Book vs. Movie Debate

Photo Credit: Ariel da Silva Parreira

It’s the clash of the titans, the age-old dilemma with fervent advocates on either side.

To read, or not to read—and by this I mean a book before its movie adaption.

I recently went to see Beautiful Creatures and walked away thinking it was an all right movie (Emmy Rossum and Emma Thompson were fabulous). I’d learned that the movie was based off of a book, but I didn’t have time to read it before seeing the movie. Usually, my policy is to read the book before seeing the movie, but according to some of my friends, that may be a backward way of doing it.

I’ll use Beautiful Creatures as a case study because it was the first time I’ve done the opposite. Honestly, I’m intrigued by what actually happens in the book, but I don’t have a burning desire to read it.

For me, that’s the Achilles heel. What if, based on a mediocre or awful movie, I completely dismiss amazing literature? Someone said to me that reading a book before seeing the movie is like having an extended version of a book or being a celebrity insider. You already know what’s going to happen and you’re familiar with all the characters/have an idea in your head of how you want them to be, so watching a movie can be like a reunion with old friends.

Except all reunions don’t end well, which is often the case for movie adaptions.

However, seeing the movie before reading the book could ruin a chance to read the book based on the actors, director, or the overall movie structure. Plus you already know the ending to the book, which could make actually reading it tedious.

After I saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I really wanted to read the book. It helped that the author had a hand in the screenwriting process because he was able to translate his vision into the movie. I felt that I would be getting the same vision, the same essence if I read the book as well. Many times, this does not translate well between movies and film.

The issue is becoming more apparent as more books take on the big screen. For this year alone, 26 books will be adapted into movies. In the next couple of years, as many as 60 books could either wow us or make us groan inwardly when they make their adapted debut on the big screen. The hunger for favorite literary stories to see a larger than life stage is almost palpable in public opinion. As early as 1899 with the Brothers’ Grimm adaption of Cinderella, literary works adapted for movies have proven to be an enduring market.

This still doesn’t solve my dilemma. A good movie should be able to stand on its own, despite any preconceived notions or bias a reader may have. Books and movies are two separate creative entities with different means of expression and should be allowed a judgment based on self merit and not the merit of the opposing entity. I recognize this, and yet it is very hard to do when reading a book and then seeing a movie that had the potential to be good.

Personally, I know that by watching a movie, I’ll either have a strong reaction to reading the book or I’m blasé about it. I’m always interested in new literature, but it would take an exceptional movie to actually propel me to read the book. In this way, the movie is the book’s sales pitch without even intending to be. This either leads to a return on investment for the author, in the sense that audiences will buy more books or an adverse reaction to the author’s work based on a movie.

It shouldn’t be that way, but so often watching the movie before reading the book makes it that way.

I’ll stick with reading the book before the movie, when I can manage it. What do you think?

When Your Christmas Song Playlist Needs a Kick

Photo Credit: Cécile Graat

The answer is when you’re sick of listening to Christmas music. By now, you probably are. Radio stations have started playing it (some nonstop) since the day after Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong; Christmas music is great.

Most people like variety. Any song you could possibly ever want to hear has multiple versions by a plethora of artists. Traditional Christmas carols are awe-inspiring and spine chilling, but sometimes girls just want to have fun and rock out to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Michael Buble, or Mariah Carey. And by girls I mean anyone, unless you are a stickler for tradition.

But sometimes when you’re listening to the radio, the weird comes. The awkwardness sets in when the radio stations try to mix it up. It’s like if you are browsing YouTube and you ever end up in “the weird side of YouTube,” as it is most famously referred to. Radio-wise, you know what I’m talking about—the Christmas songs that probably should have never been considered Christmas songs.

For example, my family has a standing debate on Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby.” I can’t seem to listen to it without cringing. Mainly because Eartha’s voice, which sounds like a rendition of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President.” It just seems like it should be in a 20’s nightclub somewhere instead of blasting from my speakers as I awkwardly sip hot chocolate.

Another one is “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” I get it—it’s supposed to be funny that the father is Santa Claus. But personally, if my mommy kissed Santa Claus, I would have bashed Santa Claus with the empty cookie plate.

So as I was browsing YouTube the other day, I decided to collect the weirdest and most interesting Christmas songs I’ve ever heard. The radio plays some of the songs, and they will never play others or the FCC might be after them. The winners are as follows:

1. “The Night Santa Went Crazy”-Weird Al Yankovic. REASON: Santa commits elf genocide and is a certified reindeer killer. This is definitely not one for the kids unless they realize Santa is already dead (not even then), or people who are still kids at heart.

