Friday, April 24, 2009

Like a Book

My Middle Finger

Last week, the day before starting my new job, the first two fingers of my left hand ached a little in the middle knuckles (PIP joints), kind of a crampy pain. That night they woke me up throbbing and burning. That mostly subsided, but they were swollen and tender the next day. I assumed I'd damaged them when I crushed them between the laundry basket and the metal gate at the top of the stairs. 'Cause, you know, when you're 38, injuries don't manifest immediately. They sneak up after a day or two.

But then, after the weekend, when they still hurt, and in weird, inconsistent ways, I started to get worried. My friends all laughed at me when I said I was too young for arthritis, and my knees were bothering me, too. At first I'd blown that off because they do that from time to time. I'm fat. I haven't exercised in months way too long. It happens.

So I did a little quickie research on sudden-onset arthritis, and freaked right the hell out. I stopped before I read anything that was actually based on medical education. I can remain in denial as long as it's lay people on message boards.

The pain is mostly in the PIP joint of my middle finger now, though sometimes I have a little cramping-type pain in the DIP and PIP joints of the pointer and ring fingers. I can't decide if that's sympathetic pain, compensatory pain, or evidence of the onset of a condition that will soon render me a screaming invalid. Also, it sometimes feels like stinging, like it's the soft tissue around the joint rather than the joint itself, or like the skin is dry and raw, but there's nothing actually wrong with the skin.

Today, though, things are a little different. I did different work today, so I didn't use the finger as much on the keyboard or in the same way, so the overall ache wasn't as strong. That one PIP joint is swollen still, but it isn't hurting unless I use it, mainly if I pressure it laterally--like bracing a heavy bowl in that hand. I get a sharp pain in the joint and it actually felt like it popped out a little, and I clicked it back in.

So now I'm thinking fracture. Today, it feels an awful lot like the DIP joint of the same finger did when I jammed it playing football.

I guess only time will tell. (Yes, I could go get an x-ray, but 1. I don't have a doctor, 2. I have a high deductible plan and would have to pay for it, and 3. there's not much point because what can be done? I'll just try to find a splint to use so I stop trying to carry heavy bowls with it.)

Oh, Sammy

I really loved "Jump the Shark" last night. My initial reaction to hearing that John had another son was just as negative as anyone else's, but I was sure Kripke and Co. would make me love it just like they've made me love everything else I hate. Of course, being unable to keep away from spoilers meant I know Jake Abel was only cast for one episode so I figured he was going to die. But how it happened TOTALLY surprised me. And shocked me.

Things I loved:

1. The opening scene before the boys. Hell-llo, creepy Supernatural. The whole bed/foot shot was ultra-tense. There were a few other moments like that, too, especially with Dean in the crypt.

2. The opening scene with the boys. Sam brushing his teeth--YES! We need more everyday stuff like that! Next up: Buying rock salt at Wal Mart. Right, Megan? :) Dean waking up, being a ten-year-old boy with his rumbly tummy--and tuna! Ha! And the phone call...

3. Dean. I tried to be more specific, but it was just everything. Dean being so furious and positive that it was a trap (and it was, even though it wasn't a lie). His emotions were so pure--God DAMN it, Jensen needs an Emmy. Then when Adam managed to convince them, he just as furiously was determined to protect him and make sure he didn't get sucked into the life. It shows incredible personal strength and maturity to have so much pain (baseball games!) and personal regret and still recognize that Adam wasn't to blame for it. When Sam started to tell Adam the truth, and Dean exploded with "Sammy!" instead of Sam--there's so much vulnerability there.

4. The glimpse into the past. We were seeing the hunt from John's point of view for pretty much the first time. Working with the bartender, finding the bodies, hunting the thing. And then falling for the local nurse and later finding out he had a son. It DOES make sense, because you can't have 23 years of complete focus. John had to have had detours and layovers and stuff, and parents always have lives their kids don't really see.

I also loved how they brought in the ambivalence of hunting again, without being too heavy handed. There was just one mention of it--that ghouls don't (normally) kill, there was nothing evil about taking those bodies, but John hunted and killed the thing, anyway. Cause and effect, because if the kids hadn't grown up alone, they might not have warped enough to decide to go after fresh meat, and use revenge as a motivator/justifier.

5. The rock/paper/scissors moment was sheer perfection, all the way through.

Things that made me have to work a little to find them okay:

1. Adam's body looked a little too intact. They feed on the bodies, and they talked about how they ate him. But I might have just not looked hard enough, and maybe they're grazers. You know, eat a little bit at a time, frequently.

2. Why Sam didn't use his demon mojo to get free. I thought of it at the time, and we talked about it later. I decided he hadn't had a fix for a while, so his power had waned.

3. Why it took them so long to go after anyone. I didn't think of this myself when I watched, it was mentioned elsewhere, but I think they explained it in their duonologue (monologue with two people *g*). They were very young children when their father died. They needed to survive first, and the anger and need to act would have grown over time, fed by their aloneness and exposure to the world. Then they had to figure out what happened and come up with a plan.

