Monday, September 24, 2007

Jennifer Garner's T-shirt, Cabot Cove, Sprained Ankles and more

Patty here…


I went to a screening of THE KINGDOM on Saturday night at the Pacific Design Center. The film, which opens next Friday, stars Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, and Chris Cooper. On the surface, it’s a story about a special team of FBI investigators who travel to Saudi Arabia to find the men behind a terrorist attack on an American compound in Riyahd, but in reality it’s a high-octaine cop buddy movie. You know the kind I’m talking about. Two mismatched investigators (Foxx as the FBI guy and Ashraf Barhom as a Saudi police officer) find common ground and friendship while solving a crime. It was a fun ride even though the filmmakers asked me to believe that the FBI would send Jennifer Garner to a devoutly Muslim country in a tight t-shirt that hugged curves like a German sports car. Talk about (willing?) suspension of disbelief.

I have only one beef about the film. I couldn’t understand 50% of the dialogue. Okay, so maybe my hearing isn’t what it used to be. Too many loud rock concerts in my misspent youth, but the background noise seemed excessively loud. Second, the actors mumbled. I know, I know. They were trying for improvisational reality, but what happened to ENUNCIATION, people???!!! Action movies don’t feature much dialogue, so of the words spoken, I want to hear all of them in case they're germane to the plot. In one scene, the actor playing a newspaper reporter kept her hand over her mouth most of the time so not only could I not hear her, I couldn’t even read her lips. Harrumph.

Amateur Sleuths

Speaking of willing suspension of disbelief. On Sunday I was part of a hilarious panel at the monthly meeting of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America with three of my favorite author-people: Susan Kandal, Harley Jane Kozak, and Robert Levinson. We talked about the challenges of writing a series featuring an amateur sleuth and how we try to earn the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief (think Jennifer Garner in a tight t-shirt) when our heroines discover body after body. My friend Tom Sawyer was at the meeting, too. He’s a novelist and former head writer for the hit TV series MURDER SHE WROTE, which managed to kill off over two hundred people in its successful run on the small screen. He has a coffee mug he uses every day, one of the many gifts given to the cast and crew. One side says “Cabot Cove Coroner.” The other side says something like “If you lived here, you’d be dead by now.” I like the idea so much I may just steal it.

From left to right: me, Harley, Susan, Bob

Physical Therapy

I sprained my ankle about a month ago. It’s getting better, but my doctor thought I needed some physical therapy. She said when your ankle sustains a bad sprain it forgets how to walk properly. I wasn’t sold on the concept, but I made a PT appointment nonetheless.

Enter Ingrid-from-Sydney. She made me stand on my left foot for thirty seconds with my eyes closed. I wobbled but managed to keep my balance. Then she asked me to do the same, standing on my right foot (the sprained ankle). I lasted five seconds. She told me torn ligaments leave scar tissue. She had to apply ultrasound and then massage my foot. So far so good.

“It will hurt.”

“Um…okay,” I said, looking at Ingrid’s slender fingers and thinking: How bad it could be?


That’s how bad it could be. The only reason I didn’t bawl like a baby was I didn’t want Ingrid-from-Sydney to think I was a wuss.

“You’re a crime writer,” she said, as I gasped for a pain-free breath.

For a moment, I was flabbergasted and somewhat distracted because I didn’t recognize her name from my mother’s Christmas card list.

“Yeah. How did you know?”

“I used to work in a bookstore in Sydney. I recognized your name.”

“No kidding? When did you work there?”

“Nineteen ninety-six.”

And I thought the foot massage was painful. “My first book didn’t come out until two thousand four. You must be confusing me with Jane Smiley.”


Gak! Nothing like physical therapy to make you humble.

North to Alaska

I’m off to Anchorage, Alaska on Wednesday to attend Bouchercon, The World Mystery Convention. I’m on a panel about—what else?—blogging. "The Author and the Internet" features authors Jason Pinter, Patricia Smiley, Aliza Sherman Risdahl and Frank Wydra talking about how 21st century tech affects a profession invented in 1350. Moderator: L.C. Hayden, Thursday, 11 a.m. in Cook. Hope to see some of you there!

Meanwhile, Happy Monday!


  1. Patty,
    Have a great time at Bouchercon.


  2. See you in Anchorage!

  3. So sorry about the PT, Patty. Is this another case of the cure being worse than the disease?

    Have a great time limping around Anchorage.

  4. Rae, so glad I'll see your smiling face up in the last frontier but I'll miss James O and Louise. Next time...

  5. I'm so jealous! I'd LOVE to go to that conference.
    Have a wonderful time.

  6. Oh, Patty, the ankle massage sounds terrifying! Can't wait to see you in Anchorage... happy to carry your bookbag, too!

  7. I OFFERED to be your driver for the duration of the bad ankle, but noooooo, you choose instead to go to pt. Well!

    My doctor has slender fingers--one of two reasons I chose her.

    Hope Alaska is good to you, and for you. Ride; don't walk.


  8. Jennifer, hope you make it to Bcon next year! Miss C, I'm bringing my pom poms to cheer you on. Groupie, I've changed my mind. Are you still available to drive me to Anchorage?

  9. I can leave tomorrow right after I get the car serviced--have a 10 a.m. appointment!

    I am willingly suspending my disbelief, and we can pick up Louise on the way. We'll all wear our T's.


  10. Ohhhh! You me and Louise. What a great road trip that would be. Geehaw! I have another PT appointment at 10:30, then I'm ready to rock and roll.

  11. P.S.
    You hit on a pet peeve of mine. Music and sound fx so loud they drown out dialogue. That's why I like staying in my cave and watching DVD's with subtitles. Useful, too, for British movies where you can HEAR the dialogue but can't UNDERSTAND it.

  12. Paulie, maybe we can get Our J to translate those British movies for us.