Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Avengers Assemble!


Today is a special day, folks. The kind of day that only comes along once in a great while. Yes, that's right, I'm talking, of course, about Leap Day. Today is a day of balance, a day to bring everything back in line. A day of new beginnings. And new beginnings are rife with possibilities, anything can happen, and that makes Leap Day a grand moment, am I right?

Of course, I am.

And what better way to celebrate a Grand Moment then with something stupendous? It's fitting, I think. Stupendous. Grand. They're like peas and carrots, folks. They go together. It's meant to be. But what should we do, what could possibly be stupendous enough to fit this day of days?

Don't worry. I've got it covered.

The new Avengers trailer. Let's watch it together.


Stupendous! Momentous! Exciting! Much like Prometheus, which I mentioned yesterday, this is another one of those films that I am very much looking forward to. In fact, if it wasn't for the brain-numbing improbability of an actual quality version of the The Hobbit coming out this Christmas, this film would be my number one most anticipated of the year and for much the same reasons.

Like the Hobbit, the Avengers are characters from my childhood. And much like the Hobbit, this film is like an impossible dream. Forget hoping for the chance to one day see them in films, these were ideas so crazy and untethered that you would never even consider it even remotely possible that you would ever actually see them in their full, living, breathing reality outside of a cartoon. It wasn't gonna happen, it just wasn't possible. But then Hollywood started to catch up and Marvel came along, took control of their movies and they started building. It was little hints at first, sprinkled in the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man and then taking a somewhat larger role in Captain America and Thor, they were building a mythology. A shared world. Something that's never been done before. The anticipation, at least for me, is high and the ride to this film--much like the Hobbit--has been a long time coming.

And now it's almost done. So close... so close...

At this point, I don't even worry about it failing to deliver. At some level, I'm going to like it no matter what. I'm just putting that out there, something for you to keep in mind when I start telling you how awesome it is. No matter what, I'm going to like it at least a little. I'm invested. Also, I trust Joss Whedon. He's good. He does lots of good stuff. He has his fans. In fact, I'm a fan. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Serenity. Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. Favorites. Sure, sure, he definitely has his particular idiom that he relies on and you either like it or you don't, that's not my concern. The man has a proven track record and a well established love of the genre, so...

I'm excited.

Can you tell?


Possible problems and concerns:

1. I'm upset they didn't include Giant Man, The Wasp, and the Black Panther in the line-up.

Now, granted the rights to the Black Panter may be tied up at Fox with the Fantastic Four package they're sitting on, I don't know, but honestly, the team needs an active minority. I hate to say it, but it's true, and if it not T'challa, then someone else should have been brought up. Luke Cage is pretty awesome, but he's maybe not "classic superhero" enough, so I'd vote for the Falcon. Plus, he'd come with the added bonus of spinning off into a Captain America sequel.

Also, I'm really surprised that Whedon only included one female character. Sure, Black Widow is awesome and Scarlet is really, really ridiculously good looking, but still... No Wasp? I'm not a big "that's the way it is in the comics" whiner. I hate those guys, for one, and I think creators need elbow room to adapt to different medias, so change is fine, but the Wasp is a good character and what's more, she's what those in the know would call a "Whedon's favorite character". He likes that type. Female. Sassy. Cute. Smart-assy. Capable. Now all that tells me that there must have been some behind-the-scenes crap going on, so it's probably not Whedon's fault, but I'll bet you, if this film is missing anything, it'll be that relatable heart character that Whedon so excels at. Plus, come on... one female character? What the fuck? We can't even get a Ms. Marvel for God's sake?

Finally, although maybe not as big a deal to me as the others I just mentioned, Giant Man. He strikes a good figure in the line (he's the big one in the picture above...). Also, as a character, his neurosis provides a nice balance to the Demi-God status of the others. I know they've been trying to get an Ant Man film off the ground for awhile now and Ant Man later becomes Giant Man, so what better way to launch a possible franchise then by including the character in one of the biggest superhero flicks of all times? Seems like a no brainer, really.

2. And for the "it just kind of bugs me" category, in the trailer, when they do the big group shot and the camera is spinning around them and they're all like: Grrr, we're tough... couldn't they have given Scarlet a bigger gun? What the hell is that? Thor's hammer can call lightning. Iron Man is wearing a billion dollar war suit. Captain America's shield is unbreakable. Hulk is, well... the Hulk. Hawkeye has a bow and arrow, it's just a romantic weapon. And the Black Widow? She doesn't get her Widow Sting gauntlet blasters for some reason and instead gets... what is that? A Walther PPK? Hey, I love James Bond too, but come on, there has got to be something that would look cooler, a little more intimidating and more in line with the bad-assery of the others.

