Friday, July 4, 2014

The Sturm und Drang of Writing a Blog: Tapping into the Creative Process

[I review the new movie "Chef" along with DVDs "The Lunchbox," "The Best Offer" and "Enemy" and The Book of the Week is a memoir by Misty Copeland, soloist with the American Ballet Theatre and her struggles as an African American ballerina.]

But First


Molly Wizenberg is a food blogger (Orangette) with a Seattle connection.  I recently read her book "A Homemade Life," and in it she said something about how writing helped her remember. 



And that really resonated with me because I also believe that.



Writing this blog helps me remember.




I remember being this little girl

 


I remember being this teenager



I remember my friends



I remember my last wedding (and there were more than one)


Here's my first 
 
 


I remember raising my children

 

 
And all of those first days of school



I remember my parents raising me



I remember my family



My grandparents, my sister, my niece


My Mom



And my Dad, here displaying two of his passions - hot cars and cowboy hats (here he is with his Hemi in red, white and blue, appropriate for today, don't you think?)



It's important to remember where we came from, where we have been in order to understand ourselves and grow into who we are supposed to be.

Serendipitously, there was a line in the film "The Lunchbox," (which I review below) that resonated: 

"I think we forget things if we have no one to tell them to."

So thank you, dear readers, for letting me tell you things.



But writing this blog doesn't just help me remember. 

It also helps me express myself and spark my creativity.

But it's not often easy. 

There is a sturm und drang that can go through one's brain that sometimes makes it difficult to create something.

What should I write about?  I don't feel like writing today. How do I get my point across?  What will people think? How do I market my blog so people can find it? How do I maximize my SEO?  How do I get people to comment?  Does anyone really care? 

I have taken to watching Oprah's Super Soul Sundays where she invites deep thinkers to sit with her under her gorgeous tree in her gorgeous yard in Hawaii, and they talk about deep stuff together. I also like her Master Class where celebrities, writers, and more deep thinkers talk about their lives and what they have learned.  I find both of these programs very inspiring.  No matter what you think of Oprah, you cannot deny that she is using her money and power to try to do good.  Yes, her OWN network has some fluff on it, but more than not, she is putting shows out there to try to help people.

And lately several of these programs have been dealing with the creative process. 

She recently spoke with Steven Pressfield, the author of "The War of Art." He talks about "resistance" blocking our being able to do the things we want to do, such as write a book or even go to the gym every day.  He believes that the more resistance you feel about something, that is a sign that you really, really need to do it.  It's the universe talking to you.  And that basically, it's pretty much all about just doing it.  How can you be a writer if you never write?  How can you be an athlete if you never train?  How can you be a painter if you don't paint? When you give in to the resistance, you will feel worse, bad about yourself and it will hang over your head. If you just start, you will be amazed at what you can tap into.





Likewise, in his "Master Class," Lionel Richie talked about writing songs and how he doesn't plan on writing a hit song.  He just sits down at the keyboard and the words come. John Denver said a similar thing about songwriting.  He believed the words were not coming from within him, but from the consciousness of the universe.

I find that to be true in my own small way writing my small little blog.

I worry about it, wondering what I will write, who cares if I write, whether it's important or educational or even amusing.

That "sturm und drang" that gets into your brain, that makes you question yourself, that makes you procrastinate, that makes you not start -- that's "resistance." 

But I have discovered that despite this resistance, it's just a matter of sitting down at the keyboard.

If I don't make myself sit down on Monday and write, there would be no blog published on Tuesday.  And sometimes I am not even sure what I will write about.  But sure enough, once I sit down, I start to remember.  I sometimes start writing and when I finish, I look at what I have written and wonder where it came from.

I write two blog posts per week.  I publish on Tuesdays and Fridays.

For Tuesdays, I usually rant about something that is going on in my life or something that interests me.  For Friday, it's usually a movie related post, but not always. I also review fashion, food and music.  It does, however, always include movie reviews and a book of the week and sometimes restaurant reviews.

So that means I need to go to movies, watch DVDs, eat at restaurants, go to concerts and shop!

On Monday, I concentrate on the Tuesday post and get the bones of the Friday post together and then tweak that one during the week.

I have always enjoyed writing, and I think one of the purposes of my life is to communicate.  That is why I enjoy blogging.  Now that I am retired, I have the time to spend on it (as well as going to movies, watching DVDs, eating at restaurants and shopping!), and I find it creative and fulfilling.

