Streams and Walking Dreams

 

The end of June is approaching, and I’m sort of relaxing with this whole “I don’t have anything new to write” thing going on.  Though that’s not entirely true:  tonight I write my last TV recap, and that will take me most of the night as I go over what I watched last night and fill in the blanks and get some nice pictures.  After that I’m done.

Or am I?

With the new computer I’m discovering the wonders of being able to sit down and load up something from my computer so I can watch it on my television.  As I have an Amazon Prime account I’ve taken to watching Season 1 of The Americans which I’d missed the first time around.  Tonight I’ll restream Orphan Black so I can work up the recap from the episode–and it was a hell of an episode–and I’ll probably do the same thing in the future when I get back to recapping Fear the Walking Dead.

Speaking off  and on with Rachel, the true originator of our blog The Snarking Dead, last night, over the last few weeks, I told her that I might want to tackle another show through July and August just so the blog doesn’t go dark once she finishes with Game of Thrones next week.  She thought that was a good idea, and I told her what show I wanted to recap–

The only thing was, in order to get to that show I needed to get a Netflix account.

I’ve wanted to do that for some time, and finally, last night, I broke down and put it into place.  So when I’m not editing Act One of A For Advanced, I’ll likely be kicked back watching something through my computer–which, given the low number of shows I watch these days, I may start doing next year so I can save myself some money on cable.  Yes, I know there are a few people right now who are probably rolling their eyes going, “Why aren’t you working on the next novel?” and the answer is I need this time to relax and recoup.

Oh, and to catch up on the view of a couple of series I’ve wanted to see since they came out on Netflix:  Jessica Jones and Sense8.  The first because I want to see David Tenant playing an absolute psychotic prick, and the last because I watch to watch that show.  It’s also the one I’m going to recap through July and August, maybe putting out a recap every few days because I’ll keep me busy.  And maybe during that time I’ll actually start laying out the third novel, too.  Until that happens, though, I’ll be relaxing and streaming.

Sort of like this, only without the water and shorts and blond hair.

Sort of like this, only without the water and shorts and blond hair.

Speaking of novels . . .

Well, over a thousand words were edited last night, and it was a good time.  Going back to yesterday’s edit, I walked home from work with a fellow office worker who takes the train back and forth from The Burg to Philly, and who used to live in London.  When I described Annie’s and Kerry’s journey from the Park Place Sherlock Homes to the Baker Street Station and down the Jubilee Line to London Bridge Station, she told me it sounded like I’d actually visited the city at one point.  No, I said:  I just do my research.

These two little parts below first sort of finish up their walking tour.  We see where they go and the steps they take before heading off to lunch:

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

The walking tour next led them through St. James Park and Buckingham Palace. After some picture taking they hailed a cab and proceeded two kilometers to the east to the Lyceum Theater. Kerry didn’t say much about why they were there, beyond a few mentions of having “seen a video” and that being there meant “something to him”, so Annie didn’t ask for details. Upon reaching the location she saw he was in awe of his surroundings, and she figured pressing him for information would spoil any mood they’d developed.

This time Kerry found someone to take their picture in front of the theater. As before Annie stood close to him, and as she’d done on the Westminster Bridge she slide her hand into his. This time Kerry half turned his head and gave her a tiny grin before turning back for the photo. Two were taken and Kerry thanked the woman before showing the pictures to Annie. He snapped three pictures of her, then took one of himself mugging for the camera before allowing Annie to take three nicer pictures of him.

They were both getting hungry, so while at the theater Kerry used his phone to locate various places to eat. Upon finding a nearby restaurant they walked north from the Lyceum towards the Covent Garden station, when their boarded the subway and headed towards their next destination.

 

Above is the first time Kerry sort of gets goofy, which is while he’s snapping pictures of himself, something many eleven year olds do–and more than a few adults, too.  It’s also the first time that Kerry acknowledges that Annie is there sticking her hand in his, though he doesn’t close his fingers around hers.  I debated changing that last night, and decided, no, Kerry wouldn’t do that, not yet, not this early in the game.  Not until he gets to Witching Manor.

Where do they go for lunch?  Kerry tells Erywin and Helena in B For Bewitching:  the Pret a Manger located in Russel Square.  There here’s doing a few things with his computer and talks about his first trip to London before they get to this point:

She saw no need to delve any further in that part of his life. “But here we are, and you were able to see all those things before the weather turned bad.”

He glanced out the window at the Underground station across the street, but only for a moment. He turned back with a slight smile on his face. “We saw them.”

He said we. “Yes, we were together.”

Kerry nodded. “And we got some great pictures. I’ll send them to you as soon as you give me your email address.”

He may have a problem with this— “I don’t have a computer, Kerry.” She looked down for a second. “My mother has one, but I don’t.”

“Really?” His eyebrows were stopped by his brow from climbing too high.

“Yes, really.” He’s probably never meet anyone for real who didn’t have a computer. “I’ve never had need of one. And I think if you were to send them to my mother’s computer . . .” She rubbed her hands together slowly. “That wouldn’t be wise.”

“Okay, yeah: I can see that.” He nibbled on his sandwich. “Maybe I can get them printed out in Amsterdam—or at the school. Then you can take the hard copies home with you.”

Annie held back her chuckle, because she’d never heard anyone refer to pictures as “hard copy” before. But having a picture in hand—yes, they’ll look fine in my book . . . “I’m sure that’s possible. We’ll look into it when we get there.”

This is the point where we first learn that Annie doesn’t have a computer, but she has a book, and what a book!  And could you see Annie’s mother getting pictures of her daughter with the Ginger Hair Boy as they wander around London?  I’m certain they’d have words, even though it’d get through to Annie.

Because right now she’s in the best place in the world.

The Midnight Window: My Moon and Stars

I’ve reached the last scene of the penultimate chapter, and the end is pretty close at hand.  There are only four scenes remaining, and I may actually remove one of those because it might not be necessary.  I guess when I start writing these scenes this weekend I’ll know of the one I think needs removing goes.

But that’s for later, maybe Friday–no, make that Saturday, because tomorrow night I’m gonna be super busy–but for now I need to start my kids out on what for them is their last night together in North America as B Levels, and the next time they’re back in this longitude they’ll be ready to take over as the C Levels of the Second Floor.

It’s also the last day that this novel visits:  1 June, 2013.  There are no more days after this, either, so you know this is gonna end on a particular note.  But that’s as few thousand words away.  Right now that day is starting–and about as early as you can imagine:

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry sat in the bay window of Room 308, his back pressed against the window frame as he gazed out upon the darkness over Salem Harbor at just a little past midnight on the first day of June. The residents nearly two kilometers across the water were dark, and the only major light source in sight was the small light station a half a kilometer away, located at the end of Derby Wharf.

The rest of the area was as dark as the skies he remembered the first night he spent at Camp Baxter during his first overnight camping flight, thanks to the same magic used to screen out all local light pollution.

 

So we’re back in that bay window at the Sea Sprite Inn, only this time we’re seeing things from Kerry’s perspective rather than Annie’s.  And when the time is stated as a little after midnight, that’s not a joke:  the scene is listed in Scrivener as taking place at ten after midnight.  Like I said, start of the day.

And I even have sort of the view of the area:

All thanks to Google Maps for making this possible.

All thanks to Google Maps for making this possible.

The Sea Sprite Inn would be right in the middle of the frame at the edge of the shore, and the room overlooks the harbor beyond.  The lighthouse is over middle right, half a kilometer from the inn, and the far shore is, as measured, almost two klicks off in the distance.  No word yet if anyone’s going to be eating at Witch’s Brew Cafe in the morning.

 

The evening went almost the same as last year. They walked to the same restaurant they visited last year—the same where Kerry’s birthday dinner was held—and met up with Coraline and her fiancé, though this time Trevor joined them for dinner: he was staying with the other A and B Levels in Boston and would fly with them in the morning. After they returned to the Sea Sprite Annie and Kerry rested for a bit talking and listening to music, then cleaned up and prepared for the night ahead.

Just like last year, neither expected to get much sleep.

Annie shifted around in Kerry’s embrace, getting comfortable against him and the pillows they were resting upon. She rested against him as she also gazed out the window. “No moon tonight.”

“No, it’s waining tonight.” He tightened his arms around her slightly, giving her a long, slow hug. “I checked before we left the school.”

“Hum.” She pointed out the window to star about twenty degrees above the horizon. “The red one there: what is it called?”

“That’s Antares, in Scorpius. It’s one of the largest stars that we can see, too.” He knew what she was doing and pointed to another start in the sky, a little further to the east. “But that one is brighter.”

She lay nearly on her back and stretched her legs. “And what is the name of that star?”

“That’s Altair. It’s also a big start, and spins so fast that it spreads out at the equator.” He played with a few strands of Annie’s chestnut hair. “Either are the brightest stars in the sky, so just like last year we can use them both.”

 

And what is Annie doing?  She’s looking for the brightest star ’cause the moon isn’t up.  It’s a continuation of what they pledged the year before:  when you see the moon, look at it and know I’m looking at it, too.  And if you don’t see the moon, pick the brightest star in the sky.  Any day now Kerry’s probably going to teach Annie to say “My Sun and Stars” in Dothraki when he tells her she’s the “Moon of My Life,” because the kids at Salem don’t need another reason to roll their eyes at these two.

So what are they seeing?  Oh, something like this:

My god: it's full of stars!

My god: it’s full of stars!

This is a screen shot from my newest program, Stellarium, which is open source and free–though you should leave a little donation, as I did–and is a powerful planetarium program that will allow you to track the sky, day or night, from anywhere in the world.  Yesterday, when I should have been writing, I was playing with different sky views, and I actually got an idea of the sort of sunshine Kerry’s going to get when he’s off on The Polar Express in the next book.  Spoiler:  it’s not a lot.

This means I’ll have something else to waste my time on–I mean, use as a tool to help with getting scenes right.  After all, I can now use this to see the local condition as a particular location–like when Kerry has to face his parent at the end of the day, novel time.  So much fun.

So, what becomes of this star gazing?

 

“Good.” She pointed towards Altair. “I like the blue star: it reminds me of coolness, and that which is cool can be warmed through cuddling.” Annie looked up at Kerry and smiled. “Red is anger, and I never want to be angry when thinking of you.”

“Or of a scorpion.” He chuckled before kissing her on the forehead. “Altair is it. Though watch out for the Monster From the Id.”

Annie giggled for several second. “What are you talking about?”

“Nothing—” He gave his head a single shake as he quickly glanced out the window with a slight smug on his face. “I’m just being silly.”

