Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If women ruled. . .

Many people have asked the question what the Western world would have been like if it was ruled by women instead of men.

If that happened today, I’m not sure we would notice much difference. But what if we, the women, had ruled “from the start”. What if the roles of dominance would have been the reversed at the cradle of civilization?

Today a man is the ideal. God is a man, humans shaped to God’s alikeness (without doubt written by a man). Women have through the history brought either disaster (we caused humans to be thrown out of the Gardens of Eden) or blessings (Jesus were born by a woman). Rarely a woman has just done something, without being pointed out as a woman.

We women have to such degree strived to become men that we ourselves consider our period cycles as something causing problems. Changes in mood and the ejection of blood are things that should be suppressed and hidden. Men’s mood runs as a straight line over a month. They don’t understand changes in mood without a valid reason, and shifts in hormones are not considered a valid reason – how could it be, when no man has the slightest idea what it feels like? We woman have learned to accept that we are considered irrational and/or suppress the temper, at least in public.

Yes, sure, today, in most Western countries, men and women are equals when it comes to law and human values, but it is still the male behavior that constitutes the ideal.

Just look at the irony that most medicines are tested on men just because they are even and don’t get pregnant. The unevenness in women is considered a problem when testing medicines – not something to consider and accept that half the users of the medication will have.

And take a look at PMDD (which I have myself) it says in a medical dictionary that, aside from hormones, abuse of alcohol, overweight, caffeine intake and the lack of exercise plays their roles – all things that is caused by the woman herself and her lifestyle. Trust me when I say that neither plays any part in my PMDD. I’ve read similar ways to blame a medical condition on the patient’s lack of morally correct life - in older medical literature - concerning things like masturbation and homosexuality. This attitude towards PMDD caused by the woman’s own lifestyle is from today! Though up to 8% of fertile women are calculated to have PMDD little research is made to help and most women likely don’t seek help, since it is “just PMS” or a woman’s strange moodiness in general. How many women who killed themselves due to this condition nobody knows.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bitter. I’m just playing with a thought. If women had been the dominant sex the result would not have been a better society. It would have been a society fit for women in the same way our real world has been fit to suit men’s need. Just as wrong as consider women unfit to vote, so would it have been to put men in the same position. It would have been just as unfair to have medicines tested on women only as it is to have them tested on only men. Though it would have been sweet to be the ruling sex the society would have been just as unfair and that is no worthy goal.

If women had been the dominant sex, God would have been a woman. Men’s stable emotions would have been considered a problem and even considered as they maybe even lacked emotions. Perhaps they even lacked a proper brain, since they are guided by facts and not their soul. They would be considered to be able to do good physic work, but not able to make vital decisions.

I wonder if there would have been pills to encourage moodiness?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Word: Effervesce

"The Water of Youth possessed merely a virtue more transient than that of wine; the delirium which it created had effervesced away. Yes, they were old again."

"Dr. Heidegger's experiment" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Effervesce" means according to WordWeb become bubbly, frothy or foaming. Wikipedia considers it a synonym to carbonation. Wiktionary adds that if the word is used about a person it is to show high spirits.

Online Etymology Dictionary adds the thrilling conclusion that the words comes from Latin "effervescere", to boil up, boil over.

Unfortunately that seems to be all to be said about this word.

Though this was the first time I came across this word, it seems to be a word in use considering its appearance in modern articles.

"Effervesce". . . Strange spelling and not fully obvious how to pronounce. Yet it describes that wonderful feeling when your whole body is full of that bubbling energy, concluded into one word. But it sounds so boring. "Effervesce". It sounds like the effect of a bitter medicine.

Online Etymology Dictionary

A Word: Preening

”I'm from Jupiter,” declared one man, preening himself.
"The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury

"Preen", I found, did have many meanings. "Clean with one's bill" ("bill" in this case refers to "beak"), "Pride or congratulate (oneself) for an achievement" and "Dress or groom with elaborate care" says WordWeb. Wikipedia tells me it means "personal grooming of a bird's feathers especially by using its beak". Wikipedia also says it means to "pin, fasten", but this seems to have another origin altogether, and also states the meaning "show off, posture, or smarm". ("Smarm" was a also a new word to me, by the way.)

The etymology seems a little vague but it is clear that the birds cleaning their feathers and do their show off to the ladies is the base of the meaning; which then transferred to humans making themselves important visually, trying to impress.

Online Etymology Dictionary

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Word: Peevish

"I think it's a good idea."
"Suddenly you're so solicitous," she said.
"Don't talk that way," he replied peevishly. "Do you or do you not want to go?"