2. “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”- Gayla Peeve. REASON: Hippopotamuses are not in season. The child should have wanted a snow dog, a reindeer, or a small bear cub.

3. “The 8 Polish Foods of Christmas”- Veggie Tales Christmas Party. REASON: The Veggie Tales are basically eating vegetables (cannibalism) and meat.

4. “Oh Santa”- Veggie Tales (Silly Songs with Larry). REASON: The song description. A bank robber, a Viking, and an IRS agent visit Larry as he waits for Santa. It’s comic because two of the people want money and one might possibly murder him. Oh, and he’s a cucumber.

5. “Christmas Swag”-YTF. REASON: Enough said.

6. “A Very Steam Punk Christmas”- The Men That Will Be Blamed For Nothing. REASON: This is a retelling of ‘A Christmas Carol’ centering on Ebenezer Scrooge. If you turned this up really loud, you would wake someone up or potentially do damage to his or her eardrums.

7. “Christmas Sucks in San Francisco”-The Downer Party. REASON: This song was pretty relaxing. It was also catchy in a sweet way. It was about the lack of December holidays in general.

8. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”-Elmo & Patsy. REASON: No one seems to lament the fact that the grandma was run over by a reindeer.

9. “Christmas Shoes”-New Song. REASON: Every time this comes on the radio, my family and I agree that this is the most depressing Christmas song we have ever heard. Touching message, but just really depressing.

10. “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You”-Billy Squier. REASON: Questionable title, weird vocals, but interesting message and super catchy tune.

11. “Jingle Bells”-Brave Combo. REASON: This instrumental of “Jingle Bells” will make you dizzy even if you’re sitting down.

12. “Christmas Night in Harlem”-Louis Armstrong. REASON:  There is no spoon. Seriously, this is a great song. I love it and it’s not one you usually hear.

13. “Silver Bells”-Twisted Sister. REASON: This song actually hurt my ears and I couldn’t actually hear anything they were saying in the song, except for the chorus.

14. “Feliz Navidad”-Jose Feliciano. REASON: Merry Christmas in Spanish! The music is really catchy and if you wanted to go somewhere warm for Christmas but ended up staying in a snowy area, this song will make you feel like you are there. And you can get a mini work out in with dancing.

15. “I Wish Everyday Could Be Like Christmas”-Bon Jovi. REASON: Christmas everyday would get ridiculous really fast. Not my favorite, but Bon Jovi does an admirable job here in terms of lyrics.

16. “Santa I’m Right Here”-Toby Keith. REASON: A song about a little boy living on the street and what he wants from Santa for Christmas. Unexpected and heartfelt song—I could barely finish it because it was really gripping.

17. “Winter Wonderland”-Ozzy Osbourne and Jessica Simpson. REASON: Ozzy sounded computer generated and this version is almost too syrupy.

18. “Catfish Christmas”-Steve Azar. REASON: I wanted to laugh the whole time. The music video was ridiculous.

I hope you’ve been able to find a break, a laugh, or a dancing queen in one of these songs. To recap, there is a song sung about a hippo, songs by vegetables about eating Polish foods, touching Christmas songs, possibly disturbing Christmas songs, a Christmas rap song, and a song about a specific place. Oh, and catfish in case you need some motivation to get down to your Friday Fish Fry.

OVERQUALIFIED: The Distance Between Rookie and Boss

By Brennon Keys

 Ever been to that point where you don’t feel like doing anything? Exhausted every possible resource? Utilized every skill and colleague? Sick and tired of being sick and tired?

 Yep, I’m there. Been there for a while now. And while I’m sure there’s a calling for me to adjust, I haven’t.

 For those who don’t know me, I’ve always been able to bring people laughter with my life experiences. Especially the negative ones. Why? I don’t have the slightest idea… but I guess this is an opportunity to capitalize on that ‘gift’ (or ‘curse’, depending on your perspective).

 I am a recent college graduate of UAPB (Arkansas – Pine Bluff) with a focus in the print journalism field. Considering the day and age we live in, that’s a killer punchline in itself. I can hear the cynics and frenemies conversing in the shadows, like some chatty old women at the local beauty shop:

 Cindy Nick – “You hear about that guy that went to school to write?”                              

 Fran Emmy – “Yeah… good guy, but he lives in a time warp. Someone help him reset his DeLorean…”                                                                                                                       

Cin – “Just sad. Going into a dying field, and attempting to talk about sensical things? He’ll never make it…”

 Or something along those lines… but I digress.

