Monday, August 31, 2009
Gunslingers of the Apocalypse:
I am burning like a house'a-fire, kids. Kicking ass, laying rubber, taking names, yadda, yadda, yadda. Rocking. The Hometown Twin Star Copy Editor Sukiyaki Death Squad Girl says pages are imminent, final pages, that is. WOOOOO!
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice, Little Ms. Super-cute Fiance has finished the last minute, final round sweep up of any copy edits I might have missed from the Twin Stars's suggestions on the first three chapters, otherwise known as the submission sample chapters, and has since then decided to go through the rest of the book as well. I can't thank these ladies enough, their freely given time, attention, and dedication has been more helpful than I can possibly put into words, for you see, my Gentle and Constant Readers, as you can probably tell from my blogs, I could give two fucks about Grammar, and apparently, it shows. The difference their efforts make, however, is glaringly obvious once you're standing on the other side of the implementation of their edits, and my work is undeniably better for it.
So, if I do not say it nearly enough (which I don't), allow me to declare it publicly: Thank you, thank you, thank you, so very, very much for all the invaluable help, ladies. I hope you know how much I appreciate you and that while I can never truly express the depths of my gratitude, I hope someday I get the chance to show you even the barest sliver of the support in return, that you have shown me. I am in your debt. Thank you.
AND... the upside of all this is, of course, we are now only a week, maybe two, away from Q day, folks. Less than 14 days, people! Less than 14 days! Can you believe that shit? 14 days! After three years time? It's unbelievable. It's the end of a long road, my friends, one that, for good or for ill, is finally within my sight. I mean, sure, once I start submitting to agents and houses, yes, there is more to do, of course, I know that, but for all intents and purposes... the book is done.
I have finished it.
In less than two weeks.
I'm done and the next level begins.
I shake with anticipation.
Bastard out of Minnesota
This has been on hold a bit as of late, its been back-burner-ed, as they say, while I turn about with Gunslingers, put up all the tray tables, return the seats to their full and upright position, and prepare to bring it in for a final approach. The good news is, I'm feeling pretty confident with how the next couple chapters of Bastard go, not to mention how the initial ones came out, and, even better, recently I was struck with two really good linking ideas. One is for this book and one is for stringing into the next. I was really excited to think of/realize both of these, they're pretty good, or at least, they're potentially pretty good. I'm pretty sure I've written them down, but in case I didn't and they manage to evaporate from my head, here's some clues for myself: (Family/Gary)
That should be enough reminder.
Anyway, I hope to have some time to finish up chapter two in a week or so, hopefully in time for submission to my writer's group. I think we're called the Scribblers now, but I think it's still kind of undecided. We used to be Sparkle Ball Death Bunnies and before that, These Precedes Knees, we are, if nothing else, transient about our identity, apparently. Personally, I'm still holding out hope for Council of Werewolves, or maybe Gonorrhea, for obvious reasons, I think, mostly related to the eventual time when we can make other people say our name out loud somewhere public, hopefully at something official-ish. Sometimes you have to plan your jokes a bit ahead, you know.
No news. I e-mailed Zander about broaching the idea of writers working in with the group of artists in a kind of practice, fun, no strings attached kind of way, but I haven't heard back. I know he's busy and probably getting busier, too, his work seemed to be picking up more and more these days and he's also teaching his course at the Loft again (you should try it, if you're interested. It's really good and fun.), so it's understandable.
Sadly, though, I might have to face facts that maybe, for the moment, my comic book practice/hopeful experiment is dead. Honestly, though, I haven't been pursuing it too hard lately as I've been a bit distracted with wrapping other shit up, but my general plan is, once I'm on the other side of Gunslingers, I'll swing back into it. However, there may not be anything I can really do about it. Zander's is pretty cool and accommodating and so are a lot of the folks there, but I suspect there's a hold up, and more than a little push back, from some in the group over this idea (or maybe I'm just paranoid, I have been accused of it before...). But anyway, the sad truth is, sometimes geeks just plain ol' don't like new stuff and sometimes, occasionally, in these types of things, be it with artists, writers, musicians, strippers, whatever, you run into a type that, despite the fact that they are unknown or at best nothing more than a glorified hobbyist, they have a very inflated sense of professional value attached to their time/work.
It's like: "Look man, I just want to play around abit, figure stuff out, you know, practice the craft a bit. I'm not looking to create anything to show around or anything, (and lord knows, you could use the practice, as well, buddy...)."
And they're like: "I don't want to work for free..."
Work for free?
Motherfucker, who gave you the idea that your crap is worth a shit, bitch?
