|©2013 Dain Fagerholm|
|©2013 Dain Fagerholm|
Downton Abbey (which I’m discussing elsewhere so as not to put spoilers in Jane’s path) got me thinking about the man behind the curtain (or the woman, as the case may be)—the writer. My frustrations with that show have to do mostly with the way the writing is sometimes so very visible. Much of the conversation I’ve seen around the web today, including in my own post, questions decisions made by Julian Fellowes. In a way, he’s as much a character in the series as anyone on camera. We’re always aware of his fingers on the keys—this well-turned quip, that infuriating plot twist, this theme stated baldly and repeatedly by numerous characters until we feel bludgeoned by it.
It’s unusual, and therefore interesting, to see a show of this calibre (clearly there is something above-the-pack about Downton that keeps us all panting for the next episode, and has so many of us talking talking talking week after week) fail on a suspension-of-disbelief level with such regularity. We’re constantly thinking about the writing, and therefore the writer. This is seldom the case with other fine shows I’ve been hooked on. Mad Men, for example—I hardly ever think about the writing while I’m watching it. Afterward, yes, generally with admiration, always with fascination.
The Wire: I don’t believe I ever once considered the people behind the curtain during the entire run of that show. I was pulled so thoroughly into the world that it became absolutely real. Sometimes I’ll see one of the actors in another role and get a jolt: but I thought you were still walking a beat in Baltimore!
LOST is an example of an excellent show which nevertheless featured The Writing as a supporting character. Indeed, there were entire seasons when I was pretty sure the writers had no idea where certain strands were going, and sometimes The Writing seemed to wander off into the jungle and be eaten by a polar bear. (I mean, that whole thing with ghostly Walt popping up now and then, after he’d been returned to the mainland—did they ever explain that? I have the feeling the young actor grew up too much over a hiatus and they had to just let the plotline fizzle away—which would be an event outside the story affecting the storyline.)
And yet I loved LOST (and still miss it), just as I have loved Downton, despite the enormous footprints The Writing leaves all over the house. (The poor housemaids, always having to clean up after it—and then it repays them by giving them the sack, or throwing their husbands in jail.)
The Downton incident that so many of us are bemoaning today is a particularly egregious case of The Writing leaping in front of the camera and announcing it’s ready for its close-up, Mr. DeMille. An off-camera, real-world decision by an actor seems to have annoyed The Writing, possibly outraged it, and it rummaged through the cupboard until it found a rusty old overused implement and flung it through the fourth wall.
As a writer myself, I like to ponder the people behind the curtain—after the fact. When the show’s over and I’ve emerged from its world, that’s when I like to imagine the discussions in the writers’ room or trace the artful seed-planting that bears delicious fruit somewhere down the line. Arrested Development is one of the best examples ever of a show whose writers are so perfectly invisible that I never think of them at all during an episode—and then afterwards, or four episodes later, or on the seventh viewing, I’ll find myself marveling at their skill, their cleverness, their patience (allowing a joke to bide its time and blossom half a season later). That’s a show in which the writers are never onstage, but upon recollection I’ll wish I could have been a fly on the wall when they came up with some of their bits. What I wouldn’t give for a YouTube clip of the day they came up with Bob Loblaw! Who thought up that name? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click the link; you have to hear it spoken aloud.) Did the rest of the team all fall out of their chairs laughing when one of them uttered it for the first time? Were they able to get any work done for the rest of the day or was it overthrown by helpless giggles?
The internet, of course, puts us all in closer contact with the creators of our books, television shows, films, and music. Many of you probably know me better than you know my books. And if you’ve read my blog for a while, it may be hard to approach my books without thinking of me, the writer, on the other side of the page. At least, that’s how it is for me when I open books written by people I know, either in person or online.
Sometimes this familiarity works in the writer’s favor, and sometimes it hinders full enjoyment of the work. Returning to LOST, for example: much as I loved that show, much as I hung on every next episode, I had an uneasiness in the back of my mind the whole time, because early on I’d seen a TED talk by J.J. Abrams, in which he told a story about buying a mystery box at a magic store as a kid—a box marked only with a question mark, so that you didn’t know what was inside until you took it home and opened it. He never opened his. He displayed it right there during his talk, still sealed up decades later. It held more meaning for him as a possibility, a mystery; he’d kept it as a talisman all those years, a symbol of the joy of the unknown. I listened to him describe this—it was early in Season 2, I think—and I thought, Ohhhh NO, he likes unanswered riddles. LOST had us up to our ears in unanswered riddles, and by golly I wanted answers; but knowing what I knew about one of the most powerful people behind that particular curtain, I no longer had confidence answers would be provided.
