It's A Trap!
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
How many of us have seen this quote or watched the movie where it came from?
(^I know, this is meth. Not "soft" drugs.)
Something that I find more relevant in the quote, more relevant than the silopsist idea that it represents, is the question of drug use and mind altering substances.
Let's put the offer of the drug into the concepts of the real world, the world that is all around us, outside of the movie. This world where you are sitting, reading my words. The world you have grown to understand and feel. Even if your conceptions of this world are that it is a horrible place, or a wonderful one, it is still the same world shared by you, a spouse, a domesticated house pet.
Many of us like to think that if offered the option of being shown the “real” world, the one that apparently exists contrary to this one, the one we cannot perceive, or that is explained as a contrast of “this is a dream world and you need to wake up”, how many of us would actually take the pill?
We would like to think we would take the pill that opens our eyes.
Too often, we take the pill that closes our eyes. The trick?
Both pills are deceptive. In the real world, the world that you can see, and touch, and smell, the one that developed electro/chemical systems in response to a physical world that required perception is reality. We can argue that the sky is red in one persons brain and blue in another. It does not change the existence of the sky. Human perception does not control reality. If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it fall, it still falls. To think otherwise is more self delusional than than the idea that a pill can wake you up.
When we take the blue pill we are saying that we do want the story to end and wake up in our beds. We want to dull our senses to the real world around us. When we take the red pill, we are saying we want a distraction from the real world around us. Both systems want to take us away, to remove our senses from their intended purposes.
Wanting to escape the trap is part of the trap.
I've said before; in the culture shift we went from a society afraid that it's government was drugging it to make us complacent, and now we want the government to legalize drugs that make us complacent. Dead horse beaten.
I don't see the point in taking a substance that makes me stare at my hand for five minutes in amazement and think stupid ideas are brilliant. I have that issue already, ask my wife.
I admit, I would like to try DMT... The difference with that is the understanding that DMT is the same chemical released in the brain naturally when we die. I want to know what death feels like without dieing. Not so I “know” what will happen after I die, or “wake up”, but out of shear curiosity. My perspective is slightly skewed when it comes to the concepts of death; I would prefer not to believe in heaven (though I do believe it exists), because I would rather have a triumphant ending with meaning than a meandering infinity. Who knows, I may change my mind when I get there.
If brain farts had an odour, it would stink in here.
My point is life is amazing and raging all around us. Why dull the senses to the full experience?
(No. Drugs do not amplify the full experience. They distract from it the same way a Michael Bay movie avoids plot, story, and character arcs with explosions).
THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP
Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop.
What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them. I hope you'll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy. On this stop on the blog hop, you'll find a bit of information on me and one of my books and links to five other authors you can explore!
My gratitude to fellow author, C.V. Madison, for inviting me to participate in this event. You can click the following links to learn more about C.V. and her books.
In this blog hop, my fellow authors and I, in our respective blogs, have answered ten questions about our current book or work-in-progress (giving you a sneak peek). We've also included some behind-the-scenes information about how and why we write what we write--the characters, inspirations, plotting and other choices we make. I hope you enjoy it!
Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!
1: What is the working title of your book?
I titled it Sin Umbre, a play on Spanish, religion, and identity. “Sin nombre” is Spanish for nameless, as the protagonist of the book has lost their identity. Umbre is the grey area in a halo of light, something we have all seen in flashlights. At the edge of the beam there is always that soft dim area that separates the light and the darkness. That's where some of the characters fall into, which plays into the idea of sin. The setting is a Catholic Orphanage in 1970's New Mexico. So you can see the title is very loaded, as was my previous work “True Monsters” original title “The Shepherds Wolf”.
2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
When I was young I remember watching Desperado with Antonio Banderas. There is a scene where a small boy exchanges his guitar every day. It is explained that this boy is a type of drug mule. Being a teenager, rebellious, full of moral outrage I started reading up about it. There wasn't much information at the time. Then about a year or so ago I caught the movie on t.v. and it reminded me about that outrage. The idea of a sleazy sheriff trying to steal orphans to turn into drug mules to pay off his cartel debts just popped into place.
