Friday, November 03, 2006

Full Head Friday

I should be writing, but my mind has been stuffed full of thoughts, making it difficult to concentrate on the moon (a major feature in my new book). So here they are:

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I hate raking leaves. I have three fabulous maples in my back yard, and they carry a ton of leaves and drop them late. For three or four weeks in a row, we have to cart the equivalent of a pile ten feet long and three-to-four feet high to the front of the house for pickup. And every time I see one flutter past my window, I growl.

This fall has been uncharacteristically gorgeous, though. For several years we had whatever conditions mean uniformly yellow or brown leaves, and that's it. This year the trees are flaming orange and red and muted shades in between, and the weather has been lovely this week. I get happy every time I go out of the house.

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That happiness is short-lived, however. As much as I love fall (my favorite season), it's accompanied by a growing dread as the days get shorter and shorter. I don't suffer from true seasonal affective disorder, but my mood is definitely suppressed during the winter. I hope that will be different this year, since I won't be driving home from work in the dark.

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Big football game this weekend! HUGE! There are currently two undefeated teams in the NFL right now, the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears. The team right behind them with only one loss is the New England Patriots, and they play both the Colts and the Bears in the next four weeks. Colts this Sunday night, a huge rivalry that has peppered the Super Bowl winning seasons of the Patriots. I like Peyton Manning a lot--he and Tom Brady are two of the classiest guys in the league, and they are both extremely talented. Which means this will be a fabulous game. I can't wait!

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I started watching Veronica Mars on DVD. I'm two-thirds of the way through the first season, and I really like it. But it's weird. Usually when I like something this much, I don't see the flaws. I'm all about the pleasure of watching. Also, when I see as many flaws as I saw in the beginning of the season, I don't like a show as much as I do this one.

Maybe the first episode set me up with expectations that were less fulfilled as the season went on. For example, the show began with a cliche that I HATE: that she's never getting married, that the people you love always let you down. Wah wah wah. I thought the date rape was just going too far. She'd had enough piled on her, and that doesn't mesh with everything else. Maybe when they reveal who did it I'll feel differently, but so far, it seems like just another way for her to feel sorry for herself in voiceover/flashback.

I don't dislike those flashbacks, but I find it impossible to reconcile the Veronica Before The World Caved In with the Veronica of the present. She was a follower, mild, naive, and apparently blind to what assholes her friends were until they became assholes to her. At which point she became fearless, strong, and cynical. I understand the logic of the progression, but there's still too much disconnect for me.

The last thing I don't like is that every time she believes in someone, they turn out to be evil. There's Troy--sweet, funny, immune to peer pressure, afraid of her dad--and then suddenly he's 100% bad without warning. Fabulous Veronica figures it out, foils him, and never mentions or thinks about him again. Then we have her lecherous history teacher, a lovelorn client who's really Russian mafia...it's a never-ending parade of people out to strip her of hope forever.

The reason why it's okay is because it DOESN'T strip her of hope, not completely. She manages to hold on to it somewhere, even as her shell hardens and cracks repeatedly.

So that's enough of what I DON'T like. More than enough, because I like it enough to stay up to 1:00 a.m. three nights in a row watching it. I love Veronica's fearlessness and smarts and her ability to make friends with a very diverse group of people. I love Leo and Keith Mars and Weevil and Wallace and the mysteries and (oh, wait, one more thing--it really, really bugs me that her mother let her go out with Duncan, maybe have sex with him [she doesn't know, for sure, that they never did], when he could be her BROTHER).

Interestingly, my favorite character has become Logan. He was such a dick in the first few episodes, and they've slowly shown him to be very complex. Somehow, even with a totally cliched background (spoiled rich kid, physically abused, probably ignored by his mother, taunted by his sister, blah blah blah), he's managed to be very sympathetic. I give full credit to Jason Dohring, because even though the writing has to be good, the actor has to sell it. I really fell for him when he broke down in Veronica's arms in the hotel where he thought his mother had been staying after her "death."

So, the best thing about this show? I have 32 more episodes to watch!

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Speaking of shows that give me pleasure...

Supernatural was a bit of a disappointment last night. Surprisingly, it wasn't Jo who disappointed me. I liked the way she acquitted herself, and alone, I like her. I think the relationship drawn between her and Dean is more sibling-ish than romantic-tension-y, though, which made what could have been the best line of the show, "Should have cleaned the pipes," kind of stupid. There'd been no indication before that that she turned him on. No tension between them in the writing or in the chemistry between actors. So I'll be really happy if the writers don't take things in that direction.

