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Friday, July 17, 2009

Whimpering in the dark - Kathleen O'Brien


I absolutely get Twilight.

Disclaimer: I’m not a true Twilight fanatic. He’s cute, but he’s too young for me, and vampires aren’t my secret thrill. Still. I completely understand the people who are obsessed by that book/movie.

When I was their age, I went to the same movie over and over, too. Mine was Romeo and Juliet, with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. I was bewitched; I couldn’t get enough. If I could have had the projector implanted in my head, I would gladly have let them saw open my skull.

Today, decades later, I’m still the same. I fall in love with a film, and I’m driven to watch it over and over and over again. (Last of the Mohicans)

Five times. Ten. I won’t say twenty, not out loud. But…I simply don’t get bored.

My patient husband is mystified. He tries to be amused. “Do you think,” he asks as my daughter and I walk out the door for one more viewing of Moulin Rouge, “that it’ll end differently this time?”

He can’t understand, because he watches movies for one reason: to find out what happens. Once he knows, he’s finished. The second ticket is ten dollars wasted.

I’m different.

Though it sounds crazy, I don’t much care “what happens.” I am an emotion junkie, and every time I go to a new movie, or read a new book, I’m hoping this will be the one that captures me. The one that makes me feel, and feel Big. No holding back, no common sense, no safety net.


I want the one that makes me fall in love with the hot guy (Robert Downey Jr., Paul Newman, Edward Norton). The one that creates a world I never want to leave (Hogwarts, Manderley, a galaxy far, far away). The one that makes me cry (The English Patient) or laugh (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) or sing (Amadeus).

And did I mention falling in love with the hot guy? (Daniel Day Lewis)

Once, when I was watching the A&E Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth), I sat on our couch, wringing my hands and whimpering with horror as Mr. Darcy came riding up to discover Elizabeth Bennet prowling around his estate. Tension, humiliation, fear, oh, God…

My husband patted my hand. “Relax, honey,” he said. “Pretend it’s happening to her instead of you.”

Oh, yes. That’s it. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s ten dollars well spent. Over and over and over again.

As a writer, I try to remember what these movies have taught me. It’s not really about “what happens.” It’s about making people feel something, and feel it Big.

When I get letters from readers who tell me that they read one of my books years ago, lost it, and had to chase down another copy so they could read it again, I’m on Cloud Nine.

The day someone tells me they read my book and whimpered, right there on the sofa, right in front of their mystified husband…well, if there’s a Cloud Ten, I’ll be there. (Ewan MacGregor)


Kathleen

18 comments:

Nancy J. Parra said...

OMGosh, Kathleen, you are sooo right on this. I go to see them again for the emotion that comes welling up in my chest and other places when I see them... Like the movie "Love Actually" - I own it and even after seeing it over and over- I still laugh and cry and want to see it again.

thanks for the great post. cheers!

Michaela Is Wondering said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michaela Is Wondering said...

I totally get what Kathleen is talking about. If I had to admit how many times I've watched Dirty Dancing, Pretty Woman, Gone with the Wind (or in that case, also read it), I'm not sure everyone would believe me. There really is an emotional/physical/psychological (who knows how to pin it down?) high in those special moments in special stories that take hold of you and flat out won't let go. And so I go back to them, over and over. And maybe that's because they really speak to me--maybe even about me--in ways I could never hope to explain but have somehow been "caught" by the writer or people involved in film making. And if someone asked me to NOT go back...for the life of me I wouldn't get why they were asking, why some things didn't just "do it" for them too... no matter what they were. Somehow the intensity that is hit so dead-on is irresistable. And how the story works out or ends is really not the issue. The issue, and I think we can see it in children's addiction to movies they tend to love (like the Wizard of Oz) when they want to see it "gain. again. again." I'm not saying those of us who're grown ups really aren't all that grown up. What I'm saying is that if we've lost the ability to be majorly moved and to want to experience the feeling over and over, well, that's sad. Give me those "power points" of a book or a film I love. I'll be back.~~

11:48 AM

Liza said...

I'm glad it isn't just me who can watch the same movie over and over again and still react as if I don't know how it will end. I can get the same feeling from re-reading books over and over too.

Ann said...

Kathleen--

How elequently you hit the nail on the head! Everyone should have a few magnificent obsessions in their lives that can give them that Big Feel. Just seeing some of your pictures reminded me of some of mine--Where was Ladyhawke on that list, by the way?--and once again I was smiling. Thanks for the day brightner.

Ann

EllenToo said...

I'm afraid I am more like your husband that you. Once I've seen a movie I don't want to see it again but I will reread a book (seldom but I do sometimes)if a long time has passed since the first reading.

Jude said...

Oh man, your husband makes me laugh!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Nancy, you're so right about LOVE ACTUALLY! It's awesome! (Colin Firth, Hugh Grant) LOL...thanks for reminding me I need to watch that again, soon!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Michaela, LOL about you and Pretty Woman! :) I know what a life-saver that movie was, literally! Isn't it just amazing that a fictional story can be so compelling? Thanks for the great, insightful comment!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Liza, you're absolutely not the only one! Sometimes, I'm limited only by how much time I can actually spare, and of course the budget! :) Getting completely captured doesn't happen to me very often, but when it does it feels like a gift from the Fates!

Hope it happens to you a LOT! :)

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Ann, Ladyhawke is on your list, I presume? It is pretty wonderful...all that angst! And what a wonderful device for keeping the lovers apart. Oh, okay...it's all about the hot guy. (Rutger Hauer)

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Oh, dear, Ellen! Does that mean you think I'm as insane as my husband does? :) If so, I hope you're as forgiving as he is. I know it's a little crazy, but I can't help myself.

