Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Countdowns, Redeemable Characters and More Countdowns

The date for chemo has been set. I talk about that below. First, I have updates on Craig's garden. The ladybugs have never returned. The skunk is still skulking about, but that hasn't mattered because none of his plants have born produce. I think it hasn't been consistently hot enough for the corn. I'm not sure what his tomato problem is though I suspect that because of his proximity to the beach, there hasn't been enough sunshine. The weather here has been really weird this summer. I wanted to ask him about other things in his life, but he started ranting about Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome [it's a long story that won't make any sense unless you were these for the event in question] and I couldn't talk for laughing.

Treatment Countdown

I've got a long list of things I need to cook and freeze in the next three weeks, because that is when I begin chemo. I've been a very good patient about not looking up the side effects online. I drive Jon crazy enough as it is. However, I have been officially told by the newly minted and cute as a button Oncology Resident last week that the fatigue will knock me on my butt. That, among other things that may happen, will make cooking a challenge. So, I'm going to stock up while I can as I did before the last surgery. I'm lucky enough to be friends on a few social networks with some of my favorite chefs. Thus, I'm working with a lot of solid advice on how to freeze some really tasty things. I'll be going to the LA Farmer's Market this week for a Year of Fun lunch with an old friend. That is a great place for meats and bones and just about anything for some serious cooking.

I was much relieved to have some time before the treatments begin. I had been concerned that they would start as early as this week, and I have a lot of stuff to do. [I'm also relieved that the push wasn't urgent. That means they were truthful that these treatments are just precautionary] Hopefully, I'll be busy enough to not dwell on the treatments. And no fussing at me. My plans do not include a lot in the way of running around the city. For most of my tasks, I'll be doing no more physically than my daily exercise allotments allow. I'm behaving myself, relatively speaking. Many of you know how much a notion like that rankles my sensibilities. The only exception may be some actor wrangling I'll be doing sometime next week. That's always a lot of excitement. And a bit of excitement now and then is good for you, right?

Joe and Simon and Rik and Vincent – Falling from Grace and Other Dark Matters

Warning: Spoiler alerts for some films and TV shows – not ours. Also, strongly held opinions and dissing on other films and some potty language

Jon and I were in a pitch meeting a few months ago ostensibly bickering with one of the key players [Please note, we don't generally argue with people who may give us money for films. This was an unusual situation] over what he called films with a puzzle. Jon and I considered his examples to be mindfucks, pardon my language. These are not the kind of films we like to watch and they are certainly not films I'm interested in making. The two he was most enamored with were Shutter Island and Old Boy. My apologies to those who enjoy that sort of thing, but I find such films highly annoying at best and infuriating at worst. In the case of the former, I never saw it, because I figured out the big secret before it was release. One of the trailers gave away too much. At any rate, it's not the big puzzle itself that bothers me. It's being put through an ordeal with a crappy pay off at the end.

Warning!!! Major Spoilers to all sorts of films!!!

I consider a payoff to be crappy not because it has an unhappy ending, but because it was an unfair ending for the lead character. If it is sufficiently established that a character is doomed from the start and it is clearly shown that there is no hope for the character to escape his or her fate, I can accept what happens – no matter how tragic. For example, James Cole in 12 Monkeys was an extremely dangerous convict. He begins the film as a condemned man. His death in the attempt at doing something noble and selfless is acceptible. It is a better death than he could have hoped for. Okay, you say, he was a literally condemned man. What about a guy who just gets crewed over by life? Can a tragedy that's fair happen to him? Yes, I give you Maximus in Gladiator. For being a loyal servant to the Emperor, his family is killed and he is condemned to die. There is even hope that he may win his freedom in the ring. But for Maximus, the only thing that would be fair is to have his revenge before he dies and joins his wife in paradise. Maximus never fears death. And after his family is destroyed, he embraces it. The only question for the audience is will he find justice and will Lucilla escape a very creepy fate with her crazy-assed brother, Commodus. I was even ready to accept John Anderton being 'boxed' in Minority Report. He was a doomed character whose life was in shreds because of inescapable grief. I was just as happy that wasn't the case.

Why do I bring this up? I've been having discussions with some readers about when it is okay to let a character's fall from grace become a complete tragedy. I've been causing some alarm amongst my readers with my interest in and admiration of the very dark themes in Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) and Ai No Kasubi (The Space Between). I received a near panicked note (I mention with permission) when I wrote about being distracted by The Space Between. 'Do you KNOW what happens to those characters???' it read. The panic was particularly keen as I had just started A Soldier's Destiny. Well, of course, I know what happens to those two men, but I have no interest in following suit with my writing. In fact, I was so perplexed by the ending of that extraordinary series of novels that I'm negotiating an interview with the author to find out why it ended the way it did. I really need to know. But I'm not, as Jon is implying, obsessing about it. At any rate, I prefer to spin tales like some of Hayao Miyazaki's (keeping with the Japanese themes) where the leads are put through great trails and suffering but find a way to prevail. Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro) is a favorite example. The big tension in his work is How in the hairy heck will they get out of this one? The characters are often transformed at the end, but it is always fair and happy. And as Jon correctly points out, sometimes there are no trails at all. The characters just hang out and groove for a while.

I admit that I am messing with Rik and Vincent big time. They will be tested as individuals and as a couple as never before. And just when you thought you knew everything about them, more secrets are revealed. There are thrills and chills and laughter and tears and lots of white-hot passion between the guys, but I'm certain that no reader will be left with the compulsion to look me up from thousands of miles away to politely but firmly demand answers as to why I put them through THAT kind of hell with THAT kind of payoff???!!! Okay, I'm more than a bit obsessed with finding answers.

Now, about Demon Under Glass and the trails of Joe and Simon. Since the series has no five year episode plan, how Joe ultimately decides his fate or how is fate is decided for him is not relevant for for the web series or future books. And as for Molinar's appearance in A Soldier's Destiny which is set quite a bit into the future, the one thing he refuses to talk about is Joe McKay until Rik and his Foundation make certain guarantees. He implies that there is much to learn regarding the Doctor. I won't go further because of spoilers. Thus, for now, we want the reader and the viewer to enjoy their adventures as they work their way through what we hope is a very long character arc where they are both pushed outside of their comfort zone. The leads are game for whatever we can throw at them. Garett Maggart has made some interesting suggestions of his own (some of those will be in the Demon Under Glass interview).

DraggonTV.com Countdown

And this brings me to The Countdown to the launch of DraggonTV.com a new website that will stream independent shorts and features from all genres. The goal is to give filmmakers a place to safely stream their works at full resolution and complete length in the hopes of attracting distribution. To showcase how the site will look, we're starting with Demon Under Glass and a comedy short, 15%. We'll also be running sample ads like the Demon series promo and a book trailer. If you know any authors looking for fresh, new ad space, let me know. We'll be running a buy one month get one free special. This will kick off the weekend of August 14, 2010.

I'll post a couple of photos from the upcoming photo shoot featuring the three Demon Under Glass lead characters (Joe, Simon and Ethan). I'll save most of them and the best of them for the DraggonTV.com's Demon Under Glass page.

Stay tuned.

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