(And yet I dove eagerly into that quicksand pit of riddles week after week.)
With novels, it seems generally easier to tuck the writer back behind the curtain and forget about him or her. Not always, but usually, if the story is well told. This is probably because there are fewer variables; your novel’s characters can’t quit on you, or send unfortunate tweets, or be arrested for drunk driving. It’s only when a book has plot holes or something clunks that I’m back to thinking about the person behind the page. Sometimes it’ll even be the editor who draws my focus; I’m thinking: Why didn’t you catch that? This story didn’t start until chapter three, and it’s your job to break that news to the writer.
(Perhaps I think this because I’ve had the good fortune of working with truly excellent editors who perceive all things visible and invisible.)
It’s a strange age we live in. What I want as a writer is to be invisible on the page; I don’t want the reader thinking about me at all. I believe that if I’m doing my job right, you’ll have forgotten about me within a few paragraphs—or perhaps a few pages, if you know me with some degree of familiarity. And yet, as an author (i.e. writer of published books), I’m aware that my publishers expect, and my books’ survival may in part depend on, various kinds of visibility. And then I’m also a blogger, eight years in love with the form—a medium which is all about person-to-person sharing, and which sometimes brings me more direct satisfaction than my books.
(Am I allowed to admit that? It’s true, though. Most writers I know go on being critical of their own work long after it’s been published. Not to mention the blunt reality of things sometimes going out of print.)
So our various selves are all intertwined, these days: the reader, the writer, the viewer, the performer. I’m reading your novel on one screen and chatting about your hellish commute on another. I’m watching your movie and thinking about that perplexing remark you made in a blog post. I’m head over heels in love with your television show—and desperately wishing you’d written yourself out of this particular script.
Which I suppose is where my point is. I don’t mind the intertwined identities; in fact, I rather enjoy them, as long as they don’t affect the work. The more I respect your talent and skill, the less I want to think about you while I’m enjoying your art. I’ll eagerly go and hear you speak about it later—that’s a joy, hearing creative people discuss their work. But I don’t want to be in a writing workshop with every single creator I encounter. I don’t want to think about your writerly choices, and what drives them, not in the moment, not while I’m immersed in your work. Give me invisible craft. Let me believe, just for this hour, that there are no puppet strings, no hands pulling them. Let me believe there’s no one there behind that curtain—let me forget the curtain exists at all.Add a Comment
5 Stars Bow-Wow, Wiggle-Waggle Mary Newell DePalma Eerdmans Books for Young Readers 978-0-8028-5408-7 No. of Pages: 32 Ages: 3 to 7 ................................... ................... Back Cover: What begins as a playful game of fetch between a boy and his dog turns into wild goose chase that springs from one page to the next in this delightful romp of a story. ...............................
A nice summer morning scene unfolds to find a young boy playing catch with his dog. The boy throws a red ball for the dog to retrieve, the happy little eye-patched dog runs with glee after every throw, until . . .
The chase is on! The dog chases the cat and the boy chases the dog.
“Flutter-Flutter,” a butterfly looks on from above.
The cat jumps a small stream where a frog lives.
“Hip Hop! ribbet-ribbet.”
“Honk! Honk! Puddle, Paddle, Waddle. Glide.”
A pair of geese joins the chase, running after the frog, which is running after the boy, who is running after his dog, who is running after the cat
This wild goose chase continues, introducing more animals inthe chase, until . . .
Bow-Wow, Wiggle-Waggle is a charming book for younger children. Each pair of animal sounds rhymes, adding an additional layer of fun. Alliteration is also used. Page to page the chase grows larger. At one point the boy, and all those behind him, get stuck in a bush, and the cat has run up a tree. The dog sits down and wonders where the cat went, and where his friend went, and realizes he is alone. Sadness sets in, and then . . .
Nope, I’m not spoiling this for you by blabbing the ending. I will say it is a great ending. Kids and parents will love the ending. Kids will want to read Bow-Wow, Wiggle-Waggle until they have all the animal noises memorized. This is a great book for a read-along, especially if the reader likes to makes different sounds, inflections, and faces. There is not a pre-scholar around who will not love Bow-Wow, Wiggle-Waggle.
