Monday, November 30, 2009

The New Christmas Carol

Finally had a chance to check out Robert Zemeckis's A Christmas Carol this weekend, and I was quite impressed. Though the trailers make it look to be a zany/silly take on the old tale, it is anything but. Sure, there are moments where Jim Carrey's craziness comes on a little strong and there are one too many flying/running scenes, but these are mostly kept to a minimum. Plus, Carrey does quite a good job with his multiple character roster--especially with the ghost of Christmas Past.

What struck me the most though is Zemeckis's attention to the horror of Dicken's story. The atmosphere in this film is wonderful, and I was truly creeped out by the build up and subsequent haunting by Jacob Marley. Plus, the opening scene was beautifully macabre.

Overall, it is a faithful adaptation with some interesting visuals. It might be a bit scary--if not boring--for smaller children, but it is worth a look for fans of Zemeckis and Carrey. And while most Dicken's enthusiasts should be alright with the film's integrity, the aforementioned running/flying/transition scenes can be rather annoying. Regardless, this makes for a fun start to the holiday season.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Beard Week 4

No-shave November still cruising. Looking a bit better, but still scraggly and not quite connecting. Oh well.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

+Oedipal Thanksgiving+


Make sure your Thanksgiving is edible and not Oedipal.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Synopsis Writing

I've been battling this particular monster lately, wondering what exactly one is supposed to do when writing a synopsis, as some people claim it should be one page for every 25, and others claim it to be eight-12 pages, still others say no more than five, and "experts" recommend one to three pages.

I started with the suggested chapter by chapter breakdown, writing about a paragraph for every chapter. It came to be eight and a half, single spaced pages. From there, I tried to craft my synopsis, writing what I could and ending up with the same amount of words--only they flowed a bit better. By page three of this single spaced "concise" version, I decided I was going about this all wrong. So I took a reverse approach.

Regardless of page length, everyone agrees that you boil your novel down. But since this was not working for me, I took one of my query letters with my one paragraph snippet and expanded up it. This proved to be much more beneficial. I already had the bare, bare bones of the story, what it was all about--minus the characterization, setting, and subplots--so why not add some meat. Sinew by sinew, I stitched in the muscle, gave it some strength, some figure. I was able to do more characterization. I could set the scene. I could insinuate the subplots.

For me, the hardest part is figuring out what to cut, but adding, that I can do no problem. And it made all the difference in the world, as I suddenly felt more freed. What was once impossible became a fun little adventure. I could give the generic paragraph some actual life, add more of my voice, and let it run.

I know this probably isn't the most helpful of things, but I'm--by no means--an expert. Perhaps, if this synopsis proves to be successful, I'll give a better description as to what I did and how. For the moment, the general advice is to summarize your story in one to two sentences, one paragraph at most, then add to it step by step. Pluck out the details you like best about your story and weave them in, those particular lines you love, the bits that sum up the relationships. This seems to be the one place we get to tell instead of show, and not get in trouble for it.

I don't know. Perhaps I'm rambling. But if this is of any help, or you have questions, feel free to contact me. I tend to have things fall more into place when I'm chatting about them.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

+Turkey Day+

Have you seen those slow-motion shots of them sharks popping out of the water? We should feast on seal while watching and join in their celebration of life. Or death. Or whatever.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Films I Watched in the Past Few Days

Gentlemen Broncos: This wasn't quite what I expected. From the trailers, I figured it would be a bit more plot-driven than Jared Hess' earlier films. However, it was not. Not to say that this is a terrible thing--considering there really is no one out there making films like his (and in this day and age, that is a rarity.) It's not a fast-paced film. The absurdity of the thing made it worthwhile. One bizarre situation after another that illicit giggles long after the film credits roll. This definitely isn't a film for everyone--not even of Napoleon Dynamite fans--but for those select few, it is a gem.

