The Three Hundred and Fifty-fifth Post: The One Where I Review the Movie “Raw”…

I recently watched the French horror movie Raw.

Jesus, the French scare me.

Their horror is visceral. Their horror is philosophical. They work on so many levels. Martyrs challenges your views on faith and the afterlife. Raw makes me think about how college rips away the sheltering embrace of family and tosses you into the hard world.

Our main character has lived in a very safe family environment, with an older sister who has gone on to veterinary school, where she follows. A die-hard vegetarian, she thinks that people are going to give her a pass on one of the hazings: eating a rabbit’s raw kidney.

What happens is not only a fall from grace, but a plummet to hell. This is a movie that chronicles the spoiling of an innocent woman at the hands of friends and family (!). Raw is an aptly named movie. It is a raw, unflinching tear-down with a reveal at the end that calls to mind the adage ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

French horror isn’t like American horror, nor is it like Japanese horror. French horror is a bloody philosophy class. If you can focus and not flinch, you’ll learn something about yourself. Their blood is up front and frank. There are no spirits to be placated as in Japanese horror. There is no mad killer with a mask as in American horror. The horror is not in the unknown, or the unfathomable. The horror is found in the unfeeling. The world doesn’t care, but it’s not the alien uncaring of cosmic horror. The world smokes a cigarette and tells you that he’s a fag, so they naturally paired him with a female roommate because what’s the difference?

Until, for some odd reason, he takes the virginity of his roommate. That was the one scene that kinda took me out of the movie, but it set up the climax (yes, I know what I said) in the movie’s final act. We see her fall, and know that we’ve experienced the same thing, but perhaps in a much smaller scale. Free from the structure of home, how many of us have bitten the apple, or in the case of our main character the forbidden kidney?

This is one of the few horror movies that merits more than one view. Watch it once for the gore, but come back to it for the philosophy. Definitely worth your while.

 

The Three Hundred and Fifty-Fourth Post: The One Where I Complain, but Don’t Get Political…

As some of you might now, I am a fervent gamer. So, when latest suppliment for D&D was avaiable for preorder, I of course plunked down my hard earned cash to get it. I couldn’t wait. The Mythic Odysseys of Theros sounded wonderful. A new world to plunge into and learn based off of the Greek myths. I couldn’t wait.

Well, silly me.

As I read about the creation of this world, I was treated to a fact that makes me a little leery about Hasbro’s acquirement of Wizards of the Coast.

Theros is apparently a world that was started in Magic: The Gathering card game.

*sigh*

One of the things I had been happy about as far as the purchase of WotC by Hasbro was that with more money and resources, it would mean an influx of brand-new worlds. New platforms to stage epic adventures. Yes–we had Eberron, The Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance , Planescape, and (please, dear God) Dark Sun–but I wanted to see some new places. New takes on classic themes. I even entertained the idea of one of my fantasy ideas being submitted just to see if they would take it.

However, what I am seeing happening instead is Hasbro is mining one product to support the other. The most recent original world? Exandria from “Critical Role”. While this is not a complaint (I, too, am a Critter), this is concerning to me. This is going to make it hard for the company to take a chance on new things if the goal is Hasbro’s bottom line. I’m even hesitant to see some of the worlds from TSR getting the approved 5th edition treatment. The Powers The Be have pretty much nixed Dark Sun (slavery, hardship and insect-people eating elves! Oh, no!) in favor of Dragonlance…trying to stoke Gen X nostalgia for some quick cash.

Does it sound like I’m an old man complaining about what these new kids are doing? Certainly. While I like 5th edition, and it’s certainly pushing this hobby forward, but what’s the cost? Even when reading some parts of the sourcebook, I’ve run into one thing I am not happy with: the Anvilborn.

I think I am going to save that for next week. Right now, I’m shaking my walker in the general direction of Hasbro.

I just like it when games take chances with the storytelling. I liked Dark Sun because it was such a bleak place. Up to this point, it was Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms–fairly standard, Lord of the Rings-sort of fantasy. Dark Sun wasn’t. It was the best parts of Mad Max, Thundaar the Barbarian and Dungeons and Dragons. It was an unforgiving place. Water was hoarded, metal was almost non existent and the Golden Age was a memory.

I was hooked.

Now, I’m worried that there is going to be no follow up. No expansion. Why? Sadly, Dark Sun wasn’t a very popular world. If there is going to be any help for the blasted world of Athas, then it must come from the people.

Or maybe I’m just an old man worrying about nothing.

We’ll see.

 

P.S. — sorry for missing last week. I thought I was still one week ahead. I’ll double up this week. Sorry.

The Three Hundred and Fifty-Third Post: The One Where I Channel My Inner Arnold!

I was going to talk about my time in the facility, but I think I’m going to gently bypass that for now. Instead, I’m going to talk about a session I had with my counselor.

I know – thrilling stuff. Stick with me.

In talking with the counselor, I have been confronted with psychopharmacology. Yes, I am on an anti-depressant right now, but it’s a hit-and-miss sort of thing. The issue I’m having is not so much the depression, but what leads up to it. The thoughts, the trap, the pattern—going from funny fat guy to depressed fat guy several times in the course of a day. Like I said, the anti-depressants work every now and then, but sometimes they don’t. I’m also a diabetic, so I’m learning that the crying jags and suicide ideation might also be my blood sugar crashing. I’m not happy that a lot people make that their go-to reason.

Back to the counselor.

