Movie (and TV) Monday

There’s no use in denying it.  I waste a lot of time watching movies thanks to the Blockbuster kiosk down the street and Netflix via my Wii.  Most of the stuff I watch is horrendously awful, and frankly, I watch them just to see how truly bad they are.  Occasionally, I will discover a movie or TV show I’ve never heard of before that is not only good, but fantastic.  Here’s what I discovered this weekend.

The Good – Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (Documentary): Not only had I never heard of this movie; I had never heard of the mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.  In the early to mid 80’s, a message started appearing in tiles embedded on the streets of Philadelphia that referenced resurrecting the dead on Jupiter, but the origin of the message was a mystery.  A young runaway, Justin Duerr, became intrigued by the tiles.  He noticed them all over the city.  Over the next 30 years, his fascination turned into an obsession.  He had to know who was placing these tiles in the streets.  His research led him to discover that the messages didn’t just appear in Philadelphia, they appeared all over the East coast and in parts of South America.  He teamed up with others that were spellbound by the mystery and through what only can be described as dogged determination, they eventually find the person behind the tiles.  The movie had me hooked from the first frame.  I found myself pulling for the investigators, and I became totally invested in their adventure.  It was a great way to relax for two hours on a Saturday.  Thank you, Netflix!

The Bad – Project X (Comedy?):  I guess this was supposed to be a comedy, but in the end, it just made me angry that I wasted $2 on it.  I rented it because it was billed as the next Hangover, which is kind of true because I was hungover with regret and despair that this movie found the funding to be produced and released.  It has your typical raunchy teen movie theme; the parents are going out of town and entrusting their good, nerdy kid to watch the house while their away.  Meanwhile, his criminally inclined friends plan a party to get drunk and get laid.  Mayhem ensues.  Horrible writing takes over.  Stilted acting overinflated with every cliché they could dig up invades. And, a ridiculously violent end to the evening leads you to conclude that maybe humanity’s rule over this planet should come to an end if this is all we have to offer in the way of entertainment.   Screw you, Blockbuster kiosk!

The Awesome – The Whitest Kids U’ Know (Comedy!!): I grew up on Monty Python.  I would sit with my dad and watch it on PBS back in the days when we only had five TV channels.  TWKUK is Monty Python 2.0. America’s version of sketch comedy with no restraints.  It is gloriously inappropriate humor that makes spot on, if not totally goofy, commentaries about the absurdly ironic nature of American culture. I watched all 10 episodes of season five of their IFC TV show on Saturday and Sunday, and I was so disappointed when there were no more to watch.  The best of the best was a reoccurring sketch that ran through all 10 episodes called, The Civil War on Drugs.  In essence, two stoners join the war between the states because they think it’s about making pot illegal.  There’s actually even an almost heartwarming plea to young people in one sketch to visit old people in nursing homes…  almost heartwarming.  I love you, Netflix!

This is the tamest clip from TWKUK that I could find to post here.  The show is etremely inappropriate, but funny as hell.

The frustrating…. errr, I mean rewarding pursuit of the traditional publishing deal

You’ll have to excuse me. I’m suffering from author madness at the moment.

Before I explain the title of this post, let me stress that this is not a complaint. It’s merely an observation.

As some of you know (and many of you probably don’t care), my agent has been making a herculean effort to sell The Takers (and as much of the series as he can) to major publishers. He updates me whenever he hears back from a publisher with either rejections, or notes on how to improve the manuscript. I’ve declined to make some of the changes, but more times than not the suggestions do add elements to the story that I think make it better. I’m not stubborn or naive enough to believe I have all the answers, so I’m always excited to hear what people in the storytelling business have to say. My sole desire is to deliver a story that is as close to perfect as possible. Suggestions and criticisms from editors are going to help me do just that.

That’s not to say I don’t like The Takers as it is currently written. I do, and many of you have expressed to me that you like it, as well. I’ll never change the tone of the story. The suggestions so far have been to give a little more background information on Oz and Stevie’s relationship and, for God’s sake, get rid of the cliffhanger ending. I’m finding out that editors do not like cliffhangers. I love them, but I understand that’s a personal preference that many don’t share. I have no problem stepping outside of my head and making the ending a little more concrete… But just a little.

Here’s the frustrating part. These are two separate notes I got back from two different publishers.

Publisher A – Oz is completely unlikable. The reader can’t relate to him and therefore will never root for him.

