December 31, 2013
Posted by katielabovitz under General Information
| Tags: andrew smith
, book recommendation
, bridget jones
, david levithan
, helen fielding
, james dashner
, peter cameron
, ya novel
So, reading. It’s the bee’s knees.
(You know what is not the bee’s knees? Robin Thicke. I’m watching New Year’s Rockin’ Eve right now and he’s singing “Blurred Lines” and as catchy as this song is, it is terrible. And he’s a creep.)
But I digress.
I finished reading four books in the past couple weeks and just started another book today. READING!
Here’s what I finished:
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (by Helen Fielding) – Oh, boy. I really wanted to like this book because I loved the first two Bridget Jones books. But this… this was not v.g. Fielding spent so much of the book having Bridget obsess over her Twitter follower numbers and talking about farting with her toy boy that she missed an opportunity to tell a really heartfelt story. There were a few moments where her words tugged on my emotions, but they were few and a far between. I was really upset as I read the book because I found myself wanting to smack Bridget and being frustrated about her screenwriting when I didn’t think that character had that kind of clout. It’s not a spoiler that Bridget is no longer married to Mark Darcy (that is mentioned within pages of the book). They didn’t divorce; he died. Fielding killed off Mark Darcy. Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhy? I sincerely hope they don’t adapt this into a film because it was so depressing to read, I don’t think I could handle seeing Squints McGee Zellweger reprise her role.
The Death Cure (by James Dashner) – a big HUZZAH that my library had the last book in the Maze Runner trilogy without me having to put it on hold. While this was my least favorite of the three books, I devoured it because I needed to know what happened to Thomas and his friends from the Glade. This is totally on me, but I never had a clear picture of Brenda in my head as I was reading and that bothered me because she was such an important character. I’m actually a lot surprised that Dashner had so much about Thomas’s feelings toward the two girls in his life. It didn’t distract from the overarching story and it definitely added a layer to Thomas that his male Glade friends weren’t entirely privy to… but these books are definitely aimed toward young men (though the two people who recommended the books to me are female). I told my brother he should read this trilogy. The books are all well written and Dashner really created very vivid pictures of the Glade and the Scorch. I’m really looking forward to The Maze Runner movie. These books were a quick, fun read. They aren’t too long and they are very much page-turners. You just want to know what happens next 🙂
Every You, Every Me (by David Levithan; pictures by Jonathan Farmer) – David Levithan, let me love you down. I very much admire his writing and this book was no exception. The story was really fascinating (a high school boy’s best friend is sent away because of her self-destructive ways because of her mental health issues… he receives photos of her and tries to figure out who they are from with the help of his bff’s boyfriend). There are words/phrases/passages that are crossed out (but still readable) so you know what the narrator was thinking. His thought process is very relatable and it’s interesting to read how he interacts with other characters juxtaposed against what he’s actually thinking. Throughout the book, there are photos that the narrator receives and they allow you to better follow along the story. I read this book in about 2 hours because I couldn’t put it down. (I was also on a plane and it was a good distraction from flying because I hate flying.)
someday this pain will be useful to you (by Peter Cameron) – I’m so glad I grabbed this book off the shelf at the library. I honestly had no idea what it was about, but it turned out to be perfect for me because it fit within the genre I’m writing. The title is what grabbed me, but the writing is what kept me reading. (This was another book I finished in less than a day.) I really loved Cameron’s writing style and will definitely be on the lookout for anything else he’s written. His protagonist, James, was relatable and likable (albeit a bit of a troublemaker… though I found myself siding with him). James liked being alone and didn’t like talking. As I read, I thought to myself that this was the kind of boy I would have wanted to be friends with and probably would have had a crush on. James, though, was gay, but it wasn’t really a huge part of the story. (Sure, both his parents asked him point blank if he was gay and he did admit to liking a colleague… but he also said that he never acted on his homosexuality, nor did he ever think that he would be intimate with anyone.) The bulk of James’s story had to do with not wanting to go to college and how he had run away for a couple days during school function in Washington, D.C. (James lived in NYC). I really, really liked this book. It was adapted into a film, so I’m going to try and track that down.
Stick (by Andrew Smith) – I’m not done reading this, as I just started it this afternoon, but I am 88 pages in and I’m enjoying this as well. This was another book I kind of just grabbed off the shelf, but I’m glad I did. It’s about a 13-year-old boy named Stark (his nickname is “Stick” because he’s really tall and thin) and his older brother, Bosten (16). Their parents are terrible people who beat them, have odd house rules, and only let them shower on weekends. Both Stark and Bosten have best friends (Stark/Emily, Bosten/Paul) and they are basically in love with said best friends. Stark just found out that his brother is gay and I’m already scared for Bosten and hope that their parents won’t find out. (Though, I’m fairly sure they do at some point – because that would be the predictable plot line.) Oh, and Stark only has one ear. He was only born with one ear. So, some of the book is written how he hears… with large gaps/spaces between some of the words/phrases. Stark is a likable protagonist and I’m eager to read the rest of his story.
