Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End of the Year (2011)


This is the End, beautiful friend,
This is the End, my only friend. The End...

Well, not really. Not completely. Not at all, in fact. Really, it's just the end of the year. Woo-hoo. If you ask me, this is a good thing as 2011 kind of sucked balls, right? It did. I mean, there were some high points, yes, some really good high points, but mostly...? It was kind of blah. For example, I'm currently putting together my best and worst films of the year list (which I'll be posting in a few days or so) and let me tell you, the best of list? Not easy.

So, so long year of the Rabbit, you little bastard! Bring on the year of the Dragon!


The year of the Dragon. Nice, I happen to have been born in the Year of the Tiger. Check out the link. Sounds like me doesn't it? Sexy AND dangerous. Anyway, 2012 is the year of the Dragon, a year where I just happen to be working on a new book... a book that features a Dragon...


Heh... It could be a good year...

Hey, you know what we haven't done in awhile?

UPDATES!

So like I said, 2011 was an up and down year for me, writing-wise. I decided to trunk my first novel Gunslingers of the Apocalypse, with the intention of letting it cool a bit, because there are still some kinks I need to work out of it. In the meantime, I've been busy lobbing short stories at the high and formidable walls of Fortress Publication and for most of the year, I was rebuffed, turned back, as it were. Forced to run away. And for most of the year the best I could say about that particular effort was: At least there were no Frenchmen manning the ramparts with their vicious tauntings.


Yeah, trying to get published is actually a lot like this...

But then...

But then I sold my first story. Do you guys remember that? Have I mentioned this before? No? Oh, well, in that case, check this shit out. I sold my first short story Harris to the second volume of a local anthology called Cifiscape (pronounced Sci-fi scape, here's their website). The book's theme is Minnesota-ish authors writing stories about a dystopian future Twin Cities, but with a little hope, and not always specifically about the Twin Cities as well, whatever. It's cool. You can find the first volume here (Discounted for the Holidays!).

Also...

Also, since a new year is all about new beginnings (I guess), in the next few months or so, I'll be printing out the full "final" version of Gunslingers of the Apocalypse with an eye toward knocking out 20,000ish words, tightening where I can, and generally seeing what a year or so away has done to my eyes. I'm not sure what I'll do with it after that, for now there's only the first goal: New version. Then? Who knows? We shall see.

And that's not all...

And that's not all, I have started work on a new project, the above mentioned Dragon-appearing-within story. It's a book from a short story that wouldn't mush down to short story size, so now I'm letting it stretch its legs a bit. The holidays, being the son of a bitch they are, has cut into my writing time of late and I haven't been able to be at the desk as much as I'd prefer, but with all that shit soon to be behind me (except for a few late presents that I still need to pick up and ship out), my schedule is coming clear, so I am cracking my writing knuckles and getting ready to wade back in there.

Starting with right after I finish this blog...


But wait! There's more...

But wait! There's more! In my ever-continuing quest to better myself and my writing and to seek out new opportunities... Actually, this isn't my quest. I mean, it is, sure. It's everybody's right? I'm just saying that I've never stated this as my quest. It's not a mantra or anything. I don't have it taped to a mirror ala Stuart Smalley, it's just a general thing. That's all I'm saying... but I digress. Anyway, there's this thing, this writers workshop thing called Clarion West. It's kind of a big deal, people know about it.

I'm going to apply to it.

How will I pay for it? What if I can't take the six weeks off?

Distant bridges, my friends, ones that I will cross in the event that I actually make the cut. Which I may or may not. It's pretty competitive, I guess. So, we will see. The important part is that I'm going to apply. After that, we'll see.


Wish me luck!

And happy new years!

I am, as always,
Jon

Also, there's this. You must, must watch it. Really.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Scribblerati


The holidays are imminent!

Run to the hills! Run for your lives! Pray to whatever god you hold dear!

And if you have a moment, swing on over to the Scribblerati Blog and have a read. I've put up a little something-something to celebrate the holiday season. And, as the year winds down, make sure to keep an eye out for a new blog, probably in the next few days, it's gonna be just a little bit of general catch-up on what's going on with everything Jon. Also, my Best/Worst films of 2011 lists are coming. I'm preparing them now. Get excited. We'll talk soon.

Blog,
Jon

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Holy fucking nerd balls!

Watch this. Watch it twice. Then watch it again.



You know what? Chicken butt. Ok sure, but you know what else? Here's the new Hobbit trailer and I am giddy, people. I am giddy as a school girl. I am very excited. Let me repeat that shit for all of you out there in the cheap seats: I am VERY excited. After the ridiculously underwhelming new Batman trailer and the International Avenger's trailer that not only shows only ein kleine bit of new stuff but is auf Deutsch like a Schweinhund, this trailer here is a very positive thing. Very positive.

I'm geeking out, man. I am geeking out.

