“Welcome to Wiloughby” – A Twilight Zone Episode that is Still Relevant and Why I Hate Cell Phones

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I never really appreciated this episode of the original Twilight Zone. It’s about a man who is tired by the pace of modern life (in the late 1950s). His boss is a jerk, he’s overworked and his wife is a rather cold, uncaring wife who cares more about money than her husband. He repeatedly dreams of a town called Willoughby, where he learns that you can move at a “peaceful, restful pace, where a man can slow down to a walk and live a life full measure.”

After a breakdown at work and when his wife leaves him, he finds himself on a train and eventually arrives at a town named Wiloughby, which is exactly like the one he dreamed about. It’s a 19th-century town where time was slower, people were nicer, women wore corsets (not feeling that part) and he feels at peace here. SPOILER: It turns out he died in his sleep and Willoughby is the name of his funeral home.

I have friends who outright refuse to talk on the phone. Only through text or facebook. A family member (gen x) doesn’t call me. He only emails or uses facebook. I have to be set on fire for another family member (gen x) to call and one of my friends returns most voice messages with a text.

Why won’t anyone talk to me? I know it’s not me. I’m super fun to talk to. It’s this new technology that has people completely disconnected. I’m writing right now to people I’ll never meet in real life. Why does the price of technology that saves lives and creates jobs come at the cost of social isolation, emojis and social media interaction only? No wonder we are depressed, socially stunted and lonely.

I almost ran over a man last week because he was looking at his phone and not at oncoming cars. I’m disgusted by all of it.

I’m also reminded of a quote by Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television, who said that he thought his invention would “wipe out misunderstanding.”

I wouldn’t mind living in a place like Willoughby sans the corsets and the dying part. Where cell phones didn’t exist. Where I can sit at a restaurant and look at someone and have a conversation without them checking their phones every 25 seconds.

I’m not an old lady saying this. I’m 33, a millennial, and even my mother, a babyboomer, is addicted to her phone. She’s so addicted that you have to yell at her to get her attention off of it. And no, it’s not a hearing problem.

Am I the only one seeing this? Am I the only millennial who literally hates the cell phone?

A Lesson on Writing from “Supernatural”

 

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Photo by Ramdlon on Pixabay.com

 

If you are a writer AND you are a fan of the show “Supernatural”, you may get a lot out of this post.

If you are a writer and have no idea what “Supernatural” is, you’ll STILL get a lot out of it.

I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers and will edit dialogue when necessary to avoid them.

I love this show, have since day one. And I was just re watching the episode titled “Don’t Call Me Shurley” from Season 11.  It’s actually a great depiction of the struggle that some authors and editors can have with each other.  I also realized that Metatron, the editor, gives some great advice to Chuck, the writer, that all of us writers should actually consider.

Quotes and explanations to follow:

Chuck: There are chapters, it’s a loose structure, but something’s missing. I’m stuck.

This is Chuck, the author, referring to his autobiography. He wants Metatron to edit it.

Chuck: Every writer needs a good editor.

This is very true. So few of us have the skills to be both.

Metatron: Details are what make a story great.  This is lacking in some details. Like all of them.

Even the simplest of writing styles need details.  And show, don’t tell. There’s a big difference between “the homeless man cried” and “He cried, wiping his tears on his torn and dirty coat that he found just yesterday in a dumpster.”

Later on after finishing reading the memoir:

Metatron: I tell ya there’s some great bones in there. I’m thinking what may be missing is less about detail and more about balance. You’re giving the wrong stuff too much real estate.

Metatron advises Chuck to consider editing out unnecessary parts of his life and adding more about things readers would really care to read.  A power struggle ensues. Sound familiar to anyone who’s worked with an editor or client?

Metatron: Every great hero is defined by his or her villain.

There needs to be a villain in every story. I remember first learning about writing and was told of three hero and villain archetypes: Man vs Man, Man vs God or nature, and Man vs Self.  These still hold true in every fictional story I have written.

Metatron: There are two types of memoir. One is honest, the other not so much. Truth and fairy tale. Now do you want to write “Life” by Keith Richards? Or do you want to write “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by Brian Wilson?

Remember this quote if you want to write a memoir.  It can be true to the core or truth mixed with fiction. Your call.

I think this next quote is perhaps the best advice to any writer.

Metatron: Hold up a mirror. Show us who you really are. Warts and all. Write for an audience of one – you.