This is why you are still half-assedly jamming in the basement, man, occasionally playing the Entry on an off night, or showing your lame black and white photography at a friend's back-alley "punk" salon. These are the type of people who don't take criticism well, who don't think they need it, or that the fault lies in others, these are people who think they're done after the first draft. These people are the Self-publishers (shudder).
Or maybe I'm just over-reacting because of my own easily paranoid and overly analytical personality... but I doubt it... (shakes fist menacingly at passer-by)... keep walking, buddy...
This film is on my mind still. Mostly because of funny stuff, like here, but also because everything that has happened so far has only been the pre-game shit. The geek community is just the initial wave, the big stuff is still coming. The movie comes out in four months. How will Fox recover from the initial stumbles? How will they try to sell this to the Normals? And they really need to if they hope to make ANY profit at all. I'm not the only one curious, either, you'll find folks all over the Internet sharing their anecdotes of how they showed the trailer to their various Normal friends and relatives, to people of various levels of taste, and then listed their variety of responses.
So, I kind of did the same...
My mother wrote me and said: "I think the avatar trailer looks good. Except the girlfriend is not cute... except to another avatar." Of course, in the name of science, it should also be stated that my Mother still uses both hands, her index fingers, and a very, very careful aim whenever using the TV remote, despite my assurances that it is not, in fact, a phaser.
So then, not satisfied with just one neo-phyte response for my half-ass little survey, I busted in on Little Ms. Super-cute Fiance while she was shaving her legs in the bath and then annoyed her until she eventually agreed to watch the trailer. She watched it closely, her face impassive and finally shrugged.
"I couldn't tell what it was about." She said, uninterested. "Shut the door, I'm getting cold."
"I don't want the laptop to get all steamy and wet. So, anyway, the story appears to be, basically, Dances with Wolves in space, see this is..." I started the trailer over again.
"I don't need to see it again. Honey, shut the..."
"Quiet down, this is important. See, this is Jake Scully, he's in a wheelchair..."
"Important to what?"
"...posterity. Shush. See, he's in a wheelchair..."
"I'm not going to this unless you make me."
"But what do you think of the Avatars?"
"The blue people... come on, keep up."
She shrugged. "They look kind of dumb. Shut the door, I'm cold."
Now, obviously, Little Ms. Super-cute Fiance's priorities are slightly out of whack and she isn't much of a film buff, or even a geek, for that matter. However, she will on occasion have sudden, strong, and surprisingly hardcore geek tendencies, like the time she said to me, unprompted and out of the blue: "Do you know what my favorite Doctor Who episode is?"
I tried to explain to her just how many rungs of geekdom she leapt past in her plummet down the rabbit hole, but I'm not sure she was quite able to grasp it.
Anyway, it was the Family of Blood two-parter from the third season... FYI.
So there you have it. How will these responses fall in with the rest of the world's? We'll soon find out. Stay tuned, True Believers.
Also, remember how I was saying that there was something about the Avatar face that really, really bugged me? Well...
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
So... to begin:
If you haven’t seen this yet, I have to ask: Why do you read my blog? You obviously don’t like geek stuff, because otherwise you’d be all over this film like Christopher Johnson on Fancy Feast. In a nutshell: It’s awesome. In a large nutshell: It is SUPER awesome. See it once. See it twice. Then see it again. You should do this not only because the film is awesome-ness squared, but also because it happens to be well written and imaginative, both in set-up and execution. It delivers on the visceral level, as well as the cerebral. Also, this film only cost $30 million to make (not counting marketing). And I know, I know… $30 million is still a lot, but not when viewed against the average summer movie budget. Plus, by all reports, it was made with very little interference by the Studio system, so… not only was this film left alone and given it’s creative freedom, which resulted in a great product, but it did it at half the cost to boot! Achievements like that should be supported, nay! Must. Plus there’s giant robot fighting suits and lightning guns that make people explode! SPLAT!
Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Not as bloody as District 9 or exploitive of it’s current setting either, surprisingly, this film really seems to lack any kind of real political screed at all. No, instead, this film is all tension from beginning to end. Good tension. Involving tension. The type of tension where you can’t look away because the characters are people you’ve gotten to know and, as a result, fear for their safety, because you’ve already been shown how close to dead these guys are the whole time they're at work. Even better, the film also shies away from trying to Action-ize the story. There’s no tangible bad guy or maniacal plot or final face to face show down between the heroic white guy and the very, very evil brown guy. In a way, this movie actually put me in the mind of Das Boot, because much like that film, this one is set during a war, but really it’s more about a group of guys doing an extremely difficult job in the most unforgiving of places and the bonds they form as a result, not only between each other, but the situation they labor under. It's about thankless tasks and doing what needs to be done, but not in a hollow, red-neck kind of way. And it's about the toll such a life can take on a person. It's very good. And the disarming scenes are fantastic. They crawl by while you tighten up in your seat. Fantastic. I really enjoyed it. And Jeremy Renner, the lead guy, apparently he is right now in the running to play Max in the next Mad Max film… which would be cool.
