Sunday, January 29, 2012

Madlib Romance

This week as promised we’re going to build the ultimate Romantic Comedy together.  All you have to do is choose from the options provided.  Here we go!

Valerie is a
a) Spunky teacher who inspires her students to learn but whose luck with men is uninspiring
b) High powered business executive who has sacrificed her love life on the altar of success
c) Successful writer reluctant to let go of a comfortable long term year relationship with her boyfriend from college

Mike is a
a) New coach for the HS girls' soccer team who is charismatic, incredibly good looking, and full of himself
b) A cattle rancher who helps run his family’s meat processing plant in the heart of Montana
c) Struggling musician who pays the bills by moonlighting in the security business

When they meet Mike is annoyed by Valerie’s
a) enthusiasm and optimistic demeanor
b) ambition and drive
c) seeming superficiality and desire to win her co-worker's approval

While Valerie is put off by Mike’s

a) arrogance and lack of feelings
b) Rural lifestyle and slow pace
c) Opposite views on everything from politics to the meaning of life

Mike and Valerie get lots of opportunities to aggravate each other because
a) The principal assigns Valerie to help Mike connect with his girls and turn the soccer team around
b) Valerie’s boyfriend dumps her right before their scheduled couple’s retreat at Mike’s Ranch, forcing her to take a casual friend  she has no connection with
c) Valerie’s company hires Mike to beef up security due to some vandalism and threatening letters

After some real comedic hilarity and some touching moments too, Mike and Valerie’s blossoming relationship is suddenly torn asunder when
a) Valerie mis-connects the dots and comes to the conclusion that Mike had an inappropriate relationship with a former student and got her pregnant
b) Mike finds out that Valerie’s company trying to put his family slaughterhouse out of business
c) At the instigation of her colleagues Valerie tells Mike he’ll never succeed in his dream and should focus on a “real” career

All hope seems lost until
a) Valerie finds out Mike was only helping his former student get back on her feet
b) Mike realizes Valerie isn’t personally responsible for her company’s actions at the same time she formulates a plan to stop her boss from carrying out his plan
c) Valerie’s brother helps her realize her friends are shallow and she should be encouraging Mike to pursue his dreams, just as their dad encouraged her when she was starting to write and others said she’d never succeed

This sets the scene for a frantic trek to reunite because
a) Mike is about to get fired due to the circulating rumors
b)  Mike is about to sell the ranch to try and save his family’s business
c) Mike is about to bypass a local battle of the bands to start attending night school

Fortunately for us we can finally relax and enjoy the reunion when
a) Valerie stands up for Mike in front of the school board and entire community, exonerating his name and proclaiming her love
b) Valerie convinces her company to call off their actions against Mike’s business through an impassioned speech coupled with a revelation about some underhanded dealings of her boss which gets him fired, then racing to the bank where she arrives just in time to stop the sale and they both profess their love for one another
c) Valerie, with the help of Mike’s band mates and a compassionate organizer of the event, get Mike to the competition in time where he couples a winning performance with a heart rending diatribe before the crowd of how he would do anything to not lose Valerie, who confesses she was wrong to try and keep him from pursuing his dreams and will love him no matter how “successful” he is in the world’s eyes

The End!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Recipe for Romance

While on vacation recently in Colorado, thanks to my friend Jenny and the power of DVR, Heather and I had the opportunity to catch up on some of the romantic comedies we have missed, and I use that term lightly, over the past few years.  There's nothing wrong with romantic comedies; they are generally entertaining albeit very predictable.  For those of you that haven't watched enough movies of this genre to figure it out (and that would be approximately 2), let me give you the breakdown of how a romantic comedy reliably runs itself out.

1. "The Intro": Guy and girl meet.  Guy and girl are instantly repelled by each other's seemingly opposite personality traits.

2. "The Buildup": Guy and girl are forced into several zany situations.  Guy and girl bond, in spite of all of their differences.

3. "The False Summit": Guy and girl realize they have fallen in love.  They are finally coming together as a couple and headed for happily ever after when...

4. "The Crash": Boom!  Something happens to tear them apart.  This can be due to an unsavory act of one of them, or a misjudgment by one of them that leads them to believe the other has done some foul deed.  Often a protagonist is involved in creating or revealing the incident, also known as "the wedge".

5. "The Blues": Guy and girl break up and we suffer through 15 minutes of viewing their utter misery.  One of them is miserable because they have lost their true love, the other suffers because their heart was broken by what the first one did (or was perceived to have done) to them.  A good depressing soundtrack, as well as a montage of time-compressing snippets gets the point across while minimizing our discomfort to the shortest time possible while making us long for the couple to find the happiness they both deserve, and can only find in each other.

6.  "The Comeback": Guy or girl finally comes to their senses and realizes that the misery they are living in is far worse than whatever it will take to mend the broken relationship.  A trusty best friend is usually involved in this revelation.  There is often some sort of dramatic mad dash to find the other party, make amends, and prevent them from taking some life-altering action that will keep them apart forever, such as marrying the wrong person, or getting a sex change operation.

7. "The Happy Ending": Guy and girl are reunited and get married.  The wedge who tried to keep them apart gets their just deserts, unless they made a dramatic turn to support them during "the comeback".  Trusty best friends are there to share in the happiness.  Key up the upbeat music and roll the credits.  Hooray!

That's every romantic comedy you've ever seen, in a nutshell.  The key ingredients to add to the above recipe to create a great movie are like-able lead actors who have good chemistry, snappy dialogue, and well-crafted zany situations to pull the characters together.  But as multiple successful Hallmark movies have proven, even with lackluster writing and subpar acting, as long as you follow the above formula you can satisfy many viewers.  Stay tuned for my next blog, where we will build the ultimate romantic comedy plot together, using the power of the above standard format, coupled with madlib style choices for you to fill in the blanks!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Going Viral

I still remember my first laptop.  After years of being tied to a desk, I suddenly found myself liberated, able to enjoy my computer virtually anywhere - in the car, at the library, on the toilet.  I don't recommend that last location - the laptop throws out a LOT of heat.

The freedom of the laptop was generated by two events.  Cheaper electronics, bringing the laptop into my price range, and the introduction of wi-fi.  It wasn't long before Heather had her own laptop, and we entered into a digital utopia of sorts.

It's been a few years since that first heavy, clumsy Toshiba.  My replacement, a comparably svelte HP model that, at under $500 was half the price of the Toshiba, has been a faithful companion for a couple of years now, but has now passed away before its time.  Unfortunately, it came face to face with the reality of today's dangerous cyber world, and was infected with a computer virus.  This was not the first time I've had a computer infected, but it was the first time it wiped out my system.  The antivirus discovered and quaranteened it, letting me know that it had deleted one file.  I'm not sure what file that was, but apparently it was critical to allowing Windows to open executable files, which means my computer still works fine, until you want to do anything.  Everything looks normal, but nothing works because it's corrupt and broken on the inside, kind of like Congress.

To make matters worse I can't even format the hard drive and reinstall Windows, because opening the command prompt is no longer an option, and besides, computers these days don't come with Windows disks, they come with the backup installed on the hard drive, which requires opening a program to initiate the reinstall.  Did I mention I can't open programs now?  You see the dilemma.

Faced with laying out some cash to purchase Windows 7 and have someone with real computer skills  install it, when I can buy a new laptop for not much more, and considering my screen has been showing signs of dying for the past few months, I decided not to salvage the old HP.  But I'm not buying a new laptop either.  I have been talking about getting Heather an iPad for a while, and she graciously agreed to turn over her Gateway to me in exchange for a new iPad.  Time for our family to take the next leap in the techno revolution!