John Ostrander: Sidekicking Around

by John Ostrander

Holmes and Watson. Lone Ranger and Tonto. Batman and Robin. Lucy and Ethel. Hamlet and Laertes. The list of heroes and their BFFs is long and overall an honorable one… and usually necessary.

A sidekick, at base, is a supporting character and a supporting character’s main function is to bring out aspects of the protagonist. In most cases, the sidekick is there so that the protagonist isn’t constantly monologuing. Granted, Hamlet is a champion monologuist but when Laertes is there he can be engaged in a dialogue. Holmes needs Watson so the reader can see how brilliant the Great Detective is. Whatever his other character traits may be, Watson’s prime one is to be surprised and amazed by Holmes and, in that, Watson represents us, the readers.

There are many different ways of interpreting a sidekick. Watson, for example, can be Nigel Bruce’s bumbling Colonel Blimp character or Jude Law’s testy and acerbic put-upon friend or Martin Freeman’s occasionally explosive but loyal best man. In the Harry Potter films, Ron Weasley, in the first film, is at one point both brave and self-sacrificing. In later films, however, he becomes cowardly and mostly comic relief, very like Nigel’s Bruce’s Watson.

Robin falls into a strange category of the child or teen sidekick. He was originally introduced to lighten up the Dark Knight Detective and, again, to give Batman someone to talk to rather than himself. Robin humanized the Bat. His popularity gave rise to a whole slew of child/teen associates such as Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Speedy, and Aqualad. Later, these five went from supporting characters to central ones when they formed their own super-team, the Teen Titans (later, just the Titans when they all outgrew their teenage years).

The original Robin, Dick Grayson, later grew out of his shorts and tights to become a full-fledged hero of his own, first as Nightwing and then later, briefly, actually taking Bruce Wayne’s place as Batman before reverting back to Nightwing. There have been other Robins since then, including one – Jason Todd – who was killed by the Joker. Don’t worry; he got better. The role is currently being filled by Bruce’s son, Damian. I believe he died as well at one point but is also now feeling better.

Moral and ethical questions have been raised about the whole idea of the adult hero having child/teen sidekicks. The lifestyle, after all, is inherently violent and rather dangerous. Frederic Wertham, in his suspect 1954 treatise Seduction of the Innocent, postulated Batman and Robin were gay which, given those times, was thought to be profoundly deviant. Wertham was blowing it out his ass but the damage was done at the time. Still, one can see that it was a dangerous life style to include the kids in. The questions remain.

For me, I’ve sometimes identified more with the sidekick than the protagonist. I love Holmes but I’ve always identified more with Watson (except for Nigel Bruce). Batman (and Bruce Wayne) is difficult to like but Dick Grayson (especially in his adult incarnations) is someone with whom I can more easily relate. I think sidekicks are designed that way. They put more human into super-human.


John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. Don’t forget to read his most excellent blog at ComicMix, where this piece first appeared. You can learn more about John and his masterworks HERE

Herbie J Pilato: Living the Showbiz Dream

by Herbie J Pilato

NOTE FROM LB: TVWriter™ Contributing Editor and longtime buddy Herbie J has a few words for us all. This is exciting – and important – reading. Go, Herbie J!


It’s important to stay the course.

If you have a dream, whatever that dream might be, if it’s a good dream, that will somehow benefit others, bring a measure of joy, information, entertainment – especially in a positive way, then you have to stay the course. It becomes your obligation to fulfill that dream – for yourself – and others.

For me, dreams are whispers from the Universe how what next step one is to take in life. To deny those dreams…those whispers is not only a disservice to one’s self, but a disservice to others who might benefit from that dream.

When I was growing up, in Rochester, New York, it was always my dream to have my own television show. It has taken more than fifty years for that dream to come true, and but it is happening. Certainly, along the way, there have been obstacles. Some may even consider time to be one of those obstacles. But I do not. Because I believe that what you do has absolutely no relationship to when you do it.

