The Book

Beastly: A Book/Movie Comparison

Today, I thought I’d talk about one of my favorite modern day fairy tales. Alex Flinn’s Beastly, which had a movie made of it in 2011. And, well, let’s meet Beauty and the Beast!

In the book, we have Kyle Kingsbury. Gorgeous son of a famous NYC news anchor. Sure, his dad never talks to him, but he shuts up and deals with it. He knows he’s hot stuff, and looks down on everyone else. Doesn’t even notice a lot of people. One day, he pisses off a witch named Kendra, who transforms him into an all-out beast. Hair covering his whole body, no lips, big teeth, claws. A legit beast, he can’t go anywhere without people freaking out, and trying to kill him.

Disney's Beast

Yeah, that’s about right.

Playing opposite him, Linda Owens (Lindy for short). A plain redhead and literature enthusiast, at a private school on scholarship. Works part time to make sure the rent gets paid, because her dad’s an addict. Wears t-shirts and jeans all the time, her hair in a braid. Kyle himself describes her as a nobody.

The movie gives us Kyle Kingston. Running for the president of the high school Green Committee because he’s gorgeous and he knows it. That’s his whole campaign, with no beating around the bushes. One day pisses off a witch named Kendra (played by Mary-Kate Olsen), and she. . . gives him tattoos. And scars. And makes him bald. He is hideous.

Alex Pettyfer in Beastly makeup

Wait, what?

He falls for Lindy Taylor (played by the gorgeous Vanessa Hudgens). A scholarship student who knows how to look cute. Her hair is always perfect, and she cares about the environment, too, because she becomes the Green Committee’s treasurer. She loves Jujy Fruits and coffee from a little coffee shop in the city. She gives to the homeless. While walking down the street with her headphones on, she starts singing out loud. Isn’t she cute? And Kyle sees it, too. When a picture is taken with him and the gorgeous, cute Lindy, he can’t help but stare at her. And she even has a cell phone! Wow, she’s so poor!

Wait a second. . . .

Wait a second. . . .

So, Kyle is shut away in a house in Brooklyn (book). Or an apartment outside the city (movie). He spends time sulking, with only the maid and the blind tutor his father hired as company. He eventually agrees to let the tutor, Will, teach him, builds a greenhouse, starts calling himself Adrian, and grows roses (book). He stalks Lindy, going by the name Hunter (movie).

Due to circumstances made possible by Lindy’s addict father (in the book, he breaks into the house, in the movie, Kyle sees him kill someone), Adrian/Hunter gets Lindy to live with him, through blackmail. She’s angry, at first, but then they start talking face-to-face. So he invites her to take Will’s lessons with him. (Except in the movie, he only starts studying because she’s there. And then he builds a greenhouse and plants roses because she likes roses. Not because he does.)

Without going blow-by-blow for the rest of the differing plots, I’d like to say the movie is shallow. After all, it’s Hollywood. Nobody can be too ugly, right? Unfashionable doesn’t exist in a teen romance! And classic literature? Who’s into that stuff? A cute nerd would be into contemporary poetry, coffee, Jujy Fruits, music and saving the planet! Plus, the climax lost all of its muchness. Quite frankly, it’s disgusting, and ruined one of my favorite books.

This isn’t to say I have a problem with the actors. I thought they all did well, particularly Mary-Kate Olsen as Kendra and Neil Patrick Harris as Will. But the plot itself? It doesn’t get what Beastly is really about.

In short, when choosing between the two, go with the book. It’s much more rewarding.

Falling In Love Is So Hard On The Knees

Alas! Far too long have I been away! But behold, I have returned! And with fresh crazies to fill any quota! Now with exclamation points!

So, what’s new, Mac? How have you been? I’ve been well, thank you. I’ve had better times, of course, and worse ones. But c’est la vie!

Well, I went back to work at a scout camp this summer. Good times. Had a lot of depressing times. In fact, I often would sit in my tent and cry myself silly. But we don’t talk about that. We pretend that it never happened. I also played a very interesting game of chicken with my pocket knife. All this was distressing, because I’ve never been this depressed at camp. Camp has always had the power to make things better.

But this story gets better, in a way. I met a guy. Well, actually, that’s misleading. I’d already worked with him, two years before. We were friends, but I never really thought of him as more than that. He’s not really the type I’d ever go for. Plus, my self-esteem definitely hasn’t been at its highest, meaning I haven’t felt particularly lovable, which has upped my obliviousness by about sixty percent.

Well, that was until I started wondering if maybe this friend might like me. I doubted it, of course, but I still kept wondering. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake the suspicion, and then I started noticing all the good qualities about him, and one thing led to another, and we were hanging out a lot more, talking, hugging, and finally kissing.

