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Random text messages

Random text messages

Yesterday I got a call from someone in Tennessee with a 423 area code. My cell phone has a 423 area code (long, convoluted story) and I sometimes get random calls from people with really thick accents. That’s okay. It happens. I politely told the person that she had the wrong number.

This morning I got two text messages from the same number of the person who called me yesterday. Two threatening, poorly written text messages. I politely wrote back (with correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation). The text messages follow. Fair warning: the messages aren’t polite. (I’ve bleeped-out some of the cuss words so Google doesn’t start associating search results for those words with my site.)

423-xxx-xxxx: Im whoopin your f*ckin *ss u ugly fat b*tch he told you to stop textin him and to loose his number your *ss is mine*!JeReMy&KeLsEy!*

423-xxx-xxxx: Nd stop runnin to jeremy wen i say sumthin to u lol he aint gonna save u he cant wait to watch me beat ur *ss lmfao stupid fat b*tch*!JeReMy&KeLsEy!*

My reply: You have the wrong number. I have no idea who you are and I don’t know anyone named Jeremy.

I haven’t heard anything back from my text message. I could be so snarky with what was written with such obvious class and attention to detail. I don’t think I could say anything better than what was written above.

I think that wins for most random text messages I’ve ever received.

P.S. Don’t harass writers. We’ll blog about it.

Tonight, we write

Tonight, we write

The characters are playing. Specifically: one story, Ride Softly, is pounding to be written. I’m seven pages in, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you consider it’s the most fiction I’ve written in a year (much less in two sittings).

It’s Isis’ story, with a twist. When I write her scenes, I have my eyes closed and the tears stream down my face. There are two scenes that were the hardest: when she died and when her body was pulled from the paddock to the front of the barn by the tractor. The one person who has read both scenes was in tears too while reading it. My other friend who started to read it, stopped before the first scene with Isis, handed the story back to me, and said “I can’t.”

This is one of those stories that will be written, set aside, reviewed, and maybe never sent off any where. When I’ve dealt with death before, I’ve always expressed my feelings by writing eulogies or other poems. I must have four or five poems from Dad’s death and funeral. Basette has a poem, so does Ambush. Stella has a catalog of pictures and videos. Isis is the only one who has a short story. It’s like the act of writing transforms her loss into a full expression where I don’t have to explain what it was like. I can say “Read this.”

The funny thing I’m discovering is that the writing is coming back, full force. Definitely no technical writer voice in this story. I’m getting my style back with the voice of the character and finding humor in her outlook. All of these horrible things have happened to her, and she still finds humor in her friends trying to help her feel better.

This story is a pouring forth onto paper of a single event that is nearly the emotional equivalent to the horrible 18 months with 8 funerals (including a funeral on my birthday) so many years ago.

I had to put my writing on hold since last Thursday (yay sinus-migraine!). No reading, writing, or staring at computer screens except at work. The headache finally cleared up enough to consider writing last night after writer’s group.

Pausing the writing process made me feel emotionally bottled — literally like I had hit a pause button. My connection with Kasane was harder to reach for when I worked with her on Saturday and Sunday. That connection is how I sense and work with my mares. When it isn’t present, then things get wonky. It took over 30 minutes of grooming to reestablish it. (Normally that connection is immediately there.) She let me know, too. She had a PTSD flashback to Bad Trainer days and reacted in a way she hasn’t in three years because I was trotting alongside her on a road instead of trotting next to her like we were lunging (in a straight line). We worked through that successfully and she calmed down.

That episode made me realize how important getting this story on paper is.

Tonight, we write.

Writing mentoring sale from Judith Tarr

Writing mentoring sale from Judith Tarr

I regularly read Judith Tarr’s Livejournal blog. This week she announced her annual sale on writing mentoring. Judith Tarr is a fantastic fantasy / historical fiction author who has authored dozens of books. (Take a look at what she has published over on Amazon and at Book View Cafe.) She is one of those authors who groks horses and gets the details right.

Do you have a writing project that you could use some help with? Want some mentoring from a great writer? Here is your chance — and she’s having a sale!

I took a brief course with her on plotting in fiction. I can’t say enough good things about the insights she provided into my story or about the sheer wealth of information she has. The lady knows her stuff and she knows how to clearly communicate it.