I don’t want to tell you too much more, you’ve got to go see them yourself. Look, just trust me. Go. Both of these films are totally worth your time. I mean, for Christ’s sake, most of you went to fucking Transformers and you probably paid full price too, you know you did, don't lie, it made like a ga-billion dollars … so, don’t come here and try to pretend like you have discerning tastes at this point… Trust me. These are good. You should see them.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Let’s just go on and jump right into this, shall we?
Now: To discuss, as the geekly are wont to do.
That trailer was, of course, for James Cameron’s legendary upcoming movie: Avatar. Oh, the anticipation. This is a project that some would claim as having been nearly 14 years in the making. This is a project that has been labeled (Self-labeled) as: Revolutionary. This is a project long heralded as a cinematic “game changer.” This is a project oft-touted as “the One,” the film that will finally change the way movies are told, the way they are created, and the way they are shown, the whole nine yards.
This is a project destined to fail…
And I’ll go into why I believe this to be so in a few pithy, self-amused paragraphs from now… But FIRST, a little back-story.
We all know who James Cameron is. He’s the King of the World. He’s the man who made Arnold into who he is today. He got Kate Winslet to get naked, which isn’t actually that big a deal now, of course, in fact it seems like it’s a regular part of her contract these days, but at the time…? Big Deal. He nearly killed Ed Harris, for God's sake! He also made Piranha 2: The Spawning. …Everybody started somewhere…
For me personally, I know I’ve seen Aliens somewhere in the area of about a million and a half times. It’s one of my very favorites. Even his crap is still pretty entertaining, but Titanic aside, the man is a big budget legend, a master of his craft, he didn’t just break the rules, he actually created many of them… but ever since Titanic…
Now, the rumors were that he was “working” on something, always working, on something mysterious, on something marvelous, on some new project while locked away in some crazy, cluttered, mad scientist-esqe personal studio somewhere high up in the wild hills of Malibu. The rumors were that he was up there, and that he was very busily testing out some revolutionary, new CGI technology for this unknown, yet sure to be amazing project.
To me, this was not good news. I mean, I don’t know about the rest of you, but this wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Tinkering with CGI? Yawn. Why not make a cool movie without it? Please, oh, please, oh, please… This is dangerous waters for people like Cameron, folks. An unhealthy obsession with CGI had felled other former Movie Greats with startling ease. *Cough-Lucas-Cough* And so, the thought of Cameron working his ass off in some specially built studio, cut off from the real world, and most likely surrounded by an idiot brigade of sycophants, all while feverishly trying to create a “believable” alien and a “real” alien world, without which this new project will never move forward, let alone get filmed? …Well, it made me sad, because I know where this path leads. We all do.
Sing it, Freddy.
Thanks, man. R.I.P.
Anyway, he’s up there, workin’, workin’, workin’, right? With nary a peep or a peek. What was this mysterious project? Was he actually working on something or was it all just so much smoke and lies and was he, in actuality, really just afraid of stepping back up to the plate? Few knew the truth and those that did, weren’t talking. Steve walks warily down the street, indeed… Rumors flew and flew and flew in those heady, early days, the denizens of the Internet scuttled desperately to and fro with their whispers in the dark, but without any new bits with which to feed them, eventually those whispers died down and, in time, were all but forgotten, because really, after 14 years without any real word or proof of progress, who actually gives a shit?
In time, the very idea alone of another James Cameron movie seemed too difficult to even imagine…
These were the dark times…
But then word started again, a veritable flurry, at least when compared to the previous decade and a half. There was a sudden storm of whispers and hints, there was talk of presentations, there were pieces of leaked art (that looked somewhat underwhelmingly like the Xbox game Halo) and set photos (that looked a little too suspiciously like the movie Aliens to really wow). Spies sent out tons of fluffy bits of nothing reports. Most of all, there was speculation, my friends, rampant Internet speculation, every where and burning like a house a’fire, which admittedly, doesn’t mean that much beyond basic Buzz. (Should the question of the value of such a thing ever come up, keep in mind the saying: “Shit in one hand, wish in the other, see which one fills up first.”)