"The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury

Peevish means easily irritated, annoyed, complaining, whining. It is based on the word "peyvesshe" in older English (late 14th century), which means impulsive or silly. The meaning and the spelling it has today developed sometime during the 16th century.

It may have its orgin in Latin "perversus", meaning reversed, perverse.

I made the not very flattering association with "pee", to urinate, but I cannot find that this word has any relation to peevish, apart from the initial spelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: PaperRater

I have been using for a year, but I found the service too expensive for my needs. I could not use it to satisfaction for movie scripts, so I used it only for my blog entries. Not that I in any way want to neglect these, but was a little out of the scope in price.

PaperRater is free.

It seems like it is mostly meant for students to check their papers before submitting them. You have the option to select for what grade the paper is written to give a fair opinion of the language.

The grammar check is not near as good as Grammarly's, but at least it picks up the worst blunders. The spell check seems to work fine. There is a "bad phrasing" check, which helps you to improve your writing, as well as a "Transitional Words Score". By the end the paper is graded.

I've been guest blogging

Here is a link to Meditz Productions' blog where I was asked to write a blog entry about my work with the graphic novel The Recreators.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rewriting The Power of Bitterness

How my rewriting is going? Well, I think I have some useful ideas which will enhance and clarify the story.

First of all, I have two B-stories. One of them ends at the time of Dark Night of the Soul and is not really a part of the third act; which makes it rather pointless. The other includes a character popping up twice, sharing her wisdom and then leaves; the result of the wisdom is used in the third act, but the “popping” is terrible.

I will remove the “popping” character and transfer the mentor traits to the other character, which will survive to the third act. First of all this character is much more interesting and could add so much more to the story. Secondly the other character is part of a far larger mystery in her background which is not really needed, though I hate to admit it.

The character I’m going to keep is a man she damaged for life. He loves her desperately; she has more of a mother-child relation, or maybe even human-pet. They are a very interesting couple.

In the bin goes her mentor from her past, a master of the skills she has gained, but refuses to use. She will still have the skills, but she will not have this mentor’s help to learn to appreciate them and find its uses. Not only was the master rather boring, but she was also part of a complex history which we just get a sniff at in this story. It is not a relationship that really adds something. It is more like a divine finger popping down pointing her in the right direction.

The other major change will be the ending. As it is now she strives to become queen because that was once her destiny and she cannot let go of the past, and by the end she becomes queen. Even if she proves her worthy by at first not accepting the throne, it is not enough to show anything but a politician’s move. In this new ending, she will not become queen. A woman she more or less despises will.

Then the third act is way too much talk and too little action. I’ll have to get them moving faster. I’ve just finished reading Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat! Strikes Back” and there he talks a lot about the third act as “storming the castle”. This made me smile, because that is what they actually do. When I see what I got from the merging of the B-story characters, I’ll rework the third act, making sure the B-story and the A-story merge gracefully and that the B-story offers a solution to the A-story problem and so on.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Word: Opulent

”From its appearance, he judged it to be one of those botanic gardens which were of earlier date in Padua than elsewhere in Italy or in the world. Or, not improbably, it might once have been the pleasure-place of an opulent family; for there was the ruin of a marble fountain in the centre, sculptured with rare art, but so wofully shattered that it was impossible to trace the original design from the chaos of remaining fragments.”

From "Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Opulent means rich, luxuriant, extravagant.
It derives from Latin opulentus which means “producing much”.
Opulence has the same root, but means more of a show off of the wealth.
But in the use of opulent is a need to impress too, like in the text above with the fountain. It seems to me it is a word used when you think someone brags a little bit too much by buying yet another jet.

V2 Vocabulary Building Dictionary

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mary Shelley and the subject of soul

"The writer of it is, we understand, a female; this is an aggravation of that which is the prevailing fault of the novel; but if our authoress can forget the gentleness of her sex, it is no reason why we should; and we shall therefore dismiss the novel without further comment."
The British Critic

The year was 1818 and the book was "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus" by Mary Shelley.

What it must have aggravated this reader that not only was she writing about the creation of a artificial human, but also about a man acting like a coward. This was the Victorian era! Men ruled and they were flawless (which is ironic when there was a queen as single ruler on the throne).

Coward? Yes. I think so. I don't know if that was what Mary Shelley intended, but I believe that running from ones mistakes has never been a valuable trait. Frankenstein sparked life into his creation and fled the second it opens his eyes.