I think this book is adorable, extremely cute, educational, and humorous. Besides learning the noises each animal makes when it speaks, children will learn the value of friendship. The dog is attached to the boy with the boy equally attached to his dog. The cat distracts the dog and he runs after it. Soon, he is by himself and not sure where he is, or the cat, or the boy he loves. When the dog realizes he is lost, the sadness is palpable.
The author is also the illustrator. Ms. DePalma has done a wonderful job illustrating the chase scenes, adding in each animal skillfully. Children will love pointing to each animal and the words it says. This is cute, adorable, witty, and a treasure all wrapped together waiting for parents and children to open it up. I suggest parents do that pronto—before the cat makes a purrfect getaway, the dog finds the red ball, and the boy remembers the game the two were playing, until so cattily interrupted.
I wish I had a child to read this to every night. Okay, maybe every other night—there are so many great books for the younger kids. Lucky for me, as a reviewer, I get to read all these books even without a kid, and no one thinks it is silly of me.
To read how Ms. DePalma wrote Bow-Wow, Wiggle-Waggle goHERE!
Author/Illustrator: May Newell DePalma FB website Publisher: Eerdman's Books for Young Readers website blog Release Date: August, 2012 ISBN: 978-0802854087 Number of Pages: 32 Ages: 3 to 7 .......................
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Scholastic News, October 2011Add a Comment
Last night we got terrible but expected news. Our friend Craig has died. My husband and I met him right after we graduated college. He became one of my husband's best friends.
I posted about him over two years ago:
Our friend Craig lives in his own world. He's had a rare type of leukemia for years. He doesn't work any more. He doesn't watch TV or go to movies. He reads all the time and listens to classical music. He reads the paper, but obviously not the entertainment section.
So Harrison Ford is in town making a movie. I guess Callista Flockhart has been or is with him. Somehow Craig ended up meeting them, I think through friends of the woman he's house sitting for.
"I'm Craig _________" he says to Harrison.
"I'm Harrison Ford."
"And what do you do, Harrison?"
Harrison laughed and said it was the best thing he had heard all day. I guess it was a relief to be treated like anybody else.
Far too many of our friends have died this year.
In spite of all the technology that’s been created to keep us forever found, have you recently gotten lost?
I didn’t take many notes on this one, but there are stories to tell. First of all, I went into it expecting a discussion about the show, the ending, our questions, our theories—I mean, I figured there would be five or six people up front debating and taking comments from the crowd. It wasn’t like that. What it actually was was an info session on DK’s soon-to-be-published LOST Encyclopedia, moderated by a DK rep, with the book’s two authors as panelists/interviewees.
This sounds very market-y, but it was FASCINATING. And before twenty minutes had passed, I had shifted from feeling very shruggy about the notion of an “encyclopedia” for a TV show, even one as intricate and awesome as LOST, to thinking I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK.
So: if it was a commercial, it was a darned effective one.
But it wasn’t really a commercial. It was two intelligent and enthusiastic writers talking about the process of researching, writing, and organizing a complex work of nonfiction. The visuals were interesting enough—sample layouts, even a short video clip from the LOST DVD’s bonus materials—but what really grabbed me was the authors’ discussion about how they worked with the LOST writers and producers to write entries on every single person, place, and thing that appeared on the show, from Aaron (Littleton) to Zodiac (raft). Or, as Paul Terry, one of the cowriters, kept adorably saying, “From A to Zed.”
My sparse notes say:
• Authors: Paul Terry and Tara Bennett. Liked these two very much. Clearly they are passionate about the material.
• The book will include everything that is LOST canon, including material from the not-yet-released bonus scene from the DVD, which of course I AM DYING TO SEE because I’m convinced it will be about—no wait, I can’t say, since my own dear daughter hasn’t made it past Season One yet. Must not spoil!! But, you know, if you’re a Lostie then you probably have a good guess as to what sort of story there might be left to tell…
• Book will offer clarifications, yes, but will not fill in the holes—that isn’t possible, said Bennett. No entries were winged; there are no speculations.
• Entries have levels of importance. A-level is major players, Jack, Locke, etc. D- or E-level would be something like Shannon’s asthma inhaler.
• One particular challenge was that the language had to be concrete, couldn’t leave opening for misinterpretation; the book was much harder to write than Terry and Bennett realized it would be when they took on the project.
