Robin Reed: “A Good Storm”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Using her secret identity of “Robin Morris,” TVWriter™’s Robin Reed came in 2nd in the recent KillerCon 5 Flash Fiction Contest. Not that we’re biased or anything, but it should’ve been first.

Oh, yeah, it’s a horror story contest.

See for yourselves:

a-good-storm

A Good Storm
by Robin Morris

“I didn’t want to,” she said. “You made me.”

He looked at her weakly. He pulled on the ropes. “Why?”

The sky lit up for just a second. She looked up, feeling the wind. Her nerves crackled in anticipation. Then thunder boomed, loud enough to rattle the world. It came quicker than last time. The storm was getting closer.

He tried to get loose, but he didn’t have much strength. The chair creaked. He faced the house, with his back to the barn. She stood in the light from the open back door. The wind blew her dress, wrapping the skirt around her legs.

“Tomfoolery.”

“What the fuck?”

“That’s what Dad called it. When a man runs around with another woman.”

He leaned forward, as far as the ropes would allow, and vomited. Whitish goo ran down his chin and stained his shirt. That’s why she dragged him out to the back yard. It wasn’t easy to get him and the chair out the door and down the steps, but she didn’t want to make a mess in the house. It wasn’t just the vomit; there was a lot more mess to come.

“What did you give me?” He coughed. A bubble formed in the vomit on his lips, then popped.

She looked at him squarely. “What you deserve. What we use to kill rats in the barn.”

“Please. Call for help.”

“I did.” She raised her arms. The sky exploded, thunder and lightning coming with barely a second between them. “The sky will help. The rain will help.” Help wash it all away.

“Call an ambulance.”

“Succulent.”

His head fell forward, but he still moved.

“Dad liked big words like that. Dinner was succulent. Fried chicken is your favorite. I just added a new ingredient.”

He didn’t say anything.

“Do you remember the big storm last year?”

“Your dad…”

“Caught his death out here, wouldn’t come out of the rain. Searching for that old watch.” An eighty five year old man shouldn’t have been out in the rain for hours. How did he ever get the idea that she threw the watch out in the yard? A watch passed down in his family for generations. It was never in the yard, of course. It was safe. It was worth quite a bit. It would provide a nice start for her new life.

He forced his head up, his eyes wide. “You…”

“Now I own the house.” She smiled. “When you run away, folks’ll be sympathetic. Everyone knows you’re no good. I’m better off without you.”

She would do the work in the rain, letting it wash the yard clean. What wouldn’t wash away would be buried in small pieces, here and there, for miles around.

He closed his eyes for the last time. He fell slack in the ropes.

The first drops pattered on the dry ground. They formed spots on her dress. She raised her face to the sky and welcomed the rain. Lightning and thunder flashed and banged at the same instant.

She loved a good storm.

Robin Reed Reviews BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME

battlestar-galactica-blood-and-chrome

by Robin Reed

I was glad to see that the new Battlestar Galactica movie, based during the first Cylon war and starring the young and enthusiastic Bill Adama, later to be the older and wearier Admiral Adama of the other SyFy series, was not a jingoistic rah rah war movie. It was more in the tradition of Vietnam War movies in which the reasons for the war are unclear and the motives of the leaders who order young people into battle are murky.

And yet, this movie is a jingoistic rah rah war movie, because as someone said, you can’t make an anti-war movie. War is exciting, and addicting. It is more interesting than getting a job and having a family. For many people, once they have experienced it, they want to go back to it. You can call it meaningless and question why it happens all you want, but just showing it is attractive to many people.

This movie takes place after the Cylons, robots created as warriors, then used as servants, have rebelled against the humans of the Colonies. (Ask colonies from where, and you get into the never-explained backstory of the original 1980’s Battlestar Galactica. They seem to be colonies from Earth, but when did they leave Earth? In the original show, the viper pilots had helmets that looked Egyptian. Did ancient Egypt have space flight? The show never said. Oh, and the Cylons were an alien race in the original show, they weren’t created by the colonies.)