I find it helpful to read books with young male protagonists because I’m writing a book with a young male protagonist. And since I’m a female and don’t have firsthand experience to write from, it’s really educational and insightful to be reading books written by men about male characters. Yay for fun research 🙂
If you have any book recommendations, let me know!
December 31, 2013
I know I live in NYC, but you don’t know how happy I am to be in my apartment wearing pajamas and burrowed under a pile of blankets. It’s cold here in the Big Apple. I would know – I spent the entire day outdoors walking dogs. (Walking dogs is fun, but it’s less fun when it’s bitter cold and windy like whoa.)
It’s not 2014 yet as I type this, but it likely will be by time you read this post. Happy New Year’s (Eve), everyone. We did it. We made it through 2013.
I don’t know about you, but 2013 was a bumpy year. I started the year off with the flu and bronchitis. I got let go from my job, was unemployed for a few months, and felt really low about myself. Things are a lot better now as the year is coming to a close. I’m employed. I have health insurance that kicks in on January 1st (Thanks, Obama!). I can pay my bills. I have family and friends who love and support me. I already have much higher hopes for 2014.
(Don’t get me wrong – there were awesome parts of 2013. I got to go to the Tony Awards rehearsal. I saw a bunch of shows on and off Broadway. I saw Darren Criss in concert [again] with a group of friends. I saw New Kids on the Block/Boyz II Men/98 Degrees in concert and it was awesome. I reconnected with one of my best friends from middle school and we see each other once a month and we’re fabulous. I got to see one of my other best friends twice this year and we went on a freakin’ cruise together with my family. My sister got married to a really awesome guy who I’m grateful to have as a brother-in-law. My brother celebrated his first wedding anniversary with a lady who I absolutely adore as my sister-in-law. My parents celebrated their 32nd Anniversary and are pretty much the cutest pair of people in the history of married folks. I got to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with family.)
I have a lot of free time at work this week (some of my clients don’t need their dogs walked), so I’ve been reading a lot (I’ll get to that in a bit). But, today since I was working down toward Chambers Street, I decided to walk a little further south to where the World Trade Center towers once stood. I’m so glad I did.
The first time I visited NYC was 2004, so I never actually saw the towers in person (though of course I had seen them on TV and in movies). I moved to NYC in 2012 but had never been to the site even though I had been near that neighborhood on a couple occasions. But, today I walked to the base of the Freedom Tower and saw where the towers once stood. It was a really humbling and thought-provoking experience. I felt a lot of emotions all at once and it was almost too much to handle. I reflected on 9/11. I can’t even articulate the enormity of it all. I kind of don’t want to – me seeing the site was a very private moment for me. And as much as I was thinking about everything that 9/11 entailed for the past decade and change, I also (selfishly) thought how it was appropriate that I, personally, see the site today. Right then. The word that kept flashing up in my mind was “rebuild.” I don’t feel that I need to explain that, but I know for my own purposes what today meant to me as I look to 2014.
Last night I did something I usually don’t do – I wrote down some New Years Resolutions. I was careful with my list and made sure to write down things that I actually thought I could accomplish. I know people always say “lose weight” or “eat better.” I know I don’t eat as healthy as I should, but I walk about 5-10 miles a day, five days a week for my job and have lost 20 pounds in the last year and a half, so… those things were not on my list. (insert shrug here)
Here’s what is on my list:
– Finish my book – This is very much achievable. Right now I’m on Chapter 17 and I have the rest of it outlined. It’s going to need a lot of help in editing (I know I need to add in a lot of description, among other things.), but it’s coming along. I really hope once it’s finished and polished a bit that it’s good enough to submit to literary agents. I aspire to publish a novel. It’s on my Bucket List. Let’s do this.
– Finish my screenplay(s) – I’m a couple scenes shy of finishing the first feature-length screenplay I ever wrote and about 30 pages shy of my second script. The first script is crap, but it was something I needed to write because it was taking up too much room in my head. The second script has potential, but I’m still wrestling with how I want it to end. I can get it done, though. I know I can.
– Go on more dates – This is actually the thing on my list that I’m least certain about, but I’m going to actively try to make this happen. I went on two dates this year… and actually, I wouldn’t even call either of them dates. They were more like “walk-and-talks” (because my life is obviously a movie… duh). Both non-dates were 2-3 hour walks in Central Park where the guy I was with and I talked about stuff. I knew one of the guys from school and the other guy I met on a dating website. Both were nice guys, but nothing came out of either non-date. However, I learned a lot about them and myself during the few hours we spent together. Without making a tangent into a depressing story about how I’ve (wrongfully) thought that I wasn’t good enough to find someone special, I will say (well, write) that I am learning to love myself more and by doing that, it’s dawning on me that I am a good person and though I might not be super model hot, I’m not altogether fugly either. I have good morals. People tell me I’m funny. I’m caring. And someday I would like to get married. (You likely don’t know how frustrating it is to be the 7th wheel at family functions… Trust me, it’s frustrating.) I’m not looking to get married right this second. But, it would be nice to meet a guy I click with. It’d be nice to have a guy whose hand I can hold when we go see action movies or live theater. So, yeah. Go on more dates.