• Once they were committed to writing it (seems to have happened perhaps midway through the run?), they stopped reading recap & speculation blogs, boards, etc; needed to keep their relationship to the show pure/uninfluenced by non-canonical theories & interpretations.
So much for my notes. But I said there were stories. The first one is actually from the panel before the LOST one, a discussion about webcomics by several successful creators. I went to this one out of mild interest, intending to stick around for the LOST panel since it was in the same room. The webcomics panel was structured as a “lightning round” Q-and-A: the panelists had 20 seconds each to answer questions from the audience. I’ll write up that panel when I get a chance; it was lively and interesting and funny. But the really funny part was when one of the questioners remarked, somewhat snidely, that unlike many people in the room, he was there for the webcomics panel specifically, not just camping out for a seat at LOST. The webcomics guys said, Wait, what? There’s a LOST panel in here next? And they asked for a show of hands: who was just waiting for LOST? About a third of the people in the audience raised their hands.
Ho-ho, said one of the webcomics guys. And for the nextAdd a Comment
All righty. Fun movie trailer time. Thanks to 100 Scope Notes I was made aware of the brand new Voyage of the Dawn Treader trailer that’s out and about (better check and see how many copies I have ready to go on my library shelf). It’s a nice enough preview but I do have one objection. That trailer needed about 500% more Eustace Scrubb. He sort of gets forgotten in the midst of it all. One hopes he’ll make a bigger presence on the screen.
And while we’re on the topic of movies, Debbie Reese of the American Indians in Children’s Literature blog recently posted this trailer for a documentary about how American Indians tend to be portrayed in cinema. She says, “I think it holds great promise for helping critique portrayals of American Indians in the books we give to children.” I for one like the editing.
I think I’ve cracked the whole can-only-embed-YouTube-videos conundrum. My evidence: This interview between Jarrett Krosoczka and a fellow who goes by the moniker Daddy Clay from a V-Blog site called DadLabs. Full credit to DaCla (and I shall now refer to him). He knows how to pronounce “Krosoczka”. Now let’s get Scieszka and Telegemeier on the show as well!
I was pleased as punch to see that Peter Sieruta of Collecting Children’s Books has gotten into the video game. Not . . . not into a video game. That would be bizarre. Especially if it was Joust. I mean, he’s gotten into creating his own videos for YouTube. In this one, he shows us a gorgeous bookshelf-lined room, then pans across his collection of first edition (FIRST EDITION!) Newbery Award and Honor books. Hoo-wee, mama! Talk about a dream collection.
Recently I’ve started receiving books from the publisher Zondervan. Generally speaking, Christian publishers don’t tend to dip their toes into the greater world of the Kidlitosphere, but Zondervan appears to be different. For one thing, they’re not afraid to send a couple copies of titles to a relatively secular blogger for review. For another, they get big names. Names like “Nikki Grimes” and the lDisplay Comments Add a Comment
I wasn't able to dedicate as much time putting pencil to paper as I would have liked on this years drawing day, but I did get a few sketches completed.
The first is of Me, Sayid from Lost and Liza Minnelli as a dangerous trio of rebels roaming a post apocalyptic wasteland in search of the scarcest resource of all - our humanity. It's all very deep and meaningful.
The second is a sketch of a Beaker plush doll in my office. Why Beaker? Why not?
Finally, that day we’ve been waiting for all year. The season premiere of Lost. I mean, Groundhog Day. Click to see the rest of that rodent-filled cartoon by the great creator of Cul de Sac, Richard Thompson.
As for Lost, yes, the recap/discussion thread will return tomorrow for this last season of nerdville’s favorite television program.
posted by Mark Coale
Time once again for the “Lost” running diary after the jump. Spoilers ahoy, you are forewarned. A brief mention
about the clip show before the premiere. Michael Emerson could probably spend the rest of his career doing voice-overs. So very great.
9:01 – This recap would be more helpful if we hadn’t just had a clip show for an hour.
9:02 – At least we didn’t start with Jack’s eye.
9:03 – Weekly Woodsman?
9:03 – You can let go now.
9:05 – First bit of weirdness. What was Desmond reading?
9:06 – Underwater?
9:09 – Déjà vu all over again
9:10 – Kate’s Eye.
9:13 – Guest star credits reveal too much.