By blogging, I hope to connect with readers and other bloggers, share some things I know, explore ideas and entertain. 

And in doing so, hopefully inspire others, create a spark in them and create something lasting.

Now you, Dear Reader, might think, yeah, but that last post you did wasn't that good.

Though I certainly want my blog posts to resonate, to amuse, to help people even (I mean, didn't my post on how to have a less traumatic yard sale help the collective good?), the creative process is also self-fulfilling.  I enjoy it and feel I am tapping into my creative consciousness.

And yes, subjectively, some posts might be better than others.

But in the end, I am doing it.  I sit down at the computer and write and then put it out there into the universe. I have been doing it consistently for over a year now. 

Right now I think I can call myself a blogger. 

Maybe someday I can call myself a writer.


 
 
How do you tap into your creative side?



Now on to

The Week in Reviews


 
 
Chef 
 
 
 
 
Miami-born chef Carl Casper (John Favreau) is a chef in an LA restaurant who wants to create his own menu but the owner (Dustin Hoffman) forces him to keep doing the same old thing.  When he is raked over the coals by a critic (Oliver Platt), Chef Casper reacts on Twitter, followed by a public meltdown in the restaurant, which is, of course, recorded and goes viral on the Internet.  He finds himself out of a job.
 
Casper is divorced from his wife, Inez, (Sophia Vergara), who seems awfully supportive for an ex-wife, and when he loses his job, she invites him to return to Miami with her.  The side plot involves his trying to have a better relationship with his ten-year-old son, Percy (Emjay Anthony) who also goes along.  When they dine on Cuban food in Miami, a light bulb goes off for Casper and, in another improbability, Inez' other ex-husband (Robert Downey Jr.) fronts Chef a food truck. 

You don't usually see a chef go from a two star restaurant to a food truck.  It's usually the other way around, but of course, our hero is going to have success selling Cuban sandwiches and, of course, his young son will help him on the food truck. Let the bonding begin. And when his old line cook, Martin (John Leguizamo) shows up out of the blue to help, how can he fail?  Chef, Martin and Percy take the food truck cross country, selling Cuban sandwiches all the way until they arrive to once again take on L.A.

Leguizamo, whose character defies belief by quitting his job in the aforementioned restaurant to join Chef in Miami provides comic relief, but if he hadn't, there wouldn't have been a movie, would there?
 
Lest you think I didn't like this film, you would be wrong.
 
Improbabilities and predictabilities aside, this is a charming film. The food preparation is like watching a lusty food porn film and the writing is intelligent, heart-warming and funny.
 
What Scarlett Johannson is doing in this movie is anyone's guess.  She is on for like 10 minutes as a possible love interest.  And what's with the black hair.  Scarlett?  Trust me.  Blondes have more fun. 
 
Likewise Dustin Hoffman has a small part as does Downey and Amy SedarisFavreau must have had some markers to call in to get all of these heavy weights to do what amount to nothing more than cameos.
 
All in all, this is an enjoyable two hours - funny, heartwarming and pornographic (food-wise that is).
 
Favreau wrote, directed and starred in this.  Though he has acted in other films and had prominent roles, this is the first where he carries the film as an actor and he is engaging and believable.  Young Emjay is an appealing kid and Sophia Vergara...well, is Sophia Vergara, in all of her unbelievably pulchritudinous pulchritude.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...for foodies, food porn.  For everyone else, a sweet film with a heart-warming story and lots of laughs.

To see more of my movie reviews you can find me on IMDB.   Here is a quick link to get to all of them.  Click on the movie you are interested in and then scroll down to Rosy the Reviewer.

 
***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
 
 
The Lunchbox (2013)
 

A lonely wife in Mumbai sends her husband his lunchbox, but it is delivered to a man on the verge of retirement by mistake.

The movie begins with the elaborate lunchbox delivery system employed in Mumbai called "Dabbawalas," a complicated system of lunches being picked up from restaurants or homes and delivered to men at work in what looks to be a corporate ant farm.  This whole system could be a movie unto itself.

Isla (Nimrat Kaur) is a lovely, young housewife with a little daughter and a husband.  But when her husband is at work and her daughter at school, her only company is her "Auntie" upstairs who she calls to through her window throughout the day. 

