Video update

Wanted for the murder of radio starsI’ve reconsidered my approach to the new novel over the last few days. My original plan with the rewrite was to convert the first chapter into what could be considered a prolog and then backtrack chronologically to detail the events leading up to that moment. The main reason for doing this was that, after discussing the book with my agent, I realized that a character who is incapacitated in that scene ends up voiceless in the book. Voiceless and faceless, really, and the character is important to the narrator. The way I had it plotted, readers never got to see the two characters together, so their relationship remains vague in their minds.

However, the event isn’t exactly the novel’s climax. It seemed to me that my plan was aiming at an artificial target that would go zooming past maybe halfway through the book. Structurally, it just felt awkward. So I’ve decided to write a new beginning to the book, one that introduces another tangle, and which allows me to introduce the main character and then the other characters in a more naturalistic way. As it happens, I had the perfect scene for the opening–the one that I was inspired to write while on vacation earlier this month. I was already using the same character, and I thought at the time that it might be a good launch for a sequel, should there ever be such a thing, but I’ve decided to make use of it now. I hope my agent agrees — I haven’t discussed this with him yet.

I was interviewed yesterday about The Stephen King Illustrated Companion for a piece that will run in the October issue of the ITW’s Big Thrill magazine. I’ll post a link when it goes live. I sent the ITW a signed copy for their giveaway contest, so you should check out their web site to see how to be eligible for that drawing.

I finished The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown yesterday and wrote and posted my review. Now I’m about 100 pages into the new Michael Connelly/Harry Bosch, 9 Dragons.

We watched a couple of oddball movies this weekend. The first was a French film called The Secret of the Grain, which is set in a southern port town that is falling on hard times. The main characters are a family of Tunisian descent who consider themselves French, though the French don’t always regard them the same way. The protagonist is divorced from his wife, has a passel of adult kids with various issues, and a new girlfriend whose adult daughter regards him as a father, too. Recently laid off from his lifelong job at a boat repair dock, he looks for something to do with his life. The solution: open a restaurant on a refurbished boat. The gimmick: the main dish will be couscous, a north African dish. To gain financing and approval for his project, he decides to invite the town’s bigwigs to a free dinner aboard the boat and enlists the help of his family to prepare and serve the meal. The film is very slow paced at times, and scenes go on and on, but it is so compelling that the time ceases to be an issue. Family dinners seem unscripted from the way people interrupt each other and repeat themselves. There’s one diatribe by a daughter-in-law that is as extended as Lucky’s monologue in Waiting for Godot. The main character’s stepdaughter is a terrific character, helpful, resourceful and subtly manipulative, and she is the focus of attention when she steps in to fill the void after a series of unfortunate events puts the dinner service on hold. The movie ends, as French films are wont to do, at a very strange and unsettling juncture.

The other film is called Goodbye, Solo. Solo is a Senegalese immigrant who drives a taxi in Winston-Salem, NC. What he really wants to do is become a flight attendant. One of his regular fares, an old codger named William, offers him $1000 to take him on a one-way trip up into the mountains in two weeks, to a place where an updraft makes snow fall upside down. Solo understands what William is planning and spends the next ten days trying to get under William’s skin to get the man to talk about why he wants to do this. They’re two interesting characters, but there’s a lot about both of them that we don’t find out during the course of the film, which was frustrating. William especially remains an enigma.

The Amazing Race got off to a fun start last night. You have to feel sad for the poor yoga instructors who got left behind in the L.A. River when they failed to solve the puzzle in time to get one of the 11 tickets to Tokyo. This season there’s a contestant with Asperger’s. So far, the only manifestation of his illness is the fact that he says whatever the hell is on his mind, with no filter. He also seemed to have a special relationship with the ducks he had to corral. I’m sure there’s a lot more going on with him than that, but in the first two legs his Syndrome didn’t seem to slow them down. No clear frontrunners yet, though the poker champs haven’t made any friends. I was hoping they’d spend more time in Japan, but they were off to Vietnam after only one day.

I had a chance to catch up on the late-week shows over the weekend. I liked Flash Forward enough to stick with it and decide to check it out this week as well. The characters and the setup weren’t as instantly compelling as Lost, but it shows promise. I was sad to see that Riley had left C.S.I., but I understand the decision to release her. Her character, which had been so quirky and offbeat in her first episode or two, never really seemed to gel. It was like the writers couldn’t figure out what to do with her. She could have been as interesting as Abby on NCIS, but she was underutilized. I was also surprised to see that Sara is back, though I don’t know for how long. She’s a good character, though she was best when she had Griss as a foil. The opening shot of the premiere episode was very well conceived, I thought, freezing an instant in a crisis to tease us with what was to come. Then, when the event really transpired, it all played out in a matter of a few seconds.

The Mentalist got a bit of a reboot. It seems like it’s time for them to figure out whether this is a series crime show or a comic crime show. To date, it’s been a bit of a mishmash, and the combination hasn’t quite worked for me. If I read their intentions correctly, I think they’ve decided to go serious and jettison all the comedic folderal. I hope so.

Every show needs a shakeup every now and then, and Grey’s Anatomy got one with the death of a major character and the announcement of the impending merger of two hospitals, which puts everyone on notice. The “40 days” of mourning was handled fairly well. It’s a show that I could probably give up without missing it terribly, but I still enjoy watching it.

I tried to watch Children of the Corn on SyFy, but it was so bad that I gave up. I started reading while it was on, watching with one eye and one ear, but even that proved too much. I was never a fan of the original and don’t even care for the short story all that much. The bickering couple didn’t work for me at all in this version, and the “big reveal” that it was an inter-racial couple added nothing to it whatsoever.

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