Wikipedia writes:
"Mary Shelley had contact with some of the most influential minds of her time. Shelley's father was very progressive and encouraged his daughter to participate in the conversations that took place in his home with various scientific minds, many of whom were actively engaged in the study of anatomy. She was familiar with the ideas of using dead bodies for study, the newer practice of using electricity to animate the dead, and the concerns of religion and the general public in regard to the morality of tampering with God's work."

With the risk of being blamed for plagiarize my own blog entry into the essay I'm about to submit tomorrow (, I'll here give you some of the thoughts I got concerning what views she might have had.

I have tried to figure out what Mary Shelley herself thought about the creature Frankenstein brought to life.

Frankenstein himself does no attempt to communicate with his creation what so ever. Not once through the whole story does Frankenstein express any thoughts about human value in his man-made human or if it (he) might have a soul. All he seems to see is ugliness and evil.

Walton is the other character in the book describing the being, and though he indeed has a conversation with him, he does not offer any empathy or write about him as a human.

Traditional Christian values tell us that only things created by God are good. With that as a base, this “humanoid” cannot be something good. It is by default evil. Ugliness is also a symbol for something evil. Since there are no thoughts about it being otherwise in the whole book, I think Mary Shelly considered the creature being without soul and human value. Otherwise she would have had at least Walton objecting to Frankenstein’s attitude.

Today when human cloning is a popular subject in fiction, soul and human value are subjects for discussion. In the novel about Frankenstein’s Monster, it is not an issue; because I don’t think it crossed the writer’s or her readers’ minds that it could be an issue. Not even the Little Mermaid in H.C. Andersen’s fairytale was allowed the option of a soul, due to Christian values that only humans could have a soul.

Never the less, the man-thing Frankenstein has sparked to life behaves as a human and expresses needs as any human would. What does the writer want to tell us by this? If she does not intend to tell us something about human value, maybe she wants to show us the dangers of this type of creations? He is powerful both with his words and his strength, almost succeeding to make Frankenstein to create another one of his kind.

Me, I think with life comes a soul. If Frankenstein succeeded to bring the so called monster to life, then he also succeeded to bring him a soul. That's why I don't think it is possible to bring back the dead; I don't think we will ever master any other soul than our own. With a soul comes a value as a living creature and the right to be respected as such.

Robots do not have a soul, because they are not alive. They are a product of artificial intelligence, all depending on programmers' skill. But if I by chance will run upon Wall-E, I'll not take any chances; I'll treat him with respect.

But observe, Wall-E is cute, not ugly. Even now we tend to use visual appearance as a way to measure goodness within. The creature Frankenstein made is ugly and therefor worthy no respect. Wall-E is cute, and deserves respect. Somehow, I don't think Mary Shelley ever considered making Frankenstein's monster a dashingly handsome man.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rabbits and rampions

I am following a Coursera class about Fantasy and Science Fiction. It is a lot of reading and analyzing the texts. A lot of symbolic meanings are pointed out to me by Eric S. Rabkin, Professor of English Language and Literature at University of Michigan. I cannot help to wonder if all rabbits appearing in literature (and art and movies and so on) really are symbols of fertility. Do we writers really think about these things?

I read in Writer’s Digest an advice to improve your writing by using symbols. This indicates that skilled writers use symbols, while the rest likely don’t. Could then any written text be analyzed? Could it be that I use a rabbit just because it is cute, without any sexual or fertility intentions at all? Or am I then adding a message – unwillingly and/or subconsciously?

Or the other way around: if I add a rabbit to indicate fertility, will you get it?

There are some symbols in movies that I find rather frustrating, like glasses indicates an intellectual and a woman’s loose hair tells us that she is sexually unrestrained. But are there others, put there just as intentionally that I pick up subconsciously? And how skilled does the crew need to be to use these kinds of symbols?

And how many of the readers at the time the Grim brothers published their tales knew that when Rapunzel’s mother was yearning for rampions she was actually yearning for sex?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Voluptuous wantonness

”The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness.”

This is from Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula" from 1897.

As a non-native user of English I halted at this sentence. It describes Lucy’s transformation from a sweet and prude woman into a vampire, a monster. “Voluptuous wantonness”? I checked these words up. To my surprise she had turned into a delightful sexy woman, who lasciviously used her body to enthrall men.

There they stand, three men, and all they feel threatened by is her sexuality. It’s not the fangs, not her ability to kill, but the fact that she has come loose and is a hot babe that the writer focuses on.

