Friday, May 25, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story

© by Gerald So | 5:00 AM

Casting a wry, contemporary eye on a long time ago in galaxy far, far away, Han Solo is my favorite Star Wars character. And despite the rumors of production turmoil we seem to hear about more and more movies, Solo: A Star Wars Story did not disappoint.

My concerns about Alden Ehrenreich were like my concerns about Daniel Craig before I saw Casino Royale. Ehrenreich didn't quite make me forget Harrison Ford, but his performance was the right mix of fresh and tribute. What I like most about Han is his reluctance to play the part he's expected to play. At every turn he tries to rip up the script and write his own story.

Han's character arc is nicely contrasted by that of his love interest Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke). Early on, they try to escape dismal Corelia together, but a snafu traps her while leaving him free to run. As much as it is the brash heist movie advertised, Solo also features characters more layered than any other Star Wars movie has.

If you happen to know most of Han's story—I only knew what was shown in the original trilogy and The Force Awakens—you still don't know many other characters' motivations and where their loyalties lie, giving you reason to watch and find out.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Lucifer Finale: "A Devil of My Word"

© by Gerald So | 7:00 AM

Last week FOX canceled Lucifer, which finished its third season last night. I've been a fan of the show all along. Its oddball premise that the Devil leaves hell for Los Angeles to help punish the guilty was really brought to life and made more fun by a cast led by Tom Ellis and Lauren German.

The show fired on all cylinders in Season 2, with Tricia Helfer coming aboard as the celestial being whose union with God gave birth to the angels. Like I said, oddball fun.

In Season 3 Smallville's Tom Welling joined the cast as Lt. Marcus Pierce, who was revealed to be the immortally cursed Cain, the world's first murderer. Cain sought out German's Chloe Decker, hearing she had made the Devil susceptible to death. In last night's finale, Lucifer and Chloe plot against Pierce after his killing defense attorney Charlotte Richards, the physical body also played by Helfer that was inhabited by the goddess.

The series' main twist for three seasons has been that Lucifer always tells the truth about who and what he is, but among the mortal characters, only his psychiatrist Linda Martin (Rachael Harris) believes him. In the finale, Cain resolves to kill Lucifer. Chloe intervenes, and Lucifer shields her with his wings. Flying Chloe to safety, Lucifer kills Cain, but when Chloe returns to the scene, she can finally recognize Lucifer as the Devil.

I hope the series goes on somehow, but if not the final reveal is a good place to end. It drives home without words that everything Lucifer told Chloe is true. I can't be sure what impact the writers intended the reveal to have on the fourth season, but here's how I like to read it: Lucifer has always wanted Chloe to see him for who he really is. Now she finally can. Maybe she's the only one who can see through his glamour by default, and if she can come to accept him in his demonic visage, they can grow closer than they ever been.

Whatever the future holds, my thanks to the entire Lucifer cast and crew. Crime-solving Devil. It makes sense. Don't overthink it.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

My Mother

© by Gerald So | 8:00 PM

My parents, pediatric surgeons, were the best I could've had. My mother is a diabetic but, as I've been told, when she was pregnant with me her diabetes waned because I produced insulin for her. This excess insulin is said to have caused me to stop breathing for several minutes when I was only hours old, and my father helped save my life.

No one can predict how such incidents affect a body and brain. The left side of my body is less coordinated than the right. Drivers wouldn't want me on the road, and I wouldn't outrun anyone, but I exercise at my own pace, and mentally lead a full life.

Through it all, my mother has been my closest confidant, looking out for me, witnessing my disappointments and my joys having sacrificed her career in the Philippines to raise my brother and me in America, where my father became the breadwinner. As parents they gave me a balance of caution and courage that serves me well.

Before he died in May 2001, my father was able to see my mother get a pacemaker that has extended her life since then. I'm grateful she remains an engaged, capable person and that I'm able to help her and show my love today and every day.

In Its Spell

© by Gerald So | 4:00 a.m.

This past Thursday, three college friends and I attended the Mysterious Bookshop double-signing and conversation between Ace Atkins and Alex Segura. It was the last day of Ace's tour for this year's Spenser continuation, Robert B. Parker's Old Black Magic, and Alex's second tour date for his fourth Pete Fernandez P.I. novel, Blackout.

Among many things I admire about Ace and Alex is their reporters' approach to writing. For reporters there's no time to wait for inspiration. Stories must be filed on deadline or you'll probably be fired, so you must always be in some stage of writing, ready to kick into high gear when it's called for.

Also, someone in the audience asked if Ace or Alex read others' fiction while they're writing. Ace said yes. Because he's always writing, he can't let that keep him from reading.

These answers resonated with me because I'd spent the past two weeks working day and night, getting little sleep in between, on an idea that goes back to a 1995 aborted novel.

I've reworked the partial novel since November 2016, trying to get at the core story I wanted to tell with its characters and present it as a short but complete story. I last thought the story was ready to submit two months ago. Formatting it for its latest market led to a more significant revision than I saw coming.

I knew everything I wanted the story to do; I'd enthusiastically put writing the story before all else; but, the work was still frustrating. The action in my mind's eye wasn't showing as vividly on the page. I could only revise, revise, revise until it did. Saturday morning finally it did, and I submitted.

Specific markets and deadlines motivate me, but I also know I can't simply use another writer's process. If it takes me a month to write as many words as someone else might write in a day, that's the way I work. As I discover how I work best, I can tell you, but you still have to find your best working conditions and tap into them.

When I had my book signed, I told Ace I thought I was adding significantly to my story, only to see a lower word count. "The same thing happens to me sometimes," he said, "and it never gets easier."

This story definitely hasn't been easy, but I can't say it hasn't been fun. It's shown me that having a specific idea to work on, no matter how frustrating the work may be, no matter where the idea leads, is another thing that keeps me going.