One day she prepares a special lunch for her husband, but it is delivered to Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a lonely accountant, by mistake.  Saajan is on the verge of retirement and is supposed to train Shaikh, a young employee who will be replacing him.  It becomes clear that Saajan is not happy about his retirement, training his successor or much of anything really.  But when he receives the errant lunchbox, he is intrigued by how delicious it is and soon realizes it is coming from Isla.  They begin a correspondence via the lunchbox and share confessions about dreams, regrets and unhappiness.  Will the older man in the later part of his life and the young, unhappy housewife fall in love and live happily ever after?

Irrfan Kahn is a face you will recognize as the adult Pi in "The Life of Pi" and roles in "The Amazing Spider Man" and other films. Nimrat is a new face I hope we will see more of.  Hawazzuddin Siddiqui as Shaikh is a delight whose exuberance in spite of his incompetence wins Saajan over and starts bringing him out of his hardened shell.

There was outrage when this film was not chosen as India's entry for Best Foreign Film for the 2014 Academy Awards, and I agree.  I am outraged.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is an utterly charming film about two lonely people who bond over food and mutual loneliness.  If you liked "85 Charing Cross Road" or "Like Water for Chocolate," you will like this film.  Highly recommended.
 
 
 
 
The Best Offer (2013)
 

A master auctioneer becomes obsessed with an extremely reclusive heiress who contacts him to sell the contents of her parent's villa.

Virgil Oldman (Geoffrey Rush) is an eccentric, germophobe auctioneer who has surrounded himself with portraits of women.  He spends his time in a vault-like room enjoying his "conquests" gotten in most part by scamming his customers and having old friend Billy (Donald Sutherland) bid for him at auctions.  He is contacted by phone by a mysterious Claire Ibbetson (Sylvia Hoeks), who wants only him to handle her estate but she refuses to appear in person.  Turns out she is agoraphobic and living behind the walls in her villa.  Oldman befriends her and eventually their relationship forms. Oldman has one young, handsome friend, Robert (Jim Sturgess, who you might remember from the wildly romantic "One Day" and "Upside Down," - both films I recommend - and who is a hot commodity right now with six new films in the offing ), who repairs watches and the like, and Oldman confides in him asking his advice on how to woo Claire. They eventually get together only for Oldman to find himself in a gothic web of intrigue and lies.

Directed by Guiseppe Tornatore who gave us "Cinema Paradiso," this is a departure from that film and the critics were divided.  The story takes place in an unspecified European city, but I caught cityscapes of Florence, Milan, Rome and Vienna.  We aren't supposed to know where we are, I guess.

The first half of the film at least is classic film noir with all kinds of moody and intriguing things happening.  It pulls you in.  The controversy happens in the second half.  I liked it despite some stuff that could make you go "Huh?"

And I don't want to be a spoiler, but here is a tip when watching a movie with a major star who appears in what seems to be a supporting, or even worse, very small part.  Just know that that character will have a major part in the plot at some point.  I'm just saying.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...a moody film noir piece in the vein of "Body Heat."  If you like Hitchcock films of the 1940's, you will enjoy this film. 
 



Enemy (2013)
 

A man spots his exact look-alike in a movie and tries to find him.

Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a history teacher living a bland and boring life.  One night he watches a film and spots an extra who is his exact look alike.  He becomes obsessed with finding this doppelganger.  He eventually finds him - Anthony St. Claire (also played by Gyllenhaal -you can't get a more actorry name than that), and each man couldn't be more different.

The idea is interesting but about half way through the film, it all falls apart and you have no idea what's going on.  I should have known I was in trouble when the film started with a fetish scene - men who like to watch women in spike heels stepping and squashing living things.  This time it was a tarantula.  Thank god it wasn't a puppy.  But we were mercifully spared the actual squashing.

The title sequence includes the quote: "Chaos is merely order yet deciphered."

After seeing this film, you will say, "That's for damn sure."  This was definitely chaos that you won't decipher ever.

Jake Gyllenhaal and director Denis Villeneuve teamed up last year for the movie "Prisoners," which was actually a great film.  Here, we have a self-consciously arty film that defies understanding.  Are Adam and Anthony the same person?  Why is there a scene with a huge spider towering over a city?  And the ending?  WTF?

One critic likened this movie to "Only God Forgives."  I hated that one too.

