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Cover for The Iron Gate

It occurs to me that I have shared this all around but not here, which is dumb.

On the first morning of the campaign, Fred Hicks sent me a mockup he’d done of the cover and I liked it so much that I’m going with it. Here we go:

Cover for The Iron Gate

And that’s why Ray Lilly will be wearing a tie in the new book.

The campaign is winding down, obviously, but it’s already met its goals. What’s the opposite of “stressing about it”? Hmm, it seems like there should be a word for phrase that means the opposite of stressed but gosh, I haven’t had a use for it in so long…

Anyway, the lack of stress is thanks to everyone who backed the campaign and shared it with their friends.

Other updates: Writing on The Iron Gate continues at a decent clip, and the copy editor is hard at work on One Man. Later today I hope to work on the cover for OM with my son. Work continues.

Here’s the latest status on the campaign:

This post contains minor spoilers for Jessica Jones S3 and Stranger Things S3 along with huge, misery-making spoilers for Veronica Mars S4. The stuff I want to talk about in JJ or ST happen in the first episode, but with VM I’m going to talk about the Big Important Ending.

Spoiler space.

A little more spoiler space.

And a jump:

When I did my recent post running odds on the possible plot twists in the third season of Stranger Things, I got one thing wrong. No, wait. I got everything wrong. But I got one thing really really wrong. I thought there was no way the Duffers would split up Mike and El after keeping them apart for so long. I thought their relationship would hold throughout the season.

And, yeah. That didn’t happen. At all. They start off as a couple but are broken up by the end of the first episode. It’s a smart choice, not just because they use the split as a source of conflict, but because it puts the characters (especially El) in new situations that let them grow. Splitting the Big Couple on the show: wise decision.

With Jessica Jones, the choice is less interesting. She ends S2 with Oscar, the hot single dad upstairs, enjoying a dinner and “connecting with people”, which is a thing she’s had trouble doing. It’s what you call “character growth”. At the start of S3, hot single dad’s adorable kid is still around, but in the first episode (or is it the second?) Oscar puts their relationship out of its misery.

Why? Oscar breaks up with Jessica because the show needs to reset her to her default. She needs to be alone, unhappy, occasionally hooking up with guys in bars, and basically alienated from the world around her. That’s the Jessica the show is about, and while Stranger Things is letting its characters grow and change (not that they could hold those kids back), Jessica Jones is like its comic book inspiration. It wants to reset the character for each season.

Which means, naturally, that all the trauma she went through during the 13 episodes of season two–and all of the change she earned–had to be wiped away.

And then you get to the end of the fourth season of Veronica Mars, where Veronica and Logan finally get married. Rob Thomas gives them a small but happy wedding, then he takes it away by straight up killing Logan with a bomb before the honeymoon.

Why is Logan, one of the most interesting characters on the show, killed off? According to Rob Thomas, it’s to transition from… well, I’ll let him explain.

“And if we kept doing a show that was half teenage soap and half mystery show, the fear is it would start feeling like nostalgia.” — Rob Thomas

So, in order to move away from soap opera aspects of the show, he… murdered the star’s husband on their honeymoon?

Yeah. Okay.

Look, I’m not what you’d call a huge fan of the Veronica/Logan relationship. Logan was introduced as a villain in the first couple of episodes. After he smashed Veronica’s headlights in the second episode, he was supposed to be written out. But Jason Dohring was so good–and there was so much energy between him and Kristin Bell–that they kept bring him back. He beat people up. He said racist shit. He was a complete asshole.

But as I’ve said before, it’s the job of a TV show, long term, to change the characters. The sweet and virtuous make dark choices. The evil pricks get a tragic backstory and a shot at redemption. Logan was one of those pricks, and I thought his character needed a lot more time to rehabilitate himself before he became the romantic lead. Their first kiss gave me a Buffy and Spike vibe, because it felt like a self-destructive mistake. And the third season was absolutely a headache of soap opera love triangles, with way too much angst given to the relationship.

Boyfriends are conflict machines, right? Well, maybe.

“The happy pairing off of the leads of the show usually marks the end of the show” — Rob Thomas

I think Thomas has over-learned the lesson of shows like Moonlighting. If the central question of a show is “Will they or won’t they?” as it was in Moonlighting and Cheers, then the writers know there’s a limited time that you can sustain the tension in that. Eventually, fans tire of it, so it has to be answered. And usually, it’s answered in the positive because that’s what the fans want. After that, you need a new question to sustain the show.