“Better than how you were last year.” She reached up and touched his cheek. “No tears this year; I like that.”

He pressed his hand against hers. “It isn’t because I’m not sad—”

“Then tell me.”

 

That’s where I left off, and when this starts up again, we’ll discover just why Kerry has no tears.  And . . . we’re gonna see something else as well.  Something you would never imagine.

Now, as I leave off, I must delve into a bit of geekness due to something Kerry said above.  While looking at Altair he tells Annie, “Though watch out for the Monsters From the Id.”  In the movie Forbidden Planet Altair was the star around which the planet Altair IV orbited, and that’s where the crew of the United Planets Cruiser, the C-57D, landed, made contact with Doctor Morbius and his daughter Altaira, learned about the Krell–and then had everything go straight to hell on them when their were attacked by the invisible monster later known as The Monster From the Id, which was really nothing more than an energy construct created by Doctor Morbius’ subconscious while he dreams.

In a way, this is a form of Dreamwalking that may just be possible in my world, and if it is, people better look out, because this Monster From the Id vaporized a space ship just to keep it from leaving the planet.  Any witch who could do this would be a force to recon with–

Which, come to think of it, is sort of how Annie looked when she had Emma backed into a corner--

Though, come to think of it, this is sort of how Annie looked when she backed Emma into a corner–

The movie had a budget of $1.9 million, which in 1956 was a hell of a lot of money for any movie, and unheard of for a science fiction movie from the 1950s.  The Monster From the Id was animated by Joshua Meador, who was on loan from Walt Disney Pictures (making this the first time Disney allowed one of their own people to work on another movie), and he actually slipped in a couple of what we would today call “easter eggs” during the attack sequence:  the creature has a small goatee (Doctor Morbius is the only person in the movie with the same feature), and the monster roars much like MGM’s (the studio that made the movie) Leo the Lion does at the start of the movie.

The biggest contribution from the movie was to science fiction itself.  Two of the main props–Robbie the Robot and the model of the C-57D–were used for years in other movies and TV shows.  (Robbie has twenty-five credits to his “name”), Gene Roddenberry was heavily influence by the movie when he created Star Trek (as I’ve pointed out before, the time the C-57D enters orbit around Altair IV is 17:01, which is also the registration number of the Enterprise), and both Babylon 5 and Firefly/Serenity borrowed from the movie.  In fact, a large part of the end of Serenity is related to Forbidden Planet in that the crew finally travels to Miranda and discovered information about the creation of the Reavers in Alliance rescue ship, C57D.   Forbidden Planet is based in part on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and in that play Miranda is the daughter of Prospero, a great sorcerer, so the crew of the Serenity reach Miranda and discover that the Reavers are pretty much the Caliban of their universe.

Joss, like Gene, has the geek gene.

Joss, like Gene before him, has the geek gene.

There you have it:  we start out with my kids stargazing together, and end up with lesson in science fiction history.

Never let it be said I don’t give you anything.

A Day At The Races: Trout Angling

A couple of things about yesterday’s post.  First, as I was reminded by follower and fellow writing James Pailly of the Tomorrow Network News, O.S. should be “Off Screen” and not “On Screen.”  He’s absolutely correct, and in my “screenplay” there should have been only a few O.S. moment.  As he told me, “At least you were consistent,” so I’ll give the play that.  I’ll watch that in the future.

Second, while the screenplay was cleaned up, the interesting question remains:  if there was a movie made of this magnificent pairing of witches in the wilds of Cape Ann, what sort of rating would it get?  That’s an easy one:  it’d get an “R” rating, and that would come about for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, the Walking Tests/Kill the Zombies scene would likely get nailed for being too bloody, and Deconstructor Death by Head Exploding, Arm Removal, and Exsanguination would probably be a no-no, not to mention the death are coming from an eleven year old boy and twelve year old girl.  Sleeping together, even innocently, would be frowned up, and Annie’s vision–the one where she got out of bed naked and never dressed–would likely need changing.

The biggest reason, though, is the dumbest:  the word “fuck” is said more than twice.  I was told long ago that a PG-13 is given two “fucks” said or seen, and when it hits three, that’s an automatic R.  The Martian used the two-times rule:  Matt’s character said the word twice, and each time after that it wasn’t heard or spelled out, even when it was seen by others.  The Aviator says the word once, thereby keeping its PG-13 rating.

However, in my story, Erywin drops the word at least once, as does Helena–the “We’re that team, remember?” line in the screenplay had the removal of one word, if you get my meaning–and Wednesday says it to Isis during the Day of the Dead attack.

And then there’s Lisa . . .

 

(From The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Lisa jerked out of Erywin’s arms and launched herself at Kerry. She was on him in a second, pummeling him with her fists. “You stupid dick. Rotten bastard.” She punched him in the shoulders and chest while Kerry held his arms up, warding off her blows. “Smug prick, I’m going to get you. I’m going to—let me go.” Helena grabbed Lisa from behind and pulled the struggling girl away from Kerry. “I’ll get you, bitch. I’m gonna make you sorry.” She tried jerking out of Helena’s grasp with little successes. “I’m gonna to mess you up. I’m gonna to hurt You.” Lisa spit at Kerry. “I’m gonna bash in your head with a Fucking POT.”

Helena handed the struggling girl to Erywin. “Get her into the office and give her something.” As Lisa was pulled away, Helena motioned to Kerry. “You can sit down.”

“Thank you.” He headed back to his seat, back towards the proudly smiling Annie, trying his best to ignore the screaming and cursing Lisa—

Something hard stuck him in the back of the head, liquid splashing all over him. He turned and saw Lisa once again out of Erywin’s arms, standing next to the work bench where the various mixtures sat. “Fuckin’ prick.” She picked up another vial and hurdled it towards him to crash against the wall. “I’ll fix you and your fuckin’ slut.” She threw another and struck him in the forehead before he could duck. “Motherfucker.”

 

"Remember when Kerry dominated Lisa in Sorcery class and she lost her shit and was going to hit him with a fucking pot?" "Those were good times, weren't they?"

“Remember when Kerry dominated Lisa in Sorcery class and she lost her shit and was going to hit him with a fucking pot?” “Those were good times, weren’t they?”

Okay, then.  Just that little outburst alone puts me over the limit, and I’d have to keep two of those four F-Bombs in, so . . . fuck it.  R It Is!

But no fucking pots today–it’s race day!  Again!  And let me tell you, almost six hundred words to start the scene isn’t easy when you’re checking your maps and then, right in the middle of writing, you start wondering, “So, what covens to all these fliers come from?”  So I had to sit down and figure that out, and at some point–probably tonight–I’ll start getting crazy and wondering who the hell they are and give them names.

But that’s tonight at the least.  Not now.  Now you get racing!

 

(From The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Slamming his broom hard to the left, Kerry lay down over the control column, pushed forward, and willed as much acceleration as his body could stand. He shot past tenth and ninth places before cutting to the center of the course to pass eighth on the right so closely that he felt the change in air pressure as he cut through the other flier’s burgeoning slipstream.

Seven fliers in front of him, and Lisa was still in the lead heading towards a slight bend to the right that was the set up the short straight going into the Trout chicane. She was getting pressured by both Soroushi, who was right on her tail, and Manco, who was trying hard to get around both girls. Manco was being pressured hard by a flier from Blodeuwedd and the two lone racers from Ceridwen, but the back of the pack was moving forward fast, and it wouldn’t be long before there was a jam-up—

The gates turned from a solid color to flashing, indicating the approach of a turn. Trout was a S chicane and a flyover much like the Green Line’s Reservoir. It turned back to the right, first down and then up over both the local road and Trout Creek, then dropped back into the woods and turned hard to the left for a fast, straight run to the next turn. The front five fliers entered the turn smoothly and gave each other enough space so they didn’t crash into each other.

Kerry cruised past the seventh place Mórrígan as he entered the turn a little harder than necessary, but there wasn’t going to be a problem pulling hard gees through the turn. He completed the turn on the outside and popped up over the road before sliding downward towards the creek. Just like with the first part of the chicane he stuck to the outside and started turning on speed at the apex of the turn. He carried enough momentum through the second part of Trout to zoom past one of the Ceridwen fliers to take over sixth.

Trout was the lowest portion of the course: two hundred and thirty-five meters above sea level. From here it was all uphill, so to speak. It was a nice flat run to the next turn, Crossing, which was deceptively difficult because it was a one hundred five degree turn to the right before starting a fast, one hundred meter climb to a wide, fast one-eight turn that started with a quick flyover.

He checked the course ahead. The top three were still Anna, Soroushi, and Manco being followed by their Blodeuwedd and Ceridwen shadows, but Kerry felt the pressure coming from behind. Emma was only two positions back, and he saw Alex, Penney, Rivânia, and Nadine close behind her. He figured once they were through Crossing those in the back were going to turn up the pressure and make they way to the front before heading into quick wraparound that was Twelve Cut, Barrell Around, and Twin Peaks.

All the top fliers wanted to get around the slower fliers before they began the climb into the mountains and the racing grew serious.

 

There you are.  Heading into the second of a buttload of turns–well, actually third if you were paying attention, and now Kerry’s moving up with racers hot on his six while he’s hot on the sixes of the racers at the bottom of the pack who started at the front barbecue it’s an inverted start–did you get all that?

If you didn’t get it, you soon will, ’cause you’re getting more tomorrow . . .

Coming to a Theater Near You–

Yesterday I mentioned that I was thinking of doing something that was a bit crazy, as in, “I’ve never done this before.”  Maybe there were a few of your who went, “What’s this loony bitch talking about, everything she does is crazy,” but I’m thinking only a few of you actually think that.  Well, maybe more than a few.

Anyway, what did I do yesterday that may seem so crazy?  Well . . . I wrote a screenplay.  Kinda.  Allow me to explain:

As I’ve stated on a few occasions I usually see my stories in cinematic terms.  Towards the end of last week, when I knew the writing of this big race was coming, I began forming these images in my head about how it was going to look, and from those images I would write.

But something else happened as well:  I started imagining my first book once more, and I was wondering, “If this really were a movie, it’d need a trailer.  And if I had a trailer, how would I want it to look?”  ‘Cause these days trailers give away a ton of shit–like, you know, everything.  Half the time you don’t need to see a movie ’cause it’s all there in the trailer.  That means if there were a trailer, I’d want to make sure it was right.  As in not giving away too much while, at the same time, showing you enough to get you interested.

So . . . I wrote the screenplay.

