Sunday, July 29, 2012

Me, Jonathan Hansen

I like to make lists.

I'm a bit obsessed with them, in fact. Some people (jerks) might call me a little OCD. Whether or not such an accusation is true is immaterial as to why we are here right now. The long and the short of it is simple: I made a tumblr. It's gonna track my stuff and where I can be found. Hopefully you will find it helpful, fun, and informative. I put a link over on the sidebar to the right.

For the extra lazy, here's a link:

And here's my handsome picture, just 'cause.

You're welcome,

Thursday, July 26, 2012


You all know about Filmzilla, right? It's a video store. We used to be Nicollet Village Video? You know, four movies, four days, five dollars? I'm sure you know it. It's like Clerks, but in real life and color... and snarkier? We're open til midnight 365 days a year? Anyway, I work there part time when I'm not slaving away at the Salt Mines. I've probably mentioned it before now. Here's our latest commercial starring the always happenin' Fancy Ray.

But here's the kicker... Did you know that Filmzilla has a blog? True story. Guess what else. On occasion I have been known to post a thing or two over there. Just two, actually. Twice. I've only posted twice, but I'm sure I'll post more. Maybe next week. Here's a link to my posts in general, you can find them under the label: "Jon". But more specifically, here is the link to my post detailing the 10 crimes of Eddie Murphy and here is the link to my Top 5 Christopher Lambert movies. I hope you enjoy them. Be sure to check back regularly for more from me in the future, or to enjoy the plethora of film recommendations posted by Filmzilla's very own, Scream Queen Rachel Grubb.

And of course, if you're in the area, feel free to swing by and say hi. We'll be there and we'd love to see you. Just remember, at Filmzilla, our motto is simple: "Shut up". Also: "Don't be dumb, rent a movie".

Words to live by, kids. Words to live by.

Shut up,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guardians of the Galaxy

Tomorrow is Wednesday, otherwise known as New Comic Day. A self-explanatory title if there ever was one, right? I'm sure you're all familiar with the sweet wonderful embrace that is New Comic Day. If not, you should try it, swing on down to the ol' LCS--that's the cool kids' way of saying Local Comic Shop--and pick something up. There is a comic book for everyone, after all, it's not all superheroes and sequential art storytelling is our oldest form of storytelling, y'know, not to put the burden of guilt and the not so insignificant weight of history and tradition upon your unfamiliar shoulders...

But anyway, this past week saw the advent of that Great Geek Happening, the Mecca of Geekdom, the Central Hub of all the Nerdacy in the world, that grand old dame the SDCC, the San Diego Comic Convention. There were many teased projects, a plethora of ebullient celebrations, and unfortunate costume choices galore. There were announcements, too, the coming attractions, the things to look forward to, yadda, yadda, yadda, quack, quack, quack.

One such announcement was this...

How cool is that? Huh? Looks great, right? ...What? What is it, you ask? That, my friends, is the Guardians of the Galaxy. It's based on a book by Marvel comics and the movie is slated for 2014.

What's it about? Well, there are actually two different versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but the ones shown above are from the current era, a book that started in 2008. Basically the far end of the Marvel Universe, way out in deep space, was battered and smashed by a pair of back to back Intergalactic Wars, Cosmos-spanning Empires fell, new powers rose. In the aftermath of those fights, Peter Quill, the Star Lord--a kind of space cop--decided to form a team of Space Bad-asses to protect the Galaxy, to... guard it, if you will...

See what I did there?

The team is an eclectic mix of Star Wars-ian cosmic super heroes to include (for the film): Drax the Destroyer--a dead man stuck in an alien body and bent on bloody revenge, Gamora--a former master assassin for the Mad Titan, Thanos (the purple guy we all glimpsed in the mid-credit scene of the Avengers movie). She's known as the "most dangerous woman in the galaxy" (Side bar: Side boob), Groot--a sentient tree who only ever says: "I am Groot", and Rocket Raccoon--a talking Raccoon with a really big gun (actually an alien that looks like a Raccoon, but whatever) and apparently they go about and have galaxy-wide adventures, star-spanning adventures. Big time.

I wouldn't know. I've never read it, I read the old series when I was but a wee bairn, but the new one? Nope, never. The problem is the writers aren't really a pair of my most favorites, but some of the art I've seen has always appealed to me, so with the movie coming and all, I intend to read it. The idea of a space opera super hero story sounds like a good God damn time to me, so I want to be ready.

Next time I hit the LCS, I'll pick up the first trade. I'll let you know what I think.

Feelin' comic bookish,

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chapter 11


That's right. Chapter 11 is done. Finally.

Well, shitty first draft done, but still, done nonetheless. It actually happened a few days ago, but I've got shit going on, so it took me a bit to get it together and come blog about this milestone.

Why is it a milestone?

Well, A. Finishing 11 means I am finally, well and truly, on the back end of my WIP. It means that all that is left is the stuff from the short story, the stuff that originally inspired the longer work and that stuff, for the most part, is pretty well known to me, not to mention pretty straight forward and action-y. Also, by my reckoning, even at my most flowery and overly indulgent, there can't be more then 6 or so chapters worth of work left. Which also means that, if things continue on at their current rate (and I have no reason to expect that they won't), my shitty first draft is probably going to end up around 100,000 words, which means plenty of room to expand and contract.

