Monday, June 30, 2008

The Books That Have Changed My Life

After having spotted this post on life-changing books, I thought I'd throw my own hat in the meme ring. I'm not sure I've ever really given the question much thought, to be honest. I have a list of favorite books I can spout off; but pinpointing those books that have actually changed my life in some manner is a little more difficult. But anyway, here goes.

Mercer Mayer's Little Critter Books
These are the first books I remember reading, and I devoured them. They managed to teach me some basic manners and morals in a way that made sense to me at that age. I credit these books for instilling a love of reading in my toddler psyche.

Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo
More commonly known as "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." One thing most people with whom I mingle on a semi-regularly basis probably don't know about me is that I love France. Or at least the extent to which I love France. The language, the country, the history, the architecture, the literature, etc., etc., etc. I love it all. This book certainly cemented that. If I recall correctly, I would have read this somewhere around my freshman year of high school, during which I was in my second year of French class. Beyond serving a tribute to one of the most magnificent structures on the planet, this dark and tragic tale shaped my views on a number of issues, including class, the complexity of the human psyche, the line between love and obsession, and the levels to which humans are willing to stoop in order to keep an image alive. Just an FYI, the animated Disney version pictured is extremely different from the book; that being said, it's also my favorite Disney movie.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
I read this book shortly after reading Notre Dame de Paris, and it tops the list of my favorite books ever. I'm not going to attempt a synopsis in this space. Suffice it to say, I once wrote a 27-page paper on this book, half of which was simply a summary. If you've seen the musical or any film adaptation, you're only getting maybe a quarter (and that's being generous) of what's in this book. Pretty much my entire collection of views on society, classism, the government, the church, family, beauty, and the gray area between right and wrong came from this book. It's a hefty undertaking, coming in at more than half a million words, but it's entirely worth it.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I read this in French class (in French) and loved it more than I ever could have expected from a class-assigned book. It taught me not to forget to look at the world with whimsy. This has been an important lesson as a writer and as a human being, and it also comes in handy when trying to tell the difference between a hat and a python eating an elephant.

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I read these books for the first time last year (except for The Hobbit, which I'd read once before a few years ago). I'd seen and loved the movies, and I was blown away by the books. Interestingly enough, I didn't hit geek-level appreciation until I finished the third one. I read the last pages, and it was like a switch flipped on. It's hard to really describe how exactly these books have changed my life, but I can certainly say that my geek quotient jumped significantly, and perhaps that's telling enough. In all seriousness, though, I read them at a time when I was in a state of emotional turmoil, unbeknownst to those around me, and they provided comfort and hope in a time when I felt very alone and unable to seek solace elsewhere. The lessons about fate, friendship, courage and honor are certainly ones that have and will stick with me.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I read this book only a month ago, so it's even more difficult to say how it has or will change my life. All I know is that it has been a very long time since I've been so stimulated by a book. I'd been wanting to read Oscar Wilde (pictured) for a long time, and hearing about the upcoming film adaptation due out next year was the catalyst that made me pick up the book at Borders. I didn't really know what to expect going in, but no synopsis I've seen since then does the story justice. Superficially, this is a gothic horror story. But if you care to read it with a more astute eye, it's a commentary on beauty, morality, pretense, and the effects of our actions on the soul. It's a beautifully crafted story, and I was extremely amused to see how often Mr. Wilde is quoted out of context. I wish I'd been exposed to his work before my trip to Paris, during which I visited Père Lachaise, where he is buried. I have a vague recollection of the lipstick marks covering the monument, and I would have happily added mine to it had I known what the fuss was all about.

So, there you have it. If you've ever wondered why I am the way I am, blame these books.

Also participating in today's meme:
The Literary Rockstar
Lee Horne

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Box Office Results, etc.

Not that it was too difficult of a call, but my predictions were correct. And it was a great weekend for the box office in general.
  1. WALL-E ($62.5 million)
  2. Wanted ($51.1 million)
  3. Get Smart ($20 million)
  4. Kung Fu Panda ($11.7 million)
  5. The Incredible Hulk ($9.2 million)
  6. The Love Guru ($5.4 million)
  7. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($5 million)
  8. The Happening ($3.9 million)
  9. Sex and the City ($3.8 million)
  10. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan ($3.2 million)
Also, I have my first five-star movie of the year, folks. Drum roll, please! It's... Wall-E! I was both impressed and touched by this film, and barring any other big surprises, I fully expect it to take the Best Original Screenplay Oscar this year. So, if you're on the fence about seeing this one, well, you know my opinion.