Young, cocky Bill Adama is given to a “milk run” for his first active duty assignment, but it turns out to be a secret mission to deliver a woman to coordinates on the border of Cylon space. Of course everything goes wrong, and Bill’s cockiness is tempered by the realities of war. In the process he meets a Vietnam War movie character, the guy who has been out on the fringes of the war too long and is a little crazy. He learns that his government has a lot of secrets, and his mission has several layers of deception built into it. By the very end, he is given a Viper, a one-man fighter, as he always dreamed, and grins ear to ear as he goes out to kill toasters. Toasters equals krauts, japs, gooks, commies; it is the single word that sums up the inherent otherness of the enemy. They aren’t people, they are….insert current word here.

So this is both a Vietnam War movie with its cynicism and questions about why wars exist, and a jingoistic rah rah war movie. Since the United States of America seems to be in a perpetual state of war, you can go either way and still make young people want to join up and fight. The enemy in this movie, the Cylons, seem to be the perfect enemy. They are demonstrably not human, and killing them is like destroying a, well, a toaster. Anyone who saw the short-lived series Caprica know that the Cylon operating system is partly based on the personality of  a human girl, and in this movie it is said that the Cylons feel pain. So I hope the series that Syfy no doubt plans, if the ratings for the movie are good, will explore some of the humanity of the enemy.

Human societies, at least the people in charge of them, seem to need an outside enemy to function well at home. The constant wars and expansion of many empires provided glory for the leaders and killed off many young men who might cause trouble by challenging the leaders. I’m sure the producers of this movie and any future series based on it won’t say that they Cylons were meant to serve such a purpose, but clearly they do. A few decades later they go a little over the top with it by nuking the colonies, but war always has unintended consequences. Rome didn’t expect the far flung barbarians they fought to destroy the empire either.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome is a pretty good movie if you treat it as just an entertainment, but it can also lead to thought about all the issues I have mentioned. One final note: Women and men serving equally in combat is a common idea in science fiction, and with a recent decision by the Obama Administration it has become real. Once again science fiction becomes reality.

Robin Reed: There is no reality on TV

If anyone remembers my post about cable reality shows, you may be interested in this news story:

‘Storage Wars’ Staged, Fired Star Claims in Lawsuit – by Tim Molloy

“Storage Wars” star David Hester says in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that he was fired after complaining that the reality show is staged.

In the lawsuit, Hester contends that the producers of the hit A&E series routinely plant valuable items in the storage lockers seen on the show. Competitors place bids on the lockers without knowing what is inside them, hoping to come across forgotten treasures.

Also read: ‘Storage Wars’ Star Brandi Passante Files Real Lawsuit Over Fake Porn Video

In one case, the lawsuit contends, A&E planted a pile of newspapers reporting Elvis Presley’s death. In another episode, according to the suit, a BMW mini car was found buried under trash.

An A&E spokesman said the network does not comment on pending litigation. The series is the most popular in A&E’s history.

The lawsuit pulls no punches, alleging that “nearly every aspect of the series is faked, even down to the plastic surgery that one of the female cast members underwent in order to create more ‘sex appeal’ for the show…” The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, says the surgery was paid for by the show’s production company, Original Productions.

Hester also contends in the suit that Original manipulates the outcome of auctions by placing bids on behalf of “the weaker cast members who lack … both the skill and financial wherewithal to place winning bids.” Hester’s suit names A&E and Original Productions, which also produces “Storage Wars” spin-offs shows based in New York and Texas. He says he suffered more than $750,000 in damages because of what he considers his wrongful termination.

http://www.thewrap.com/tv/column-post/storage-wars-staged-fired-star-claims-lawsuit-68821

It seems there is no reality in reality TV.

Read it all

New Kindle Books from TVWriter™ Contributors

Peggy Bechko and Robin Reed have been Friends of TVWriter™ since this site was born, and since our “reinvention” in blog format they’ve both become popular contributers. Which means we’re very happy indeed to present:

Stormrider [Kindle Edition]

P. A. Bechko (Author)

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully descriptive writing & wonderfully compelling story November 8, 2012

By Nick @ Den Publishing Company

Format:Kindle Edition

Page 1 and I’m already drawn in (excitedly so). But, isn’t that how good (great) fiction writing is supposed to be?! I can’t tell you how quickly and easily (and I’m not a fiction reader) Miss Bechko drew me in – not only to the beautifully described surroundings, but to feel (~deeply) for the main character, again on page one! Amazing!

