***Lots of spoilers. If you haven’t seen Unbroken and don’t want to know what happened in it, stop reading and run away!***

I watched Unbroken last night and I’m still thinking about it. Some movies burrow deep into a viewer’s brain and stay there for a long time. Especially the ones that tell unbelievable stories that really happened.

Unbroken shows Louis Zamperini being bullied as a boy. It shows him ridiculed as a teen. His brother encourages him to train as a runner. He believes in him. Eventually Zamperini believes in himself enough to become an Olympian. War disrupts his life. His disabled plane is ditched in the pacific and he is one of three survivors. Two come through many weeks of unbearable conditions, from storms to menacing sharks, from attempting to eat a raw bird to beating a shark at its own game, they conquer incredible odds, only to be rescued by the Japanese and forced to endure torture and deprivation at the hands of a cruel prisoner of war lord. The Bird takes particular sadistic pleasure in tormenting his pet Olympic athlete, inflicting beatings and endurance feats that would kill almost anyone. But not Zamperini. He survives it all to come home to his family and eventually marries.

This reads like a lot of movie. A full story, all inclusive. And it is. It’s a wonderful, beautiful, awful, inspiring movie that’s difficult to watch at times and impossible to forget. Yet, all I’ve written about it so far merely beat out the gist of the story. There is a wealth of undercurrent, of subtle emotions, and such powerful impressions that it’s like a calm ocean roiling with so much life and heart and guts and grit beneath its surface that it’s like watching a dozen stories at once. Louis Zamperini, the Italian misfit. The runner. The soldier. The survivor. The survivor, again. The survivor, yet again.

I came across a documentary about him on TV several months ago, so I knew some of the story the movie didn’t cover. Like how he reneged on his promise to God to devote his life to him if he survived his ordeal in the lifeboat. For a while. He went wild after he got home, plagued by PTSD and was on a horrible path, until he attended a Billy Graham crusade and turned his life around. All that is understandable.

What is not understandable is how he was the man he was throughout his wartime ordeal. How does a human being, who at that time is not blessed with a major faith in God, survive what Louis Zamperini survived? Most people, period, would have died at the first ordeal, yet this man kept on and on, day after day, until he came home. I don’t understand it. Maybe it’s not understandable. It is, however, incredibly admirable. And encouraging. And inspiring.

Unbroken is Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut. A very impressive first, indeed. I can’t wait to see what story she shows us next.

Unbroken Trailer

Three years ago today I started this blog. It was a blind leap. No, actually, it was a blog impaired leap of faith in my love of writing, screenwriting, movies, music, books, photography and the many inspiring, funny, happy, sad, tragic glorious things life brings us every single day. I wanted a place where I can write about whatever is on my mind or captures my attention at any given time, and interact with other people interested in those things too. That’s exactly what Dreams of the Purple Koala has become.

Why do I choose the words blog impaired? That’s a story that really belongs in a Glitcherella post. However, it’s crucial to the reason I was hesitant to start another blog.

Yes, I had a blog before this one. Had being the operative word. It was on Posterous, which no longer exists. Blog or  hosting site itself. After I’d been there a couple of years, Posterous was bought by Twitter. Not too long after that it was shut down. My debut blog was titled Ephemuria, and was a sort of magazine of me that I really enjoyed putting together. Fortunately, I saved all my posts there. I’ve posted a few here…a couple of flash fictions, essay type things, poems and photographs. I may do an eBook of the material that went into that blog someday.

The reason it left me feeling blog impaired no matter how much I enjoyed doing it is that other than friends and family I gave the URL to it never got a single outside visitor, view, like, or comment. Years of climbing the walls around the publishing and screenwriting worlds made that kind of rejection easier to handle than it would have been otherwise, but it was difficult.

