The Long and Short of It

I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was first on television. It was the first time I’d watched a show that combined the episodic weekly tale with a long-form, season long story arc. Whether or not you enjoy fantasy and teenagers killing things, the inclusion of a “big bad” (Buffy slang for the seasons main villain) made Buffy a tremendous innovator in TV.

It was an innovation that impressed and continues to impress me. The ability of the writers to maintain the critical pacing of the weeks mystery, while at the same time building a seasonal arc that culminates at the right point is a difficult writing feat. Most stories require that a character to fulfill a certain role to advance the story. But with multiple stories playing out at the same time the characters actions must serve several different purposes at once. Accomplishing these goals at all, let alone well, is something I aspire to. And while I have experimented with this type of writing before in my Tales from the City of Destiny, I have never tried to do a true over-arcing long form story across multiple novels. That is until now.

Starting last December, I have gone headlong into plotting and writing a new five book crime series. I’ll be excited when I can finally share more details about the series. But until then, I’m asking for inspiration to help keep my creative juices flowing. What TV shows do you love that combine short and long form elements and crime or action?

Parent Traps

A recent trip to the grocery store reminded me that Valentine’s Day is upon us.  As I cruised down a particularly pink and red aisle I saw wall to wall sets of movie themed Valentines for kids.  Which made me realize that as my spawn starts to become an actual kid certain things are barreling down on me.  Valentines.  Birthday parties.  Teacher gifts.  And all of them cause me to think – what the hell?

When did teacher gifts become a thing?  I don’t remember my mom having to essentially tip any of my teachers.  Teaching is an arrangement in which someone gets paid to show up and tell things to small people.  It was a nice arrangement with very clear cut guidelines – show up, learn/teach, go home.  Now all of my friends with older kids are dithering about teacher gifts around Christmas.  I recognize that teachers aren’t paid enough, but crappy set of lotion at Christmas is not going to make up for that.

And suddenly if you have a birthday party for your kid there have to gift bags for the children who attend. Birthdays are the day when everyone shows up and gives the person celebrating a gift.  Why are we now bribing people to attend?  If I have to bribe you to show up then you are not my friend.  I suppose the alternative theory is that the small children cannot handle the sight of someone else receiving gifts.  But… Isn’t that the entire point of parenting – teaching your kids to manage their own emotions?  So wouldn’t gift bags just be me supporting your poor parenting?

Valentine’s  Day has now become a flashpoint for grade school bullying.  Better give a Valentine to everyone or you’re a bully.  Sounds lovely.  You know what that means in reality? It means that I have to buy Valentines.  A kid can make four or five Valentines, but no grade schooler is going to hand-craft an entire classrooms worth of Valentines.  So now I’m stuck supporting the Hallmark industry?  Swell.

Can someone figure a way out of this for me?  Can I just carbon freeze my kid at three?  Or can I start a social revolution for those of us who are anti-social?  Somebody help!

Originally posted on The Stiletto Gang 02.08.17