Rosy the Reviewer says...what the hell was this thing about? Jake, what were you thinking?


To see more of my movie reviews you can find me on IMDB.   Here is a quick link to get to all of them.  Click on the movie you are interested in and then scroll down to Rosy the Reviewer.
 
 

***Book of the Week***
 


Life in Motion by Misty Copeland (2014)
 
 
Misty Copeland may not be a household name in the mainstream world, but in the world of ballet, she made history as the first African American soloist ballerina dancing with the American Ballet Theatre in two decades.  This is her story.
 
Misty grew up with a mother who changed husbands frequently and uprooted her family when husbands and finances dictated.  It was a chaotic life that wasn't helped by the fact that Misty was extremely shy and studious.  Her first classes were at her local Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro, California, but her talent was recognized by a local dance teacher with whom she lived until Misty's attempt to gain emancipation led to a legal struggle between her mother and her teacher. 
 
Misty was considered a prodigy and despite not starting her training until she was 13, she advanced quickly winning a local dance prize and catching the eye of the professional companies. 
 
Misty writes of the racial issues she encountered and always felt the pressure as a role model for all of the other "little brown girls."
 
She has worked with Twyla Tharp, toured with Prince and wowed audiences as "The Firebird."

 
 
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you love ballet or are interested in a behind the scenes look at that world, this is for you.  But even if you are just looking for inspiration, this is also an inspiring tale of overcoming odds in a world that was not always welcoming.

 
 
That's it for this week.
 
See you Tuesday for

"How Not to Look Old"


   




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Check your local library for DVDs and book mentioned.


Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database).

Here is a quick link to get to all of them.  Browse the film list, click on the one that interests you and then scroll down the list of reviewers to find "Rosy the Reviewer."

Otherwise, if you want to find me on IMDB directly ( if I reviewed a movie), go to IMDB, search for the movie you are interested in, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."

5 comments :

  1. I just finished watching The Best Offer on Netflix and started to wonder if you wrote a review about it...and here you are! But there is so much else in this post I should thank you for.

    I always love your photos...the first bride photo looks like something out of Vogue. The last marriage photo with the flower headband is my fav tho. And your dad looks darn stylish in those slacks!!

    Two things hit me before I got to your review of The Best Offer. The quote from The Lunchbox,""I think we forget things if we have no one to tell them to."...I may be there. When you don't have children who really cares to hear your memories? I am still thinking about that one.

    Then there is the feeling of resistance pursuing something creative. I just broke out into a sweat thinking about what you wrote. I have not touched the harp I bought since I tuned it a few weeks ago. It sits next to the piano and I feel upset every time I see it. I did more research on youtube looking at lessons and reading library books about playing it before it was delivered...nothing since. There is a huge resistance going on here and you helped me see it. I am ordering The War of Art from the library as soon as I post this.

    I wanted to see The Lunchbox and then forgot about it. I did see a documentary about that lunch system and it is fascinating. Thanks for the reminder about this movie. I have a soft spot for Hindi movies. Have you seen Jodhaa Akbar? I recommend it because it's visually stunning and the two stars are so gorgeous your teeth hurt. She was in Bride and Prejudice...technically not a Bollywood film but fun as well.

    As for The Best Offer...I was drawn into it UNTIL he finally saw her and I started to think it's another old fool falling for a girl. I stopped at that point because it was getting boring. I just went back to it tonight and I am so glad I did. Definitely had the Hitchcock feel tho maybe a bit too long. I enjoyed it tho.

    Great post as usual.

    sazzy

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, sazzy. I love the Hindi films too. I will look for Jodhaa Akbar. And thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments!

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    2. And, sazzy, I have to also thank you for seeking out my review and commenting on this blog post. I brought me back to it and in reading it again, it reminded me to hang in there. You see, it's Monday and I am wondering what to write about!

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  2. Why do I think I need to go back to your original blog post about a movie you recommended? I guess I could comment on it in your most recent blog post but it doesn't seem right.

    I saw The Lunchbox a couple of weeks ago. Great little movie tho I wasn't happy about the ending. There was another quote I loved from it..."sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right station." Wish I could find a link to the documentary about the system they use for lunches...searched and couldn't find it. I know it was on PBS. The movie reminds me of 84 Charing Cross Road both the movie and the book. Have you read that book?

    sazzy

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  3. ADORED 84 Charing Cross Rd book & movie!

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