From Ms Tarr’s blog:

And now, the thing I wanted to be sure to put up today. Every year at this time I offer a Mentoring Sale. Old and current as well as new mentees can play. Packages can be given as gifts. If you’re not quite ready now but will be in a couple of months, that’s OK. I’ll bank the hours for you.

Over here is a general explanation of what I do. The rate has gone up to $40 an hour but I’m holding it steady for now. What it adds up to is a one-on-one, you decide what you need, I work with you to get it, ongoing for as long as you want or need, online class in writing and developing fiction. You can start at any point, from first idea to finished ms. needing revision (hello, NaNo participants!). I have done poetry, and can talk to you about nonfiction, memoir, etc.

Here’s the deal: Between now and December 7th, I’m offering 5 hours for $180. That’s $20 off the regular rate. This is time enough for a query/synopsis/sample review and some revisions, a good start on an ongoing novel development or revision, or a fairly in-depth review of a fistful of short pieces.

Another thing I do that may be of use or interest is a sideline that kind of made itself: I’ll look at just the parts of your story that have horses in them, review them, answer questions about them, help with development as needed. Base rate of $75 gets you up to two hours of review and answers; further hours at the regular rate.

Interested? Questions? Email me at capriole at that gmail thing. And do please boost the signal. We like to spread the wealth with this one. 🙂

Which Fantasy author are you?

Which Fantasy author are you?

I found this meme on LiveJournal, so of course I had to take it. I think I actually have some of Tove Jansson’s books from when I was little. I’ll have to check.

Pretty in depth, but the author selection at the end is kinda limited. Good quiz, though.

Your result for Which fantasy writer are you?…

Tove Jansson (1914-2001)

29 High-Brow, -21 Violent, 25 Experimental and -5 Cynical!

Congratulations! You are High-Brow, Peaceful, Experimental and Romantic! These concepts are defined below.

Tove Jansson was a Finnish painter, sculptor and writer. She was part of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland and so wrote her books, including her most famous works, the Moomin books, in Swedish. The Moomin books (1945-70), though perhaps not considered fantasy by some, are nevertheless fine examples of world-building for children, centred around the inhabitants of the Moomin Valley, where a family of white trolls known as moomin trolls live, and always return to, though they occasionally leave for adventures in the outside world. Though many of the Moomin books are pure childrens’ books, Jansson conducted the experiment of letting the series turn more adult as she went along, the last three books (one collection of short stories and two novels) being psychologically complex stories that are just as fit, or sometimes perhaps more fit, for adults. Still, Jansson’s somewhat romantic vision of the Valley as a peaceful haven of family life in the midst of a sometimes frightening and dark world is retained through-out the books. Though she considered herself a painter rather than a writer, Tove Jansson will always be remembered as one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest writer of children’s books of all times.

Read More Read More

Link collection for technical writing

Link collection for technical writing

At different times, I’ve mentored people who are interested in technical writing. I have over ten years of experience as a professional technical writer and some definite ideas about how to get started in the field. A friend of mine asked me for some suggested reading on getting started in technical writing. I collected a set of links as a starting point (see below) and realized other people might be interested in the links too.

To get ideas for manual layout and structure, take a look at some of the available free templates for Open Office Writer and Microsoft Word. For Word, check out Microsoft’s Office template pages. The exact URL will differ depending upon the version of Office you have installed.

Poem: Transfer of Owners

Poem: Transfer of Owners

This poem was written in 1994 at a point when I was going through a traumatic time: financial difficulties, 8 funerals in 18 months (including my Dad), and then the worst of all… Losing my horse.

I felt your breath
soft on my neck
myriad memories
tickling my mind like
from clippers

Luminous eyes
glazed with the day’s work
and the field is
flicking through the stall
washed with bespeckled light
and the thrum of horse flies
and the stench of sweat
and the buzz of Osters
trimming, trimming…

The night is vacant now
scents of cedar and straw
drift through the barn into
my dreams–
twice-wet feet cross the stream
to another’s pasture

Your eyes–my eyes
stare through steel bars,
a stall door of my design
locked against my entry

Open Office: Using Page Styles to Create Unique Headers

Open Office: Using Page Styles to Create Unique Headers

A lady on a mailing list I’m on asked if it was possible to have secondary header that was not used on the first page. In Microsoft Word you can use section breaks to divide page sets. Each section break can then have it’s own header and footer text. If you remove a section break, the header and footer are removed.

