With only one month left to complete my 2021 goal, I’m on track. I’ve “finished” the screenplay. After much effort, it’s finally below 120 pages, currently at about 116 pages.
You’ll notice the word “finished” is in quotation marks. Is a creative work really ever finished? Generally, no, because the creator will tweak the work until the very last minute. (Eric Kripke said he continuously rewrote a key scene for the pilot of Supernatural until they filmed it. And he still wasn’t happy with it.) But my reason for not being done is less esoteric.
I’m trying an alternate beginning, based on feedback from my screenplay course instructor. It’s still exposition-heavy, but I see no way out of that because the sci-fi world has to be set up quickly. The alternate would just get into the action a bit more quickly. The downside is that some lovely prose that Dark Space author Lisa Henry wrote would be lost.
But my biggest struggle is the ending: it’s pretty weak. I didn’t mind the book’s ending (although a few reviewers on Goodreads did), but it won’t do for a movie. For one thing, it violates the first commandment of Robert McKee‘s 10 Commandments of Screenwriting: Thou shalt not take the crisis or climax out of the protagonist’s hands (or, no “deus ex machina” endings). So now I have to come up with an ending where Brady is the master of his own destiny, or rather, gets himself out of the jam the other main character put him in.
I am a far cry from MCU’s (the Marvel Cinematic Universe) intended audience, being the wrong age and gender. Having grown up with DC’s Superman and Batman (from television) I knew very little about Marvel’s heroes. So when Marvel got into the movie business, I was a total newbie. And you know what? That’s okay. We neophytes serve a purpose, too, bringing a fresh perspective to the stories. When you know nothing about the history of Iron Man or Captain America, you get stories that are entertaining in their own right.
So, I’m not here to see a life-long interest brought to life. I’m just here for some good drama, good acting, and a good story.
This is why, after the third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I was lukewarm about the series. I didn’t understand what the “Flag Smashers” were fighting for. Or against? A little research tells me they are anti-nationalists. Yet their agenda for this series centers more on the fall-out from the “reverse-blip,” Iron Man’s finger-snap towards the end of Endgame that brought back half the world’s population after a 5-year absence. Gosh, wanting to get rid of half the world’s population seems pretty radical. And their motto “One world, one people” doesn’t really fit that scenario.
One writing goal for this year: write for an hour a day. The other writing goal for 2021: write a screenplay.
How do you read a novel? Do you skim through the words to quickly get to the next point? Do you savor each word or phrase for its meaning? Me? I’m a visual sort of person. So when I read a book, I tend to play a movie in my head.
For the past few years, I’ve been a part of the m/m romance community on Goodreads. I’ve never been a big fan of romances, so my interest in the gay subsection of the genre surprised me. I discovered some excellent authors and some really great books. A few of those books have stayed at the forefront of my mind. They are so entertaining and visually descriptive, I think they’d make terrific movies.
One of my very favorite books is a science fiction “space opera” called Dark Space. (I am a big nerd science fiction fan.) It’s written by Lisa Henry, an Australian author of gay fiction, who has become one of my favorite authors. I first read the book in 2018 and its sequel Darker Space became one of my “top 7 books of 2018.” (Dark Space would have made the top 7, but I had to limit my list to 7, and I liked the sequel even better.) In the summer of 2019, when I broke one leg and then fractured and dislocated the other—requiring hospitalization, surgery, and rehab—I re-read both books while in the hospital because I needed something to enjoy and savor.
The story is by turns funny, heartbreaking, and absolutely frightening. It’s entertaining on so many levels and told so vividly, it’s begging to be made into a movie. It won’t of course, because there’s little room (i.e., money) for gay romance in Hollywood. Hollywood might buy it if one of the main characters were female, but that would negate one of the main premises of the story.
I confess, I watch a lot of shopping television. All sorts of channels, HSN, QVC, ValueVisionShopNBC ShopHQ, even JTV (Jewelry Television). And I buy a lot of stuff—because this one thing is going to make my life better, easier, more productive, whatever. (Well, maybe not the JTV stuff, but it’s so pretty and sparkly!) Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t.
In these trying times, having something delivered to your door is better than going out to shop in a store. Plus, in my case, I don’t have to lug whatever it is up 3½ flights of stairs—IF the delivery person isn’t lazy and leaves the package by the mailboxes. The downside is you’re tempted to buy something you hadn’t planned on buying.
A few years ago I bought a Fire TV Cube but never hooked it up. Yes, it was one of those unplanned purchases from HSN. But, in my defense, I have a dumb tv, and the Cube would make it smarter. Plus, it was 1/3 the price of what it now sells for on Amazon.
Given my new-found interest in the Marvel universe, I decided it was time to look into Disney+. I’d paid money to rent several movies, and even bought Avengers: Endgame because it’s not available for rent. When I discovered Disney+ was available through Amazon devices, I thought “I have one of those!”
So, I hooked up the Fire TV Cube, having first unhooked the DVD player (which I haven’t used in ages) because my 2008* dumb TV has only 2 HDMI ports. I’ve now been watching Disney+ nearly non-stop.
The first thing I watched was the live action version of Lady and the Tramp. It wasn’t too bad. The original, animated Lady and the Tramp is among my top 15 favorite movies, and it was the one movie I’d wanted to see ever since Disney+ launched. (The animated version is also available to stream, although I do have it on DVD. Oh wait, I disconnected my player.)
The second thing I watched? The Mandalorian. Although I saw the original Star Wars the theater—three times!—and read the book, and bought the soundtrack, I haven’t been a rabid fan of any of the sequels, or prequels. The first movie (NOT Episode 1) was advertised as Star Wars, NOT Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope. Nor did it contain the two scenes of special effects that George Lucas added when The Empire Strikes Back came out. (Sadly, that version isn’t available any more and I much prefer it to what the movie is now.)