I’m almost positive the lack of activity was caused by a glitch (of course) in the setting up process. I kept getting ahead of the prompts and could tell something wasn’t right, but I never found a way to make sure it was visible to the greater web, though I tried whatever I could whenever I could. Even though I was almost positive that was the problem, it did a bit of a number on my confidence. All those lined up zeros over the life of a blog are impossible to ignore, regardless of the cause. (Early on I thought it was going well when I racked up 600 views pretty fast. Then there was a notice saying they would no longer be counting bots…zap…zero time)

It took me some time to be willing to try again. I eventually researched hosting sites and decided WordPress was the place to give it another try. In the middle of the night three years ago, I set up Purple Koala on my phone. Not the best way to do it. Especially when my battery ran out and I had to finish hunched on the end of the couch, tethered awkwardly by the too short charging cord.

It wasn’t easy to put myself out there again after my Posterous fiasco. It’s still not easy at times, because I don’t know how the activity this one gets compares to “normal”. What I do know is that it compares wonderfully against my previous experience.

In the three years it’s existed, Dreams of the Purple Koala has had 1,985 views (approximately, since I can’t find an overall view counter after the latest app update), 189 followers, and at last notification some time ago 500 Likes. While these are not earth shaking numbers, I’m sure, they mean a lot to me. Especially after my previous blogging experience. They have reaffirmed my faith in my love of writing and thinking and dreaming.

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to my followers, to everyone who has stopped by in passing to take a look at a single post, to those who have commented and interacted, and for the Likes that warm my little purple heart. I’d love more comment activity, so feel free to leave a single comment or start a conversation, if something catches your attention.

I hope you all enjoy learning and living and dreaming with me.

Glitcherella, my Murphy’s Law infested side, tends to stick to technology to get tangled up in. Tonight it was technology related shopping.

I was grocery shopping in Walmart, minding my own chocolate buying businesses. Okay, I got other things, but not so strangely the chocolate section of this shopping event is what stays front and center of my cart item recall. Milky Way, for the curious fellow chocoholics.  There was a display table prominently positioned for late Father’s Day shoppers. I circled it slowly, in case something good was there, like the harddrive DVR I got one year at such a good price I still think the sticker was a mistake.

Suddenly a Nikon Coolpix digital point and shoot practically leapt into my cart. Um, I helped a little…. Even my old, er…old, old one still takes better pictures than my phone, so multiples of my current megapixels count were just too tempting. Did I mention that it was for a great price? The slightly metallic purpleness of it made it a thing of beauty that matches my dreaming koala hue. Of course I helped it leap.

Big, huge (let’s quote Lela here and make that big, “honking” huge, which concludes the quest for my Futurama quote of the day) mistake.

Apparently, Glitcherella really, really wanted a new camera to torture me with. I have never seen such a shopping disaster in my entire deeply devout shopping life.

Once the groceries were lugged inside and secured, and chocolate cake had been eaten (priorities, you know), I got the camera out of the box. The theme of the night being what it was I shouldn’t have been surprised.  My beautiful new camera was smeared with chocolate! Yes, you read that right. Even a chocoholic does not want a chocolate coated camera! Sheesh.

I must have been in shock, because I actually cleaned the dried chocolate off…the lens cover, part of the front, and a bit of the side. It looked halfway okay and I was really curious to see if it would actually work. I went to put the battery in. The battery compartment door fell off! What the–?!? As I started putting it all back in the box to return it, a glint of light winked (sarcastically) up at me off a scratch by the edge of the lens cover.

Of course I was/am furious. I’m also sensible. I went right for the receipt, called the store, got my figurative hands around the distant throat of a man in electronics and told him exactly what happened. He didn’t even blink (verbally). One has to assume that a customer calling late at night to make sure there will be no problem returning a scratched…broken…chocolate covered camera is not so far outside his norm that it would make him express, at the very least, mild surprise. Jaded much. He said no problem. I said thank you. Then I wrote it all down, including his name. Glitcherella knows all about documentation.

