Unsupportable

Happiness Is Only Real When Shared If there’s a single idea that I simply can’t stand in fiction…by which, I can’t or can only just bear to read it’s the concept of The Chosen One.

And I find it difficult to articulate exactly why.

I think in part because it’s so easy. Once you know that this story has a Chosen One, you know the Chosen One wins. Even in Star Wars, when the Chosen One goes evil, he still gets what he wants. Well, okay, that’s not the best example, because I’ve never been a very big fan and I’ve only seen the original trilogy (the ‘good’ one) in bits and pieces, though I think I’ve seen more of it. And that’s the story after the Chosen One’s story is over.

So the Chosen One always wins. That removes a significant layer of tension right there. Not that you don’t know most protagonists are going to win, or at least survive, in genre fiction. It’s conventional storytelling, and I don’t mind that. But Chosen Ones are born through prophecy, which by definition is true. And with some (even if vague) detail. Which is more information than I really want to know.

And worse, what the Chosen One does is right. I think that’s my biggest issue. Because it’s the Chosen One. He or She is going to save the world, has to be the one to save the world, and so no one else can tell them no. Generally, they can’t be wrong. Even if they make bad choices, the absolute worse consequence is a slap on the wrist.

Okay, so I confess I haven’t actually read many Chosen One stories. I tend not to be a big fan of genres that use that trope, and I avoid those stories that use it.

But I realized recently that I stopped reading Harry Potter when the Harry Potter as *the* Chosen One showed up. Not that he wasn’t all along, but in some ways that could be justified by chance, accident. Lord Voldemort can’t kill him by the Power Of Love (which I also find a more than a little aggravating, because it’s so passive in that instance) and Harry has to deal with it. Instead, it turns out that all along Harry has been the Chosen One, and is the only one who can destroy Lord Voldemort. Yeah, there was some ‘confusion’ if it could be Neville, but since Harry Potter main character and what it says on the tin, even the other (good) characters don’t consider it.

I haven’t read even the fifth book and after all the commercialization, really have no interest in the series anymore. It makes me sad, but that’s the way it goes. I have read both defenses and attacks on the later books, and I have to say the attackers have stronger arguments.

Maybe it’s not as bad as that. But I’ve been burned enough, and unless it’s the most awesomest of awesome books ever—and feel free to leave recommendations—the concept of the Chosen One is the idea that up with which I will not put.

Play Practice

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (album)

Image via Wikipedia

It’s in the final week of practice now, so at least we’re all most completely off book! Actually, I think next practice, the director isn’t even going to use hers, and today I forgot mine, so I guess we’re already off book!

My lines are still pretty rough, but I only really had trouble in one section. My character is reacting to a shocking story, and therefore not actually replying to the doctor’s comments, just making fairly random exclamations of amazement. So not telling me much in terms of cues.

I think I want to call my youngest brother E.T. here, because his middle name was almost Thomas, and he would have had those initials. Since he feels the missed opportunity keenly, I will offer it to him here.

Anyway, E.T. told me that I’ve been louder on stage lately which is good, but on Thursday’s practice, the others told me that I wasn’t actually acting outside of this one scene. But in said scene, my character is actually angry and furiously protective, and for once has directed movement and sensible blocking. As opposed to just standing there, which is what I usually do. And in the background. And no one tells me what I am supposed to be doing there!

It’s not like I’ve done this before. Because I haven’t.

That reminds me. I keep intending to watch the play on YouTube if I can find it, see if I can get any ideas. Because I don’t even like this play very much and I have no idea on what I am doing.

At least it’s almost over. I just hope that I don’t humiliate myself.

The Strange 50s

History of modern literature

Image via Wikipedia

As in, the decade last century, not the period of life of which I have no experience.

It didn’t really occur to me but recently that I hadn’t read much literature from the 50s. Not like my literature classes covered modern works at all—or at least not those written after the thirties (because those are technically modern). And I haven’t exactly gone out of my way to look for novels or other works written in the 50s, mostly because I rarely go out of my way to look for any reading material, I just happen to be exceptionally good at picking anything/everything up.