Apparently, there are lots of Stranger Things fans who have hoped that Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper will get together, and the Duffers played with that expectation all through season three, sometimes in ways that made me really uncomfortable. Those two have a “Will they/Won’t they” dynamic, but it’s a small subplot on a very busy show.

But “Will they or won’t they?” has never been the question behind the Veronica/Logan relationship. Their conflict has always been about trust. Veronica could never trust anyone because she’d seen so much betrayal in her personal and professional life. Logan was a “TV Bad Boy”(tm) who did shit he shouldn’t, like skipping class to go lift, or bagging out on a date to hit a casino. That was their drama. That evaporated by the time we got to the movie, which ended with the “happy” circumstance of 1) Veronica back to work at Mars Investigations and 2) Veronica back together with an older, more mature version of Logan. If there’d never been any more Veronica Mars after that, (not counting the inevitable failed remakes) we would have gotten a fitting end for the character.

Now that Hulu ordered season four and might go for more:

“I think there’s a reason that shows are over once the two romantic leads get together happily. That’s because there’s very little to mine there. Fans don’t like it if I break apart a marriage, but where’s the stuff of drama?” [Rob] Thomas says. “And if I’m going to send out Veronica on these cases, what am I doing with Logan in these episodes? Unless you’re playing a soap, what do I have to do with the husband or boyfriend of my detective? Even in these eight episodes, I had to work pretty hard to get Logan even tangentially involved in the case. I think if I keep trying to do that in future installments, it would feel phony.”

First of all, I’m not tremendously sympathetic to “It was hard” arguments. Yes, it is. It always is.

Here’s a quick list of all the things that Jason Dohring does that’s great fun in the show and that I would have been happy to see for several more seasons:
* beating up assholes
* obscure quotes
* hiding his pain
* appearing in uniform (my wife suggested that one)
* being onscreen with Kristin Bell, b/c chemistry
* questioning the risks Veronica takes
* convincing a white nationalist to confess to a crime

Oh wait, that last one establishes that Logan has some investigative skills. Naval Intelligence, you say? Maybe they shouldn’t have to work so hard to involve him in cases after all.

Second, Veronica manages to have plenty of relationships that are “happy” but also produce some (or a lot of) drama. She gets along with her dad, doesn’t she? She gets along with Wallace and Mac. All of those relationships create conflict, but nobody thinks they should cut those characters because the relationship is healthy. It’s only the romance that is supposed to be a misery-factory. Because reasons.

I guess you could make an argument that Conflict-Logan is one of the engines that drive the drama in the show, but Supportive-Logan is redundant with Keith, Wallace, and (hopefully) Mac around. But I’m not buying it.

Look, if you want Logan to be part of the show, be in a happy relationship, and still provide conflict, then why don’t you make the main mystery in season five (assuming there is one) involve the military in some way. Logan can access information that Veronica needs, but he risks a court martial if he does it. Boom. You have conflict and drama, and you have a stable loving relationship, too.

Anyway, it’s sort of weird to talk about this, especially since I thought the romantic relationship between the two characters felt wrong until the film. But the idea that the main character becomes boring (or the show is over) once they enter a happy, stable relationship seems fundamentally wrong.

In novels, for example, the expectation is completely different. Readers want the main drama to be full of conflict and tension and whatever, but you need scenes where the protagonist gets to have quiet, comforting moments the people that care about them.

There’s no reason a marriage can’t be that. Shows like this live and die based on the relationships between the characters. There was no good reason to throw one away.

I liked that the show makes Veronica the one with the problems in this season. She’s self-destructive and repressed and she loves Logan but she’s driving him away with her bullshit. At the end, she moves past that, got over her hangups, and made a way forward that would have let her be a new character.

Except that the show, in trying to shed the “teen soap” elements, changed the format of the show but forced the main character back to what she was before. Like Jessica Jones, they hit reset.

Seems like a weird choice.

Also, people should cast Jason Dohring in things. Percy Daggs III, too, and the rest of the supporting cast. Put them in stuff. They’re great.