While I’ve never actually written a real screenplay, I’ve read a few.  Also, decades ago, I’d seen a couple of screenplays written by Harlan Ellison–who won awards for four of his screenplays for television–so I had a good idea how they look.  After going into work and getting some shopping done, and even while taking a nap in the middle of the endeavor, I pushed it out:  3,360 words of how a shooting script for the trailer would appear.  Or at least close enough that someone who knows about writing screenplays could look at this and fix it with only a few corrections here and there.

Now, some of the terms.  A Fade In and Out are what movies more or less do.  The images fade in at the beginning and fade out at the end.  A Quick Cut is a transition from one scene to another, while a Smash Cut is a quick shot into another scene for only a second, or a normal process in a Micheal Bay movie.  Dissolve To indicates a slower transition to a scenes, usually as a quick fade in.  In the dialog lines you’ll see “V.O.” and “O.S.”; this means “Voice Over” and “Off Screen,” indicating how the person is speaking.  A voice over is where you hear the person’s voice but they aren’t present in the section of the movie being shown.  EXT. and INT. are Exterior and Interior, where the shot is taking place.  Intercut are one of those things where a group of interrelated scenes are shown in a montage, sometimes with dialog, sometimes without.  It’s use as a way of telling the director these need to be shots without having to tell them that you’re going to cut to these scenes all the time.  Pan Over means that:  the camera is panning.  Angle On, means the focus is on a particular person or thing.  Extreme Closeup is pretty simple as well.

The first time a person’s name appears in the screenplay it’s in all cap letters.  Also, at the beginning, you’ll notice that the conversation between Annie and her mother and father say “In English”.  This is because if this ever were a movie, all the dialog between Annie and her parents, while they are together and alone at home, would be in Bulgarian and subtitled.  For a trailer that would be a bit too confusing.

You’ll notice a couple of things.  One, there are almost no external views of the school.  That’s deliberate.  Two, just about everyone gets seen.  And I do mean everyone.  And lastly:  all the dialog is genuine, though, like with most trailers, it’s been edited slightly.  Some things cut here and there, and a few things may seem out of order, but it’s all right out of the book.  You will also notice that the “W Word” is mentioned one time, and it’s in a particular context.

Given all this, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show . . .

 

The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced

by Cassidy Frazee

Copyright 2016

FADE IN:

EXT. LAKE SHORE — DAY

A young girl is standing with a tree to her right looking out over a peaceful, still lake with a mountain in the background. She’s dressed for summer and looks comfortable. From the back it’s easy to see her just over shoulder-length chestnut-colored hair.

WOMAN’S VOICE (O.S. IN ENGLISH)
It’s almost ten o’clock.

QUICK CUT:

A woman perhaps in her late twenty or early thirties standing on the deck of house. PAVLINA KIRILOVA waves to the girl.

PAVLINA (IN ENGLISH)
It’s getting close to the time to leave.

QUICK CUT:

The girl turns to her left, facing the person calling to her. This is ANNIE KIRILOVA. She brushes a strand of hair from her face.

ANNIE (IN ENGLISH)
Coming, Mama.

INT. — KITCHEN KIRILOVA HOUSE

There is a tall, well dressed man leaning against a counter. This is VICTOR KIRILOVA. He smiles.

VICTOR (IN ENGLISH)
Did you believe I would miss—

INTERCUT TO ANNIE SMILING

VICTOR (O.S. IN ENGLISH) (CONT’D)
—my only daughter leaving home for the first time?

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. LIVING ROOM — DAY

MR MAYHEW, wearing an impeccable suit, sits in a nice chair speaking with husband and wife, DAVYN and LOUISE MALIBEY.

PAN AROUND DAVYN, LOUISE, MR MAYHEW

DAVYN
They want him to attend this private school in America, house him, feed him, give him an education—

MR MAYHEW
One of the best he could ever have.

DAVYN (O.S.)
And they’ll pay for everything?

MR MAYHEW
Your son is being given a chance at something that is only offered to an extremely small number of people throughout the world every year.

DAVYN
And they’ll pay for everything?

LOUISE
I’ve never heard of this group—

MR MAYHEW
There are many organizations that prefer to work with as little fanfare as possible. They find it’s better that way.

QUICK CUT:

A young boy dressed in black jeans, blue tee shirt, and sneakers stands in the doorway. He has short, red hair, freckles, and wearing rectangular wire-rim glasses which he adjusts. This is KERRY MALIBEY, the object of the conversation.

QUICK CUT:

Kerry sitting in a chair, a pamphlet in his hands.

KERRY
It seems like a pretty interesting place.

DAVYN (O.S.)
Maybe it is time to see something of the world beyond our home . . .

QUICK CUT:

INT. FOYER MALIBEY HOME — DAY

A young black woman wearing an impeachable dress suit is standing with her back to the open front door. MS RUTHERFORD adjusts her large bag on her shoulder.

MS RUTHERFORD
I’m Ms. Rutherford. I’m your escort to London and beyond.

INTERCUT TRAVELING IN CAR

MS RUTHERFORD (O.S.)
We’re meeting the rest of the new European contingent there—

CLOSE UP ON MS RUTHERFORD — IN CAR

MS RUTHERFORD
Are you excited?

KERRY
I’m definitely hoping this is going to be a lot different than here.

SMASH CUT:

BLACK SCREEN

MS RUTHERFORD (V.O.)
You’ll find Salem is like nothing you’ve ever seen.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. VIEW OF LONDON — DAY

PAN OVER CITY FROM AIR

QUICK CUT:

INT. VIEW OF RESTAURANT — DAY

Ms. Rutherford and Kerry talking over breakfast.

KERRY
Where are the others?

MS RUTHERFORD
The others have already eaten and gone on their way.

INTERCUT KERRY IN LONDON

MS RUTHERFORD (V. O.)
You have an assignment today.

Kerry wanders the streets of London, looking at intersections.

MS RUTHERFORD (V. O.)
You—as well as the others—have some prep work to do.

Seen from behind he walks through a book store, his every-present backpack secure behind him.

MS RUTHERFORD (V. O.)
You’ll need to go and order your texts.

Kerry looks over and sees Annie sitting in a chair that is mostly engulfed in shadow. She looks up and sees him.

MS RUTHERFORD (V. O.)
They’re familiar with our more esoteric textbooks.

Annie is now standing, speaking with Kerry.

ANNIE
You must be the boy who missed breakfast.

KERRY
That’s me.

ANNIE
I’m from Pamporovo, Bulgaria.

KERRY
A couple of years ago my family moved to Cardiff—

ANGLE ON — ANNIE

She holds out her hand to shake

ANNIE
I’m sorry; I’ve been so rude. Annie Kirilova.

ANGLE ON — KERRY

She holds out her hand to shake.  Kerry shakes.

KERRY
Kerry Malibey.

ANGLE ON — ANNIE

She begins to look perplexed.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. VIEW OF LOBBY AREA — DAY

Ms. Rutherford and Annie are speaking quietly.

MS RUTHERFORD
I’ve been called into the office; please tell the others they are free to do whatever they’d like—within legal limits, of course. You can even leave the hotel if you want to take in the city.

ANNIE
Why are you giving this to me?

MS RUTHERFORD
Would you rather I give this to one of the Normal children?

QUICK CUT:

INT. VIEW OF RESTAURANT — DAY

Annie and Kerry are sitting at a table. Annie is on Kerry’s left: she’s ALWAYS to his left.

ANNIE
Ms. Rutherford left prepaid debit cards with £200 on them for each of us to use.

PAN FROM — ANNIE TO KERRY

ANNIE
Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me, Kerry?

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. LONDON

INTERCUT ANNIE AND KERRY WALKING THROUGH LONDON

Various scenes of Annie and Kerry walking through London, on a boat, walking though parks. Annie is always on Kerry’s left and he carries his backpack. They seem friendly, and there’s at least one time when they have someone take their picture with Kerry’s phone while they stand shoulder-to-shoulder.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. BUSY RESTAURANT IN LONDON

They sit at a table close to a window.

ANGLE ON — KERRY

KERRY
Can I ask you something?

ANNIE
You may.

KERRY
Do you think it’s a little funny that Ms. Rutherford just let us go out on our own without supervision?

ANGLE ON — ANNIE

KERRY (O.S.)
She’s testing us.

DISSOLVE TO:

INTERCUT ANNIE AND KERRY TRAVELING

The are getting on a 747 and taking their seats. As they fly they are reclining and looking at each other. They walk with others through a train station, riding with other passengers. They wait on an empty platform with other children before boarding an empty passenger car.

QUICK CUT:

INT. OF TRAIN CAR — NIGHT

ANNIE
Where do you think we’re headed?

KERRY
I’m not sure.

EXTREME CLOSE UP — KERRY’S COMPUTER SCREEN

KERRY (O.S.)
We’re sort of heading northeast. I don’t think there’s a lot of land left before we run out of places to go.

QUICK CUT:

EXT. TRAIN STATION— NIGHT

INTERCUT ANNIE AND KERRY TRAVELING

They get off the train and on to a bus, traveling in darkness. The bus stops before a set of enormous gates, they open and the bus goes through.

KERRY (V.O.)
End of the line.

QUICK CUT:

INT. BUS — NIGHT

A woman in a light gray business dress stands at the front of the bus and faces the students. She speaks with a French accent. This is Headmistress MATHILDE LAVENTURE.

MATHILDE
Children, once outside please stay close to the bus. I assure you, we’re almost through for the night.

QUICK CUT:

EXT. PARKING LOT — NIGHT

Another woman in a dark business dress stands before the students with a tablet in her hand. She wears stylish red glasses. this is ISIS MOSMON.

ANGLE ON — ISIS

ISIS
My name is Isis Mossman; I’m the Director of Security. On behalf of Headmistress Laventure, the staff, and the instructors, I welcome you girls and boys to your new home-away-from-home.

PAN TO — ANNIE AND KERRY

ISIS (O.S.)
Welcome to Salem.

DISSOLVE TO:

INTERCUT ANNIE AND KERRY AT SCHOOL

Kerry opens the door to his room and finds Annie waiting for him. They walk through the commons, seen from above. They head down the covered walkway towards an open area. Beyond them a garden is visible. There are no buildings visible. They are seen from above entering a large open area. They head into an enormous, nearly empty, dining hall, and sit at a table that has their names on a card.

PAN TO — FRONT OF HALL

A number of long tables tables are set at the front, with a podium behind them. People enter from one of the entrances and take their seats; most of these people are women. Mathilde accedes the podium.

MATHILDE
Good morning, students.