– See at least 1 show a month – I’ve been doing pretty well with this so far, but I want to make sure I keep it up. Live theater is the greatest form of entertainment ever. I love it. I need it in my life. (My show for December was “Beautiful – The Carole Kind Musical.” I will post a whole post about it in the next few days. It was amazing.)
– Read more – This is something else I’ve been rocking out the last few months. Reading (especially for fun) is one of life’s simple pleasures. I’m so glad I finally got my NYC library card over the summer. With my job, I usually have a few minutes (or hours, depending on the day) between walks and it allows me to get some reading done. Lately, I’ve been reading mostly YA novels. I finished three within the last three days and started another one this morning. (I will write a separate blog post about this as well…) My parents read a lot and it’s something that has stuck with me. I read a lot when I was little, but over the years it was something I was doing less and less. I’m glad to have picked this hobby back up. It’s relaxing as much as it is educational/research.
– Visit my sister – I put a “?” by this on my list because this might not be as feasible as I hope (I need to wait until taxes are done, among other things). My sister lives in Arkansas and she and her husband just got a new puppy. Aunt Kate needs to go see little Rosie before little Rosie becomes the size of a small horse.
There’s actually one more thing on my list, but I’m deciding not to share it with the masses. (And by “masses,” I mean the couple people who accidentally stumble upon this blog while looking for a Harry Potter quote…) But, I hope that I’m able to accomplish that last (mystery) resolution.
Man, I am yawning. It’s a combination of me being super exhausted from being in the cold/wind all day, me not sleeping well to begin with, and the 24 oz of hard cider I downed in the last couple hours. (I’m not tipsy… but I can feel it.) I’ll make it to midnight, but likely only just. I’m bonkers tired (I only slept well a couple nights in the past few months…), but luckily I don’t have to work tomorrow. I won’t be setting my alarm, but my guess is I’ll probably still wake up early. I have a lot of stuff to type tomorrow (blog posts for her, blog posts for FFE, and my book), but it’s nice knowing I don’t have to be anywhere.
It’s really nice knowing I don’t have to be anywhere, I kind of broke a toe a few weeks ago and it hurts to walk on it. And since I walk a lot for my job, there is really no time for my toe to not hurt. Oh well.
I hope your 2013 ends/ended well. Mine ended pretty great. I got to go home to MN for Christmas. (I realize I live in NYC and have lived here for over a year now, and I plan on living here forever, but it doesn’t feel like “home” yet. So, for the time being, MN is still my “home” because that’s where my parents and dog are. Also, I recently lived there for 2 years, so it was my home and still feels as such.) It was a bugger to get there – my flight got delayed a bit, and then they switched our gate a few times. My parents were awesome enough to pick me up at the airport, but we didn’t get to the house until almost 1am on Christmas. We stayed up for a little and had some coffee cake, and then I wrapped presents. I was so tired, but I couldn’t sleep. Christmas day we watched some Sherlock Series 2 (I can’t wait for Series 3!!!), The Hobbit and Love Actually. My mom, sister and I saw American Hustle. My mom and I marathoned White Collar Season 4. My parents, brother and I went and saw the USA National Hockey Team play the Canadian Olympic team as a “Road to Sochi” match. Women’s hockey is awesome, by the way. It was so great to see all those talented ladies take the ice – plus, it was a super great game. AND I got to see the Herb Brooks statue outside of the arena. I was really sad to leave my family (especially because I don’t know the next time I’ll see them again), but I had to come back. NYC might not quite feel like home, but I know I’m supposed to be here.
Have a safe and happy New Year! (Expect some blog posts soon about books and Broadway 🙂 )
December 15, 2013
Posted by katielabovitz under General Information
| Tags: adam lambert
, First Date
, Personal post
, smash season 2
, sucker punch to the feels
, the last 5 years
My roommates weren’t home tonight, so I did something I rarely get to do anymore – I sang really loudly in my apartment.
I used to sing all the time when I lived with my family, but I reel it in now that I live with people I’m not super close with.
Though I don’t sing nearly as much as I used to, music is still very much an important part of my life. I listen to my iPod to and from work and sometimes during the day en route to further away jobs or errands. I tend to listen to the same songs over and over and over again. Music is comforting and it’s also really inspiring. There are certain songs and lyrics that just hit home a little bit harder depending on the given scenario.
Today on Twitter, one of my favorite fellow blogger’s/aspiring YA novelists tweeted “Love Skyscraper so much. It’s the theme song for my books. May be welling up here.” Every Sunday, Vicky also blogs several songs she’s been listening. I’m not always familiar with the songs she posts, or if I am they may not be songs I’m quite partial too, but I still love reading her list every week because it’s basically a weekly soundtrack. (Check out her latest Sunday Songs blog post here!)