Can't hardly wait,
Jon

Saturday, December 17, 2011

For the Gamers

This one is for all you Gamers out there. Below you'll find another fan-film. I post these on occasion, don't cha' know. Anyway, this one starts out as a really well made, faithful, and pretty exciting Left 4 Dead short film by filmmaker Adrian Picardi and Northern Five Entertainment and then it kinda goes crazy.

Just watch it.

And make sure to stay until the end.



Sweet,
Jon

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cifiscape


Stop the presses!

Some of you Hansen-fanatics out there may recall a few weeks back when I announced that I had sold my short story Harris over on the Scribblerati blog. Some of you Johnny-come-latelys may not recall this... well, catch up! Anyway, the Cifiscape website went live today and they are announcing the myriad and sundry authors who will be appearing in the upcoming anthology. And who, you may be asking, is first?

That'd be me...

Go me!


Wooooo,
Jon

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Walking Dead: Season Two, Episode Seven: Pretty Much Dead Already

This season, I've been reviewing each episode as it aired--for the most part--grimly slogging through each one, each week. And this is it, folks. The end of the season. The last episode. The big one. The Whopper. Are you ready? Well, you better be, because the train is leaving the station, people, here we go. You can read the rest of my reviews for this season here, if you want.

THE WALKING DEAD, SEASON TWO, EPISODE SEVEN
"Pretty Much Dead Already"


Oh, and from this point on: Here there be SPOILERS!

You've been warned

Ok, so, in a nutshell, this episode encapsulates absolutely everything that is wrong with this show. All flash and no substance. All show and no go, ya'know?


Maybe that’s a bit harsh. I mean, it’s undeniable at this point that since firing the ENTIRE season one writing staff and then turning around and giving Frank Darabont the boot, the show has gotten better. It was the right idea. AMC recognized that the previous season had some issues and made an effort to correct them and taking these actions have resulted in a dramatic rise in quality with each successive episode (for the most part…). There have definitely been some cool moments.

That being said, all those folks they used to replace the fired ones?

They are only marginally better.

Which means, instead of ridiculously, embarrassingly bad and overwrought and completely lacking focus, it’s now merely boring and pedestrian and seemingly unaware of its lack of complexity. Now, some would say that the writers are simply making the best of a bad situation, responding to the fall out of things put in place before their time. And sure, I can see that, to an extent, but here’s where that theory starts to leak…


The season arc (or at least, it's intention) isn't the problem.

It's just fine in fact. It's a good goal. Look, here's how it should go: In Buffy, a season’s arc would be something like exploring Buffy’s first love and her first heartbreak and to tie that—both literally and metaphorically—into the story of Angel losing his soul and “going bad”. Now, compare that to this season’s arc of The Walking Dead, which was—as I see it—Sophia goes missing, so the group looks for her while trying to stay safe on the farm and metaphorically tie all that into the characters’ realization that the world has become harder and meaner and lost it’s innocence. Now wait, you say, both of those sound pretty alright. I mean, sure, the Walking Dead's might be a little more clunky and heavy-handed, but hey, Buffy was a superior show. So, what’s the problem?

Well, let's take a looksie...


The problem lies in the wetwork, the stuff in close, the character moments, the dialogue, the little in between bits that lie between the framework that Darabont erected and that the new writing staff may or may not have been helpless before and forced to deal with.

The problem is: All of that stuff is poorly done.


This episode starts with off with Glenn finally telling the rest of the group about the walkers in the barn. The rest of the episode has everyone hemming and hawing around, doing nothing, arguing nonsense and killing time, while Shane tries desperately to point out the obvious truth of what needs to be done, and why, to the gigantic herd of idiots. All of this culminates in Shane, fed up with the group's stupidity and unable to take it anymore, boiling over when he sees Herschel and Rick trying to drag two more zombies into the barn, so he instead releases the whole lot of them and then he and the others shoot all of the zombies down. Problem solved.


But then...


But then, one last zombie comes out of the barn and it’s Sophia. Oh, the pathos. Pathos, sorrow and sadness. Rick shoots her down and… roll credits.

Powerful, huh?

Not really.

Here's why: Who the fuck is Sophia?

This moment might have meant something, if Sophia had spoken more than maybe a dozen lines in the first season or appeared in maybe more than four or five minutes of the first episode this season, which is the last time we ever saw her. Sure, we know she’s Carol’s daughter, we know they’ve been looking for her, and anyone with half a brain can see that they’re trying to re-do (poorly) the same theme that they lumbered into last season (poorly):

The world has been horribly and irrevocably changed.

What? In a zombie apocalypse?


Shocker...