Randomness for 6/10

  1. Why Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse has the most inventive visuals you’ll see this year.
  2. Europe’s first underwater restaurant.
  3. How to actually, truly focus on what you’re doing.
  4. The Kentucky Derby as Told by the Horses.
  5. Grocer Designed Embarrassing Plastic Bags to Shame Customers into Bringing Their Own.
  6. The Queens of Sicily: 1061 to 1266. 18 biographies about 18 powerful women.
  7. Stun Gun Myths Rewatching VERONICA MARS got me wondering how likely (initial hypothesis: not very) it was that you could render someone unconscious by zapping them. Of course, my hypothesis was [spoiler]. 

Between Christmas and New Years–right before the MS-DOS/date announcement promo was released–I kept thinking about what was in store for season three of Stranger Things. Not about who gets to live and who gets to die. The show has always been fairly gentle on the main cast, even thought it can be deadly for the supporting cast. #JusticeforBarb #JusticeforBenny #JusticeforMews #JusticeforHeather(pending) But what about the other story developments on the way?

So I made a list of predictions and bullshitted up the odds of them actually happening.

Here’s the list I came up with back at the end of December, the odds that indicate how likely I think it is, why I think it might happen, how, and a little commentary on the back end about it. Story talk! I enjoy story talk, and this one’s mainly about structure and foreshadowing.

1. Nancy discovers that Ted is not her biological father: 3:1

Basis: While shooting at cans in the woods, Nancy says she has no idea why her mother and father got married. And neither does the audience. “He was older and came from a good family” doesn’t really cut it. Why Karen and Ted?

Plot reveal: I’m thinking that, as a teenager, Karen had a shitty boyfriend who got her pregnant, then ditched her. (Who? Cary Elwes as the mayor is my current frontrunner, but if Jake Busey’s character is a long-time Hawkins resident, he’s a possibility, too).

To avoid a small-town scandal and spare their daughter a reputation that would have made her life hell, Karen’s parents paired her with Ted, who was older, had a good job, and needed a wife for “respectability”.

Foreshadowing to watch for: Any middle-aged male character who, in the first or second episode, asks Nancy how her mom is doing. Especially if they smirk when they ask.

Commentary: Obviously, I think this one is fairly likely, but I’m not sure how it would play into the season as a whole. In other words, why include it? The most obvious answer is “Billy,” as Ted (or someone) discovers Karen having an affair and is all “This again?”

Alternately, this season’s monster might be thematically related.

Finally, if this is true, I’d expect this to be common knowledge among the other parents. The kids and the teens might be shocked, but the grownups would sort of shrug and say “Well, I mean… yeah.”

2. Ted is gay and closeted: 12:1

Basis: See above. Ted acts like his home life is a bear trap he can’t escape and he shows zero affection for his extremely hot wife.

Plot reveal: Ted has a secret life, one where he’s not, you know, a great guy or anything, but he gets to be his real self. I’d expect it to connect him to another supporting character who is also in the closet. Maybe the mayor. Maybe Officer Powell or Calahan. Maybe Billy.

Foreshadowing to watch for: If anyone enters a dimly lit bar with only men in it, I’m expecting they’re going to run into Ted. Or, if he and Karen discuss their marriage as an arrangement or a deal.

Commentary: This one feels like a long shot, in part because the first two seasons set up Ted’s disinterest in his extremely hot wife, but not that he’s going out alone or spending time away from the family, which you’d expect if he was leading a double life.

Of course, Ted might be some form of gray asexual, but I honestly don’t think the show is sophisticated enough to go there.

As a character, Ted is not appealing. At all. But he could stand to be humanized. He has this great life he doesn’t seem to appreciate, and right now the show’s explanation is that he’s a drip, but it’s the work of a TV show to alter or invert its characters. It might be time to get a bit more Ted.

3. Ted becomes the major villain: 30:1

Basis: Pretty much none, except that I want it. Hashtag Fun.

Plot reveal: If this happens, it’ll happen early. He’ll be bitten by one of the infected/monster rats by the end of episode one, then will have a short descent into active evil (as opposed to “napping evil”) then full villain mode.

Foreshadowing to watch for: The first episode will have a lot of characters to re-introduce, but if Ted seems to be getting more than his share of screen time…

Hold on. Ted getting screen time? This sounds less and less likely with every word I type. Let me increase those odds to 30:1

Commentary: Given the style and tone of the show, this story choice is mutually exclusive with number 2. If one happens, the other won’t.

