My Muse of the Week

People who create find their inspiration wherever they can: from life experiences, history, settings, people-watching. In Stephen King’s On Writing, he describes how Carrie was born one day while he was doing a repetitive mindless task. His thoughts wandered from a magazine article he had read linking telekinesis with puberty to a memory of cleaning the girls’ locker room while working as a janitor during high school: boom, the opening scene for his first novel came to life.

This week, I am finding my inspiration from another creator: Neil Gaiman. Read the rest of this entry

Giving in to the Mess

This is way more organized than I feel right now.

My first draft is a mess. I’ve been playing around with writing for a long time, so I know that first drafts are always a mess. I hate messes. I’m a very organized person, at least when it comes to matters of the mind. As a former attorney, I am trained to think in terms of categories and elements and factors. I like lists, and outlines, and checkboxes, and little colored tabs on notebooks to find things quickly. When something becomes too much of a mess (a project, a craft, a room) I’m likely to abandon it and start fresh rather than work through the disorganization. But I can’t do that this time, because I really care about this story and this character.

When I started this novel, I had this clean, clear picture of what the story was about, the journey the heroine would take from start to finish, how each character in the story would help her get there, and what made the narrative unique. It started out swimmingly, and I churned out something like 20,000 words in just over a week. I know. Insanity. Read the rest of this entry

Supernatural: Phantom Traveler/Bloody Mary

If we’re scoring these Season One Supernatural episodes by creep factor, Episodes 4 and 5 win for creepiest of the season so far. Read the rest of this entry

Best of February

I’m a creature of habit. I like to go back to vacation spots I’ve visited before (I am not allowed another trip to Paris before I go to a new European city). I like to return to attractions and sites and parks I know, especially if I bring people along who have never been (I’ve been to Disney World in Orlando eleven times). And I tend to rewatch favorite television shows and movies and reread favorite books rather than watch/read new. (an old roommate once told me, in a completely non-snarky fashion, that it’s because the characters become my friends, and I think she’s right).

But I do like new experiences, really. I just have to push myself to have them and not to fall back on the comfortable and familiar. Join me as I try to consume the new as well as the old, and each month, I’ll give you my thoughts on some of the best I’ve discovered. Read the rest of this entry

Why Bridesmaids Doesn’t Deserve to Be Compared to The Hangover

I watched the Oscars last night, along with everyone who wasn’t watching some sort of basketball game. The cast of Bridesmaids was highly entertaining as they presented awards for Best Short Film (Live Action), Best Documentary (Short Subject) and Best Animated Short Film. They were funny, irreverent, and looking gorgeous all at the same time. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is essentially all Bridesmaids is, as well. Read the rest of this entry

Supernatural: Wendigo/Dead in the Water

So I realized after watching the first couple of episodes that I’m going to need to increase my basic knowledge of the supernatural in order to really feel like I’m getting the richness of this show. I’ve got vampires, were-beasts, and zombies covered, but a wendigo? Thank goodness for Wikipedia. Read the rest of this entry

Speak To Me

When I was in college, I saw the movie The American President, starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. I had recently discovered that I had an interest in politics, and when we walked out, it was Michael J. Fox’s character, the domestic policy advisor, whose job I wanted. He got to write the speeches. And they were doozies. Read the rest of this entry

The Human Side of Power

It would be impossible to have a President’s week on a site that discusses creativity and storytelling without discussing the West Wing. Aaron Sorkin took television by storm in 1999 with this drama about fictional President of the United States Josiah “Jed” Bartlet and his senior staff, taking us inside the west wing of the White House and captivating audiences for seven seasons. But what is it about this show that is so compelling? Read the rest of this entry

Prepare for President’s Week!

JFK swearing the oath of office

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Like kings and queens, Presidents have long fascinated writers and audiences alike. The Office holds power, but restrained power, meaning that the President is doomed to be perpetually frustrated by the gap between what he wants to accomplish and what he can accomplish. The Office brings with it celebrity but also criticism that is rarely heaped upon even the most downtrodden Hollywood star, putting to the test an individual’s self-confidence and ability to perform knowing that half of his audience is guaranteed to be angry with his choices. A President’s private life is exposed to the public, putting a strain on his relationships with his family. And…oh, yeah, there’s that thing where he’s got a metric boatload of responsibility for the fate of a world superpower.

With all the conflict situationally embedded within the Office, it’s no wonder that the President regularly appears as a character in stories. In some cases, an actor will personify a real President in cameo, lending a sense of reality to a fictional story. Other times, an actor will portray a real President in order to make a comedic point, as in the countless SNL skits mocking our esteemed leaders. Most interesting, however, is when a story features afictional President as a main character.

Making a fictional President allows us to test situations a real President might find himself in (admittedly, some of these are a little unlikely to occur) and see what he (or she…we can hope, right?) is made of. Presidents are, after all, just people, and people have limitations. Pushing a character to those limitations and allowing him to rise or fall is the meat of a good story. Pushing the stakes as high as possible — to, say, the fate of a nation — is the gravy.

Join me this week as I take a look at some fictional Presidents and what they say we, as a country, might want in our actual leaders. Who are some of your favorite fictional Presidents, and why?

Supernatural: Pilot

I love television. I especially love excellent television, but I can find the good in many things (except, perhaps, season 4013 of the Jersey Shore, Jersey Nursing Home). Because people who know me know I love television, I am constantly getting recommendations for shows to watch. Trouble is, there are too many shows, and there are other things that occupy my time, like hiking or having dinner or writing.

Thank god for the existence of Netflix and television on DVD in general. It allows me to catch up with shows that have consistently been recommended, and consume them in vast marathons, needle-to-the-vein style. On this site, I’ll be reviewing shows that I probably should have been watching all along.

One note about comments. Please try to avoid spoilers in the comments, as I’d like to try to experience these shows knowing as little advance story as possible. If you’re going to talk about spoilers, put SPOILERS at the top of your post in big letters.

First up is Supernatural, starring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. I like supernatural television in general — old school fan of Buffy and Angel, and The Vampire Diaries is my current obsession — and knowing this, many fans have been surprised I don’t watch Supernatural. So it’s time.

The first season has twenty-two episodes, which I’ll watch and review over the course of twelve weeks A.V. Club style: Episode One and Episode Twenty-Two will get their own posts and the rest will be reviewed two at a time. So here we go, starting with the Pilot.

Read the rest of this entry