotion; self promotion which I am not good about doing. I’ve noticed people will tweet the link to their latest blog post multiple times. Not sure I’d be comfortable with that … It would be helpful if I only post once a week but still.

Then I agonize over the gaining and losing of followers (again due to writer platform) like I’m day-trader. I shouldn’t worry I know.

Social media is where it’s at … but I will have to have limits. My writer self has a blog and a twitter account. My personal self has a Facebook page. One of my selves will eventually need to be LinkedIn. That’s all I think I can do or handle.

For now, help me move through this latest intersection of concern. What’s your best twitter advice for a newbie like me?

Thanks in advance.

Gail @Undecided @twitterchallenged #confused #amlearning

If I Were Being Stalked by a Serial Killer, I’d Be a Goner

Suzie Spoon - Serial Killer

Suzie Spoon – Serial Killer (Photo credit: What What)

I love routine. My movements could be easily mapped. My patterns of behavior would be predictable.

Each day of every week looks pretty much the same. Some of you are already thinking:  BORING. But I’m of the school of thought that structure can be liberating. It maybe infinitesimal but it’s liberating none the less.

I AM A CREATURE OF HABIT! And proud of it. But it would make me an easy mark.

Weekday mornings I am “Major Mom” barking out orders like a drill instructor:

  • Eat
  • Brush
  • Dress
  • Shoes
  • Bags
  • Car
  •  NOW.
  • Move

My kids like “routine” too even if they won’t admit it. Okay, honestly, I’m sure they’d prefer Mommy taking a less militant approach but this is the only one I’ve got. Anyway, they like knowing what to expect next. (My husband is the adventurous, no script required, one in our household.)

I take the same route to work every day … at the same times. If I have to make stops, I plan them so that I don’t have to deviate much.

Back-to-School this year has been torture because nothing is routine. Why?

I’ve spent most of the past year getting just me out the door. Sure I woke the boys and fed them and laid out their clothes but hubby handled getting them out the door (which is the hardest part). I was comfortable.

Now I am managing it all including drop offs. To a new school. That’s in a different direction. And Tuesdays and Thursdays are different than Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, thanks to 3 day a week kindergarten.

I am totally freaking out. It’s only been 4 days and we haven’t hit our stride which makes me weary.

Have you ever heard the 21-days-to-a-new-habit philosophy? You know, the theory that it takes 21 days of practicing something in order to forma new habit; for it to become automatic. It’s heavily touted in the world of motivation.

I’ve never made it to day 21 for any specific action or behavior that I wanted to make a habit. Mostly because I lose track; stop counting the days but keep practicing. Continued practice can lead to operating on autopilot. Let me be honest … I usually give up. Because I want results now … I don’t want to wait 21 days or longer.

I begin this new school year in the mode of trial and error which is driving me insane. Like pull my hair out, curl up in a ball, and suck my thumb, kind of crazy.

Best routes from the new school to work? I don’t know. Not yet. Best path with the least traffic to the new school from home? Not sure. Yet. Best way to get back to school and pick up the dudes? No, idea. At least, not yet.

There is one plus in all this uncertainty:  I am safe from any would be stalkers. Each day has been different.

Like yesterday morning when my youngest said, “I forgot my water battle in Daddy’s car.”
To which I replied, “You left it at home?”
“No. I left it in Daddy’s car.”
“Which is at home. Do you really need it?”
“Yes,” through tears.

I went back to the house to get it. Why? Because he’s already struggling with starting kindergarten and this gave him peace of mind. Because that’s the kind of mom I am. Because, like I said, I’m crazy.

Or, like Wednesday when we had to go by the sitters to pick up the new hoodie my youngest left there because he needed it for the first day of school. “It’s part of my uniform.” It didn’t matter that it was already 80 degrees out. We took the detour to get it.

Take that serial stalker … you’ll have to wait a few months for me to figure out my routine. Then you can pick the best spot to nab me. Okay … seriously … I prefer not to be stalked or killed or kidnapped.

Alright, fess up. What routines are you not willing to let go of? What habits do you wish you could keep the same but are forced into changing? I can’t be the only one bordering on the obsessive compulsive.

 

Happy Feet Go to Sleep

We all have our own quirks. Things that friends and family associate with who we are. Our “isms”.

Sometimes these unique habits or actions are endearing and sometimes they are obnoxious but we can’t separate them from who we are any more than we can change the Earth’s course around the sun.

Here’s one of my ~isms:  In order to go to sleep I still need the sensation of being rocked. I think. Hear me out …

Growing up with siblings has its pros and cons. I am one of four children, one boy and three girls. My brother is the oldest. Then I have an older sister and then a younger sister.

My sisters and I shared a room, which is a really tight fit for three divas with enough attitude to fill a mansion full of rooms.

When we were little (before my baby sister was born) my older sister and I shared a double bed. To unwind at bedtime I would lie with my feet at the head of the bed and my head at the foot. I would put my feet on the wood paneled wall and tap out a beat. Of course, this annoyed my sister. She would tell me, “Knock it off. Put your feet down.”

I couldn’t … this ritual was comforting and soothing for me. I would fidget to empty my mind. And I thought she wasn’t being fair to me just as much as she thought I wasn’t being considerate to her.

To this day I still need to tap out a beat with my feet in order to fall asleep. Instead of putting my feet on the wall though, I rub them together. It’s comforting.

Now as I snuggle up with my dudes for bedtime, my youngest son does the same thing. In those moments the words of my sister fill my head, “I hate when you do that.”

My little guy just can’t get comfortable or settled until he’s effectively wiggled, giggled, rolled, and tossed. But sadly it annoys me to no end.

Last night was one of the worst. He couldn’t find the cool spot on the pillow. He burrowed under the covers to find the right position. Then he would give me the death choke hug around my neck. He also tried to sleep on me like a little cat. Oh and when none of those things worked he had to squeeze my ring finger.

Why is it that we are less tolerant when others exhibit the same behaviors we do?

I remember my sister telling me, “I wish you knew what it felt like to have to share a bed with someone like you.” Now I know.

Sorry Sis for my ticks that kept you up at night. And I’m sorry to my boy because you have the same ~ism. My prayer for you is that you’ll out grow it.

What about you? Care to share an ~ism, positive or annoying? Let me know what your quirks are … remember I’m the curious busybody.