3: What genre does your book come under?
I would have to say that it falls into magical realism and historical fiction, in a similar way that Professor Matthew Strecher defines magic realism as "what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe." I also tried working in the idea of García Márquez, that is, by suggesting the magical in our own world.
4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I am not always a fan of book-to-movie comparisons. I like to think that the book I read and the film I am watching take place in parallel universes. That way I can read my X-men comic and not laugh at Wolverines yellow spandex costume, and then watch the movie and not get angry at changes. Film and literature are different monsters with their own needs and teeth. But, with arm fully twisted, I would say that Joseph Julian Soria (Hamlet 2) could play the sheriff character. He is a very talented actor and I think he should have more work than he gets. And this one would be hard for some to swallow as they don't view her as much of an actress, but after seeing Jennifer's Body (better than I thought) and seeing Megan Fox play terrified and scared with as much emotion as she did made me rethink the flack even I have given her. She is more than a pretty face and I think she could play Sister Isabel.
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In a small New Mexico town a demon has come to lay claim to his own; Can evil be forgiven if it fights its own nature?
6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
It is self published. For years I buckled under rejection after rejection, knowing that my cover letter hadn't even been read, or an agent telling me they weren't looking for a new client (what?). I almost gave up writing. After reading about how major publishing companies require their authors to do most of their own publicity and marketing now, and to create a public image, then give the author 30% of their own work, I chose Indie routes. This way I know that my effort directly affects my results.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took me six months. Then I took Christmas off and started reading it not as an author but as a potential customer, making notes about what I liked, or didn't like. In the next few weeks I will be Beta testing first on my original Beta, and then my “Cogs” and then publishing it or retooling it as necessary.
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Every author wants to think that there is nothing like their book out there. I am the same. I would say my book shares science fiction elements of Dean Koontz's Watchers, moral absolutism elements of Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses, with a touch of The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike. I like to use very strong female characters, questions of morality and moral choices juxtaposed against secular and religious beliefs, and contrasting now-verses-then concepts of how we view the world.
9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Many things contributed to this book: First and foremost my wife, Kay, who kept me from going off on bizarre tangents and is my first Beta, my own feelings about how wonderful this world can be even in the face of evil, and the new album by Muse. It seems that I write best after I find the right album. For True Monsters it was AWOLNation. Who knows what the next one will be.
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I try to stretch myself in different ways every time I write a new novel. Whereas True Monsters is a gritty police procedural, The Judas Bastard is a dark vampire novel, and the forthcoming Stain Glass Memory is a surrealist look at what makes us a person, Sin Umbre has more of a sensual/emotional side and has (a first for me) a passionate sex scene. I discuss my feelings about sex and violence as it pertains to good story telling on my website.
Below you will find authors who will be joining me virtually, via blog, next Wednesday. Please be sure to bookmark their sites, and add them to your calendars for updates on their upcoming books! Happy Writing and Reading!
Chris Turner http://www.innersky.ca
Jeff Whelan http://jeffwhelan.wordpress.com/
Knesia Anske http://www.kseniaanske.com
D.H. Nevins http://www.dhnevins.com
A.D. Bloom amazon.com/A.D.-Bloom/e/B0054RE7TE
"Writer Janell Burley Hofmann's 13-year-old son Gregory wanted an iPhone for Christmas, and so he got one, but not without an 18-point "phone code of conduct" to sign. With a smartphone comes great responsibility, his mother insists."
While I applaud the mother for trying to teach her child proper etiquette, I do not like how this was presented as a "gift". It's her phone that she is allowing him to use, she even states this: "1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the greatest?"
A gift is freely given, no strings attached. This is not a gift, it is a handcuff.
(I don't care for her self congratulation, either. Was the gift because she loved her son, or to show how wonderful she is?)