 A bachelor’s degree used to be the key to financial and social success ‘back in the day’. If you attained one of these, you were on the fast track to being somebody important, someone revered and envied in your neighborhood, your field. Today, in this increasingly globalized and industrialized society, it’s the equivalent of graduating from high school.

 With that in mind, I think to myself, “That’s fine! I’ll still be on par with the majority of young adults, and find an entry-level opportunity that will allow me to show off my work ethic, superb intelligence, amazingly good looks and other gifts. Surely, I’m still ahead of the curve, considering how many high school dropouts I know personally and see regularly between my new alma mater and my hometown.”

 In short, these hopes have proven to simply be wishful thinking thus far.

 Funny thing about all of this is, although a bachelor’s has devolved from a luxury to a necessity, many of the jobs available (I’d go as far as to say the majority) still require you to have no experience or as little as possible. Similarly, on the other end of the scale, the higher-ups in my field laugh (literally, in my case) at recent college graduates walking in their direction with a degree in hand. They preach experience as the new necessity, in some instances over a decade of it. A bachelor’s degree is no longer considered that top-end prerequisite; it has become that dreaded middle ground.

 No sense in approaching directorial, managerial or presidential positions with degree in hand; they will simply turn you around and say “work a little harder, and a little longer”. So why not go for those positions that denied me summer after summer during my high school and collegiate years? Here’s where the story gets hilariously unfortunate… all encompassed in one, dreaded term.


 A word I never knew existed, nor made sense in any context, suddenly masks the “under-qualified” label I’ve sported since I was 16. I carry it with me everywhere now; it’s all the rage. It has become my favorite undesired accessory.

 Going into job interviews and experiencing this shift in social ideology first hand has been something else. Growing up with the traditional mindset of “college or bust”, with two parents who aren’t college educated and who never acknowledged to me that I didn’t HAVE to go to college, it’s extremely disheartening and confusing to hear the interviewer point out my new label, and (in most cases, so far) disqualify me from consideration because of it. It’s discrimination, I tell you!

 How could celebrating a sheet of paper I worked and slaved five years for suddenly take me from being too wet behind the ears to being out of contention? I understand the practical concern (if I were to see greener pastures in my field, I would run to them without hesitation), but most hiring managers don’t understand what’s going on in my distinct field; at this point, there’s very little chance that such an ideal situation will suddenly appear for a fresh college graduate.

 Newspapers have explained to me (again, literally) that the only way positions will open up is if a higher profile position becomes available to a staff member or if a staff member dies. I wouldn’t put my money on either of those possibilities, but it’s a moot point when speaking to someone concerned about their own job security.

 I’m willing to stick it out with a company for at least two years. I’ll take less pay, I promise *sniffles* *shoves hands into pockets* *kicks rock*.

 In the meantime, I’m a proud new member of the Hennen’s Observer: This Week In Review staff. I don’t do this for the money (although I like green rectangles as much as the next person); I love to write and empathize with groups of people who often feel misunderstood, misrepresented or just plain missed. I love the art and I’ll do my best to keep it alive and well. Plus, I’m taking my shot at being humorous (if you laugh, I’ve done my job).

 Shoutout to all my ‘overqualifed’ grads of the Class of 2012! May your future endeavors be successful and prosperous, and continue to push through the setbacks.

Brennon Keys is a former sports writer for the Pine Bluff Commericial. When he isn’t busy pulling his hair out, he works as a freelancer in St. Louis, Missouri.

Tuesday Essay: Mystery File

By Megan Robb

The real questions are: What the hell is this and why is it buried in my Word files?

  1. How did stars like Jim Carrey and Eddie Murphy start their careers?
    1. By acting in movies
    2. By doing stand-up comedy
    3. By going to traffic court
  1. Why was New York City’s traffic court set up in the 1970s?
    1. To help the city’s criminal courts
    2. To entertain with comedy
    3. To provide free shows
  1. How many cases do judges hear each day?
    1. 50 to 100
    2. 1.3 million
    3. 10
 Answers: After doing a little research, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is about the defensive driving/improv groups that apparently exist but I’ve never been fortunate enough to attend. It also appears to be a reading comprehension quiz. And based on the idiocy of question #3, I’m pretty sure I wrote this. The rest is still a mystery.

Contributing writer Megan Robb is a writer, consultant and editor living in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her articles can be found at,, and, as well as her personal website,