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🙏🏻 The Friday High Five
A New Poll, eBook Overload, and Quitting While You're Ahead
Every Friday I share 5 things that brought me joy this week. Also, high fives are inherently cool, and I think we can all agree Friday is the bestest day. Hence the Friday High Five. 🙏🏻
Quick programming note: Twas a very busy week at Casa de Pierce, to the extent that I ever-so-briefly considered not sending this week’s high five at all. I’m also wrapping up the finishing touches on a long article about Baylan Skoll—more on that in a sec—which is sure to be a pièce de résistance on All the Fanfare.1
So this week’s edition will be of the short but sweet variety. Bon appétit.
5 Things I Enjoyed This Week:
A New Poll
Amazon Prime Day—Whee!
Only Murders in the Building
A New Poll
I’m constantly thinking of new things to try here. That’s fun for me, but I also don’t want to waste time on stuff nobody wants to see. So if you’d be so kind, I’d love your input on this simple poll.
And since I have you here…
Since I’m skimping elsewhere, here’s a decent-sized excerpt of the article, which I will probably publish Monday.
Funny enough, this doesn’t mention Baylan at all! When it comes to writing, I’m all about that foreplay.
Gray characters are all about ambiguity.
Stories are at their best when you don't know how a character is going to respond. And, in fact, it's only in moments of high drama that character is truly revealed. This is why Kylo Ren turning on Snoke is such a delightful twist: Not only is it a departure from The Way Things Are Done (vis-à-vis Dark Lords and throne rooms and foolish Jedi who don't realize how screwed they are), but it's also a shining example of character affecting plot. At that moment—and, sadly, pretty much only that moment—Kylo is a gray character. His motivations and his actions are both unknowable and not obviously good or bad. He could be looking to seize Snoke's throne for himself. He could be trying to save Rey. He could just be tired of looking at Snoke's ridiculous gold pajamas.
In that moment, Kylo is Schrödinger's cat made manifest. Good and bad are both in play. And that is exciting.
Such ambiguity has long been missing from Star Wars. Recent additions to the Disney+ line-up have steered in this direction because it's always fashionable to pretend at being an anti-hero. But in practice, it was mostly just a ruse.
The Mandalorian stars a bounty hunter who will put marks on ice if they don't behave, and is himself as stone-cold as they come, but is quickly revealed to nurse a bleeding heart inside his Beskar suit.
The Book of Boba Fett stars—stop me if you've heard this one—a bounty hunter. Yes, again. But this is like, the original bounty hunter. No, no, no—he didn't die. Not even the mighty Sarlacc could kill him! Anyway, Boba is a little older, a lot fatter, and mostly just wants to claim Jabba the Hutt's vacated throne so he can be honorable and shit. Why? I don't know—stop asking dumb questions. Did I mention he rides a Rancor?
Andor comes the closest to the mark, in large part because even the "good guys" are not entirely good. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) kills people in cold blood. Luthen Rael (an incredible Stellan Skarsgård) is a bad guy for good reasons. Does the end justify their means? It's left for the viewer to decide. However, even at their worst, their actions are still bent toward making the galaxy a better place, which is a good-guy goal. Hence, not even Andor—breathtaking, surprising, beautiful Andor—can totally check the 'gray character' box.
Which brings us, finally, to Baylan Skoll.2
Talk about a cliffhanger! Man, what a dick move.
Amazon Prime Day—Whee!
Everything I needed to say, I said in this note:
I love the idea of journaling, and I really love buying new journals, but I often find it hard to make myself sit down and actually journal. A couple of years ago, I came upon something called Bullet Journaling, which is a simplified and shorter way of journaling. Per the name, you use bullet points rather than long, tortured paragraphs about your inner angst. It’s super helpful for tracking tasks and responsibilities, of which I have no end these days.
There’s a book about it—which I own, in eBook, which should not be a surprise if you read the last section—and also a really helpful YouTube channel. The beauty of the system is that you can shape it to work best for you. Some people go way overboard with artistic designs and such. I’m using mine more for tracking to-dos on a daily basis, planning for the week ahead, and keeping a list of someday projects, of which I have way too many.3
Only Murders in the Building
Season 3 is weird, y’all. Case in point: There’s a prolonged scene in which Charles (Steve Martin) has an episode while on stage and reappears in an entirely white room, where he cavorts and generally acts like he’s ingested magic mushrooms. The idea is that he sorta blacks out during the performance because it’s too much, or too big. It’s about anxiety, basically. Which is fine. Artistic license, and all that.
But when they repeated the scene a second time, giving us nothing new, I started questioning if they were running out of good ideas.
Oh, and Mabel (Selena Gomez) has a disturbing and trippy birth sequence. And she imagines herself talking to a dead guy. Here’s maybe the best way to explain season 3: Oliver (Martin Short) is the sane one.
The season finished the way every other season has, with everything tied up neatly and then someone new dying in the aftermath. I still enjoyed season 3, but I also found myself actively questioning how much longer they can keep this up, and how much longer I can care, and which will give out first.
I said this was going to be a short edition of the High 5, and then I went and made it just as long as usual. You’re welcome. Have a great weekend!
I only speak English but dropped some Spanish and French into that intro because I like to pretend otherwise.
If my writing is known for one thing, it's for random penis anecdotes. If it's known for two things, it's for frequent Star Wars references. If it's known for three things, it's for long introductions that gradually tee-up the actual article. This footnote serves as a meta example of this phenomenon.
A partial list of ‘someday projects’, off the top of my head:
finish Clockwork Scoundrels 3 (fiction)
finish Project SLOTWR (fiction)
salvage a novella from a steampunk novel I co-wrote with a friend and abandoned in the revision stage (fiction)
get a RPG comic strip off the ground (fiction)
finish a fantasy series I serialized three-quarters of (fiction)
finish the Point Break book (non-fiction)
write a Timothy Olyphant book (non-fiction)
write a Deadwood book (non-fiction)
There’s probably a Star Wars book and a Firefly book, too, but I haven’t really thought about it too much.
Starting has never been my problem. Finishing? That’s a different story.