Monday, November 27, 2017

Run Out of Story

I was listening to the Writer's Panel podcast, and they had a team of TV writers and one of them said to run out of story as often as possible. (I apologize, anytime they have a panel, I make no effort to distinguish voices, so I have no idea if it was Sera Gamble, Sallie Patrick, or Lindsey Shockley).  This reminded me of a workshop where Ally Carter was credited as saying, "Leave nothing behind."  The idea is that if you have some great ideas, but some of them you are saving, for another book, or another chapter, maybe don't.  Sure, there are exceptions, if you are contracted to write a contemporary YA romance, the time travel element might not be the right thing to toss in here.  But if you figured the bomb, the betrayal, the giant reveal was for later, for the sequel, maybe it's not.  
This sounds counterintuitive, but the idea make sense.  First, there might not be another book if this one feels like it's just build up. And also, if you the writer were sitting there thinking, but if I use that up now, I'll run out of ideas, then that's the part you need to fight.  You will not run out of ideas.  Ideas are a renewable resource.  And often the most interesting discoveries come when you write yourself into a corner and have to get out.  And if you're too much of a plotter to put up with this nonsense, grab your post its, your notebook, whatever your plotting tool is and start planning what happens if you use up that great idea now.  
You can do it.  And if you get stuck, my favorite fix is fire.  Trust me, I already used it in my current project.  

Friday, November 24, 2017

Three Interesting Things

1. A teenager has been adopted from foster care by the woman who used to be his English teacher.   I am so thrilled for hi, teenagers are so often overlooked as practically adults, and well, we probably don't have enough English teachers, but I am thrilled for these two. 
2. I am still loving "Crazy Ex-Girlfiend" even if I am holding a few episodes in reserve as a reward to myself, so this interview with one of the creators interested me. 
3. This article about the growing explictness of consent in romance fiction was timely considering both the world, and also a recent discussion in my romance book group after we read a book where consent was violated.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Pajama Game at Arena Stage

In the note from the artistic director, there's a mention that they probably didn't think the show was sexist when it was first conceived.  This was my first experience of it, so I don't know if there were explicit changes made but for a classic musical there were a minimal amount of cringey moments. The story is about Sid who has moved into a new town where he can be a factory superintendent. He gets into a dispute with an employee, which brings in the grievance committee headed up Katherine who is called Babe.  He is immediately flirtatious.  Meanwhile the factory workers at the pajama factory are already grumbling because the other factory workers are all getting paid more, and the union head is trying to get them 7.5 more cents an hour. The president of the union is a philanderer who is married to someone we never meet, but does not let that stop him from chasing every female he sees.  The factory owner's secretary has access to the ledger, and she is also flirtatious and attractive which causes tension as she is dating the factory timekeeper who gets very jealous.  Babe and Sid do begin dating, her dad likes him a lot.  But things come to a head, when the union's various attempts - such as bad button sewing and work slowdowns - to make the factory owner agree to the raise, are met with threats instead. When a frustrated Babe jams a machine, Sid fires her, and well, things get messy.  
The Pajama Game was originally choreographed by Bob Fosse, and so there were some Fosse hat tips in the choreography. There were a couple of moments in the show I saw Friday that were either deliberate prop goofs or intentional and that fact that I had to wonder because they worked with the apple falling or the hat flying to far speaks well of the cast.  Sid in particular is a hard role, splitting the line between charming and slick, and he has a lot of songs.  Babe was delightfully spunky.  
While there's some power dynamics between the men in the show and the women in the show that never get careful examination, the idea that fighting for what you believe in and that being more important than your love life (even if things work out nicely for most of the cast) is certainly something that speaks to a modern audience. 
It was a lot of fun. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Project Runway: The Sixteenth Finale