Movies I Watched:
  • Wall-E (5 stars)
  • Thelma & Louise (2 stars) - I was very, very disappointed in this Oscar-winner. The pace was so slow, the characters were poorly motivated, and the ending was ridiculous.
  • Bigga than Ben (3½ stars) - I went into this with pretty low expectations and was very pleasantly surprised. It's very obviously an indie, and it doesn't apologize for it. But it was consistently funny and occasionally poignant, and I'd like to catch it again on DVD if it's ever released in the States. That being said, I think having watched it in 5-minute clips on youtube officially makes me a fangirl. (FYI, clips 4 and 5 are out of order in the playlist, and I'm not enough of a fangirl to figure out how to make a new one. So, if you watch it, you'll have to click around when you get there.)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (5 stars) - I'd seen this before in theatres, but it cemented its place in my list of favorite movies when I watched it again this week.
  • Bonjour Tristesse (1 star) - I actually only got through about two-thirds of this movie. I was bored out of my mind and vaguely annoyed at most of the characters. The best part of the movie so far was the lounge singer who crooned the titular song at the beginning. I'll probably try to get through the last 45 minutes of the film this week, but I don't expect an improvement in the rating.
A quick note of explanation about my rating system: Every movie I watch gets a default three stars. If the movie meets my expectations, it gets a solid three. Thus, movies like Bigga than Ben and What Happens in Vegas are at an advantage over films like Wall-E and Thelma & Louise. I try not too pay too much attention to marketing or reviews, but the truth is movies often do come with a reputation. Whether or not they live up to it certainly affects how I rate them.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Benefits of Insomnia-Induced Disinhibition

I've been battling insomnia this week. It seems my brain and my body have been operating on different schedules. By the time my body is ready to call it a night, my brain starts to resemble one of those lotto machines with the ping-pong balls shooting here and there and to and fro and everywhere in between.

On nights such as these, I usually find myself doing one of two things: (1) playing Text Twist or conducting some other equally inane, hopefully mind-numbing perusal of the interwebs, or (2) reading a book if I'm feeling productive.

However, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I found myself propelled out of bed by a new image for a story I've tried to write two times in the past seven months. Ironically, one character tenderly watching another character sleep was the catalytic image that led to me eagerly tapping out two-thirds of a new beat sheet for Mute a mere four hours before my alarm was set to go off.

While this may seem hardly revelatory to some, for whatever reason it was exactly that for me. It's really only a slight shift in story, but for me as the writer, it represents a movement toward less inhibited writing. When I first started writing seriously in August of last year, I consistently had the notion that my family and friends would likely read what I was writing. This, I can tell you, is not necessarily a good thing to have in the back of your mind. If you're constantly worried about making your characters palatable, you're not going to do them justice.

After having battled this through last year's NaNoWriMo while writing Mute, I threw caution to the wind by writing a sex scene within the first 10 pages of my next project. Looking back, The Affair of Monsieur Valentine is the most uninhibited thing I've ever written for a variety of reasons, and it's my favorite by far. Come to think of it, one of the themes of M. Valentine is letting go of what's expected and doing what's right. I didn't really intend that, but it makes sense in hindsight. With M. Valentine, I stopped worrying about what people would think when they read it and simply let myself write the story the way it was intended to be written. And that made all the difference.

When I started rewriting Mute as a screenplay, I think I fell back a bit into those patterns, probably because they were written into the novel version of the story. What had the potential to be a moving, Rites of Passage story devolved into a cheesy drama with no heart. I scrapped the whole thing at page 75 and had felt decidedly ambivalent about it until 1 a.m. Tuesday morning. Seeing that previously unplanned moment in my mind reminded me why I'd loved my main character and his story in the first place.

Having finished my prewriting yesterday, I plan to start writing Mute (v. 3) tonight. And this time I'm going to try very hard to let the characters be organic and authentic. To do anything else is to fail them.