Further, she undermines him and tells him flatly that she doesn't trust him (I don't have a problem with that, you can't trust a lot of teenagers), but by saying "You are a good and responsible 13-year-old boy and you deserve this gift", then turning around and making so many rules that he may as well not even have the phone says that she doesn't actually believe the first part. Relationships are built on trust. Had these been recommendations it would have been better. Lead the child, don't arbitrarily use punitive rules that keep him under thumb.
I personally love rules, because I like to figure out ways around them.
Technically he could put the phone on silent and be able to ignore every call, because it won't ring, he doesn't have to answer it. (rules 3 and 11).
Rule 2 is more of an idle threat than a rule, and different profiles can be created on an iphone. He could set up a private profile and she would still have access to the phone without seeing what he actually does with it.
If you are naturally a rude person, rule 8 doesn't apply. Also, you can't control what offends some people.
What's wrong with taking photo's (rule 13)? A zillion photo's? What if it inspires the artist in him? She doesn't have to look at them all, what does she care? Oh, right. It's not his phone.
Rule 15. What if he wants to listen to Justin Beiber because he likes it? I hate Beiber, but I would never presume to tell someone what they can or cannot like. I don't gain any greater meaning from country music, but I know a lot of people who have because music speaks to us on a personal level. I take exception to her telling him what he can enjoy.
This "gift" seems to me like an act of control and manipulation. He might be better off rejecting the gift and using the advice of rule 6 " Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money" and buy his own phone.
It is great that she wants to raise a respectable son, but the way that this gift was given, with all of it's strings, may well engender resentment. She isn't teaching him to be a better person, she's trying to control him, possibly for how his actions reflect on her. There is no freedom of choice in her rules.
My own mother tried things like this, and while I was raised with Emily Posts Guide to Etiquette, tenth edition and still follow many of the guidelines it presented even today, it did not make me respect or even love her.
While children need limits, too many rules may have negative consequences, both now and in the future. Parenting style, including rule-setting and enforcement, influences children's temperament, self-esteem, behavior and success in school. Children may also struggle with too many rules or an overly strict environment in a classroom or child-care setting.
Teens raised with too many rules do function better than those raised with none at all, but not as well as children raise in homes that balance authority with responsiveness. Teens in strict homes are less likely to engage in problem behaviors and do moderately well in school. They have higher rates of anxiety and depression than other teens and are more likely to give in to peer pressure, according to Diana Baumrind, professor of child development at the University of California at Berkeley.
I am not a Mormon, and some of their beliefs I find to be a little hard to swallow. This article will not be about the religious beliefs, or the scandals that surrounded Cleanflix, but more along the lines of personal choice and the artist.
Just watched a documentary about Cleanflix, a Mormon guided movie editing service that edits all the violence, blood, and sex from films for people to rent. The company had a one-to-one buying and renting policy, that meant that for every edited copy they made they had to have a purchased copy to back it. The thinking being that they are still paying Hollywood, and controlling what they want to see.
For clarity I'm not a prude; I swear, make vulgar jokes, have violence in my own novels with implied sex scenes, and put my foot in my mouth all the time.
(I want to take this portion to explain my own feelings towards sex and violence in movies. I watch moveis that have sex and violence. I hate it sometimes. I don't need to see a person murdered, this just inures me to violence, and I am already inured to many peoples emotions, I shouldn't be numb to the horror and disgusting act of the murder of another person, even in a fictional setting. One of the films I like is Equilibrium, a very violent movie. You are supposed to be disgusted by the violence, not entertained by it, because one of the messages of the film is how when a person is emotionally numb they are more prone to acts of inhumanity.
I find almost all sex scenes in movies pointless, even rape, almost especially rape because of the component of violence against women. If a woman is raped in a film, I don't want to see it. This is a horrible act and it doesn't need to be shown in detail. It also bothers me to know that there are rapists out there who might watch something like this and enjoy it.