My own soundtrack has been kinda focused these past few weeks. I find as I’m writing, I tend to latch on to some of the songs that trigger certain emotions within myself. Though this definitely won’t be a weekly thing like Vicky’s blog, I wanted to share some of the songs that have been inspiring to me.
In no particular order…
Adam Lambert – “Better Than I Know Myself”
I first heard this song while I was working in Macy’s a few years ago. After hearing it multiple times throughout one of my shifts, I quickly realized it was Lambert. His voice is mesmorizing, but it’s the lyrics to this song and the driving chorus that punches me in the feels every time I hear it.
Cause if I wanted to go I would have gone by now
But I really need you near me to
Keep my mind off the edge
If I wanted to leave I would have left by now
But you’re the only one that knows me
Better than I know myself
It’s definitely a dramatic song (and a kinda dumb music video), but his voice is so gorgeous.
Jeremy Jordan – “I Heard Your Voice in a Dream” (Smash Season 2)
Smash was a terrible show, but this song is my most favorite thing to come out of it. So, thank you Smash Season 2. I have watched this youtube video more times than I am willing to admit and it’s not only because I have a huge thing for JerJor and the facial expressions he makes throughout (especially at 1:39). No, I love this song because of the line, “Sing to me and I will forgive you for taking my heart in the suitcase you packed.” That’s a beautiful line and my heart hurts every time I hear it.
Norbert Leo Butz – “I Could Be in Love With Someone Like You” (deleted song from The Last 5 Years)
I’ve posted about my love for this song on multiple occasions, but my love for it only increases every time I hear it. I still think this is an infinitely better song than “Shiksa Goddess” and wish it would have stayed in the musical, but I digress. This song is perfect. The way NBL sings it is perfect. And when he sings the line “I don’t know what I’m doing, but come in and ruin me,” my heart stops. That one lyric is basically my standard for potential significant others. I have yet to meet anyone who I am ready and willing to say that line to, but it’s nice to know that when I do find him, I’ll know the exact words to say to express what I’m feeling. This song is always in the back of my mind when I’m writing stuff for characters who have feelings for each other but are terrified of the unknown at the same time. (Which, ironically, is the scene I’m in the middle of writing right now in my own book… Cue Norbert.)
Krysta Roderiguez – “Safer” (First Date)
So I listen to a lot of showtunes. I listen to a lot of showtunes because they are musical dialogue used by characters to express feelings that they can’t just talk about.
When I went and saw First Date and I heard Krysta sing this song, I squirmed in my seat because it was like someone broke into my deepest personal thoughts and then wrote a whole song about them for everyone to hear. In that darkened theater, I felt so exposed while she was singing. It was uncomfortable and freeing all at the same time. Other people obviously feel the same way I do. No one talks about it, but it’s a shared feeling. So, I take this anthem of the fear of being vulnerable and I embrace it. (And belt it out when no one is home…)
Jessica Sanchez – “Clarity” (as sung on Glee)
I was not a huge fan of Jessica when she was on American Idol and I thought it was silly she was on a couple episodes of Glee, but I love her version of this song better than the original. This is another one of those songs about relationships that just sticks with you.
Pink ft. Nate Ruess – “Just Give Me a Reason”
“Just a second we’re not broken just bent and we can learn to love again.” BAM – you’ve been sucker punched in the feels by heartbreakingly beautiful music. “We’re not broken just bent.” Seriously that line just begs for a second chance and it hurts to hear, but I cling to it every time the song comes on.
(I’ve also been on a huge One Direction and Demi Lovato kick, but those songs are more fun than inspirational, at least in conjunction with my writing.)
So, yeah… a lot of really emotional songs. They help me work out different emotional situations that I’m making my characters go through. Right now my boys are having the “I really like you but I don’t think we should be boyfriends” discussion and it’s hard to write because I want them to be happy, but they have to be sad first. (Remember, it’s always important to bring the audience down before you lift them back up again. And I have at least another chapter or two of knocking the boys down a few pegs. It’s draining.)
Maybe I’ll move onto some happier songs once I get a few more chapters under my belt. But for now, enjoy the wholly feels-wrecking songs I’ve posted 🙂
December 14, 2013
Okay, so I know I’m for reals behind on posting on here about books I’ve read and life in general. I’m now going to hit you with a few paragraphs about what I’ve been reading and how it’s impacted me and my quest to write the next great American (YA) novel.
The last book I wrote about here was “The Spectacular Now”, which was a bunch of books ago… so here’s what I’ve read in the past few weeks:
“Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan – I flew through this book because I seriously could not put it down. (I posted a summary/recommendation of it on the Fandom For Equality blog – I urge you to check it out here.) There were no chapter breaks, yet the story bounced around between several storylines that mostly revolved around two boys (high school ex-boyfriends) trying to set a world record for longest kiss. The story was beautifully told via omniscient narrators (gay men who lived/died during the AIDS epidemic) who punctuated the plot with wisdom and a constant reminder that there is so much potential for positive change. This was the second thing I read from Levithan (he wrote the half of “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” that John Green did not…) and I fell more in love with his writing style. This book was heartbreaking and hopeful in the best ways possible and definitely made a lasting impact on me.