Boondock Saints II: All Saint's Day: I enjoyed the first Boondock Saints. In fact, I remember thinking it was one of the better films I'd watched in recent times. This was ten years ago, and for its time it was a good flick. This one, sadly, is not a good film for its time. Had it been made eight of nine years ago, it would've been an acceptable sequel. As it stands, All Saint's Day is a 90s action film made in 2009, and that is simply not acceptable. After the Bourne trilogy and spectacle pieces like Wanted, guys simply running around shooting guns with a bit of slow-motion thrown in doesn't cut it anymore. Just goes to show that pissing off Hollywood is a bad thing (watch this film to know what I'm talking about.)

Away We Go: This is a good film for any late-twenties folk to see. Not only does the film hit everything production-wise, it's a good story, one that makes you laugh, possibly cry, have something torn from you, and realize the true weight of "starting a family." I honestly can say much more than that, as you simply need to watch the thing. Just trust me, it's good.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Things to Notice

Yesterday's Gibberish: I'm going to be playing around with some different coloring styles. While I've liked what I've had going on for the past while now, half the reason I started this thing was to experiment with my art. So, I'm doing just that. I plan on some more limited palette ones such as yesterday's. From there, who knows? Possibly some solid colors with colored lines, sharp angles and whatnot. I just keep seeing all these great artists out in the world and feel inspired to try new things.

Changes: Once I figure out this whole podcasting/recording thing, I plan on replacing Gibberish with beautiful pieces of writing (of course Gibberish will still run on its site, so don't worry; it is not stopping). I'll basically be taking a snippet of something, a paragraph or two of what I consider to be gorgeous writing. I'll tell you right now, there will be a lot of David Almond and Ray Bradbury up there. I think all of us, as writers and readers, need to appreciate the sound of the written word--and not simply in poetry either. Prose should sing. Prose should move with the rhythms of love, anger, sadness, and hope. Words are instruments, and I for one love their sound.

My "beard": There will be new pictures on Friday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Alternative Publishing Methods

After a wonderful conversation with Drew, he alerted me to presence of Cory Doctorow. Dude has made his career of writing via the interweb, selling and promoting his books online. But here's the catch: He gives the majority of his writings away via a Creative Commons Copyright.

This, to me, is awesome. I think it's more of the puritan form of what writing was/is/should be. We, as writers, write because we enjoy it. We write for others to read. Really? How many of us are in this/want to get into this biz for the money?

And from the sounds of things Doctorow says that it has been worth his time, effort, and resources. Is this the new wave of publishing? Who knows. But I think it's something that needs to be considered.

At length.

Friday, November 13, 2009

No-Shave November: Week 2

As promised, here is my feeble growings for the past two weeks. Click on it to get the full beard experience.

See you Monday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

+The Twist+

Stories are not stories without--THE TWIST!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Terry Pratchett

I know I've mentioned him before and even probably wrote a mini-review for his recent book Nation--amazing, by the by--but I just wanted to take another minute to give him a good plug.

The more I've thought about him, and realized that I've read about a dozen of his books--probably my most read author then, or one of--he's been quite a formative author for this young writer. I remember reading Soul Music and really connecting with it. In fact, it affected me so much that I've been afraid to read it ever since, as I though it would suck. But the more I've read by him, the more and more I've been impressed with his writing.

Granted, we literary types aren't supposed to like genre fiction. We're supposed to turn up our noses and act like it's done nothing for the world--except maybe cheapen it. Yet how are we supposed to write of authors primarily known for their genre fiction: Ray Bradbury, George R.R. Martin, Stephen King, and even Terry Pratchett here. Sure, these folks entertain and write within their genre, but they still have something to say. Pratchett's Nation is one of the best coming of age stories and an examination about faith/beliefs/traditions I've read in a long time. And Bradbury, well, I'm going to rant about him later.

I think these authors walk a fine line between fluff and "deep-thinking" pieces that literary novels are supposed to be.

What I really want to say about this whole thing is that we need to get that stick out of our butts that tells us only to read "literary" works. You'll miss out on some very high-quality fiction. And there are many worse places to start than Pratchett. Give him a go.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

+Shifting Worlds+

He forgot that she did not have magnetic feet like he did. This is why human/robot relationships can never be.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Looking Out for the Beard

I forgot about the whole beard picture thing... Sorry.

