Archive | March 2017

Random Thoughts

In considering what to write about this week, I had several things, so I’ll just touch base briefly on all of them.

  1. The King of Dramas is a great show. It entertained all the way through and everyone grew for the better in some way, especially the two protagonists. The only misstep I thought was the shoehorning of a blindness handicap into the story which was something really not needed. Perhaps it was meant as a satire on writers inserting such issues into TV shows, etc., but as a whole I didn’t think it worked.
  2. War and Peace. I am still reading, though it is sloooow going. Page 200 is in sight.  Only 800+ more to go. I greatly appreciate it’s not all battlefield descriptions or I would seriously be depressed.
  3. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster. Forster is easily one of my favorite authors.  I love A Room with a View and have read it many times. This book is sort of a precursor to that and is about a young widow who goes to Italy and ends up engaged to a poor Italian a lot younger than herself. Her inlaws are horrified. Great fun so far and I can easily see how this story morphed into A Room with a View.
  4. Population, Resources, Environment: Issues in Human Ecology by Paul Ehrlich. My brother plumbed the thrift stores to find this publication from 1970. I’m reading it to do “opposition research” as he calls it. Ehrlich and his book The Population Bomb was more or the less the beginning of the current environment vs. human hysteria–I don’t even know what it’s called now. Climate change, I think? What’s next, changing the name again to the weather and then saying people who disagree are weather deniers? Oh, man, let’s just do that. So much fun. Anyway, I detest this whole idea that there are or ever will be too many people in the world. The world was built for humanity. Some hilarious quotes so far: “Spaceship earth” is “filled to capacity.” 2017: 7+ billion and growing – 1970 was about half that.  The earth is not full, not even close. This one had me nearly rolling on the floor in laughter: “Demographers who are interested in the total population of the planet work primarily with birth and death rates since there has been no migration to or from the earth.” A well of entertainment this book is. To be fair to the author I think he’s stepped back on some of his claims since then.
  5. Silence by Shusaku Endo. First, I am appalled I’ve never heard of this book before. Second, as a Christian I find the story intriguing. Do and will Christians hold to their faith in the face of real physical harm? Would I? Haven’t started reading it yet, but if I like it I will also try out the movie by Marin Scorsese.
  6. New Kdrama: Perfect Wife. has it (I bounce between them and Dramafever). I watched episode one not really grasping what the show will be about.  The main character, Shim Jae Bok, is a woman in her thirties with a couple of kids and a not-so-faithful husband, but there’s a strange twist of someone behind the scenes manipulating events to incite her husband to cheat on her and to also get their family to move to a certain house. Sung Joon is in the cast as an annoying younger coworker (and future love interest?) and the cheating husband is played by Yoon Sang Hyun. Shim Jae Bok is played by Ko So Young who in this looks eerily like Rosamund Pike from Gone Girl, so I felt this foreboding while watching it.  By the end of the episode I wasn’t clear on where the story is heading, but I kind of like that. has at least up to Episode 9 subtitled in English, so I’ll have to catch up at some point.  Other drama recommendations: Goblin, When a Snail Fails in Love (Chinese one), and She Was Pretty.

–P. Beldona

The Show Must Go On

It’s funny that when one is working on a project, one sees similar themes and ideas everywhere. I am–probably too–proud of the fact that I’ve taken a scene I knew was bad and am rewriting it. Sometimes I think parts of my story are bad, but then in reading them later, think they are ok and keep them. It’s tough with writing because you can read your own stuff one day and think it stinks and the next barely recognize it and think, “who is this brilliant writer?  Can’t be me, can it?”  But some scenes are bad from the beginning, bad ideas, uninspired, and so on.  I’m excited because I genuinely found one I wanted to change and know the new one will serve the story better.

Speaking of rewrites, what person calls themselves a writer and thinks there will be no editing? No rewrites? No criticism? Now imagine that writer is writing for movies or TV and can’t stomach the possibility of their script being changed?  Bizarre.  I mean, who doesn’t know that the script changes constantly, especially when filming starts, and if it’s bad with movies, what about TV shows?

But I’m rambling. I’ve been watching this kdrama called The King of Dramas. It’s an awesome show with a huge flaw in that the writer lives in this fantasy of “no revisions, no changes” to her original script. Fortunately, she is learning (like I am) as the episode sprogress, but still. Her rigidity stuck out like a sore thumb at first and it was hard to suspend my disbelief.

The King of Dramas, or, in my mind, The Show Must Go On! with same-titled song from Moulin Rouge, is a 2012 kdrama about producing a Korean TV show. With epic music and everything from mafia financing to last-second deadlines, this show will have you wondering how any dramas are made at all. I mean, who would want all that stress and headache? And it become clear why showbiz people can be a bit neurotic. Anthony Kim (Kim Myung Min) is Macbethian in his strive for power, with ruthlessness and an alarming propensity for lying. Kim, the actor, has a magnetic presence about him and although everyone claims to dislike him you get the feeling they secretly want to be on his team.

