From the Editors' Desk
We see the American beauty in dead people.Love,
Okay, so fine, we're still a little stuck on the Oscars. But for those who didn't get around to seeing such films as American Beauty, The Sixth Sense, Boys Don't Cry and Cider House Rules (among others), it's worth exploring why 1999 was one of the truly best years for mainstream American film. Here it is in one word: story. Here it is in another: plot. You can get the greatest actors ever to walk the earth, and if you put them in a movie -- or play or TV show -- with a poorly constructed plot, you have a big waste of money, time and creative energy.
Which makes writers the most powerful people (if some of the most underpaid) in the media. Sure, there are your Dick Wolfs who make it happen, but behind him is a fantastic staff of writers -- headed up by an Executive Producer who is also, through no coincidence, also a great writer: Rene Balcer. (Check out our news for the latest on Mr. Balcer.) The people who really made the movies shine -- with no disrespect to Kevin Spacey or Hillary Swank, and their peers -- were the writers who made the stories come alive. Some of the best stories are the hardest to encapsulate. Is American Beauty just about a man's mid-life crisis? Is The Sixth Sense just about a boy who sees dead people? Is Cider House Rules just about an orphan making his way in the world? Is Boys Don't Cry just about a girl who likes to pretend she's a boy? No. Those are the skeletons on which the flesh, muscle and ligaments are later hung. And those who (as Beauty's slogan asks us to do) look closer realize that American Beauty is also about the inner lives of the "regular" people around us, and Sixth Sense is about a boy coming to grips with a father figure who is lost to him forever (as Cider House is, in a way), and Boys Don't Cry is about challenging how we define sexuality.
When we read through the stories that are sent to us each month, we're always hoping to find something that hits on more than one level. We understand that it isn't always possible -- a cigar can be just a cigar and smoke just fine. We also understand that fanfic writers (and readers) aren't maybe looking for the same kind of tiered thrill found in great movies, or great literature, or great television. But -- why shouldn't they? The stories we have enjoyed the most over the years aren't just giving us the skeleton of "what happened." They allude to, or subtly spell out, the real story underneath what happened. There are enough Jack loses Claire stories (and Jack cries about losing Claire stories) to wallpaper the D.A.'s office. But there are far fewer who give us how this changes the man who mourns, or what this all really means. There are plenty of Mike's a kind guy under his rough exterior stories -- but fewer that truly look closer. It doesn't mean writers should be intimidated when sending in their stories. It only means that they should take a second look at their stories -- what is the story? What is it really saying? What is the heart that beats on that skeleton? If there's an answer to that, there's a great story in the making.
Of course, the flip side of this is that Law & Order, in a technical sense, does not ask us to look closer. A crime happens, Lennie and Eddie solve it, Jack and Abbie prosecute the perps. Or -- does it? Is "Indifference" just about a little girl whose parents abuse her until she dies? Or is it about Mike's unnatural identification with the issue? Is "Nullification" only about a group of militia nuts who kill the driver of a Brinks truck? Or is it about questioning our justice system, and the way it has been perverted over the years? Or is it, by using Jack as a microcosm, about Jack's perversion of his own ideals as a youth? And when you do look closer, isn't what you see also ripe for exploration with fanfic? We think so. It's one of the reasons for our challenges this month. This time, we want you to take a closer look at an episode, and write a scene (or an event) which happens within that episode -- which is not shown in the episode. Take a look at the challenge area for ideas.
Well, that's enough from us for now. Time to take a closer look at our taxes for this year. One last thing before we go: Right now, we're hard at work at putting together a sort-of apocrypha "con." It won't be like most fan-based "cons," insofar as Law & Order doesn't really lend itself to that kind of thing. What we're thinking more of is "New York As Filtered Through A Law & Order Lens." That'll mean tours through the courthouse, screenings at the Museum of TV And Radio, and a chance for fans to meet and chat. Get on the apocrypha mailing list, or join the Yahoo! Club -- all information will be posted there. Email us directly if you want to make sure you're notified once definite details are put up. Meanwhile, go out and read the issue! This time around, Kor's got a favorite in a challenge by Lady V, called Sweets To The Sweet, which she says is "a a fitting conclusion to the Jack-n-Claire affair." Kitt, on the other hand, liked Linda Winfree's What Mattered Most, which started out as a challenge but didn't quite fit the one-scene rule this time around. No big deal; says Kitt, "it's short, to the point, and absolutely effective at what it does." Plus, there's the usual round of interviews and other fiction (plus some more salacious set gossip) to keep you happy until the Summer issue, which should be out in July. We're also very pleased to roll out our fully-indexed and rated new archive page -- should make it a lot easier to find that one story or interview or challenge you've been dying to locate! (It's helped us, we promise.)
As always, thanks for reading! Give us feedback, ask questions, send money and philosophies about life. We love hearing from you -- and we're at: apocrypha, No need to look closer, there.
To The Editor
We get letters, we get letters, lots and lots of letters...
Subj: Set-side Trouble
Date: 1/18/00 6:47:46 PM Eastern Standard Time
I just perused the latest issue and was wondering where
you guys heard about Angie causing problems on the set. I hope for her
sake, and the
show's!, that the story is bogus. In the past, she seemed pretty humble about landing L&O. Just curious...Thanks.
