Category Archives: Missive

Missive 3 – King of Jazz

Dear Miles Davis,

I was just hoping you could rise from the dead and record a special soundtrack for me called “The Writing Life: Thesis Odyssey.”  If you could get good ole’ Thelonius Monk to help you out, that would be great.  I’ve been listening to you as my writing music for today.  It’s moved me along quite nicely.

I will probably have a track listing, and some more specific comments on your music later, but for now, I just wanted to write to say thankyouthankyouthankyou. Without you, I think I would still be staring at a blank page.


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Filed under Missive, Music, Thesis

Missive 2 — PJack

RE: Fellowship of the Rings
Dear Peter Jackson,

……….First off — congratulations on winning Best Picture and all for LoTR: Return of the King. I know, it’s about six years too late. Forgive me? So, I just want to come out and say that this letter may be more appropriately addressed to the entire adaptation team. That being covered, I’ll just jump in.
……….When I saw this movie for the first time, I had never read LoTR. I had read the Hobbit in 3rd or 4th grade. (I was a fantasy buff at a Catholic school, and I had no taste for Narnia. The fantasy collection into the SJS library was limited. Hence, why I took it on.) But that was my only exposure to the series. After watching Fellowship, I swore I would read all three books before the next movie came out. That didn’t happen.
……….Then, my mom bought the family the extended version of Fellowship for Christmas. I swore I would finish the book before watching it. That never happened. Why? Because I couldn’t finish the book. I was stuck at Tom Bombadil.
……….Whenever I tell a true Tolkien-buff that, I usually have to prepare myself for a rather astonished, “WHAT? I love Bombadil! He’s my favorite part.” And usually I just shrug and say something like, “I was just impatient to get to Aragorn.”
……….And for that, I blamed your movies.  But, nothing to worry about now — I have finished Fellowship of the Ring and watched the extended version of the movie.  On to Two Towers…
……….But before I move on to the next book, I just wanted to make a few observations.

1) Congratulations on making Legolas ALOT cooler and more bad ass in the movie than he is in this book.  

2) Thank you for making Aragorn more awesome and Sam more loveable.
3) (most importantly) I understand that some things need to be adapted to make a book into a movie: for one, pacing needs to be faster, stakes higher and more visible.  However, I didn’t like (after having read the book) how foolish Frodo and the other hobbits seem.  For instance, Pippin, Merry, and Sam light a fire on Weathertop and that draws the Wraiths.  In the book, no such action is taken and the Wraiths discover them anyways.  It seems this way all throughout — the party is cautious, careful, and still the powers of evil manage to find and harm them.  For me, THAT was more sinister and bone chilling.
……….But here’s a question: on screen, everything is visually striking, visually sinister.  In the book, it is only as sinister as our minds make it.  Is it just as true to capture the feeling of the sinister in the look of the Wraiths rather than in the circumstances of the situation?  I have no opinion on this yet.  You imagined Wraiths to be much darker and scarier than I did.  Even with the movie at the back of my mind, your inventions trumped those of my overactive mind on the sinister-scale.
……….I guess what I’m trying to say is that if there was one thing I missed from the book (besides Tom Bombadil who has, ironically, become one of my favorite characters/parts), it was the hobbits’ resourcefulness, facility, and heroism.  In the book, I never doubted Fate, or whatever it was that set the Ring in Frodo’s hands.  In the movie, I really felt what perhaps Boromir and some of the other characters seemed to be feeling: that the quest was placed in the wrong hands.  I just felt sorry for Frodo more in the movie — he seemed pathetic and incapable compared to the Frodo in the book.
……….That’s a bit harsh. Like I said, I understand that adaptations need to happen.  Adaptation is a tricky conundrum.  I’ve never attempted it, so who am I to say anything?

P.S. The action sequences are KILLER!


Filed under Fantasy, Lord of the Rings, Missive

Missive 1 – Dear Jesse McCartney

Dear Jesse McCartney,

I think I listen to your entire canon of music more than a self-respecting 21-year-old girl should.  When I say “entire,” I mean ENTIRE — including the incredibly pop-ballady second studio album, both live CDs, and a smattering of Christmas songs, Disney covers, and others.  I started listening to that playlist last night.  You know, I have 5 hours and 26 minutes of your music.  I don’t know, at this point, whether to call this dedication or obsession.