Love and sex have different motivations, and when it is shown in film it often has nothing to do with character arcs or to progress the plot. I can think of only a handful of movies where a sex scene actually furthered the plot, and wasn't about rape; In Crank “Chelios” needs to keep his adrenaline high and so he has sex an a very lurid way that excited him more than just sexually. In Wedding Crashers the endless parade of sexual partners causes Owen Wilson's character to question what he values and starts his search for love. In Dreamscape a sex scene is shown to underline a characters fears and insecutities by examining a dream about his wife cheating.
In It's a Wonderful Life I don't need to see George Baily get a hummer from Mary to know that they love each other. Does Highlander really need a sex scene to prove Connor loves Brenda? Is time control and villain overthrow easier after you get laid in Prince of Persia?
I don't count films like 9 1/2 weeks, or Secretary in the “sex isn't necessary” belief because to me these films are just porno's released by Hollywood under the rubric of art. The main viewers of films like that are going to be men and they aren't really going to be judging Kim Basingers acting, they're going to be staring at her tits and drooling over her stuffing food in her mouth. These, for me, are at best, character explorations of one dimensional people. You are so much more than who you f*ck.)
(See what I did there? I used censorship to actually give what I wrote more punch, not less.)
How necessary are explicit sex scenes in movies? In The Brown Bunny, why the need to depict a blowjob so graphically? Why trespass the limits between mainstream and porn? If you were making a movie, how do you justify an actor or actress the need not only to simulate the sex activity (oral, intercourse, whatever) is happening, but to do it for real?
If you want to tell your audience that the character is enjoying a fellatio, ask Brian DePalma how he did in Carrie. That's fair enough. On the other hand, ask Vincent Gallo why he kept the character for himself, and why didn't he give it to a fellow actor.
I think Basic Instinct is a well-crafted thriller, its nature is sensual/sexual and the Sharon Stone excesses are justified being a manipulator. But Paul Verhoeven is a director who uses to introduce suspiciously gratuitous sex scenes. Consider Hollow Man and Starship Troopers. And he's not the only one.
I know when they're doing sex on screen there is no real intercourse, but then, you can save the most graphic way if you want to communicate they had sex. Unless you want to sexually excite the spectator and/or sell more tickets.
If you want to make a movie about sex, you can make it in a good taste and design sex scenes that never reach the state of (not only hardcore, but) softcore. Still, there would be sex scenes. But don't tell me you have to show the audience how it is a blowjob, as if they don't know. If you pretend to justify your very explicit scenes with that argument, smart moviegoers would almost consider it an insult to intelligence.
Is it legit to say that most of sex scenes in mainstream movies are unnecessary?
I don't care for gratuitous violence either. Car chases bore me (I fell asleep during the Matrix:Reloaded highway scene). There are movies out there that show violence without any purpose or relation to the storyline at all. It shows grotesque graphics and images just so the filmmaker could prove to the audience that they’ve crossed the boundaries. At the same time it is necessary for certain films to have such high level of violence in order to serve the audiences that love that sort of thing. It’s their niche and it’s all about satisfying that target market. George Romero will keep on making zombie movies ’til the day he dies… and becomes a zombie.
When I talk to people about my interest in science fiction I run into trouble when we start talking about movies. Do I like Star Wars? No, but outside any sort of argument of whether it is or is not actual science fiction, the thing about Star Wars that bugs me is the same thing that has been bothering a lot of SF fans for several decades now. Though entertaining, Star Wars created a slew of monsters: science fiction movies that are mostly shoot-em’-up blockbusters full of mindless action violence.
Torture films like the Saw series are incredibly popular, as are a host of other movies about killers and murders. And the majority of high-profile science fiction films from the last decade alone are replete with violence and Hollywood-style action. From the groan-inducing Transformers (Love it. It's aweful) to trashy violence like Repo-Men, these painfully bad movies require action and violence to get through their “plots” because ultimately the stories are built around such sequences.
But these kinds of movies are probably a little too easy to go after, because, supposedly, we all know what we’re getting into. (Though the excuse that something was “just a popcorn flick” is getting a little stale at the point of which the vast majority of films in the SF genre seem to be of this ilk.)