There were not last minute challenges or trips to mood.  No surprise extras.  Kenya is gone, but she did get to make a decoy collection.  Here's what I have to say about that before I get to the final four.  I loved Kenya.  I'm so thrilled she has had this exposure and hope people across the land offer to throw money at her to make clothes. It was a very wonderful Kenya collection.  It was not a winning collection.  
For those of you who watched Tim visit a clearly pre-Irma Puerto Rico, and wondered how was there not even a chyron, there is vague mention.  Margarita is worried, unsure if her parents will make it.  (From all appearances it looks like they missed the show but made it there to hug her afterwords.)  She makes an offhand comment that power probably won't be back on for four months that now reads as prescient but her fellow designers seem unsure if it's hyperbole.  (I would have considered it hyperbole a few months ago.  Even after Flint (and DC and Baltimore).  I should know better.)
Tim, in his very Tim way, asks each designer what they heard from the judges, a very wise teacherly way to say, how did you process that?  Margarita said she heard tropical is bad.  Tim says what you can do with the time remaining is be exuberant and style carefully.  Kentaro, with Margarita's help, arranges a more cohesive order for his pieces even though he thinks cohesion is a trap.  Here's the thing.  He's right.  Doing, what, cough, cough, Brandon did, which is choosing one print and then washing out it's color in a few variations is a really neat idea.  Doing an entire collection that way, especially when you have a very specific style is really boring.  Kentaro's looks do all look like they came from the same brain.  Just not the same day.  Brandon is not worried, and it seems the designers who have been saying all along that the feedback he's been given has been so non-specific that he's coasting may have come to fruition.  He's napping. 
Now look, I don't want to hate on napping.  They have ridiculous hours on this show, plus he has a small time change.  Napping is not a bad idea.  It just doesn't say, I am taking advantage of every opportunity to present my best.  
Ayana was advised to not be lazy on the hijab, to in the looks she is included it in, think of the next wave of style there too.  And to be ruthless about fit.  She has taken this to heart. 
The morning of the show there is the usual chaos.  
Brandon's looks are the flamingo print in various stages of color washout, whites, and a pale pink.  (Kenya had similar colors although she had some black.) Everything's very tailored.  The tops are mostly oversized.  There are a lot of looped edges and ties so that half the clothes look like they are in a state of undress.  It's very very Brandon.  Brandon has Lyris in an outfit that is remniscent of his first winning outfit with a loose crop top and baggy pants with a bunched waist detail that I am not a fan of but that he has generally gotten good feedback on. 
Margarita has gone full tilt tropical, creating prints and sparkles.  There are oversized fish, drapey dresses, bell bottoms, bomber jackets, and she has given Jazmin a wrap skirt that halfway down the runway she whips off to reveal a bathingsuit to incredible audience response.  
Kentaro's looks all look like they come from the closet of his ballet dancer inspired outfit, such that I nicknamed it in my head ballerina's day off.  There is black, white, red, and pale pink.  There is tulle.  There are bunched details, looser gathered tops over leggings and slim bottoms. There are some long skirts, often with pleating.  Everything is impeccable looking, and while things like the tulle tumor ball on the hip are not my style, no one wearing that would look like they didn't have clear fashion sense. The audience is quiet and the judges later say that quiet can mean as much from a Fashion Week audience as applause.  They are leaning in. 
Ayana's is beautiful.  She has taken the hijab and headscarf note to heart and the models are wearing different styles and often have details on the headpieces.  She did this a lot throughout the season so it isn't a surprise. There are embroidery details on many of the pieces, there is shine, there are some lace cutouts designed to fall in places where they only reveal the layer underneath.  Everything looks expensive as has become the show's shorthand for well made with good quality fabric that looks like it would be from one of the good (expensive) stores. And her final dress has a tulle layered skirt with pockets and a matching headpiece with coordinating embroidery that stuns the audience in delightful ways.  
In the judging both Lyris and Jazmin were asked how they felt out there (we're just going to pretend they cut the part where they asked all the smaller sized models what it meant because other wise it seems a little too back-patty).  Both are moved to tears that they got to be out there in front of all those industry people.  Jazmin is thrilled that she got to have a signature moment. 
The judges think Brandon got a little too one note.  His argument is most collections are thirty looks and within the chapters of each set there's less variety. This is a point, but I'm not sure it says what he thinks, it says, I showed you a third of what I could have.  Margarita's they love and think it is fun and very Latina, and very Heidi.  Ayana's they love.  Kentaro seems to have blown their minds.  
Brandon seems incredibly upset to learn he's out.  I think he really really thought he had it and just can't reset quickly enough.  Margarita is out, but her family is here and let's hope they are all still safe and happy.  Ayana is out.  Everyone's family is incredibly proud, including Kentaro's who get to congratulate him on the runway.  I will say, I think this year was particularly tough. I had faves.  But you could not argue that any of these four didn't present a clear point of view.  So, as Tim said to them in his gather round, it all comes down to personal taste and who can predict that. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Three Interesting Things