For a while there, I can admit, I was pretty head over heels. And it sucked. Because I’m paranoid. And freaking crazy. I wanted so much more than I could get from him (distance being an issue), so it doesn’t exactly qualify as a relationship. Didn’t keep me from wanting more, though.

I had something to lose, and I was terrified of messing it up. Of being too needy, too clingy, too crazy, too emotional, too demanding. Of being hurt, I guess.

Around him, I felt like a normal, sane, happy person. And that’s more addictive than caffeine. I still can’t wait to get my next fix, even though I’ve started to get my life back together and re-realized that I need to do what I want to do for myself, not for him, or any other guy.

He’s what put a temporary halt to my angsting and moaning. Thanks to him, my head’s staying above the water, and I’m learning to tread again. I’m not hoping I’m going to die anymore. To say that he’s my reason for living is beyond stupid. But he has reminded me of why I want to live. And that makes the weight of the world feel so much lighter.

I know it’s not going to last. It’s still just a stupid infatuation, that has finally died back into reasonable levels. Plus, I’m crazy, and he doesn’t deserve that.

I’m still in way too deep.

The Lonely Watches of the Night

It’s been a while. I’ve been pretty caught up in work, and socializing. Arguing with my sister and forgetting about it the next day. Reuniting with old friends. Writing. Going on family vacations. Trying, and usually failing, to step outside myself.

I’m no hero, in any sense. The things I do right I only do because it’s always been that way. I’ve never stepped close enough to the edge to be tempted. I tell myself I’m a peacemaker, and that I can always see both sides of the issue, but I find it so hard to relate to someone who struggles. Me, I just keep doing the things I’ve always done, and have barely made any progress on the things I’ve been trying to do more.

Of course, I want to be someone that others can look up to. To be a savior, rather than just a background character. But that requires looking past the end of my nose. Not as easy as it sounds. I want to help people change their lives for the better. I want to catch them when they fall. But the mind is of different opinions, and I’m trying to keep myself afloat, right now.

Human beings are so fragile. We can be hurt so easily, by a harsh or wrong word. Such a small thing. Yet it can cause so much damage. Years of hurt, all a result of a few words. Sure, the wounds caused heal, but there are still the scars. Maybe not as visible as a physical scar, but it hurts more. After all, psychology says the pain of rejection doesn’t lose its keen sting with the passage of years. It’s pain like that which will cause us to face the dark watches of the night alone, in silent tears, wishing we could be different, thinking longingly of our own demise. Better yet, a complete cease of our existence. We remember every plausible weapon we have, and stop caring as much about what it will do to our family and friends. It just needs to be over already.

This regained fondness for suicide got me whispering a two-word prayer in that darkness–a mantra against it. Help me. Words I find myself unable to say to a living person, face-to-face. I know how to play the game, after all. When someone asks how you’re doing, their eyes are going to glaze over as soon as you start talking about your problems. The appropriate answer must be positive, or neutral at the very least. It’s every citizen’s job to shut up about the bad stuff. Laugh in the open, but save your tears for closed doors.

Yes, I’ve seen It’s A Wonderful Life as many times as the next red-blooded American. I understand how I’ve supposedly affected so many people’s lives for the better. But they’d be fine without me. After all, so few of them ever notice that I’m even there. Not really.

I’d thought I was over this. I realized I wanted death, but I didn’t actively seek it. And I was fine with that. But pleasant, ending thoughts have a bad way of coming back in the dark of the night. They claw at your mind, over and over. Sweet and alluring, to shuffle off this mortal coil, and find an end to the heartaches and thousand natural shocks which flesh is heir to. No more responsibility, no more stress, no more questioning myself. Because there’d be no more me.

And even when there aren’t those sweet thoughts of suicide, there will still be me, sitting quietly on my bed, staring at the open blade of my pocket knife, wondering where to leave a mark on myself. Something that will hurt, but not affect my performance at work. Because I am an idiot, at my core. And the stupid needs to be bled out.

This story doesn’t have an ending yet. Right now, the antihero is merely staring off into the distance, shelling out her To Be or Not To Be. She’s hoping things will get better. But it feels like they’re just going to get worse. Disasters with her not standing as a hero, but cowering, playing the forgettable role of Afflicted Citizen 398. Longing for the affection of one of the heroes, but knowing her place and never speaking up, so she doesn’t even get the role of abhorrent admirer.

But after finally having applied to the local college, she is planning to make use of the counseling services offered–just have to wait to get in. That’s a bright spot. But alas, the dark appeal of death and injury are so very tempting.