4. Will comes out to his friends: 3:1

Basis: Lonnie suspected that his son was “queer” and as much as I hate to admit it, psychopaths are sometimes very good at reading people. Plus, the fans seem to want it.

Plot reveal: That Will has feelings for one of the DnD Four (probably Mike) that goes beyond ordinary friendship, and that he, like Dustin, is unhappy that two of the four have coupled up. With girls.

Foreshadowing to watch for: That lingering half-second-too-long reverse shot of Will’s expressionless face as he looks off camera, if the shot right before the cut was on Mike, Billy, Lucas, Dustin, or some other appropriate male character. That’s how modern film and TV indicate unexpressed longing.

Commentary: One of the problems with the show is that it’s not as diverse as it should be. Letting Zombie Boy, the fragile, trembling prince of Hawkins, come out to his friends would help address that shortfall a bit but still feel like a natural part of his character growth.

5. Billy becomes a major villain
6. Karen and Billy hook up

LOL. These two were overtaken by later events, by which I mean: the first trailer.

The way this is edited makes it seem as if the infected bite on Billy’s arm turns him into the raw meat monster, but maybe they’re being tricksy. (It could be Ted. It could!).

Also, Karen and Billy are totally doing it.

So let’s assume those predictions turn out to be true (and no will be more shocked than me if I get something right) and create a derived prediction:

5a/6a. Karen becomes a monster/zombie. 2:1

Basis: I assumed, from the moment the first teaser featured a new mall in Hawkins, that it would be built over the site of the Hawkins lab and that the plot would involve zombies in some way. When the chapter titles were released, one of them was called “The Bite.” Suggestive, no? Also, “The Battle of Starcourt”? Please. We’re getting zombies this season. (odds: 1:12)

The trailer confirmed some of this. There’s a shot that looks like people doing the zombie-stagger, and Billy gets that bite, and (to cheat a little by referencing something said outside the show) the Duffers said they’d originally planned for Billy to be a bigger threat in season 2, but they had to pull that plot line because the show was already so full.

However! While “The Bite” is a perfect chapter title for a zombie show, it’s been given to the second to last episode. That’s really late in the season for a monster series and can’t be a reference to the _start_ of the spread of the zombies. So it must be referring to a bite on a specific person.

Why not Karen? If Billy’s infected and they’re having an affair, there would have to be a scene where she has to deal with Infected Billy. It’s unavoidable. The only reason I give it a 2:1 instead of a 1:1 is because I figure there’s a 50/50 chance the writers will arrange things so she will escape from Billy instead of getting infected.

Plot reveal: The kids realize that there’s a zombie-ish menace, and Mike returns home to regroup, only to discover that there’s a zombie already in the house! And it’s MOM! Dun dun duuuuun.

Foreshadowing to watch for: If Billy is getting it on with Karen, he’ll be getting it on with one of the other pool moms, too, and the show will establish the danger to Karen by having him bite and infect one of them. If Karen sees this zombified other woman, she’s more likely to escape from her scene with Billy without getting infected. If she does not, she’ll be less prepared and more likely to be monster-ized.

If the show establishes early that “Baby” Holly sometimes stays out of the house, it’s more likely that Karen will be infected. If Holly becomes infected herself, the infection is almost certainly curable.

Commentary: The 80’s had an awful lot of horror movies where character got themselves offed right after they had sex. It was puritanical and unwelcome, and I’m sort of hoping this plot line won’t play out that way.

7. Kali returns 1:1

Basis: Structure. Nothing else. Just structure. Linnea Berthelsen does not appear in the trailer or other promotional videos, and her name isn’t in the cast list on Wikipedia. (I can’t check imdb for the moment), but I’m still expecting her to make a surprise appearance, if only because it makes no sense to drop her.

Plot reveal: If Kali does turn up, she will either appear as a villain, just at the moment Our Heroes think they’ve escaped/defeated the monster, or she’ll ride to Jane’s rescue. Probably the latter. If neither happens, I’ll expect to see her in the last scene of the last episode, staggering wounded into Hawkins looking for Jane’s help, or else being chained and drugged in a cargo hold of a ship on its way to the Soviet Union.

Foreshadowing to watch for: In the first season, Hawkins Lab surveilled the cast with work vans. The trailer hints at Soviet agents appearing in the plot, so expect them to have some sort of nondescript vehicle that trails the characters. But if there’s an additional vehicle, one that looks more ordinary (like it’s been stolen), that’ll probably be Kali.