The naive, stubborn writer is played by Jung Ryeo Won, and it’s refreshing to have a heroine for whom romance will turn out to be incidental. She’s also not overly crazy, mannish and loud, but womanly and thankfully doesn’t have any part-time jobs. I like the down-and-out-girl-with-10-jobs-and-a-relative-in-the-hospital, trope but it’s nice to have a break from it. Lee Go Eun is refreshing in her normalcy. Jung Ryeo Won also has a unique look that compliments her thoughtful character.

The comic relief in the show falls on the chosen lead of Lee Go Eun’s script, handsome and famous Kang Hyun Min. This guy fits every bad stereotype of an actor–vain, money and fame hungry, selfish–and he’s hilarious! Choi Si Won overcomes his distracting Ken-doll  looks by actually…acting, something that other K-pop stars seem to take eons to figure out.

Both male leads are jerks and the farthest thing from husband material. I’m about halfway through the series and am wondering if they are going to go with a love story eventually and if either will prove themselves worthy enough for the quite nice, but stubborn writer.  And being that she’s working with overbearing people, it’s also a good thing that she’s so stubborn, but I’m glad she learns to do some self-reflection when it comes to her writing. And the show is actually fine without a love story, so different still.

My favorite character, though, is the middle-aged cutie Jung In Gi. He plays recovering alcoholic director Koo Young Mok. Jung’s a bit more disheveled in this than I’m used to seeing (he’s in a ton of Korean shows and movies), but he adds much needed gravitas when the others are too over the top. He also is very believable as a kdrama director and steals a lot of his scenes simply by his presence. He’s a likable father figure to the younger characters–someone who has “been there, done that” but is still struggling himself.

I don’t know what else the real writers of The King of Dramas will throw at their characters in the remaining episodes, but I’m guessing there’s a good many inside jokes going on for those whose careers are built in show-biz. No matter the country or culture, entertaining people is rarely as easy as it seems. And somehow the shows do go on and on and on in miraculous precision.

–P. Beldona

See Also Murder: book review

As much as I love YA sci-fi and fantasy, adventure, and Regency-era romances, my all-time favorite genre is mystery. Nothing tops a good mystery, and unfortunately they are very rare. My favorite mystery series right now is the Flavia De Luce series by Alan Bradley. I’m reading his latest, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d at a snail’s pace in the hopes I can make it last until the next one is published. I also peruse my local library shelves periodically in the hopes that I will connect with another series. I may have found it.

See Also Murder by Larry D. Sweazy (love the name!) is subtitled “A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery,” so I hope, hope, hope that means there will be more of them. The sleuth is an indexer caught my eye. Once upon a time I worked as a proofreader (oh, how my grammar and spelling have plummeted since then!) and we also had an indexing department in the building. I was always a little jealous because the indexers had their own offices with doors, and aside from having to proofread their spelling and check occasional page references, I didn’t learn much about their job. According to the author of this mystery (a longtime indexer), not just everyone can be one, at least a good one.  Indexing takes a certain kind of mind that can notice key phrases and points in a work and correctly categorize them for future readers. It also might help to be a lister, or one who writes lists. That’s not me. I keep short lists and often either forget I wrote them down in a dusty day planner or typed them into my notes app. Weeks or months later when I open said planner or app in an effort to prove to myself I actually use them, I’m amazed to find these lists and somewhat embarrassed I wrote them down at all.

(Ah, organizing for the sake of organizing. There’s this great line in the movie The Jacket with Adrien Brody: “I’ve been approached by the Federal Trade Organization. … They have asked me to head up the Organization for the Organized!”)

So, one needs a knack for indexing. And Marjorie Trumaine has that knack. She quickly and easily categories and organizes people, ideas, clues and so on. See Also Murder is set in the North Dakota plains in the 1960s and the story is fully infused with the atmosphere and culture of that era. Readers who’ve grown up in middle states, or “flyover country” as it’s often called, will connect with the story in a way the “coasters” probably won’t.

As a mystery, See Also Murder isn’t so much a whodunit (avid mystery buffs will be able to spot the culprit fairly quickly) as it is a character study. Marjorie Trumaine lives a lonely isolated life and it becomes obvious that any threat to her or her husband could quickly become terrifying, especially if they find they can’t trust the few people they know.

I also want to give a shoutout to Scandinavian history and mythology. It’s not something I know a lot about and what I do know mostly comes from the Marvel Thor movies. Sweazy inspired me enough that my latest book purchase was Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I come from half Norwegian, half German stock and once in a while I find it worthwhile to dig into my roots.

See Also Murder is a great, atmospheric read that will stick with readers long after the story has been closed and put away. Isolation is rampant even, and maybe especially, in our modern technology-filled times. Easily seen as both vice and virtue, isolation is a perfect setting for a ghastly murder.  Isolation is the “single effect” (as E.A. Poe would say) that defines the book.

P. Beldona