“Love is the Higher Law” – by David Levithan – See, I told you I was in love with Levithan’s writing style. So much so that I immediately sought out anything else he wrote. The library only had this book, so I grabbed it as fast as I could and plowed through this in a couple days. This book takes place during and after 9/11 and is told from the points of view of three teenagers whose lives all intersect because of school or mutual friends. It was an interesting read because the characters were about the age I was when 9/11 happened and the story took place in the neighborhood in NYC where I presently work. (I lived in Ohio in 2001. After moving around the Midwest a bunch, I ended up in NYC in 2012.) The book had a lot to do with relationships forged in the time of tragedy. That’s not to say that those relationships don’t mean anything, but people bonding over a shared experience of pure terror is definitely a unique way to meet, for better or worse.
“The Order of the Poison Oak” – by Brent Hartinger – I was unaware that this was a sequel to “The Geography Club” (which I haven’t read), but I was able to glean all the relevant information I needed from the exposition. I would like to go back and read the first book to get a more in-depth feel for the protagonist’s experience about coming out at his high school (as that’s something I’m writing in my own book), but I liked this book just fine. The main character decided to go work at a summer camp with his friends so that they could get out of town and he wouldn’t have to deal with being a novelty in his own community. Though he planned to stay in the closet at camp, he developed a crush on another camp counselor (who may/may not be bi). Despite the predictable story line (I guessed the plot twist well before it happened), I thought this was a decent read. Hartinger’s writing style, like Levithan’s, hooked me right away. Even if I wasn’t completely blown away by plot, I definitely wanted to keep reading because of the phrases he used and his ability to write awesome description. I’ll be on the lookout for other books by this guy.
“David Inside Out” – by Lee Bantle – This book was a great example of how not to write. While its subject matter was relevant to what I’m writing (gay/questioning high school boys on a sports team), I thought this book was pretty awful. And it pains me to write that because I would be heartbroken if someone told me what I wrote was pretty awful, but I was not a fan of a majority of the characters (including the protagonist) and I thought the writing itself was not engaging. I didn’t care about what was going to happen and I didn’t think the book really went anywhere. Instead of feeling any sort of merit having finished the book, I just felt disappointed. I post what I read on Instagram, so I clicked on the hashtag of the book’s title and one other person posted about it. He (baritoneblogger) wrote, “Worst YA book I’ve read in a while. Definitely not gay literature.” The book’s jacket was praising it as something special, but it was mostly just cringe-inducing. The one thing I did find interesting was that it was set near where I used to live in Minnesota. So, every time the author name dropped some lake or landmark, I knew what he was referring to.
“How to Say Goodbye in Robot” – by Natalie Standiford – This book just about broke my heart. It’s the story of a girl named Beatrice (Bea) whose family moves to a new city for her senior year in high school. She befriends the boy she sits next to at morning assembly (Jonah) and they form a friendship that everyone around them seems determined to define for them. Bea and Jonah love each other, but it’s purely platonic. (Other people question if they are dating or if Jonah is gay, etc…) Their love for each other is strong and substantial – they are outsiders, but since they have each other, they aren’t really alone. Both are going through some serious shit with their immediate families, so their friendship is really a lifeline. As much as they love each other, though, that’s not enough. They fight, among other conflicts that arise, and it’s painful to read about them drifting apart and finding each other again only to have your heart hurt as the book drew to its conclusion. I picked up the book because of the title and didn’t really realize what kind of nostalgic horror I was getting myself into. But, I’m so glad I read this book. It was great to read about a strong relationship between a girl and a boy who have complete (unromantic) love for each other. I found it refreshing, even though it was ultimately quite heartbreaking.
“Paper Covers Rock” – by Jenny Hubbard – This was about boys at a boarding school who had to deal with the unexpected death of one of their classmates. The protagonist, Alex, and one of his friends was there for the other boy’s death and Alex spends the bulk of the book writing/talking about what happened and his part in the whole thing. Alex has a huge crush on his young English teacher, who also happened to be there during the aftermath of the accident that caused Thomas’s death. As the book progresses, she tries to get Alex to expand on his knowledge of the situation through his writing and by talking to her. I wasn’t expecting to get much out of this book, but it turned out to be a great learning experience because the book itself was filled with passages about how to write better. That is what I will take away from reading this story – that I can be a better writer if I make the best choices I can with the words/phrases that I choose to use.