Sometimes we writers worry so much about how our writing will be received. Will anyone like it? Will anyone read it? Write for one. Write for yourself. Let the pieces fall where they may. Besides, there’s always an editor close by to kick your ass in the right direction like Metatron.

I included a link to the performance by Rob Benedict, who plays Chuck, in this episode. I include it not for writing reasons.  But it’s such a great performance that I think it deserved some real estate in this post.

 

 

 

 

 

Negan on “The Walking Dead” is one scary mofo

I’m not gonna lie. I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He was the perfect pick for the father of the two monster-hunting brothers on “Supernatural.” He really didn’t get much screen time on that show but his presence was a combination of a militant and yet loving father.

So when I heard he was going to be on “The Walking Dead”, I jumped for joy….literally.

The few minutes at the end of the season finale of”The Walking Dead” struck fear into every character, including Rick. And nothing scares Rick. Remember when the Termites were going to drain him dry over a tub? Even then he showed no fear, only a man formulating a plan.

Negan taunted every member of the group, particularly threatening to put Maggie out of her misery.  Which sent Glenn into a tailspin.

And the bat wrapped with barbed wire that he called Lucille? You have to be one messed up guy to do that.

So the big question is: Who did he kill or at least beat bloody?

I haven’t read the comics. I’ve only heard tidbits about Negan’s character and how frightening he is.  *spoiler* He killed Glenn in the comics but the show has veered very far from the comics so I doubt it as Glenn.  But I do think he chose a man to beat because his last words were “Take it like a champ.”  I don’t think he would say that to a woman.

But alas, all we can do is speculate until October.

Oh, and kudos to the editing team to throw off the audience about the sequence of who was getting beat so we can’t really tell.

The Walking Dead Episode “The Next World”

Warning Spoilers!

What started out at a slightly mediocre episode of “The Walking Dead” certainly turned itself around quickly. Rick and Michonne finally hook up. And then they became Richone, which is kinda catchy. I and many fans of the show knew it was coming. It was just a matter of time.

I think Paul Monroe will make an interesting addition to the Alexandria community. My guess is he’s escaped from Negan’s camp and he wants to warn (naked) Rick and Michonne.  I’m not a reader of the “The Walking Dead” comics so I can only make guesses.

There was a very touching moment in the woods between Michonne and Deanna’s remaining son when they discover Deanna as a walker.  Did you notice how delicately Deanna’s son killed her walker self?  There was definite love there.  It reminded me of how gently Michonne put Hershel down. Even Carl couldn’t put her down because of how much he respected her in life.

Much of the excitement of the episode came when Paul Monroe comes upon Rick and Daryl trying to take a truck home.  But there is an obvious plot problem that the writers hoped you would miss.

Rick and Daryl would never leave behind the car they came in and both be in the truck on the way back to Alexandria.  But if they hadn’t, the chase scene wouldn’t have gone down like it did.

Also, I can’t figure out how Paul stole the keys from Rick. They were nowhere near each other.  So if anyone can fill me in on that, I’d appreciate it.

Are “Z Nation” writers copying “The Walking Dead”?

Even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve probably at least heard of AMC’s”The Walking Dead” by now. The drama/horror series is in its sixth  season. According to forbes.com, the season 5 premiere became the most watched cable show in history.  The series follows a small group of survivors in their travels through a zombie-infested world.

The show is popular for a myriad of reasons but the most important reason is the writing.

“The Walking Dead” writers know how to surprise viewers with storylines that most viewers can’t see coming.

Spoilers if you haven’t watched every episode yet*

Characters like Carol emerge from their scared cocoons to become heroes to the group

Rick struggles with his morality for the first few seasons, debating courses of action with his best friend Shane.

As time passes, you see Rick become even more like Shane, making quick, sometimes brutal, decisions to ensure his and his group’s survival.

With the success of a show like “The Walking Dead”, imitators will follow.

One such successful imitator is Syfy’s “Z Nation.”  “Z nation” is a comedy/drama that also takes place in a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland.  It is currently in its second season.

If you watch both shows, you start to notice some striking similarities.

Similar Circumstances:

Both shows follow a small group of survivors.  Both groups are made up of people that come from diverse backgrounds and different races.  Both groups are on a mission.