As with all uncredited information, you should consider the source. We wouldn't print it if we didn't have a reliable source. apocrypha stands by what was printed in the Et Cetera section. -- The Editors
Subj: Winter Issue
Date: 1/19/00 12:12:58 AM Eastern Standard Time
Dear Kitt & Kor:
This note is a little overdue, but better late than never.
Thank you so much for the publication of my story in the latest Apocrypha issue. My spouse has been calling me up at work asking me if he can talk to someone who's "fab and uncompromising."
The Yahoo club is also a nice bonus--good to see other nutty people like myself, and to be able to share ideas.
All the best,
Subj: Re: new issue
Date: 1/19/00 12:34:01 AM Eastern Standard Time
Once again a top flight issue. I laughed, I cried and I didn't even have to kiss any cash good-bye!! Kudos to the authors AND the editors.
Law & Order junkie
Subj: Moment to Breathe
Date: 1/19/00 7:59:53 PM Eastern Standard Time
I think this was an absolutely wonderful story. Karen Howard-Joly did a terrific job of mixing the tenderness and toughness of Jack and Abby. What a sweet, excellently written story!
Subj: Re:Angie Harmon Causing Problems On The Set
Date: 1/21/00 6:39:12 PM Eastern Standard Time
I always thought your zine was a high class site. I'm
really disappointed that you would have such a trashy gossip item about
a L&O star. It would have been nice to hear Angie Harmon's side of
the story. Do you even try to contact her on this subject? Maybe
she has a good
reason for her behavior. There's been so much Angie bashing on the net. I thought your zine wouldn't sink to that level. I guess I was wrong. I
don't think Angie's the best actress, but she's certainly not the worst i've seen.
Can I expect more demeaning trashy items on Sam Waterston,
Jerry Orbach etc. Poor Angie! You people will never let Angie forget
that she's a
Baywatch Babe. I see this story for what it really is. A spiteful attempt to make Angie into a terrible person ,which i'm sure she isn't I bet you wouldn't print anything bad about Sam Waterston.
Again, we stand by our statements. And the day Sam Waterston causes trouble on the set -- and we hear about it -- you can be sure you'll read about it here. Calls to Harmon's press representatives went unreturned. As we stated earlier, the source of rumors should be considered. Speculation, as one gossip site says, is not fact. -- The Editors
Subj: Winter Issue
Date: 1/21/00 5:28:40 AM Eastern Standard Time
Aloha, Kitt and Kor!
I loved A Moment to Breathe. It's a beautiful heartfelt story about the relationship between Jack and Abbie.
My other favorite was Happily Ever After...Eventully. It's an interesting prequel to A First Christmas.
And finally, mahalo nui loa, Kitt, for your series on writing tips. I know it'll be a great for me and other fanfic writers that are just starting out.
Subj: Four stories...
Date: 1/23/00 2:21:44 PM Eastern Standard Time
...caught my attention while I was reading both the current Holiday and Winter issues.
They were "Recovery and Grief", "My Detective Mike", "Resolutions", and "Ghosts of Christmas Past".
Kudos to the authors of these stories and to all the other stories/challenges/interviews that have been featured in apocrypha. I've just finished reading through all of the archives and I'm completely caught up with the zine issues. What a great ride I took through all of these stories.
Thanks, Kitt and Kor, for putting the magic on these pages and thanks to the authors for creating the magic.
Subj: six things I hate about
Date: 1/26/00 6:16:29 PM Eastern Standard Time
Thank you! Thank you! I thought it was just me.
Although I have one disagreement:
I _like_ Jeffries. I'd like to see her take the place of Benson as
Stabler's partner. That would get rid of one character, since we
agree there are too many now. And it would get rid of the character
who makes the least sense, and who is the least
welcome (in my living room, anyway).
Or just get rid of them all, and let Munch carry the show. He can call Lennie if he needs some help. I'd watch that.
Subj: (no subject)
Date: 2/2/00 11:43:47 PM Eastern Standard Time
more on detective mike logan.
Authors, are you listening? -- The Editors
Subj: Reply to a story in
the current issue...
Date: 2/3/00 9:47:53 PM Eastern Standard Time
Hiya all. I've been a big
fan of the 'zine since I stumbled across it about a year ago... It's just
great. Anyway, on to the point: I recently read
"Mind for Murder" and was kind of shocked. I expect more from you all. Now, maybe Im the only one, or maybe I'm one of many, but I didn't like this particular short story at all. About half-way through I got so sick of it that I stopped reading it and left the site. But, I admit it, I am weak in
the willpower department, and I later went back to finish the story. All I can say is, I wish I had stopped while I was ahead.
We're still chewing on what it was that could have made her walk away from the site, but since she didn't explain, we'll have to just imagine.... -- The Editors
Subj: lorraine toussant
Date: 3/15/00 9:41:44 AM Eastern Standard Time
I found this to be a very insightful interview. I, too, wish she had been on more shows; since her appearance on Law, I've watched her new show on Lifetime. She plays these fiery, opinionated characters and there is nothing wrong with that.
Subj: just a thought...
Date: 3/29/00 7:48:49 PM Eastern Standard Time
Hiya. I just wanted to say Apocrypha rocks. By the way, if you need a name for upcoming issue, why not try 'we like mike'? I'm pretty sure that was the title of an episode. I think that could work wonderfully, but hey, I might be a bit biased.;-)
Thanks for putting out such a great 'zine,
Welcome back from your stroll,
Chelene! -- The Editors
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