You create unique headers and footers in one document in Open Office Writer by using the page styles available in OOWriter. Page styles in Open Office Writer are like creating master pages in InDesign: page features (text, graphics, etc.) are stored in the style. When a page style is active on a page, the style name is highlighted in the Page Styles pane of the Styles and Formatting palette.

Header and footer text associated with a particular style is entered on a page tagged with that style.

The procedure below describes how to create new page styles, apply the page styles, and then modify the headers and footers associated with each page style. You can also use this procedure with existing page styles by starting after after the first section.

Creating New Page Styles

  1. Open or create a multi-page document.
    Tip: To add new pages, use the Manual Break option from the Insert menu. By using this method, you can also change the page number and choose the style for the new page.
  2. Insert Break dialog

  3. Choose Format > Styles and Formatting to display the Styles and Formatting palette.
  4. Click the fourth icon in the palette’s toolbar to display the Page Styles palette. You will use this palette to create, modify, and remove pages styles from this document.
  5. Place your cursor on the first page of the document.
  6. In the Page Styles palette, right-click in the dialog and choose New… from the pop-up menu.
  7. New Page Style

  8. On the Page Style dialog, choose the options for the page style and save changes by pressing OK. On the Header and Footer tab, make sure the options are turned on. (Text for the headers and footers is not entered in this dialog.)
    Tip: You may or may not want headers or footers active on the first page of a document.
  9. Repeat the above steps for however many pages styles your document requires.

Adjusting Page Style Flow: Next Style

Let’s say that you want to automatically have these running headers appear on left- and right-facing pages (except for the title page):

  • The left-facing page header (defined in the Left Page style) will have the document title and
  • The right-facing page header (defined in the Right Page style) will display the page number.

Open Office Writer lets you define the next style that follows a particular style. In this example, the Left Page style would be modified using the Page Style dialog so the Right Page style is chosen as the Next Style.

The Right Page style would also have to be changed so the Next Style drop-down box has Left Page chosen.

Applying Page Styles

  1. With your cursor on your first page, double-click on the name of the style you would like to apply to the first page.
  2. If the style has a header turned on, enter content in the header. Once you set a page style on one page, OOWriter automatically applies that same page to each subsequent page that does not have a style assigned.
  3. Go to the next page in the document. Place your cursor on the page test. On the Page Styles palette, double-click the name of the next page style you wish to use.
  4. If headers are turned on, the header at the top of the page will be blank. Enter a new header for this page and possibly the next if you are using left-right facing pages with different header/footer content.
  5. Check the pages in the document. Later pages in the document should have the second page style you created. The first page should still contain the first page header contents. If it does not, return to the Page Styles palette and double-click the name of the first page style you created. The header content will reappear.

You should now be able to place your cursor on a page and apply any of the pages styles to individual pages.

These instructions were written using Open Office Writer 2.3 in X-Windows on the Mac. The steps were also checked in OOWriter 2.4 for Microsoft Windows.

Additional Resources

Trouble? Suggestions?

If you have any trouble with this tutorial, please leave a comment. I’m happy to update the document.

Edit on October 10, 2008. Updates from comments found on the Open Office Writer forums.

Writing for other blogs

Writing for other blogs

I’ve been investigating other blogging opportunities (see the job board at for an example of the available jobs). I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I’m a good writer with a decent portfolio. I’ve managed to keep this blog for four years–something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep up. (Of course writing on a blog like this doesn’t create the best quality of writing samples either, if you are writing about day-to-day things.)

Any who, one of the jobs on the blog was an ad for writers for a pet-centric web site, The job description included an interest in writers willing to author stories about horses. The horse-specific site is The most recent post I could find was from 2007. Definitely a need for writers on that blog.