Life: it’s such a bother.

To My Dad

Dearest Daddy,

Thanks for being there. It isn’t often I acknowledge you for anything, as I’m too busy with my own life. You’ve put up with so much—you really have the patience of a saint. But, this Father’s Day, looking back, I start to think about all the things you’ve done.

You’ve stuck with Mom all these years—through every fight, and every little shred of her craziness. You never truly objected to being the walking ATM. Instead of offering stories where you were always the hero, like Mom did, you offered great conversation, teaching us little things about a variety of subjects. Thanks to you, I learned how to build my own desktop computer. How to play an RPG. Poker and Blackjack. I knew the biggest and smallest countries  in the world, all the states, and all their capitals long before I ever needed them for school. You taught me to be careful what I pray for. How to mow a lawn. All about having the greatest display of Christmas lights in town. And although as a child I always hated how you teased me (remember that time I broke your foot?), I learned that life is meaningless without a sense of humor, even if the only jokes you can come up with are the stupid ones. Even then, Dad, you could always make someone smile. You always made sure we had fun. Mom would scold you and talk about you behind your back so often, but you still make her laugh, too.

No father is perfect, of course. But all my friends agree: my dad is cool. And this Father’s Day, while they’re all saying they have the best dad ever, I know they’re wrong. In that respect, you could totally beat up their dads.

So, thank you, Dad—from the deepest, darkest pits of my withered black heart—for being exactly the father that I needed. You rock.

Drama Queen

After calling my mother out for something stupid, I’ve been refusing to answer calls from her or my father, and am now closed in my room, unreasonably depressed and hating myself, not speaking to anyone.

Why?

I’ve been asking myself the exact same question. Why am I acting so sophomoric over something so meaningless? I mean, sure, Mom didn’t tell me my cousin’s dog was being put down, but that’s not a big deal.

My best guess? After injecting myself into more dramatic fandoms, I am once again trapped inside that block of helpless depression when I’m away from it. Feeling so down, but so calm. It’s, as far as I can tell, a battle between the practical and dramatic sides of my personality. The dramatic side wants to sit outside in the moonlight and cry herself senseless, dancing to music only she can hear. The practical side finds all of that beyond ridiculous. She’s angrily trying to snap me out of it, putting on a stoic face and wondering what the heck is wrong with me this time.

I think my drama queen self feels bored by the lack of dramatic moments in her life. I have parents and a sister who love me. We’re not perfect, sure, but we get by. I have good friends. The important people in my life are alive. I haven’t been significantly traumatized. All I have is my string of tiny little traumas, and the drama queen is desperately searching for the tragic beauty in each of them, dwelling on it over and over again, until the memories are beyond worn out, and fabricated almost past recognition. When these traumas still don’t add up to her expectations, she supplements them with fiction. I love a character with a tragic backstory more than almost anything, after all.

Fiction, I guess, is my refuge. I get so bored with the complacency of my everyday life, even though I’ve no desire to change it, that I feel the need to fabricate it or find it elsewhere. Nothing can make me feel quite as acutely as a well-written book. The colors sharpen, past the gray drudgery of the life I lead.

I’m too sensitive. My sister wasn’t trying to insult me with all those things she said. She was calling it as she saw it–and she saw well. I am a drama queen. I can see it. But that’s the reflection that keeps my shying away from the mirror.

Favorite Books: Beauty Queens

I am a huge fan of Libba Bray. The woman is hilarious, slightly morbid, and totally my type of person. Which is why it makes me sad when feminists everywhere
Beauty Queens Cover overlook Ms. Bray’s novel Beauty Queens as one of the greatest feminist novels out there.

What’s it about? The fifty contestants of the Miss Teen Dream beauty contest get in a plane crash and land on a deserted island. Not many survive. We have a feminist who wants to bring down the contest, a win-at-all-costs Indian Valley Girl, an African American pre-pre-Med student, a secret wild girl, a transvestite, a blonde, a lesbian former delinquent, a bi hard-of-hearing dancer, a pageant princess, and a couple of supporting girls. All have their own views. Their own problems they don’t want to discuss. And they’re all being forced, in one way or another, to follow what society expects of them.

But on this island, stripped of that society, they start to break those chains.

And of course, let’s not forget the Commercial Breaks. Or they very hot, very bodacious pirates with oiled pecs. Or the other things–agents, warlords, quicksand, psychedelic berries, volcanoes, guns, piranhas, maxi pads and hairspray. All brought to you with an abundance of satire by The Corporation, “Because Your Life Can Always Be Better.”