Box Office Predictions: 27 June 2008

It's a tough call this week with two potential blockbusters with two different target audiences opening in Wanted and Wall-E. Both have been well-reviewed; but Wall-E's opening in more theatres and will probably pull a broader audience, I'm guessing. Get Smart should be able to hold enough of an audience to capture No. 3.

Official Predictions:
  1. Wall-E
  2. Wanted
  3. Get Smart

Monday, June 23, 2008

Box Office Results, and a Call for Volunteers

It seems people were even more turned off by Mike Meyers' latest than I'd anticipated.
  1. Get Smart ($39.2 million)
  2. Kung Fu Panda ($21.7 million)
  3. The Incredible Hulk ($21.6 million)
  4. The Love Guru ($14 million)
  5. The Happening ($10 million)
  6. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($8.4 million)
  7. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan ($7.2 million)
  8. Sex and the City ($6.5 million)
  9. Iron Man ($4 million)
  10. The Strangers ($1.9 million)
I caught Get Smart over the weekend, and I thought it was a lot of fun. Steve Carell was great, Anne Hathaway was lovely, and the rest of the cast kept pace. As much as I liked it, my boomer parents loved it and belly-laughed through the entire film. It gets a solid 3 ½ stars from me.

It was a movie-filled week for me:
And most importantly, I finished my read-through and edits on Tea. So, I now have a shiny, new second draft ready for readers. If there are any volunteers out there who have two or three hours to dedicate to reading this aspiring screenwriter's work, let me know. I will reciprocate with 1) reading/editing something of yours, 2) giving you an acknowledgment if I ever publish a novel, 3) a coffee drink of your choice, and/or 4) a hug.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Box Office Predictions: 20 June 2008

The first official weekend of summer looks like a pretty predictable one for the box office. Get Smart is opening in 1,000 more theatres the other wide release, The Love Guru. That alone gives would give it a major boost, but couple that with the likability of Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway over Mike Myers latest incarnation of annoyance, and there's really no question about what will take No. 1.

What remains to be seen is whether The Incredible Hulk has enough good word of mouth to take No. 2. Based on a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 66 percent versus an impressive 15 percent for The Love Guru, I'm going to hope that it is.

The bigger question is why-oh-why do stars like Ben Kingsley sign on for cameos in dreck like The Love Guru? I mean, this guy played Gandhi for goodness' sake!

Since that question is one that will surely go unanswered into the sands of time, I'll just get on with my official predictions:
  1. Get Smart
  2. The Incredible Hulk
  3. The Love Guru

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Trenches

Remember that quote I couldn't find in my Origination of the Idea post? Well, I found it this morning while perusing some of Neil Gaiman's essays. This particular one was actually titled "Where do You Get Your Ideas?" In the interest of giving credit where it's due (and also because I much prefer his version to mine), here's the quote:
"You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it."
Anyway, the rest of the essay's worth checking out, as is the rest of Mr. Gaiman's site for that matter.

I've been devouring writers' blogs recently I think as a method to combat the loneliness I've been feeling as of late. With the exception of November and, on a smaller scale, April, dedicated writers are hard to come by. Those who are dedicated during April and November often lose dedication on Dec./May 1, and even the majority of those who plan to continue writing fail to do so.

Beyond that, whatever mystique a writer gains with friends and acquaintances tends to subside to annoyance, skepticism and/or apathy once they realize what you're doing isn't a phase or a hobby (assuming it's not). It's hard to explain justification for turning down various social events because you've scheduled time to meet a self-imposed deadline for work you're not yet being paid to do.

The questions about what you're writing tend to grow more sporadic the longer you do it as well, I've found. The glamour fades with the mystique, and soon you're lucky to get a perfunctory "How's the writing going?" And that's OK. I'll admit I'm not the best at inquiring about my friends' various hobbies/passions/work lives either. Once it becomes accepted that it's what you do, it becomes the norm and thus much less intriguing.

So what does all of this mean? It means I'm in the trenches. I'm between major projects, revisiting old ones, planning my next, big exciting one, for which the writing won't start 'til November. And so, while writing is nearly always a solitary endeavor, I don't have the adrenaline of a shiny, new project to balance that out at the moment.