In “Z Nation”, the group’s mission is to transport a former prisoner, who may hold the cure to the zombie virus in his veins, to a CDC lab in California. In “The Walking Dead”, the mission is more about survival and holding on to the hope that some form of civilization can come back.

There is a brief storyline in “The Walking Dead” about a possible cure.  A man claiming to be a scientist named Eugene says that he has the knowledge needed to create a cure. He convinces a small group to transport him to DC where he says there are resources to synthesize the cure.

But as they get closer to DC, Eugene loses his nerve and fesses up to his lie. He isn’t a scientist and there is no cure.

Similar Characters:

“Z Nation” has a strong black leader named Warren who experienced significant loss due to the events of the zombie apocalypse. She lost both her husband and later her lover.

“The Walking Dead” has a strong black leader named Michonne.  She lost her son and her boyfriend.  Her boyfriend killed their son in order to protect him from the new world.  Michonne, in turn, used her boyfriend’s zombie body as a shield from other zombies.

“Z Nation” has a likable old man named Doc. He’s a hippy who provides comedic relief and is somewhat of a father figure to 10k, a young man who is very skilled with a rifle.

“The Walking Dead” had 2 likable old men named Dale and Hershel. Dale was a father figure to several characters and Hershel was the father of 2 daughters, both of whom outlive him. He is also a voice of reason for Rick, the show’s main character.

Similarities in Dialogue:

Toward the end of the first episode of season one of “Walking Dead” entitled “Days Gone By”, Rick kneeled next to the first walker he encountered at the beginning of the episode. He whispers “I’m sorry this happened to you”  and shoots her to put her out of her misery.

At the end of the last episode of season 1 of “Z Nation” entitled “Doctor of the Dead”, Murphy, the former prisoner who may have the cure,  stares down empathetically at the world’s first infected person and says “I’m sorry. I’m sorry about all of it” and stabs him in the head.

In “Z Nation” in the episode entitled “Fracking Zombies, 10k experiences frustration and takes it out on a zombie and says “Shut up.”

In “The Walking Dead” in the episode entitled “Bloodletting”, Daryl takes out a walker using his crossbow, also telling it to shut up.

The Differences:

Audiences who watch both shows will also notice stark differences. The two shows are on different networks and have different writers and producers. One show refers to the dead as zombies while the other never uses that word.

“Z Nation” has more comedic relief and is lighter on character development. “The Walking Dead” has brief few and far between moments of comedic relief and many of the characters have experienced major changes in personality, philosophy and perspective.  But “Z Nation” may also take that route in time. It hasn’t been on nearly half as long as “The Walking Dead”.

Whether or not you favor one over the other, they are both enjoyable for different reasons. “Z Nation” doesn’t take itself too seriously and offers some lighthearted dialogue and far-fetched story lines.  “The Walking Dead” is scary, dramatic, character driven, and has longevity on its side.

So what do you think? Is imitation of “The Walking Dead”a high form of flattery?  Or is “Z Nation” a cheap knockoff of a hugely popular show?

Moose and Squirrel Say Always Keep Fighting

I’ve loved the show “Supernatural” from the very first episode.  And now I have even more reason to love this long running series. Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam Winchester, lost a friend recently to suicide.  He recently opened up about his own battle with depression.  The combination of these two things, as well as being inspired to do charity like some of his costars had been doing, led him to begin an awareness campaign called “Always Keep Fighting”.  Sales of the shirts benefit To Write Love On Her Arms, which supports people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.  He created a shirt with his likeness that stated the slogan “Always Keep Fighting”.  And they are very powerful words.

If you or someone you know has suffered from mental illness, you know that it is a daily fight to live. Happiness can be very elusive.  And the daily activities of living such as bathing, dressing, feeding the dog or the kids, and going to work can feel like a mountain that must be climbed.

After Jared’s first campaign ended, he embarked on a new campaign. This time, his costar Jensen Ackles joined it.  They used the popularity of the show, and nicknames of their characters, to create a new shirt that says “Moose and Squirrel say always keep fighting.”  This shirt features both of their likenesses but merged into one person. It’s a great idea and brings awareness to a great cause.

Reading the comments by fans on Facebook, you see just how much these men are respected for their work on their series but also for taking up this campaign.

I just bought two t-shirts myself.  I hope they will become a talking point to raise awareness and to help others open up about their own struggles with depression.

You can buy a shirt while the campaign lasts at represent.com/jaredjensen.