Regardless, the hype machine had started.
Harry Knowles of AICN, always willing to bend over for a few measly pieces of movie memorabilia, led the vanguard and started trumpeting the coming awesome-ness, all the while gleefully posting e-mails from Cameron himself, who talked and talked and talked about how much awesome he was on the verge of sending our way.
The countdown had begun anew… The anticipation began to build once again…
Like nothing you have ever seen before!
Then came SDCC, the San Diego Comic book Convention, the Mecca of Geekdom, the gauntlet through which the myriad creators of all things nerdy and geeky must pass, fated to either emerge on the far end stronger for the ordeal or cursed and found lacking, consumed by the ravenous, fickle, and just plain mean (also usually kind of smelly) crowds.
James Cameron strode these sweat-pungent halls, a veritable Geek God, strong, tall, confident in his assured victory. He had the product they wanted and he knew it, too. This year, SDCC was his. It was his destiny. He mounted the stage, swaggering and boasting, strutting like a peacock, and brought with him a sample. There, before a capacity crowd at SDCC’s infamous Hall H, he played a full 24 never before seen minutes of his movie.
And almost across the board, the response was: “Oh… eh… not bad…I guess…”
Translated from Hollywood Buzz/Geek-speak?
Now, to be fair, it didn’t seem like anybody actually hated it. In fact, most people actually liked the footage, but you know what they weren’t? Excited. They didn’t lose their minds over it like they did with District 9 or even more so, Iron Man 2. They weren’t impressed, not like they were supposed to be, at least. Frankly, from what little they were shown, it sounds like the plot is basically Dances with Wolves in Space. And the much bally-hooed “photo-realistic” aliens and their “amazing” environment? …Meh. They were cool, kind of, maybe a little creepy (and maybe a little... I don't know... REALLY creepy...) but ultimately… big deal. Afterwards, the biggest question seemed to be: “Were we supposed to be fooled?” Because that is what the pre-footage hype seemed to infer, that this CGI looked soooooooo real that you would believe it actually was, but come on… really… how is that even possible?
And this, in part, is why this film will fail, because the geeks, and the media they fuel, will not forget this and that's too bad, because James Cameron is great, but still... It's there. The damage is done.
Other possible reasons for failure include:
1. The price. At $200 million, he is rivaling the cost of Titanic. Now, he dodged that bullet the last time, but will he again? The common belief is
A.) Doubtful, mostly because the absolutely, desperately needed for crazy Box Office Returns, Tweener crowd is way too busy with Twilight. Plus, they couldn’t give less of a shit when it comes to a film like this. Where’s Robert Patterson, not fucking here, ladies… move along.
And B.) I think there are a lot of people out there who are still pretty upset at Titanic’s success. The backlash on that film was nowhere near strong enough to overcome the love of the Tween crowd and people are still smartin’ over it. They’ll turn on this film, they’ll turn quick and they'll turn hard. Most ESPECIALLY, they’ll turn because it is supposed to be awesome. They will be pre-disposed to shit on it. You’ll see it on-line and in print and on cable and all that talky-talky-trashy-talky translates into a bunch of the Normals out there deciding not to go.
2. Honestly, also, I think the Normals will find the Alien design work off-putting, but that’s just a guess on my part.
3. The hype has apparently backfired. It built too high, too fast and the sun has begun to melt the fragile globs of bee’s wax holding it’s wings together. People smell blood in the water. To a lot of folks out there, it appears as if, perhaps Cameron has written a check that he can’t QUITE cash. He’ll pay for that.
4. Finally, the backlash has already begun. Iron Man came out of SDCC as King Shit, which was not expected, not against Avatar, and everyone, EVERYONE noticed that the majority of the Avatar responses, while positive, were not insane in the membrane, they were not flipping their shit, they were not salivating for more, that is, save for a select few, who are now referred to by the other net-nerds as: Avatards.
5. The Avatards. One thing geeks hate are other geeks. Especially strident geeks who swim against the prevalent opinion. Avatar looks like a not bad, but not great version of Dances with Wolves in Space. Ho-Hum. That’s the commonly held belief. The Avatards fight this belief with every fiber of their being, which has turned them into an extremely hated and mocked nerd minority, which will, in turn, fuel an on-going on-line battle for the next 6-ish months. The stubborn on both sides will certainly never relent. No one will win, especially the film. This battle will end up staining the film due to it’s stupidity. It’s already begun…
Did you read that guy’s letter? What the hell? Spell-check much? Wouldn’t you just want to strangle the dumb bastard that sent that, if you were Cameron?