And just like the previous season, they fumbled it. First off, the shock is somewhat diluted because they’ve already pulled the “shoot a little kid” heart-string and they did it in the very first minutes of the very first episode. Secondly, because they just took too damn long to kill off a character we don't know at all. Maybe if they had kept Sophia around for even one more episode and had her actively participating even a little bit, maybe they could have made her a character we cared about more than just in a vague “nobody wants to see a little kid shot” kind of way.

You know what else might have made the moment better?

Carl should have put her down, not Rick, and for two reasons. One, like I said, Rick’s already shot a kid. Two, it could have been what is sometimes known as a: “character moment”. It could have been used as a signal that Carl is entering this world before the adults are able to, or even capable of, that he's surrendering his childhood prematurely, and that would have been a sad thing and more in line with the greater theme they were aiming for, and it would have been a hell of a lot more of a gut punch than just having him swear while talking to Shane, which is what they did instead…

Even better, imagine if it had been Carl in that barn...

That would have been something, because bottom line: When you kill a character that matters, people sit up and take notice (Game of Thrones). When all you do is kill off glorified redshirts, only the stupid get swept up.

Now, was the whole shoot-out at the end cool? Yeah, it was great fun and like always, it looked great too. But like the herd scene, like the well zombie, like Shane and Andrea in the suburb or whatever, a handful of awesome does not make up for all of the lackluster character moments, the go-nowhere wheel-spinning plots, and the terrible (and often repeated in the same episode) soliloquies.

Of course, this dumb plot isn’t just the show’s fault. The whole Hershel/"zombies are just sick" thing is from the comic and it was just as stupid there, too. I mean, I get it, let’s say Hershel is mentally ill.


Let's say that he had a mental break when his wife zombiefied. That’s understandable. He couldn’t kill her or his step-son, so he lost it and locked them in the barn instead, deluding himself that they’re just sick and that they’ll be cured someday. Ok, fine. Got it. It can happen. I'll accept that.

But what’s everyone else’s excuse?

All those other people on the farm? What the fuck? I mean, I love the elder males in my family. I respect them, I listen to them. They’re good people. But if, say... one of them wanted me to wrangle a rabid dog into the garage instead of shooting a very dangerous and contagious animal that is threatening our family? I would tell them to shut their mouth and pull their stupid old head out of their stupid old ass. The problem with Hershel’s stance (and his family’s acquiescence to it) is that it is just so God damn stupid. It’s so blatantly wrong, there's no way you can empathize with him. It just becomes annoying and that gets in the way of enjoying the show. Is it possible that people could have the same reaction he does? Is it possible that people could do the same thing he does?

Yes, of course it's possible… BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT’S GOOD TV!!!

Because it most definitely is not. The audience--especially myself--just sits there and looks at the reality of the show and listens to the crap Hershel says and watches Rick put up with it… and it’s just annoying. You just sit there and wait for it to be done and hope for a better storyline and that is the problem with the show in a nutshell, for me.

I’m watching it and the whole time, I’m just waiting for a better storyline. And at this point, I don’t think it’s coming.

Look at what they do with Shane in this episode.


Here’s how it works. Basically, every time Shane opens his mouth, he’s right.

1. He left a comatose Rick behind, because he weighed his options and realized he couldn’t save Rick, his family and himself, so he had to choose and only an asshole could see it any differently.

2. He said it was a bad idea for Rick to go back for Meryl and it was for every reason you could think up. Meryl was a junkie, degenerate, racist redneck asshole, who may not have deserved to die, but he certainly was a threat to the group. Plus, it took much needed guns away from the camp, which they ended up needing when zombies attacked and people died.

3. He realized that there was no way he and Otis could get away and thus, save Carl (who Otis so irresponsibly shot—if he was close enough to see the deer, he was close enough to see Carl), so he put Otis down. A cold choice, but he weighed the lives of his loved ones against a stranger. It’s not a fun choice, but in a zombie world? It was the right one.

4. He was right about Sophia being dead. Of course she was dead. It was just too impossible for her to get that lost in so short a time in such a small area so close to a highway. Especially when you add zombies to the mix. Even without zombies, after 72 hours you’re not looking for a kid, you’re looking for a body and he knew that staying in one place so long only put the group in danger and as it ended up, it was only through his direct action did they avoid a repeat of the zombie camp attack.

5. He wanted to put down the walkers in the barn, because they're dangerous, despite what Hershel wanted, because Hershel is a stupid old crazy asshole. Shane realizes this because a. Hershel had a barn full of walkers. And b. Hershel wanted the main characters, a group that consisted of basically EXTREMELY nice and helpful and well-armed people, to move on and leave him in the middle of nowhere, with just his old ass (who doesn't "like" guns), a boy, a girl, and two women that he doesn’t let do anything… What about running the farm long term? What was his plan in case of attack? Shane saw all of this and said: “Why would anyone listen to the old bastard? He’s just going to get people killed.” And he was right… as evidenced by all of the family members he had in the barn…

And the truly hacky part of all of this is that you can tell that the writers are trying to turn Shane into this big meanie, nothing but a loose cannon (But he gets results, you stupid chief!), one that can’t be trusted. They're trying to make him into some kind of dangerous and evil potential bad guy, but… they just keep accidentally making him into “the smart one”. You can just hear them in the writing room, too, just so fucking confused about why people don't like Rick more:

"But he's the hero...?"

