Appreciate, Don't Depreciate

Black face anyone?

Black face anyone?

In researching and thinking about what people in my fantasy world do, say for fun, I had to hearken back to the days of yore. Not your, nor mine, but yore (woulda worked better verbally). Specifically, the medieval days because technologically that’s where my world relates closest. Being a huge fan of the Renaissance Faire, I get a slight glimpse of a world that once existed. In those times, there wasn’t much to do except follow a craft: glass blowing, blacksmithing, or delve into the arts like painting, sculpting, acting, writing. Plays were huge back then. And the Royal Court was a huge orgy. But if you couldn’t go to those things, then what did people do in those days of yore?

Earth Theater...I mean Globe Theater

Earth Theater...I mean Globe Theater

Aside from all the chores that needed to be done (there were a lot), there wasn’t much. So delving into a craft or an art was ideal, from my point of view. I suppose if I lived in my world, which I do every day, then I’d be a storyteller.

However, today we have access to thousands of things that can entertain us and turn our minds into a pile of mush. Yes, we can dive into a craft or explore an art form, but for most neither of those constitutes making a living. As a result, we watch TV, watch a ball game, a boxing match, go to the pub, hang out with friends, then there’s movies. But I think the biggest luxury came about in 2007: the iPhone.

That's a big iPhone

That's a big iPhone

When I got it as a gift (thanks bro!) it changed my world. I listened to music, lectures, surfed the web a lot more than I did on my computer, played games (most were web games since the app store had yet to exist).

The world changed again. Apple released the iPad.  I told myself, I don’t need an iPad. If the iPad 2 was a massive improvement, then I’d get one. For now, at least, my iPhone was enough.

The iPad 2 came out. I played with it at the store, but was under whelmed. Then my girlfriend at the time gave me one for my birthday (thanks!). Now, I rarely use my computer to surf the web. I carry my iPad with me all the time. I'm an Apple freak!  Ugh. Gawd help me lawd.

Apple just recently announced the iPad Mini. Yeah. A miniature version of the iPad. Clever. A lot of people are complaining that Apple used old technology (based on the iPad 2), that the resolution of the screen is worse than the top competitors, that the pricing is way too high. How spoiled are we when we complain that technology is too old. My iPad 2 is still pretty awesome, despite it being ancient tech. And I’m not even tempted to buy the iPad 4, which apparently is about a thousand times better than what I have. So what?

There are starving children in the world. Children who don’t know when their next meal will come. Where the real enemy is starvation. That is a real problem.

I’d recently watched Gerard Butler in MACHINE GUN PREACHER. Yeah. He’s a preacher who literally carries a machine gun. He plays a real life preacher who dedicates his life to rescuing children in Sudan from being raped, killed and turned into soldiers. I doubt those kids complain about the iPad Mini being old tech.

For most of us who live in the Western world, we should take a moment and appreciate all the wonderful things we have. Sure. There will always be people who have more, who do more amazing things, who seemingly live a better life. But none of those things will make us happier, give us fulfillment, or enrich our lives. Having more stuff, more wealth can definitely enhance your life. Got an iPad 2, but want the best of the best? Then get an iPad 4. Shit. Buy a whole bunch. Just don’t expect it to make you happy.

Excuse me. There's a lemon in my martini

Excuse me. There's a lemon in my martini

Browsing through Facebook, I found a lot of my friends are partying a lot. Unfortunately, most of these events are held at night. I work a day job so the only time I can workout and write is after, during those cool events. So I either forgo the little time I have to write, and sculpt my body into a Chinese God (don’t know if they’re as buff as Greek Gods), or do what I really want. Partying and meeting new people while talking about nonsense was never my thing. So the choice, which was never a choice to begin with, was easy. I may never get published, in the traditional sense. But I do feel lucky that I can write the stories that flutter in my mind.

With the holidays arriving faster than Santa can deliver presents, appreciate all that you have, see that most of our problems aren’t, and enjoy life as it presents itself to us.

Loss of Subtlety

Belieive it or not I'm walking on air...

Belieive it or not I'm walking on air...

Subtlety has escaped Hollywood. Hollywood, however, is a representation of what the market will bear. Market being the peeps. Us. What we’re likely to pay a whopping twelve bucks to watch.

To be more homogenous, movies must have:

• Action • Suspense • Romance • Mystery • Redemption • Revenge • Comic relief • Strong female lead • Coupled by a backward-thinking male lead who learns to love the strong female lead finally realizing that she’s his everlasting soul mate for all time and beyond • A chase scene either by foot, car, truck, or air, with shoot outs that lead to a climactic battle between God and Satan, where armies of orcs, elves, muggles, wizards, witches, followed by mere men and women, and a child who was born with a butterfly tattoo preordaining her to cure the virus that has threatened life as we know it and must complete a special training that will make him (wasn’t it a her?) nearly invincible (nearly because we have to have tension in our epic fog of a story) • And a Hollywood ending where the child cures Satan of his issues, and both God and Satan float off into the sunset • The End

Ebert and Scorsese

Ebert and Scorsese

One of the things I do is read reviews of movies, Roger Ebert being my favorite. They don’t have any bearing on what I watch. But I can learn a lot about story telling by people’s likes and dislikes, and they’re fairly common. As a story teller, the market is important to a certain point. But as J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyers has proven, good content creates the market. We see this in the explosion of wizardry and horromance in the media today.

I see you

I see you

When reviews are either good or bad cohesively, there may be some merit. On Fandango, I had looked up the times for Hereafter, directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Matt Damon. Part of the movie was filmed in San Francisco in an apartment building my friend lives in. So it was cool hearing stories of how filming went.

Fandango had a rating of yellow, meaning most of the people who saw the movie thought it was “so-so”. That’s the middle rating. But Jackass in 3D got a bright green rating, the top, a “must go”. A red means “oh no”, stay away or lose two hours of life you can never get back.

Most people complained Hereafter was slow and uneventful. But you can’t have a good story with substance based purely on the afterlife. You may point out Paranormal Activity, but it’s just cheap thrills. Would you stay in a house that haunted you for any length of time? I’m brave. But I ain’t that brave. And none of the Paranomal movies explored why they stayed or what issues being haunted brought up. It represents nothing. It's like going to a strip club, paying to get a hard-on, then walking home with with no relief.

Not that I know of those kinds of naughty, naughty things.

A good story with substance uses something as the backdrop, like the afterlife, to show case interpersonal issues. Hereafter does that from three different perspectives: a psychic who can communicate with the dead, a journalist who had a near death experience, and a boy who yearns for his dead twin.

Work it, work it

Work it, work it

A good example of backdrop is Casino Royale. I'm not a huge Bond fan. I never knew why until I started to study story. James Bond is a classic character. He's suave. He likes all women. He sleeps with all women he desires. He likes his drinks to be shaken, not stirred. He can get out of any situation. He's a master fighter, can wield any weapon made available, and is witty.

But as a character, he never changes.  He doesn't go from having no confidence to being confident. He doesn't realize the error of his ways. He doesn't learn to be loyal because he already is. He doesn't have any bad qualities.  Qualities that a writer can hang his hat on to change.

Except for one. He's emotionally detached to the women he's intimate with. He never falls in love. Then Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green, shows up in Royale. She's confident, brash, reads Bond for who he is, and just as every bit competitive. Through their competitiveness, Bond falls in love with her. A huge change in both character and in the movie. When Vesper dies, he must struggle with the pain, something all humans go through. As a result, Casino Royale is one of the best reviewed Bond movies.

[poll id="34"]