The upside is that I think I'm coming out of the funk. I started my read-through of Tea last night (which is what I wrote for Screnzy), and it's a lot better than I was expecting. I have a feeling it's going to go downhill fast once I pass the midpoint, but knowing that it has potential to be fixed and not permanently shelved is pleasing.

I'll close with a passage from Samuel R. Delany's About Writing (a book I plan on purchasing in the near future), excerpted on Neil Gaiman's blog earlier this week. (Wow, can you feel the love today, Mr. Gaiman?)
Writers are people who write. By and large, they are not happy people. They're not good at relationships. Often they're drunks. And writing -- good writing -- does not get easier and easier with practice. It gets harder and harder -- so eventually the writer must stall out into silence.The silence that waits for every writer and that, inevitably, if only with death (if we're lucky the two may happen at the same time: but they are still two, and their coincidence is rare), the writer must fall into is angst-ridden and terrifying - and often drives us mad. (In a letter to Allen Tate, the poet Hart Crane once described writing as "dancing on dynamite.") So if you're not a writer, consider yourself fortunate.
And if you're not a writer but know one, feel free to send them prayers, good thoughts, karma, conversation or cookies. We need them from time to time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Box Office Results and More

Since I'm up late due to an epic battle between my stomach and today's lunch, I figured I'd take the opportunity to point out that I'm now two for three in my box office predictions. This weekend's results:
  1. The Incredible Hulk ($54.5 million)
  2. Kung Fu Panda ($34.3 million)
  3. The Happening ($30.5 million)
  4. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan ($16.4 million)
  5. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($13.5 million)
  6. Sex and the City ($10.2 million)
  7. Iron Man ($5.1 million)
  8. The Strangers ($4.1 million)
  9. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ($3 million)
  10. What Happens in Vegas ($1.7 million)
This was the first weekend in quite some time that I didn't make it to the theatres. I did manage to catch a couple of movies on DVD: Into the Wild (3 stars) and Stardust (3 ½ stars).

I finished Stardust the novel this week and felt compelled to give the movie another chance since I enjoyed the book so much. I'd seen it once before and, while I was entertained, I wasn't all that impressed. I had some Borders coupons to use, so I went ahead and shelled out $9 to buy the DVD since I was reasonably certain I'd be much more pleased the second time around. And I was right in my assumptions. Loved the movie the second time around.

A quick word about Into the Wild: I was touched by the story and impressed by Emile Hirsch's performance and dedication to the role, but I thought the direction left a little to be desired.

I spent last week researching, brainstorming and prewriting for my 2008 NaNo effort. I'm really excited about the story, and there's a lot to be done before I would actually want to start writing it (which is good, since I won't be starting 'til November). So, I'm going to keep up with that this week, I think. Additionally, I'll probably do a quick read-through of my Screnzy effort (working title: Tea) just to keep it from sitting too long. So that's what I'll be up to, in case you were wondering.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Box Office Predictions: 13 June 2008

Our two wide releases opening this weekend are The Incredible Hulk (redux edition) and the latest offering from M. Night Shyamalan in The Happening.

The Happening is being widely panned, which is the popular thing to do whenever an M. Night Shyamalan movie comes out. Truth be told, I know too much about this movie to take it all that seriously. And I also find the trailers to be incredibly annoying. If you haven't seen one, let me give you a quick rundown.

CLOSE-UP — Mark Wahlberg looks fearfully at something off in the distance. Cue dramatic music. BANG.
EXTREME CLOSE-UP — Mark Wahlberg looks more fearfully at something off in the distance. Cue even more dramatic music. Bigger BANG!
SUPER-EXTREME CLOSE-UP — Mark Wahlberg is frightened. We get it.

I'm not a member of the Shyamalan Hate Club, but something tells me The Happening is not going to mark the turning point in his string of disappointments. Nearly all of his movies show great potential, but they tend to fail to live up to the standards they set for themselves.

It's pretty easy to predict that The Incredible Hulk will ride Iron Man's coattails to the No. 1 spot. I'm going to go out on a limb (despite having crashed down last time I did this) and predict an upset with Kung Fu Panda beating The Happening.

Final Predictions:
  1. The Incredible Hulk
  2. Kung Fu Panda
  3. The Happening

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Trials of Research

I decided to postpone starting a new project or editing an old one in favor of doing some research for my upcoming 2008 NaNo novel. The research I'm doing for this project is vastly different than research I've done for other projects, which makes it both interesting and tiring.