PAN AROUND — MATHILDE AT PODIUM

MATHILDE
I am Mathilde Laventure, Headmistress of the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning. I am certain each of you have many questions about what you have seen up to now—and they will be answered soon, I assure you.

DISSOLVE TO:

INTERCUT OF DIFFERENT CLASSES

MATHILDE (V.O.)
By now I’m sure that all of you suspect The Foundation recruiter who spoke with you and your parents wasn’t completely honest about the true mission of this institution.

WEDNESDAY DOUGLAS makes things appear and vanish, and levitates a student in class.

MATHILDE (V.O.)
Salem was founded to offer safe harbor for others like them.

JESSICA KISHNA transforms from her usual dark complexion to blue skin and near-glowing eyes.

MATHILDE (V.O.)
Here we teach the incredible and the impossible. We take reality, strip away the protective veils that have existed for centuries, and expose the real truth.

ERYWIN SLADEN tips over a petrified student who crashes to the floor.

RAMONA CHAI sails backwards through the air before gently floating to the ground.

MATHILDE (V.O.)
You are here because you are not one of the Normal—you are one of us.

CORALINE GALLAGHER sits in front of Kerry, a device in one hand and an orange glow in the palm of the other and speaks before she winks at Kerry.

CORALINE
It’s a kinda magic.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. PATH IN THE WOODS — DAY

ANNIE (O.S.)
Keep an open mind today. Listen to the instructors. Ask questions. Please?

KERRY (O.S.)
Okay. Just for you.

INT. CLASSROOM FILLED WITH PILLOWS — DAY

DEANNA ARRAKIS looks to her left.

DEANNA
Kerry, would you be so kind as to prepare tea?

KERRY
How did you really know we were coming, Professor?

DEANNA
I told you, I saw you both coming.

KERRY
When?

DEANNA
Before breakfast.

EXT. COVERED PAVILION SEATS — DAY

Annie and Kerry watch students fly by on PAVs, high-tech brooms that look like old-time witch’s brooms, but look far more modern.

KERRY
You’re like the instructors. I suspected something last night, but today I knew for sure. That’s what we are, isn’t it?

ANNIE
The Aware? That’s what we’re called, yes. We’re the special, the ones who can see everything that’s invisible to the rest of the world. The ones who are Normal.

KERRY
Like I was.

ANNIE
No. You were never normal, Kerry.

DISSOLVE TO:

INTERCUT OF DIFFERENT CLASSES

Annie and Kerry go through various situations. They learn simple spells in class. They are seen putting large bags inside greenhouse. They are scene snuggling under a blanket in a chair looking up at the stars during Astronomy Class. Annie and Kerry are seen flying over a large building surrounded by woods that looks like a covered sports arena. Beans are seen turning into beetles. Dressed in pajama they walk through a huge hall filled with kids in pajamas, and are seen sitting on a sofa eating snacks, drinking from steaming mugs, and laughing.

QUICK CUT:

INT. ROOM WITH LOTS OF CHAIRS — DAY

All the students are dressed in leather flying gear reminiscent of WW II pilots. Annie and Kerry sit in the front row and to the left of the podium. VICTORIA SALOMON, dressed the same way as her students, stands at the podium.

VICTORIA
Good afternoon, students, and welcome to the first day of flight training.

QUICK CUT:

INT. ROOM WITH LOTS OF STORAGE CABINETS — DAY

Victoria stands with the students around her.

VICTORIA
Here is some of best equipment you’re ever going to find.

Annie stands before a hovering broom with Victoria standing next to her.

VICTORIA
You want to try and be as normal as possible when you fly one of these. If you’re nervous or a little anxious, it’s okay, you can work out of that, but your broom is gonna act a little jittery for a bit until you settle down.

Annie begins to tentatively mount the broom—

QUICK CUT:

INT. ROOM WITH SOFA AND CHAIRS — NIGHT

Deanna sits on one side of a sofa while TREVOR PARKMAN sits opposite her. Annie and Kerry sit on the sofa between them dressed in pajamas with an comforter across their legs and waists.

ANNIE
I take it you have Trovell’s Study of Sight?

TREVOR
Yes, naturally.

ANNIE
And you have Vijoni’s Interpretation of Visions, Awake and in Dreams?

KERRY
You getting ready to start studying up on improving your sight?

ANNIE (SMILING)
No—you are.

QUICK CUT:

EXT. GARDEN PATH — NIGHT

Kerry stands next to Annie and looks around, bemused.

KERRY
This has been one strange week.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. CLASSROOM — DAY

HELENA LOVECRAFT stands at the front of her class, glaring darkly at her students.

CLASS POV — HELENA

HELENA
I’m a damn good sorceress and that’s not just a brag—that comes from over twenty years of working for The Foundation as one on the outside, away from Salem.

PAN TO — HELENA PACING

HELENA
Whereas one can use the other disciplines against another person, sorcery is meant to work against a person, whether directly or indirectly. Sorcery is all about dominating people, controlling them, hurting them—even killing them.

STUDENT (V.O.)
Is there like a main spell used for killing people?

QUICK CUT:

HELENA POV — ANNIE

HELENA (O.S.)
Miss Kirilova. What is the name of the category that defines the sorcery spells used to kill someone?

ANNIE
It’s known as Morte.

HELENA
Have you read any books on the subject?

ANNIE
Yes. I was given a book on the subject for my ninth birthday, actually.

QUICK CUT:

INT. BARE STONE WALLED ROOM

KERRY POV — ANNIE

He watches her create a ball of blue fire about twice the size of a basketball that floats in the air before her.

KERRY (O.S.)
That’s cold fire?

ANNIE
It is perfect, isn’t it?

KERRY
I’d expect nothing less from my Dark Witch.

Annie beams.

QUICK CUT:

INT. HEADMISTRESS’ OFFICE — DAY

MATHILDE
My Mistress of Spells, what is ever the problem?

WEDNESDAY
I think we have a situation that requires our attention.

INTERCUT OF ANNIE AND KERRY PERFORMING MAGIC

MATHILDE (V.O.)
Our Cernunnos A Levels? The ones the instructors are talking about?

Annie performing an invisibility spell and being mostly successful. Kerry levitating a doll and drawing it towards him.

WEDNESDAY (V.O.)
One and the same. Watch.

Kerry transforms a pile of wood from a single log. Annie creates ice floating in the air from a bucket of water.

WEDNESDAY
Everything they did is well beyond their level. There is no way they should have even tried those, much less make them work.

QUICK CUT:

INT. LARGE ENCLOSED AREA — DAY

WEDNESDAY (V.O.)
Oh, I’ve saved the best for last.

EXTREME CLOSE UP — ANNIE’S FACE

Face half-covered in blood and gore, Annie tosses what looks like a sword to the side with her left hand as she walks with determination towards the camera.

QUICK CUT:

PAN TO — KERRY ATTACKING SOMEONE

He takes what looks like a long sword and cuts up and through someone, splattering himself with blood in the process.

QUICK CUT:

INT. HEADMISTRESS’ OFFICE — DAY

WEDNESDAY
This is more than talent.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. HEADMISTRESS’ HOME — NIGHT

Mathilde stands in her living room with Helena, Erywin, and Jessica. On one side of the room stands a man in a dark suit and overcoat. This is MR GABRIEL.

MATHILDE (O.S.)
What answers do you require, Mr. Gabriel?

MR GABRIEL
We’re interested on the progress of some of your students. A Levels.

QUICK CUT:

INT. PRIVATE LAB — NIGHT

Annie creates ribbons out of shadow in front of Kerry.

QUICK CUT:

EXT. PARK — DAY

Kerry produces ball lightning in his hand.

MATHILDE (V.O.)
Do these A Levels have names?

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. DARK CORRIDOR — NIGHT

Helena speaks in a threatening tone to Gabriel.

HELENA
Annie and Kerry may be extraordinary kids, but they are kids.

INTERCUT OF ANNIE AND KERRY TOGETHER

Annie in her night clothes, smiling and singing; Kerry dressed in his flight clothes, standing at the railing of a high building, looking at other buildings some distance away poking up through the trees.

HELENA (V.O.)
Being minors doesn’t matter—

Kerry leads Annie into a dance; Annie walks along side Kerry as they enter a grove of pine trees.

HELENA (V.O.)
You will find a way to get them out in the field, you will find a way to see how they operate.

Annie faints and Kerry rushes to her side; Annie comforts a crouching Kerry who seems to be in pain.

HELENA
When that happens, I want to make certain they don’t come back in body bags.

An enraged Annie stalks across the Rotunda with a dark ball of energy in her hands; Kerry drops pass the camera on his broom, which follows him down towards the dark forest.

QUICK CUT:

INT. HOTEL ROOM — DAY

ERYWIN
You need to bring in a team that—

HELENA
That knows what?

QUICK CUT:

EXT. PARK — DAY

KERRY POV — ANNIE

Annie levitates and smiles down at him.

QUICK CUT:

INT. SCHOOL OFFICE — DAY

Kerry quickly changes the color of his hair from red to blond, then points at his head.

HELENA (V.O.) (YELLING)
We’re that team, remember?

QUICK CUT:

EXT. FIELD — NIGHT

Annie and on the left and Kerry on the right, both create huge balls of fire they each hold before their bodies.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. BEDROOM — NIGHT

Erywin and Helena are sitting up in bed; Erywin cradles Helena in her arms.

ERYWIN
That leaves those two in the other room. Any concerns there?”

HELENA
Only one.

QUICK CUT:

INT. DINING HALL — NIGHT

Kerry is dancing with Annie, holding her tight.

KERRY
I’ll catch you before you fall.

QUICK CUT:

EXT. GARDEN — NIGHT

Annie runs her finger down Kerry’s left arm.

ANNIE
Moyata polovinka.

QUICK CUT:

INT. OVERHEAD WALKWAY — DAY

HELENA (V.O.)
Hoping they can handle what comes after.

PULL BACK — ANNIE AND KERRY CRAFTING MAGIC

Kerry on right of screen, Annie on left, He concentrates, his hands slightly raised, as the air shimmers across the width of the walkway. Annie looks grim and serious as something dark seems to swirl in her right hand.

SMASH CUT:

BLACK SCREEN — RUN TITLE

The Foundation Chronicles: A For Advanced

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. WIDE CORRIDOR — NIGHT

Coraline stands with a visibly upset Annie. She places her finger across the girl’s lips.

CORALINE
Don’t think the worst.