Buy it here

‘Twas the Night [Kindle Edition]

Robin Reed (Author)

Publication Date: November 8, 2012

Rollo is the overworked, stressed-out Head Elf at the North Pole. As he prepares for Christmas Eve, he has to deal with toys that look like they’re having sex, terrorist reindeer, and worst of all, the sudden death of Santa Claus. Rollo has to save Christmas after he finds out that Santa is not just dead — he is undead. ‘Twas the Night is a novella of approximately 35,000 words. It is a satire and contains adult language and themes.

Buy it here

Congrats to two of our favorite writers!

Not a Contest! Not a Contest! Well, Sort of a Contest…

Robin Reed, a PHINEAS & FERB fan from wayback (even further back than last Tuesday) has drawn this homage to Disney’s Surrealist Duo (+ their pal Perry):

Robin sees this as being “about” the series. We, however, see it as much, much more.

Mainly, as a challenge.

Because to us this bit of artwork is a cartoon without a punchline.

And we can’t stand to see anything that isn’t finished.

Therefore:

Welcome to the new improved TVWriter™ ‘s first Not A Contest. We’re doing this for two reasons:

  1. The last time we held a small, impromptu contest that had a prize we kept putting off sending the two winners their prizes, resulting in being unable to remember who they were – and, we admit, what the contest was about when we finally attempted to make good. The result: Two mystery contest winners who probably are mightily P.O.ed. (If you’re reading this and you’re one of the two, email us ASAP with what you wrote/said/did in order to win and we will send you your prize, we promise.)
  2. Because we’re on as tight a budget as any business could possibly be and still pay its rent, the only prizes we have are the ones left over from (1) above, which we have to hold onto just in case the winners make themselves known. (And, really, please, please do.)

So, to make your entry worthwhile, what you get for winning this Not A Contest will be…you got it: Not A Prize. Nothing you can use or spend or cuddle with on a cold, lonely night. Nothing tangible whatsoever.

The Winner will, however, get an opportunity. A chance to be proclaimed a winner right here on this site. And, maybe – if we remember – in an email announcement, or a Facebook update, or a tweet, or something. Pretty darn great, huh?

Now that we have you on the edge of your seats, here’s what this Not A Contest is all about:

We want you to provide the punchline for Robin Reed’s probable copyright infringement of a drawing, above. It can have to do with PHINEAS & FERB, which might help our defense if Disney’s lawyers come calling. (“Hey, we’re giving you publicity! Why’re you on our case?”) Or it can have to do with something – anything – else, which might also help our defense. (“Hey, the punchline doesn’t even mention your show, so this isn’t really about it at all. Why’re you on our case?”)

What your punchline does have to do is BE FUNNY.

The floor’s open. Let the levity ensue.

(Post your entries in the Comments below. Multiple entries welcome.

How SYFY made a show based on a Stephen King story and didn’t tell anyone.

by Robin Reed

Well, they didn’t tell me. I am the target audience for any show with a science fiction, fantasy, or horror premise. I will watch anything in those genres. And Stephen King – I have two shelves devoted to his books. I haven’t caught up with “The Colorado Kid” yet, a short novel of Mr. King’s from a few years ago, but if I had heard a hint of a TV show being made that was based on it, I would have been there to check it out.

Instead, I discovered “Haven” due to insomnia, by which I mean I couldn’t sleep, not the title of another Stephen King book. I got up and watched TV, switching to Syfy (still hate the new name) because that’s where I always start a TV session. I move on only when I have seen the show or movie already or if even I can’t stand the particular CGI monster that appears before my wondering eyes.

“Haven” is set in a coastal Maine town, but I knew that these kinds of shows are never shot in the U.S., and indeed the long and detailed Wikipedia article (someone knew about this show, and wrote a long and very boring article about it) says it is produced in Nova Scotia. Seemingly it was first developed for E!, which as far as I know doesn’t do scripted shows at all. (E! is one of the channels that produces an autonomic thumb movement on my remote to get past it as fast as possible.)