Anyway, as for me, I’ll see it, but I’ll admit, I’m not that excited. Also, that face, the Avatar’s face? “This is great.” I’ve seen it before and I don’t mean that in the “I’m so bored and over it, seen it before” kind of way, I mean, I’ve seen it before and I can’t tell from where…
That's going to bug the hell out of me…
What say you all?
Friday, August 14, 2009
-Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea, Joe Imad, and Robert J. Smith
- School of Mathematics and Statistics, Carleton University,
-- 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada
- Department of Mathematics, The University of Ottawa,
-- 585 King Edward Ave, Ottawa ON K1N 6N5, Canada
- Department of Mathematics and Faculty of Medicine, The University of Ottawa,
-- 585 King Edward Ave, Ottawa ON K1N 6N5, Canada
This study, most likely conceived and completed by a bunch of nerds so incredibly geeky that very few among us can actually comprehend the level of nerdy/geekery they live and operate at on a daily basis, attempts to mathematically model and determine the results of a mass zombie outbreak upon modern day society. Now, they mostly stick with the classic Romero Night of the Living Dead zombies, slow and dumb, which I think greatly skews the outcome, but the long and the short of the thing is, in the end, Math has finally proven out that which I have long claimed as holy writ:
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
So, zombies have always been popular, always lurking at the edges of society, but lately it seems like there has been a massive upswing in the genre's general saturation of the public hive-mind. It seems like everywhere you turn these days, people are shuffling along, shambling through their dull and dreary lives, lifeless, moaning for brains, complaining about Obama and praising Sarah Palin. Even worse, many of them, upon discovering the general concern of my current narrative, instantly begin to pontificate at me, on and on, and all about their own personal zombie survival plans...
(Dig a four mile long moat? Motherfucker, have you ever even dug a fox-hole? That shit is difficult and that's only a 3 foot wide by 6 foot long by 5 foot deep hole! And now you want to dig a 10 foot wide, 15 foot deep, 4 mile long trench with nothing but some shovels and maybe a loud ass, diesel engined Back-hoe? And all while zombies are attacking? pshaw... dilettante.)
Anyway... if you go looking, you will find that there are video games by the ton, like this one. There are books by the buttload, both crappy and super-awesome alike. There are also comics, although admittedly, most of them are really terrible... except for this one.
Basically, what I'm saying is... The Dead are here and they are Legion.
Look! Look!... There are even upcoming movies, like this one, for instance:
That looks totally sweet...
Anyway, back on task, like I was saying, the shit has been everywhere, people, and it's building. I've been seeing mentions on various geek-centric websites more and more often as of late. I've read a ton of off-handed, and yet positive as far as sales are concerned, asides on the blogs of random Agents and Editors, which just goes to show that the genre is on their minds. And finally, it all culminated today with the announcement of this:
Now... ok... ok... honestly? Really? This is actually good news, because, you know... market-wise, it's a good thing. It whets the pubic's appetite and all that jazz, but even more so, just like the Zombieland movie... a Walking Dead TV show?
That's right... Totally sweet.
HOWEVER... what all this bru-ha-ha also really means to me, for what I want to do, is that wave is building, folks, it is cresting, gathering strength, and racing into shore to crash upon that rocky and fickle beach of Public Zeitgeist... I need to catch this wave, people, I have to, so starting now, I am paddling out there like a son of a bitch. Stroke! Stroke! Stroke! In the coming two weeks, I intend on finishing up all my prep, all my editing and all my fretting, all of it, and then I'm going to put together my packets and I am going to begin submitting. Oh yeah, Q Day is upon us! The day has arrived and that day is today! Now is the time, people! It is time to rise up up! It is time to get off my ass and get back to work!
WOOOOOOO! Forward to Destiny!
But first... a Zombie survival tip!
Monday, August 3, 2009
Spike Jonze has long been working on a film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic tale of a mischievous young boy in a wolf suit, of his dreamy journey to a far-off island, and his time among the monsters and wild things, but the movie has been plagued with problems. There was trouble with the CGI that was used for the Wild Things' faces. There also seemed to be a lot of studio interference and foot-dragging due to their fear that they won't be able to recoup any of their money at the box office, because according to all the early screening reports, Jonze has not made a happy-go-lucky suburban family film, one that could be easily marketed for Christmas with sugary breakfast cereals and plush toys, no, instead it appears as if he has made a dark and fantastic film, a scary film, one that is richly imaginative and oddly accessible, in short: an 80 million dollar art film.
Whispers and rumors have chased this film's tail for a long time now, with only bare glimpses given to satisfy, and finally... finally... now, here is the trailer.