The part I really don't like:

Sam. Oh, Sammy. I love you, but I'm not liking you much at the moment. The things he said aren't outrageous. He started down this path way back in season 2. Remember in "Playthings," right after he saved Susan, how he said there was no time to coddle her, they had to figure it out. It was a change from his usual compassion and gentle prodding. In "Malleus Maleficarum" and "Fresh Blood" he was more absolute, more ready to do what needed to be done without trying for nicer alternatives. He was trying to be more like Dean. And, of course, in "Jus in Bello" he was willing to sacrifice Nancy.

But now...it's different. He's not tempered by "greater good" anymore. Nancy's death would have saved all her friends, and he was weighing multiple lives over one. It wasn't that he didn't care about Nancy, but that he thought the choice was hers to make, and a sound one. With Adam, though...God, he called him meat. He's becoming Gordon, wanting to kill anything he can label evil. His rage and pain and hatred for Lilith have drowned the Sammy I love.

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suff-er-ing.

Not that Luke ever really listened to Yoda, either.

Ten or eight or even six episodes ago I never would have believed they could make me buy Sam going dark side. It was way too foreign to the character they'd established. But they've slowly but surely transitioned him, fully backing the change with tons of motivation and logic, and fueling it with fabulous acting by Jared Padalecki, direction by the directors, and writing by the writers.

This whole thing is the epitome of a love/hate relationship!

My Schedule

Man, am I struggling. It's ridiculous to even sound like I'm complaining, because many, many people have a more insane schedule than I do. I used to have one, myself. And things could be a helluva lot worse. I can focus fully on the day job while I'm there. But once I'm home, I'm trying to give the kids my attention while not letting my freelance work slide. Then we have the evening schedule, school needs, and household crap (most of which is falling way, way, way by the wayside, I admit). I'm getting the writing done, but it always comes last, and even then I'm making tradeoffs that make me feel guilty.

After this many years, after all my counseling to other authors, HOW do I let myself do this? When does intellect and conviction overwhelm programming and my actions prove that I *don't* believe everyone else is more important than I am? I hate taking on the martyr role, but can't seem to help myself. I guess it wells up in response to my natural selfishness.

So. Instead of writing this book blog, I should have been proofing the galley of my May release, Indulgence II, editing 40 pages of Fight or Flight, and reading Mandy's story to tell her I don't think she's a sell-out.

I have a feeling I'm just going to go upstairs, make a cup of hot cocoa with kahlĂșa and a bowl of popcorn, and catch up on some neglected TV. Then I'll try to do all of the above (plus 20 additional pages of FoF) tomorrow between the early soccer game, the late soccer game, the lawn mowing, and the house cleaning.

Wish me luck, and have a good weekend!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Susan Boyle Thing

A columnist on Buddy TV posted that in an interview, Susan let slip that the producers of Britain's Got Talent came to her, that she didn't audition for the show. The essay and comments together are pretty interesting, both in the columnist's extreme reaction and the commenters unexpectedly balanced viewpoints.

If Susan is exploited and Simon and company make millions off of her but she gets nothing but limelight, that's unfair...but it would be unfair whether she went to them or they found her.

If Simon knew she was going to sound like that and therefore his reaction was not real, sure, that's disingenuous. But does it matter? I mean, he DID say he knew from the moment she set foot on the stage they were going to hear something special. It made us laugh, thinking he was joking, but it's even funnier if he was serious. And the show is entertainment, nothing more or less.

I think perception is what's important. Who cares if the producers of a reality show are *gasp* manipulating things? Everywhere I saw this video linked, people were inspired. Since I mostly hang out around writers, they were mostly inspired to keep working, keep trying--and THAT'S what will lead them to success, not someone else's precedent.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Too Tired to Think of a Decent Post Title

I've been posting so sporadically because of a few things. New schedule, thanks to taking on a part-time day job. That requires adjustment, plus reduces available time. I'm also in one of those weird periods when I don't really have anything to say.

On Friday, I took my kid to the park and, since none of the things on my to-do list were things I could do away from the computer, I spent nearly an hour on a long, rambling, no doubt supremely dull post that I don't even want to look at now, never mind upload.

So I'll talk about 17 Again. Number One loved it, and expected to. I had lower expectations, because it's an old premise and how many different ways can they do it? But I was very surprised to love it, also.

The basic story is what you'd expect. Guy hates his life, has screwed up everything, needs a reality check, so he gets to go back to the age when he thinks (rightly so) it all went awry. There aren't really any surprises in how things proceed. But there was so much to like:

1. The funny.
I laughed constantly. The best friend, as an adult, is hilariously horrible, but his subplot is precious. The dialogue is well written and often surprising.

2. The acting.
It's mostly Zac Efron that impresses. I knew he was a good actor from Hairspray, but he channels Matthew Perry without mimicry, making certain mannerisms and faces seem totally natural. All the secondary actors do a good job, too, even when they are written superficially (the obnoxious daughter who's making supremely stupid choices, the bully who treats her like shit, etc.). Michelle Trachtenberg was only annoying for a couple of scenes.