I’m not a breeder or a trainer, but I’ve had horses all of my life. My current mare is insulin resistant (more commonly referred to as equine metabolic syndrome) so I have some familiarity with symptoms, treatment, and management for this condition. My real interests lie in the history of the horse (particularly in ancient Rome and Gaul), religious iconography related to the horse in that same time period, ancient and modern tack (and how similar it is!), and how modern day breeds compare to the ones used by Roman or Gallic cavalry. I can write about other topics, too, but those are the topics that come to mind.

I read through some of the posts and the writing wasn’t bad, but most of the articles had very few citations to backup assertions. The researcher in me cringed. When I sit down to write an article, I’m very careful about my citations. In particular, the reliability and quality of the citations. In an ideal world, you can’t rely on only one source for an entire article’s content (i.e., Wikipedia).

Okay, so I might have interest and a slew of article ideas: basics for lunging, Roman cavalry equipment, snaffle bits ancient and modern, how the bit interacts with a horse’s mouth (anatomy based), insulin resistance, and quite a few others. Plus profiles of breeders, equestrians and average people doing things with their horses. Overcoming fear when you lose confidence. All reasonable topics, and I’ve recently developed a good network in NC for interview candidates, too.

I want to research Petlovr’s other sites and the writing quality is okay. The web site is mostly ads before you get to content. Any content produced for the site is their exclusive content for a year. It isn’t that different from a publisher buying first North American serial rights. I couldn’t post anything I wrote for them here. I could write the article on this site, send a blurb to the other blog, and then link the content to an article here (no renumeration). The payment for a 1000 word article is $15.

The tech writer in me thinks okay I might spend 5-6 or more hours researching and writing the article. Quite likely longer than that editing and checking facts. So my payment comes down to $2/hour. It’s better than nothing, plus it gets me a byline on a site — and builds my publication credits.

I’m not sure how writing for a blog site compares with writing for a regular horse magazine (and how it effects my credibility as an author). Definitely something to think about. The time commitment for some of the articles varies. The research-intensive ones will take considerably longer. The history of the Arabian horse in Roman times I’ve considered writing for a breed journal like the Arabian Horse Times.

The freelancer in me is chanting “selective marketing:” send the less intensive articles to the blog and the more involved articles to a publication.

The freelancer in me also thinks that I shouldn’t post this if I’m considering applying for the position.

WEBook — Writing en mass?

WEBook — Writing en mass?

Here is an interesting idea: WEBook. According to the web site, the purpose of WEBook is to:

WEbook is a revolutionary online book publishing company, which does for the industry what American Idol did for music. (Modestly speaking, of course.) Welcome to the home of groundbreaking User-Generated Books. WEbook is the vision of a few occasionally erudite people who believe there are millions of talented writers whose work is ignored by the staid and exclusive world of book publishing. It just makes logical sense that if you create a dynamic, irreverent, and open place for writers and people who like reading to meet, write, react, and think together, the results are bound to be extraordinary. Cue, an online publishing platform that allows writers, editors, reviewers, illustrators and others to join forces to create great works of fiction and non-fiction, thrillers and essays, short stories, children’s books and more.

Interesting site. I’ll have to check it out more. I wonder what publishers think about this new form of publishing?

Posts suddenly appearing….

Posts suddenly appearing….

I’m playing catchup with posts, so if you see posts appearing for earlier dates in March, you’ll know why. I often email posts to myself with notes about things to blog and then forget to post them (or run out of time).

“The Seeker” Sucks, part 2

“The Seeker” Sucks, part 2

In October, I wrote a comparison of the movie The Seeker to the book upon which it was allegedly based, The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. My opinion? The movie sucked rocks and hurled chunks. I love the books and this movie was something abhorrent.

Reading the comments on my earlier post made me wonder what I might find using a search engine. For example, what did Susan Cooper think of the film? What were other discussions saying about the movie?

Susan Cooper was interviewed on NPR on this earlier this year. If you listen to the interview done by Margot Adler, you can ear Ms. Cooper’s concern over the fate of her story as it has been adapted to the big screen. There is also a link where you can hear Susan Cooper read an excerpt from the book!

The site Cross Walk has an interesting discussion that mentions the exclusion of the pre-Christian and Arthurian mythological elements from the film. Apparently, the company that produced the movie, Walden Media, is a “family friendly” organization that produces primarily Christian content and excluded the pre-Christian and Arthurian content. (These items are integral to the books.) This topic is further discussed on another blog, The Wild Hunt.

