What Kind of Writer?

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature today which has enraged some people as he’s technically never written a novel. I guess. I haven’t looked that much into it. The selection committee determined that his hundreds of songs qualified as poetry and were impressive and important enough to warrant commendation.

This reminds me of a line in the film End of the Tour which is about Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky following novelist David Foster Wallace on his book tour for Infinite Jest. When Lipsky pitches his idea for the article his editor tells him “Rolling Stone doesn’t interview writers.” and I remember thinking “Okay, I guess tell that to all the singer-songWRITERS you’ve interviewed over the years.”
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When did we decide that the only serious writers were novelists? If pressed I’d have to say my five favorite writers working right now are Lin-Manuel Miranda, Shea Serrano, Megan Amram, Ed Brubaker, and Mallory Ortberg. A few of them have published books but they definitely aren’t considered novelists. I don’t read a lot of novels (although I did make and effort this summer to read a few more) but I’m on twitter every day. I follow a half-dozen entertainment news sites for reviews, recaps, and articles. And I watch a lot of movies and television. All of which has to be written by someone.

I spoke with a friend recently about writing and he asked me how often do I write. In truth, I write something every day. I’m constantly writing. But how often do I finish something and send it off into the world? Much less frequently. I identify as a writer and invariably someone always wants to know “What kind?” and then I have to take them though a tale of my education and my ambitions in my chosen field and on and on. It’s exhausting although I understand the interest. The truth is, I haven’t quite figured out what kind of writer I want to be yet. I doubt I’ll ever write a novel but who knows? I love theatre and television and that’s where I’m focusing my interest at the moment.

There’s a great scene in one of my favorite movies, Igby Goes Down (written by Burr Steers), that I think sums up my experience.

Russell (played by Jared Harris) and Igby (Kieran Culkin) have just been introduced by Rachel (Amanda Peet) who described Russell as “a brilliant artist.”
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Igby: So, you’re an artist? What kind of art?
Russell: What do you mean, “What kind of art?”
Igby: I mean… do you paint.. or..
Russell: I got what you meant, but you obviously didn’t get what I meant. An artist creates art regardless of what form the canvas takes.

It’s meant to be funny, to show Russell and Rachel as the pretentious neo-bohemian West Villagers they are, but the line has always stuck with me.

An artist creates art regardless of what form the canvas takes. 

Think about that the next time you wonder out loud “what kind” of writer someone is.

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Gilmores to the Front

I was originally just going to comment on Bassy’s incredible sum-up but I realized I had TOO MUCH TO SAY and being a day behind on Blogtober meant I might as well take the opportunity to turn it into a post. HERE BE SPOILERS IF YE HAVEN’T SEEN THE FINAL SEASON. 

Gilmore Girls means the world to me. I watched the pilot the first day it aired. I remember being completely enamored of Lorelai from moment one and I ‘shipped her and Luke before we even had a word for it.

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Kiss him, dummy.

I agree with A LOT of what Christa said (HELL YES to Rory and Jess finally boning and DEAN IS THE FUCKING WORST) except there was never any question of whether or not I was attracted to Luke. I found him irresistible. He is by far the most stable, reliable, generous, and considerate man in television history. People like to make fun of how grumpy he is but he is so incredibly loving to Lorelai and Rory it’s impossible to see him in a negative way, I think.
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I will never forgive Anna Nordini for stealing fatherhood from him. She claims she did it because he “hated” kids and always complained about their sticky hands but anyone who has met Luke or spent intimate time with him would know that he was an honorable man and would want to know that he had a child! But also, Luke Danes was born to be a dad! He was Rory’s dad (the scene at the vow-renewal party when he argues with Christopher (also the worst) over who was a better dad to Rory KILLS ME) and he was Jess’ dad (which makes the Rory/Jess thing kinda awkward but whatevs) and he was even a dad to his own sister after theirs passed away. He even had a bit of dad left in him for bizarre Kirk.