9:14 – I guess the favorite curse word in the Lostverse is “son of a bitch”
9:15 – Our first undead returnee.
9:17 – When did Jin’s English get so good?
9:18 – Sayid’s Choice instead of Sophie’s Choice for Jack?
9:19 – Hurley sees dead people? OR was Jacob rebooted too after the bomb?
9:22 – So, is Shannon not on this plane?
9:26 – Everyone says they’re the good guys. Even Ben did once.
9:27 – Ben’s skills at lying seem on the wane.
9:33 – Again, with the temple.
9:35 – Was Desmond reading OUR MUTUAL FRIEND?
9:36 – Chasing the Dragon is still a bad idea for Charlie.
9:39 – This might be more screen time for Cindy the Stewardess than in the first 5 seasons combined.
9:43 – Shouldn’t everyone know who is Jacob by now?
9:45 – Fat Guy = Red Shirt
9:46 – Smoke Monster coming in 5 4 3 2 1.
9;47 – There are ways around a ring of protection.
9:48 – QUESTIONS ANSWERED: 1 (sort of)
9:54 – Please let this be the beginning of Sawyer’s heel turn.
9:56 – Is that a return of Greg Grunberg as the captain over the PA?
9:57 – the return of the end-of-show montage
10:04 – Does Sawyer know Miles can talk to dead people?
10:06 – HA. Missing coffin
10:10 – The whispering is back. So has it always been “the real Others” and not, as some thought last year, the cast hearing themselves time displaced?
10:16 – Head wound same place for Edward the Federal Marshal?
10:17 – No “Freckles?”
10:20 – New characters? Look, another member of the Deadwood Alumni Association.
10:22 – That’s a big ankh.
10:23 – A trojan ankh.
10:23 – Too bad that wasn’t Ben’s List from Season 2.
10:24 – Fountain of Youth at the Temple?
10:29 – So, is that money still in Jin’s suitcase?
10:31 – The Island has a Lazarus Pit.
10:32 – I guess this is the trade-off for Ben’s dip in the pool after being shot by Sayid.
10:34 – Dead. Or “dead?”
10:39 – Something bad is going to happen to either Sayid or Nadia because of Kate.
10:42 – Or maybe Claire.
10:44 – Nothing saying enlightened Japanese guy like doing Bonsai.
10:46 – But… Rose didn’t want to leave?
10:47 – Damn creepy Terry O’Quinn there. Straight out of THE STEPFATHER.
10:48 – “Home is where you wear you hat.”
10:52 – Miles knows that he’s not dead.
10:55 – The friendliest Jack and Locke have ever been.
10:56 – Uh oh.
10:57 – Black Rock reference?
10:59 – That’s got to be leading to a Christian Shephard appearance.
I think I’m late for this week’s IF (“Ahead”)–Oops!, but I’ll post it anyway. Also, they probably say, “Coming up on LOST”, but, hey. Same meaning. : ) Quick and fun (for me).Add a Comment
In celebration of Marley Gibson’s latest release, Ghost Huntress: The Reason”, we are talking this week about secrets. For in this third book of the series, an important secret is revealed...
Marley is giving away signed copies of this book all week here at the Buzz Girls blog, so be sure to drop by every day, and to leave a comment to be entered.
When my mind turns to secrets, right now, it skyrockets to the TV program, LOST, which is, of course, in its final few countdown weeks of the sixth season--and forever. It seems secrets are being revealed around every corner, with some being total surprises to me, some head-thunks (“I should have thought of that!”) and some more like confirmations of what I’d long suspected.
But while much of the water cooler buzz involves what has now been revealed, just as much is focused on what is still to come, and whether the writers will manage/remember to reveal every last secret, or viewers will have to then go for time and eternity on an issue or two, still wondering...
In order to be entered to win a copy of Ghost Huntress: The Reason, leave a comment telling us about a final TV episode of a TV (sit-com, drama, reality show) that left you completely satisfied. Whether it was in the revealing of all the secrets, or you just like the way it ended.
And be sure to check back next Sunday to see if your name is on the winner’s list!
The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, 2010 Rita® Finalist
How to Hook a Hottie, 2009 Rita® Finalist
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
Previously, on Drawn!…I had mentioned briefly that I wished that Ty Mattson’s super-cool posters he did for LOST would be made into prints, and now my wish has come true. You can order Ty’s posters (and other merchandise featuring his designs) from none other than ABC.com. Right now there’s only one of the designs shown, but soon the rest (see this post) will be available to order. Congrats, Ty!