Into this mix, I cannot stress enough the importance of persistence; never giving up, teamwork, respecting your colleagues, co-workers, business partners, and friends along the way, whether or not they are directly connected to your dream. It’s never a bad thing to be cordial, kind and courteous in all your dealings, be they business or personal. A respectful manner is always appreciated in every kind of association, and mostly certainly every kind of professional association.

Years ago, my eighth grade teacher gave each of in our class a famous quote as a gift. At the time, I thought that was not much of a gift. But in retrospect I soon realized it was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. The quote she gave me was from Emerson who said, “No [one] is an island; no [one] goes [their] way alone. Whatever we send into the lives of others, comes right back into our home.”

That remains impactful to me. To this day, I try to “send out” only good things…good thoughts…good words. I try to be as positive as I can, in my work and in my play. I don’t always accomplish that, but at the same time I always reach my goal…my objective…because I try. And in the process of that “trying,” with good intentions, dreams come true.

Mine certainly have – again, and again, particularly with my new TV series Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, the seeds for which were planted with the weekly live events that I hosted throughout 2015 in the Los Angeles area in book stores like Larry Edmunds, and Barnes and Noble, particularly the Barnes and Noble in Burbank, California….

Read it all at Cynopsis Media

More about Herbie J Pilato’s dream

John Ostrander: No Trespassing

by John Ostrander

My Mary will sometimes pop into the office to chat a bit. If I’m just goofing off (a lot of my work day consists of goofing off), that’s fine but if I’m actually working she has to leave. She understands and doesn’t take offense; she can get the same way when she’s creating.

I don’t want anyone looking over my shoulder when I’m working, especially with the initial draft. I get self-conscious and everything freezes up and goes away. Oddly enough, Kim didn’t always understand that. It bothered her that there was a private place inside me to which she was not invited. She felt a couple should share everything and, for the most part, I agree – except when I’m writing.

I suppose that, with most couples that’s also true to some degree. Perhaps it’s even desirable that the person with whom you’ve spent a good long time can still surprise you, hopefully in positive ways. I once wrote a Wasteland story in which the husband challenges his wife when she claims she knows him completely. He suggests that he could, in fact, be the serial killer they’ve heard about. The claim that he could be eats away at his wife and, by the end of the story, she’s ready to leave him because she realized that the doubt she is feeling indicates she doesn’t really know her husband at all.

It is a big question. How much do we really know another person – even someone that we know intimately? We start off the relationship by being attracted to someone which may lead to falling into what we think of as love. I would suggest that, in fact, what we’re really falling in love with is our construct of the person. Someone we’ve invented that’s based on the other person but is as much or more really based on us as it is them. Hopefully, as time goes by, our perception deepens as we see more of the actual person and, again hopefully, fall into more of a true love.

That gets chancy. As you wind up really seeing more of the other person, you have to let them see more of the real you. Brrr! Pretty scary, boys and girls! It does necessarily involve opening up.

However, when you’re doing something creative – writing or art or what have you – the process can be very private. It’s a mysterious business to begin with; you don’t always know where the initial impulse comes from and you may not want to know. For a long time, I resisted any idea of going to a therapist because I felt that, if I knew more about my creative instinct, it would vanish. In reality, therapy turned out helping quite a bit. I understood why I did or thought some things and that understanding actually helped me creatively.

Still, I don’t want someone watching me create. I may need to dig around in parts of my psyche that can get a bit dark. (Those of you familiar with my work can probably appreciate that.) Nietzche said in Beyond Good and Evil: “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” Kim and I used to describe the creative process as bungee jumping into the abyss and pulling out something. Usually it’s squirming.

I don’t need observers when I do that.

I do wind up revealing aspects of myself in my writing; you have to. Every character you write must in some way be you. However, you’re in disguise; you can always claim a given aspect of a given character is that character and not you. Keep in mind, as I’ve warned some people in the past, that I may appear to be a nice guy but GrimJack comes from somewhere in me.

And visitors are not welcomed there.