Luke loves unconditionally. He will bend over backwards to help anyone in the entire stupid town do anything but of course he always had an extra soft spot for Lorelai. Who didn’t, to be honest. She was an extraordinary woman, manager, friend, and mom. Although she did get lucky with boring old Rory.
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Okay, I don’t think Rory is boring, except, yeah, she kind of is. I think Logan was good for her but I’m glad she didn’t marry him. He kind of brought her out of her shell a little bit and let her make mistakes and learn from them. Dean just expected her to be perfect all the time (he was the worst) and Jess was dealing with too much of his own shit to be a good partner. I wish Rory and Jess could have met as adults. I really hope they finally hook up in the revival. I guarantee he’s better in the sack than whiny Dean.
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The true love of Rory’s life, however, was Paris. No one else challenged or supported her as much as Paris did, and she reciprocated in kind. They were there for each other through it all, to back each other up or back each other down, depending on the situation. It was a true symbiotic relationship. I know Rory loved Lane too but they were never on the same level. Theirs was more of a “survived childhood but now what?” relationship. In fact, once Rory moved away, Lane became closer with Lorelai.roryandlane.jpg
I do hate what happened to Lane. She deserved so much better. I mean… Zack?… really? And then twins? On the first try?! Here’s hoping they got divorced, she got back together with Seth Cohen, and was finally able to enjoy sex. I loved their band though. Sebastian Bach was amazing.

I loved Sookie. I loved that she was this incredible chef who was obsessive and awkward and funny and everyone loved her. I wish she would have had a more exciting love life though, not that there was anything wrong with Jackson and pickins were slim in Stars Hollow, but it would have been fun to see her date around a bit more. I love the episode when she’s on bedrest and Luke has to take over her kitchen and she gets her staff to bring her the food so she can check up on him. I adore Michele as well, especially his relationship with Emily.
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Emily and Richard are a tricky pair. I do sympathize with them but I also get so angry at them. But then I remember that it isn’t their fault and they were raised by the same kinds of people they became and it’s just an endless cycle of wealth and shame and doing things just because that’s “what’s done” and never seeing a way out unless you’re 16 and pregnant and know deep in your heart that you will never be your parents. And it sucks they didn’t get to watch Rory grow up but she had such an amazing life that I don’t feel that bad, you know?
babette-misspatty.jpgOf course, you can’t imagine Stars Hollow without Miss Patty and Babette, by far my fave ancillary characters. Babette and Morey were just so perfect and in love and Miss Patty was so happy and saucy all on her own. She owned her past, present, future, and every room she stepped into. They really made the show for me. Also Gyspy, the mechanic. Loved her.

As you can well imagine by this point, I’m very excited for the revival. I think I’ve seen the entire series about three times now and I’m going to give it another go around before the 25th. As stated, I want to see or at least have knowledge of a Rory/Jess hook up, no mention of Dean or Christopher unless they’ve died in a horrible accident together, for Luke and Lorelai to be married and for Luke to have Fathered the hell out of April Nordini including but not limited to: teaching her how to drive, moving her to college, (he knows all about the mattresses now) and, idk, he probably bought her a car and spent months doing research for the safest and most fuel efficient model and ran her through a drill for every possible weather/road/accident scenario and gave her a back up cell phone in case hers dies. And a back up for the back up because, and I can not stress this enough, LUKE DANES WAS BORN TO BE A DAD.

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Full Blown Dad Mode.

Dad!Luke is all I care about. Dad!Luke is everything. Thank you for listening.

Are You Talking Taika To Me?

There is something magical about Academy Award Nominated writer/director/producer/actor Taika Waititi. Just to be clear and get it out of the way up top, he is extremely handsome.
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Like, I just.. Okay moving on.

Like most hard working comedy fans, I first heard of Waititi’s work through Flight of the Conchords, the wonderfully bizarre two-season wonder created by and starring Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. He wrote and directed one of my favorite episodes, season one’s “Drive By” AKA the one where Bret and Jemaine get into a “race war” with Aziz Ansari.

And, like most of you, I sought out Eagle vs Shark to fill the Flight of the Conchords shaped hole in my heart and found it to be uncomfortable and awkward but in the most endearing and compelling way. I still regularly think about the scene where Lily follows Jarred around the hill singing “Let’s Dance” quite poorly.
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I had the great fortune of seeing Boy at the Metro Cinema in Edmonton while volunteering. I don’t even think I knew what was playing that day, I just happened to have a shift. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Boy is a gorgeous film about growing up and all the messy shit that goes with it, from the point of view of an extremely marginalized child who feels completely average.