Commentary: The Kali episodes were not exactly fan favorites, but I liked the character and would be disappointed if she’s written out of the show. Of course, with Erica getting a bigger role, and Max and Billy and Murray making their return, plus at least four new characters, the cast is getting pretty full. I expect her to return without her crew.

8. Mike and Jane break up: 100:1

Basis: One of my flaws as a writer is that I try to make things too “realistic”, especially when the realistic choice is something readers don’t want. But still, what are the odds that Jane (I’m not using her dehumanizing lab name no matter how cool it is) would form a long-lasting relationship with the very first boy who was kind to her?

Seem like a long shot? It does to me.

But if Mike and Jane realized they weren’t compatible–she was bored by the stuff he likes, and vice versa, or she gets sick of being the one who has to do all the killing while he does nothing but tell people what to do–the show’s die-hard fans would swarm Netflix headquarters and strangle the executives with blue hairbands.

So, it probably would make sense for it to happen, but it won’t.

Plot reveal: They wouldn’t do this as a reveal. It would build in the narrative until the conflict reached a breaking point, like the Jane/Hopper conflict in season two.

Foreshadowing to watch for: Arguing, I guess?

Commentary: All I’ll say is, I’m glad they kept them apart for season two, so enough time could pass and the actors could be… what, 14 and 15 while their characters played out their big Young Love storyline. Maybe I’ve been trained by TV shows casting 20-somethings as high school kids, but Millie Bobby Brown looked awfully young for that kiss at the end of season one, when she was eleven years old.

9. Lucas and Max break up: 50:1

Basis: Neil.

Billy tried to split Max from Lucas in season two, and since Neil is a) Billy’s origin story, b) Max’s stepfather, and c) a colossal dick, he might try to split Max and Lucas, and he might apply that pressure through Max’s mother, Susan.

Plot reveal: Again, I don’t see this as a reveal. It might happen over the course of the show, with Max ending things with Lucas not because of Neil’s disapproval, but maybe because of his violence.

Foreshadowing to watch for: If Susan nervously asks whether Max is really happy with Lucas, then maybe.

Commentary: I’m not sure fans are as invested in this teen romance the way they are in the Mike/Jane paring, which makes it a better candidate for a Romantic Turmoil plotline. It also creates a way to keep Neil and Susan invested in season three, and since the title of the first chapter is “Suzie, do you copy?” and Max’s mother is the only Susan on the show, I’m guessing we’re going to be spending some time with them.

Finally, if I were only going to predict that Neil would pressure Susan and Max to ditch Lucas, I’d give it much better odds than 50:1. This is just a guess as to whether they actually split up.

10. Jane uses her powers at the wrong time/for the wrong reason/under the wrong circumstances: 2:1

Basis: Jane has been pretty good about mostly using her powers for good. Even when she’s in the wrong, she pulls back before she does real harm. During her moment of jealousy in “The Pollywog”, she could have gone all Brightburn, lifted Max above that backboard and dunked her like Dr. J. (Hello, 80s reference). She was stressed enough, but she held back.

But this is the first season where she’ll be living in ordinary society, and ordinary society is full of people who need to be flung telekinetically against brick walls.

Plot reveal: The risks are two-fold: human villains discover what she can do, or the general populace do. This prediction basically covers anything from reflexively giving Neil Hargrove an Exorcist 180 when he tries to beat Max to disarming the (presumed) Soviet agent in that funhouse mirror scene in the trailer, but doing it in front of eye witnesses. Does she get her picture in the paper? Does a squad of Soviet agents target her? Does one of the locals (Neil? Susan? Karen?) get it into their heads that’s she’s a monster who has to be put down?

Foreshadowing to watch for: Speeches from Hopper about the importance of keeping her powers a secret (which are bound to happen even if the show doesn’t hit this plot point) combined with reaction shots of a seriously stressed-out Jane as she sees assholes being assholes.

Commentary: Considering this season is going to be focused on a mall and will presumably involve zombified citizens, I think we can assume that, by the end of episode eight, the secrets that have been haunting the town of Hawkins will be significantly less secret. The big question is whether Jane’s abilities also come into the open. That would mean that season three will be the only time she gets to have that “normal life” Hopper’s been talking about.