Anyway, all that aside, I'm still excited. And besides, it's a little late now, right? Doesn't matter. I'm ready. And in a few scant months, I'll be there. Can't wait.


Oh boy,
Jon

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TED

Here's a little bit of viral marketing for the upcoming Ridley Scott film: Prometheus.

This is, of course, for the mysterious and tantalizing suspected possible prequel to one of Ridley Scott's previous fantastic films: AlienWell, "suspected" no more. Its status as a prequel is now pretty much a given, as the film features Guy Pearce as the Futurist, Industrialist, and Corporate visionary Peter Weyland, the progenitor of one of the best Evil Future Corporations ever: Weyland-Yutani.

Don't recognize the name?

Shame on you, my Dear Readers, better catch up while you still have time, because Prometheus is poised to be one of the more exciting films coming out this summer, one that I am most definitely looking forward to. Why, you ask?

Well, what is there not to like? A big budget original science fiction flick? From the Director of Alien and Blade Runner? Did you see the cast? Michael Fassbinder? Charlize Theron? Noomi Rapace? Idris Elba? Patrick Wilson? Yeah, that's awesome. Oh boy. I'm very excited.

Watch the short film!



Can't wait,
Jon

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Three years and a Dragon

You read that right, folks. Three years. That's how long I've been doing this thing here. Three years. I have been blogging the same approximate amount of time as the amount of time that I had been alive before I first saw Star Wars.


In other words... A long, dark eternity.

Was that geeky?

Probably, yes, but eh... whatta ya' gonna do? I yam what I yam. If it makes a difference, Little Ms. Super-cute Wife and I are going to go stand in line for Twins tickets this weekend. Of course, it's her idea. Also, if I'm being honest, I'm only going because we'll probably have breakfast somewhere afterwards, but whatever. Sports, man, that's some manly shit right there.

Manly.

So anyway, three years and a week-ish or so ago, I started this blog. Since that time I have finished my first novel and I've started shopping it around. I've joined a good writing group. I have rambled on about movies and comics and TV shows that I like and hate. I've posted a literal buttload of trailers and short films. I managed to get my first short story published, it will be appearing in the upcoming anthology: Cifiscape, volume 2 and I have started my next novel. It's been a pretty productive three years. Well, "productive", but y'know... eye of the beholder, right? But let's not dwell, all of that is in the past, it's behind us, virtual blog water under the Internet bridge, instead let's look to the future, let's talk about the future, because in the future, there be Dragons!


Poor guy.

So, yes, my second novel!

Right now it's called Monsters, but that's just a working title. I'll settle on something more permanent later. You can't really worry about stuff like that too much. Titles happen. I know some people say they can't start a project unless they know the title, but that just sounds like an excuse to me, and excuses are bullshit. So for right now, it's called Monsters.


In the larger sense, Monsters is a story of a world that has been wrecked by the sudden apocalyptic reappearance of magic, by the return of monsters and nightmares. There are Empires, both great and small, that have clawed their way up from the rubble and built a new world, they struggle and war against themselves, against each other and against the vicious hungry darkness that lurks beyond the firelight. More specifically, it's about how a Dragon burned out the settlement that lived among the ruins of Minneapolis and then roosted in the shattered remnants of it's tallest tower. It's about a disgraced soldier in the armies of Duluth, crippled and dying from Dragonfire burns, sent into the Cities to kill the monster and to re-take the ruins with only a team of convicts--murderers, rapists, rebels, and thieves--to aid him. More succinctly, it's The Dirty Dozen vs. a Dragon.


I'm really enjoying the work. Right now I'm well into, and almost done with, the 7th chapter. It should be done (well, Shitty First Draft "done") this weekend, with Chapter 8 right behind. Once those two chapters are put to bed, that will be the first third of the book, with a word count of somewhere in the upper 30,000 plus range. That's not too shabby, especially considering that I only started this book for real in January.

I'm going to be talking about this more and more in the coming days. This and a few opportunities out there that may or may not come to fruition. Keep an eye on this blog-o-mine, folks, because I think this year has got some good things in store for me.