Nonetheless, having watched the Disney Gallery, which focused on The Mandalorian behind-the-scenes stuff, I now have not only the Marvel universe to explore, but also the Star Wars universe, So, yay! More time to waste save money by not watching the shopping channels.
Incidentally, The Mandalorian is terrific. I especially love the artwork featured in the end credits and the music. I may have to buy that soundtrack as well. My only complaint is that I wish Werner Herzog had been nominated for the Emmy (Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series) instead of (or at least in addition to) Giancarlo Esposito. Not that I don’t enjoy me some Giancarlo Esposito, I just thought Herzog gave the better, more ominous performance.
*As for the TV, I know it’s a 2008 model because I bought it specifically to watch the much-anticipated season 4 premiere of Supernatural, “Lazarus Rising.” Hmm. It’s been 12 years, a myriad of improvements, and drastic price reductions since then. I think it’s time for a new television. I wonder what the shopping channels have to offer…
In cleaning up my blog tags, came across the tag “Agents of SHIELD.” Interestingly, I recently binge-watched the entire series from the beginning. This time I added viewing the pertinent Marvel movie at the appropriate time to see if it would add any insight. It did, but mostly in reference to mentions of “Barton and Romanoff,” “Pym particles,” and “the Sokovia Accord.” Not necessarily essential, but interesting.
The movies I watched included Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War (my favorite). Somewhere along the way I also watched Thor: The Dark World, Ant-Man, and fast-forwarded through much of Thor: Ragnarok (because it was awful).
I finished the movies with the Avengers duo of Infinity War and Endgame, (Boy, were they depressing.)
Goodreads tells me I’ve met my reading goal for this year—or rather my personal reading goal. Then again, I aimed low, aiming for 50 books. AT least that’s double last year’s goal.
I can’t take all the credit, though. It’s mainly the result of the three challenges I’ve signed up for. Two are annual challenges, one is a bi-annual challenge. (Goodreads also have monthly and quarterly challenges. And probably more that I don’t know about.)
Towards the end of 2018, Goodreads said I had read 73 “books.” Considering I read a couple more after this tally, that brought my total to at least 75. That’s 200% more than the goal of 25 I’d set. Pretty good for someone with a (semi-undiagnosed) learning disability and possible dyslexia. But, to be fair, some of those “books” were short stories and novellas. And most of the “full length” books were on the short side, under 300 pages. Still, I’m taking time out to congratulate myself.
Then again, the majority of those books were of the m/m (male/male or gay) romance genre. And to think romance novels never interested me. I blame it on Diana Gabaldon and Lord John Gray, specifically, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. It wasn’t a romance, per se, because there was a lot going on— mystery, political intrigue, military action, and a near-death experience. But romance figured throughout.
But the year in books did include some diversity. I’d planned to do a “Sunday Seven” featuring the non-gay-romance books I read, but there’s actually ten. So let’s call it a Tuesday Ten. Here they are, in order of longest to shortest (pages, not words).
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, Time’s Best Novel of the Year 2004 and many other awards. I even read all the footnotes!
Past Poisons, an anthology of historical mysteries dedicated to Ellis Peters, by a whole slew of authors
Ballroom by Alice Simpson, more boring than The Man in the High Castle—but the cover is pretty
The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick, only slightly better than the extremely boring television series
The Squire’s Tale (Sister Frevisse #10) by Margaret Frazer, featuring the return of one of my favorite characters from the first Frevisse novel, The Novice’s Tale
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters, Brother Cadfael #1
The Patchwork Girl of Oz (Oz #8) by L. Frank Baum, not his best
The Ladies of Grace Adieu, a collection of very clever short stories by Susanna Clarke, a kind of continuation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
King Solomon’s Mines by Allan Quartermaine H. Ride Haggard, it hasn’t aged well, what with all the animal cruelty and machismo
One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters, the second Brother Cadfael novel
Nozy Cat #1 (yes, that’s its title) by Lyn Keyes, a cozy mystery with a talking cat. The second book in the series is called Nozy Cat #2.
(Crap! How did that list turn into 11? When I added them up initially, I swore there were only 10.)
My favorites and highly recommended: The Ladies of Grace Adieu, One Corpse Too Many, and A Squire’s Tale. I’d recommend reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell before The Ladies of Grace Adieu, and Sister Frevisse #1, and A Novice’s Tale, before The Squire’s Tale, to get a better understanding of Roger Fenner. One Corpse Too Many can stand on its own, I think.
Any favorites you’d recommend? (Oh yeah, I tried reading The Great Gatsby for a second time and didn’t even get as far as I did the first time. Don’t recommend it, please.)
Finally! Have you forgotten all about Outlander? What’s it been? A month and a half since Outlander’s season 3 ended? Longer? Blame some of it on my goddamn 2-week cable outage! Well, at least part of it. Onward!
My Seven Favorite Outlander Season 3 Episodes
It should come as no surprise to you (if you’ve read each episode post) that I have a favorite Outlander character. Of course, those are going to be my top four. I have a second favorite character. Those two episodes follow. And we’ll round out the list with the appearance of a familial-adjacent character.
[All in the form of a “Sunday Seven,” but on Friday instead of Sunday. Apparently, my mind only works in increments of seven now.]
Two Weeks in Hell Heck
Two weeks ago—TWO WEEKS! FOURTEEN DAYS!—on January 19, I was working on my Outlander season 3 favorite episodes post. I began having difficulty saving the in-progress post as I had no internet connection. Not a big problem, I thought. My router is getting old and it sometimes “burps” offline for a few minutes. I had the backup plan to write the post offline, then copy and paste when the time was right.