Perfect for a first draft.

And B. Chapter 11 took forever. Seriously... forever. There's a couple of reasons for this. It just so happened to be the part I was muddling through when I started working again and threw off my writing schedule. It was also the last big unknown section of the book, a blank space in the narrative that I could only see vague shapes moving about in, but still something I had to wade through in order to get to the other side. But mostly, it was due to the fact that, even though it's not the halfway point, it sure as hell felt like the halfway point, which means that I am currently mired knee-deep in the mid-draft blahs.

At this point, this particular WIP is still chugging along based solely off of blind faith and the potential of the second draft. I suppose that's true for most first drafts. They establish the space. They dig out the shape, build the foundation and put up the frame. They build your house, basically. The second draft is where you then step back and take a look at the flow of the house you just built. How does it look? Does it work? Will it stay standing? You take a good hard look and then you start tearing down problem sections and you try to re-build them stronger in spots, you add in some new stuff here and there and you take out some old. You work at it and hope it becomes something better.

Well, this particular WIP has long felt like it was going to need a lot more second drafting than most, at least a lot more than my last book, in fact, I know it will. Because right now, this book is a mess. It switches gears suddenly, diving in different directions, lunging forward in parts and idling in others. It creates themes and details out of nowhere. Some characters may not last, others may become more than they are now. It has long stretches where I obviously know where I want to go, but am unsure how to get there. It's all so up in the air. The idea of course is that I can always fix it later, that I should write it all through first and try to leave something behind for when I return later, something that I can either fix, add to, or delete and try something else.

But above all else: Finish the first draft.

And its worked, for the most part, I feel like it has the potential to lead me somewhere great in the second draft, but as I barrel ahead the book has become this howling, chaotic maelstrom of nagging questions and raging doubts and half-finished ideas clamoring for attention. It's difficult to keep going some days, to say the least, but what can you do? I can't dump a first draft this deep into it, that'd just be quitting. The second draft, that's make or break time. Besides, the only real way to "become" a writer is to finish something, right? At least, that's what they say. Still, it's very easy to get hung up and stall out, to doubt yourself. It's very easy to start thinking that you're making shit.

And as a result, it's very easy to get distracted.

It starts around the 100th page. That's when the doubts show up. The bright and shiny and oh so appealing newness of the project has worn off by then and what was once a burst of ideas and driving passions has become an uphill slog. It's become work. You begin to look at your creation "critically" and you start to daydream about greener narrative pastures, new stories, new ideas, new books and new worlds, so bright and lovely. You have to ignore that shit, because that is why most people start tons of "books", but most never actually finish a manuscript.

But I'm struggling, so I took a break and I dusted off my old A4 Moleskine. Turns out, almost the entire back half was still open and blank and ready to go. Then I went through my old notebooks and scoured out all the scribbled ideas and quickly jotted notes. I took all the old and interesting bits and pieces, the half-baked and the incompletes and I put it all in a list.

Nine Novels and sixteen Short Stories.

A bunch of ideas and sprouting seeds and pretty good starts with plenty of room to develop them.

They're lovely to look at, all glowing golden and practically humming with potential. Looking at them, it feels like being well stocked against possible disaster. I feel ready. Now I know: "If this one doesn't work out, at least I've got a little something in the bank to fall back on." Will they all grow and sprout and become something, will they all bloom and flower or will they remain fallow? I don't know, but they're in the book now. They're organized and catalogued and written down. They're safe. I can look at them and know where they are. I don't have to worry about losing them, or spend my days poking at them, turning them over incessantly in my hands, examining them and considering them. They're written down.

Best yet, now I can shut the book on their gibbering cacophony and go back to work.

I plan on finishing the first draft this summer and then I'll let it sit for a little bit, let it cool, let it ripen, let it fester. I've got this idea for a YA book, maybe, one with a female protagonist and all my favorite genre trappings, maybe I'll give the first few chapters a spin this fall, just something to cleanse my palette before diving back into the second draft of this book. Maybe.

The months ahead are full of potential.

Chapter 11 is done.

On to Chapter 12.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Every year I put together a list of films I am looking forward to. You can find this year's list here. I think it's good to have a list, it's fun to follow and it is fun to see how the new year's expectations shake out versus their eventual reality post-viewing (so far, of the 5 films on my list that I've seen, two have been ok, one was really disappointing, and two were incredible, easy entries into my all-time favorite list. Also, a sixth one has been pulled from release by the studio, despite the awesome trailer, which is never a good sign, and another has gone back for seven weeks of reshoots, which is long enough to film an entire brand new movie, so that's a REALLY bad sign...). Anyway, it's always fun to track... fun for me at least... whatever, but one of my favorite things is when a film will pop up unexpectedly, an unknown, a film I didn't even know to look forward to. I love that.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is one such film. Shot with amateurs in a Katrina-wrecked Louisiana, this is Director Benh Zeitlin's first feature length film and it looks amazing.

From the Sundance Film Festival -
Hushpuppy, an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink, in "the Bathtub," a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink's tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he's no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack-temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink's health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother.

Looks great,