Whether or not you support modern feminism, this is a book I believe every chick ought to read. It’s a great lesson on what feminism should really be, besides being frakkin’ hilarious!

Another Time, Another Place, Another Eyeroll

Here’s a rare thing. Mac (who believes herself to be on the asexual spectrum) talking about L-O-V-E! Yes, I may be a month late on the subject. But, hey, that’s how I roll.

Love is in the air!

How ’bout a fight to the death with boffer swords instead?

I’d never admit to anyone that I’m a closet romantic. But I have been for as long as I can remember. I usually don’t like stories in any medium (but especially books) that don’t have a bit of romance in them. Sure, it’s annoying when it’s the main plot, but as a side plot, Mac can die a happy girl. And, of course, almost everything she writes has the dreaded R-word. Sometimes too much.

And it makes me want to scream, which is why I’m a closet romantic. I absolutely loathe that part of myself. That’s the girl who gets twitterpated far too easily—the bubbleheaded bimbo who willingly listens to whatever the current object of her affections has to say and agrees with it all, no matter what an idiot he is. Some giggly little brat I don’t even know. But oh, how she loves the drama of it all! The wind in her hair, the whoosh of a cape. The beauty of a love confession. Stars in her eyes, too much air in her brain.

But it’s one of those things I can’t change, no matter how hard I try.

And, you know, at least I get that Twilight was idiotic. It didn’t appeal to my romantic senses, even at my most obnoxious.

Never mind how that didn’t stop me from breaking up with Boyfriend 1 (who was socially awkward, and came off as obsessive) by inventing another guy, who I really considered myself in love with, and wished so badly was real. He was, of course, the hero of all my stories at the time. Say it with me: Gary Stu.

I eventually got over my Stu, and realized what a stu-pid idea that was. And then, in came Big Crush (and later Boyfriend) 2! So much more aloof than 1. Taller. Classier. A better speller! Of course, I was head-over-heels, and my romantic side went crazy. She took over almost completely for two years, and I became the aforementioned giggling ball of a single-digit IQ whenever he was around. Our “relationship” lasted for a month, before he dumped me for one of my best friends.

1 made me feel good about myself—except how he always had his arm around me, making me feel like his Siamese Twin (we even looked alike! Same hair and eye color, within inches of each other’s heights). 2 made me paranoid, because I was never entirely sure about him. I knew he could be a jerk, so I was half-expecting him to give me a big “April Fool!” any second. He was so attractive and so popular among our crowds (AKA the haunted house workers and the down-to-earth drama geeks), while I felt like an awkward outsider, that I was sure he could do better. So why was he settling for me?

Between 1 and 2, I’ve got my share of problems. When I see guys and chicks holding hands or with their arms around each other, I want to tell them to get a room, at the very least. When a guy tells me I’m pretty or asks me out, my initial reaction is to take it as a joke. And just the thought of going on an actual date (I’ve been on a grand total of 2) is terrifying, because what if my idiot romantic side comes out? And I absolutely loathe common human courtship rituals.

Then again, there is hope. Big Crush 3 (who I’m still hung up on) never was even remotely likely to become a boyfriend. He’s six years my senior, and you can very obviously tell—partially because I look about 16. But I got my feelings out of the way and told him, just like a practical, logical, cool-headed chick should. Part of me thinks it was stupid, because things have been awkward between us since, but the other side feels it was the right thing to do. I tied the romantic up in a corner for that one, and pressed on. No heartbreak, no tears. Facing what I fear.

But it’s been over a year since that momentous day. No new Big Crush (the only kind of crushes I really get). And the only guys who want to be around me are buddies from work, my dad, and my male best friend, who is whiny and emotional and very, very annoying (who also claimed he was in love with me). Then again, not many guys ever really wanted to be around me. I have some kind of antisocial vibe going on that drives them away. I have discussed this phenomenon repeatedly with friends.

Still having the romantic side, of course, I do want to fall in love. But it’s terrifying, at the same time. I know it won’t be Happily Ever After. Love takes work, blah blah blah. With me, though, all those little pet peeves about a person (even someone I love) tend to build up—a massive mountain of disappointments that will finally break, leaving me hating those whom I once professed to love. I’ve yet to find a return from that. Time doesn’t fix it.

Worst of all, I’m scared I’d end up like my mother—a crazy woman married to a fantastic guy, but she doesn’t see it, and all she can do is complain about him behind his back—in front of the kids or anyone else who happens to be listening. Taking everything from him, but returning practically nothing.

Between all that, I wonder why I don’t have a boyfriend. And a guy at work bet me I’d be married by this time next year.

Not unless hell freezes over, it would seem.