The latest season of Lost premiered on February 2nd, aka Groundhog Day. It was a joke, a cheeky clue for the audience. Because they introduced a major plot device in the premiere. It’s come to be known as the “flash-sideways” narrative and it’s essentially a big “what-if.” What if the characters had a chance to do it all over again? What if the circumstances were different – no island, no smoke monster, no Geronimo Jackson spinning on the turntable? What would have happened to these poorly reared, trigger-happy pawns of science and faith? The answer seems to be that their pesky destinies would have eventually tracked them down anyway. In a week, the series will come to a close, and hopefully we’ll have a better idea about what exactly is at play. But if Lost peddles anything, it peddles ambiguity. And the faithful aren’t shy about hitting the bulletin boards to shout their opinions and theories. The internet might bust a spring or two in the hours after the finale.
I can say with a certain amount of confidence that most people will not be discussing Groundhog Day. The wink-wink-nudge-nudge premier date will be just another piece of Lost trivia, no more significant than the Hurley Bird. The date was a reference to the movie, of course, and on the surface it doesn’t seem to be much more than that. We’ve all seen the movie. A cynical weatherman played by Bill Murray lives the same day over again and again, until he finally gets it right and becomes a man who can love and play the piano.
I remember when Groundhog Day came out. It was a hit, though it barely beat forgettable fare like Dave and Cool Runnings at the box office. Critics thought it was enjoyable and clever, though they hardly thought it was earth-shattering. A better than average comedy – not much more. Over 15 years later, Groundhog Day has become not just a favorite of the revisionist cineast, but a genuine classic. The Writer’s Guild considers it the 27th greatest screenplay ever written. The New York Times even put it in a list of the Ten Best American Movies. Of the 1990s? No. Of all time! Say what you will about the existential implications of the film, about searching for meaning in our post-9/11 world. It makes for a good term paper, but I don’t think that’s the reason the film has gained such a following of late. The reason is TBS.
If you turned to the cable station TBS in the late 90’s and early 00’s, it’s likely you would have seen Groundhog Day on more than a few occasions. TBS syndicated it and played the grooves off the thing. Over time, the film worked its way into the DNA of many a channel surfer. The more familiar you became with it, the more you enjoyed it, because it was offering you the experience of its main character. You were living the film over again and again. You began to anticipate plot points (Ned Ryerson punch in 3, 2…), and the exact words and inflections of the dialogue (“Too early for flapjacks?” ”Display Comments Add a Comment
There is one ending that I have been anticipating all year. The series finale of LOST.
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I remember the pilot episode (which is airing on Saturday night on ABC). I fell in love with mysteries of the island. I’m a plot chick so that hooked me first. Then I got caught up with the characters and their stories. It was the best of both worlds — mythology and motivations all lumped into one package.
Although LOST has been known to confuse and frustrate some of its viewers, I think most of them will watch the final episode because if anything, everyone wants to know: How Will It End?
I have some theories but in the end it will be the LOST writers who decide. I’m sure that it won’t satisfy certain segments of the viewing audience but that’s the chance writers take with their work. You’ll always have a different view from the readers.
I started to think about endings. Are all endings subjective? What makes a good ending? Even though LOST is a TV show, it still has a lot of aspects of novel writing.
For me, a good ending ties up loose ends. It gives me a sense that the characters have come to terms with the story question presented in the beginning. It also lets me get a tiny peek into what’s in store for their future — will they happy or sad?
Those are just a few things that I like to see in endings. I don’t like abrupt endings — although some people do — but they are more open-ended than what I really like.
So for those of you who watch LOST, we will all know the answer to how it all ends around 11:31 pm on Sunday night.
Have a great weekend everyone! Hope that you are getting some writing done and moving ahead in your novel projects.
Using the Mangold Premise* that great literature doesn't answer questions but raises them (and I'll add great storytelling to that) and remembering my take on negative terminology used to describe honest curiosity or interest in a topic, here are a few unapologetic thoughts and a lot of questions about last night's final LOST episode:
I went in knowing it would be impossible for all the convoluted threads to come together. Six years of surprises left too many things to cover. I figured if the main storyline and character arcs wrapped nicely, it would be enough for me (the pre-finale show hinted at this, to prepare their audience, maybe?).