Also, I may be getting sick. I'm telling myself that this is not true, but my sore throat seems to be extending down into my lungs, and I do not appreciate it. We'll see how it goes. Worse comes to worse, I'll just have to stay in bed all day reading and writing.

Oh yes, and last night I watched The Lookout. It starts off much better than it comes through in the end. Joseph Gordon Levitt is a good enough actor that I'm surprised he doesn't show up more often than he does. The movie itself was a good time, with some clever dialogue and some dynamic scenes. Unlike most caper/thriller/drama flicks, this one seemed to keep things rather tight, scenes only being in the film to either further the plot or change character dynamics or both. There were a few that did not do such things--mainly when the film breaks its own POV and goes to Luvlee. Anyway, it's not a perfect film by any means, or even an amazing one, but there are a few moments that make the whole thing worth your time. The opening in and of itself is a great hook, just gorgeous.

One of these days there will be a "beard" picture, and there will still be Gibberish this week. Cool? Cool.

Friday, November 6, 2009

No Shave November

I meant to say this earlier but--as with most things--forgot.

I'm participating in no shave November. Most of the males in my Sabbath school class are attempting this, and if you knew most of us--or even just me--you'd know how big of a joke this is. There are going to be some very, VERY amusing beards here in the next few weeks. I'll try and post a picture on Monday in order for you to see how ridiculous I look and this idea actually is. The highlight of all this is that we're going to have a beard party at the end of the month. Not exactly sure what that is going to be, but there will be deserts and prizes have been spoken of.

Wish me luck. I will probably be taking home the "worst beard" category.

Have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

+What It Takes+

He would say "girlfriend" instead, but he does not have one.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Story of Mine Will Be Available for You to Read

Yesterday, I had another story picked up, this time by Pear Noir!. It will appear in their forthcoming, Issue #3 that comes out in January. You should pre-order it now, because it will make them happy for purchasing it, and it will make me happy because I know that you will at least have pretended to read it. Truly, it looks like it will be a mighty fine mag, as they have a nice list of rather notable folks appearing in it. I feel quite honored to be a part of such a publication. Plus, it has the added bonus of renewing my hope that I'm not just wasting my time pursuing a career in writing.

Also, I started NaNoWriMo again this year. Not exactly sure if I'll be able to keep up and hit the 50,000, but it will be a much needed push to write more everyday, and hopefully wrap up a few projects I'm in the midst of. If all goes well, I will indeed have a first draft of my new novel finished by the end of the month.

Other than that, the only news I have is my (re)iteration of moving the comics of Gibberish exclusively to the site. I realize less people will probably come here to read my ramblings, but it will drive that site's hits up, and that is a good thing. In place of Gibberish, I'm thinking of devoting Tuesdays and Thursdays to quoting particularly nice writing from stories and novels and poems and random words thrown about. I am a sucker for beautiful words that sound even more beautiful when read aloud. If you would like to point me to some of these, or send me your favorite passages from novels, I will try to feature them.

For now though, Gibberish will continue on its regular schedule, and that means tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

+Mario's Shoes+

There is something seriously wrong with Yoshi.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Don't Know What's With Me Lately

Either the entertainment world is conspiring against me and stealing my buried emotions and turning them into films and books to get me, or I'm becoming more of a sap.

I finished My Name is Asher Lev by Chiam Potok last night, and it all but devastated me. I felt like someone took a trolling hook to my chest and ripped out everything I had inside. I couldn't even speak for the first half hour after reading it, and I spent a good extra hour lying awake and thinking about it. Put simply: If you are a Christian artist in any way shape or form, you NEED to read this book. Truly.

I doubt it will affect everyone the way it did me, but anyone trying to balance their walk with what they believe is their gift is going to be deeply and profoundly disturbed by this book. I woke up thinking about it. I will probably be thinking about it tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after, and so on. As much as I love words and writing and stories, I don't think I've ever had one burrow inside me as deeply as this one has. Cheers to you, Mr. Potok. You've done messed me up.