Turning Pages

writing corner-4471

So when I decided to take the leap and start writing seriously, I set up this space.

This is where I come up with ideas, read, plot story arcs, make notes on first drafts… *cough* take naps.

I know what you’re thinking.

So. Much. Orange.

You’re not wrong.

Even the painters were a bit… suspicious. But when they’d hitched up their overalls and plunged head first into the carrot soup I’d chosen they actually ended up loving it! And so do I! I picked it to be inspiring, uplifting and warming, and it’s worked out even better than I’d hoped. How can you get down in the dumps when you’re living inside a roasted butternut squash!?

 

Added warm fuzzies… this is me up-cycling an old log into a side table. I’m so hygge right now I’m practically an anthropomorphic cup of hot cocoa 😉

 

Sorry Steve

SPOILER ALERT – if you watch Line of Duty and haven’t seen the latest episode… READ NO FURTHER on pain of… well, finding out what happens. 

So, Line of Duty, I have always HATED Steve Arnott. Hated him, officious, puckered little snooping jobsworth with a huge sense of his own importance and a bug up about bent coppers while being SO close to the wrong side of the line because he thinks anything goes in the fight to snuff out corruption. Also he was a total jerk about Fleming being ambitious, and then veeeeeeeery smug for someone who only got promoted because his boss is a sexist dinosaur who cares more that he can’t have a pint with Fleming than that Arnott did the horizontal tango with a witness. 

But now he might be dead.

So I take it all back. 

Kudos to Jed Mercurio for pulling off the holy grail of twists: the one where you don’t see it coming at all and then kick yourself black and blue because OF COURSE the wimpy, emasculated husband played by a suspiciously heavy-hitting actor is actually a serial killer… haven’t I been watching these shows for years, how do they still trick me, how!? 

Can he have a better nom de guerre than balaclava man now please?  

The First Rule Is: Don’t Talk About It.

Reading A.A.Gill’s book Pour Me when you’re trying your hand at writing… is like Fight Club. You show up, you ask pretty please can someone punch me repeatedly in the stomach, and when A.A.Gill obliges you, you love every tooth-rattling second of it. 

The experience goes something like this: 

How did he do that?… Ok, how did he do THAT?… Now, that’s just ridiculous, how did he DO that?!

This man could slay with a four word sentence. Not even four big words, not even the fanciest synonyms for the four words he’s picked. And yet… KOed. Every. Single. Time. Everything about it is cohesive, there is not one single extraneous syllable, and the tone matches the subject matter to perfection. The jokes are wry, and often have a kickback second meaning to them that you only notice when you’ve put the bastard book down… so the damn thing haunts you like a literary poltergeist. The Peeves of aspiring writers; throwing red pens at the back of your head, snickering that you’ll never reach high enough to brush the soles of Gills’ boots, because of course you won’t. Why are you even here? Oh yeah, to get sucker-punched in the kidneys by jealousy of this man’s outrageous talent, and love it. Which reminds me; I’m off, skull singing and eyes bugging, to read some more. 

The Misery Olympics

Don’t get me wrong, I watch a metric ton of formulaic American pulp drama. I’m there for Scandal, I turn up for The Good Wife and Conviction. I tuned in to House and The West Wing. I’ve dipped a toe into GOT and been known to sample Sons of Anarchy, I even road tested The Walking Dead before it jumped the shark and blithely ignored that living humans are a finite resource after the zombie apocalypse. I keep up with Elementary. I’m here for the latest season of Madam Secretary. 

I draw the line at the misery olympics…. Grey’s Anatomy. 

Before there was the Red Wedding, there was George getting dragged by a bus. There was Denny dying on prom night. There was the Lexi-Mark plane crash double sucker punch. 

Who dares believe they are strong enough to face down Shonda Rhymes after all that?

Not. Me. 

There’s a bit of leftover orange peel running America, that’s enough misery to last me a life time. I’m sorry Shonda, but you win. I bow out. I retire, defeated. I just can’t watch April Kepner’s baby die or McDreamy get front-end slammed by a rolling SUV. 

And if you have no idea who any of these people are, or what any of this was about… by all means buy the boxset and find out. But do friends and family a favour and forewarn them because they will walk in on you sobbing uncontrollably, and they will not understand why. 


