Occasionally people ask me where I get ideas for this weekly humor column. I always try to be honest, so I reply, “Drug flashbacks from the 1970s.” However, sometimes I get my ideas from a different but equally as mind-altering source: the readers.
A while back I wrote a column stating that a movie is never as good as the novel it’s based on. I also asked readers for their input on this subject. As you may remember, over 50-percent of last week’s column was comprised of the views and opinions sent in by readers. Creating a column by cutting and pasting other people’s words is by far my favorite way to write. (Kind of reminds me of doing a term paper in college, except the amount of other people’s words was more like 99-percent.)
Anyway, I am pleased to announce that yet another column, this one, will be devoted to the same movies vs. books topic, again with a sizable percentage of words that are not mine.
Sheila M. contacted me and pointed out that you really cannot compare movies and books because they are completely different mediums. She also mentioned that although she reads a lot of books, she really loves movies. She has a good friend who loves novels, and they’ve been debating this topic for a long time. If I had only known that, I would’ve let them provide the words for many of my previous columns. Based on other email notes I’ve received over the years, that’s something I probably should’ve done.
Sheila also explained that a good movie provides a satisfying story in approximately two hours, while a novel can take days or weeks to complete. Movies free up time for Sheila to clean her house. (Don’t tell Sheila that I’m sharing this with you, but she added this: “I have often excused my messy housework by stating I was reading a good book I couldn't put down.”)
Another person who contacted me is Dave L. I know Dave personally. He’s a terrific writer and the author of many books. (I suppose Dave won’t mind if I mention his last name is Lopardo, as long as I don’t reveal his preferred method for avoiding housework.)
Dave wrote, “I firmly believe that when you make a movie into a book, there always seems to be one character missing, and that person is THE AUTHOR. The movie ends up being the producer and director’s INTERPRETATION of the book.”
This is a good point, and it’s the precise reason I would never let a Hollywood studio make a film version of my novel. (Unless, of course, they offered me money. Anything over a hundred bucks would probably do the trick.) If a Hollywood producer happens to be reading this newspaper, my suspense novel is called Purge the Evil, and Matt Damon and Sofia Vergara would be perfect in the starring roles.
Speaking of books, I recently self-published another collection of my weekly humor columns, titled A Matter of Laugh or Death (Parenthetical Comments from the Back Row). It contains 100 of my favorite essays from the past decade. Years ago, I really thought I could get a big publishing house to print and market my books. But now that I know how the publishing business works—apparently they prefer quality material, sheesh!—here is a more realistic plan: if you’d like a copy of my book, send a note to MerryCatholic@gmail.com with your name and address. I’ll mail you a copy, and if you like it, send me a check for 15 bucks. If you don’t like it, mail the book back.
And if you want to turn it into a movie, be aware that I drive a hard bargain.