Being an imaginative type, I have a theory of what happened. Someone bought the camera. Said someone’s little chocoholic junior saw it, chortled “Oooh, purple! Shiny!” (my imagination made the grubby handed child a Browncoat; no clue why since Browncoats are good people). Grab, smear generously with melty chocolate, drop harshly, frantic parental repackaging, returning, pokerfacedly saying they just didn’t like it, accepting refund…aaand skeddalling like the scoundrel they are. The store people never checked inside the box. A potential Father’s Day gift for some lucky man who will never see it almost made me happy instead.

The moral of this unfortunately true misadventure in electronics acquisition? There is such a thing as too much chocolate…on a camera.


Never let Glitcherella go shopping!

I watched Jupiter Ascending last night. What I’m left with now is more a mental montage of images, thoughts, ideas, and feelings than a coherent story to ponder. While I was watching I was aware of the plot and how it played out, but there was just so much going on onscreen that the finer points were buried.

That’s not to say I didn’t like it. I did. There was a lot to enjoy. The FX and cinematography were striking, the cast was solid, and the through line of the story compelling. I got it because Sean Bean is in it and was not disappointed in any way by his performance. Channing Tatum has really grown on me over the years. He’s a solid leading man now…and looks great with pointed ears! Mila Kunis was good, as well. She looked really beautiful in the elaborate wedding costume, though the pale purple dress was my favorite piece of clothing of the entire movie. Perhaps it was a little too Oscar ready for the setting, but it was really pretty. And I am partial to purple, you know.

There were some serious issues at the root of Jupiter Ascending. The idea of the earth being owned was disturbing. Even moreso that in the framework of this particular story it was a farm for the time stretching properties of juiced humans. One of my favorite things was the way that after her unexpected rise to royalty and ending up owning her homeworld, Jupiter went back to her old life, humbled and appreciative. That she also had a secret space age elf lord for a boyfriend and a pair of her own flying boots was the icing. Forget hoverboards in our time. I want those boots!

The thing about the fight, fight, fight imagery overload is that, for me at least, I start to get imaginary worlds battle fatigue. Don’t get me wrong. I love science fiction and action movies, ships, aliens, their cities, and landscapes. Always have. Always will. I just regret the way new movies often forget that just because you have awesome new technology that gets awesomer with every passing second you don’t have to cram every bit of it into one movie. George Lucas Syndrome. We all know what I’ms a talking about, don’t we, JarJar? I need more moments like the pristine snowfields of Hoth, marred only by the palpable heat and stench of a life saving eviscerated steed to rest my eyes and my mind from the frenetic, flaming image jammed background of the alien worlds where I live for the duration of a movie.

However, throw in Sean Bean, with hidden scars from the wings taken from his back, and that’s all the subtle, angst ridden mind and eye rest I need. Though I would have loved to see him fly briefly across a solitary sky.

Jupiter Ascending certainly provided a jam packed Entertainment O’rama. Not to mention a brief and subtle answer to where crop circles come from. I have a feeling that a second watch might provide more little did-I-really-see-that gems…if I can get my eyes to stay off the cool, shiny ships…and boots…for long enough to notice.

Jupiter Ascending Trailer #1 US

After I watched the old TV movie And the Sea Will Tell, I was so fascinated by the real life murder mystery it depicted that I tracked down the book and read it as well. Vincent Bugliosi was a prosecutor and author most famous for the Manson case and Helter Skelter. There was something about his presentation of real life crime that humanized it in a way that made the story compelling and creepy, edging right into scary.

And the Sea Will Tell is about a couple sailing the Pacific and stopping for a time on the idyllic, and as it turns out dangerously isolated, island of Palmyra. Their sojourn was interrupted by the arrival of a young couple low on supplies and high on volatility. Bugliosi won acquittal for the young woman in the case. The mystery of whether the younger adventurers were murderers and just what transpired on that island left me so creeped out with a big echoing WHAT THE HECK? that I never entirely forgot it, even though it’s been quite some time since I watched, then read. That’s a serious combination of real life events and compelling storytelling.