“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)” – by Mindy Kaling – I took a break from reading YA for awhile to cleanse my palette, but it turned out that this was just another great, inspiring read. I really look up to Mindy Kaling and reading about her path from childhood to college to where she is now was really educational. I found myself relating to her a lot (she didn’t have a crazy childhood or college experience either, among other similarities) and enjoyed reading her stories about the people she knows and how stuff relating to the entertainment industry is definitely not as glamorous as we perceive it to be. She’s a great writer and I’ve been a fan of her work for awhile (I used to like The Office and I definitely love The Mindy Project) and she’s just all sorts of inspiring. She points out on numerous occasions that she is not stick-thin and that she maybe gets one hour of productive writing done in an eight-hour window. See – those are things that I can relate to! What it really boiled down to, for me, was that I just need to keep at it. I don’t want to have my own television show like she does, but I do want to finish my book and I do want other people to love it as much as I am thus far.
And that’s all the books I’ve finished in the last 3 weeks. I just started reading the latest Bridget Jones book, but I’m only about five pages in, so I can’t tell if it’s v.g. or not (see what I did there?).
I’ve been working on my own book when I can (though I will admit to being a little lazy with writing this past week – I’ve been so exhausted from work). I did get a few more pages done (I’m up to 55 thus far), and I plan on writing some more tonight and tomorrow in between other stuff I have to do (a blog post for FFE, trying to sign up for healthcare, cleaning my room a bit, etc…). During a phone call with one of my most favorite people in the whole wide world the other night, she said she wanted to read what I wrote. She was one of the few people who read the script I wrote last year, so of course I’ll let her read this and I said she could read the start of the second script I’m working on (I have 80 pages of that completed, but it still has a ways to go). Last night I texted her, though, and explained that I’m afraid to show her what I wrote because I’m afraid she’s going to think it’s bad.
I’ve read and reread what I wrote so far. I know it needs help (my ability to write description and add colorful phrases and whatnot is nowhere near on par with Levithan or John Green, or any of the writes who I wholly admire), and I know it’s nowhere near being done… but what if she thinks it’s bad? What if I just spent months writing something that is just awful?
I’m probably my own worst critic, and to be honest, I don’t think what I wrote is terrible. I’m proud of my outline and I think what I’m writing has potential to be something. (Note that I didn’t say “something great” or “something earth-shattering”… just “something.”) And I have read some less than stellar books over the years in the genre I’m writing, so my theory is that if those people can get published, then there is a chance I could too… but there is always that legitimate worry of showing someone your literary baby and them just scrunching their nose and handing it back to you like said baby just soiled itself.
So, yeah. I’m going to keep writing. And I’m going to finish my book.
But I’m also going to keep reading. I’m so, so grateful that I actually have time to read. (Yes, I’m crazy busy with work, but ten free minutes here and there can turn into chapters read, you know?)
After the holidays, I’m definitely tracking down “The Death Cure” (I loooooved “The Maze Runner” and “The Scorch Trials” and need to finish that series!) and then try and get a hold of more stuff written by Levithan and Hartinger.
If you have any book recommendations, please send them my way!
December 7, 2013
Posted by katielabovitz under Uncategorized
| Tags: animated movie
, do you want to build a snowman
, idina menzel
, Jonathan Groff
, josh gad
, let it go
, movie musical
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A friend asked if I’d go see Frozen with her, and I’m super glad I said Yes.
To be forthright with you, I haven’t been much of a Disney fan as of late. The last Disney film I saw in theaters was Enchanted, and the most recent Disney princess movie I saw was The Princess and the Frog. I had heard mostly good things about Frozen via the Interwebs and people were going ape-shit over Idina Menzel’s big song, “Let It Go.” Add in the facts that the film also co-starred Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad and I was all in.
The film is about some royal sisters, Elsa (Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell). Elsa was born with the ability to freeze things – something she told at an early age to hide/suppress because it would be hard to control if she would become afraid. Once close, Elsa and Anna grew apart because Elsa was basically put into solitary so she wouldn’t hurt herself or others. Anna was unaware of her sister’s power until it was too late. They fought and Elsa accidentally turns their kingdom (Arendelle) into a frozen entity during the summer. Elsa runs away and sings “Let It Go,” the greatest female power ballad (which reminds everyone of “Defying Gravity” – especially because both songs are belted by the same vocally flawless lady) and deems herself free. Unfortunately the people of the kingdom are not pleased about it being winter and whatnot, so Anna decides she’s going to find her sister and talk some sense into her. On her journey, she befriends Kristoff (Groff) and his reindeer, Sven. They later run into Olaf (Gad), a snowman from Elsa and Anna’s childhood that Elsa recreated during her power ballad. (Olaf was my favorite character in the whole film – he was super funny, very cute, and was a selfless and caring character… inherently good and loved Anna unconditionally… my theory is because he was created by Elsa and although Elsa and Anna had grown apart, Elsa still loved Anna unconditionally.) Anna, Kristoff and Olaf face several external obstacles on their quest to have Elsa reverse the winter. As it’s a Disney film, all ends well and with true love overcoming all.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. I thought the soundtrack was great and I left the theater with a lot of songs stuck in my head (always a good sign from a musical). The “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” might be one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard about best friends/siblings growing apart. “Let It Go” would be my go-to car song if I still had my car. (I’ve listened to it thrice in the last hour…). “In Summer” was HILARIOUS. Oh, little Olaf… singing about what he would do in the heat of the summer. The best part was Kristoff’s reaction and how he really wanted to tell Olaf the truth about what happens to snow in summer. (Later, Olaf does find out what happens when snow comes in contact with heat, and it breaks your heart when he says, “Some people are worth melting for.” AWWWWWWWWW) During the end credits, Demi Lovato sings a pop version of “Let It Go,” and I loved that too.