11. We meet Steve’s parents (and they get zombified): 5:1

Basis: It’s a zombie story (presumably). Steve is one of the best-liked characters on the show. Is he going to get a scene where someone he cares about has been turned?

He’d better.

Plot reveal: Zombie Dad Harrington shuffles through the mall, arms outstretched toward his own son! And there’s Steve, with his nailed-out bat in his hands. Dun dun dunnnnn.

Foreshadowing to watch for: Dad Harrington will be unhappy that his son has taken a job at Scoops Ahoy, but otherwise has a lot of opinions about the mall, either positive or negative. Extra points if, instead, rich kid Steve is be working at the mall because it’s his dad’s project and he is “starting at the bottom”.

Commentary: In season one, we met The Wheelers, The Byers, and the Ives. In season two, we met the Hargroves, the Sinclairs, and Ms. Henderson. Time, I think, for Steve’s “asshole dad” to make an appearance.

12. The DnD Four (plus Max and Jane) have spent the time between seasons 2 and 3 preparing for another monster attack: A hundred mabillion to one

Hey, if monsters tried to eat me (twice!) and I were a young, healthy person who couldn’t move away, I’d spend at least an hour a day preparing for the next time. Running, maybe. Getting the chief to teach me to shoot. Learning to pick locks, code Basic, fix electrical wiring, and maybe how to drive. Oh, a mall has opened up? How about we buy some mall katanas and a book on kendo. With pictures.

But… yeah. I just don’t believe it.

CAVEAT: I’m the worst predictor of things in the world. If any of this actually comes true, I’ll be shocked.

More predictions that probably won’t happen:
* Brenner is captive of/collaborator with the “Soviet presence in Hawkins” that Murray is so worried about.
* Murray gets a triumphant moment when he uncovers actual Soviet agents. Which is maybe his last moment.
* This season’s monster is the speck of smoke monster that was driven out of Will but couldn’t return to the gate and was too weak to maintain a hive mind.
* The monster has been growing and rebuilding its strength, spreading from one rat to another.
* Calahan and Powell learn about the special dangers of living in Hawkins, and Powell quits.
* Hopper hires Steve to take his place.
* This is the season where we find out exactly what the Upside Down is, whether it’s an alternate dimension or a future where the smoke monster ecosystem has destroyed the world.
* The show thins out the cast with some deaths and/or characters lighting out for distant places
* Jopper, which the trailer makes clear is off to a rocky start, happens but does not last to the end of the season.

Boom. That’s all.

Season 3 is a little more than a month away. I’m looking forward to it.

Up here in the northern hemisphere, summer is about to start, so it’s time to repost my annual warning for 2019:

How to recognize when someone is drowning.

It’s not what you think. Before you take your kids or loved ones into the water, read this article.

Please.

That video below? Worth watching, like Ellis’s other work.

(Actually, I’m sort of assuming the video shows up, since WordPress’s new “block” system doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.)

If you’ve watched it (and let me say again, you should) you already know that it’s a discussion of some relatively recent critical schools of thought about literature, namely, does the author have any authority over the story and characters outside the published text? Or, to use the examples in the video, does the author get to tell us what happened to the characters after the last page? Do we have to take seriously the secret things they tell us about the characters that’s not in the text (such as, that Dumbledore is gay)?

Like John Green in the video, I’m of the opinion that readers get to choose for themselves, and at least should be able to extrapolate from the story.

As a personal example, a number of readers asked me what happened to Lar Italga after the end of The Great Way. Me, I thought it was so obvious that I didn’t even bother to write it. But that wasn’t good enough for some, and they seemed annoyed when I turned the question around and asked what they thought happened to him. They didn’t want to extrapolate. They wanted the authoritative word.

A number of people also wanted authoritative insight into how the names were pronounced, and “however you like” was apparently not an acceptable answer. I’ve read I-don’t-know-how-many fantasy novels with goofy pronunciation guides and I’ve learned to ignore them. In the privacy of my own head, I think of the characters’ names however I like, but a significant number of readers want the “correct” form.

The video takes JK Rowling to task for many of her pronouncements about the world of the books and the future of the characters. Is it especially laudable to make Dumbledore gay if you don’t include it in the actual book where it would have counted? Do we need an apology about who Hermione ended up with? Do we need to be told that, before indoor plumbing, wizard students crapped on the floor and them magic-ed the mess away?