Later,
Jon

Monday, February 13, 2012

I love that (on writing)


I remember Stephen King writing about his process, I think it was in Danse Macabre, and at one point he says something about how (I'm paraphrasing here) "finding your story is a lot like being a knight and you're on a quest to rescue a princess from the tallest tower of a dark castle and you're riding around and around the outside looking for the way in, a way to get to her. That's your story. Sometimes the way in is easy, the drawbridge is down. Sometimes you use a back door. Other times you might have to scale a wall. And sometimes, there's just no way in, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes the knight wins the day. Sometimes the knight is defeated."

That always stuck with me. It's a nice little parable and it taught me one thing: When you're working on a writing project, sometimes you have to hunt (write) around a bit before things start to click. And sometimes that means you write for pages and pages before it works, that sometimes those pages become something, or maybe they just spark an idea, and sometimes they just end up in the trash.

That's the way it goes.


So, I'm working on my new thing a lot lately and it's really coming along nicely. I've put five chapters down in my "shitty" 1st draft and I really like how things are shaping up. I know who the characters are, where they start and why. I know how things go and how things end. In "broad stroke" terms, I know exactly what's going to happen and yet, there's still some space to wiggle around in, there's still some space to surprise me.

This is how I do it.


This is how I put together projects and write my books. I know where I'm going, I know the big landmarks and what lies in what direction, but some of the spaces in between are unknown, they're places I'll have to explore. I love that, because it allows for two of my favorite things, that happen while writing, to happen.

1. I love it when the characters start to move on their own and suddenly change direction on you. I love this because sometimes when it happens, the insight, the twist, the moment that results is so true and pure that you almost can't take credit for coming up with it, it's inspired and so kind of out-of-nowhere and all you can do is just kind of sit back and pat yourself on the back and say: "Good job, you. That's so clever..." It's very satisfying when that happens.

2. I love it when the path suddenly comes clear. It'll happen sometimes when I'm writing, I'll come to a point in the story and it's like it's all socked in by fog, so I can't see anything and as a result, I have no idea what to do next. Now, I know I can just jump ahead and then come back later, sure--Forward momentum is good, right?--but I also know if I stick in there and feel around, sometimes I suddenly find my way and whole new options appear.

Another bit of writing advice that has always stuck with me came from David Housewright.

Again, I'm paraphrasing, but he said (in defense of outlines): "With an outline, you should never have writer's block, because if you ever get stuck, you can just jump ahead and then come back later and fill between the two scenes until they link up. Think of it like a chasm, if you can see the other side, it's easier to build a bridge between them." Something like that. Anyway, hearing that, realizing that, it really lifted a weight from my shoulders. I've never had to do it, thankfully, so far I haven't been that stuck (knock on wood), but just knowing I could relaxed me. So I'll sometimes come to these places where whatever specifically happens next isn't clear to me and I'll have to write a bit, edit a bit, write a bit some more, and sometimes, something will suddenly click and it's like the fog has lifted and shown me the way. I love that moment, no more feeling around in the hazy dark, suddenly the road is open and it's time to put the hammer down.


So, I'm working on my latest project the other day and I hit the sixth chapter and... nothing. I know where I'm going, what needs to happen, but I have no idea how to get to it. Nothing. Total blank page stare time, you know?

I must have spent a week mulling over six-ish pages, a 1000-2000 some words, just me digging in there, writing the first scene and looking for a moment of importance, feeling around in the dark, casting lines. I put two characters in a room who would naturally be in a room together and I started them talking. It took a couple of passes, but it finally led me to a follow up scene which was... a total bitch, to be honest... but I finished it, tweaked it and then late last night, I found a moment and it unlocked the whole next two chapters. Just like that. Click-click-click, like dominoes. Zooom, like a Wet Banana. Right then all the slogging and the fretting and the agonizing over word choice and character decisions? Suddenly, it's not a slog anymore. Suddenly, it's fun again, the tires have found purchase and we're burnin' rubber, baby, head-long, high speed, and down hill.

Those little moments of creation make the whole long slow process worth it.

I'm gotta get back to work,
Jon

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Scribblerati

Hey, I forgot to mention it on here yesterday, so for all of you out there who read this blog exclusively--and you know who you are--I'm over at the Scribblerati blog blogging about blogging...You heard me.

Go check it out.