I'm also in the midst of trying to track down information about mid-5th century BC Jerusalem for a historical epic I've had in mind for quite some time now. As you might imagine, there's not much solid historical information out there. Aside from that, I've gleaned a few lessons along the way.

1. Friends or acquaintances, even if they have what seems like an appropriate knowledge base, aren't always the best resources.
When I started my research for this time period, I e-mailed an acquaintance and a friend who I thought would be able to get me started in the right direction. I never received a response from either one. I'm guessing this isn't due to rudeness on their part so much as the fact that it wasn't something a simple Google search could yield and also that there's no pressure since I'm a friend and not a professional acquaintance. Which leads me to my second lesson...

2. University professors are a wonderful resource, even if you have no personal relationship with them.

I can only guess at the reason why, but I would conjecture that (1) there is a responsibility as representatives of a university, and (2) love of knowledge and the desire to share it is a prerequisite for most university professors. After admittedly getting a little frustrated at the lack of response from my personal contacts, I was rather skeptical about e-mailing people I'd never met in my life for what had proven for me to be hard-to-find information. But I thought it was worth a shot.

I found a professor specializing in Jewish studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, gave her a brief but specific description of what exactly I was looking for, and sent off the e-mail. Six hours later, I had a response from her saying my needs were out of her realm of expertise accompanied by recommendations for several other people. I picked another UMKC professor from her recommendations and had another response in four hours with an explanation of why it's hard to find information along with seven textual resources and a method recommendation to get me started, as well as an offer to answer any follow-up questions she could. I was floored and extremely grateful. And the lesson there is...

3. Don't give up.
It's tempting to give up on an idea when a visit to the Google and Wikipedia machines don't turn up much. It's even more tempting to give up on an idea when you get no response from people you'd hoped might be able to help you. The key, I think, is to not look at the situation personally, which is hard to do as a writer. Our stories are inherently personal to us; thus, they matter a great deal. Hitting brick walls, especially when those walls are human, can lead us into a spiral of self-pitying despair: Why doesn't the world see how important My Story is? Woe is me, the misunderstood artist! But the truth is, as fun as that despair is for a moment, it certainly doesn't help anything. If you don't get a response, buck up and try elsewhere, and keep trying elsewhere until you do get what you need.

I will throw out one more caveat in quotable form: Story is king; don't get lost in the details. Historical accuracy is nice, but it's not necessarily the point. You're telling a story, not writing a text book, so you've got some dramatic license. (A caveat on a caveat: Dramatic license doesn't give you permission to take well-known historical characters and change up their stories to the point that they're nearly unrecognizable from the truth. I'm looking at you, The Other Boleyn Girl. If you're inspired by a piece of history but want to vamp on it to the point of rewriting it, change the names and call it historical fiction.)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Victories Galore: Box Office and the Culmination of a First Draft

My psychic waves were in tune with this weekend's box office returns, as I nailed the top three and in the right order. This week's Top 10:
  1. Kung Fu Panda ($60 million)
  2. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan ($40 million)
  3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($22.8 million)
  4. Sex and the City ($21.3 million)
  5. The Strangers ($9.3 million)
  6. Iron Man (7.5 million)
  7. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (5.5 million)
  8. What Happens in Vegas (3.4 million)
  9. Baby Mama (780,000)
  10. Made Of Honor (775,000)
I did happen to catch Kung Fu Panda and found it humorous, sweet, and not nearly as annoying as I thought it would be. It gets a solid three stars from me. The rundown on what else I watched this week:
  1. The Birds (3 stars)
  2. The Savages (3 stars)
  3. For Your Consideration (3 stars)
Kind of a slow movie week for me, but I've spent more time reading instead. I finished The Picture of Dorian Gray. It's now on my list of favorite books, and I am very excited about the adaptation coming out next year.

