Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Team Edward or Team Jacob? Yeah, I'm surrounded. Switzerland!

Laugh all you want.

I had to pull out the Switzerland card.

My 12-year-old stepdaughter is a dedicated Twihard fan. She's not a crazy mess--take that back, she's all about Team Edward. She's got the posters, shirts, bags, calendars, (I think ringtones, but I haven't creeped her phone, because that's just not cool). Twihard? Yeah, she doesn't have to try that hard at all. She read the books like they were pasta.

Invariably, every few weeks we'll get dragged into a discussion about the series. As a dad I'm interested in talking about her interests with her, and I like to talk mad crap about the series.

But then she brings up Smallville, and we're having a go-around about the virtues of storytelling, my man-soaps, her girl-soaps, her like for Edward, I like Chloe... So round and round we go.

The other day, she caught me watching Eclipse without her.

Oops. Busted.

She let me have it.

I suppose I deserved it. Her mom just gave me a look that basically said, "You're on your own on this one."

In my defense, I like Victoria. Well, her new cast, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard's daughter. I grew up with Mayberry, with Happy Days, with Ron's list of movies, and one of his recent directions, Da Vinci Code, as well as Angels & Demons.

My favorite Bryce movie was an M. Knight film: The Village. Can't watch this movie enough. It's my second favorite M. Knight film, right after Sixth Sense, followed by the other M. Knight/Bryce team up, Lady in the Water.

You see where this is going?

I like Bryce. She can play innocent, sinister, and now Bryce is in another film slated for this year: The Help. Heard about it after my girlfriend and her daughter came back from the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Penelope Cruz is in that flick, too. She's steamy. Her accent? Just keep talking...

I don't have to try that hard at all either. I like me a hottie in a film just like my stepdaughter likes her hotties.

There's a gender divide, but hey, we get to talk about Twilight for a while. We get to talk about cool things (but I'm too old for cool. Drool? Not yet. I've got some decades in me still) and fill our day with some stepdad/stepdaughter time, which as any parent knows is like trying to pin down a zephyr. She's growing up so fast. I'm just trying hard to keep up with her. Best way to do that is to stay in the middle, somewhere in Switzerland.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

James Frey co-wrote I am Number Four?

At first I thought the pseudonym he used was intentional, as a way to get around the criticism he'd gotten for A Million Little Pieces. It's not.

But then again, I didn't have an issue with that book.

My issue was with the publisher for marketing A Million Little Pieces as non-fiction, rather than fiction. Oh, wait, not non-fiction, I later discovered, faction: the blending of reality and fantasy based in reality. Whatever. Whoever came up with that name dismissed James Frey's claim he intended the book to be fiction. It wasn't an intersection of factual research and his imagination.

It was fiction. Fiction is super-altered reality, fantastical. Ever seen a few drunk people at a bar? Yeah, the drunker they are the funnier they can be. Behavior doesn't border on crazy, it's down right fantastical. Same with drugs. The drug scene. Recreational drug use. My opinions on drugs are for another post. Don't infer anything. If you care to read, I'll write it.

James Frey had to go on Oprah and apologize. Timbaland feat. One Republic put it nicely: It's too late to apologize. That was intended for the publisher.

A Million Little Pieces shouldn't even count as faction. Ask anyone who's been drunk or blazed and they'll tell you. They don't remember facts, only images and feelings. So how could James Frey be held accountable for his drug-induced experience, or getting himself admitted to a drug clinic? How much of his recollection could be counted as true to fact? Can't. Too many facts couldn't be corroborated. Therefore it's fiction. Like the man said.

Got me thinking after I watched I Am Number Four on DVD the other day.

James Frey co-wrote Four under a pseudonym. At first I thought this was intentional after the backlash. A picture I found online shows him sporting a Civil War beard. I wondered if he was trying to misdirect viewers from remembering him or that he'd gotten to a point in his life where a clean shaven face just didn't matter. Did he really give a flying million pieces of shit?

Probably not.

I wouldn't. Especially after being told that his break-out novel was a complete piece of crap. Nearly ruined him. And while on Oprah, he had to apologize for the publisher. Total crap. But Oprah's praise can bring about unwanted scrutiny. I think that's what go the attempted discredit ball rolling. James Frey bounced back, but under a pseudonym.

Is that what authors have to do to keep writing? It's not we don't know he co-wrote Four. A simple Google search pulls it up. That's how the discredit ball got momentum: a few people searching the Internet to fact check James Frey. Not sure why they had to, but Oprah is a powerful woman. Someone wanted to see her fall down a little bit. Didn't work. James Frey got a lot of publicity for his appearance. Got humiliated too.

What originally drew me to Four was its screenwriters, the duo behind Smallville's first seven seasons, Gough and Millar. Any fan of the series can instantly recognize their stamp. They helped Sam Raimi bring Spider-man to the big screen.

Many viewers complained Four just took too long to get into the action. Which is true. But that's Gough and Millar for you. The humanity in Four builds until it reaches superhumanity. The adaptation seems simplified and typical comic book fair but the script is so well grounded the dialogue and controlled action feel natural, on the verge of greatness. And that's Gough's and Millar's talent. Super heroes develop. They're not instantly born.

The film follows the book very closely. Slow to build and then everything comes together.

It wasn't hard to see why Gough and Millar joined the project. They like struggling young heroes. 

Too bad the movie wasn't a hit. It had a decent turnout, but not enough warm seats for a sequel. Maybe not. James Frey continues to write. Gough and Millar continue to adapt stories.

Kept me realizing James Frey had created an undeniable form of fiction.

Check that box; and put the eraser away. 

So, what now Patticus Lore? Where is Four headed?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Smallville sparked a YA story

Lately I've been crafting a story that's been approved for consideration for an anthology, and while I know exactly where the characters are headed, the good guys and the bad guys, I've been working this story for the past few weeks. Working it hard.

There's something to the setting that grabbed my attention. I think it's the humanity. The reduction of it. The absolute naked truth to the setting. I have yet to explore that richness. But it's a harsh world. And while I am fully enjoying the story I have to step away from it for a bit. There's no official date for the anthology's release but I know the date is looming.

While taking a break I was rummaging through some folders on my desktop and rediscovered a young adult story I was developing a few years back, about four years ago, I think. I got the idea while watching an episode of Smallville.

The story started out as notes, as most of my stories do. I had a main character. I had a few friends. A foil. A few villains. And the nemesis. And I had the setting, along with its magic system. But I shelved the story right around the time I was changing jobs. I cam back to it while working as a part-time newspaper designer for a citizen journalism model project and would have started it up again but was later hired as the art director for a different start-up newspaper. It's been a few years now, and I completely forgot about the series until the other night.

Man, why did I stop writing this? I was reading through my notes and some short stories I wrote about various characters and I gotta say I fell right back into that world. It's as though I never left.

It's got all the usual fantasy components, but with some modern worry in it.

I know that at some point I'm going to step back into this world and finish the stories. It's intended as a series of books. It's just a matter of time. There are just too many stories within the story I want to write. I really like these characters. Most importantly I really like the main character and his friends.

When things settle down a bit, I'm going to turn my eyes toward them and hopefully give them the ink they deserve.