I had mentioned that I was having intrusive thoughts. I picked my words carefully (I’m a writer, it’s what I do) because I wanted to make sure she understood what I was going through. This is not a matter ‘I’m not over you, or the hurt’, it is a matter of ‘no matter what I do—you’re still in my head. Make it stop!’ So, she mentioned drugs, which I told her I wanted them as an assistant, not the end-all-be-all (yes, I still see people drooling and stumbling around blitzed out of their minds on lithium. Yes, I know they’ve come a long way).

So—she whipped out the DSM-V and read to me the diagnostic criteria (cut and pasted):

  • Clinical criteria (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition [DSM-5])

For a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, patients must have

  • A persistent pattern of preoccupation with order, perfectionism, and control of self, others, and situations

Yes. I am despairing about not being able to control my thoughts about the situation I have described earlier.

This pattern is shown by the presence of ≥ 4 of the following:

  • Preoccupation with details, rules, schedules, organization, and lists

Yes. Early is on time. On time is late. Late is unforgivable. I hate being even four minutes for anything.

  • A striving to do something perfectly that interferes with completion of the task

I have re-written chapter five of my current work 3 times because I can’t stand how it’s coming out. I’m still contemplating throwing it out and restarting right now, and my new deadline is end of June.

  • Excessive devotion to work and productivity (not due to financial necessity), resulting in neglect of leisure activities and friends

I wake up, try to write 600 words in the morning, go to work, write another 600 for lunch, go to the gym, write another 600 after dinner. If I fall short, I’m in a funk that negatively affects me for the rest of the day. In short, my days are thus: get up, write, work, write, work again, gym, dinner, write. No evening movies. No reading for pleasure. No TV shows. All work and no play makes Jack take an axe to his family.

  • Excessive conscientiousness, fastidiousness, and inflexibility regarding ethical and moral issues and values

You follow the rules for a reason.

  • Unwillingness to throw out worn-out or worthless objects, even those with no sentimental value

I have shirts from old jobs that I’m not going to throw out. They’re not sentimental. I just don’t throw out clothes. I keep them until they dissolve from my body heat.

  • Reluctance to delegate or work with other people unless those people agree to do things exactly as the patients want

“If you want a job done right, you do it yourself.” – I can’t trust others to do the job right. Let me do it and go away.

  • A miserly approach to spending for themselves and others because they see money as something to be saved for future disasters

HAHAHAHAHAAA – no. This is the only one I don’t meet.

  • Rigidity and stubbornness

If my wife, or my friends read this—they’re going to nod so hard that their head is going to fall off.

What does this mean?

For me, it means it has a name. Names mean power.
I know what it is.
I know what it looks like.
I know it bleeds.

I promise, more writerly stuff next time. Blogging about this might not bring in the fans, but it helps me to process what’s happening.
Next time: My adventures in writing smut.

The Three Hundred and Fifty-Second Post: The One Where I Listen for that Whooshing Sound…

I’m experimenting with a different work style this time…mostly to see if I can somehow get more efficient with the spare time I have, and mostly because I’m hearing the whooshing sound of another deadline fast approaching.

So far, I’ve written two times a day – 850 words at lunch (about an hour) and another 850 words when I get home. 1,700 words isn’t shabby. At that pace, I could finish a small novel in about a month. Valentina’s Feast, however, is suffering by being written by me. While, yes—I can string together 1,700 words a day…but getting me to write more than three or four days in a row is the challenge. I’ll get a good head of steam going, and then peter out. Most of the times, this petering out just means I’ve come to a scene that I haven’t completed in my head. Happens a lot, and it just means I need to step away from the keyboard and let it play out in my head before committing it to paper.

Sometimes, I just think that the 850 pace is a little hard for me to maintain because I tell myself ‘OK—you gotta sit down and put 850 words on the screen and you gotta do it now!’ and the pressure gets to me. When I’m not focusing on the fact that this whole book was to be done by this Friday (hint: nope), the words come easy. When I look at the calendar and see where I am in the story as opposed to what day of the month it is, then it becomes hard. I’m supposed to be writing the stirring climax, but I haven’t even gotten to the first sex scene…and I really want to write that scene!

I’m pushing back the deadline to end of June. Gives me thirty-one more days to get it done and get back on track. Since I don’t really have the time for a deep line-by-line editing that I know this book needs (and I know who could do it, but they couldn’t do it in my time frame), I’m going to have to try to be as diligent as I can with the writing now. I know you’re not supposed to edit as you write. I have to get this book done and out there before August 28th for reasons.

Once, someone asked me what sort of advice I wish I had before I started writing at the semi-pro level. This is the advice I wish I had: if you’re not having fun, you’re not really writing. This book was meant to be my foray into horror. So far, the only horror I’m having is not meeting my first deadline. I’m going to get this book done, but it’s going to be by the skin of my teeth. Whether or not I have any pride in this remains to be seen.

Want to help? I need coffee. Click on the coffee picture on the right-hand side of the screen and donate a buck or two so that I can stave off sleep for one more day. If coffee is not your thing, then check out the books written by dear friends and help support them.

I wish you all good luck, and now I must poison a twenty-year-old woman to get the two lovers together.

For the book, of course.

The Three Hundred and Forty-eighth post: The One Where I Get Interviewed! (part one)

Hello, all! I tried to get the actual file uploaded here, but for some odd reason, it’s not getting in. So…here is the link to the podcast itself:
https://www.podbean.com/media/player/b8fpe-daf01c?from=usersite&vjs=1&skin=1&fonts=Helvetica&auto=0&download=1” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>From Thinking to Inking Podcast

It’s going to be in four parts. As each part comes up, I am going to post it here. Thanks for listening, and please support this guy!