Stop me if you have heard this before: An outsider (FBI agent Audrey Parker) arrives in a small town (Haven, Maine) on a routine case (or to solve a murder, or is brought there by a son she didn’t know she had) and discovers that a lot of strange things happen in that town. There may even be clues about her own identity. When the first case is wrapped up, she is offered a job as a sheriff’s deputy (or something) and stays on. You should have stopped me, that’s “Once Upon a Time,” and several other shows the titles of which don’t leap to mind.

So I watched two and a half episodes, and when I got some sleep and then looked it up I found that this show has been running since 2010. It is distributed all over the world. I have never heard of it. I have never seen an ad for it. We’re going into the third season and it has escaped my SF, fantasy and horror addled brain entirely.

Now that I have discovered it, I will watch it again. The next time I can’t sleep. The stories weren’t that exciting or original. The Stephen King story must have been better.

The last episode I saw involved men in the town aging and dying in three days after making it with a mysterious hottie. At the end we find that said hottie has a baby every time she seduces a man. One of the series regulars (and possible love interest for Audrey) Duke Crocker starts to age and just before he perishes from all the latex in his old age makeup, Audrey tries to place the baby in his arms to see if the life energy will go back into him. No, it hurts him to bring the baby near him. But he recovers and the baby is shipped off to be adopted somewhere. The logic of the story is completely blown. We know either the baby or Mr. Crocker has to die. It has to have been written that way. Mr. Crocker is one of those characters you know won’t die because he’s in every episode. The baby is just a prop wrapped in a blanket. Someone intervened and told them you can’t kill a baby. So they reshot a little and made them both survive. Then why did the other two men die? Why does the story matter?

I will go read “The Colorado Kid” and see if it bears any resemblance to this show.

Robin Reed Wonders: Where’s Perry?

Time to stop being so serious. I want to mention something that even the most jaded adult secretly loves: cartoons. Not just Adult Swim either, where you can feel hip and ironic about watching cartoons with swearing and violence. No, I want to talk about cartoons actually meant for kids. Specifically, I want to talk about “Phineas and Ferb.”

This show is so strange, so creative, and so damn cool that I can hardly stand it. And it’s on the Disney Channel, not usually a hotbed of actual goodness. (Though I was also fond of “Kim Possible.”) Hard core cartoon fans remember the 1990’s Warner Brothers TV shows, from “Tiny Toons” to the immortal “Pinky and the Brain.” I haven’t heard anyone raving about anything on the Disney Channel.

The story of each episode is always the same, with some variations. Phineas and Ferb are two boys trying to make each day of summer vacation special. To do so, they build something huge in the back yard, from a roller coaster to a soccer stadium to a recording studio. Their teenage sister, Candace, believes that these are activities that their mother would disapprove of, so she spends all day trying to get their mother to see the amazing colossal whatever, therefore “busting” her brothers.

In the meantime, the family’s pet platypus, Perry, leads a double life. When called upon, he dons a fedora and becomes Agent P. He is briefed on the nefarious activities of local mad scientist Dr, Doofenschmirtz, and goes off to defeat the evil plan. Dr. D introduces an evil machine, the name of which usually ends in “inator.” Dr. D’s evil ambitions are limited to the tri-state area.

Perry’s defeat of Dr. Doofenshmirtz triggers the “inator” to in some way make the contruction in the back yard disappear just before Candace can show it to their mother. Perry reappears as a an ordinary pet platypus and someone says, “There you are, Perry.”

I can watch this show any time I come across it when channel flipping, and for some reason that is often in the wee hours of the morning. There is no real bad guy. Even Dr. D can be sympathetic because he tries so hard to be evil and can’t quite cut it. A neighborhood boy who is drawn like a traditional bully and started out acting like one has mellowed and joins in the day’s activity. The only fighting is comical secret-agent-vs.-evil-scientist-fighting.

Since this site is about writers, let’s hear it for Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, who pitched this for sixteen years (if I can trust Wikipedia) and kept at it until they got a trial on Disney. They also worked on shows as diverse as “Rocko’s Modern Life” and “Family Guy.” This is a big hit for Disney, so to them I say, don’t make writers with original ideas wait sixteen years.

A platypus but not Perry