SMASH CUT:

EXT. FIEND — NIGHT

EXTREME CLOSE UP — BODY

A scaly body fills the screen. As it slowly turns a tentacle whips across the screen. There is a low growl (and use an ULTRA LOW FREQUENCY layer in the soundtrack so the audience feels this) as the hint of an eye slides into view . . .

SMASH CUT:

EXT. FIEND — NIGHT

SLOW ZOOM ON KERRY

Dressed in his flight gear he sits on his broom, holding what looks like another PAV. As the camera moves in on his face, he’s frightened and hyperventilating. As soon as the focus is tight on his shoulders and head he switches the PAV to his right hand, screams, and charges towards the camera.

SMASH CUT:

BLACK SCREEN — RUN TITLE

Classes Start 1 September

FADE OUT:

 

And there you are.  Hope you enjoyed this, and hope you have questions.  Believe me, I had a good time putting it together–

Look how satisfied I am after writing this.

You can tell just by how I look here after I finished.

Getting Science All Up In Here

I don’t get out my these days–that’s sort of clear to a lot of people.  And one of the things I don’t get out to do is see movies.  Most of that is due to having sort of a high standard when it comes to seeing a movie, and that’s to be entertained without having too much of my intelligence insulted.  That’s why I’d only seen Mad Max:  Fury Road this year of 2015 and nothing else.  I’m just a cranky bitch when it comes to film.

Yesterday, however, not long after posted on my blog, I headed out to see The Martian, the movie based upon Andy Weir’s 2011 novel of the same name.  One reason I wanted to see the movie was because it was science fiction, and from everything I’d read of the novel, pretty accurate science fiction, with the emphases on science.  I will say now that I have not read the novel, but I’m probably going to pick it up and give it a read just to see the differences between the printed and visual versions.

The interesting thing about the novel is how it came about.  Weir wanted the novel as scientifically accurate as possible, and did a lot of research on the surface of Mars, on botany, astrophysics, space craft design, and orbital mechanics, going so far as to write is own program so he could track the orbits of the ships in his novel.

Which is something only a few crazy people do for, say, a game.

Which is something only a few crazy people–like the one who wrote this a few years ago–kinda sorta do for games.   Crazy.

Weir had been writing since his twenties, and The Martian was his first novel.  He shopped it around, and when none of the publishing houses showed interested, he started publishing the book for free on his website, going thought chapter by chapter.

That's insane.  What sort of nut does that?

That’s insane. What sort of nut does that?

After a while people asked him to put out a Kindle version of the story, and he did, and he sold the book for $.99, the lowest price one can offer for a work on Amazon.  After he sold thirty-five thousand copies in one month, Crown Publishing Group approached him and asked if he’d like a sweet deal for his book.  The deal made him another one hundred thousand dollars and got him a movie, so it sounds like he got what he was looking for.

If you’re asking, “What’s this about?”, it’s about a guy who, through no fault of anyone, gets stranded on Mars and has to find a way to stay alive until he’ rescued.

If nothing else, fall back on a meme that says the same thing through Apature.

If nothing else, fall back on a meme that makes you wonder if Aperture Science runs the space program.

That’s the story in a nutshell, and without going into a lot of detail, it’s what the movies shows.  What I loved was the attention to detail and how everything was so . . . sciencry.  As I indicated I haven’t read the book, but there were things in the movie that because of my knowledge of Mars and space stuff in general, I got right away.  (There was a scene in the movie where the main character was looking at a map, and the minute he realizes something and was hit with a light bulb moment, so was I.  Geeks, I know.)

The movie is magnificent in appearance.  The Mars stand-in was Wadi Rum in Jordan, which has stood in for Mars in a couple of movies, and one of the locations used in Laurence of Arabia.  With the help of a little CGI you feel like you could be there on the Red Planet.  All the tech looks workable and has an authentic feel.  And the spaceship Hermes and the Mars HABs . . . Oi.

Magnificent spaceship porn, yo!

Magnificent spaceship porn, yo!

I can look at the ship above and see stuff that’s supposed to be there on a real spacecraft, and that makes me happy.  There are things I saw happening in the movie that shouldn’t have happened (when you decelerate in space, your engine is supposed to be pointed towards the forward edge of your orbit, thank you), but they were minor and nitpicky.  Even Weir admits that he made the storms on Mars more visually impressive than they would be in real life because, you know, sometimes you have to do that.

The characters are good, though I think NASA in the middle of the 21st Century would be a tad more diverse than shown, and in one major instance, a character was completely whitewashed. The moment I saw the character’s name I thought “Shouldn’t she be Korean?”  This, again, came without reading the novel, and after a little investigation last night I discovered I was correct.  It isn’t impossible to find an actress of the proper ethnicity these days,  so Hollywood, you need to stop that shit right now.

There is one scene in the movie that got a huge laugh out of the audience I was with–and with me as well–and without going into detail:

When you see the scene, you'll get this completely.

When you see the scene, you’ll get this completely.

I came out really happy, not only because I saw what I’d say was a real science fiction movie, but because there was a scene involving engineering that was done while ABBA’s Waterloo played on the soundtrack.  I mean, come on:  that’s something I’d do in my stories, so you know I was smiling like crazy and bouncing in my seat as the scene played out.  And in a moment of disclosure, in a game I was running some twenty years ago, I’d planed to use Waterloo as a song-over during a scene were some people were preparing in invade a planet.

See?  Great minds think alike.  And so do those who know what makes science fun.

The Splits in the Road

The chill has returned to the air here in The Burg and I may actually consider wearing a work dress in today, one that’s a little heavier than normal because the high will be a rainy sixty-five F, or eighteen C, and I don’t want to catch cold.  Don’t worry:  it’ll be back up close to ninety before we know it.

It rained like crazy last night, and I actually had to wait for about twenty minutes after I left work to walk home because I didn’t have an umbrella.  getting home saw another shower of a different sort, as I cried for about fifteen minutes straight because–well, who needs a reason?  All my gal pals out there know this.  I watched a little television, then sat and finished yesterday’s scene while Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome played in the background.  And I can never see or think about that flick without remembering a MechWarrior game I once ran where one of the players ended up in command of their rag-tag group of mechsoldiers, and one of the first things he wanted to do after getting a steady job with the Lyran Commonwealth (this was old school MW, none of this newfangled stuff) was piss it all away.  He wanted to run jobs on the side for whomever wanted to pay, he wanted to establish a casino and brothel on company grounds, and he wanted to build his own version of Thunderdome “out behind the mech sheds” so when people had a beef, they could go in there and do whatever the hell they wanted.

Unfortunately for him, the other players thought those were all bad ideas, and after he left that night a few people stuck around and told me, the GM, those ideas were such total bullshit they were gonna off his character.  Fortunately for him–and everyone else–he never returned after that evening, probably because he knew he’d brought the unit to within inches of mutiny, and thought he was a dickish player, he was smart enough to know something bad would happen if he returned.

This at least kept me from dreaming up a mission titled, Babe;  Pig in a Vindicator.

This at least kept me from dreaming up a mission titled, Babe; Pig in a Vindicator.

Bad gamers:  can’t live with them, can’t go full auto to the head on them with an Uzi.

Back in the garden, however, Annie and Kerry aren’t dealing with a bad gamer, though it would be interesting to see Wednesday playing Shadowrun–“You call this magic?  It all sucks!  This is magic!”  Her question was asked–was it answered.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

“Unless you come and be my minions.” Wednesday stopped rocking left and right now that she was past the point of asking her question. “The question I have is: are you gonna feel strange helping out people who you see in other classes every day?”

The couple exchanged looks once more, and Wednesday could tell, based upon their expressions, he question was one they’d never considered before this moment. She also suspected that it wouldn’t take them long to come up with an answer . . .

Annie answered for them bother. “It won’t be a problem, Wednesday. We can do that.”

“You can?” Wednesday didn’t doubt Annie’s sincerity; she simply wanted to hear a conformation uttered by them both. “You’re sure?”

Annie nodded. “Yes, I’m sure.” She turned to Kerry. “What about you?”

Kerry nodded slowly. “Yeah.” He glanced over to Wednesday. “I mean, it’s not like we’re really in class with everyone else—”

Annie nodded along with her soul mate. “Other than sorcery, we don’t have any crafting classes with the rest of our level.”

 

This is really the first time they point out to another instructor that they really aren’t in the same class as the other students, that they are beyond that B Level stuff.  So what does it matter if they come into the B Level Spells class and help out?  It’s the same as getting kids from the upper levels, right?

This is the road they take.  During their A Levels they started setting themselves up as apart from everyone else, and now, in their B Levels, they prove it as a fact.  Some would say this is pride talkin’, and we all know what that comes before . . .

It’s all set, and with that comes the good nights–

 

Annie remained latched on to Kerry’s arm once they were standing. “Thank you, Wednesday. We won’t let you down.”

“I know you won’t.” She gave them both a quick nod. “Good night, you two. See you around.” A soft pop followed her disappearance as she jaunted off to the Instructor’s Residence.

Kerry pulled his left arm—and Annie—in tight to his body. Though it was late, he cherished these moments when he could be alone with her, knowing that the chances of anyone stumbling across them were minuscule. “Sweetie?”

Annie mumbled her response with her head resting against his shoulder. “Yes, my love?”

“Do you get the feeling that this year we’re going to have almost no free time together?”

Knowing their schedule long before they’d departed for school, Annie was well aware that their free time would be far less than during their A Levels. “You know what this is, don’t you?”

“You know you’re answering a question with a question?” He twisted around and kissed the tip of her nose. “Just like on the train before we entered the Chunnel last year.”

“Really?”

They both hugged and giggled for a few moments, then Kerry kissed her once more. “Yes, I do know what this is—”

“What, then?”

“It’s a test. We’re being tested.”

“Yes.” Annie took his hand and they began walking towards the tower. “Last year we were out in the field; this year it’s being kept inside the walls.”

“Do you think the Guardians are behind this?”

“It’s hard to say. It could be, but then—” She shifted Kerry into a slower walk. “Helena was in the meeting last year when we were asked into all the classes. This could be something coming from San Francisco.”

Kerry had felt the same way since realizing, before arriving home, that they had been chosen for every advanced class—and had so far discovered they were the only ones out of their level in classes that weren’t something of an extended course from the year before. “At this point I don’t think it matters. We were asked, we had the choice to say no . . . and we didn’t.”

Squeezing Kerry’s left hand tight, Annie giggled in a tone filed with mirth. “No, my love, we didn’t. And I wouldn’t have expected us to say anything else.”

