Monday, January 28, 2013

Choice & Change

Good morning, gentle readers. How is everyone? Hopefully, bundled up against the winter chill.

Here, it feels as if winter has finally arrived. There’s a crisp snap to the air when you walk outside and the wind feels as if it’s trying to skin you when you walk into it.

You would think I would be inured to this cold, having spent fifteen years in Alaska. There, it wasn’t properly cold unless, when you walked outside and inhaled, everything in your nose froze solid.

However, I’ve been back in the south for a couple of years now and suspect that my blood has thinned a bit. I haven’t completely lost my tolerance for the cold. When it is in the fifties, I still walk around in a T-shirt with no jacket.

Nowadays, however, with the mercury in the forties, I wear my coat over that T-shirt and, more often than not, consider pulling on a knit cap. I am, it seems, becoming a southern creature once again.

By this time next year I will probably be bundled up like an Antarctic explorer when it is only sixty degrees outside.

We all change to suit our environments. We adapt to the circumstances of our lives. It is, I think, one of our great strengths as human beings, this ability of ours to change and adapt.

Change, however, can be frightening.

When I left my old job to try the writing life, I was afraid. Sure, I put on a good front. Of course, I was confident that good things would happen, and I am pleased to say that they have. However, that doesn’t alter the fact that more than once, lying in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, I worried that I had made a colossal mistake. I had given up certainty for the unknown.

There are still days when I have brief flashes of unease. What if the writing doesn’t work out? What if I exhaust my savings? What if I wind up homeless, living out of my car on the street somewhere?

Even rarer. What if I succeed? What if I become a successful writer and that changes me into someone I don’t want to be? One of those self-important, pontificating old farts that I loathe so much?

We adapt to our circumstances. We change to survive. However, we are not animals. We are not inanimate objects. We have free will and we can choose how we want to change.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, our ability to choose the changes we make, may be our greatest strength of all.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Review of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a fun little romp of a movie. The story is a reworking of the classic fairy tale about two children abandoned in the forest by their father. They discover a house made of candy, owned by a witch who takes the children captive. She goes on to fatten Hansel up while making Gretel work as a drudge. Ultimately, the children overcome the witch, shoving her into her own oven, burning her alive.

The movie tells what happened afterward. How Hansel and Gretel went on to become famous witch-hunters. Their reputation leads them to a town, plagued by witches, where they encounter a hostile sheriff and, eventually, uncover secrets from their own past.

This movie is a joy ride. Honestly, I want to compare it to Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness. It has that same mix of adventure and humor.

The performances in this movie are surprisingly good. Especially Famke Janssen and Gemma Arterton, who steal every scene in which they appear. I strongly suspect that both ladies had a ball with their respective roles.

Alas, the same thing cannot be said of Jeremy Renner. He has almost no presence onscreen, and seems to be sleepwalking through the role of Hansel.

My only other complaint with the movie is that some of the fight scenes were too dark. It was difficult to make out what was happening in some parts of the movie.

And for those of you who are interested in such things, I did not see the 3D version of this movie. Three-Dee gives me an enormous headache and, honestly, I refuse to pay extra money just for cheap visual effects. I saw the 2D version and, like I said, had a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

On the Media Scale of Movie Love, I give Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, a solid six out of ten. It’s well worth a full-price movie ticket and I think it would stand up to additional viewings.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Good morning, gentle readers, and happy belated new year!

So far, 2013 has been pretty good for yours truly. I spent a week in lovely Jekyll Island, wandering along the beaches and enjoying the grounds of the Jekyll Island Hotel. I’ve had a birthday, won some cash and am 16,000 words into my next book. Last week, I was in Georgia helping shoot a horror film on a shoe string budget, where I got the opportunity to visit with old friends and make a few new ones. Finally, I started a part-time job on the weekends that I really enjoy.

Altogether, 2013 has gotten off to a grand start for me.

Whether or not this momentum will carry through for the rest of the year? Who can say? I refuse to speculate on the matter.

I’ve got enough gray hairs already without giving myself more, worrying about what could happen down the road.

Personally, ladies and gentlemen, I think the world would be a better place if people quit worrying so much about tomorrow or fretting about yesterday and just tried to live in the moment.

And no, I do not mean that you should stop paying for life insurance if you’ve got kids. Nor do I mean that you should forget the formative horrors of middle school gym.

I am just saying that you should take five or ten minutes to sit somewhere, shut your eyes, and appreciate what you’ve got. A roof over your head. Friends. Family. A job. Food. Hot water. Indoor plumbing. Strawberry Jell-O with fruit inside it. Mango sorbet. Good health.

Normally, I never make New Year’s resolutions. I consider them a tremendous waste of time. However, this year I think I’m going to make an exception. This year I’m making a resolution to be more grateful for the things I have, those things that smooth life’s sharp edges, that lift me up and make me want to be a better person.

So, welcome 2013!

What’s next?