• When I had first heard about Skyward, it seemed interesting, but I ultimately decided not to read it.  Brandon Sanderson is an amazing author who has become one of my favorites, and the description of the story was definitely interesting, but when I found out it was YA fiction, I decided to pass.  My recent reads of YA fiction have left me disappointed.  However, when Christmas came along, it seemed like an ideal gift for my oldest niece.  And if I was going to do that, maybe I should read it myself, too.  So, I did.  And it was really quite amazing, easily on par with Sanderson’s typical quality.
  • I read the screenplay for Trumbo, and it was really good.  The humor was funny right there on the page.  The moving parts brought tears.  I was astonished at how good a screenplay could be in its raw form.  Then I watched the film.  It was a real let-down.  Awful, perhaps non-existent directing.  Uninspired editing.  Jay Roach has directed some successful comedies, but maybe he doesn’t know how to do drama.  As I see it, they took an excellent script and a cast of capable actors, and they turned it into a less-than-mediocre film.  Not surprisingly, the film lost money, even with only a $15 million budget.  Then again, Bryan Cranston was nominated for an Oscar for his performance, and both Bryan Cranston and Helen Mirren were nominated for Golden Globes.  They did have some moments, but from my read of the script, they were the wrong moments.  The parts of the script that jumped off the page with their brilliance were lifeless on screen.  Perhaps I should go through this exercise with a few more films before I cast judgement.
  • Mr. Robot made waves by breaking the conventional rules of composition in cinematography.  They had a specific story-telling purpose for doing this, and it kind of worked.  However, there are now a whole crop of naive cinematographers wanting to duplicate these shots, just because they think it’s cool, without actually understanding the purpose of it.  Pine Gap was shot this way, and not to its advantage.  I have already had a couple of DPs on my own amateur films wanting to throw in “Mr. Robot shots” for no particular reason.  I’ve read the analysis of this technique, and I figured I should watch the series.  Unfortunately, I know a thing or two about computers and data security.  The show, or at least the beginning of it, is about hacking, but it’s so full of nonsense that I can’t stand watching it.  In episode 4, they actually had the audacity to make fun of 90’s hacker movies.  I’ve seen enough to evaluate the cinematography, so now I’m done watching it.  On the other hand, Mr. Robot also relies heavily on voice-over to relate the inner thoughts of the protagonist, which differ widely from his external dialog.  It has me wondering if I can’t use the same technique to make a film about loneliness.
  • Throughout my life, I have spent quite a bit of time in the Missouri Ozarks.  However, the Ozarks also span portions of Arkansas and Oklahoma.  I have mostly decided that this year, I will take my Spring vacation in the Arkansas Ozarks.  I think I will camp mainly in the Ozark and Oachita National Forests.  There is a long list of sights to be seen within this area, and I am sorting through them and prioritizing them now.  I may also sneak over and check out the Oklahoma Ozarks.  It won’t be a glamorous vacation.  Instead, it will be an easy one, with relatively little driving.
  • I am just starting Elantris, which is Brandon Sanderson’s first published novel.  I’m not ready to call his characters two-dimensional, but let’s say they are simple.  This is a subject that concerns me, because it I find it to be one of the major factors in making or breaking the quality a novel.  Perhaps more importantly, I want to be able to avoid this problem in my own writing.
  • I finished Shetland, or at least the three seasons that Netflix has online.  The accents are so thick, it should almost count as a foreign language film.  I would have to say that the third season was the best.  This is undoubtedly because they took six episodes to explore a single mystery, rather than wrapping things up in two episodes.
  • I just hiked nearly nine miles at Walden Springs, my first time there.  The trails are mountain bike friendly, and there were many cyclists on the trail.  It has me thinking about getting a mountain bike.  My hybrid/utility bike could handle some of the trails, but not all of them.  It could also be a good bike for taking to the beach, if I ever try that again.