Movie Web has an on-location visit with the crew and script writer for The Seeker. John Hodge, author of several well known screen plays (including Trainspotting), details the liberties taken with the book’s plot and characters, plus some of the reasons why these decisions were made.

One review from Blog Critics Magazine describes the difference between what the fans expected and what was actually delivered. A telling quote:

During filming in Bucharest, Romania there was a joke on The Dark is Rising set that only three things have been changed from the original 1973 novel: the nationality of lead character Will Stanton, changed from English to American; his age changed from 11 to 13; and everything else that happens in the story.

And another review of the movie from Stylus. I honestly haven’t seen any positive reviews about this movie, other than if you don’t know the books you might like it. And if you see the movie and then read the books, you’ll discover everything that is missing from the (!#@$) film.

The Seeker: Movie vs. Book (Spoilers)

The Seeker: Movie vs. Book (Spoilers)

I have my copy of The Dark Is Rising (both a first edition paper back and a SF book club edition with all five volumes bound together) out and I am watching The Seeker (if you search for it, you’ll find a video of the movie on Google Video). The Seeker is a recently-released adaptation of Susan Cooper’s 1974 Newberry Award-winning book, The Dark Is Rising, the second book of five in The Dark Is Rising series.

I know this book like the back of my hand. I’ve read The Dark Is Rising (#2), The Grey King (#4), and Silver on the Tree (#5) more than 20-30 times. Mom bought The Grey King and Silver on the Tree for my sister and I when we were little. My sister and I were also given copies of Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet series: A Wrinkle In Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. These books were formative for me. They inspired me to be a writer and encourage an intense interest in mythology… which also tied into an interest in history and archaeology. Science and mythology woven together to create something fascinating, captivating.

About two months ago, I saw the trailer for the Dark is Rising in the movie theatre. I knew which movie it was immediately. When it was announced at the end of the trailer, I was incredibly excited. Someone had produced a movie based around a book I’ve always loved. Would they do it justice or butcher it?

Some times a director will take a book and work miracles with it — staying true to the spirit of the work even if the core story has to be modified. Peter Jackson modified some aspects of the Lord of the Rings trilogy but did a fabulous job with the movies. He kept the spirit of the movies even when he had to change sections of the story. Unfortunately the director of The Dark Is Rising did no such thing.

The Dark Is Rising series is held together by a six verse prophecy, the first two verses of which are key items to the story line in the Dark is Rising. The prophecy from the front of “The Dark is Rising”, which appears on the inside cover of the book:

When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back:
Three from the circle, three from the track;
wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning, stone out of song;
Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw;
Six Signs the burning, and the grail gone before.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old;
Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea
All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.

I’m 3/4ths of the way through the movie and the prophecy isn’t even mentioned. There is one point when the Old Ones bring Will into the Great Hall and show him a book supposedly only readable by the Seeker (maybe this is supposed to be the Book of Gramarye?). This book contains a list of five Signs with a sixth that is in plain sight. This text is not in the form of the prophecy listed above.

The Great Hall is barely glanced over. It’s briefly introduced in the scene where the book is handed to Will. After that, it’s assumed that people will recognize the great wooden doors.

Will is never introduced to who the Light is and who the Dark is. Instead of having a discussion of Light and Dark, they have Will lamely use Google to come up with a physics question and ask his father (who is a physics professor in this movie). His father tells him not to worry about it (and acts really distracted). Will leaves the room saying that his father never told him not to be afraid of the dark. (oooo ominous!)

So far they have added some strange stuff. Like a romantic interest for Will in the form of a lady named Maggie — this love interest for Will was never in the book (and feels contrived, honestly). In the book, Maggie was a friend of Will’s older brother, Max, who is teased relentlessly about it by Paul. Maggie has a crush on Max, but Max has a girlfriend who is constantly sending him letters.

Oh, and the book that they give Will to read supposedly can only be read by Will. This is incorrect. In the Dark is Rising, this tome is the Book of Gramarye, written in the Old Speech and readable only by Old Ones. It is the book that imparts and awakens the part of Will that is an Old One. It opens the knowledge and the starts to give him the wisdom to use the knowledge and power he has been given.