And do they have reason to fear her tempting curves? Absolutely. They are three, all physically stronger than her. If she attacked they would be able to defend themselves – and she would only be able to attack one of them, not three at a time.

But with her lewd sexual appeal. . . Oh, fear my soul; she could have power over them. Them! The men, the strong intellectuals, would be outmaneuvered by a woman. In Bram Stoker’s mind this was obviously the most horrific that could ever happen to a man.

To save poor Lucy for being a complete slut, Van Helsing (one of the three men on the scene and vampire expert) has explained earlier something about Lucy being in trance when infected, she is still in trance as “undead”. We are not supposed to believe that her swelling bosom could be there if she in any way were sane. That such transformation was really possible for a prude lady like Lucy was unthinkable.

The men “shuddered with horror” when they saw her. All they feel are horror and later loathing and coldness and hate. No tingle in the pants. Just as much as Lucy’s behavior was considered worthy all disgust, so was a man falling for such woman. If men were to be in control, men must not allow themselves to be seduced by voluptuous wantonness.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Building a castle

There is a castle in my script The Power of Bitterness which causes me problems. I wanted it to be made of wood so it didn’t turn into a medieval castle. But there are crypts and catacombs below which are important to the story. Somehow I could not make this wooded building and the crypts to work in my mind.

As I wrote about earlier I figured I would do the corridors as bridges between the different buildings instead, but then I, in my mind, saw minor buildings in the trees instead of on the ground. Why have bridges between houses on the ground?

Let’s say you build a castle on a hilltop. Then it is visible and you have positioned yourself and the power you exercise above the common people. What material do you use for your castle? Isn’t a hill in general made out of stone? The hill is covered by trees, so you cut them down to give room for your palace, and you use the wood for building, rather than lowering the hill by taking rocks from it.

But you don’t place wood directly on the ground. Wood does not take wet feet well. You need a foundation to take the worst. You build this out of stone.

Alright, the foundations of stones could be used for secret access to the crypts. It is a meeting between wood and stone that could work. There must still be an official entrance since you do bury people down there, but it could be outdoors. You don’t really want an entrance to such dreadful place in the main hall, do you?

Let’s say you build this castle to show power, without the need to protect it from attacking soldiers. Then you want it to be big. One way to make things appear bigger than they are is to use altitude to elude a spectator. Use a pointy hill, place a big building at the top and let it flow down the hillsides, making it appear as the whole hill was one magnificent building. While it in truth is several minor buildings connected by covered bridges and stairs, using the hill to give a solid impression.

Is this building made out of wood?

Naaaah. . . I still see stone. Stone is everlasting. You want the power you radiate to appear solid and ageless. Wood is not. Colosseum is still there while the Viking dwellings are all gone.

What do you say?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fantasy worlds in movie scripts

In “Save the Cat! Strikes Back” the writer Blake Snyder claims that fantasy worlds are a source for trouble. Since that is what I’m writing right now, I read this with keen interest – and somewhat frightened too, since I honestly don’t want my script to be a bursting bubble.

He writes:
“I have found after a 20-years career as a screenwriter, and several years wrestling with writers in the classroom, that the single toughest story nut to crack is when you bring me a story of an original “fantasy world” the hero lives in or travels to. […] I am only trying to let you know that the specialness of your special place may be covering up the real problem: no story!”

I have considered this very carefully.

Do I have a story? Yes, that I can say for certain; with change and the whole shebang.

Why am I setting this story in a fantasy world?

Even if a movie is pure fiction, in some ways you claim things to be true. IF a large meteor was on the way to collide with Earth, this is what will happen; if we continue to waste our resources, this is what will happen; if we have a nuclear war, this is the world we end up with. We know it is fiction, yet we want to see a believable story that might very well be what really could happen.

If I write a story which claims that God has left us and a few humans not only administer the divine powers making sure it is passed along, but also act as gods when it comes to manage the nature, and put this in our world, I’ll get another story, than if I place it in a made-up world.

First of all I would have the problem of youths disappearing and returning again after three hundred years or something – that is how long it takes to learn the divine powers, “the Word”. If I left this world 1712 and returned 2012 so much have happened that it would be one of those ridiculous odysseys testing all those fancy technical things. I don’t want the story to be a marvel over neon lights, smartphones and airplanes.

Secondly, religion is sensitive stuff. Yes, I want to provoke and make you question things, but if I put this story in New York City claiming that God has abandoned us, I do, in a way, say that that is the truth for us, here and now. Maybe that is a dastardly attitude, but I don’t want to stir the hornets’ nest. If a youth here in this world is ripped from their family and safe grounds to be indoctrinated into a completely new way of looking at life, this is very disturbing indeed. I would say it would be impossible to have one of these youths as the main character in a story set in New York, since everybody would do their best to convert him or her back to “reality”.