With that in mind, I have to say the finale was fabulous. I love how Island Time and Sideways Time both ended up happening (I was sure one would negate the other). I love the way the characters were redeemed through supporting and forgiving one another and that their lives were bigger than themselves.
Loved the cyclical nature of things, like Jack ending up back in the bamboo (though how did he get out of that light/energy place?), sacrificing himself as the plane -- intact -- passed overhead.
Loved the love (and forgot how many love stories made up the show).
This was the first episode I bought the Sawyer/Juliet romance.
I'm fine with my questions left unanswered, but I still have to ask:
Christian says everyone was dead. Huh??
When/where did everyone die?
Sure, we saw some characters who had died in the past, but what about all those people who never did?
Why didn't Ben go inside?
Here be spoilers, of course. Don’t read this if you haven’t watched the LOST finale.
Yes, the reunions made me cry, every single one of them. Jin and Sun’s joy at seeing Officer Ford: one of the best moments of television ever. And: Shannon and Sayid. Claire and Charlie. James and Juliette: by then I was sobbing. You got it, Blondie.
When Jack walked into the church, I gasped with delight because for a moment there I was sure that Mr. Eko was going to appear—as a priest, of course.
Instead, I admit it: profound disappointment. When the coffin was empty, and there was a footstep behind Jack, I knew it was Christian and I yelped an involuntary “No!”
Because, you see, I really wanted to know what happened. While the characters were still alive, on earth. Instead, the show jumped us over the final chapters to the last page of the book. It’s a good page: after purgatory, they go to heaven. That’s the greatest good there is, the ending I am literally hoping and praying for.
But in terms of this show I’ve been invested in for six years? I wanted to know what happened in this world, not the next.
About halfway through the episode I began to wonder if the Sideways reality had been a very long denouement—it struck me as a clever solution. Something would happen in the climax, some kind of Electromagnetic Desmond-triggered jump to an alternate reality, a parallel universe or something—which would have been painfully hokey, but I was giving the writers props for figuring out a way to give us plenty of satisfying detail about how everyone turned out (via a whole season’s worth of Sideways scenes) without having to squeeze it all into the last ten minutes.
But that wasn’t what happened. The Sideways reality wasn’t real. It was a kind of gentle purgatory, more akin to a dream than anything else. You know how sometimes as you’re swimming up out of a dream toward wakefulness, you can steer the dream a little? That’s what the Sideways reality was. Dreams stitched together from fragments of memory and longing, affording the characters the opportunity to make better choices—at least in relation to the each one’s fatal flaw. Thus James, instead of becoming a con artist as despicable as the one who ruined his childhood, becomes a heck of a good cop. Jack, the wounded son, becomes a decent father. For the sake of Alex, Ben sacrifices the opportunity to seize power. There’s actually quite a lot to talk about regarding each character’s purgatory experience.
(Including the interesting fact that Ben, despite apparently doing a good job as the Island’s #2 protector in the part of his real life we didn’t get to see, felt in need of more purgatory time at the end of the episode. Locke goes into the church, and then into the Light, but Ben remains sitting in the courtyard near the statue of the risen Christ. He gratefully accepts Locke’s forgiveness, but doesn’t feel worthy of heaven yet.)
But before I can get there—I’m sure I’ll spend weeks pondering the purgatory experiences—I have to get past the disappointed ache. Jack’s story had a good and satisfying ending. (I loved that last moment with Vincent, the bamboo, the closing eye.)
But what about Desmond? He didn’t make it off the island. Did he get back to Penny? Did she wait and wait and wait for him forever (until death)? Or did Hurley find him a way back home? Ben said “no one leaves the island” was a Jacob thing (and anyway, there was quite a bit of coming and going on the old submarine). So, okay, I can let myself suppose that Hurley and Ben found Desmond aAdd a Comment
So, LOST. I’m still thinking about the final episode, and I’m coming around to appreciating it more than I did at first. Overall, I liked watching all of the characters in the sideways world remembering their island life. That said, some of that recall had to be pretty painful. Did Sun and Jin turn to each other five minutes later and say, “Ohmigod, worst vacation ever!”
At first I was mad that the sideways world was not a parallel timeline that the Lost folks could leap to in a flash of light. That was my alternate ending. But after reading a bunch of articles, I realize that my option would have given us a happy ending, but would have meant that none of the island stuff really mattered. And it kind of had to matter. So I’m making peace with the “waiting room” idea.