I'm planning on starting some pre-writing for my 2008 National Novel Writing Month effort, so I've dived into Neil Gaiman's Stardust to give me some guidelines on writing an adult fairytale. It's proving to be a quick read, which is good, because I know someone who might maim me if I don't get back to Jitterbug Perfume very quickly. In my defense, I've been itching to delve into something rather fantastical and whimsical in both reading and writing as of late. Psychoanalyze that at will, but that's where I've been tending as of late. Luckily, I can categorize it under productive research rather than some sort of escapism.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Box Office Predictions: 6 June 2008

Trying my hand again this week, and it doesn't look easy. We've got Kung Fu Panda and You Don't Mess with the Zohan opening in wide release this week. I'm banking that Kung Fu Panda will take No. 1 followed by You Don't Mess with the Zohan, but what about No. 3?

I think any of last week's Top 5 could plausibly take the No. 3 spot, with the exception of The Strangers, though it did surprise me by taking No. 3 last week. I think I've proven that I have a soft spot for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, but I think Iron Man and Indy 4 have a better shot at taking the third spot. I'm guessing the majority of moviegoers interested in seeing Sex & the City saw it last weekend based on the drop in numbers from Friday to Saturday. I've got no long-winded analysis today, so I'll just bite the bullet and choose one.
  1. Kung Fu Panda
  2. You Don't Mess with the Zohan
  3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
And here's hoping that Iron Man and Prince Caspian can round out the Top 5.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Reading, Raining & Writing

I've been vastly unproductive this week, but it's not all my fault. Our monthly write-in was rudely interrupted by a wall cloud that decided to form in uncomfortably close proximity to a couple of our houses. In all honesty, I'd been procrastinating for the first hour of the write-in, but I swear I was about two minutes from tapping out my first word when some benevolent patrons informed us of the imminent doom promised by the weather. As I was walking out the door of the coffee shop, the sirens started blaring. Consequently, I drove 60 miles an hour home on mostly 35 mph streets to ensure that my two long-haired chihuahuas were taking appropriate precautions. I spent most of the remainder of the evening huddled in a closet in the basement with my two puppies and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Luckily, I was in good company. As, as you might assume from me writing this post, we were not swept off to Oz.

Meteorologists have been forecasting the end of the world for tonight, which led to me skipping a birthday party to hunker down. Somewhat unsurprisingly, it's been rather calm so far, though the radar suggests that could change soon enough. The upside is that I have managed to get a bit of writing done. Nothing extensive at only four pages, but I did break into Act Three. I'd like to finish the first draft by the end of the weekend; I don't know if that's entirely plausible, but I hope to make a valiant effort in that direction.

The wind's picking up a bit, so I'm going to wrap up. I'm hoping to have some more focused posts soon, so stay tuned!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Box Office Predictions: FAILURE

Obviously, I still have a bit to learn about what guarantees box office success. I was 0 for 3 in my picks. To recap:
  1. Prince Caspian
  2. Sex & the City
  3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Now, if I wanted to put a good, ol' PR spin on it, I could point out that I picked two out of the three movies correctly. But when I look at the picture as a whole, it looks pretty dismal. The real numbers:
  1. Sex and the City ($55.7 million)
  2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($46 million)
  3. The Strangers ($20.7 million)
Rounding out the top 5 were Iron Man with $14 million and my beloved Prince Caspian with $13 million. I will point out that that sales for Sex & the City fell nearly 67 percent from Friday to Saturday, so it doesn't look like this one will have staying power. I will also point out that my fellow Saturday morning moviegoers and I did our part for Prince Caspian, comfortably filling the theatre for an 11:40 a.m. showing.

While I'm on the subject of movies, here's a rundown of what I've watched lately and how they fared (out of 5 stars):
  • Prince Caspian (three times now): upgraded to 4 stars
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (twice): 3 stars
  • Almost Famous: 4 stars
  • Michael Clayton: 3 ½ stars
  • The Nines: 3 stars
On tap for this week: The Savages, Into the Wild and probably Sex & the City because I promised by sister I'd go with her.

Also a quick reading update: I've took a slight detour from Jitterbug Perfume to read Prince Caspian since I couldn't recall having done so. I very much enjoyed it, though I think I actually like the screen adaptation a little better. The characters are fleshed out on screen in a way that's a little more realistic to me. This, of course, could be colored by the fact that I saw it on screen before I read it. I'm going to read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader before the movie comes out, but I've got plenty of time to do that. Unfortunately, during that detour I apparently misplaced my copy of Jitterbug Perfume. Until I find it, I've picked up Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. I'm 25 pages in, and so far, so good.