Why would all this be less provocative in a fantasy world?

It is much easier to accept a religious system in a world that does not affect you and you know it does not exist. The story is not about religion, it is background, a set piece.

Then it is still disturbing that they take unwilling teens and returns them after three hundred years. That is what this story is about. But without the main character examining a laptop with awe. It is a story about a girl who had a destiny to become queen, a ruler, a woman of power; but is robbed of all that and finds herself a degraded to a simple councilor to the King with some powers she thinks fit for a gardener. It is a story about letting go of your past and accept what you cannot change.

Yes, fantasy worlds may in some ways be sort of “cheating”; I completely understand Blake Snyder’s skepticism. Still I think there are huge possibilities in there too. You can tell stories that can be hard to tell otherwise. This does not make them lesser stories. But there has to be a story.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The birth of two ideas to movie scripts

As I browsed through my old comics I got two ideas for new movie scripts; based on two comics, of course. I took photos of a few pages and placed them in Evernote.

It is unacceptable to write a script based on someone else’s story just like that (unless it is for your own education), but that is not my plan. I want to see if I can figure out what it is in these stories that made me want to do movies of those two in particular. What chord did they strike in me? Why these two?

One of them is a Swedish youth-comic called “Mystiska 2:an” (the Mysterious Number Two) created by Rolf Gohs 1969. It is about two teenaged boys in Stockholm. The images are dark and the stories serious. In the one I took to my heart one of the boys renovates his missing father’s photo lab and finds a hidden strip of photos showing the strange character in the block being a pedophile, photos taken by his father and – as it turns out - used to blackmail the guy to hide the loot from a robbery, for which he is now in jail for. The pedophile in question has long ago turned to the comfort of children’s dolls instead and the two boys burn the film. Father and son do not recognize each-other and the ruin of the film causes the father to put a knife at his son’s throat.

The other is a Mandrake the Magician-story created by the American Lee Falk. The character Mandrake is worthless, solving everything by a hypnotic gesture, but this story was fascinating and would do without any hypnosis (which is used only once in the story anyway). It is the professional troublemaker that interests me: a guy how stops a wedding and affect a major boxing match in ways that nobody suspects that there is something going on.

I’m not sure why these two come to be in favor over all the others, but I want to find out. I want to see if there is something in these stories that I want to tell, in my own way. It does not have to be in the form of these particular stories – I sure hope not – it could just as much be something I think is not told, or something else completely.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

An actor's story

The handsome and talented actor Jeffrey Staab wrote the following comment to my post about Paralyzed in Paradise:

"Acting for me is the greatest profession in the world! I've worked in 43 films now. I love LOVE what I do! When I'm asked what it is I do, I am proud to say that I am a professional film actor!

Paralyzed in Paradise is a very unique film. It's about a guy named Robert, who ends up in a mental hospital. He's overdosed with tranquilizers which have an adverse affect on his body and brain. The left side of his body becomes paralyzed. He struggles to fight for is life before the hospital staff unintentionally does more harm. They just won't listen to the poor guy. So his mission is to get out of the hospital before they kill him. It's quite the saga.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the film was quite a challenge. We were up against a deadline and the time frame to get it shot was very narrow. Rebecca, CJ, Kurt, the whole production team, was just awesome!! VERY Professional!! I'd put them up against any major studio anytime!

The challenge for me was playing a true life character. I had to paralyze a left half of my body, my face, for a good part of the film... and act at the same time. So when I say it was a challenge I mean it in the truest sense. I loved the role because of the challenge. I love to go where I've never gone before. I love being pushed. I just HOPE I did the role justice. I never look at footage. I'm not a good judge of my work. I leave that up to the audience and the director. It's up to them to decide. I must be doing something right because the phone keeps ringing.

Anyway the script was very well written as well! We had to improvise in a few scenes because of the time constraints So we had to deviate a little bit from the script. But, the majority of it is in there, in the film.

Rebecca is 1 of the most talented people I've ever worked with. Oh my God is she ever passionate about what she does! I love her! CJ as well! Both very unique individuals!

Even though I don't like watching myself on screen, I'm looking forward to seeing the final edit."

Thank you Jeff for sharing.

I love to hear about all aspects of making a movie. A script is the base, and if I understand how it is used by actors and crew, I hope to be able to satisfy their needs better.