3. The character development.
Some people will probably find it facile, but I found it refreshing, with one exception. The opening flashback scenes give us a great sense of the main character, who is a good, hard-working, ambitious guy under the cockiness and joy. He doesn't really hesitate to make the right decision. When we flash forward twenty years, we're told that he's been complaining for all of them, blaming his wife for all his failures, etc. It seems too great a gap, especially when he turns 17 again and makes the right choices.

That's the part others will likely find facile that I find refreshing. He does misinterpret this second chance at first, but very quickly figures out his path and never really strays from it.

All in all, it was well worth the matinee price we paid, and a fun time. I heartily recommend it for anyone who needs a smile.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Random Monday

Wow, has it been way too long since my last regular post. If I thought this blog had any value/meaning/importance, I'd apologize. :)

I could blame my lack on the shocking death of Derek Reese on Terminator: TSCC. I wanted to be furious, but bringing the Connors in contact with Weaver was too intriguing and exciting (I haven't watched the finale yet). So I find myself dismayed over the probability that the show will be canceled, but then asking myself if I really care, because the episodes that were the best inevitably involved Derek (my favorite being the one where he found out about Jesse's plan, and maybe killed her, though that also happened to be the ep where John manned up, so...). Anyway, I guess if Derek won't be in it, I won't like it as much, so it's not as big a loss? Maybe.

Accompanying T:TSCC is Dollhouse, which I'm enjoying about as much as Buffy but not nearly as much as Firefly. It's probably in the top 5 of all the shows I watch. I'm really intrigued, though I do miss the quippiness--there's humor, but it's not of the usual Whedon style--and I'm even over my dislike of Eliza Dushku. I'm fascinated by how I'm simultaneously protective of the Dollhouse and wanting Ballard to take them down.

And I find myself charmed by Cupid. The couples he's working on are more interesting than he is, but that's okay, because we get new couples every week.

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Life is not all TV. I don't remember if I mentioned that Number One tore her MCL. I scolded her last week for causing me too much stress. I had the typical "back at school" stress dream, only instead of being in MY old high school or college, or newly enrolled in such, she'd made me go to school on her behalf. I couldn't find her locker, and had no schedule so even though I had a vague idea of where her classes were, I didn't know in what order. When I finally figured out which locker was hers, it was empty except for random papers, junk, and romance novels. Her binder (with her schedule) and all her textbooks were at home. The cat (Frisbee, of course) was in her locker, and I started to carry her back to homeroom, then halfway there said f*** it, there's no point.

I've had other weird dreams since then and can't remember them now, which is a shame because one featured Jared Padalecki very prominently.

~~~~~~~~~~~~
I have sent way too many sympathy cards lately. People need to stop dying, please.

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Starting to look forward to things. Movies in the next few weeks have some of my favorite actors or interesting storylines. May sweeps, though signaling finales, also promise stellar television. The retreat is only a month away, and this year Supernatural is a rerun, with the finale airing the following week! So I don't even have the horror of missing that to mar the weekend. It's sad to let go of the two-year tradition of Megan taping the show and dragging her TV and VCR to Waynesboro, but I have a feeling she won't mind so much.

City Islanders soccer is starting up again, the home opener occurring right after Number Two's 10th birthday. June 5, the kids' last day of school, looms, and summer always brings its logistical issues, but it also brings our late-June and early-August vacations. We didn't take a family vacation last year, and with Number One entering high school we're more intent than ever on filling those memory banks.

I've taken a writing break, unintentionally but it's difficult to get started when time is limited or fragmented. The kids are off today, I'm getting my car serviced, and then they have half days Wed-Fri, with IEP meetings and parent/teacher conferences and soccer games and practices and so on--very busy week.

The other really frustrating thing is my weight. I lost 15 pounds in 2007, kept it off for about 18 months, then discovered that I have an abnormal presentation of lactose intolerance that is eased by Lactaid. But since I started taking that, I've gained 10 pounds.

So I have to stop making excuses. Starting tomorrow, I am getting focused with both exercise and writing. Those two things will be priorities on my to-do list.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Skills Like This

Probably very few of my readers live in or near Hollywood, but just in case...

Skills Like This
had a great opening weekend and has been extended another week at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in Hollywood California!

The people who created the film will be at the 5:30 showtime this Saturday for a Q&A. This includes the sweetest guy in Hollywood, Gabe Tigerman (who played Andy in Supernatural.

SKILLS LIKE THIS

"Audience Award" winner SXSW Film Festival
"Best of the Fest" Edinburgh Film Festival

For tickets click here.

To view the trailer click here.

"Eye-catching direction...off-beat chemistry."—NY Times

"For pure comedy this is the nuts."—Ain't it Cool News

"Cheerfully anarchic...indescribably genuine."—Salon.com

"Deftly directed...considerable intelligence and chemistry."—Variety

"An engaging and genuinely funny indie comedy."—TV Guide

"The ultimate tribute to smart, disaffected youth."—High Times

"Comedic chemistry that makes the film shine."—The Denver Post

"My favorite film of SXSW...for it's humor, honesty, and drive."—The Austin Chronicle