Publisher B – Oz is too likable from the beginning. There’s no room for him to grow.

Do you see my dilemma? Both publishers are part of what’s known as The Big Six in the industry. They’ve managed to make a lot of money in a business that fails 70% of the time. They know what they are doing. So, either I have somehow managed to create a completely unlikable main character that is too likable, or one of them is wrong.  The problem I have is figuring out which one is off the mark.

This sounds like I’m complaining, and I guess on some level I am, but I do deeply appreciate the time both publishers spent reading and providing me with feedback.  If the two criticisms had been similiar, I’d be busy trying to correct the problem.  As it is, Oz will remain unlikable in a likable way.

Pardon me while I go slightly insane.

Lou’s Diary – Entry One (text version)

I am alone, and I don’t know if that matters because I don’t know what I am.  I’m not a person… not a real person.  I am an imaginary person, a fictional character.  I am lines on a piece of paper, drawings and words in a comic book.  Everything I have a memory of doing and saying aren’t memories at all.  They’re the things I’ve done and said on the pages of a homemade comic book created by some… kid… a kid who was tortured and shunned by other kids because of what he was…  he was treated like he wasn’t a person… not a real person.   I am the figment of boy’s imagination who never knew if he was real or not because he felt like no one cared about him.

I have lost count of how long it’s been since I left the others.  The snow has been constant and heavy.  The days look like nights and the nights like days. I haven’t run into any trouble.  The Délons would never come this far North.  And I haven’t come across any Banshees, Myrmidons, Bashirs, Silencers, nothing.  Not even any Skinner dead.  To be honest, I wish I had.  I wish there was something to fight besides the thoughts running through my head.  I’d give anything to come across a Destroyer… especially a Silencer.  PLEASE give me a Silencer to kill!

You should know, diary, I let someone die… no that’s being too easy on myself.  I killed someone. Because of my stupidity, my lack of leadership, whatever you want to call it, Valerie is dead.  Killed by a Silencer…

My hands are nearly frozen.  I have to stop writing, or my fingers might fall off.  I should just find a spot to freeze to death, but I won’t.  I don’t know why exactly.  For some reason that I can’t explain, I have to keep going.  I guess Stevie Dayton isn’t done with me yet.

Thanks for the NPR nominations

I did a quick (translation: inaccurate) count of how many times The Oz Chronicles received nominations for NPR’s search for the best Young Adult novels, and I was happy to find at least six nominations through the first thirty or so pages.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but most of the nominations went to the blockbusters (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Book Thief, etc.).  So to those that nominated the Oz Chronicles, I say THANK YOU!  To those that didn’t, it’s not too late.

The first step in the process is to assemble nominees from you, the audience. To nominate your favorite YA books for consideration, log in below and write the titles and authors into the comments field. Here are a few guidelines:

To those that just don’t want to, you’re totally going to miss out on the trip to Disney Land I promised everyone who nominated the Oz Chronicles…  Wait, I forgot. I didn’t promise anyone a trip to Disney Land.    But if the Oz Chronicles makes the list and NPR recommends the series, I’ll wear a Mickey Mouse Club hat for a week.  I’m talking 24/7.  That’s several trips to the grocery store, three trips to the gym, three runs around my neighborhood, at least one movie, a couple nights eating out… That’s almost as good as a trip to Disney Land, right?

Thanks again nominators!

Lou’s video diary entry

Notice – If you haven’t finished Book five, there is a bit of a spoiler in the video.

The video diary option was the clear winner in the poll.  Some of you made good points about making the diary available in book form, and I will at some later date.  This is a ‘publish-as-I-write’ project.  It may actually help me with background story for book six.  At any rate, here’s entry one.  The first part of the video is me explaining my plans for the diary.  The entry starts at about 2:35.  Enjoy!

A little help for the Oz Chronicles – NPR is looking for Young Adult book recommendations

NPR is looking for the best Young Adult novels.

This goes out to the friends, followers, and fans of the Oz Chronicles.  NPR is looking for the best Young Adult novels.  It’s a long shot for the Oz Chronicles to make the list, but why not go for it?  So, if you want to show your support for Oz here’s what NRP wants you to do.

The first step in the process is to assemble nominees from you, the audience. To nominate your favorite YA books for consideration, log in below and write the titles and authors into the comments field. Here are a few guidelines:

Click here for more details:  The Best Young Adult Novels? You Tell Us

Spread the word!