Speaking of Rick, why does he even want to stay at Hershel’s farm? Hershel doesn’t “allow” them to carry weapons. He has no fences. His house is all windows. They don’t keep a watch. The only reason these people are still alive is due to the fact that somehow the zombies haven’t run across them. They're like the zombie apocalypse version of a drunk person stumbling unscathed through traffic. I mean, they live two miles from the freeway where a massive herd of zombies almost got the main characters. It is completely indefensible and unsafe, not too mention generally unfriendly. It’s only upside is the multiple wells, but shit, fat lot of good that’s gonna do you when the first floor of the house is teeming with zombies.


But I digress…

  
You suck                                            You suck

 
                  You suck                                     Ugh, you're the worst      

 
You're cool                                           You suck   

 
                    You're alright                         I want to like you, but I just don't   

 
       You annoy me                                        Who are you again?
  
 
                You're not even on the show anymore.                  You're cool                                    

You suck

Boooo!

And so, another season of Walking Dead lumbers in, meanders about, falls over and drags itself to its death. I really want to like this show, but I just can’t. I love the idea of tuning in each week for a bit of the zombie apocalypse. If this was good and I had Game of Thrones, maybe a Marvel Knights type show and a live action Star Wars show that was good?

Heaven, my friends. Heaven.

But no, the Walking Dead is just another V or Heroes or Terranova or Falling Skies or whatever, this is a show that the concept is something I want, adore, but the execution is something that I just can not stand. And worse yet, it's not because it doesn't adhere to my own personal vision, it's because it is bad. It is poor quality. And I feel like I’ve given the show its fair shot, more than its fair shot. 13 episodes of wheel-spinning and needless soliloquies and flubbed character moments and missed opportunities and hack banter. It's bad.

In the simplest of terms: This show sucks and when it returns in January, I won’t.

And it had so much potential too...


Walkin' on,
Jon

Friday, December 9, 2011

K3loid

K3loid.

Yes, that is definitely how it's spelled.

Why? What does it mean? How is it pronounced? What is it?

I have no idea, nothing, except that it is weirdly awesome. Just watch it.



I found this at Io9.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Old Milwaukee

So, most of the reason I have this blog is because I'm a bit of an OCD son of a bitch. I like to have stuff and like, put it in its spot, so that I know it's there... you know, just in case I need it. Anyway, so when it comes to videos that I like to watch over and over again, I post them here under the guise of sharing it with millions of devoted readers. But it's not about you, kids, it's about me. After all, if I've said it once, I've said it again, just to rehash the joke: this IS mine...

And here we are. Full circle

I found these over at Badass Digest today, enjoy!







Old Milwaukee... tastes as great as its name.
Jon

Thursday, December 1, 2011

John Carter of Mars

Edgar Rice Burroughs is the man who created Tarzan.



Perhaps lesser known, he is also the creator of the pulp adventurer: John Carter. Carter is a Civil War veteran and later a gold prospector who, when wounded and dying after an attack by Apaches in the Arizona desert, awakens to find himself on Mars.

How?

Don't worry about it. Shit happens.

The important part is that he ends up on Mars.

He quickly discovers that, due to the lower gravity, he can jump like a crazy man and is really strong. So, naturally (being an American) he starts breaking stuff and fighting multi-armed Martians and multi-armed gorillas and maybe even a multi-armed tiger too. There's a definite evolutionary theme goin' on there... Anyway, he also meets a beautiful and butt-naked Princess by the name of Dejah Thoris and, shock of all shocks, he finds her really attractive. And it turns out, he's not the only one and as a result: War on the Red Planet. This puts John Carter on the path to becoming the warrior-savior of what the natives call Barsoom, to becoming the Warlord of Mars.


Burroughs wrote tons of books in this series, the first being Princess of Mars, and they're fun, crazy, early 20th century pulp adventures. They're a great time, but just distinctively weird because they're a product of both the time and Burrough's wild imagination. Because of all this, the John Carter of Mars series is one of those projects that most level-headed geeks consider better left alone by Hollywood.

But Lord knows they can't do that, so...



Hmmm... I'll admit it, it looks pretty good. It looks really good, actually. Dejah Thoris is notably NOT butt-naked, but hey... can't win 'em all, I guess... Anyway, at first glance, I am kind of interested. The end product, the dialogue, the acting, the story adaptation, it might all turn out to be terrible, time will tell, but right now it looks promising. Or at least fun.


Here's hoping,
Jon Hansen of Minnesota