The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, July 14, 2006

A grab-bag...

I’ll be at the Hurston-Wright novel writing workshop in D.C. for the next week—it’ll be a little difficult to get to my blog, but I’ll try.  Just wanted you to know…
Meanwhile, a grab-bag of thoughts that have been rolling around in my mind.
   Pavel Tsatsouline’s “Enter the Kettlebell” is excellent, containing another of those super-brief routines that are so much fun.  A total investment of 34 minutes a week for basic strength and endurance training…and more.  This is extremely well thought out work, guys, and deserving of a look.
Scott Sonnon’s Flow Fit 2 video is for madmen.  Where the first one provided basic fitness in about 45 minutes a week (with some important health and meditative components included), this one is for athletes.  Anyone who can perform even the lowest level of FF2 for 15 minutes is a Junior Ninja, and I’m not kidding.  The miracle?  It’s incremental, and internal.  This isn’t just a measure of your genetic potential—this is about how tightly and gently you can concentrate, which makes a high level of physical performance available to just about anyone.  Unreal.
Had a pitch meeting yesterday at MTV films. It is possible that it was our best ever.  A major major musician/actor was in the room with us, interested in producing/acting in the project, and everything went terrific.  That doesn’t mean we have the job, of course—there are many factors involved in such decisions.  But right now?  Promising.
SAMBO ALERT.  Well, not really.  I finally read a review of “Miami Vice” and…oh my God…the Jamie Foxx character actually gets laid!  Be still my beating heart…we’ll see. 
Saw the trailer for “Rocky Balboa” (it’s available online) and I have to admit it looks great.  They’re not ignoring Rocky’s age…in fact, that is a central point in the whole thing. Seems that someone did a computer fight of Balboa against the current champ, saying that Rocky would have won.  This get’s the Italian Stallion thinking of doing a little fighting…nothing big, just some local stuff…which of course leads to bigger things.  I love the Rocky movies, even the bad ones (2, 4, 5) because they capture the ecstasy of extreme physical effort more purely than any other films I’ve ever seen.  But they also trade on racial tension, as I’m sure that Stallone is aware.  The Rocky movies work when they pit the White American against the Other.  Apollo Creed (black), Clubber Lang (black and brutal), Drago (Russian).  The one time they pitted Rocky against a home-grown, corn-fed white boy, the movie BOMBED.  Now he’s back to beating up  Negroes, and I’m  sure it will make 200 million dollars.  Hell, I’ll be there.
Seen the Spike TV “Blade”?  Starring a rapper, the producer, David Goyer, completed what he began with Blade—taking one of the only iconic Black superheroes, stripping him of internal motivation (he lives for nothing other than killing vampires…and rescuing white people in the process), completely emasculating him (he has to be the most sexless vampire in the history of film.  Even the hideous Nosferatu got more action than Blade!  In the films, Goyer promised Wesley Snipes that Blade would have a relationship in the 3rd film.  Got him to sign the contract, and then reneged on the deal.  If you wonder why Blade III is incoherent, it’s because Goyer wanted to kill Blade off and bring in some hot, sexy white vampire hunters…and Snipes refused to film the scenes, God bless him. Expect Wesley’s career to suffer, as did Avery Brooks’ career when he refused to be a Sacrificial Negro on the last episode of D.S. 9.

Well, Goyer doesn’t have to worry about that now. By casting a Rapper instead of a trained actor as Blade, they now have a puppet they can manipulate any way they want.  All the white vampires will be sexy and internally motivated, and Blade will be a symbol, not a human being.  He will sweep in when the plot demands, and in a monotone voice spout second-rate quips and kick butt.  But he will have no love, no drives of his own, will be nothing except a torpedo Goyer can motor down his derivative plots.  Disgusting.

We had a panel at Westercon on Octavia Butler.  I’m getting tired of trying to explain to people who don’t want to hear.  It HURTS them to hear.  But they really believe this crap about the SF field being progressive and open racially.  And they say: “where are the black fans?  Where are the black writers?”  As if black fans and writers are motivated by drives other than the ones they themselves feel.  And insist to me that aliens represent non-whites in SF, so why aren’t black people flocking?  This is so sad.  They don’t realize that the truth is right under their fingers, lurking right in the comment they just made.  To put it another way: “white people consider non-whites to be aliens.” There it is.  Put our faces on books or comic books, and the sales (in general) plummet.  Critical editors and writers in the field, of vast influence, considered blacks second-class human beings, of inferior intellect.  I won’t name names, but they influenced an entire generation of readers and writers.  And the readers themselves are vulnerable to the exact same racism as any other human beings, while considering themselves above it.  Meaning that if black people don’t enter a field where they are barely represented (what’s the percentage of LEAD black characters?  1% ?  Less?) then there must be something wrong with them…while it is normal for whites to avoid books that don’t depict them. I think that people are largely incapable of learning anything that would paint a less-than-flattering picture of themselves. 
Life is good.  My daughter Nicki is doing great in school, Jason is acting like a brat in daycare (we may have to find a new one for him) and Tananarive and I are blazing on our book projects.  My weight is 178, solid, and since I cut one workout day out of my week, I’m feeling better and stronger and more energetic. 
Looking forward to teaching at Hurston-Wright.  I’ll have them write a story every day, and then read them in class to workshop ‘em HARD.  That’s the best way I know of transferring skills at Mach speed.  Anyway…I’ll try to blog in the next few days, but if I can’t—see you in a week!

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