I Think My Next Character Should Also Be a Person of Some Sort

One thing that’s getting me through a really trying time at work is the story that I’m currently writing. I’ve been writing since I was a kid and couldn’t wait for the next issue of Amazing Spider-Man (Sandman and Hydro-Man had just gotten mixed up, and the combined Mud-Thing was rising behind Spidey!) I decided to dedicate myself this year to producing stories and scripts for actual release.

The one I’m currently working on is loosely inspired by the haunted Massachusetts of H.P. Lovecraft, and I’m really enjoying the process of getting it into shape for submission.

A pleasant harbor in a nice area. How frightening!

A pleasant harbor in a nice area. How frightening!

After the first draft, I remembered my resolve to stop using the default protagonist of Western fiction: a straight, white, man. Switching the gender, I started in on the second draft in earnest. That’s when the unexpected happened. Simply from changing one aspect of the generic main character, my narrator developed a personality.

Suddenly I was thinking about her as a person, instead of a passive experiencer of plot. Who was she? Why was she at Magnolia Harbor? Did she miss her family? How would she spend her time at the beach? The story became much stronger as its narrator became somebody.

All because I actually thought about the story as being about a person. Imagine that!

image cropped from iOS Maps display

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Film Diary: April

April was a “slow” movie month. Despite a trip to watch movies at a drive-in near Pittsburgh (more about that soon) I only saw 31 movies! That makes 4 months straight that I’ve seen more than necessary to stay on schedule, so I’m feeling pretty confident about project Waste My Life A Film For Every Day.

I tried another film from the Criterion set of Czech New Wave. Last month’s “Daisies” was so radical that it defied viewing. “A Report on the Party and the Guests”, on the other hand, subverted from within conventional structure, making it easier for me to access and appreciate. It was still very much an art film, but it was one that I enjoyed and would recommend as an example of film as political rebellion.

At the polar opposite of the spectrum I watched Wakefield Poole’s “Bible!”, which presented a few scenes from the Old and New Testaments with, ahem, very little demands on the wardrobe department. The best thing I can say about it is that the Bathsheba segment was genuinely funny. Second best is that Poole comes off as a bargain basement Pasolini. There are worse things to be, I suppose.

For instance, one could be Dario Argento still leeringly filming his naked daughter. It’s always been a bit creepy to see Asia Argento unclad in her dad’s films, but at least there used to be some effort put into the movies. Argento’s 2012 production of “Dracula” was so indifferent and sloppy that it made his execrable “Phantom of the Opera” look like “Deep Red”! Okay, maybe more like “Two Evil Eyes”, but still…

My favorite new-to-me movies of the month were “Steamboy” and “A Shock to the System”. The first is a magnificently animated story of the conflict between invention for furthering humankind and for dominating it. It’s a grand and delightful adventure, and I wish it had led to a series chronicling the further adventures of Steam (hinted at by stills during the end credits). The second follows Michael Caine as a businessman whose prospects rise as he becomes more horrible. As social satire it’s ponderous and obvious, but it’s such a joy to watch Caine transform into a monster that I have to love it.

Anyway, here’s the list.

Apollo 18 (2011)
The Asphyx (1973)
The Beast Within (1982)
Bible! (1974)
Carrie (1976)
Cheerleader Massacre 2 (2011)
Crossworlds (1997)
Dario Argento’s Dracula (2012)
Daughters of Satan (1972)
Episode 50 (2011)
Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
Grave Secrets, aka Secret Screams (1989)
Halloween (1978)
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
King Dinosaur (1955)
The Last Days on Mars (2013)
Mean Girls (2004)
La Nave de los Monstruos (1960)
Phantasm (1979)
A Report on the Party and the Guests (1966)
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)
A Shock to the System (1990)
Solomon Kane (2009)
Steamboy (2004)
Suspiria (1977)
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)
Twixt (2011)
The Void (2001)

Good Drainage Makes Good Neighbors

The new neighbors knocked on our door for the second time since they moved in a year ago. This is one more time than their predecessors had in the decade we refused to know each other.

When the previous neighbors knocked, it was because we’d shelled out money for a survey to prove they were building on our property. The dude of the house had wanted to convince me, despite the clear evidence of a straight line between two points, that there was a mystery dent in our plot just large enough to accommodate his shed. (This, despite having vastly more land than we do.)

Things improved after something led his departure from the home, but that remained the only “knock, knock — who’s there?” interaction.

Last winter the young woman who’d moved in with her fiancé knocked. They were heading out of town and were used to living in high crime areas. She asked if we could keep an eye on the place, knowing full well that sounded silly. We said sure and handed her a jar of jam. Wendi enjoys handing out her jam almost as much as seeing the pained look on my face when I see it leave the pantry.

Tonight another knock came. They’re digging a trench to put in drainage for their crawl space and wanted to know if we needed a trench for ours while they were renting the tool.

To recap: first neighbors wanted our land and the second neighbors wanted to save us money. I think it’s safe to say we traded up.