Is it that way with everything for you? Do you ever get a crush on a song that you can listen to over and over?

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Jude, my husband makes me laugh, too. That's the main reason I'm still so crazy about him after all these years. Well, that and the fact that he puts up with my foolishness! Thanks for stopping by!

EllenToo said...

No Kathleen I don't think you are insane. I believe if you enjoy watching movies or reading books over and over again then you should do it. I just don't. As far as songs go I can remember a few that I would listen to quite often but never more than once in a row. Now the only time I listen to songs is when I am in the car and have the radio on. I am a VERY strange person. It could be the way I was brought up or my age.

Jeff Gibson said...

In 1840, Samuel Kelsey Wylie took ten children, put them in a wagon and hit the trail to Texas from Tishominga, MS. They traveled overland through Arkansas, finally arriving in Anderson County, Texas, which is East of Dallas. It was as far as they could go because the Indian problems were so severe that no one could live west of Ft. Worth. Samuel had recently lost his wife and was making a new start in Texas with his seven boys and three girls. Those seven brothers would become some of the biggest cattlemen in Texas, assist in starting Add Ran College, which became TCU, have a mountain range named after them outside of Van Horn, have a school district named after them in Abilene, have two towns and numerous graveyards named after them. They traveled west in the 1850s and began to round up the wild cattle that Texas was full of. If you were man enough, you could find your fortune out where the West began. They would sell John Chisum his first herd and then take it back a year later. They would go up the Goodnight Loving Trail to Ft.Sumter before Goodnight and Loving. They would stock the XIT, Matador and TX Ranches before the turn of the century. They would control hundreds of thousands of acres of free range and almost 100,000 acres of fenced range in Hood, Erath, Coke, Runnels and Palo Pinto Counties. Bob, James, Tom, John, Hawthorne and Henry would all live to be old men and raise families, but the Indians got Ben Franklin Wylie in 1869. He was shot in the back with an arrow. He is buried in Sims Valley, outside of Stephenville Texas, near the old home place of John, James and Tom.



The Wylie women were something else also. Mollie Wylie was the daughter of John and raised as a famous ranchers daughter. She married and they went to the far West Texas on a land deal that got her husband shot dead. Mollie stuck it out, lived in a tent and made the deal her husband could not. She then married a man named Abernathy and they moved to the Lubbock area. The town of Abernathy is named after them, with her controlling banks, subdivisions and other intersts as Lubbock grew. Molly is one of the mosts influential people of Texas around the turn of the century. She is not the only Wylie woman to do great things. Her sister, Pearl, married a Cage boy, divorced him and went her own way, living in poverty some, even though the Cage family had more land than the Wylie's. She helped start Tarleton College in Stephenville and lived a long and independant life.

The great stories are real sometimes!!! Some could be happening now. Remember, inside a whirlwind is a calm place.

Jeff Gibson said...

In 1840, Samuel Kelsey Wylie took ten children, put them in a wagon and hit the trail to Texas from Tishominga, MS. They traveled overland through Arkansas, finally arriving in Anderson County, Texas, which is East of Dallas. It was as far as they could go because the Indian problems were so severe that no one could live west of Ft. Worth. Samuel had recently lost his wife and was making a new start in Texas with his seven boys and three girls. Those seven brothers would become some of the biggest cattlemen in Texas, assist in starting Add Ran College, which became TCU, have a mountain range named after them outside of Van Horn, have a school district named after them in Abilene, have two towns and numerous graveyards named after them. They traveled west in the 1850s and began to round up the wild cattle that Texas was full of. If you were man enough, you could find your fortune out where the West began. They would sell John Chisum his first herd and then take it back a year later. They would go up the Goodnight Loving Trail to Ft.Sumter before Goodnight and Loving. They would stock the XIT, Matador and TX Ranches before the turn of the century. They would control hundreds of thousands of acres of free range and almost 100,000 acres of fenced range in Hood, Erath, Coke, Runnels and Palo Pinto Counties. Bob, James, Tom, John, Hawthorne and Henry would all live to be old men and raise families, but the Indians got Ben Franklin Wylie in 1869. He was shot in the back with an arrow. He is buried in Sims Valley, outside of Stephenville Texas, near the old home place of John, James and Tom.



The Wylie women were something else also. Mollie Wylie was the daughter of John and raised as a famous ranchers daughter. She married and they went to the far West Texas on a land deal that got her husband shot dead. Mollie stuck it out, lived in a tent and made the deal her husband could not. She then married a man named Abernathy and they moved to the Lubbock area. The town of Abernathy is named after them, with her controlling banks, subdivisions and other intersts as Lubbock grew. Molly is one of the mosts influential people of Texas around the turn of the century. She is not the only Wylie woman to do great things. Her sister, Pearl, married a Cage boy, divorced him and went her own way, living in poverty some, even though the Cage family had more land than the Wylie's. She helped start Tarleton College in Stephenville and lived a long and independant life.

The great stories are real sometimes!!! Some could be happening now. Remember, inside a whirlwind is a calm place.

Julie said...

Great Texas family story! It's true, sometimes the old stories are worth remembering.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

What an amazing family the Wileys must have been! Lots of heroine material there! Texas stories are awesome, as I've been discovering with this series. And, though I write contemporaries, I definitely see that the old stories have a special charm!

What fun to hear from you! I hope all is well with you and yours.