John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. Don’t forget to read his most excellent blog at ComicMix, where this piece first appeared. You can learn more about John and his masterworks HERE

3rd & Fairfax: The WGAW Podcast

Way back in the summer of ’15 we told TVWriter™ visitors about the Writers Guild of America, West’s new podcast.  And now – well, and now we’re telling you again because as good as the weekly shows were then, they’re much better now.

Writers interviewed for the casts include:

And many other greats, near-greats, and soon-to-be-greats.

Here’s a sample, featuring Barry Jenkins of Oscar winner Moonlight

And here’s where to go for the whole shebang

 

Want to be a Happier Camper? Do Something Creative Every Day

Being a creative individual probably isn’t a choice. Studies show creativity is in our DNA to one degree or another. But we can choose how and when we express that particular quality. With that in mind, it seems that one of the qualities most people desire most in their lives, can be just around the corner for us all:

by Cari Romm

We all have different ways of unwinding after a long day at the office. Some people make a beeline for the couch to start a Netflix binge; some people work out; some people switch on the creative side of their brains, engaging in something crafty or logging time in the kitchen.

All have their benefits, but things in that last category may be an especially worthy way to spend your off-the-clock hours. For one thing, having a creative side hustle outside of work can lead to increased job satisfaction. And according to a new study in the Journal of Positive Psychology, small-time creative pursuits — like cooking, knitting, or even doodling — can influence your overall well-being for the better.

The study authors recruited 658 volunteers to keep a daily diary for two weeks, describing their mood and rating how creative they had been over the course of the day (creativity was defined as “coming up with novel or original ideas; expressing oneself in an original and useful way; or spending time doing artistic activities”). With each entry, participants also filled out something called the “flourishing scale,” ranking their agreement with statements like “Today I was interested and engaged in my daily activities” and “Today my social relationships were supportive and rewarding.”

When they analyzed the diaries, the authors found that “people who engaged in creative pursuits today felt significantly more energetic, enthusiastic, and excited the next day.”…

Read it all at NY Mag

Blame How Bad Being Rejected Makes You Feel on Your DNA

Rejection gotcha down, bunky? Looking for the secret of not giving a shit?

This very serious little article gives us the lowdown on the kind of person we need to be to live our lives without feeling the pain inflicted by being denied/unaccepted/kicked out/mocked/younameit by others.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell us how to transform ourselves into the necessary mental state.

Or would that last sentence me more correct if we took out the opening “un”?

I Asked a Psychopath How to Stop Caring About Rejection
by Julian Morgans

I recently went on a date with a beautiful and smart girl who laughed at all my jokes and then never replied to my texts. I walked away from the date thinking nailed it! while I guess she walked away thinking he didn’t nail that. I mean, who knows what she actually thought—but I spent the next few days wondering.

Wondering what other people think is a classic problem, and rejection sucks. When the phone doesn’t ring, the invitation doesn’t arrive, or you get cut from the team or the job, it’s only natural to feel hurt. But I should say that it’s natural for most people, not everyone. Because for psychopaths, caring what others think isn’t an issue—which is why I decided to ask one for advice.

Dr. James Fallon is a neuroscientist at the University of California. In 2006, he was studying the brain structures of serial killers when he realized his own brain fit the same profile. Amused, he started telling his friends and family, who all confirmed it was something they’d long suspected. As James described in the Guardian, “I started to ask people close to me what they really thought of me… and tell me they did.”

When I read this, I knew I’d found the guy. Fallon scores as a “pro-social” psychopathic, meaning he’s empathetic enough to be married and enjoy a social life, but lives without the worry or hurt most of us feel constantly. So I called him to ask how he does it. How does he go through life untouched by insult? And could I learn to do the same?

VICE: How does rejection feel for you?
Dr. James Fallon: It feels absolutely fine. As my two psychiatrists say, my biggest problem in life is that I don’t give a shit. They tell me, “You just don’t care.” And it’s true.

Why not?
I just know that I can do anything I want, and something better will come along. I guess that absurd swagger is most of it….

Read it all at Vice

From the “Mouths of Writers”

Found on the interwebs:

Words for Creatives to Live By