Archive for March, 2009

Okay, I admit it—I hate the term “chick flick.” I don’t necessarily hate the movies themselves (although sometimes I do—Kate Hudson seems to have made a lot of stinkers lately), but I hate the idea that they’re somehow a lesser species than the “real thing.”

What inspired this particular rant is the news that the second Sex and the City movie is going to be made. I haven’t seen the first one because, frankly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the series (I kept finding myself going, “No, no, not that guy, you idiot!!” which is no fun for those watching TV with you). However, I found the reaction to the movie sort of…interesting.

So many guys hated it. Not just hated it—abhorred it, despised it, wanted to grind the film into dust and scatter it to the four winds. One day on NPR, I heard an interview with a columnist for a Chicago paper who was organizing a male boycott of the movie, telling his guys to refuse to go with their girlfriends if they insisted on seeing the thing. When you asked these guys why they were so dead set against the movie, their reasons were a little, well, confused. “Too materialistic,” they’d say, as if they’d suddenly become devotees of the simple life (so I guess that means forget about that 50-inch flat panel plasma screen, eh sweetie?). “Anti-male,” they’d mutter, although they were hard-pressed to explain what they meant by that. “Boring,” “awful,” “dumb.” All value judgments that obviously weren’t shared by the huge audiences that actually went to see the movie. And then, the final put-down—“It’s a chick flick.”

Now the obvious response to this should have been “And this is bad because?” Many of the men who were complaining loudly about having to see Sex and the City probably wouldn’t think twice about asking their girlfriends along to see the latest installment of Friday the 13th or Superbad. And their girlfriends, knowing when to choose their battles, would probably go along, although they might do a quick eye-roll when the guys weren’t looking.

My point is that there are lots of “guy flicks” out there, and most women will allow themselves to be dragged off to see them without making a big deal about it because they 1) want to make their partners happy, 2) don’t care that much about what movie they see, and 3) can sit through ninety minutes of something gross, knowing that at least they’ll get dinner or a snack afterward. Guys, on the other hand, throw hissy fits. It’s as if they’re somehow convinced that seeing a movie designed for a female audience will reduce their manhood.

So okay gents, let’s put this out there where it can be addressed. If your manhood is so shaky that it can be undermined by Sex and the City, you’ve got bigger problems than your girlfriend’s taste in movies. The next time she wants to go see something with Matthew McConaughey or Owen Wilson or Colin Firth, think about the last time you took her to see a movie that featured vomit humor or jokes about someone consuming bodily fluids unaware or decapitations, impalements, and zombie lunches. Then just guts up and zip it. If you absolutely can’t bear to watch it, take a nap. Or eat a slice of pizza. Or, if you’re in a place like the wonderful Alamo Drafthouse, have a beer. Have two. It’s only a couple of hours.

And trust me, she’s worth it.

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I’m an e-book convert, and not just because I’m an e-book author (well, somewhat because of that, but not completely!). I’m a big reader (2-3 books a week) and a somewhat big book collector, although that’s sort of accidental, stemming from the previously mentioned fact that I’m a big reader with a lot of books on hand. When I enjoy a book, I want to hold onto it, maybe go back to it and read it again later. For a while, I even sought out hardback versions of books I really liked so that they’d be even more permanent.

Think for a moment about all that entails. Bookcases, to begin with. Lots of bookcases. I have them all over the house, mostly full. Every once in a while I’d go through them and send some books off to the used book store or to Goodwill or the Friends of the Library so I’d have room for more.  Otherwise, I would have had them stacked to the ceiling. Then think about vacations. I always take an array of books along—in fact, I plan which books to save for vacations because I know I’ll like them (nothing worse than dragging a book along and then discovering you’ve let it take up space in your suitcase when you really don’t want to finish it). When I took vacations where I was flying somewhere, I’d always be really torn about whether to bring the books back or leave them behind. If I liked a book I usually ended up tucking it away in my suitcase, crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t put me over the weight limit.

The real problem with all of this was brought home to me when I started packing up to move to a different state recently. I had all these books and they weighed a ton. I’m packing by myself since my husband has already gone ahead to our future home, which means I end up pushing the boxes of books around when I finish packing them. There’s nothing like pushing boxes of books around to make you wonder if you really need to keep all of them after all. In fact, I came up against a very concrete measurement—did I care enough about this particular book to pay to have it shipped a thousand miles?

Which, believe it or not, brings me to e-books. I bought my e-book reader last fall. I’d thought about it a long time, and I got one of the more expensive ones. I’m not going to tell you which one because, frankly, I don’t think it matters too much which one you get. Just pick up the one that appeals to you.

I started seeing the advantages immediately. I no longer had to pack multiple books for vacation—I just made sure I’d loaded a wide selection on my reader. They were (relatively) cheaper than the hard copy books I’d been reading (although not always; publishers need to work on that). In addition, I knew that even though they were around the price of a used book plus postage, the author was still getting a cut of my money. For a lot of readers that may not mean much, but it meant something to me. Best of all, my e-book reader weighed around a pound or so, even loaded with lots of books, and I was doing something to counter paper bloat.

So do I endorse switching to e-books? Absolutely. Do I endorse getting rid of hard copy altogether? Well, no. Let me tell you about my latest trip. I was going to a meeting in a distant city where I was also going to see my DH for the first time in a month. I had my e-book reader along with me, of course, and I was sitting on the plane reading it quite happily. Suddenly, I accidentally hit the page advance, skipping forward a couple of pages. No problem. I just hit the back button. Then I hit it again. And again. Nothing happened. My e-book reader sat there, frozen, and nothing worked to unfreeze it, not even turning it off.

I panicked. I hadn’t brought along anything to read besides my e-book reader because, well, I had all these books on the reader that I planned to read. I was facing four days with no books. When we landed, I immediately headed into the airport bookstore and found a book I had (sort of) wanted to read, then I headed into town, wondering if I’d just acquired a very expensive paperweight. I hadn’t, as it turned out. The nice guy at customer service told me where the reset button was hiding. “They’re computers,” he said helpfully. “They sometimes get hung up.” Which is sort of reassuring, but not entirely. My highly reliable home computer just blew its power supply and was down for a week. If my e-book reader went down for a week while I was depending on it entirely, I’d be in deep doo-doo, as they say.

So no, you can’t do away with hard copy books entirely. But you can certainly cut back. And ultimately, I think you’ll be glad you did, particularly if you have to move.

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