Anyways, the reason I’m writing is much like it was last time.  In listening to your music, I just have begun to have thoughts about art, about growing up — the usual nostalgia that comes with listening to pop music.  I think the first point I want to make is that, even if I should be grown up, my heart still longs for the beautiful soul type of romance — to be wanted that way.  I think I can match a real-life situation with every one of your songs by now.   There was a time that I used to imagine myself through those scenarios, usually with you as my co-star.  Those days are over.  (The ones of me dreaming that you’d come to CT and sweep me away into the world of music and film.)  I don’t need to imagine most of the scenarios anymore.  I can just remember.  Longing, lust, heart break, knowing that you’re going home with the most attractive person in the room, just a crush, “i-wasn’t-the-one-who-broke-you,” moving on, I’m still here… the usual fare of a pop record.

At the beginning of my sophomore FWT, I wrote this:

Dear Jesse McCartney,

When you were thirteen and I was eleven, your life was what I wanted, my dream.  It thrilled me that you and I shared the same dream. Well, you, me, and about sixty percent of the teenage world population.  What was this dream?  If I want to set this in a noble frame, I’d say it was to make music for music’s sake. It wasn’t about being in a band, traveling to new places, performing in front of a thousand people, and doing photo shoots for POPstar magazine.  I used to save up my allowance so that I could buy that magazine and plaster all the pictures of you onto my wall. (I wonder if it’s different now… now that you’re 21. You may still have your picture in POPstar, I haven’t looked in a while.)  If I’m honest, my dream was not merely to sing, but to perform with you.

Hello Jesse. You don’t know me, but like many people tuned into pop culture, I know of you.  I’ve known of you for quite a while now.  How’s life treating you?  Well, I hope.  You’re still making music, and I’m still watching and listening.  You sound and look good.  Are your dreams the same? Mine have changed quite a bit.

Since eleven and thirteen, I survived high school with only a few scars to show for it.  You’ve released four albums.  I’ve put myself through conversion after  conversion.  You completely changed your image and the flavor of your music.  You were in a three-year relationship.  I got my heart stepped on more times than I like admitting. You’re going tour, starring in a movie, writing hit songs, and probably more than I could even begin to guess.  I’m heading into my second term as a sophomore at Bennington College feeling a bit less like a gawky teenager.

We’ve both grown up some, haven’t we?

Actually, that’s why I’m writing – because we’ve grown up. In a very odd, we’ve-never-met-and-you-live-across-the-country kind of way, I feel like I grew up next door to you or something; not because I know the slightest bit of truth about you, but because when I think about any point in my life, I can connect it with your career. It’s weird that mine is a life and yours in a career. Looking back, I’m glad we didn’t trade…

My big plan: to use your career as the framework for a memoir.  Fuck, I was cocky. A memoir at 19. Nothing had happened to me yet.  Nothing has since then either.  Needless to say,  I didn’t get very far.  For better or for worse, your persona and your music have been integrated in my life since the seventh grade.

For better or for worse, I think you’re up there in my “artistic influences” with Gene Kelly (who taught me how to be a performer), James Joyce (who has taught me how to be a reader), Eudora Welty (who taught me how to be a writer), Salvador Dali (who taught me how to have nightmares), Jane Austen (who taught me how to romanticize), Leonardo DiCaprio (who taught me how to swoon), Johnny Depp (who taught me the art of disguise), Julie Taymor (who taught me about spectacle), Tennessee Williams (who taught me about whiskey), Mary Martin (who taught me how to fly), A.A. Milne (who taught me how to imagine), Martin McDonaugh (who taught me about humor), Oscar Wilde (who taught me about deals with the devil), Tamora Pierce (who taught me about worlds), Jason Mraz (who taught me about wordplay), Walt Disney (who taught me about happy endings)… I think I’ll end there.  Well, what would your parenthesis say: who taught me how to obsess? who taught me loyalty? who taught me about boy bands, bad lyrics, and bad blog posts?

Jesse McCartney (who taught me how to dream)

Even if my dreams were wrapped up in you for a while, I’ve disentangled myself and live at a comfortable distance from that knot (though some may disagree.)  It was good for me to have pipe dreams about going on tour with you, or running into you in some mall.  Somehow, in doing so, I never truly feared the size of my dreams.

To be honest, I am beginning to fear such things. Maybe that’s why I still listen to your music with such guiltless pleasure.  It’s a connection to that fearless dreaming.  I’m looking forward to hearing your new album.

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Filed under Jesse McCartney, Missive, romance, Self