The reason it’s on my mind now is that Vincent Bugliosi has died. When I saw his name, I immediately thought of that intense movie and book and the eerie creep factor hit me again. I may never have read his most famous book, but And the Sea Will Tell left me remembering Vincent Bugliosi with respect, as the prosecutor with a gift for translating the real life horror of true crime into stories that grab you by the imagination and refuse to let go. Apparently forever.

The course of this article by Joe Bunting makes a point about breaking rules being a part of pursuing art. In that spirit I took a good hard look at some of the words and phrases he lists here, and have to admit he has some good points.

There are things about the way I write that lend a certain rhythm and feel at times that I know aren’t technically shining textbook examples of written perfection. I do them anyway, because I like the end result. I write by instinct more than anything else. If it was good enough for Asimov…that’s all I need to know about it.

Going off the writing rules rails like that intentionally doesn’t mean I’m not open to considering ways to make my writing better. When I read an article like this, several points will stick with me

The “To be” one is something I’ve been making a conscious effort to get better about for a long time. To me this is the kind of thing that takes extra thought right in the middle of writing. It’s a pain and it drags me out of my flow, but it’s worth that if I can train myself into stronger phrasing.

The case made for avoiding “very” is a good one. Put the most simply, being exhausted is a much more descriptive way to say someone is very tired. As a person who struggles with exhaustion that digs much deeper than even very tiredness, this one hit home and I won’t easily forget it.

I’ve always been a bit too fond of “ly” words. While I do think they can lend something useful to prose, this article’s example of how much better an alternative can be makes me hyper aware of the difference now. I’m sure I’ll still blithely use them, but I’m also sure that I’ll cautiously consider potential better ways to express my intentions.

I think there are way too many people all over the internet, and the world in general, trying to insist that they have the secret to writing bliss and success (often charging a fortune to impart it). That might be more feasible if writing was a one way street, with rigid rules that keep nasty accidents from happening. In my opinion writing is more a beautiful beach, where there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy it. One person may only want to bake themself into a lobster wanna be, the next is ensconced under a huge umbrella with a book, while another spends the whole day in the water. None of those are the right way or wrong way. They are each one of many ways that end in wonderful memories of a perfect day at the beach. My way of writing may not work for anyone else, but theirs won’t work for everyone either. As long as each way works for the person doing the writing, each person is doing it “right”.

This article is presented with a sense of camaraderie that leaves us with ways to help our own way. And that’s why I’m able to learn from it.

When the screenwriting competition results season comes around this year, I can’t bemoan having all my screenplay eggs in the Nicholl basket like last year. The ScreenCraft Sci-Fi Screenplay Contest recently came to my attention and I entered my feature length science fiction screenplay in it.

This one doesn’t have the huge cash prizes of some of major players, but the top prize is four figures, which is certainly not too shabby. Along with that comes a phone call with a top Hollywood literary manager. With my history of almosts, winning is not likely (this is my hard won survivor’s attitude), but the other prizes are nice too. Plus, the finalists are judged by an impressive featured judge.

My main thing this year is that I’m diversifying my chances of better results than last year. Somewhat. This is one of the scripts I already have entered in the 2015 Nicholl. It’s done well otherwhere, and sat out last year. And it’s been tightened (again) and polished (again), in hope that it’ll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.

I could so easily segue into what a hard knock life it can be, or even rhapsodize about the possibilities cradled in the arms of our friend tomorrow. But it’s nearly three in the morning (which, coupled with insomnia is why goofiness attempts to hijack my brain), so I’ll just wrap this up with the one thing I am absolutely sure of.

I love writing screenplays. With a passion. Anything beyond that is icing. Once I get over the hard stuff that tends to come after Fade Out is typed. Living with my own movies in my head is its own prize beyond compare.


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