But my biggest complaint is that in inserting Jo into the dynamic, they obliterated their strengths, the things that make this show so damned compelling. Sam was marginalized, and the brother-brother relationship totally ignored. I'm not saying I want them to address the demon storyline every week, not at all. I just want more interaction between Sam and Dean. More of the interplay of emotion and expression. Don't send Sam offscreen for ten minutes while Dean and Jo crawl through the walls. Give me:

"So I'm a freak now?"
"Dude, you've always been a freak."

I didn't buy the episode ending very well, either. If Ellen broke with John, what, 18 years ago, when her husband was killed, why did she call him four months before he died, acting like John not talking to her was on his side? She's all, "like father, like sons," and I can understand her fear for her daughter, but that doesn't explain why Jo would now be disgusted with Dean and Sam. It was HER plan to be bait, and blaming them for their father's mistake is just stupid.

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Amber Quill Press has posted their October bestsellers, and every one of them contained male/male relationships or menage situations. I've long heard through the grapevine that those are the best sellers at other publishers, as well, and that the readership is overwhelmingly straight female.

Google Alerts recently added blog alerts, and my Supernatural alerts are full of "Wincest" fan fiction. You don't have to stray far to find Lex/Clark and other slash fiction, either (those are the two that connect to my own interests, so I'm not going to comment on anything else).

I am not into gay erotica at all, and I don't care to read or see details of male/male sexuality in general. But one of the powerful and evocative images for me in the last year was the scene in Brokeback Mountain where Ennis dragged Jack around the corner and kissed him.

I have a kind of half-baked theory about this, and I don't think the attraction for women is truly sexual, no matter how we present our reactions to it. For two decades (maybe longer, I don't know, I'm only 35 *g*) our society acted like men don't feel. They don't hug, they don't tell their kids they love them, they don't want to talk about emotions or relationships, and when they HAVE emotions and relationships, they are different from the same emotions and relationships from the woman's perspective.

I say bullshit, and it looks to me like a helluva lot of creative people in my generation are saying the same thing. Lex and Clark had extremely strong feelings for each other, as do Sam and Dean. They aren't sexual feelings, but they are extremely powerful. Exploration of the relationship between Ennis and Jack in Brokeback Mountain almost always talks about how the story was about the love they felt for each other, not the physical desire.

I think these powerful emotions are as strong to us as sexual desire is. They probably just stimulate the same hormones, but what we end up doing is equating the two, which is what leads to the slash fanfic and fantasizing as a more concrete way to get the fix. It's like...the smell of chocolate makes us feel good. Some people would be satisfied to just keep smelling it (like I'm satisfied to just see Sam and Dean be brotherly). Others would HAVE to taste it, and maybe add liquor to it, to increase the rush (or write sexual stories about the brothers).

I'm generalizing, and even if I'm somewhat right, I'm sure it can't apply to everyone. But I like my theory, and I'll be pleased if those-who-strive-to-entertain-us will give us more of the same.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Natalie,

Your opinion of VM is almost the exact same reactions that I've had for the show. As I told you before I stopped watching in the middle of the second season. I don't want to spoil you for the rest of the season but what they do to Duncan's character in the second season is just horrible. There is a reason why they need to destroy his character and as you are watching you will catch on to why. There is a reason why Veronica is now in alot of scenes with Logan. for my taste the best episode of season 1 is the next to last when we finally find out who raped Veronica and its a wonderful episode. after that the flaws that you have noticed become really really obvious especially starting with the second season.


I also started to like Logan but I don't like how he will be remeemed in order to become more safe for Veronica. I loved to hate him in the beginning of season 1 but now I really don't like as I first did.


Rose

Natalie Damschroder said...

Careful, Rose, you're running dangerously close to spoilers! :)

From everything I'm hearing, the viewers haven't been happy with the direction of the show in seasons 2 and 3. I'm usually less rabid in my dislike than most of the fans (cf. Alias and Smallville) so I'm not expecting to hate it. But I don't expect to love it, either.

Trish Milburn said...

I really like Veronica Mars, though like with Buffy, I liked the seasons in the high school years better than college. I'm a big fan of Logan though. And when you find out who raped V, it is a big surprise.

I'm always amazed by all that gay fan fiction out there. There's a lot of Angel/Spike fan fiction like this. Not my cup of tea, but like you I really enjoyed Brokeback Mountain. I think that's a credit to Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal making it believable.

Natalie Damschroder said...

Gah! You guys are gonna drive me crazy with all these hints! LOL

I'll finish season 1 by Tuesday night, mail delivery cooperating.

I agree, Trish, about Heath and Jake. They threw themselves into their roles and accepted the challenge wholeheartedly. If either one had held anything back, it wouldn't have been as good.