The movie Will has no opportunity to have any training. He goes to Merriman once to talk to him about what is happening to him, and Merriman blows him off (which seems completely alien to the character Merriman in the book). The audience is asked to believe that a 14 year old boy would develop the knowledge and wisdom to use these new-found powers. Without training. Without help. In five days. Um… right.

In the movie, Will “expresses” his anger and anxiety by setting trees on fire and blowing up cars (which is over seen by his younger sister). Merriman watches from a distance wondering what he is doing — and makes a comment about doesn’t he know he will exhaust his powers (this is also not in the books).

In the book, he is in a back alley walking home and sets a branch on fire. Playing around, not in anger or anything. The Will in the book has more sense than that. At that point is when the Walker, an older man who used to be Merriman’s servant Hawkin, came out and watched. He corners Will, and Will demands the Sign from him. The Walker has carried the Sign for decades… and is finally released of his burden.

In the movie, it’s Will’s younger sister instead of several Old Ones travelling two or three quests with them) and then several by himself. In the movie, Will and his sister step through time (which doesn’t happen in the book). It’s a Viking raid or something that he is dealing with to get the sign from a shield. He trades a modern day watch for a shield containing the sign to distract the viking warrior from attacking his sister. Sigh. He tells his sister not to mention any of it when he returns. And she over hears a discussion Will has with Merriman. (In the book, the Sign is found on the burial boat of a part-Viking king when Will is out with Merriman.)

Merriman is a middle-aged man instead of what I envisioned (think Gandalf — some one with a shock of white hair and an eagle-beak nose).

The funniest scene I saw is where The Rider plays a medical doctor. Heh. The former Doctor as a doctor. Christopher Eccleston’s lines as the Rider are bad. I know he is a good actor, but the lines they have chosen for him are very stilted. He’s not a convincing Rider, but I don’t think he is given an opportunity to be.

Also the Storm, that provides the reason for everyone to move to the Manor for safety just comes up in a scene. No warnings about it, like there were in the book. No people dropping by to say “Hey you need to come to the manor…”

Whole sections of the storyline have been dropped (not just the ones above, but lots more). Key things that provide characterization and depth. You never have a sense that Merriman is more than just some lady’s butler. You don’t have a feeling of the great sense and awe that Merriman has for the Lady in the book. He didn’t translate well as a character.

Max, Will’s older brother, confronts Will in the book. Oh this is stupid. He time travels twice with family members.

They did keep Maggie as a betrayer and agent of the Dark inside the manor. But again, character development … what’s that?

So in the middle of the Storm, many of the villagers are huddled in the Manorhouse. The entire mansion gets flooded by water. Which is crazy. And Merriman has a sword battle with the Rider (again crazy). All of the Old One’s are swept away into an ominous black cloud that sucks them up and away. Will then discovers that the Sixth Sign is his soul (GROAN) and that he has the power to send the darkness away.

And Will supposedly has a twin brother (who reappears at the end of the movie — rescued). In the book, Will is a 7th son because his mother’s first son died from a lung disease when he was a few days old (Tom). In the movie, Will has a twin (Tom, older by a few minutes) who is taken away when he is only two weeks old. So Will gets to bring Tom home.

Happy Happy. Joy Joy.

The Wild Hunt? Gone. The scene of the joining of the signs with Wayland Smith? Gone. The subtle hints about who these characters all were throughout the mythology of the British Isles, especially of the Thames? Not even mentioned. The significance of the Old Way and finding the Way? (double-entendre of both a Way as a road and a Way as a path towards learning or enlightenment). He does not ride the Grey Mare through the forest. No torment of watching the Rider control his sister Mary.

Absolutely no sense of place in this movie. The book is full of it: the past and the present are intertwined in a flowing way so the scenes move from past to present. In the movie, the time jaunts are hammered back and forth in scenes reminiscent of when the Stargate crew jumps through the gate.

The Walker does not even play a part. The entire story line of the Walker and Merriman’s relationship is missing. Just like much of the actual character development.

OH ARG. They really butchered a good story. Really and truly butchered it.