Because movies likeTransformers or Repo-Men don’t really have good premises or stimulating science fiction ideas, these movies weren’t really “ruined” by all the violence or action. However, many other movies, which seem to be made for thinking people are brought down by violence. I think District 9 is a good example. You could argue that there is a necessity to depict the brutality of what is going on in order to make the audience sympathize, but I’m confident an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation or Doctor Who could have pulled off the same philosophical quandary without so many guns.
Similarly, the incredibly popular Matrix trilogy has at its core a very inventive concept concerning a real world versus a digital one. Which one is more preferable? Do we really have free will? But these cool ideas ultimately take the form of ridiculously trite speeches exposed by characters whose only real personality traits are their ability to shoot/chop at people. The problem of the action/violence in the Matrix movies is compounded by the fact that the stakes of said violence are dubious. When characters are granted physical powers previously reserved for video game characters, not only does the action/violence cease to be interesting, it betrays what its real purpose is: violence for violence’s sake. Is this brand of violence any different than the goal of pornography? Should you stand for it in your science fiction?
Well sometimes, yes. Superhero movies are about heroes and villains, so it makes sense there will be some action/violence there. It’s not like the new X-Men: First Class movie should be all about Professor X and Magneto going to psychotherapy and figuring out what’s going on in with their addiction to caffeine pills. (Though honestly, I would be more interested in seeing that kind of movie than the one that’s forthcoming.)
The violence of Kick-Ass incensed a lot of people, but ultimately was making a very specific point about just how dangerous and gruesome being a real-life superhero would be. Kick-Ass is meta-fictional and not delivering violence to people who crave violence in their films. (Though those people will probably like it too, so I suppose that helps with ticket sales.) Either way, these movies do violence and action right, they show it as something deplorable and harsh, not wonderful and amazingly full of joy and love like in Bad Boys 1 & 2.
In Canada we are consistently taught at a young age that violence is not acceptable under any circumstance. This is why you see a zero tolerance toward any violence public schools. I understand the point, however, it negates reality. Nothing is that simple. Violence is a tool, one that often has serious consequences but is sometimes necessary.
I think we as society value it in television and film because these characters not only make violence look good, but also because they do things most people think about can’t or won’t do. The reality of violence is not like television. People hear this all the time, but it is something you can’t really understand until you’ve witnessed it. There are consequences for violence. No matter how good you are at fighting, there is always someone better, stronger, and faster. Unfortunately, in popular culture, particularly in American media, violence is used as the main gauge to show strength, independence and manliness. People want to be strong, powerful, and secure. Media shows that this happens through violence. Life does not operate on the rules that Hollywood dictates. It is called entertainment for a reason.
As adults we can choose what we want to see and what we don't. Like in sports, films influence will depend on education. If a parent explains and teaches their children about how violence in movies is simply entertainment and not acceptable behaviour, they are far less likely to be influenced by it. If someone is to sit their child down to watch a Tarantino movie without a discussion about what they are seeing on the screen, then of course an impressionable person is liable to be influenced in a negative manner. This is not the fault of the entertainment, it is a fault of the supervision. Entertainment is given classifications and a parents ability to shield their children from certain games, movies or TV shows is their responsibility alone.
That is what parents were trying to do with companies like Cleanflix. And while directors and other “artists” got up in arms about censorship and “messing with their art, their intellectual property”, television stations and airlines have been doing this from the very beginning, and Hollywood didn't complain then.
I think it's hypocritical to say that people can choose to eliminate for themselves what they find offensive, and then tell them that they are not allowed to eliminate what they find offensive. Hollywood would make a lot more money if they released “Family Friendly” versions of movies.
But the next time someone gets all up in arms about censorship, and how it's unethical, and undermines their creative efforts I want them to show Battle Royale,Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit On Your Grave (1978), and 2 girls 1 cup to either their child or a relatives child.
Somehow I don't think they will.
Here's a very special SFW censored video for you all to enjoy!
Why "Failed Daily"?
Because I fail to update daily.