 

Nothing more or less, eh, Annie?  You know you’ve got your boy trained, don’t you.  That should be the next Act:  How To Train Your Dark Witch.  To be fair to Kerry, however, once he remembered all of his past with Annie, he started changing, and grew up a bit rather fast.  After his talk with Annie in his hidey-hole he knew the score, and decided on a path to follow.  A good deal of his story is about figuring out where he wants to go with his life.  Annie’s wanted to be a sorceress and a Guardian since she was a middle tweener, and Kerry has a lot of catching up to do in that regard.  But he’s getting there.

And speaking of sorceresses . . .

I see a bad witch arising . . .

I see a bad witch arising.

After I finish my running around tonight I get to write about Helena.  I love writing about her–

She’s always . . . interesting.

Tugging the Post-Apocalyptic Heartstrings

Fridays and Sundays are quickly becoming the “Take the Night Off Writing” days, because that’s what happened yesterday:  damn near no writing at all.  Oh, sure, I tried, I really did, but I made it like two hundred words past where I was the last time, and just skated on by with the work.  Some of this is due to watching movies on those nights, because I need to get my mind on other things once in a while, and I need that.

"What other things?  There's writing, and your characters, and sex, and . . . oh, those things."

“What other things? There’s writing, and your characters, and sex, and . . . oh, those things.”

Though normally I’m thinking about sex for my characters, so don’t judge me.

Yesterday, since I’m all by myself and there’s nothing to do, I went to the movies to see Mad Max:  Fury Road.  This was the first movies I’ve seen in the theaters since seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, which gives you an idea of how often I get out to movies–it’s like one time a year if you’re keeping track.  Now, full disclosure:  I am a big Mad Max fan.  I had the first two movies on bootleg video tapes, which meant the first one was without the dubbed voices (when Mad Max was first shown here in the US all the dialog, even Mel Gibson’s, was dubbed to get rid of the Australian accents).  I’ve even seen the one and only “Lost Version” of Mad Max 2, aka The Road Warrior, presented on NBC, which included a lot of added scenes as well as the infamously changed opening and closing narration, redone by someone with a bad US Southern accent.

I’ve also looked up a few spots where filming has occurred, in the instance that I ever get Down Under I can head for Broken Hill and check out some locations.

Since everything in Austratalia is trying to kill you, I fully expect to find this waiting for me at Mundi Mundi.

Since everything in Australia is trying to kill you, I fully expect to find this waiting for me at Mundi Mundi.  G’day, mate!

So I went to the movie expecting to be entertained.  I also expected to be blown away, ’cause I’m a sucker for fast cars and explosions.

I didn’t expect to almost start crying when the movie ended.

I’ve said, time and again, that your characters are the most important part of the story:  if they are no more than cardboard cutouts, then it’ll show throughout your story.  Now, I had read over the last few weeks how surprised people were at the strong characterization of people in the movies, particularly Charlize Theron’s character, Imperator Furiosa.  (And that’s FuriOsa, not FurioSAR.  Hermione wants you to get it right.)  The people making these statements were correct, but there seemed to be so much more to them . . . there was depth.  There was a lot lying below the surface of most of the characters, and during the course of two hours it all bubbled out.

Tom Hardy’s Max went through a number of changes during the movie, even though he’s given so little to say.  He doesn’t need words; it’s done with looks, with body language, and late, with the tone of his voice.  (And before people start pointing out that Tom’s dialog was cut down to give the focus of the movie over to the women, in Mad Max 2 Mel Gibson has sixteen lines, and two of them are, “I only came for the gasoline.”  Yeah, people living in the Outback after the end of the world usually don’t have much to say.)  The one thing you do get about Tom’s Max is that he is truly mad, and he’s yet to come to grips with his madness.  Like many of us with mental illness we learn to cope, and this Max copes by just staying the hell out in the middle of nowhere and staying away from people, ’cause he might do someone harm otherwise.

At the end of the movie I was almost crying because I’d been sucked into the spectacle.  I found characters that I liked and wanted to know more about, and found their struggle to reach the end worthy and believable.  But then I’ve found this with a lot of action movies made outside the US:  you get sucked into the story, either because the characters are compelling (Hard Boiled and La Femme Nikita instantly come to mind) or you get drawn into action that is both real and over the top (The Raid and The Raid:  Redemption cover this one nicely).  Action movies here, on the other hand, seem to be designed to sell toys, and if you want anything serious, well, you’ve not come to the right place.

Which is why every time I see the latest Baytacular, where gigantic toy robots that you’re going to buy off Amazon later get into a battle that ends up killing millions of people for whom you give zero shits, Act 5, Scene 5, of Macbeth comes to mind:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

 

If there is one thing I never want to do, it’s create a story that signifies nothing.  And our characters are everything.

Without them, we have nothing upon which to care.

Here Comes Mr. Heartache

Yesterday’s writing on the novel was pretty much non-existent because I was finishing up another project that needed finishing, and that bugger took most of about eight hours of work.  It was finished up, leaving me a little burned out but none the worse for the wear.

"I'll have Kerry professing his darkest secrets to Annie here just as soon as I lift my nose off the 'V' key."

“I’ll have Kerry professing his darkest secrets to Annie here just as soon as I lift my nose off the ‘V’ key.”

What I ended up doing instead was watching the TCM channel, because the movie that was on was Here Comes Mr. Jordan, starring Robert Montgomery, Evelyn Keyes, and Claude Rains.  The movie was made in 1941 and has been remade a few times since, even once in India.

I’ve remembered this movie quite a lot over the years because I can remember seeing it when I was like seven or eight years old.  See, as a kid I watched a lot of old movies because we pretty much had six channels a radio, and the local affiliates ran what would be considered “Classic Movies” all the time in the afternoon, and usually after ten-thirty at night.  I throw the quotes around “Classic” because when I was eight the year was 1965, and Here Comes Mr. Jordan was only twenty-four years old; the equivalent today would be watching one of these, the Top Ten Movies of that year:

1.    Terminator 2: Judgment Day
2.    Beauty and the Beast
3.    Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
4.    The Addams Family
5.    City Slickers
6.    Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
7.    Thelma & Louise
8.    Fried Green Tomatoes
9.    Hot Shots!
10. JFK

I used to watch a lot of movies from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and look at thinks like how a shot was set up, the lighting, the sets, and special effects, and, of course, the story.  I do that today, too:  I’m more interested in how the story gets somewhere rather than knowing the spoilers and secrets.  Oh, and I always checked out the women’s outfits.  Go figure, right?

The thing that I always remembered about Here Comes Mr. Jordan, however, is that it made me cry.  It happened at the very end, when the guy who’s fallen in love with the girl gets moved into another body and doesn’t really remember her, and then they meet and sort of semi-reminisce about the people they knew–or the people they thought they knew.  The moment ends hopefully, but at the time it looks as if things are gonna end on a bummer note–

And that was when I cried as a kid, because I didn’t think it was fair that someone could get that close to loving someone and having it taken away from them.  I did the same thing last night:  I haven’t seen the movie in about twenty years, but the moment the movie got to that part, I started crying.  Actually I started sobbing pretty hard; crying is what I’m doing right now as I write these lines, and that’s the truth.

I’ve always been emotional; I’ve talked about this a few times on the blog.  I’ve always wanted to have a grand romance, but . . . nope, it’s never happened.  Not even that many dates, to be honest.  Just never been able to because of one damn thing or another, usually the ‘nother.  I keep hoping it’s going to happen in the twilight of the life, as it is said, but probably not.

The only place I can find it is in the works of others, or in my own.

I’ll admit something right now:  there have been times when some of the scenes I’ve written have taken their toll upon me.  Not the combat or being mean scenes:  nope, hurting is easy, and I know my characters will recover because–well, I know.  No, it’s the scenes where feelings are given and taken, and love is professed.  One of the hardest I’ve had to write was the “Worth of Love” scene in the hospital, where Annie tells Kerry that, and that he deserves to hear someone tell him they love him every day of his life–and he realizes, moments later, that Annie deserves the same.  Dammit, even now I’m getting weepy just thinking about that scene and writing this down.  It was hard to write, and it’s hard to read.

It’s hard because I wonder if that will ever happen to me.

I know there are going to be a lot of things that will hurt my kids throughout these stories.  I joked in the comments yesterday that one of the themes that will pop up is death, that before they’re out of school they’ll both be well versed in death, both from the receiving side and the dealing side.  Particularly Kerry:  there’s a situation in the fifth novel–yes, that far away!–where he jokes with all seriousness, “I’m really tired of this ‘tempting death’ shit, why can’t I do something else?”.  You can’t, kid, because death is the yang to your love yin.  You’re gonna love hard, and that’s gonna be balanced with getting into a lot of major crap that’s gonna leave you sitting on Death’s doorstep now and then.

But don’t worry, ’cause Annie’s gonna be right there with you sometimes . . .

You still get the grand romance, Kerry, with a girl who’ll tell you every day that she loves you.  Some of us would screw with death all the time if we could get that.

Believe me, kid.  I know.

Fulfilling the Loops of Continuity

First up, a little bit of personal news.  No, nothing bad:  I’m not off to the sanitarium to “get better”, though I’ve done something like that at one point in my life . . . no, it’s something better.  I’ll will have an interview posted on another blog sometime soon.  Yay me!  I haven’t had an interview in a while, and now is as good a time as any.  There were a lot of questions, and by the time I answered them all I’d written nearly four thousand words, so you know I’ll have a lot to say.  It’s also possible I’ll come off as the most boring git in the world, but that’s a risk you run with an interview.  As soon as it is posted, I’ll reblog it here, and generally link whore myself like crazy.  Please stand by.

Writing up that interview took most of my morning and afternoon, so I didn’t do much in the way of editing yesterday.  That happens:  you can’t be in editing or writing mode all the time, but you do what you can, right?  However, I did have the TV on in the background while I did my interview, and a couple of the movies that I half-paid attention to were Wanted–which I’d not only seen before, but I have the original comics run of the story–and Taken–which I had not seen before, but knew about because this movie started the reign of Liam Neeson bad-assery.

Of the two Wanted is really an odd duck because it so wildly deviates from the original material.  Sure, one could believe James McAvoy is a complete loser who ends up becoming a master assassin, and Angelina Jolie is his mentor, but once you start getting into the original story you start to see a lot of weird things, like how The Fraternity is really a bunch of super-villains who got tired of being on the bottom rung of the ladder all the time and decided to take over.  Then there’s the main characters, Wesley and The Fox.  Throughout the comic they are modeled after two rather well know individuals:  Wesley was modeled after Eminem, and The Fox was modeled after Halle Berry.  The Fox also wears a costume that comes with cat ears, because super-villains, yo.

