Monday, July 15, 2013

As Good As Dead

They—whoever they are—say death comes in threes. If that’s true, our pal the Grimm Reaper had put in some overtime this weekend and worked off two thirds of his workload as he’d hit the two-in-one jackpot with a single swing of his scythe.

The first one cut down at the prime of his youth and career was Glee’s rock and founding member, Cory Monteith. Cory has had a problem with alcohol and drug addiction since he was twelve, but for some reason he radiated such innocence and the boy-next-door look, with dimpled cheeks that when mixed with his smoldering gaze made him the epitome of sexiness. Yes, yes, I know you’re thinking that these young starts have it coming because of the lifestyle they lead, and I agree. You’re absolutely right. The sad part is that Cory had tried to turn his life around and almost succeeded. He finished his rehab program in April and did great for a while, well at least until Saturday when his body was found in a Vancouver hotel room. So, while the sequence of these events is pretty normal and has repeated itself throughout history with Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix and so on, what I found really eerie about Cory’s death is his foreseeing of the future. Not too long ago, he and some of the Glee cast were interviewed on the Inside the Actors Studio show and when asked, What do you think God will tell you when you get to the gates of Heaven?, Cory replied: “Sorry I haven’t been around; there’s good explanation.”
I hope Cory got the explanation and that it was indeed good.

The second death affects more people than just those who rout for a young-and-coming star. It is the death of fairness, quality, and really, the death of a good story.

A great reveal has been made over the weekend in the world of publishing; one that has left the faces of publishers as scarlet as the infamous letter. Let’s start from the beginning. J. K. Rowling’s manuscript of Harry Potter had been rejected countless times. Then after more than six years, Rowling found an agent who would represent it; however, twelve publishing houses decided to pass on the story. Finally, it was picked up, but only under the condition that Joanne went under the ambiguity of her initials because female authors couldn’t sell a large quantity of books. WTF? Hello! Red flag right there! After Rowling had made a name for herself, she published Casual Vacancy, which soared to the top of the reading charts even before it hit the bookstores. For whatever reason, Rowling decided to publish her next novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, under the name Robert Galbraith. Rejection letters poured in like an avalanche. Publishers and agents said the story was too vague; they’d read too many books like that already; the market for such a story was too overcrowded; it’s salability wouldn’t be viable. So Rowling finally decided to go back to the same editor and publishing house that had put out Harry Potter, and The Cuckoo’s Calling sold a whopping 449 copies. But wait, it gets better. Some reporter did a little digging and dot connecting and found out that Rowling is Robert Galbraith. Of course, once the news leaked, The Cuckoo’s Calling flew up to number one in book sales overnight, and agents and publishers began apologizing and praising Rowling’s new novel.

This just proves how much bullshit goes on in the world of big publishing houses. So when you go online and you see big publishing houses say they strive to put out great stories or stories that have literary quality or books that are great reads, THEY LIE. What they publish are names. Big names, to be more accurate. Names that will bring income even though their next story is just eeeh. I completely understand that publishing is a business and in order to stay afloat and compete with the ever growing platform of indie publishers and self-published authors these big houses have a lot of work to do. But shouldn’t that mean that giving new voices a chance is more important than ever? Safety should be the alarm companies’ motto, not the publishers’. Live a little, believe in a good story by an unknown author, risk it, and you will be rewarded. I think the readers are intelligent enough to smell the stench of a pile of crap even when it is masked with the fragrance of Stephen King and the likes. Don’t bury a good story just because the name of the author is yet an unknown.

So, that’s two deaths of the fabled three. But then again, as they say, three’s a crowd. Let’s hope these two deaths are enough for the week. Make it a great one!

Friday, July 12, 2013

I'm a Grainiac and so Are You

I watched one of my favorite movies, The Signs, last night, and it got me thinking about just that—signs. I love the part where Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix are sitting on the couch in the middle of the night in front of the TV that shows images of extraterrestrial lights in the sky, and Gibson gives his highly philosophical theory on the two kinds of people. Either you belong to group one, to those who see a sign and interpret it as a miracle, as evidence that there is someone out there watching out for them, and that fills them with hope. Or you belong to group two, to those who see a sign and interpret it as luck, a chance that is fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down they know that whatever decision they choose to make, they are on their own. So this theory really begs the question: Are they signs or are they just coincidences? Do we make too much of not enough and connect the dots in a way that suits us, creating elaborate theories from circumstantial evidence?
Sometimes I think we do, especially people like authors and artists, whose job is to enter the realm of imagination and create realities from nothingness. And it is in these times when something freaky happens, as if trying to convince me otherwise. Like this morning when I read my wonderful author-friend, Nana Prah’s blog...and guess what! She wrote about coincidences. Freaky, right? Now, is that a coincidence or a sign? And if it’s a sign, what is it signaling?

So I thought a little deeper and wondered to which group of people I would belong. And I’ve figured that I need a third group. I belong to the group of people who don’t think that there is someone watching out for them. I belong to the group of people who know that they are no more than a grain of sand in a giant hourglass called the Universe. Does that mean, therefore, that they are unimportant? To the contrary! Every grain counts. Without it, the hourglass would be useless. Without it, its purpose would be meaningless. Just how can you accurately measure time if you disregard even one grain of sand? And so every grain has its particular role, its path, its destination. And should it stray from its purpose…well, there’s really nowhere to go being in an hourglass and all, but its chances aren’t fifty-fifty, good or bad. They just are the way they are meant to be because the hourglass is shaped in such a way that if you look at it from above or below, you’ll find that the destination of the grain of sand is always the same, no matter how it gets there. So it doesn’t matter whether you believe what you see or whether you see what you believe. What matters is that you are here and that you are a part of something spectacular--something that would be useless and imperfect without you.