Lots of people had a laugh at that last one, but it seems she knows what she’s talking about. Click the tweet below to see why I will never ever time travel back to the middle ages in Europe.

I’m lying here being sick while @seraph76 reads me bits of a history of French royal court poisonings and I think we need another terror— rahaf mohammed al-qanon (@AliceAvizandum) January 5, 2019

I know it starts off talking about poison, but it quickly moves to sewers (or the lack thereof) and no, please, authors, do not try for this level of realism. Just click the tweet to open and read. It’s hair-raising.

So, yeah, Rowling has a history of coming up with a bunch of extraneous stuff about the Harry Potter books–seemingly without giving it a lot of thought–and not to the benefit of her books or herself. To which I have to say: Can you blame her?

The Harry Potter books were such a gigantic hit that she has been deluged with questions, many from very young readers. Is she supposed to tell a ten-year-old Hermione fan that the character is a fictional construct with no life or existence outside the text? Yeah, that would go over well.

It’s entirely unsurprising that she launched an entire website (literally “More Potter”) which lists a bunch of character biographies and other bullshit that Rowling (or one of her interns/social media hires/whatever) threw together in an afternoon. That it draws in the hardcore fans (and tries to sell them stuff) is an entirely reasonable way to avoid all those earnest questions flooding the author’s social media.

And then, when a new Fantastic Beasts movie comes out, superfans get upset because the backstory in the movie doesn’t match the extraneous BS listed on Pottermore. Not that it matters. The Hogwarts Cinematic Universe is different from the books, obviously.

So yeah, I get why John Green and other authors (like myself) don’t want to add more story once the story is done. I also believe that Rowling’s circumstances are unique to her, and the pressure on her to drop these little bits of extraneous story must be incredible. I don’t always like what she says, but she has my sympathy.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

Tags:

Hey, let’s talk a little bit about something that way too many people have already talked about: the Harry Potter films. And by “talk about” I mean “share this series of three Movies with Mikey episodes about the franchise.

Go ahead and watch. They’re good. If you’re not sure why you should bother, read more below.

The first time I told someone outside my family that I planned to binge all eight Harry Potter movies (nearly 20 hours worth of films but maybe more with bathroom breaks depending on beer) their reply was “Better you than me.”

And I get it. They’re kids films–at least at the start. They have good choices mixed with the not so good, and an inconsistent tone in some places. They take a while to hit their stride. It’s the BLOODLINE effect: how many hours do you have to watch before it “gets good”?

But I thought that binge-watch was valuable. The first movie is adorable, like a 130 million dollar school play. The last is as intense as any big-budget thriller. Making that journey is no easy feat.

I wouldn’t consider myself a Potterhead, or whatever Rowling’s Potter fans call themselves. I don’t visit Pottermore, write fanfic, or play quidditch IRL. I haven’t memorized the biographies of the supporting cast, so I couldn’t tell you where Minerva McGonagall took her gap year or whether Professor Sprout makes her own hats. I’m not that sort of fan about anything.

But I have read the books more than once (unusual for me) and I think there’s a lot to learn from the way the movies stumble and then correct themselves as they go on (which is a weird way to describe that process, I know, because movies don’t create themselves, but you guys know what I mean). I’m always interested in the creative choices behind a work that affects me deeply, which is why I’ve watched Beyond Stranger Things a half-dozen times, and I’ve already watched this three-part documentary twice.

In these videos, Mikey covers the onscreen character choices, the studio-level hiring decisions, and everything in between, showing how they came together to become this weirdly compelling long-form story. And I say “weirdly” because this sort of thing shouldn’t be my jam (except for all the death) but it is, and Mikey touches on that, too.

If you’re interested in how creative work gets made (esp in a group/corporate environment) give these a watch. They’re funny, insightful, and breezy. Neumann is also one of the few Patreon accounts that I feel I can afford to support, if you want to know how strongly I feel about his work.

Anyway, this is where I confess: I just binged these movies last July for my birthday, and watching this documentary makes me want to do it again, just to pick up on more elements that change in each installment: costuming, camera movement, sound design, and so on. And it just so happens that I got a box set for Giftmas. Maybe it should be a reward for finishing this round of edits on my new book.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

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Happy Holidays

Important: STRANGER THINGS is a Christmas show.

Here’s hoping you have a peaceful holiday, however you celebrate (or even if you don’t)

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

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