Waititi writes small. Smaller than any American independent filmmakers working today. He doesn’t write movies; he writes moments. He writes feelings. He writes personal expressions. And then his masterful director (which is also him) takes over and films it in soul-shaking close-ups and grandiose wide shots.
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His next film, the hilarious and avant garde What We Do in the Shadows was a return to his work in comedy, evidently at the behest of comedy-writing partner Jemaine Clement. The film is largely improvised and shot as a documentary yet still it is uniquely Waititian. After telling us the story of how he ended up in New Zealand, his character puts on a silver necklace given to him by his long-lost love. He can’t wear it without it burning his flesh but he puts it on anyway–regularly, it seems–for the sense of connection to the woman he still loves. It’s funny because it’s absurd but also heartbreaking because it is so relatable.

Earlier this year, perhaps to reset expectations, Waititi released another coming-of-age tale, also set in New Zealand. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is probably my favorite of his films so far. It combines every thing I loved about the last three. I have complete faith in his ability to tackle his next project, 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok.
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Thor: Ragnarok comes out on my birthday next year and I’m happy to think of it as Taika Waititi’s personal gift to me. Thank you, Taika. It’s just what I always wanted.

Sequels Make the World Go Round

Unpopular Opinion Puffin Time: I bloody love sequels. Truly and non-ironically. In fact, I often skip the original and just watch the sequel (partly because I grow wearing of world-building) because THEY ARE BETTER. It’s simple math. free-willy-2-the-adventure-home-535eabd461e0eFree Willy 2: The Adventure Home has 100% more Francis Capra AKA Eli “Weevil” Navarro. So it’s a 100% better movie (but I will still watch them both because Free Willy is amazing) and also Willy and Jesse are already friends so we don’t have to watch them fight.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was directed by Neveldine/Taylor (who perfected the sequel with Crank: High Voltage) and has 100% more Idris Elba. 100% better movie.
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National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
has 100% more Helen Mirren. I REST MY CASE.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Better movie than Jurassic Park. It has way more Jeff Goldblum and 100% less Sam Neill. It works both ways.
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Horrible Bosses 2 has 100% more Chris Pine. I feel like you know where I’m going with this one.

I know you’re thinking, But Lightle, aren’t you a writer? Don’t you wish Hollywood would make original movies instead of a bunch of sequels every year?

I do wish that, dear reader, but I know that that is not the world we live in. General audiences are hesitant to make a time and money commitment to something they aren’t sure they’re going to like. I also know that Hollywood is not just one person. It is a studio system run by many individuals competing with each other for your $15 bucks every Friday night. They know that most people (who are not me) are only going to one, maybe two movies a month and just as you make wise spending choices based on the properties that you already know and love, so do they.

What I wish would change is how sequels are made. Make it easier for someone else to take over the franchise. Make movie spin-offs a thing. I’m always in favor of long-form story telling. I love television and comic book series for this very reason. If I become attached to a group of characters, I’m not ready to say goodbye to them after a couple hours. I need to know what else happens. I say, keep the sequels coming! Here’s a few to start with:

W.E., directed by Madonna. I am DESPERATE to know what happened with Wally and Evgeni. Do they raise the baby? Do they stay together? Does she ever figure out what happened to Wallis?? I want more.
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Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, directed by Jake Szymanski. Obviously it’s set at Dave and Alice’s wedding. Mike and Tatiana have some problem. Alice is having flashbacks to her first wedding and can’t deal. Cue hijinks.

Reality Bites, directed by Ben Stiller. I watched this the other day (for an upcoming Winona Ryder retrospective) and it blew my mind how closely the experiences of these Gen Xers mirrored what is happening today to millennials. I’m kind of on the cusp between generations and I found myself strongly identifying with their struggles. It would be interesting to see the characters again now, 20 years later. They might have children who are now going through similar problems but are powerless to assist or even empathize because of how differently they view the world. Also I want to see if Lelaina and Troy are still together…

The Heat, directed by Paul Feig. Seriously though, where is my The Heat sequel, The Heat 2: Even Hotter? IT WRITES ITSELF! Complications arise when Mullins doesn’t tell Ashburn that she doesn’t want to be in the FBI and she wants to stay in Boston and Ashburn assumes it’s because she thinks she’s not good enough for the FBI. All while they’re taking down the real criminals of this country: the banks.
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Super stoked for that Spy sequel starring franchise king Jason Statham, but that’s a topic for another day. Possibly tomorrow.