1. A comparison of all six (yes we now have six) rideshare bikes in DC is just the kind of things I am fascinated by. 
2. Millenials use libraries the most, so poo on your silly stereotypes.  (Not yours, obviously.  Those other people.) 
3. I don't know what it means when people try to term resistance a trend or a theme, but it does mean there's a plan afoot for resistance chic hotel and co-working

Monday, November 13, 2017

Families Created and Given

I was at a family wedding (and related festivities) this weekend.  I was reminded for all our foibles, I am related to a lot of amazing people.  And of course some of them I am related to by direct blood relations, and some because one of my direct relations went out and found another great person to add to our tribe.  My cousin's spouse comes from a great family, if their general ease with my loud, talkative family descending on them was any indication.  People reacted well to various uncles asking various groom side family and friends if they liked him, and they did seem too.
As can happen in this area, I was still wearing sandals as late as Tuesday, and then a cold front came in and even the New England relatives agreed it was very very cold.  (It was below freezing at some points.) I am a terrible wimp in the cold, and it didn't even snow, so I was really regretting that so many of the things that go along with looking fancy are counter to being warm.  I did slide some thermals underneath my leggings for the rehearsal dinner.  My dress for the wedding really needed tights, but I did layer two pairs. 
The bridesmaids were wearing dresses that I'm sure they picked out this summer, that were long but not particularly sleeved.  I did ask one of them if she had thermals or long johns underneath.  She did.  I applauded her fashion sense. Or warm sense. 
I joked at one point that I should be wearing a tag with a family tree and myself circled, particularly as I reintroduced myself to folks who hadn't seen me in a decade. 
Between the various toasts and the sermon, I have heard marriage compared to baseball, heard discussions of love languages, and various other storied about the bride and groom.  The minister said a thing I think we can all remember, that relationships are not about how the labor gets divided, they are about agreeing to work together continually on the relationship. And sure, there are times where you have to make sure you getting things out of a relationship, but a with a lot of other things in life, even if it doesn't turn out fair or even, you put in the work. 

Quick Project Runway Note

Hey, Folks,
Due to a DVR issue I still haven't seen the last thirty minutes of the Finale Part 1.  Obviously, the internet has caught me up on what I missed, but I can't comment on the judging decisions (other than at first glance they seem wrong). I'll try to find it before part 2.  In the interim, the nice people at EW have a recap.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Three Interesting Things

1. An article we don't even need to talk about for it's smug dismissal of romance as it pretended to allow that maybe it was fine that silly women read them, also managed to take a swipe at an author of African American stories because her characters just seemed like people.  Given that this week it was revealed an Korean American author had his book rejected because his characters didn't look in the mirror and think about how Korean they were (ugh), having discovered this response from Cheris Hodges about why she writes happy black characters wonderful. 
2. I have a love/hate relationship with "Younger" because it is spot on about some things, and, well, not about others.  But this interview with their publishing consultant explained some of the things they get very right. 
3. This article touched on some recent YA reads that involved characters that were queer and disabled. 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Your Church is not a Safe Space