The music was very reminiscent of other work. The opening song that the ice guys were singing very much reminded me of “Fathoms Below” from The Little Mermaid or “The Virginia Company” (and to some extent “Steady as the Beating Drum”) from Pocahontas… songs that establish the tone while also revealing cultural aspects of the setting. As mentioned before “Let It Go” was very much a “Defying Gravity”-esque ballad. It’s a means for Elsa to express her fears, but also allows her to take control of them and declare her newfound freedom and individuality. (Elsa had a lot of Elphaba moments… A LOT of them.) “In Summer” reminded me of some of the songs from The Book of Mormon (which originally co-starred Gad… not hard to put two and two together). Olaf’s obvious naivety about what would happen to him if he tried to stick around during the warmer months was very much akin to Elder Cunningham’s “Baptize Me” or “Man Up.” His heart is completely in the right place, but his common sense is very much elsewhere.
I was a little (okay, a lot) sad that Jonathan Groff only had one song (and a less than stellar one at that). He was wonderful voicing Kristoff, but I wanted to hear him sing much more than he did.
Another thing that bothered me about the film was the plot twist with Hans. I won’t spoil that for you, but it very much came out of nowhere and he basically just has an epic monologue that’s like “Here’s what’s really going on with me even though there was no foreshadowing to come to this conclusion, but you’re all going to go along with what I say because my voice is dreamy and I said so.”
The last thing that I found a bit unpleasant was that it got a little “damsel in distress” near the end when the film had been setting the female characters up as independent and headstrong women. However, I was pleased with the turn the scene ended up taking and was glad that the focus of the film was more about Elsa and Anna’s relationship than anything else.
I have an older sister and I definitely called her while I was walking to my apartment and left her a voicemail that she should go see this movie. A sister/sister relationship is a sacred thing and it was nice to see a well-crafted (and visually STUNNING) Disney film about sisters instead of just another film about a princess finding a prince.
Frozen was very entertaining and I really enjoyed myself. If you’re looking for a funny, heartfelt movie about family and friendship, I highly recommend it.
December 4, 2013
Posted by katielabovitz under Uncategorized
| Tags: Personal post
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So, I’ve been a reading (and writing) machine these past couple weeks. I think I’ve read four or 5 books that I would like to share my opinions about. Unfortunately I don’t have time right this very second (I’m falling asleep as I’m typing this… I haven’t been sleeping so well since I got back to NYC), but hopefully this weekend.
Yeah, I got to go back to MN for Thanksgiving and spent some much-needed time with my family. We played a lot of Just Dance 2014 (IT HAS KARAOKE!!!!) and my mom, sister and I saw Catching Fire. I was the only one of the three of us to have read all the Hunger Games books, so my mom and sister were wholly disappointed when Catching Fire ended abruptly (as the books does…). I tried to explain to them that they should just read the books. Because they should. (Although I’m still not a fan of Mockingjay. The movies best be better than the book. Catching Fire was as good as the book. I owe you a whole post on that.)
And yes, I’ve been writing. I’m on page 53 of my YA book I’m writing and page 80 of my screenplay. I finished a super detailed outline of my book and I’m really excited to get the rest of it written. I’m a few pages away from one of my favorite moments and I just hope I can do it justice 🙂 The book is slow-going just because I tend to only get a couple pages done at a time if I’m lucky do to my cray cray schedule, but I got 10 pages done over the weekend. So that was good. That likely won’t happen this weekend since I have to type up a report, but I’ll do my best to press forward. Those who know me best know I’m not the biggest champion of my own work, but I really think this has potential. I just need to keep at it!
Well… I’m gonna end this and try to get some sleep. Besides having trouble sleeping, I’ve been having problems with an increased amount of headaches and migraines over the past few weeks. Not ideal, lemme tell ya.
Have a good one
December 1, 2013
Last weekend, I sat/stood outside in the freezing cold and epic windiness for two hours to get Student Rush tickets to see Big Fish. The show is closing at the end of December and I knew I had to see it before its truncated run was over because 1.) It’s a musical based off of one of my favorite books and films and 2.) Norbert Leo Butz.
A lot of people are probably familiar with the movie version of Big Fish (my tied-for-first favorite Tim Burton film [tied with Ed Wood, of course]), but maybe not so much with the book (written by Daniel Wallace). I highly recommend the book – it’s a good read and allows you to use your imagination to picture Edward Bloom’s stories as fanciful as you want. I read the book before the film came out, and then I saw the film twice in theaters. I’m not one to cry at movies, but the ending made me tear up both times. (No tears actually fell, but my eyes were definitely glassy.) I bought the DVD the day it came out and have watched it multiple times since.