Sure, you can see the resemblence between the characters and the actors if you squint hard enough . . .

Sure, you can see the resemblance between the characters and the actors if you squint hard enough . . .

But one can live with that, because if you aren’t getting Eminem and Halle Berry to pretty much play themselves in a story that used them for the character templates, then you do what you can.  There was a scene, however, that made me roll my eyes:  it was when Wesley is looking at a piece of the “Loom of Fate” given to him to translate, and as he looks through a magnifying glass he starts drawing ones and zeros so he can lay out the binary code and translate it to English.  And as Wesley draws his numbers, his zeros always get a slash in them . . .

Which if you’re a boy from Chicago–which Wesley’s suppose to be–you wouldn’t put a slash in your zeros.  However, if you’re a boy from Scotland–which James McAvoy is–you would probably draw your oughts with a slash in them.  Which was why I was rolling my eyes, because I was surprised no one caught that.  Then again, how many people watching the movie are going to catch that?  Maybe a dozen?  Only the super geeks among us?  Those of us who read the comic and are wondering if before the credits roll McAvoy is going to show us his rage face while telling the audience this is how he’s going to look while butt raping us?  (Which is how the comic ends, by the way.)

Then there’s Taken.  Never mind trying to figure out the logic of how a guy can run through Paris killing dozens of people, and even go so far as to shoot the wife of a French Security Officer in their house, and yet still apparently fly home commercial after having been shot a few times.  It’s an action movie, and you’re suppose to check your brain at the door before entering the theater.  No, the part that had me rolling my eyes took place on the private flight from Los Angeles to Paris . . .

Now, when Liam’s character’s daughter gets nabbed, you hear her description of her kidnapper:  “Beard; six foot; tattoo on hand–“.  Sure, clear enough.  But on the flight to Paris you hear her say, “Mustache; six foot; tattoo on hand–”  But later the description is back to beard–so who am I looking for?  A guy with a beard, or a guy with a mustache?  Or does it matter, because Liam’s gonna kill them all anyway?  It’s one of those things that sort of drive me mad, though, because since you already have the recording of the kidnapping, why bother with the change?  Or was it because they recorded the sound bite before they had an actor cast, and they didn’t know what they’d look like?

A few times I’ve had people tell me that I spend too much time trying to get everything “right” in my stories, that I spend too much time trying to figure out a sequence of events within my novels rather than just sitting down and writing.  Like I mentioned a few days ago there are times when it would be easy to write, but then you find that a scene you’re preparing won’t work because of something like the sun setting too late at the location where the scene is set, and that means your characters are going to look up in amazement at the beautiful aurora greeting them to a land of death and cold misery.  “Who’s going to know that?” you say?  Me, for one.  And some geek out there who bothers to check time of sunset for that day in that part of the world, after which they mumble, “Man, this chick is a loser!  Don’t they know it’s not dark enough for an aurora?”  And don’t say they aren’t out there:  they are.

Because I’m here, so I know they exist.

This is why I have all sorts of notes.  This is why I spend so much time trying to figure out little things like when do people go off and do whatever it is they’re suppose to do in the story.  It’s like what I was working on late last night:  a couple of things I added to Annie and Kerry’s E Level time:  I’ve got them doing things for The Guardians relating to spirits, because they’re getting older, they’re getting good finding and contracting and even doing things to spirits, and so why not have them perform a little extra-curricular activity with a branch of The Foundation that doesn’t mind using a couple of hapless teenager witches when the need arises.

Help the Guardians, See the World, Make it Back in Time for Necromancy 102.

Help the Guardians, See the World, Make it Back in Time for Necromancy 102.

Therefore I have them off helping with a spirit search in Chicago–yeah, but it’s not like they’re talking around the middle of The Loop with unregulated nuclear particle accelerators on their backs–and then off to Pripyat, Ukraine–which, if you know your geography and history, is a real fun time–which eventually leads to that section at 21 March–a point in time where I’ve created another time line so I know what’s happening there.

You can bet that means it’s not gonna be a good time.

It’s important to get things right.  If you do it up front, then you don’t have to worry about them when you write:  you just write.  It’s one of the things I pointed out in my interview yesterday–if you know the order of things before you write, if you have all your notes in place before the story begins, the actual telling of the tale becomes far easier.  You’re not going to be perfect; you’re not always going to catch everything.  In fact, as you go along you may see something that works better.  But at least you have the foundation laid–no pun here, trust me–before the story is built.

Then again, maybe you want the Earth rotating in the wrong direction . .

The World Beneath the Water

Lets roll out the new from last night, first.  It was “I’m Off Night,” last night, because after dinner and a little shopping I had zero creative energy to sit and do anything.  I knew what I wanted to write, but after a good hour of looking at the story, I finally said, “I think I’ll just sit and relax,” and did that until I started falling asleep at ten PM.  It’s not a bad thing:  sometimes you need to recharge your batteries, and if that means a night off, then take it.  I don’t have anything to do today, so it’s a good time to make up for last night’s lost time.

So what I’m going to talk about today is something completely different, and in the process of this discussion I’m going to bring up some things about a rather well known television show about zombies where no one ever says the word zombie.  There will be times when I’m gonna go all Ms. Spoilly McSpoil, so if you don’t want to read something that’s going to cause you to shake your fist at your computer screen while you scream, “Curse you, Cassie!” through clenched teeth, then read a book, listen to music, or watch some good movies–TCM will show Bonnie and Clyde, Jaws, and Alien back-to-back tonight, so you might want to keep that block open.

I have given warning–you know–

Or is that, "Don't Dead, Open Inside"?  Maybe I should check . . .

Or is that Don’t Dead, Open Inside? Maybe I should check . . .

There’s a meme that’s been rolling around Facebook of late, one that doesn’t actually involve some kid getting picked up for a DUI in Miami.  No, this is a picture of a huge iceberg, floating peacefully along while waiting for a ship to smack into it.  As you know an iceberg is pretty much under the water, a huge thing you never see, which is probably good because you’d likely get hypothermia swimming around trying to get a look-see.

The part above the water–the small part–is labeled “Movie”, while the part below the waterline is labeled “Novel”.  You know what they’re trying to say:  the parts you see in a movie are only a small part of the story that’s adapted from a novel–if, of course, the movie is adapted from a novel, and it’s not an original tale.

But this is often true.  One could point to any of the biggest movies of late–the Harry Potter films, the Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games–had to leave out a lot of the story to get the tale up on the screen.  For some tales you need to do a four or five hour flick if you want to get everything on the screen–or do as was done with The Godfather, which took the early life of Vito Corleone and worked it up as a flash back around original material.  And in doing this, they still left out a lot of the story.  (Maybe due to threats of a lawsuit by a certain Italian-American singer and actor who’d won an Oscar who didn’t like a character in the novel who was Italian-American singer and actor who ended up winning an Oscar, all with a little help from his godfather.  Purely a coincidence, I’m sure.)

When you translate a novel to television, however, you are allowed a little more leeway, because you have, if you’re lucky, more time to develop your story.  Rich Man, Poor Man was a good example of the early television mini-series, where you could take your time moving as much of the story from the page to the screen, and stay true to the material.  Yes, some things don’t get translated well–maybe due to things that are going on inside a person’s head, or, depending on the times, there are things in the story that violate a network’s “standards and practices,” which is a fancy way of saying you’ll never get a particular scene past the censors.

This is pretty much alleviated by the advent of premium cable these days, where one can pretty much get away with showing so much that the joke has  become, “It’s not porn, it’s HBO.”  Yes, there are some things that HBO won’t show–in A Song of Ice and Fire our lovable Mother of Dragons was more like I’m Just Barely a Teen Mommy of Dragons, so she was aged up just a little for Game of Thrones.  And by “just a little,” I mean she could have appeared on 16 and Pregnant–with DRAGONS!  Which is a reality show I’d watch . . .

Basic cable has gotten into the act as well.  Breaking Bad was a true gem of drama, with a story and characters that was at both times compelling and revolting.  This was, however, an original show, and the story could develop as slowly and fully as the creator/producer liked.  And that brings us to the real iceberg of this tale, The Walking Dead.

"I don't speak with an English accent.  I'm from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent."

“I don’t speak with an English accent. I’m from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent.”

At the moment the AMC show is three-and-a-half seasons into a four season run, with a fifth promised.  It’s done very well in ratings and has a loyal, sometimes fanatical following, but that’s to be expected with any fandom.  The show follows this guy, Sheriff Rick Grimes, who wakes up from a gun shot-induced coma and discovers that, no, he’s not in Indiana, he’s in the middle of the Zombie Apocalypsetm, his family is missing, and everything he’s known has gone straight to hell.  In the process of the first episodes he finds his family, a group of survivors, and most of all his best-I-left-you-for-dead-and-I’m-bangin’-your-wife-friend and former partner from the force, Shane.

The show has followed the meta plot pretty closely:  they find Atlanta messed up, they find  Hershel’s Farm, they find The Prison, they find The Governor, they fight The Governor, they lose the Prison, and as of right now they’re On The Road looked for each other and safe harbor.  Since it’s been stated they run into the traveling trio of Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa, and mullet-sporting Eugene Porter, the metaplot will have them heading northward to the Alexandra Safe-Zone, where life won’t exactly become any easier for them.

I’ve only watched the show off and on throughout the years.  I usually haven’t had the time to watch the show, though these days I find there is more time in The Burg for relaxing, so I have watched episodes off and on.  I’ve also been an off-and-on fan of the comic, which has run since October, 2003, and is now up to Issue 120, with a confirmation of printing through Issue 132.

In terms of iceberging, this story is the perfect iceberg.  There is so much that has been set by the wayside in order to get the story on the screen.  About half of the Prison story was removed, for example, which could have been an entire season in of itself–instead of, say, a whole season of hanging out on The Farm.  That season could have seen Hershel losing two of his kids to his zombie kid in the barn, Tyreese’s daughter and boyfriend messing up their suicide pack, the beheading of Hershel’s twin daughters by crazy prisoners, Tyreese giving Rick a beatdown and throwing him off a second-story walkway, Carol deciding to do Death By Walker–

Wait, what?