I'm mad.  And sad.  In the wake of another mass shooting, I saw a wave of people expressing various things.  I know it is natural to assume that some spaces were safer.  We all do calculations because the randomness of actual life is too ridiculous to comprehend.  So we say, oh well, that happened in a city.  Oh well, that happened in the bad part of that city.  Or that happened in that state.  We do a lot of things to justify why what happened was the kind of thing that could not happen to us.  (Except it appears when the crimes were committed by Muslims.  Then we are sure legislative overhaul could fix this.)  
I am tired of responding to mass shootings.  I am sad that I have gone from wondering why flags are at half mast, to wondering which tragic event(s) this particular flag is honoring. But I was really annoyed at the people figuratively clutching pearls because it was in a church.  Places of worship have long been a target, and just of the top of my head there are bombings, burnings, shootings, and pedophiles.  One of the things I did as an adult adviser for youth conferences was arrange coverage so there was an adult awake at any time through the night, often with teen counterparts.  Folks joked that this was to make sure no one was having sex, but the reality was it was to make sure all manner of things that could happen in the middle of the night - be it illness, injury, or someone trying to break in in the middle of the night could be addressed swiftly. 
Plenty of places of worship intentionally lack on site parking.  Are surrounded by those cute planters that we know are really ramming barriers.  Just two years ago, there was a church shooting that made national news. Someone shot up a church play at a church in my denomination in 2008.  
I do get it. We want to maintain our innocence, even as several large events I've been to this year at places of worship required bag searches, and had visible extra security on hand. But we are at a point where it starts to seem a little less like innocence and a little more like willful ignorance.  If you thought your place of worship was a safe space until this weekend, then, okay, hi.  Now let's talk about what we're going to do to reduce shootings.  Whether it's better interventions for domestic violence, or reducing access to guns, we can't keep pretending a clear pattern of events is surprising. 

Friday, November 03, 2017

Project Runway: Winter Edition

The designers are told there will be snow on the runway. Fake snow of course.  They are given money to make a winter look. Brandon, being from Utah is excited.  Margarita, being from Puerto Rico, feels her winter look of a dress and a bikini may not fly.  Margarita is, for much of this episode, very concerned that she has the Tim Gunn save but that the judges and maybe others don't believe in her.  So, getting to Mood and having picked out a fur, only to discover that the show is fur free, doesn't help her confidence. Tim asks the other designers if they mind if Margarita can have five more minutes to replace the fur she didn't buy. They all agree.  Margarita continues to struggle, and feels even her model doesn't like her outfit. The model mirror reveals that she may not entirely be projecting as Liris kindly says, it's a great idea that will depend on execution since wrap coats can make people look bulkier.  Kentaro is paired with Meisha again, the model who speaks Japanese.  Kenya has Jazzmine who is curvy, so Kenya is in her element.  Tim is doing the typically pushing each designer down their own lane.  He tells Kenya this is her time to win.  And brings up the bridesmaid cliche that I hate and have already written a blog post about so we will move on. 
Once again, on the runway, there is nothing the judges hate, just degrees of concern on a few.  I'm going to confess, I understand it's "Project Runway" not Project Keep the Models Warm, and this was likely filmed in August, no matter how much AC is on in the studio, but as a person who fears being cold, I at least wanted more mention of exposed midriffs and such.  
Ayana has a color blocked coat, a diagonal pink mixed with black, over a herringbone patterned romper. The long sleeved, long panted romper is not universally loved by the judges, but they all agree it's not boring, and they love the coat a lot. 
Brandon has layered a waxed cotton green jacket over fleecy looking white.  There's an exposed midriff when the coat is open, but also a hand warmer packet attached to the pants. It's very Brandon and very well received, although they note his poor model is wearing open toed heels. (Poor, if we pretend it's really winter.)
Kentaro has also gone with white, a white fleecy looking coat, with matching shorts, and grey layered leggings that almost make the model look like she's wearing boots.  The judges love the outfit including the shorts, so who know, maybe Margarita could have made a bikini.  And look folks, if you wear shorts in winter, I'm not trying to shame you.  I have friends who dislike long pants.  You do you.  I will be wearing two sets of leggings underneath my long pants. 
Kenya has picked a large plaid and made a great coat, pairing it with a patterned top and amazingly tailored pants. The judges like each piece but feel the coat reads more casual, and the outfit reads more sleek.  (Technically the terms they used were the coat is more downtown and the outfit is uptown and but I am really over these terms.)  They are just concerned. 
Margarita, after Tim pointed out her original dress was just meh, went all in with a faux fur dress and a wrap coat. The dress has a tall neck, so that the faux fur peeks out over the top of the coat, but still creates drama when you realize the whole dress is fur.  Nina feels it was a great surprise and made her curious to see more from Margarita, although once they see the back of the dress, there are some clear time issues. I want to note, that it is such a shift in "Project Runway" over the years, how little we accept the time issue, especially this late in the season.  Certainly there are things that happen, but there are many times that designers, even now were sending barely pinned outfits down the runway and we were like, well it was a short challenge.  And yes, I remember that OG Kara Saun was always done and always had several pieces, but it just wasn't true of so many.  
They are asked to explain why they should go and who they would take with them.  And it's time for my reminder that the judges have literally never used this second part as part of their consideration.  It's just there to create drama.  They have sent home designers other designers liked, and kept designers no one else picked.  All of this is to say, no one picks Margarita.  A lot of people pick Brandon.  The judges deliberate.  Kentaro is in. Brandon is in.  Ayana is in.  Margarita is in.  Kenya is in.  So, no eliminations.  As last in the room, Kenya gets all the way to her seat before she lets the others know she's in. They are all happy for her. I'm happy too.  I know that technically fashion week has happened, so all of these folks were at least going to present a decoy.  But I'm happy we'll get to see them at least try.  Because you know there's a twist.  I knew that before they showed the preview from next week.  