I love the movie and I really wanted to love the musical.
I liked the musical.
But believe me when I say (write?) that I CRIED during the last couple scenes.
And I was not the only one in the theater to burst into tears. There was audible sniffling all around me. And rightly so.
Big Fish is a father/son story for the ages. It’s about a man named William Bloom who is trying to reconcile with his father, Edward Bloom. Edward Bloom was a traveling salesman while William was a boy, so he was not home as much as William wanted him to be – and when he was home, Edward Bloom told these wildly fantastical stories about giants, werewolves, witches and the war in which he himself was always the protagonist. Young William (and later adult William) thought these stories were too ridiculous and he wanted to know the truth about his father and what really happened in his father’s life. When illness strikes the Bloom family, time literally starts running out (as opposed to stopping/slowing down… see what I did there? Wink) and William desperately tries to piece together the truth. Additional stresses pile on as William finds out he is to become a father and he worries about being to able to raise a son when he thinks he doesn’t have a great example from which to lead. There are a lot of scenes of father and son butting heads, but also moments of redemption and forgiveness. Let’s just say a lot of the people crying in the theater were adult men.
For some reason, I am more affected by Father/Son stories than Mother/Daughter stories. Actually, I know the reason… it’s because Father/Son stories force the characters to open up and discuss feelings. And watching men talk (and sing) about feelings is not only entertaining, but heartbreaking. Vulnerable male characters are much more interesting to watch than guys who keep all their feelings bottled up inside. This is why I love Big Fish (the movie). This is why I only liked the musical.
Yes, the emotions were there in the musical. But I just wanted more. The whole idea behind Edward Blood is that he lived this crazy, almost unimaginably fantastical life… but the stage version just doesn’t quite live up to how big Edward Bloom’s world really was. Yes, there were still a giant and a mermaid and a big fish… but I selfishly still wanted more.
There were big musical numbers, but sadly I did not find the songs all that catchy. I can only remember a couple lyrics from a couple songs. I mean, if they have a cast album, I’ll totally get it… but that’s only because I crave anything sung by Norbert Leo Butz. His voice is magical. He was the perfect Edward Bloom… I just wish the musical lived up to his stage presence.
I am wholly biased when it comes to Norbert Leo Butz. (Though luckily, a lot of people share my bias.) I have been a fan of his for over a decade. In undergrad, I would watch bootlegs of Wicked and The Last 5 Years on youtube and stare at my computer screen with a look of pure wonder etched across my face. He’s such an animated performer and plays those big moments as huge as they deserve to be… but at the same time, he masterfully pulls back and allows the vulnerable moments to just be. And it breaks your heart.
In the musical, NBL plays both the younger and older versions of Edward Bloom (sometimes within mere seconds of each other… his physicality of those two characters is brilliant and impressive). Though his bigger moments definitely play out when he’s young Edward, I was more impacted by both Edwards’ quieter moments. For young Edward, it was the daffodil scene. I was in the fifth row for the show, and this was the only point that I wished my seat were up in the mezzanine so that I could see the daffodils from far away. I don’t consider myself that sappy of a romantic, but I definitely swooned when NBL sang “Daffodils.” His voice is perfection. It goes into your ears and then flows like cocoa throughout the rest of your person, making you feel all warm and protected. You feel safe and smitten at the same time and I honestly could listen to him sing anything. But I digress… Edward’s quieter moments.
The end scenes. Oh, lord. If you have not read the book or seen the movie, I will not ruin it for you. (Please at least see the movie. Really.) But, William and Edward come to a sort of understanding at the end of the book/movie/musical and William finally gets his dad’s stories and why Edward did what he did and why he was away so much when William was little. There is just so much love and understanding that happens when William achieves clarity about his father and it’s very beautiful and a sucker punch to your feels. It was at this point where my tears started and they did not stop until the finale reprise of “Be The Hero.”
Despite the shortcomings with the songs and some of the staging, the cast on a whole is really quite good. It’s an entertaining show and an emotional one at that, but I very much understand why its open-ended run is now drawing to a close at the end of December. If you have the means to see it, I would definitely recommend it. Everyone should have the opportunity to see Norbert Leo Butz in a musical at least once in his/her life. (That’s another reason why I kept crying during the last few scenes… this was a decade-long dream come true for me. I was supposed to see NBL in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels years ago, but his understudy was in the day I had tickets. Yes, I did see him in Dead Accounts last year, but that was a play… and a meh one at that.)
Big Fish is a great story. If you can’t/don’t see the musical, at least check out the movie and/or book.
Big Fish is playing at the Neil Simon Theatre until the end of December 2013. Student Rush tickets are available at the Box Office ($27/ticket, and up to two tickets per student ID). I was the third person in line and my tickets were E 17 and E 19 (Left Orchestra).