Jet Li's Punching Bag

I'd like to blame pregnancy for a number of changes: gradually becoming Ming vase rotund being one of those things that takes some time getting used to. Since about 30 weeks I feel like a somewhat short-winded elephant carrying one and a half people, their provisions and the tinier one's most valuable possession - a giant water tank - up K2. Being puffed by day and near comatose by evening, a strange combination of insomnia and nightmares make it hard to come to rest at night - strange scenarios keep running through my head, such as binge drinking alcohol - oblivious to the fact that I'm preggers.

"Aren't you pregnant!?" my dream dialogue partner asks while pointing at my unmistakable baby bump showing from beneath a cropped shirt. "Oh s*** I just had 6 beers!" I yell out. So, not a beer gut after all!

Last week in my dream I was neglecting to feed future baby and I didn't even notice until it looked all thin, gray and sickly. I then forgot to take it home with me from the hospital. And once again I woke, drenched. It sure is not the kind of stuff that seems most likely to happen to me or newborn babies in general, yet still my mind seems occupied with these things.

There is day trauma as well. Did I mention my circus variety of pains? Lung pain, back pain, upper and lower, middle and front. Yes, there is a front back pain. Sciatic butt pain in combination with sore knees. Burning and itching patches of skin. Walking lopsided. I'm sure it's all a joyride against giving birth, but pregnancy sure turns out to be a nice prequel to the main event.

Something I'll never forget was baby's first movement during week 20, a very gentle trembling against my lower abdomen that first interaction, and the amazing sensation of being in touch with this tiny something. Before that, pregnancy felt like an abstract concept only recorded through pictures. It was highly romantic, this quiet moment we shared in the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Unfortunately these days even baby's movements have become something I don't particularly look forward to. It's like a merciless Jet Li character has taken over my body and my uterus serves as his punching bag. Rib cage pain from being violently drop kicked, having to pee with minimal or no warning from being punched in the bladder. I never thought I'd experience that kind of thing before my future days of senile incontinence.

Luckily the spatial requirements for making sweeping moves are beginning to run thin with each passing week, so baby's newer thing is the slowmo Matrix bullet move. From the outside my belly looks like a snake's digesting a rabbit. No, this doesn't feel natural at all. It is utterly weeeeiiirrrd.

Despite all that I can't ever be mad at baby, for not being kicked would be worrisome and being afraid for its health and progression so much worse than enduring all the aches and pains of the world. A strange masochism in itself this motherhood thing I'm growing into. But hey, I still need to take it out on someone. I'm not that good at turning the other cheek. World, prepare for postnatal retaliation - unless I'm not too tired after giving birth and all that...


Weekend Writing Warriors: The House Guest

Hey everyone, and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors and my NaNo story Aned! Last time - a little long while ago, Eloise entered a grove searching for the white shepherd dog that seems to be following her everywhere she goes. I'll move forward this week, to where Eloise finds the mysterious dog hiding in the backyard, in her own dog's hut...

Eloise approached Aethelia's dog house, where the grumbling noise grew into a clarion growl.
"So what is the deal with you anyways, dog?"
She slowly knelt down by the hut, facing away from the entrance, with her heart hammering against her chest.
"It's not very polite to growl at the host, but I guess you must have your reasons to distrust humans."
She reached for Aethelia's red rubber ball and tossed it from one hand into the other. Moments went by. The growling turned into a soft gurgling, before it stopped. Startled, she felt something touching her arm; in the corner of her eye, the dog's nose quickly withdrew from her elbow, back into the darkness of the hut.

Aned - character drawing


True Detective reviewed

There are a couple of shows on TV that quickly gain a large following a few episodes in their first season, thus making it hard to keep an open mind starting to watch them with a little delay - being flooded with first impressions. Although I don't read stuff about anything beforehand, I can never completely avoid those flashy headlines. A review for each new episode on blogs seems excessive, but it's not unusual.

It shows that a series does something right in terms of presentation during the first crucial episodes, being the cool new thing to talk about. I'm not saying it's not OK to be enthusiastic. But it immediately raises more than a few expectations in regards to where a show is heading (and oftentimes before it has found its pace).

The flavor of these last few months appeared to have been HBO's True Detective. It's an anthology crime series, mysterious, with nods to film noir and an eery, almost romantic gloom hanging overhead. I might even go as far as say that I got a little depressed watching it, realizing that there is little happiness to be found for any of the characters, just a nihilistic sense of loss, guilt and regret moving them forward. The title True Detective stems from a factional crime magazine by the same name. Award-winning writer Nic Pizzolatto wrote each of the episodes, and in many ways the concept for the show builds on his 2010 mystery novel Galveston.

It didn't take long for it to grab me. There was something about Harrelson's narration that left me wanting more. A few episodes in I also noticed what I didn't like, namely that it has become somewhat of a stylistic means of expression to have writers argue out what feels like personal beefs over certain topics, to utilize characters as messengers of outrageous dialogue. OK, this is mainly an HBO thing. After nudity and violence, it is about questioning other forms of expression and overcome boundaries, things you weren't allowed to say on TV a mere ten years ago.

"Safe to say that nobody in here is going to split the atom, Marty"

People enjoy a writer's defiance. Strangely enough it makes an audience feel empowered. But since it has become a trademark of progressive shows to be anti-establishment, being known for scandalous dialogue can get old. Adding that to the fact that within the last few years it has risen to be a standard to depict main characters moving within the dark grey areas of morality makes it even harder to find a truly new angle. We're forced to empathize with not-all-good people. And even if we find someone who seems OK at first, it turns out the good people have a skewed moral compass as well, and maybe even worse so than those who promote their flaws more loudly.

Since it's such a commonplace, it takes away from some of True Detective's visionary sense. Yes, there is novelty to the show, in cinematic style, production and writing. The show is very ambitious. But aside from presentation and directing toppings as for instance demonstrated in the awesome 6-minute single-take tracking shot during episode 4, the plot is pretty run-of-the-mill. I see an end to this trend of finding new ways to tell old stories, and soon. After a lot of antiheroic types have braced the TV landscape, it's time for the opposite; classic narratives to tell new and exciting stories. As long as stories feel stale, there is no further value in neat packaging (except to ruffle people's expectations).

It would be a refreshing change of pace to empathize with protagonists who believe in something beyond their own rationalization. Like, for example, to create suspense, a story needs a certain element of impulse, even plausible screw up on the part of the characters to create misconceptions and prejudice on the part of the audience, especially in the crime genre. It's true to genre to deflect the audience while they're trying to connect the dots. At least if the plan is to create that one surprise moment at the end that no one suspected, but, in hindsight, wasn't far-fetched at all - the ideal goal of any story, if you ask me.

The mystery part turned out to be a disappointment. It seems True Detective stumbled over its own sense of mystique. The character arcs, well, I see what they were heading for. It ended about halfway between where it started and where it wanted to be. For the next season, there are other quests to be undertaken by an all new team. I think I'll miss Harrelson and McConaughey the most.