Like I said, there were a lot changed to move the story from the comic to the small screen.  For one, they got rid of a few characters:  Hershel had a huge family, and he pretty much gets to watch six of them die almost right before his eyes–the last one, his son Billy, does when he takes a bullet to the head during the Woodbury assault on the prison. There are a few prisoners who make it as far at the Woodbury assault but no further, and one of two Woodbury defectors also meet their end at that point as well.  Dale–he of the famous show’s Dale Face–survives well beyond the Woodbury assault, only to be eaten by cannibals while on the road to Washington, D.C..  He is also the one who loses a leg, but since Dale was long-gone by the time of the show’s Prison Time, that leg bite went to Hershel.

Oh, and the Show Rick swears a lot less than that Comic Rick, but that’s because It’s Not HBO, It’s AMC, and while the show may be able to get away with a “shit” and “asshole” now and then, having Rick throw out the word “fucker” every so often wouldn’t go over well, and tell Michonne and Tyreese that the Woodbury folks “have fucked with the wrong people!” is pretty much HBO fodder.  And there’s a few sex scenes, because even when you’re surrounded by the undead, there’s always a moment for sexy time, right?

"This is my resting bitchy face.  I'm really not as bad as I'm made out."

“This is my resting bitchy face. I’m really not as bad as I’m made out.”

And then there is Lori.

If there is a part of this ‘Berg I find way the hell off, it’s the way a few of the women are portrayed.  In the original story, Lori is concerned, she’s protective of her family, she admits to having had sex once with Shane but no more, she makes it through Judith’s birth, becomes a protective mother–and then dies in about as gruesome a manner as one can imagine.  If it’s any consolation, her death–and the death of another–leads to the death of The Governor, but by that time Lori’s a Walker in Training and gives no shits.

The Show Lori, however . . . when your character is made out as the worst thing in a world full of undead looking to eat you and your loved ones twenty-four/seven, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, until the day you join the shambling herd, there is something seriously off.  By the end of Season Two most viewers, given the choice of having their face gnawed off by a hungry Walker, or having Lori ask them if they saw Carl in the house, would say, “Hey, Walker:  you want a side salad with my face?”  No way was she ever getting Mother of the Year awards, and given the narrowness of that field in the story, it’s a pretty damning indictment for her character.

The same thing was done with Andrea.  On the show she was something of an annoying pain in the ass who got separated from the group, was rescued by Michonne, went to Woodbury, hooked up with The Gov, waffled back and forth with the, “Is he good, is he psycho?  I can’t kill him, the sex was pretty good,” line, and ultimately ended up dead due to her own kind of stupid.

"No, I never shot a redneck by accident.  If I shoot him, he ain't gettin' up!"

“No, I never shot a redneck by accident. If I shoot him, he ain’t gettin’ up!”

This is more the way she really was:  kicking ass and forgetting the names as soon as they were dispatched.  And that scar on her face?  That’s from taking a rifle shot to the head, which sort of kinda put her out of action just a little in the final Woodbury assault.  But, in the comic story, Andrea’s still alive, still kicking ass, and pretty much Rick’s girlfriend at this point.  A lot of her personality in the original story got ported over to Carol, who, on the show, you learned not to be near if you had a bad cough.

I can understand some of the changes that were made:  it’s basic cable, you only have so many episodes in a season that can air, you wanna cut through as much of the Peyton Place stuff as possible and stick to the action, and you never know how long your actors can stay with you, so sometimes you kill off ones where they shouldn’t die, and keep around those who should have died because they’re good for the story, which is to say fans like them, and fans equal viewer, so go with that.

That, ultimately, is why you have the iceberg when you translate a story to a screen.  Reading is one thing, the visual medium another, and a lot of the people doing the viewing aren’t necessary going to be doing the reading.  There are a few exceptions to the rule–Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings instantly spring to mind, as well as a few superhero movies based upon other comics–but in the case of TV, it does seem that you have a lot more people who watch the story, and are surprised as hell when one tells them that what they’re watching was based upon a book, or in the case of TWD, a comic.

It’s an interesting thing to look at from the point of being a writer.  I’ve seen more than a few Facebook threads that go, “If your story is made into a movie, who do you want to play your characters?”  A better question may be, “If your story is made into a movie or television show, what would you be okay with getting changed or dropped?”  After all, your story would end up someone else’s iceberg.

And there’s so much water in which to hide.

Space Testing

The movie Gravity is coming, like tomorrow, the 4th of October, which also happened to be the anniversary of the launching of Sputnik I.  Funny how that works out, right?  This is something I’ve wanted to see since I’ve heard about the concept, and after seeing the trailer–which, once again, give away a few too many plot point, particularly if you know your space suits and hardware like me; thank you for nothing, Hollywood–I’m considering seeing it in 3d, as it looks stunning as hell.

What more could you want?  It’s Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and space–or should I say, “SPAAAAAACCCCCCCEEEEEE”?  Throw in Alfonso Cuaron on the screenplay and directing, and it’s a winner.

But I know some of my friends won’t see it.  Not because it’s about space (no, Space Core, I won’t say it), but because it won’t pass The Bechdel Test.

I’ve discussed The Bechdel Test before.  The criteria is simple:

 

1.  Are there two women in the movie?
2.  Do to speak with each other?
3.  Do they speak about something other than a man?

 

It’s meant to give some indication as to the amount of gender bias in a flick, as in, “Do the women play an important part in the movie, or is the flick a total bro fest?”  And lets face it, the majority of movies are a total bro fest, with dudes totally saving the day and shit being blown up left and right, while the ladies are little more than lampshade meant to get all hot and bothered over Bro One’s flexing.

The problem is, a smart writer or director can game this easily.  Just slip in a scene with two women talking about something other than a guy, and suddenly you hit the criteria.  Here, let me show you:

 

Scene:  in the middle of monsters tearing up (name of city here, but probably New York, because screw that place), Main Female Character runs into a bathroom to wash the blood from her face.  There’s a commotion in a stall behind her:

Female voice OC:  “Oh, dammit!”
MFC:  “What?”
(Woman steps out of the stall)  “I’m having my period and I don’t have any tampons.”
MFC:  (reaching into breast pocket of her combat overalls to remove a tampon)  “Here, take one.”
SFC:  “Wow!  You’re a lifesaver!”
MFC:  “Yeah, well . . . the last thing I want when I’m kicking some monster’s ass is to have blood flowing from my uterus–”
SFC:  “Nasty!”
MFC:  “You know it.  So I always carry spares.”  (Looks into the mirror)  “Okay, time to save the world!”
SFC:  “Go get ’em!”

End Scene.

 

Yes, that was a cheap way to do it, but it’s one of the ways a flick like GI Joe: Retaliation and Sharknado can make the list, but Anna Karenina, Bullet to the Head, and Chernobyl Diaries can’t.  And the odds are Gravity won’t make the list, either, though I could be wrong since it appears there is a female captain in the movie, and she may give a few orders to Sandra before something horrible happens.

The Hollywood idea that women can’t carry a movie is crap.  The idea that if I don’t throw some bros into a flick I’m going to alienate my public and a flick will lose money is crazy.  Take a look at the movies out in 2013:  of the ones that crashed and burned, how many of them were strictly a couple, or more, dudes on the screen?  (I’m lookin’ hard at you, Lone Ranger.)  Woman can’t carry a flick?  The majority of movies with men in them aren’t making cash.  I believe this is known in many scientific circles as, “Your hypothesis is bullshit!”, and Hollywood should take note when they’re not handing Micheal Bay a half-billion dollars to blow up stuff with toy robots.

I don’t see a lot of movies in a year; if I’m lucky, maybe two or three.  So far I’ve seen one this year, and that was Pacific Rim, which I loved.  I’ll go see Gravity and probably dig the hell out of it.  And then I’ll likely be through for the year, and wait to see what next year brings.

In the meantime I’m gotta write about these two woman about to unleash Hell . . .

Sniffles and Starts

Most of the day yesterday was spent running around.  I shouldn’t say, “Most of the day,” because I was here at Panera in the morning, then later in the morning I ran up about twenty miles north of here to the Appalachia Trail, snapped a few pictures, drove back to The Burg for lunch, did some shopping, and was back in the hotel about one-thirty.  It was quite uneventful, but that’s the way most days are now.  I get up, I get down, just like I’m living in a Yes song.

I’d promised I was going to get into some writing, and in time I did.  I did it slowly, because I had the TV on to give me a little background noise, and I found myself getting drawn into what was happening.  It was easy to get distracted because I was suffering from a stuffy nose and a strange tickle in my throat, which is usually the warning signs that a cold is coming on.  That’s some crap I don’t need; it seems like whenever I get back to work, after a couple of weeks on the job I catch a cold.  This is why I should be a shut-in and work from home all the time:  I don’t pick up strange germs from other people.

So I spent the gathering evening sniff and snorting, getting lots of fluids in my body while I pecked away at my new short story.  Yes, I want to emphasize this:  it’s a short story, one that I already have worked out in my head, so I know there are five individual scenes to write, though I can’t say how many words are going to be in each scene.

I set the Project Target at five thousand words total, and five hundred words for a daily goal.  Hey, easy, right?  Nice and easy, I can write the story in ten days at that rate, and it leaves me time to do other things.  So I got into full screen mode and started writing–

Slowly, carefully.  I didn’t want to get wordy; I didn’t want to get into a lot of things that were going to fill up the story and turn it into another novelette, or worse, novella.  Nope, I set my goal:  five thousand words.  Best stick to it.

The nice thing about Scrivener’s full-screen mode is you can’t bring up your Project Targets every couple of paragraphs to see how you’re doing.  You write on the limited interface you’re given, and that keeps you focused.  Of course you can flip over to a browser every so often, but I didn’t.

Oh, and the TV was still on, and HBO was playing Les Misérables, and there’s Russel Crowe singing to an unrecognizable Hugh Jackman, and before you know it Anne Hathaway is getting her hair done in a boy cut and I’m trying hard not to think of the opening chapter of American Psycho–“Bum, sixteen; bum, seventeen; bum, eighteen,” and the bus with the poster of Cosette with “Whore” scrawled at the bottom–but after a while I started thinking that someone’s already written fan fiction where Wolverine and Catwoman are running through 18th Century France trying to stop SID 6.7 from killing the king before the revolution–and if SID still looks like The Thin Green Duke.  At least Russel’s band’s music wouldn’t be part of the soundtrack . . .

I finally reached the end of the scene, and I went back into normal mode and checked my word count–

1066 words.

Yeah, I thought I’d do five hundred, and I did just a little over a thousand.  Knowing I have four more scenes to write, that’ll put me between five and six thousand words for the story, which isn’t bad.  And that will keep it under seventy-five hundred words, which means my story could end up being eligible for a Hugo short story award.

Now there’s some science fiction for you.