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Three Interesting Things

1. I found this guide for men who find feminism confuses what, ahem, they say used to be harmless flirting, very useful. 
2. I enjoyed this look into the DC to Broadway theater pipeline. We really are lucky to have such a thriving theater scene. 
3. And this article about a woman who ended up dating the man another man had used for his profile photo, well, it's nice to remember the various good and bad ways the internet can connect us all. 

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Mean Girls

I went to see the Mean Girls musical last night and the short version was I think it will make both fans of the movie and newbies who enjoy fun high school set musicals happy.  I think they did a great job of making it work well in musical form, and I'm a sucker for a falling in love in class song, and there is one.  The cast is great, especially since other than the mean girls, Cady, Janice, and Damian, everyone plays multiple roles.  (This is not unusual for a musical, heck "Hamilton" even did this in the main cast, but it was especially noticeable as ensemble members switched wigs to play high school girls or teachers or whatever the number called for.  
So, we open with Janice and Damien giving a friendship class to incoming freshman as they tell the tale of the dangers of high school friends, telling the story of their friend Cady who was a new girl last year.  We see Cady in Africa (we'll get back to that) as her parents tell her they moved so she could get socialized.  She joins school, enjosy math, gets adopted by Janice and Damian as a new friend but then also attracts the interest of popular girl Regina George.  Janice encourages Cady to explore this friendship, warning her that Regina is evil.  Cady sees Regina as a apex predator, who protects weaker members of the pack, until she realizes her math class crush Aaron is Regina's ex, which Gretchen and Karen warn her about.  Cady splits her time between being a plastic and hanging with Janice and Damian until at a Halloween party, Regina offers to talk to Aaron and instead gets back together with him, making Cady vow to take Regina down.  
The show did a great job of spreading out the songs, Gretchen has a great one about being imperfect, Regina's mom sings about being her friend, and Karen even has a small number about world peace and Halloween.  For fans of the movie, all the best quotes show up, not always in the same place, but it meant the opening night crowd did a lot of happy clapping.  None of them felt forced, but I say this as a fan of the movie, so your mileage may vary. 
I had noticed when the ads started that Gretchen had been cast with an Asian actress and I confess I experienced some happy concern.  I'm thrilled to see Asian American actresses get more roles, but there was a joke at the end of the movie that was only funny because Gretchen was not Asian and I was worried they would leave it. They did not.  There is still group reconfiguring at the end, but that particular part is not in the musical.  Yay.  
There is however a scene set in Africa, they do specify Kenya, and then use a sunset, and a tree (possibly a Baobab, I am not very tree literate), a lion and a zebra puppet.  Basically it looks like the first five things white Americans know about Africa.  There is later a reference to a classmate of Cady's running fast because he's Kenyan, and some references to the Maasai, Kilimanjaro (which is in Tanzania, but it does border Kenya), and riding an elephant (which people don't do on African elephants).  It's unfortunate, because it puts an asterisk on my enjoyment.  I loved a lot of it, but man this stuff is, well, not unexpected from the folks behind "30 Rock" and "Great News", or even the "Mean Girls" movie.  Yes, one could argue that since Damian and Janice are narrating, some of the story tilts since their knowledge of Africa is not vast.  But Africa and Kenya deserved better. 
The show has already planned it's move to Broadway.  I wish them luck.  The cast was wonderful.  I hope they do some tweaking before the move.