Specifically I read a lot, and unlike many more disciplined readers, I don’t even have a favorite genre or subject. That’s a different issue.

Anyway, recently I’ve been introduced to two different works produced in the decade of the 1950s. The first is the play in which I ended up with a fairly significant role by some mysterious twist of face (re: they didn’t have enough people audition), and the second is the novel Thirty Days Hath September, by an author who may have lacked some longevity in history because her last name is Disney, and I’m pretty sure she’s not related to The Disney. But that’s the conspiracy theory; the truth may just be that there are lots and lots and lots of authors out there who produce a great many more books, and most have not had any kind of staying power—particularly those from the 50s. Now I’m just getting factitious.

And as soon as I typed Disney, the recommendations filter went “yay! a word used as tags!” or something, and showed me The Disney.

To find Thirty Days Hath September on amazon.com I actually had to use both author names, who I don’t feel like looking up right now, because it’s just a 50s genre novel. Much like asking how easy it will be to find one of those random paperbacks in a dime store in fifty years. Yeah, not so much, even with the internet.

But back to The Curious Savage. In it, an old woman who is committed to an asylum by her three stepchildren, who are evil and crazy. And then we find out that she essentially stole all their inheritance, which was her money anyway. But she only kept the money to start a fund that would support “people with a desperate need to be foolish.” So that she could commemorate her husband. In the end, evil husbands lock their wives away after driving them crazy in the first place, but husbands who don’t (or are crazy themselves) earn the undying love of said helpmeets. As happens to Mrs. Savage, devoting your entire self, including desires and dreams, is completely fine until the husband dies, after which you devote everything to make sure he is remembered.

At least she did go out and act, since she couldn’t dye her hair blue when he was alive. (What can I say, the play is a little odd. As is the playwrite, but that’s another subject.)

Thirty Days Hath September has a great title and a moderately interesting and reasonably well-told plot. Genre-wise, it’s a mystery, and isn’t too bad—it’s full of gun shots in the night and fainting, screaming women and twins and dumping butter in the garden. Not to mention the crazy people (yes, more of them: were there just more crazy people in the 50s?) and the body under the seashells. But the narrator is a man who consistently refers to his wife as a girl (which you’d think would be disturbing) and though she has her own agency for the most part, she is still the good little woman. However, as part of this is from the narrator (who really is rather stupid) and both he and his wife come across as rather child-like, especially in comparison to the sheriff, who is very competent. They’re the summer people on a vacation island/resort area.

So both were rather problematic on several levels: you should have seen Tom’s (in Thirty Days) description of Jenny the murder victim and former career woman. But like I said, Disney’s work had a first-person narrator who wasn’t particularly clever in the first place, and for the most part all characters were given a chance to be developed. Yes, most of the women ended up weak or crazy (again) but Sally (Tom’s wife) ended up not too bad and had her own resolve, and the men weren’t any better off.

Sort of all rich people are stupid theme, come to think of it.

The Curious Savage is a little more problematic to me, mostly because of the beyond death devotion, and expectation of complete sublimation to the man. Of course, this is only what the characters say, and I really haven’t gone through and analyzed the text. In fact, I actually feel much better about my role when talking to two of the other actors who in real life serve counselor-type functions work-wise. But from all the notes left by the author, John Patrick just sounds rather pretentious anyway, so I’m probably right.

Isn’t that sound reasoning?

NaNoWriMo

It’s all the writing I really want to be doing. Mainly because there will be so much of it.

While following a discussion of NaNo on a forum, I read a few people who posted what they used as rewards for finishing, say 500 words, or 1,000. Like ten minutes online, or a candy bar. Well, just as I was writing, my dad came in with the half-bag of leftover Halloween Reese’s. Surely that’s not coincidence.

And maybe I’ll eat less candy too.

But it’s hard enough keeping up with this blog without having to worry about writing a novel too. And while it’s a different kind of writing, I do blog faster than I novel. If I may be excused for turning it into a verb. But I can write more than a thousand words on a subject I’m only vaguely interested in, but making up fiction takes longer.

So I think I’ll try to keep up with this here, but now I have to go write some fiction.