However, while the finale provided a good emotional closure, it left so much unanswered. That’s been my problem with this whole season. At the end of each episode, I found myself wondering if the writers truly understood how little time they had to explain everything. Anything!
But even the decision to not provide answers makes sense in a way. An article from the LA Times had a great analysis, including this perfect line: “One of the reasons I think Lost worked was that it was always more interested in the box and the person holding the box than what was in the box.” Yeah, okay. But I still want to know why Walt was special.
If you want to read more analysis, here’s where I’ve been:
I enjoyed participating in the intelligent and interesting discussion at Melissa Wiley’s blog and am looking forward to her later write-up.
Here’s an interview with the writers at The New York Times before the finale aired. And a second one, less than thrilled with the end, but explaining aspects of it.
This one from Wired expresses dissatisfaction with the ending, and asks people to send in their own ideas for the end which has been alternately funny and illuminating.
The Chicago Tribune has a summary and a further analysis that features this great insight: “[The finale said] that we find redemption through our own actions, our own willingness to change, and our hard-won belief in ourselves and others.”
Time’s Tuned In blog convinced me that it had to matter. And then this comment in the Slate forum came and blew my mind. This is only a small part of the mini-essay that may be one of the most eloquently written things I’ve ever read.
I live on a very peculiar island, and though I’ve been here for a long while now, I know almost nothing about it. I don’t know the reason I am here, nor do I know if there’s even a Display Comments Add a Comment
I’ve been poking my head around the web to see what people thought of the Lost finale. There’s a fair amount of disappointment, but just as many people who thought it was beautiful and touching. There’s also a ton of confusion, and I might as well start by stating the obvious. The island was real. They did not die during the plane crash. They all lived and died on their own timelines and reunited in the afterlife. There is no doubt about this.
I didn’t adore the finale initially, but now that I’ve let it sink in, I’m appreciating it more and more and discovering that the “answers” so many people were looking for have been there all along. They’re all tied to the afterlife concept.
The Island was the gateway to the afterlife. The afterlife needed to be protected, because it contained the dreams and desires of every man and woman. And it was too powerful for the living (and magnetic compasses) to handle. However, it was leaking from the island. Some were trying to escape from it. Some were trying to harness its magic. It healed, but also corrupted. Time travel and ghosts and monsters and miscarriages and Star Wars references and all other sorts of nonsense were born from it. Yet only in death, and only if you put the love of others before the love of yourself, were you granted entrance to it. And that’s how the show ended.
Hokey? A bit. But the theme of the show was always about being lost. And every character, from Jack and Kate to Ben and Locke to Jacob and his Mother, was lost. Physically and spiritually. The viewer was lost as well. Sifting through the mysteries and trying to find a key to solve it all. Turns out, by leaving so many mysteries unanswered, the show is providing the template for an afterlife. And now that Lost has died, the key is to piece together that afterlife in any way the viewer wishes. Why were Walt and Aaron special? Who built the statue? Who was shot in the out-riggers? You decide. It’s the only way the narrative can live on. The only way the light can be protected. The only way the blog posts and term papers and theses can keep coming.
I, for one, am grateful for that, but I won’t be writing about Lost anymore, cause I’m not sure you all care. But in order for you to care about future posts of mine, I give you the following order. Join Netflix. Watch Breaking Bad. Thank me.Add a Comment
As you might of noticed I am having LOST withdrawals after the show is over. I've been reading blogs, news, forums and I just can't understand what all the fuzz is about.
I watched this last night and thought I would share it with you guys. It's long but really worth watching in my opinion. The weekend is here so it's a perfect time to watch.
As you all may know J.J. Abrams is the creator of LOST, among many other TV shows and movies. I really enjoyed watching him speak. I tell you, this guy is smart. His mind goes a mile a second and his tongue can't keep up with it.
He has an obvious love for mystery and explains where this all started. I particularly loved the story about his grandfather's mystery box. I also loved the last scene of Jaws he showed to the audience. He's right, that was one amazing scene.
To me this was a hint where I could clearly see how strongly he feels for the characters in a movie. Even if they are playing a role in action or adventure films, he sees beyond that, into the many shades that a character has, and wants the audience to experience it too.
This may be partly the reason why LOST'S characters always came first in a way.
I am going to stop talking now and leave you all to it. ;o)