We Think Therefore We Know

We’ve been on a chilli kick recently (I was going to apologise to Mexico because my secret ingredient is HP Sauce, but then I found out chilli con carne is from Texas so nvm). And the other week I watched episode one of the new MacGyver reboot while simmering up a storm.   

I don’t think it translates. 

For those that haven’t seen it (or haven’t seen The Simpsons, where Marie’s sisters are obsessed with it) the original was an 80’s show about a guy who always has to rig up some diy gadget to get out of some other guy’s secret vault… just imagine Ian Fleming invented Pinterest and you’ll have the gist. 

But the thing is… 21st century people don’t care about a guy who can make a bomb out of a battery and some tinfoil… because we all think we can do that. We think we know everything. And whatever we don’t already know, we’ve got covered with good wifi. Let’s face it… people who carry around miniature computers in the backs of their jeans are hard to impress. 

So, cute as MacGyver might be, its boring to be instructed in how to create a thermite reaction with things we found in a janitors closet… we know Mac… we can Google too. 

Art Imitating Life

Lajos Egri says “Drama must not only entertain but teach as well” 

I have a pet peeve. Anyone who’s ever asked me for a coffee or gone to brunch with me will have seen it… I like my coffee like I like my life: UNCOMPLICATED. With the exception of Starbucks (which as we know doesn’t count) where my order has more synonyms for sugar than the back of a Coke Zero, I like my coffee black, no trimmings, no twiddly bits. To my endless social discomfort it turns out that’s a lot harder to get than it sounds… I’ll just have a black coffee please. An Americano? Yes, an Americano, thanks. With milk? No, thank you, Black. Sugar? No, thank you. *Moments later* A black coffee arrives… with a small jug of milk and some passive aggressive sugarlumps. Cue me holding forth on how hard it is not to be rude before the caffeine arrives, and coffee gremlins who think they know what you want better than you do… and whoever I’m with rolling their eyes until their retinas detach. It’s ugly. No one wins. 

  

Enter Fortitude. Season 2, Episode 3. 

Bartender putting down coffee cup: You want milk?

Dennis Quaid’s character who’s name I forget, in tones of abject horror: What?

B, in tones suggesting Quaid is, perhaps, a little slow: With your Americano.

DQ: You don’t put milk in an Americano. It’s the only one you don’t put milk in. That’s why they call it an Americano. Not a latte, for example, or a Cappuccino.

B: You’re the guy that killed the bear. (Quaid killed some prop teeth glued to the end of a pooper scooper next to a laptop playing Frozen Planet in episode 3.)    

DQ: So?

B: Coffee expert too. (Ooo, Dennis, handy to be in the arctic for burns like that.)

DQ: You’re welcome. 
I don’t suppose this is technically what Egri meant, but fingers crossed some baristas were watching. 

All the men and women merely players

Does it matter that we know all the faces off by heart these days? It was Marlee Matlin who made me think of this, but it applies to all actors simply because of the way the human brain stores information. Or… at least… the way my brain stores information. I first saw Matlin playing Joey Lucas in The West Wing and I loved her. She’s gorgeous. She’s a great actress. She also happens to be deaf. And once I knew that about her, I couldn’t un-know it. And it means that when I see her in other shows I know in advance her character is deaf… which means if a show tries to use it to create drama… well… they can’t. Enter Code Black. In comes Matlin on a gurney, passenger/victim in a car accident. First comes a glimpse from her perspective. A silent, gurney’s-eye-view of A&E hubbub. Then comes the wait, the wait for the Drs to catch up, for someone to reveal the hidden facet of their character – that they know sign language – for the revelation that the driver of the car is her interpreter, her voice. Then comes the heartwarming comedy of errors as everyone struggles to understand each other until the universal language of love brings them together.

So does it matter that I always know what’s going to happen the second I see her, and therefore don’t participate in the dramatic moment? Does it matter any more than the fact that the first time Rob Lowe entered the show, my head started digging around in the section where I store West Wing trivia and went oh, that’s the guy who played Sam Seybourne… what’s his name again? Or that I then dug around in the bit where I store John Hughes movies and went he also played that guy who played the sax in that movie that looks like it’s a John Hughes movie but actually isn’t… what was that movie called? Oh yeah. St Elmo’s Fire… So what’s his name again…? Does it matter that the whole time my brain was doing this, I wasn’t actually watching Code Black anymore? Yes, it does… it’s lazy writing. If you want to use a character’s deafness as a shortcut to creating drama… you need a less recognisable actress.